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Thoughts on emulation using vintage hardware

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    Thoughts on emulation using vintage hardware

    I ran across this eBay listing:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/392922964142

    (The $5000 asking price is nuts by the way)

    It's a TRS-80 model III that has been modified to use a RaspPI for motherboard emulation, an Arduino to remap the original keyboard, and a custom video adapter from HDMI to analog to use the original green screen CRT.

    I'm wondering what others think of this approach with vintage parts getting harder to find and properly repair. The system for all practical purposes "appears" to function as an original Model III allowing for the original experience.

    I have a few Tandy 1000EX empty cases laying in the shop and sometimes they just call out to me for a mod like this. It would be a trivial retrofit to perform but would someone looking for an EX prefer the original iron over the "experience"?

    Any thoughts on this?

    #2
    Originally posted by kc8eyt View Post
    I ran across this eBay listing:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/392922964142

    (The $5000 asking price is nuts by the way)

    It's a TRS-80 model III that has been modified to use a RaspPI for motherboard emulation, an Arduino to remap the original keyboard, and a custom video adapter from HDMI to analog to use the original green screen CRT.

    I'm wondering what others think of this approach with vintage parts getting harder to find and properly repair. The system for all practical purposes "appears" to function as an original Model III allowing for the original experience.

    I have a few Tandy 1000EX empty cases laying in the shop and sometimes they just call out to me for a mod like this. It would be a trivial retrofit to perform but would someone looking for an EX prefer the original iron over the "experience"?

    Any thoughts on this?
    It would be a nice project for someone, but it's not a Model III. Also, it's not worth 5K. Someone taking advantage of the the market situation and I can't find fault with that. There just may be that someone out there who would be willing to pay that exorbanate amount. I will say that interfacing the keyboard to the Ras Pi seems intriguing.

    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Agent Orange View Post

      I will say that interfacing the keyboard to the Ras Pi seems intriguing.
      Yes, I've run across sites and videos explaining how to do this. Pretty straightforward. The Arduino basically remaps the keystrokes from the original hardware to PC/AT scan codes.

      Comment


        #4
        Aren't/weren't there C64 "clones" that took the same approach? That is, you couldn't get a real 6502 to drop out of the thing no matter how hard you shook it.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
          Aren't/weren't there C64 "clones" that took the same approach? That is, you couldn't get a real 6502 to drop out of the thing no matter how hard you shook it.
          Yes, I think there were Atari based systems like this as well. Those systems were purposely built as clones. What I'm referring to here is using actual vintage hardware (well some of it) to create a clone, such as the TRS-80 Model III had done to it above.

          Comment


            #6
            Well, it's hardly "fully loaded" if it is missing major original components. Seems absurdly over priced too given that it doesn't have those same components.

            Comment


              #7
              Renovation, Restoration, or Virtualization. Each has a place, price, and a buyer. I personally hope they don't get the $5K, but what's that that P. T. Barnum (supposedly) said?
              - Doug

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                #8
                That particular 'Model III' has been on eBay for months, and was previously priced at $750. I suspect the seller isn't all that interested in selling.

                However, the question of whether I, personally, would buy a modern recreation of a vintage system is that since I buy systems to use them, yes I would. I can see why collectors, purists and many enthusiasts wouldn't, but I'm in it for the experience, and for the functionality. And to me, the great problem with genuinely vintage systems is the risk that each time I want to boot it up to use it, it could well be the day it fails.

                Modern hardware largely removes that fear, yet still offers the platform to use.

                I'm hoping for a modern reworking of a classic compact Mac.... though I do greatly value my Classic and Classic II, neither of which I really dare use!

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by kc8eyt View Post
                  I'm wondering what others think of this approach with vintage parts getting harder to find and properly repair. The system for all practical purposes "appears" to function as an original Model III allowing for the original experience.
                  I think that's an acceptable solution if one has the case only. But removing the original guts or doing that as a "repair" would be a no-go for me. That system in broken state would have a higher value than what it is now.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by AndyO View Post
                    However, the question of whether I, personally, would buy a modern recreation of a vintage system is that since I buy systems to use them, yes I would. I can see why collectors, purists and many enthusiasts wouldn't, but I'm in it for the experience, and for the functionality. And to me, the great problem with genuinely vintage systems is the risk that each time I want to boot it up to use it, it could well be the day it fails.

                    Modern hardware largely removes that fear, yet still offers the platform to use.
                    I feel the same way. I was in need of a solid working XT but instead of going the vintage route I purchased a Monotech NuXT motherboard for the same reason. Thank you for the insight.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Timo W. View Post
                      I think that's an acceptable solution if one has the case only. But removing the original guts or doing that as a "repair" would be a no-go for me. That system in broken state would have a higher value than what it is now.
                      That makes sense. I agree that the Model III in question is not worth "vintage" value any longer but instead the new parts and labor taken to create it.

                      The two Tandy 1000EX cases I have came from systems that sat in the weather for 20+ years. The internals were rusted beyond use. I distributed as many of the parts (I sent the power supplies to someone on the forum for shipping cost, the motherboards went to someone that wanted the audio chips) as I could and salvaged a few of the chips but the rest was hopeless. Trying to source all the parts needed to fully restore them would have been impossible.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by kc8eyt View Post
                        The two Tandy 1000EX cases I have came from systems that sat in the weather for 20+ years. The internals were rusted beyond use. I distributed as many of the parts (I sent the power supplies to someone on the forum for shipping cost, the motherboards went to someone that wanted the audio chips) as I could and salvaged a few of the chips but the rest was hopeless. Trying to source all the parts needed to fully restore them would have been impossible.
                        Curious, are the keyboards also total losses? I guess I don't actually need one for my Tandy 1000 SUX after all the work I went through adapting a Wyse terminal keyboard, but I can't help but wonder what 20 years outside would do to one of the original Tandy KBs. Off the top of my head I'm not sure what mechanism they use.

                        As to the broader question, my philosophy is probably if you have a thing and it's "deader" than you think you can economically repair and it's not something so rare as to actually qualify as a "museum piece" then, sure, go ahead and gut it to make either a novelty/sleeper "fully modern" PC or simply to accommodate guts which to the greatest degree possible emulate the original, if that's what floats your boat. All I'd ask is, yeah, give others a shot at the parts you rip out as spares for their original machines.

                        I guess for me personally my appreciation of the hobby has mostly migrated to (on a completely amateur basis) repairing original machines and designing and building my own add-ons using clunky 1970s-80's-era technology, so "retro re-creations" using modern SoCs and emulation technology are largely outside my sphere of interest. If I'm going to shove a Raspberry Pi in a retro PC's box, sure, I'll set it up to emulate the box for laughs, but I'll probably mostly use it for other things so I'm not likely to go the extra hundred miles to make it completely authentic. (The guy selling that "Model III" even admits it was more rewarding building the thing than actually playing with it.)
                        My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs Also: Blogspot

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Eudimorphodon View Post

                          Curious, are the keyboards also total losses? I guess I don't actually need one for my Tandy 1000 SUX after all the work I went through adapting a Wyse terminal keyboard, but I can't help but wonder what 20 years outside would do to one of the original Tandy KBs. Off the top of my head I'm not sure what mechanism they use.

                          As to the broader question, my philosophy is probably if you have a thing and it's "deader" than you think you can economically repair and it's not something so rare as to actually qualify as a "museum piece" then, sure, go ahead and gut it to make either a novelty/sleeper "fully modern" PC or simply to accommodate guts which to the greatest degree possible emulate the original, if that's what floats your boat. All I'd ask is, yeah, give others a shot at the parts you rip out as spares for their original machines.

                          I guess for me personally my appreciation of the hobby has mostly migrated to (on a completely amateur basis) repairing original machines and designing and building my own add-ons using clunky 1970s-80's-era technology, so "retro re-creations" using modern SoCs and emulation technology are largely outside my sphere of interest. If I'm going to shove a Raspberry Pi in a retro PC's box, sure, I'll set it up to emulate the box for laughs, but I'll probably mostly use it for other things so I'm not likely to go the extra hundred miles to make it completely authentic. (The guy selling that "Model III" even admits it was more rewarding building the thing than actually playing with it.)
                          The Tandy 1000 EX systems have keyboards built into them, think Commodore 64 but much bigger. The keyboards were a loss too although I was able to save the key caps themselves and they cleaned up nicely. I have two full sets of key caps for a Tandy 1000 EX/HX (and many other models of the 1000 series used the same caps).

                          Here is the Tandy 1000EX on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandy_1000#1000_EX

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by kc8eyt View Post
                            Here is the Tandy 1000EX on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandy_1000#1000_EX
                            I have both an EX and a Frankenstein computer I built out of a bare HX motherboard (my “Tandy 1000 SUX”)so I’m familiar with the form factor. I’m just not sure what the switch mechanism on the original boards is; the manual doesn’t really go into that detail and while I’ve had my EX apart to swap disk drives I haven’t examined the keyboard in any detail. So was it a rubber dome/capacitive plunger affair?
                            My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs Also: Blogspot

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Eudimorphodon View Post

                              I have both an EX and a Frankenstein computer I built out of a bare HX motherboard (my “Tandy 1000 SUX”)so I’m familiar with the form factor. I’m just not sure what the switch mechanism on the original boards is; the manual doesn’t really go into that detail and while I’ve had my EX apart to swap disk drives I haven’t examined the keyboard in any detail. So was it a rubber dome/capacitive plunger affair?
                              It's some kind of custom switch type. The picture below is one of the keyboard internals pulled from one the EX systems. Sorry about the image quality. I had to compress this image down to 83K just so the forum software would allow it to upload.

                              IMG_0587.JPG

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