• The Acorn Pheobe Pi Project part 3

    CDROM Integration

    Well I have read up on many posts and forums and more recently I saw some good results with someone getting a usb CDROM working on a Rasp Linux distro. So I thought how can I get a real IDE front slot loading CDROM working in the Pheobe and by utilising USB as the Pi doesn’t have IDE support.

    So this is where I found that Amazon came in useful, I purchased a IDE/SATA to USB Adaptor but had reservations the thing would work on any system considering it was so cheap and from China.

    USB to IDE SATA 2.5 3.5 Hard Disk HDD Cable Converter

    How wrong was I as it worked fine with a HD connected to my laptop. So next step was to order online an old CDROM slot loading cd drive, I thought because back in those days Acorn machines only had CD drives I best stick to finding something around the time the Pheobe was manufactured.

    Sure enough I found a Compaq CDROM front loading from 1998, rather rare but it was cheap so took the plunge on eBay

    So the next step was to put the drive into the Pheobe case and hook up the USB/IDE Adaptor and PSU power cable.


    Working with the case front panel off I tested the eject and slot loading seemed to work fine. I needed a way of getting the audio from the drive and mix with the sound output from the Pi but without any soldering. So I had to buy a flat style of audio extension cable by Belkin from Sainsburys with right angle plug to go into the front socket on the drive, bingo the front cover was able to be clipped on without the audio lead sticking out too much…



    I tucked the cable into the case through one of the holes and tied it into place along the bottom of the case running up to where the Pi is situated on the Fairywren mobo. I also purchased at Sainsburys an audio splitter…

    The idea that I could hook up and pass through the audio from the CDROM and PI out of the backpain of the NLX case without any soldering or modding.


    I had a feeling that CDFS was not going work correctly, OK the data side of things doesn’t but I am sure someone might work on RiscOS further to get the data working at some point down the line from a real Acorn CD disc but at the time of writing this capability doesn’t work.

    So the result was a success for audio cds, I booted the Pheobe up into RiscOS and inserted various media but only found that using the built in CD player at least allowed CDs to be played. This was a great result considering using a cheap IDE 2 USB adaptor from China and the fact the Pi was never built for CDROM usage and CDFS at least worked to some respect with audio side of things!


    So here is my end result a very unique working Acorn Pheobe Arm7 / RiscOS 5.22 system.

    I may try todo something with Floppy 3.5 drives in the future if RiscosOpen manage to get a usb friendly version of ADFS working.

    Please feel free to comment or send questions via the site.


  • The Acorn Pheobe Pi Project part 2

    Well after installing the Fairywren I needed some USB ports which of course an NLX tower system like the Pheobe back in 1998 probably wouldnt of had. So i purchased some USB extender pci style brackets…


    Slotted and secured them into the spare slots and plugged them into the Fairywren powered USB sockets along with the GPIO extender socket in the backpane and HD socket extender. Next I had to work out the pins for lights and power switch was quite easy…



    I then plugged in the mouse and keyboard into the new rear USB sockets. And using a HD to SVGA convertor plugged in to the back HD socket to my monitor i then turned on the Pheobe by holding the on button for second. (seems to be how the Fairywren work) and bingo booting into the latest build of RiscOS…


    Next I will cover how to add a front loading CDROM drive…

    Part 3 coming soon…

  • The Acorn Pheobe Pi Project part 1

    So I manged to get hold of a Phoebe case from ebay in great condition. There are are only 50 odd of these ever produced which never saw the light of day when Acorn scrapped the Pheobe Risc PC2 and broke up the company in 1998. The only one that ever worked is a prototype in the Cambridge Computer Museum.

    So the thought occurred why not make an Arm v7 version using the Raspberry Pi…


    The first task was to acquire something that the Pi would mount to or provide expansion. So enter the Fairywren motherboard…


    Made by Geekroo, the board comes with loads of cables and mounting brackets, the Pi just slots into the boards GIPO socket and is bolted secure…


    So now i had my ITX solution i needed figure out the mounting brackets in the NLX Pheobe case…


    After some playing about I found the way that worked best so that the PSU would connect to the board. PSU was a whisper quiet 300watt from early 2000’s…


    So now we had a PSU and mobo solution with plenty of powered USB sockets, unlike the Pi in its native state it really lacks the extra powered USB sockets you would need for keyboard, mouse and USB devices.

    Part 2 coming soon!