September 12

We are excited to bring you news of progress on the TS Pico.

What is it?

As you’ve probably seen in demos during the Zoom meetings, the TS Pico is an open source hardware add-on for your Timex/Sinclair 2068 that can load/save programs to/from TAP files on SD cards.

How did it come to be?

The TS Pico is the brainchild of Ricardo Calcagno, an Argentinian who just wanted a modern way to load and save his 2068 work. A Raspberry Pi Pico is the brains of the unit, interpreting commands from the 2068 and performing all the magic. It comes with 1mb on on-board memory (512K Flash, 512K RAM). The Flash memory holds special versions of the Timex HOME and EXROM; they replace the built-in ROMs when you switch on your 2068. It leverages nearly 40 years of 2068 operating system development by Gustavo Pane, another Argentinian. Gustavo’s operating system is fully compatible with the 2068 and extends it without unnecessary complexity. Ricardo and Gustavo worked together to develop the TS Pico as an integrated solution that can also be a tool for building other solutions or exploring the combined power of the 2068 and the Pico. Ricardo reached out to David Anderson to share the project and David suggested bringing two other folks, Tim H (in New Zealand) and Jeff Burrell (in Minnesota). Both have extensive experience in hardware design. Their contributions added new features to the TS Pico.

What does it do?

As designed, the TS Pico is a digital disk drive for your 2068. You can use the standard tape commands (Save, Load, Verify, Merge) to interact with and manage files on an SD card from your 2068. It works with your existing tapes, so if you have files you want to migrate to the TS Pico, no problem! And? it will capture output from COPY, LLIST and LPRINT to files on the SD card, which you can then open on your PC/Mac/Linux computer. Most important, easy to upgrade the Pico operating system. When we release new versions of the Pico OS, you?ll be able to download and install them on your TS Pico board, from your PC/Mac/Linux computer. Last, it?s extensible. Want to create your own command? It?s no problem at all. It?s programmed in MicroPython, a language that is easy to learn and program. There is loads of MicroPython support on the web.

Where we are

We have been pressure testing the hardware and software. We’ve found and squashed bugs. The circuit board design has undergone several revisions and refinements and is almost ready for release. Parts for the boards are being ordered. The manual is being drafted and we?ll have a beta version for our outside testers outside soon.

What do you need to use it?

Obviously, you’ll need a working 2068 and a TS Pico board. The rest is up to you. There will be several ways to get a TS Pico.

  • Total DIY: You download the circuit board designs and have a PCB manufacturer make some for you. You are your support for this option and it does not come with the enhanced ROMs on Flash. The TS Pico OS will be available on Github.
  • Mostly DIY: Purchase a bare PCB and pre-programmed Flash chip with the enhanced 2068 OS. You provide all the other parts (available from most suppliers) and assemble.
  • A not-quite-Heathkit: The PCB, all the parts (incl the pre-programmed Flash). You supply the solder and fun. The assembly guide assumes prior experience with similar projects; limited troubleshooting support will be available.
  • Assembled and Tested TS Pico: A fully assembled and tested Pico, pre-programmed and ready-to-run. You just plug-and-play.

The TS Pico can connect to your TS 2068 in two ways: directly to the edge connector or via an expansion bus. Both options will be supported and available. If you purchase the direct-connect option, you?ll be able to upgrade to the expansion bus version.

When will it be available?

We aim to have it available in November of this year.

What will it cost?

We’re working out the details but we want it to be affordable.

What about an enclosure?

We have some thoughts about that.

Obviously, we don’t have the resources to re-create Timex’s vision of the bus expansion unit but 3D printing does open a lot of doors.

We are taking this potential into account with the design of our boards (and a proposed standard for any boards that might come in the future) to accommodate an enclosure.

Do you have questions, thoughts, concerns? Please email them to David at with a subject that includes TS-Pico.

Thank you and we look forward to bringing the TS Pico to you soon!
Ricardo, Gustavo, Jeff, Tim and David