A few years back, the Andy Warhol Museum ran into an unusual problem. They wanted to display digital pieces the pop artist created on his Amiga 1000 back in the 1980s, but putting the vintage computers on the floor and letting the public poke around on them wasn’t really an option. So the team at [Iontank] were tasked with creating an interactive display that looked like a real Amiga, but used all modern technology under the hood.
The technical details on the electronics side are unfortunately a bit light, as the page on the [Iontank] site simply says all of the internals were replaced with “solid-state hardware” and an Amiga emulator. To us that sounds like a Raspberry Pi is now filling in for the Amiga’s original motherboard, but that’s just a guess. The page does note that they went through the trouble of making sure the original mouse and keyboard still worked, so it stands to reason a couple microcontrollers are also along for the ride doing translation duty.
While we don’t know much about the computers, [Iontank] do provide some interesting insight into developing the faux CRTs sitting atop the non-Amigas. There were some promising rear-projection experiments conducted early on, but in the end, they decided to use a standard LCD behind a milled acrylic lens. This not only made for a perfect fit inside the original monitor enclosures, but gave the screen that convex depth that’s missing on modern flat panels.
The end result looks like the best of both worlds, combining the sharp bright image of an LCD with just a hint of retro distortion. With a scanline generator in the mix, this technique would be a great way to simulate the look of a CRT display in an arcade cabinet, though admittedly being able to mill down an acrylic lens of the appropriate size would be a tough job for most home gamers.
[Thanks to Derek for the tip.]