About me & Retronic


My name is Martin Maly.

I have been fascinated by electronics and computers since I was young. I got my first ZX Spectrum computer when I was 13 years old. That was in 1986. Up until then, I had only read engineering magazines, looked at how computers were wired, and dreamed of building one someday.

Spectrum had me under its spell. I sat up late into the night. I played games, I programmed, and eventually I looked at how other people's games were made and how I could program my own.

Later I became a programmer, and I left programming after many years to go into media, but my childhood dream never left me. I still wanted to build my own computer and program something for it.

Today it is much easier for me - parts are more available than in the days of my youth in the Czechoslovakia (we were on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain). It's just that I'm a grown man now, and what grown man has enough time for something as utterly impractical as designing computers with 8-bit processors in the 21st century?

But dreams are meant to come true.

So electronics became my hobby again. After a few years, I thought I'd write a book about all the things I enjoy about electronics - and I did. So in the end it was three books.

In the first one, I explained the basics of electronics for people who want to play with Arduino. So they would know what a volt is and what a watt is, what a resistor is and what a capacitor is, and how to measure voltage. And so they don't get lost when they hear the words "gate", "flip-flop circuit", "counter" or "multiplexer".

In the second, I showed how to build old single board computers. I made three sample designs and called them OMEN. It doesn't mean "destiny", but it's an abbreviation of the Czech expression "eight-bit microcomputer for electronic enthusiasts". The OMEN Alpha is a design with an 8085 processor. The Bravo has a 6502 processor and the Kilo has a 6809 processor. And for each processor I have also introduced a basic course in machine language programming.

The third book moved from the past to the present: it covered FPGA circuits and designing designs in VHDL (and Verilog). From simple flashes through basic elements and "virtual OMEN Alpha", it has reached the design of the actual processor.

All three books have been published in English, and I think it would be a good idea to make them gradually available to more readers. So here we are, I'm writing this blog, and I'm curious to see if this idea takes off. I'll gradually repost my older articles and sample designs here.

Welcome and I wish you a pleasant reading.

PS: You can find my builds on Tindie, Hackaday.io, Hackster.io etc., and maybe you know my assembler ASM80.com.

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