Old Logic Analyzer becomes New PC Case

There are a lot of cool ways to wrap a case around your custom PC build. But the off-the-shelf stuff doesn’t really set your machine apart from the herd, no matter how many RGB LEDs you put inside. If you really want to stand out, think out of the box, and build your PC into the case of an old logic analyzer.

Looking for a little retro cool factor, [Bob Alexander] turned to the world’s boneyard, eBay, and rounded up a dead H-P 1653 logic analyzer. State of the art in 1989 but not worth repairing by [Bob]’s lights, so he proceeded to remove the original 10″ CRT to make room for an alternate display. After a bit of experimentation, he settled on an LCD panel mounted behind a sheet of acrylic that he thermoformed to the shape of the CRT face. All the original guts were removed to make way for the motherboard and power supply, and a custom PCB to interface the original keypad and rotary encoder into the PC. The old buttons now launch various programs and the encoder acts as the PC volume control. The floppy drive made way for a USB hub, the BNC connectors became power and reset buttons, and a photo taken through the CRT bezel before the electronics were removed provides a window into the soul of the original instrument. It’s a really nice build, and totally unique.

Need some inspiration for your custom case mod? This wall-mounted render farm is pretty snazzy. Or perhaps you’d prefer something more apocalyptic, like this ammo can PC.

26 thoughts on “Old Logic Analyzer becomes New PC Case

  1. Cute idea. Might actually try something like that with old lab equippement as my 2018 casemod project. Maybe the old Tektronix 7613 we have will soon be decomissioned, as it did not fully pass the last calibration measurements.

  2. I’m digging the photo. At first I thought he put a flash inside the cabinet, then I thought maybe some LED lights, but now I’m thinking the strategy was just to backlight the daylights out of it (see what I did there?) and then fill flash it up to where it’s bright enough to see the guts without blowing out the front panel. Or did I totally miss something?

    1. That’s an LCD display showing a photo I took of the guts before I ripped them out. I considered come of the alternatives you thought of, but I needed to remove at least some of the old hardware to fit PC hardware in the case. If you could really look inside the case, you’d see a mix of 1989 and 2017 hardware, and that would not have been pretty.

  3. I wonder how realistic the LCD behind molded acrylic looks. I hate the way LCDs look retrofitted in cases made for CRTs. At least he considered leaving the CRT in and paid homage to it.

    1. It looks a lot better than without the acrylic, and from a distance you can’t tell the difference. But close-up, you can tell the image is behind the molded acrylic, not on it.

      1. I understand where you’re coming from. That’s why I deliberately got a non-working unit. It could be argued that non-working units can be repaired, and if this were an Altair 8800, I’d agree that it should be repaired instead of gutted.

        But I don’t think every piece of old hardware is sacred. Not every old thing needs to be preserved forever. An HP 1653B logic analyzer has, IMO, no special historical value.

        1. Well, I’d like to own it, it could be fixed…

          But seriously, that’s quite a good point.
          If people did keep all the non-unique old hardware they had, there’d be a huge, useless pile of it now.

          1. There are plenty available on eBay. If you’re serious about getting one, keep in mind that 1) you need to buy the pods, i.e. the sets of leads, and they’re harder to find than the logic analyzer itself; 2) they take up a lot of room on your bench; 3) their user interface is not as good as what a USB logic analyzer will give you.

            But they definitely have geek cred.

  4. I think this is an awesome article that is geeky fun applied art. I have a professional broadcast JVC BR-D750U that I am finding I am not able to find much for support regarding the error where the tape auto ejects (Error 06 1) and the audio meter makes a constant noise afterwards. Anyone with ideas?

    Therefore, my worst case scenario plan is to use as a rackmount PC case and salvage parts since they do look like high quality components.

  5. It should be OD Green. Add some collasible anttenna and an old phone handset or PTT mic and a speaker grill… and shoulder strap. I feel those who hate to not fix such items, but this is cool. HNY!

  6. I’m thinking this is inspiring me to make a dedicated on the road surveillance kit out of an older case that has the EMF gaskets and better metal case shielding to be more hardened. Maybe use an anechoic chamber design also or at least lower noise components and OLED display. Even for a radio like above noted seems like a way great idea if a bargain buy.

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