Like many Hackaday readers, [Steven Stallion] has had his eyes on the replica PDP-11 created by [Oscar Vermeulen] for some time now, and this summer he finally got the opportunity to build one himself. But while most owners might be content to just watch the Raspberry Pi based faux-retro computer blink away on a shelf, he wanted to explore putting the machine to more practical use. The end result is the PiDP-11 I/O Expander, an add-on that lets the modern minicomputer interact with the world around it.
Developed after some discussion with [Oscar] himself, the Microchip MCP23016 based expander board fits neatly onto the PiDP-11 PCB, and [Steven] has made sure his installation guide meshes well with the replica’s documentation. The Pi’s I2C bus is actually broken out on the original PCB, so you just need to solder a header on and run some jumpers to where the expander is mounted. You’ll need to pull 5 V as well, and the installation guide has a few tips on convenient connection points.
Each expander board gives you 16 GPIO pins which can be accessed over I2C, including support for interrupts which has been connected to GPIO 19 on the Raspberry Pi. [Steven] notes that you should be able to stack multiples of his expander up should you need even more free pins, though some fiddling with pull-up resistors and I2C addresses will likely be necessary.
The PCBs for the expander have been released under the two clause BSD license, so you’re free to spin up your own copies however you see fit. But if you’d like to save some time, [Steven] is offering assembled boards on Tindie.
Since [Oscar] first teased it at the 2015 Hackaday Supercon, we’ve been enamored with his fantastic PDP-11 replica. We’re always glad to see when somebody has picked up one of these wonderful kits, and doubly so when they’ve figured out a way to expand it in unexpected ways.