Hacking a vintage BBC Micro into a $40,000 disc writer #VintageComputing #Security
Chris Evans takes a vintage BBC Micro from 1981 and looks at hacking its 2 MHz 6502 and peripherals to write nonstandard copy protections that required a $40,000 floppy duplicator in 1987.
One of the most iconic floppy disc protection stories is Dungeon Master. Released in December 1987, Dungeon Master combined an advanced physical disc format (fuzzy bits) with sneaky protection checks embedded into the gameplay itself.
The Dungeon Master protection was described by one of the DM authors:
We had the advantage of owning the patent on a floppy-disk copy protection scheme that required a $40,000 specialized hardware device to write the disks. It was impossible to create a disk image without this hardware, and the hardware itself was out of production.
The question: is the vintage BBC Micro and its peripherals capable of being hooked up to a vintage floppy disk drive and able to send the complicated control signals, at a fast enough rate, to write the same copy protections as the newer, much speedier, more pricey, floppy duplicator?
It turns out several peripherals on the BBC Micro -in theory- can, but due to hardware issues cannot. BUT! Chris uses one BBC Micro peripheral to do some things it’s designers never thought possible!
Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.