The old disks for PDP-11s being somewhat difficult to find, Noel and Dave decided to build a card to interface with modern storage devices. The QSIC is a QBUS card to make SD cards and USB mass storage devices appear as traditional disks. It will consist of an FPGA and micro-controller on a dual-height QBUS card with a couple SD card sockets and a USB A socket.
Our plans are to emulate some number of traditional disks and their controllers (initially the RK11 and RP11) as well as invent a new disk controller (we're calling it the RQ11 or maybe we'll just extend the RP11) that better matches the storage devices we're actually using today for those people who are willing and able to write their own device drivers.
Additionally, it will have an interface to indicator panels for all the blinkenlights you could want. We ought to be able to handle at least four indicator panels if you have space to put them.
The work on the QBUS protocol lead us to some interesting insights into how to implement bus arbitration. We decided to write that down in a paper that's available here.
Awesome! We'd love help. We want to get a prototype running first and we're busy working on that now using a wire-wrapped board and an FPGA module. Before too long, we'd like to transition to a circuit board of our own. If you have knowledge and experience with designing, manufacturing, and soldering up boards with BGA parts, we'd love to have your help with this.
The indicator panels will be a lot of fun but they'll need graphic design for the different inlays and manufacturing of the mechanical bits. We have ideas for most of it but not yet for fabricating the bezel. You want to take a crack at that?
In addition to the hardware, there's the software. We'll probably do only a handful of the possible disk controllers so if you have one that's particularly near and dear to your heart (or necessary to your operating system of choice), that's a good project. Or how about a 9-track tape controller? It's probably best to wait until we have at least something working before getting too far afield with hordes of different device controllers.
Beyond the QSIC, we're contemplating a Unibus board as well. Besides emulating disk controllers, it could act like the ENABLE board did in giving 18-bit Unibus machines access to 222 bytes of memory like a PDP-11/70. To do that, we'd probably just put the memory on the board too as that simplifies the design considerably and the smallest memory chip we can buy that matches the Artix7 FPGA we're looking at is 256MB.