The VT510 and the Raspi Zero, Part I (Plus, some updates.)

A few weeks ago I picked up quite a few RasPi Zeros from my local MicroCenter while they were going for $1 throughout the month of September. After doing a USB port mod to the first one piggybacking off the USB test pads on the bottom, I was able to get a couple of them going properly. the last one pictured below has since been populated with a 2GB MicroSD card to get an install of MiniBian on it for messing around with, but not much has been done in terms of actually making it do something.

Past this, I was still looking for something for one of these to do, be it one of the Zeros or my trusty Pi 1-B 512. Fortunately, I saved a wonderful new toy from getting scrapped at my buddy’s place yesterday to possibly do just that:

a DEC VT510 hailing from around 1998 in manufacture. There were also VT520s there, but they all had scratched-to-hell CRTs. Had I known at that point that I could just swap the board into the VT510, which seems doable, I’d have done it. Here’s an image of the VT520’s logic board, which includes a second MMJ jack, whereas the VT510 only has one. Else, the two are, from my perspective, rather interchangeable so long as all the cables aren’t cut.


At this current point in time, I don’t have a MAX232 board handy to pop a Pi to it, but I did modify a DB25 male to female cable that was given to me last year in a box full of wires (Thanks Aziz!) to get that working and happy with the SPARCStation 5. At the current moment I’m researching the pinout of the ROM port on the back of the VT510/520 to see if one can tap into it to use that as the insertion port so the rear serial ports don’t have to be messed with, but in the event that this isn’t doable, I’m going to see if I can get a case printed up with the right dimensions to fit a DB25 connector, MAX232, and a Pi Zero or Pi all inside to at least make the end product less messy. it’s goign to be hard, and will probably take quite a number of weeks to have everything happen, including either learning CAD myself to design such an enclosure or having someone else I know that DOES know how to do CAD give me a hand in that, and then having the case printed up in DEC Red.

the SS5 has seen a bit of action in the past couple weeks for things like this, though. The other thing I did find in that box of cables was the correct 50-pin SCSI cable to connect up a lunchbox SCSI enclosure encapsulating a Seagate Elite 9 hard drive from the mid-90s, originally with an install of what I believe to be SunOS for a SPARCStation IPC I once had.

and, before I forget, the SS5 also did have to have its NVRAM tended to, as it died back in March. Finally took care of it in July. I may have also killed the Happymeal card at that point too, but hopefully I’ll be getting a replacement soon to use instead, and some other cards to putz about with inside, including an S24 framebuffer to stick in the AFX slot…!


And for anyone wondering about the Ultra 10 and how it’s doing, I did clean up the insides a bit. as an update from the last post I made about it on here, it has quite a few new things now, including a Radeon 7000 (AKA the XVR-100.)


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