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Thread: Revealing a personal (non-VCF) project

  1. #1

    Default Revealing a personal (non-VCF) project

    Time to reveal a personal project, unrelated to my role at VCFed.

    In the past two years, while getting neck-deep in the historic Lego 9700 "Technic Control Center" set, I learned that there is a TON of information about this set (and about various related sets) -- but most of that information is missing from the web or at best scattered.

    What these programmable robotic sets all have in common is they're all from the 10 years BEFORE the modern Mindstorms series, and they run on vintage computers!

    I decided a few months ago to make a web site about it. I call the site The site is under construction but you can visit now and see where it is going.

    I'm asking for contributions to the project.

    I make a very modest living through my work as a freelance tech journalist and additionally through VCFed fundraising. Many of you will also recall that a personal fundraiser is what enabled publishing of my computer history book in 2015. That was a positive experience.

    I do not plan to sell anything on this new site, only to offer helpful information that isn't currently available or is very difficult to find. As such, I cannot promise any Kickstarter-style rewards: I don't have any ideas about what a good reward for this might be (open to suggestions). Instead, I appeal to your altruism: fund this project because it is a good thing.

    Please visit my new site. If you think it exemplifies how the web should be used, if you'd like to see it get finished, and if you would like me to continue to be able to pay my rent and eat food, then please make a contribution via


  2. #2



    My high school here in NJ used to offer a robotics course using the 9700 series and the 9767 Apple II interface cards for host control all the way into the late 90s. Sadly the class was discontinued the year I could actually take it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chicagoland, Illinois, USA
    Blog Entries


    Have you thought about reaching out to Lego Mindstorm enthusiast communities? You might get substantial traction there.
    Offering a bounty for:
    - The software "Overhead Express" (doesn't have to be original, can be a copy)
    - A working Sanyo MBC-775, Olivetti M24, or Logabax 1600
    - Documentation and original disks for: Panasonic Sr. Partner, Zenith Z-160 series
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    Have you thought about reaching out to Lego Mindstorm enthusiast communities? You might get substantial traction there.
    Yes, working on it.

  5. #5


    This brings back some memories! I remember using Lego Dacta back in ~1996 at school. It was a big deal back then; the school spent a substantial amount of money buying the kit. All the wiring was done through lego bricks with contacts in the 'pins' which I thought was quite awesome back in the day.

    IIRC we had motors; rotary position sensors, light reflection sensors (used for 'follow the line' type robots), switches of various descriptions, lights, tons of wire/connectors and some sort of sound device (I think). One of the projects that I really remember was building a 'scanner'. It used a motor along with some lego parts (car wheels, axles and some substantial gearing), along with the rotary position sensor to feed in the paper. The light reflection sensor was attached to a horizontal axis which (using another motor and position sensor) swept across the page. Once it scanned one line it fed the paper in a bit more then scanned again. I cant remember what the output looked like, but I'm sure the resolution was pretty bad. I think it was only good for scanning in some really boxy lines.

    I also remember building cars with lego, stringing as much wire together as possible and then driving them around the classroom. People don't know how good they have it these days with wireless technology...

    I clearly remember the computer too. It was a clone (TWC brand) 386 running Windows 3.11. Would be fun to play around with this stuff again.
    System 80 Expansion Interface located! Thanks to all who helped out and the good people in the NZ vintage computer forums!


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