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The Memotech MTX Series

Legacy (1980's) Hobbyist Electronics Projects

 

The expansion capabilities of the MTX series made it ideal for interfacing to the outside world and a number of projects were published in various electronics and computing magazines in the 1980's. I collected a number of these from various magazines, although I never actually got round to building any!

Digital and Micro Electronics (DME) magazine seems to have been the biggest supporter of the MTX of any of the computing/electronics press at the time, even more so than any of the purely Computing magazines. Digital and Micro Electronics had a pretty short lifespan, the magazine was published bi-monthly between January 1984 (Issue 1) Oct/Nov 1985 (Issue 12) and carried articles on the MTX in eight of them. I have found out that the editor of the magazine was Terry Johnson, Terry has let me know that the magazine ran even more articles than I knew about and has generously provided scanned copies of the articles that I did not have a copy of. The table below has been updated to include entries for all or the DME articles - the scans will be available shortly.

Practical Electronics on the other hand, has been around since 1964. It is still published as Everyday Practical Electronics.

A number of these articles were by an R.A. Penfold - he was a prolific writes of books and magazine articles in the 1980s and later, there is a large range of his work still available on Amazon. Terry tells me that Mr Penfold is still active and has written numerous books and magazine articles since the early '70s, including a large number of Babani Books. As an aside, Lez Anderson has sent me a copy of Penfold's" An Introduction to Z80 Machine Code", (Barbani BP152, ISBN:0-85934-127-5) to help with my MTXPlus+ Project.

 

Click to open

Function Source

Memotech's MTX Computer Reviewed

A Review of the MTX500 & MTX512

Dick Leslie, Digital & Micro Electronics,

February/March1984 (Issue No. 2)+

Micro Precis - Memotech Computers

Specifications for the MTX500 & MTX512

Digital & Micro Electronics,

April/May1984 (Issue No. 3)+

Interfaces for the Memotech MTX

Discusses hardware and software support for interfacing to the MTX.

R.A. Penfold, Digital & Micro Electronics,

August/September 1984 (Issue No.5)

Real Time Clock

Build a RTC board using a MM58174 CMOS timer.

Richard Sargent, Computing Today,

September 1984

Computer Capacitance Meter

Build a capacitance meter using the MTX

R.A. Penfold, Digital & Micro Electronics,

October/November 1984 (Issue No. 6)+

MTX RS232 Interface

For those of you not lucky enough to own an RS232 interface card for the MTX, this article shows how to build one of your own.

Note: the FDX interface normally built onto the Memotech RS232 board is not included.

Richard Sargent, Digital & Micro Electronics,

October/November 1984 (Issue No. 6)+

Digital Echo Unit for the Memotech Micro R.A. Penfold, Digital & Micro Electronics,

December/January 1984 (Issue No.7)

Multi-micro Four Channel Power Controller

For a number of micros, Amstrad CPC464, Commodore VIC20/CBM64, Atari, BBC Model B and the Memotech MTX 500/512

John Baker, Digital & Micro Electronics,

June/July 1985 (Issue No. 10)+

MTX 8 Channel AtoD

Analog to Digital convertor using a CMOS 7581

R.A. Penfold, Practical Electronics,

July 1985

Memotech Disk Drive

Review of the FDX System

Dick Leslie, Digital & Micro Electronics,

August/September 1985 (Issue No. 11)+

MTX Tape Controller

Build a controller for your cassette data recorder that uses the Remote input to switch the tape motor ON or OFF just using the built in LOAD/SAVE tape functions.

John Baker, Digital & Micro Electronics,

October/November 1985 (Issue No. 12)+

+Articles courtesy of Terry Johnson, former editor of DME, December 2012

 

Norbit Elektronikk I/O System

According to the Wikipedia entry for the MTX: "The Norwegian company Norbit Elektronikk Norge A/S run by Anne Selene Fiko developed a complete Input/Output (I/O) control system, with 4 × 16-bit (by swapping 8 bits at time) I/O ports, 8-bit Analog-to-digital converter and 8-bit Digital-to-analog converter, all with sensor systems for robotics and controls. The control system was designed for the same aluminium casing as the main MTX512 unit."

The system was developed as part of the (fruitless) push to sell the MTX into Russian schools. The Misolima Publishing blog for Anne Selene describes the MTX interface as a "SuperToolBox" that was developed from ToolBox '85.

Quote from the blog :-

"Anne Selene with her Norwegian company, Norbit Electronics located in Steinkjer, Norway along with the Memotech factory in Oxford and the University of Oxford, England, developed its ToolBox ’85 into Super-ToolBox for Memotech MTX computers. This system consisted of a complete hardware I/O system to be used in robotics at the Russian schools. In connection with Memotech’s plans to provide Memotech computers to 65 000 Russian schools, Super-ToolBox was also meant to be delivered as part of the complete package." Rather than the joystick port interface described below, the "Super-ToolBox" was designed to be interfaced using the User I/O port available as a 20 pin DIP socket on the MTX system board.

As the Russian deal fell through, I don't know if this system was ever put in production (?), and even if it was, I don't imagine that I will ever see one, but I would be very interested if anyone comes across one.

I have an old magazine, not sure which one, advert for "ToolBox '84" from Norbit which looks like an interface for the joystick port which provided a user programmable interface for a number of micros, including the MTX. You can see the advert here. This interface seems to be the origins of Misolima, there is a really interesting article on their website which describes their early days, including interfacing to the Memotech computer.
Misolima has a photo of the ToolBox '85 unit on their UK website.

From their humble beginnings with the 8-bit micros of the '80s, now based in Thailand, Misolima have grown to produce a range of embedded systems used in home and office automation.

 

One of the owners of Norbit Elektronikk arriving at the Memotech Factory in Witney, Oxfordshire.

Norbit worked with Memotech at the factory, developing the prototype for the Super-Toolbox which was offered with the Russian schools bid.

The Super-Toolbox was built inside a customised version of the FDX case. If you look closely, you can see the MTX keyboard peeking out on the left.

 

Pictures from the Misolima UK website.

 

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