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Thread: PC Jr. keyboard interface protocol

  1. #1
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    Question PC Jr. keyboard interface protocol

    I recently acquired an untested PC Jr, matching monitor and the "Freeboard." It's in great shape but is missing some stuff. I was missing the power supply -- so I just went ahead and ordered AkBKukU's ATX adapter for it. When I had it open, I found it had the longboard power supply and the 64k RAM expansion. I also noticed that the IR receiver is missing ... so I have no way to use the keyboard. It came with two phone cables as if those would work with the keyboard -- but not the proper keyboard cable. Luckily the computer does appear to work but of course ERROR B so I can't boot all the way.

    Reading the Technical manual, they discuss the keyboard protocol. (The IR and Cable protocol is basically the same serial connection.) Does anyone know if anyone has replicated this protocol in code so we could use an ATMega to use non PC Jr keyboards with it?

    And how about making the RJ11 to "pin" cable so I can try to use this thing?

    Thanks!
    -- Adrian

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterblack View Post
    I recently acquired an untested PC Jr, matching monitor and the "Freeboard." It's in great shape but is missing some stuff. I was missing the power supply -- so I just went ahead and ordered AkBKukU's ATX adapter for it. When I had it open, I found it had the longboard power supply and the 64k RAM expansion. I also noticed that the IR receiver is missing ... so I have no way to use the keyboard. It came with two phone cables as if those would work with the keyboard -- but not the proper keyboard cable. Luckily the computer does appear to work but of course ERROR B so I can't boot all the way.

    Reading the Technical manual, they discuss the keyboard protocol. (The IR and Cable protocol is basically the same serial connection.) Does anyone know if anyone has replicated this protocol in code so we could use an ATMega to use non PC Jr keyboards with it?

    And how about making the RJ11 to "pin" cable so I can try to use this thing?

    Thanks!
    Check out the board at http://brutman.com. I bought an adapter that lets me use a PS2 keyboard with mine. If you really want to use the jr keyboard in wireless mode, I have an extra IR module.
    PCjr, DTK PC-XT Turbo, 386DX 33, 486 laptop, Pentium 120, Pentium III 500, various old laptops, Commodore Colt, all working. I also have a 286 that I need to see if I can repair.

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  4. #4
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    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)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenEG View Post
    Check out the board at http://brutman.com. I bought an adapter that lets me use a PS2 keyboard with mine. If you really want to use the jr keyboard in wireless mode, I have an extra IR module.
    Thanks I've checked out the site now and so much useful information. (Especially the technical manual.) Do you think it's even worth trying to get IR working? I hear it's super unreliable these days especially with LED lighting and the interference it causes.

    Thank you for that! I think my first step is to make this cable myself to make sure that the keyboard is working. I know it's a rubber-dome setup and may need some cleaning. I didn't show in the video I put up but the IR doesn't appear to transmit from the keyboard when I shine it into my camera. So it may just be dirty like my PET was... (or dead, who knows.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    That adapter is very very cool. If I can't get my keyboard working I'll probably end up buying this adapter so I can just use a regular PS2 keyboard.
    -- Adrian

  6. #6
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    Any interest in a NIB 'upgrade' Jr. keyboard (with the 'real' keys) ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by misterblack View Post
    Do you think it's even worth trying to get IR working? I hear it's super unreliable these days especially with LED lighting and the interference it causes.
    I would, if for no other reason than to say the system is complete. Though I found the IR connection between the keyboard and system to be relatively reliable as long as you stayed in the line of site. I tend to use the cable just so that I don't have to worry about batteries in the keyboard.


    Quote Originally Posted by misterblack View Post
    I think my first step is to make this cable myself to make sure that the keyboard is working. I know it's a rubber-dome setup and may need some cleaning. I didn't show in the video I put up but the IR doesn't appear to transmit from the keyboard when I shine it into my camera. So it may just be dirty like my PET was... (or dead, who knows.)
    From what I saw in your video, it looked like there was some minor corrosion on the visible terminals (they looks white to me). So popping it open and cleaning it up might be the thing to do. As far as the cable goes, that should be pretty simple to make, you just need the pin out, which should be in the tech docs.

    Quote Originally Posted by misterblack View Post
    I'll probably end up buying this adapter so I can just use a regular PS2 keyboard.
    I suggest it. The pcJR keyboard is pretty terrible to use IMO.

    Welcome to the pcJR world! They are interesting machines. You may also want to look at getting a jrIDE for your system. Check it out here and here

    IBM 5160 - 360k, 1.44Mb Floppies, NEC V20, 8087-3, 45MB MFM Hard Drive, Vega 7 Graphics, IBM 5154 Monitor running MS-DOS 5.00
    IBM PCJr Model 48360 640kb RAM, NEC V20,, jrIDE Side Cart, 360kb Floppy drives running MS-DOS 5.00
    Evergreen Am5x86-133 64Mb Ram, 8gb HDD, SB16 in a modified ATX case running IBM PC-DOS 7.10

  8. #8
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    The jrIDE turns a PCjr from a curio into a serious machine, so if you can get one, you should.

    Most people have seen the second-generation keyboard (same one as in Adrian's video). The first-generation one with "chiclet" keys is the one most people mocked, but having typed on them both for eons, I can definitely say the 1st-generation feels a lot better than the replacement. Yes, the keys are smaller, but their tactile response is much better. The 2nd-gen keyboard's keys are so hollow and flimsy that they squeak.
    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)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenEG View Post
    Check out the board at http://brutman.com. I bought an adapter that lets me use a PS2 keyboard with mine. If you really want to use the jr keyboard in wireless mode, I have an extra IR module.
    Ken, I've been meaning to ask you about two adapters I've seen for the Jr. on eBay. One is for joytick & keyboard:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/TexElecs-IB...:rk:9:razz:f:0
    The other is for serial & CGA:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/TexElecs-IB...rk:19:razz:f:0

    Don't know if you ever encountered them before or had anything to say (good or bad) about them.

  10. #10
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    That's the one I was asking KenEG about. Hadn't seen your post. They offer a serial & CGA adapter as well. No idea if you can fit both on the back of a Jr. or not.

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