Building a computer processor from scratch isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those with the knowledge and willpower it can be incredibly fun and educational. Keen to have a crack themselves, Eric Schlaepfer and Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories spent two years making a large scale (and prettier) version of the humble MOS 6502 microprocessor.
The appropriately named “MOnSter 6502” is a functioning chip, based on MOS Technology’s popular circuit. The vanilla 6502 powered the BBC Micro, while tweaked versions were the heart of the NES, Atari 2600 and C64.
Unfortunately, the MOnSter can’t act as a drop-in replacement, if you could somehow fit it inside the chassis of the aforementioned gadgets. In the case of CPUs, bigger almost never means better.
The MOnSter is 30.48 x 38.1cm, compared to the actual chip’s 3.9 × 4.3mm. As a result, the upscaled version can only hit 60kHz, whereas the original can go as fast as 3MHz.
That doesn’t mean it’s all for show – not by a long shot:
We’re currently running it on a custom 6502 development board (the single-board computer that we mentioned earlier) and doing things like running running BASIC, much as you would on an Apple II.
Right now, work is being done on the second revision, which will have 313 LEDs — double of the one pictured here. It’s currently on-show at the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire, in San Mateo.