Hackaday retro edition roundup

Retro

The Hackaday retro edition hasn’t been updated in a while, and for that I am very sorry. Still, digging through my email reveals quite a lot of very cool retro computers that were able to load the retro edition over the Internet, and it would be a terrible shame to let these awesome submissions die in my inbox. Without further adieu, here are the best retro computers that have been sent in over the last few months:

[Scott] got his Mac SE to load up the retro edition. This was a chore; after getting a serial connection from his SE to the outside world, [Scott] realized he didn’t have a browser on his retro mac. 800k drives are a pain, it seems. He eventually got everything running in a terminal session, and the retro edition loaded beautifully.

How about another Mac? This one is [Raymond]‘s Mac II, the first not-all-in-one Macintosh. NuBus Ethernet card, Netscape 2.02, and 26 years of history behind this machine.

Here’s a weird one: it’s a Siemens interactive display originally used for a building management display. It has a 10 inch touch screen display at 640×480 resolution and runs Windows CE 5.0. After fiddling with some files, [Nick] managed to get the networking running on this machine and tried to load Google. Anyone who has played around with the class of machines we seen for retro submissions knows what happened next (nothing), but luckily [Nick] remembered Hackaday has a retro site. The rest is history.

[Kyle] has a really cool box on his hands. It’s a Compaq 486SX overclocked from 25MHz to 33MHz. 20 Megabytes of RAM, network card, and a Soundblaster 16 make this computer from 1993 a very respectable box for old DOS gaming. It can also browse the web with Arachne.

Finally, [cnlohr], the guy who made his own electron microscope  never mind, he’s still awesome and can manufacture glass PCBs at home, found an old green screen CRT while cleaning out a friend’s place. He hooked it up to one of his glass PCB AVR microcontroller things and did the usual text terminal fare; ASCII Star Wars with telnet and using lynx to load up the retro site. It’s only a 48-column display, but the retro edition is surprisingly readable. Very cool.

Converting an IBM PCjr joystick to USB

pcjr-joystick-usb-conversion

Seeing this IBM joystick again really brings back memories. But it can be used on a modern system thanks to this USB conversion project.

This particular model had a connector which is foreign to us. It looks like a boxy USB-A plug, but has an eight-pin sockets which looks like it’s 0.1″ pitch. You could try to make your own male connector using a dual-row pin header, but [Gruso] just went ahead and lopped off the end of the cable. He managed to dig up the pin-out for the device and found that it could be wired up to a gameport — the connector being the only real difference. He gutted a USB gameport adapter, removing the DB15 connector and soldering directly to the board. The boxy old peripheral has just enough room to house that PCB.

If you’re looking for a few more details than this build album provides check out [Gruso's] comments in the Reddit thread.

Hackaday Retro Roundup: Ultraportables edition

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A few months ago, we rolled out an updated Hackaday, a badly needed new layout replacing the HTML and CSS that had remained unchanged since 2004. Of course a few people didn’t like change and complained about slow load times. We’ve experienced a slightly slower load time as well, so we’ll just wait until the year 2020 when our computers are many times faster and our Internet is provided by Google Fiber. Until then, our pokey battlestations and vintage computers can still check out a few classic hacks on our retro site. Here’s a few retro successes – Hackaday readers who pulled out their old tech and loaded up the retro site – that have come in over the past weeks and months.

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Hackaday Retro edition: The Macintosh SE/30

In 1988, Apple introduced the Macintosh IIx, an upgrade of the Mac II that included a Motorola 68030 CPU. The IIcx – a compact version of the IIx, also with a 68030 – was introduced in 1989. That same year, product designers at Apple created a more powerful version of the all-in-one Macintosh SE using the same CPU found in the IIx and IIcx. Unfortunately, the naming convention didn’t hold but the Macintosh SE/30 is still the greatest computer Apple will ever build.

Earlier this month, [Greg] sent in a submission for our retro edition successes. A huge mac fan, [Greg] connected his Powerbook Duo to an Ethernet adapter and loaded up our retro edition. [Greg] is back again, this time with an SE/30.

In the three pictures [Greg] sent us (in the gallery after the break), you can see his extremely clean SE/30 booting into System 7 and loading up our retro site. In the third picture, you can see [Greg] playing Bolo, one of the first network-enabled games ever made, and still a very fun waste of time today.

If you’re wondering what makes the SE/30 so great, consider this: the SE/30 is able to address up to 128 MB of RAM. Keep in mind this computer is from an era when one or two Megabytes of RAM would be more than enough to get just about any job done. The SE/30 also made a fabulous server. Even today it would be a capable home media server if it weren’t for its relatively slow networking capabilities and 2 Gigabyte file size (not volume size) limit.

[Greg] has a very cool machine on his hands here, and we’re pleased as punch his SE/30 could make its way over to our retro site.

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Hackaday retro edition roundup

In case you’ve forgotten about it, we still have a retro edition of Hackaday. It’s our simple, hand-coded HTML site featuring a few random hacks from Hackaday’s 8-year history. There’s also a retro successes page where our readers can log on with their old boxxen and claim their prize as a master of retrocomputing. Here’s a few retro successes that came in over the past month or so:

Our second OS/2 Warp submission comes from [Chris]. He got an HP Omnibook 800CT running OS/2 Warp 4 to load up our retro site.

A few of you may be wondering what the upper bound of what we consider a retro computer is. [Witek] used a Wyse thin client from the year 2000 to pull up our retro edition. These terrible computers used a Compact Flash card plugged directly into an IDE port to load up Windows CE. Yeah, it’s technically a SSD. [Witek] put the GRUB bootloader on one and loaded up our retro edition with Debian Squeeze. We have too many bad memories of these thin clients, and we’ve got to commend [Witek] for putting the effort into doing something useful with one.

[leadacid] is on a roll. He gave us our first OS/2 Warp submission and has since moved onto an IBM RS/6000. Previously, he got a Macintosh 8100 and a Quadra 840AV to pull up the retro site. Nice job.

Those are all the retro submissions for now, but if you have an old computer lying around, try pulling up our retro site and send it in.

Making a gigantic 18 pole 16 throw switch

When you’re building something that hasn’t been done before, sometimes the parts you need just don’t exist.

[Bacteria] over on the Made by Bacteria forum is building a huge all-in-one video game machine, combining hardware from 16 different consoles released through the years. This build requires a way to switch the video output between consoles, so [Bacteria] made a gigantic 18 pole 16 throw switch.

The build began with [Bacteria] sourcing a few 8-pole switches. Of course this switch was too small to toggle between the 16 output lines for each system, so these switches were doubled up and activated by a single button. This system worked, but the results weren’t ideal.

[Bacteria] gave in to the temptation of building his own switch by using spring-loaded metal nuts as the contacts for each part of the switch, allowing him to switch between consoles with a simple sliding contact.

So far, it looks like [Bacteria]‘s Project Unity is shaping up nicely. We’ve seen a bit of the controller portion of [Bac]‘s build, and already it’s shaping up to be a wonder of retro gaming.

You can check out [Bacteria]‘s breakdown of his switch after the break and his Instructable here.

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Hackaday Links: June 12, 2012

Amazing 3D rendering in real-time

Ah, the 90s. A much simpler time when the presenters on Bad Influence! were amazed by the 3D rendering capabilities of the SGI Onyx RealityEngine2. This giant machine cost £250,000 back in the day, an amazing sum but then again we’re getting nostalgic for old SGI hardware.

Well, Mega is taken… let’s call it Grande

[John Park] needed to put something together for last month’s Maker Faire. A comically large, fully functional Arduino was the obvious choice. If you didn’t catch the demo last month, you can grab all the files over on Thingiverse.

Is that an atomic clock in your pocket or… oh, I see.

Here’s the world’s smallest atomic clock. It’s made for military hardware, so don’t expect this thing to show up at Sparkfun anytime soon; we can’t even fathom how much this thing actually costs. Still, it’ll be awesome when this technology trickles down to consumers in 10 or 20 years.

Converting a TRS-80 keyboard to USB

[Karl] is working on an awesome project – putting a Raspberry Pi inside an old TRS-80. The first part of the project – converting a TRS-80 keyboard to USB – is already complete. We can’t wait to see this build finished.

 A DIY Propeller dev board

Last week we complained about the dearth of builds using the Parallax Propeller. A few noble tinkerers answered our call and sent in a few awesome builds using this really unique micro. [Stefan]‘s Propeller One is the latest, and looking at the schematics it should be possible to etch a single-sided board for this project. Awesome work and thanks for giving us a weekend project, [Stefan].

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