Recreating A Numpad For The ADM-3A

[Evan] already had a working ADM-3A (a dumb terminal from 1976) but was starting to eye the accessories hungrily. He had only seen the numpad on Wikipedia and in the manual. So when he found some authentic stackpole numpads on a surplus sale, he grabbed them and converted them to be ADM-3A compatible.

Looking at the schematic for the ADM-3A, [Evan] figured out that the numpad was parallel to the keyboard matrix, not adjacent. This meant that pressing a five on the keyboard was electrically equivalent to pressing a five on the keyboard. So holding shift while punching on the numpad leads to some unexpected characters for those of us used to more modern keyboards. Since [Evan] only needed to make one or two of these, he soldered wires directly to switch contacts in the matrix that the ADM-3A expects. A 3d printed housing, some rubber feet, and a ribbon cable later, it was done. While it looks slightly different from the original, the vibe is right, and given that it is a stackpole switch, it has the same feel. With the spare numpads, he created a replacement PCB that runs QMK and connects to a more modern computer via USB-C. The files for the 3d printed housing are also up on GitHub, along with the PCBs and QMK configuration files.

If you’re interested in what more you can do with an ADM-3A, why not hook it up to a Raspberry Pi?

CRT Cataract Surgery

Back in the good old days, people got their information by staring into particle accelerators that could implode at any moment, and we liked it that way, by gum! To protect against disaster, CRT monitors were equipped with a safety screen laminated to the front of the tube. Decades of use often resulted in degradation of the glue used to hold the safety glass on, leading to the dread disease of “CRT cataracts.”

Luckily for aficionados of vintage terminals, [John Sutley] has come up with a cure for CRT cataracts. The video below shows the straightforward but still somewhat fussy process from start to finish. You’ll want to follow [John]’s advice on discharging the high-voltage flyback section of any stored charge; we speak from painful experience on this. With the CRT removed from the case, removing the safety screen is as simple as melting the glue with a hot air gun and applying gentle leverage with a putty knife. We’d think a plastic tool would be less likely to scratch the glass, but [John] managed to get them apart without incident. Acetone and elbow grease cleaned off the old glue, and the restored CRT looks great when reassembled.

With its cataracts cured, [John] says his next step is to restore the wonky keyboard on his Lear Siegler ADM-3A terminal. Perhaps he should look over this VT220 keyboard repair for ideas.

Continue reading “CRT Cataract Surgery”

RasPi Powered ADM-3A Dumb Terminal


[Andrew Curtin] tipped us off to another excellent resurrected vintage one piece ADM-3A dumb terminal. [Andrew] not only resurrected this sexy machine by breathing life into her once more after 37 years but he also got it connected online to for those coveted retro Super Nerd bonus points.

As with other ADM-3A terminals we have seen on Hackaday, the terminal screen can be interfaced over an RS-232 serial connector to a laptop, however, [Andrew] didn’t have a laptop to sacrifice so he utilized the now popular laptop stand-in RasPi. It’s a clever form factor solution which makes it appear more like a standalone computer for the first time in its life.

To make the hack work he needed a serial adapter to link the ADM-3A terminal to the Ras-PI so he constructed one for himself. It’s another clever solution but he didn’t share much information on this build. Maybe he’ll comment below or elaborate on his site with more details on the construction and utilization of the adapter board from the Ras-PI so others could easily repeat this fun hack.