Playing classic games, whether they are games from the golden age of arcades or simply games from consoles that are long out of production, tends to exist on a spectrum. At one end is grabbing a game’s ROM file, finding an emulator, and kludging together some controls on a keyboard and mouse with your average PC. At the other is meticulously restoring classic hardware for the “true” feel of what the game would have felt like when it was new. Towards the latter end is emulating the hardware with an FPGA which the open-source MiSTer project attempts to do. This build, though, adds ATX capabilities for the retrocomputing platform. Continue reading “Classic Gaming With FPGA And ATX”
A KVM is a great tool for administering a number of different computers without cluttering one’s desk with extra peripherals, or for having to re-connect the keyboard, video, and mouse to each new machine as needed. For local administration this can save a ton of time and headache. For remote administration, though, a virtual KVM is needed, and although these solutions are pricey it’s possible to build one around a Raspberry Pi for a fraction of the cost. This one adds even more functionality by also switching the ATX signals from the motherboard and simplifying cable management to boot. Continue reading “Pi-Cast Adds ATX Signalling To KVM”
A benchtop power supply is a key thing to have for any aspiring electronics hacker. While you can always buy one, plenty of us have old computer PSUs lying around that could do a fine job themselves. [Frugha] decided to whip up a neat 3D-printed design for converting any ATX PSU into a usable bench unit.
The design features banana plugs outputting +12V, -12V, +5V, and +3.3V, with all outputs appropriately fused for safety. There’s also a fused stepdown converter used to supply variable voltages as needed. Its original trimpot was replaced with a multi-turn pot for ease of control. To make everything work, a load resistor on the 5V circuit makes the power supply think it’s hooked up to a motherboard. It’s all wrapped up in a neat slant-sided 3D-printed case that fits onto the ATX power supply itself.
The result is a neat and tidy power supply built out of readily-available components. We particularly like the addition of the stepdown converter – most ATX-based projects don’t offer variable output, which can nonetheless come in handy.
The venerable ATX standard was developed in 1995 by Intel, as an attempt to standardize what had until then been a PC ecosystem formed around the IBM AT PC’s legacy. The preceding AT form factor was not so much a standard as it was the copying of the IBM AT’s approximate mainboard and with it all of its flaws.
With the ATX standard also came the ATX power supply (PSU), the standard for which defines the standard voltage rails and the function of each additional feature, such as soft power on (PS_ON). As with all electrical appliances and gadgets during the 1990s and beyond, the ATX PSUs became the subject of power efficiency regulations, which would also lead to the 80+ certification program in 2004.
Starting in 2019, Intel has been promoting the ATX12VO (12 V only) standard for new systems, but what is this new standard about, and will switching everything to 12 V really be worth any power savings? Continue reading “Intel’s ATX12VO Standard: A Study In Increasing Computer Power Supply Efficiency”
We’ve seen lots of power supply projects that start with an ATX PC power supply. Why not? They are cheap and readily available. Generally, they perform well and have a good deal of possible output. [Maco2229’s] design, though, looks a lot different. First, it is in a handsome 3D-printed enclosure. But besides that, it uses a TFX power supply — the kind of supply made for very small PCs as you’d find in a point of sale terminal or a set-top box.
Like normal PC supplies, these are inexpensive and plentiful. Unlike a regular supply, though, they are long and skinny. A typical supply will be about 85x65x175mm, although the depth (175mm) will often be a little shorter. Compare this to a standard ATX supply at 150x86x140mm, although many are shorter in depth. Volume-wise, that’s nearly 967 cubic centimeters versus over 1,800. That allows the project to be more compact than a similar one based on ATX.
Economy of scale is a wonderful thing, take the switch-mode power supply as an example. Before the rise of the PC, a decent multi-voltage, high current power supply would be pretty expensive. But PCs have meant cheap supplies and sometimes even free as you gut old PCs found in the dumpster. [OneMarcFifty] decided to make a pretty setup for a PC supply that includes a very nice color display with bargraphs and other niceties. You can see the power supply in action in the video below.
The display is a nice TFT driven by an Arduino Nano. The project uses ACS712 current sensor modules, which are nice Hall effect devices that produce a linear output for current and have over 2 KV of voltage isolation.
We’ve mentioned previously the challenges that come with maintaining vintage computers which in some cases are pushing 40 years old. Components, even high quality ones, eventually fail and need to be replaced. Now if it’s a fairly popular vintage machine, replacement parts usually aren’t too hard to come by. But what if you’re dealing with a machine that’s not just vintage, but was also such a commercial flop that parts are scarce?
Such is the life for anyone who owns one of the 500,000 IBM PCJrs that Big Blue managed to get out of the door during the year or so the product was on the market. As [AkBKukU] found, a replacement AC adapter for the odd-ball computer was going to cost more than what he paid for the thing, so he set to work on creating an adapter so he could use a modern ATX PSU on the machine. After a couple of months of ironing out the kinks, the design is finally ready for consumption.
In the end, the PCB design itself is quite simple. It’s really just a matter of switching around some pins from the standard ATX plug to the edge connector on the PCJr. There’s also a connector for powering a floppy drive, as well as headers for a fan and power switch.
[AkBKukU] has come up with two ways to use the adapter. You can either go with a standard ATX PSU, in which case it will need to sit outside the machine due to its size, or use a PicoPSU which allows you to keep the whole thing internal. If you don’t mind spending the cash, the PicoPSU method is a much cleaner installation that still provides plenty of power. Depending on which route you take, there are different 3D printed plates to adapt the computer’s rear panel to fit the new hardware.
All the files to build your own version are in the GitHub repository, and [AkBKukU] is doing some low volume runs of both kits and assembled adapter. If this project looks familiar, it’s because we reported on it back when it was still a hand-scratched PCB that didn’t always work as expected.
[Thanks to Gregg for the tip.]