The KIM-1 was an early single-board computer that helped introduce the “masses” to micro-computing with the MOS 6502 processor. MOS built and distributed the KIM-1, presumably to help sell more microprocessors. Briel Computing has recreated the KIM-1 with the MicroKIM. I built a MicroKIM at KansasFest last summer. The kit was a blast to build. Although more complex than other kits I’ve built, the build went smoothly and produced a working MicroKIM on the first try. Vince Briel has done a nice job of producing a reliable, straightforward, and fun kit. I look forward to getting the RAM and I/O expansion boards.
The MicroKIM appeals to me because it is a self-contained single-board computer (SBC). I don’t need a monitor or keyboard to use the board – the inbuilt hexadecimal keypad and 6 seven-segment displays are adequate to use and program the system. Of course, most folks will want a terminal with a keyboard and display after a few minutes with a comparatively limited keypad and seven-segment outputs. But, I find the self-contained nature and self-sufficiency of SBCs like the MicroKIM or KIM-1 appealing.
I do wish the the MicroKIM had a wider power input range. Off-the-shelf adapters that provide the ideal input voltage, about 8 VDC, are difficult to find. As is, the MicroKIM uses a 7805 regulator, which requires a minimum of 7.5 VDC and is inefficient at higher voltages. I wish the board used an LDO regulator, with a lower minimum input requirement, or a more efficient switching supply. This isn’t a big issue – rather, it’s an annoyance that kept me from using the MicroKIM while I searched for a suitable supply.
So, what shall I do with a MicroKIM? I want to follow Mr. Loofbourrow’s lead and build a robot. Unfortunately, this project requires more time and space than I have right now. I’m thinking a simple RPN calculator would be fun and instructive. Any other ideas?