MARCH attends HOPE X in July

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The Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyist (MARCH) group is at HOPE X displaying a chronology of Apple computers, everything from an accurate Apple 1 reproduction all the way way up to an Apple Macintosh, and of course including all the II’s in between. Although they are only displaying Apples at this event, don’t confuse them for an Apple group. They love all types of vintage computers from the 1940’s to the 80’s.

[Evan], president of the group, elegantly explained why they are here; “to let people know that vintage computing is a thing and there are people in the area that do that thing”. He would like to encourage everyone who is mildly interested in retro computing to contact their local retro computer group and get involved in the community.

The group also puts on a yearly Vintage Computer Festival in New Jersey. This year’s event has already passed but you can still see what happened as Hackaday was there documenting all the cool stuff.

Mid Atlantic Retro Computing Group

Overhaul an old mechanical keyboard

Deskthority forum user [lowpoly] recently posted a writeup on his complete overhaul of an Apple M0110  mechanical keyboard.  Any one familiar with the satisfying clack of a good mechanical key under their fingers can appreciate the effort put into this project.

[lowpoly] removed the keyboard’s PCB, rewired the key matrix adding diodes, built in a teensy USB board, broke apart the mechanical switches and fit replacement springs and finally applied a generous portion of retr0bright to all of the aging plastic. Since the teensy has no mounting holes [lowpoly] had to create a mounting assembly out of some spare plastic. A usb mini cable is even fitted into the original RJ-11 connector.  To compensate for the lack of PCB the key assembly was fitting with some rubber washers. To top off the whole thing some nice new rubber feet were taped to the underside of the M0110.

[lowpoly] reports that with the foam, new springs, and lack of PCB the keyboard is much quieter and easy to use.  The end result is a slick retro looking modern keyboard. If you’ll excuse us we have to go rooting through some old storage bins to find our own ancient keyboards.

We have seen our share of vintage keyboard hacks which can be useful, impressive and sometimes just odd. This build keeps it down to a nice simple, functional, useful retrofit. Nice work!

“Zero overhead” Z80 computer focuses on performance

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There’s something quite satisfying about building your own computer. Nowadays, constructing your own desktop PC is relatively easy, so if you really want to get your hands dirty, you have to take a step back in time and give some vintage hardware a spin.

[YT2095] has spent a good portion of the last two months building a computer based on the classic Z80 CPU. His machine, called “Z Eighty Development” or “ZED” for short is an amazing build, and most definitely a labor of love. He has put an estimated 700+ hours into this machine and it’s a beaut! When closed, the machine is pretty unassuming, but once he folds down the keypad, you can see that all of his time has been put to good use.

Most of the board’s components are connected together via wire wrap, including the large 48k memory card he built, as you can see from the link above. The wide array of add on cards all work together to accomplish his goal of “zero overhead” – freeing up the Z80 from having to do any unnecessary processing, such as I/O, etc.

It’s quite an impressive build, and ranks up there with some of the best Z80 based computers we have seen through the years.

DENCON

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Defcon, the world’s largest hacker convention, is this coming weekend in Las Vegas. While the convention generally focuses on breaking new technology, digital archivist [Jason Scott] has an interesting surprise for attendees this year. With some help from VintageTech, he’ll be assembling a massive den of retro computing machinery. They’ll have fully functional systems like the PDP-11/70 for people to play with. It sure to be one of the more unique things to see at the con.

Restoring yellowed computer plastics

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Many of our cherished computers and consoles from the past have not stood up well over time. It’s not the hardware as much as the color. From Commodores, Apples, to Super Nintendos, the machines have slowly drifted towards a sickly yellow and even brown. The culprit appears to be the fire retardant chemicals used in the plastics. Amiga enthusiasts have spent the last year perfecting a technique that restores the plastic of these machines to its original splendor. Dubbed ‘Retr0brite‘ it’s a gel made from hydrogen peroxide, xanthan gum, glycerine, and ‘Oxy’ style laundry booster. The results are really impressive. If you do start restoring your own machines, caution should be used since it requires strong concentrations of hydrogen peroxide typically employed in bleaching hair.

[via Waxy]

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