Completed ALU

Following my last post on the completed backplane I’m now in a position to connect all the other completed cards together to test the full ALU. The ALU is made up of the logic, arithmetic and control cards and here’s how those cards look when plugged in to the backplane:

ALU Cards attached to Backplane

… and when viewed from the top and back …

ALU Card Pack (viewed from top) ALU Card Pack (viewed from rear)

… and finally here’s the four cards laid out side by side:

Three ALU Cards + Backplane

Surprisingly enough with everything connected together it all appears to work OK with only one small exception … I was finding that the carry out from the arithmetic card wasn’t being received by the control card. After much digging around with a multimeter I found the problem wasn’t the backplane as suspected but rather that the required wiring had been missed out on the arithmetic card. With the addition of the missing wire link the carry out function was restored. However, this then highlighted a slight design flaw in that the carry out line is passed out to the control bus even when the add or increment result is not active. This means it’s possible to set the carry condition register by mistake when gating a logic result on to the data bus. In contrast the zero and sign conditions are driven directly from the data bus so could only ever be set by a gated result from the arithmetic or logic cards. The fix for the over zealous carry out will be to pop an extra gating relay in on the arithmetic card so that the carry out line is cut off until either the add or increment result is being gated out.

As usual I’ve posted a video to YouTube demonstrating the completed ALU. This one is a little bit longer than my previous ones as there’s a bit more to show this time but if nothing else it’s reminded me that I need to switch internet provider … it took 4 hours to upload the full HD video at around 2Gb in size. Anyho, here is said video:

With the ALU now complete and working as expected I’ve checked off the first major milestone on the journey to building my relay computer. Next up will be designing and constructing the B/C and A/D register cards which will then allow driving the ALU directly from the data bus, storing ALU results and passing values between the four registers. Before that though the cards lack physical support when connected to the backplane and I’m concerned that they’ll get damaged at some point so it’s time to focus a bit more on the enclosure again and get the card pack floor and ceilings laser cut and fitted and get the ALU installed in the enclosure.

Published Mar 30, 2014