Category: Electronics

Soarer’s Converter

Yesterday, I purchased an ATmega32U4 to build Soarer’s converter for my IBM M Keyboard. I’ll be mostly following this guide to do the conversion, as Soarer used a Teensy 2.0 in his original design, and this guide uses the same one I’ve ordered. I’m still debating on whether to do the conversion internally or externally. If I do it externally, I’ll likely get a low-profile case that I can attach to the keyboard where the Num, Caps, and Scroll lock LEDs would normally be so that I can add those. I’ll also likely either map some of the extra keys, or use optional external buttons, to quickly remap the keyboard for Linux, Windows, and Mac usage, and possibly emulator usage as well. I’d love to dye the keycaps black and paint the frame black as well, but I’m not sure how to re-do the lettering on the keys without them completely wearing out. Unicomp has some cool keycaps, but nothing in black and, sadly, it appears the largest set the sell is 104 keys, and there are no 122-key sets.

IBM M Keyboard

A couple weeks ago, I managed to snag the holy grail of computer keyboards off of eBay, an IBM M keyboard, for a really good price. What I didn’t realize is that there are so many different versions of it 😉 The one I wound up with is the 122 key terminal keyboard with a 5 pin DIN connector. Except the DIN connector isn’t the same as the PC/XT/AT connector. The pins are spaced further apart and have a different layout. The good news is the these keyboards have a header connector inside them for the cable, so it’s easily replaced. The bad news is that when connected to a PC with a replacement cable (or adapter) they act as an 84 key keyboard, wasting all those extra keys. But there’s an adapter that I can build to use it with USB, allowing me to map all those extra keys. I can build this adapter externally, or mount it inside the keyboard itself. Alternatively, I can build something similar using a Pi Zero, putting an entire PC inside the keyboard. I think I like the idea of the external adapter better, though, as is allows me to add Num, Caps, and Scroll Lock LEDs, which this version of the keyboard lacks, and also allows up to five external buttons as well.

One by one, the penguins are stealing my sanity…

Random title, just because 😉 (I know, I know. I’ve used it on posts on previous iterations of the blog.)

A week in to December, and linking to Wil Weaton again. This time it’s because he’s asking for Arduino and Raspberry Pi project ideas, and I really want to see what people post in his comments. Thought my few readers might be interested as well 😉

A couple of DIY cpu / computer links

Here are a couple of links to homebrew cpu and computers that I thought my readers might finder interesting. The first is a homebrew CPU that I found on Hacked Gadgets. The Nibbler is a 4-bit CPU, hence the name (a nibble is half a byte).

The second link is a 3-chip retrocomputer via Hack A Day. It uses a 6502 CPU, much like the early Apple computers. I wonder if something similar could be done for the beloved 6809, as used in the Tandy CoCo

The $40 x86 Arduino

Hack A Day has a post up about The $40 x86 Arduino, and, as a fan of the Rasberry Pi, I find this to be VERY cool. It’s only a matter of time before someone hacks in some low-cost video card (perhaps by buying two of these and splicing them together?), and then let the retro gaming fun begin!