Ken tinkers with DTL, and SV3ORA’s transistorized 4-bit digital computer made out of discrete DTL

Ken stumbled on one of my earlier posts about DTL (diode transistor logic) and was interested enough to do some basic exploration. He reduced the DTL NAND gate to a double diode, a transistor and two resistors. Ken sent me the LTSpice and EagleCAD screen dumps that fit in about .4″ square:

nand

Pretty cool. In an email, Ken goes a bit further:

I’m working towards a bitslice pcb that implements either an ALU or a Program counter. Remarkably their logic is so similar that a single block of logic could be configured to match either requirement. I think I can get it all on to a 4″ x 2″ pcb with a couple of LEDs and a toggle switch on the front edge. Stack 8, 12 or 16 of these together and you have something similar to the PDP-8.

Awesome Ken! I hope to hear more about this when you have some hardware running.

I haven’t even done any real thinking since then, but I went back and tried to find some more information of people building stuff with DTL logic. I’m not sure if I spotted SV3ORA’s 4 bit digital computer before, but rereading it today, it turned out very cool. He constructed the logic on perfboard with just ordinary components. Very nice.

A transistorized 4-bit digital computer made out of discrete DTL

Addendum: Ken also pointed out the NAND to Tetris course in his email, which I believe I may have blogged about before, but which is a great resource for someone seeking to develop a more complete vertical understanding of computers from the ground up. Ken’s addition of actual soldering to the project makes it even cooler.

Tiny-Tim: A DTL computer (in progress)

Previously, I had linked to Rory Mangles’ experiments with relay based computers. He had an incredible build of a relay logic computer called Tiny-8 which used paper as program mamory, inked with a pattern which could be read by photo sensors to sequence the control logic in his computer. I thought it was amazing. But surfing back to his website, he appears to now by working Tiny Tim, a diode-transistor logic (DTL) computer, made from discrete 2N3904 transistors and Schottky diodes. Sadly, there isn’t much actual build here yet (this update is six months old) but there is some good information, and I hope that he’ll pick up the project again.

Here is a link to his video of a simple flip flop: