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Thread: Building and Altair 8800 from Scratch in 2018

  1. #1

    Default Building and Altair 8800 from Scratch in 2018

    I finally designed and built the new front panel board for the Altair 8800 Iíve discussed in the past. This adds to the list of replica and drop-in equivalent boards people are making for the Altair. Now a fully functional Altair 8800 can be built from scratch using all new equipment and boards.

    Hereís my take on the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5LjkL5b4n8

    Mike

  2. #2

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    Really cool, Mike. I can tell you that debugging front panels on the originals was 50% resoldering the wires one broke moving it around. The wires were all solid hookup wire. Most people nick the wire at the end of the insulation when stripping. This makes about 3 bends before breaking. Always have some tape handy to cover the AC wires as well.
    Erik Klein had one that was said to have been running at one time but that was unlikely. I found several shorted leads on the mother boards where those wires were soldered.
    Dwight

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by deramp5113 View Post
    Here’s my take on the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5LjkL5b4n8
    Excellent video, Mike! As you know, I already have one of your clones, but I am wanting to get one of those replicas that you're showing off, too. Very cool! I don't see that you're offering the complete system on your web site, yet. Do you intend to offer it? What would your target price be?

    smp

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by smp View Post
    I don't see that you're offering the complete system on your web site, yet. Do you intend to offer it? What would your target price be?
    I don't plan on making a kit of the Altair 8800c I demonstrated. Based on input I’ve received over the last year, each person's ideal system would be a bit different, so a single version of the kit wouldn't be quite what everyone wanted anyway. I'll update the deramp.com website soon with information about where to buy the boards and equipment shown in the video.

    Regarding the boards in the video: The 8800 CPU replica is a bare board (not a kit). Likewise, I plan on selling the front panel board set as bare boards as well. The FDC+ and 88-2SIOJP are available assembled. Finally, new mother boards you find will typically be bare boards.

    Mike

  5. #5

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    Very nice Mike - looking forward to more information about this!

  6. #6
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    Definitely thinking about doing something like this, although I think the Clone as it is with the emulation is really cool.

    I wonder if it'd be possible to get the actual Optima case produced again like Grant Stockly did. Or does he have some sort of rights over it?

  7. #7

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    Optima was bought by Elma, who also purchased Stantron, and now has an Optima-Stantron division. Grant paid them a good chunk of cash to retool for the original Altair case back in 2007 or so. When I contacted Elma in late 2012 about doing the same thing in order to build the Altair cabinet for me (for the Altair Clone), this is when I learned this information. Because Grant paid for the retooling, they said I’d have to purchase the cases through Grant. Unfortunately, the case alone was going to cost as much as my target sales price for the fully assembled Altair Clone, so I ended up designing and having my own custom case fabricated.

    Even if Grant were to order more Optima cases today, my guess is that there would be another retooling charge since it’s been ten years since the last order, and costs have gone up substantially over the last decade, so I can imagine the cases would be $700$-800 a piece now.

    Mike

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by deramp5113 View Post
    Hereís my take on the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5LjkL5b4n8
    I enjoyed the video and appreciated the cutaways to the original machine to add context.
    The Molex connectors on the top of each board look like those used in the Exidy Sorcerer computer and Exidy arcade games.
    I'm not sure Molex make that exact part number anymore. Can you provide a link to the series that you've used?

  9. #9
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    Great to see this completed! Been trying to keep quiet about it

    I'm working with Gary on kitting up the IMSAI and Altair CPU cards, we've just both been busy with other things to get it really moving! Perhaps we can all work together to provide a base "Altair 8800C Starter Kit" or something?

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