The VT510 & The RasPi Zero, Part II

The Pi Zero with the 2GB MicroSD card has become the brains for the VT510 at last! it’s messy, but it’s the best I can do until I can find the pinout to the ROM expansion port on the back of the VT510 and figure out if that could be a viable connection path to go with in the future.


As you can see here, the Pi Zero has been connected to, and successfully works with the VT510. but that’s the finished product, until the null modem gender changer comes in as well as getting a short enough straight cable to not be obtrusive during use.

We start off first with the dremeling of the plastic. I couldn’t find my box of dremel bits, so I had to use the rough cheapo chinese metal pointed burr I had on hand. hence, most of the cuts and holes made with this to a point, aren’t the cleanest, but the point wasn’t to make it look clean, but to get the project done. when this is 100% complete and I feel I can do it better, I’ll get a proper enclosure 3D printed for me by a friend with a Microcenter Makerbot clone.

This is the last, unused Pi Zero next to the other of the Max3232 boards I purchased from eBay, alongside the Ralink RT25xx-based 802.11g “Plus MIMO” (Ha!) Belkin dongle I used for this project and an ADMtek Pegasus II-based USB Ethernet adapter (Natively supported in the Pi’s kernel without any need of firmware, unlike the Realtek USB Eth adapter I tried), which was originally used to get the system up and running via a wired connection to the internet:


and This is the enclosure, these pictures having been taking during the dremeling process with my old Moto Droid X running LiquidSmooth 4.4.4 KitKat. it’s slow, but it takes really good daylight photos, in my honest opinion.

Once the null modem adapter gets in, it’ll cover up the disgusting cut of the RS232 port from the Max3232 up quite nicely, and I won’t have to deal with people saying “oh, that looks like crap, why didn’t you do a better job with it blah blah”

because that’s the point. it’s not supposed to be pretty and elegant. it’s supposed to do a single job, and when I feel it needs to be revised, it will be.

So, here’s what it looks like inside now.


Yes, there is only one screw holding the Pi in place. the USB cable coming in has the shielding soldered to the now unused MicroUSB power input port. 5v is provided through the +5v on pin 2 and ground on Pin 14, while the Max3232 uses Pin 2 +3.3v, Pin 6 Ground, and Pin 8&10 for BCM14/15 TXD and RXD for TTL Serial. The thinger there in the MiniHDMI port is just a port blocker to prevent it from mushing in on itself somehow when I was building this all, but I’ve decided to leave it in. it came from a video card, and I don’t remember which one it was– I think it was a Gigabyte GTX 570.

on the 5v positive rail is a switch I pulled from something ages ago and never found a legitimate use for, so it sat in a box until just yesterday when I put this all together.

This isn’t a guide for you to build your own, but hopefully this is some good insight into how to probably (or not) go about it, hopefully with a bigger or purpose-built enclosure. the enclosure dimensions I used for this project were 100x60x25mm. it just barely fit everything I needed it to.

That’s about it for this. Have a good one!

Stay tuned for Part III where we go back to 1885 using 1955 technology to re-build the time circuit supply and stuff the Pi Zero into a ready-made  purpose-built handheld game console.

Look, it even does cmatrix!


And, for the sake of sanity, here’s what it looked like for the first bit while I was testing it out and making sure everything was good and stable before dropping it in the project box. this is a bit neater than how it looks now. cu5rsopusaagkzg-jpg-large

Edit: Thank you to Hackaday for doing a small piece on this project! There’s still lots left to do, but it’s getting closer! The Pi Zero is now on and underclocked to 700MHz with a 350MHz GPU/L2 clock. The enclosure is now on the side of the VT510, and is connected to the back serial port through another serial cable found in the boxes of cables given to me by my very good friend Aziz. As of right now, this is how it is supposed to look, albeit with a shorter serial cable in the future, and the removal of the DB9 to DB25 adapter on the back of the enclosure:



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.)



with a modern inside. sort-of.

I’ve been putting off putting an image of this up here although it’s no secret to those that are subscribed to my youtube channel. This is essentially what you get when you have a computer case from 1998 that used to house a top-end dual Pentium II workstation/server motherboard, a couple 400MHz Pentium IIs, 512MB of RAM, and some miscellaneous cards and stuff. This is what happens when you have to gut the case in question because the PSU suffered a lightning strike and had scorch marks.

this is what happens when you get a full-size LGA1155 ATX motherboard off eBay for $40.

This is what happens when you get an i5-2500k and 16GB of RAM given to you at christmas time from your father’s old computer build after he upgraded to Haswell.

This is what happens when you’re given a free 6970 reference card that used to be in a bitcoin/litecoin/dogecoin mining farm in your friend’s basement in Wisconsin.

This is what happens when you get a Hyper T4 in exchange for your 212+…

This is what happens when you get a free 1000W BFG PSU and use it “just because you can” and for no other reason, despite it being a collector’s item at this point in working condition.

This is what happens when you get really lucky and all those things fit inside said computer case from 1998, after making a couple modifications.

Another Addition to the Mac Madness… ANOTHER Ti G4!

So uh, remember how I traded my old and busted Ti PBG4 500 for the HR 1.67 G4? well… I kind of regretted that a bit. so I decided that if I ever found another Titanium G4 for a good price, or free, I’d get it and hold it dear once more.

It has happened, finally! 10 months after the fact. I found it on Craigslist for $30 locally.

Picture 1

the pictures are blurry, but do you see what I see? that is totally not OSX. that’s right– this baby came pre-loaded from the factory back in 2001 with MacOS 9! and, upon my finding out when I went to go and try it out before buying… it’s the factory install, on the factory hard drive (which sounds like it has rocks in the bearings, I’m going to have to remedy this somehow) with a factory-installed AirPort card as well!

I have to see what the deal is with the battery, though… needless to say, it’s getting replaced, because… well…


Yeah. The owner was an old guy that used to do computer things as a hobby with IBMs and such, but he was sort-of inept when it came to Macs… and decided it was a good idea to see if he could repair the battery himself because it stopped working!  there’s also a PRAM battery I need to replace in the unit now too. I’m hoping the one I have out in the garage is still good, else I’m going to be paying a premium for a replacement.

Without further ado, here’s the rest of the pictures when I got it home here, and checked it out some more. there’s still files in the Trash I have to go through for any programs of any use to anyone to drop on the MacintoshGarden website.




I’m not sure what’s going to become of this one yet… but I have a few ideas. first, however, I need some RAM, and a couple batteries. oh how fun.

Sun Blade 1000

Blade 1000

This one is short and sweet. I got a Blade 1000 from the same person I got my Ultra 10 and my SGI equipment from, yesterday.


Imgur Album for high-res imagery.

I’m not sure if it works yet. but it does have a SunPCI card. if only someone got it working under Linux, I could run a second copy of Linux off of it. that’d be sweet… or Windows. wow.

There’s also a 1978 Space Invaders cabinet taking up space in my garage, now. I’ll make a posting about that later.

Sun Ultra 10. ‘Nuff said.

So I got a Sun Ultra 10 from a friend moving to Europe.

Said friend also gave me an SGI indy and Octane… but those are still in storage until I have the proper room to set them up and test them.

Ultra 10.

There’s not a lot I can say about it. it has a couple hard drives now, a 250GB boot and a 30GB I’m probably going to turn into a secondary drive and swap drive… a DVD burner up from a regular CD drive, two USB cards, and a re-pasted UltraSPARC IIi 440MHz. This was the Creator 3D model, however I omitted my C3D card as it’s getting shipped to a friend for his whom can make better use of it than I. I’m more interested in the onboard video anyway, as that has a fairly stable, tried and true framebuffer kernel driver for Linux. the Creator3D card… Dunno.

I don’t plan on running Slowaris on this at any time in the near future.

Some things I’ve had to do to it so far, including thus aforementioned:

  • Replace 250W PSU– would trip the 20A breaker… Wonderful. Swapped in an Enermax 480W PSU from around 2006-ish… a very beefy one at that– 2mm thick aluminum casing!
  • Replaced the main 20GB Maxtor replacement drive (they originally had a Segaate) with a 250GB hard drive, and a 30GB secondary Maxtor diamondmax 8 drive. replaced the IDE cables with 80-conductor as well, and the DVD drive.
  • thermal compound re-do on the IIi 440. need to get new pads for the cache chips.
  • added USB cards for USB ports for no real reason… yet.
  • removed the UPA C3D card, as it’s not needed.

and lastly, but most importantly… and surprisingly… replace 7 capacitors immediately next to the CPU module.

4 of the 7 had blown their tops a bit and had gone puffy… and one that should have blown its top pooped its pants!


Totally ended up fixing this. replaced all 7 with 7 caps off an old 2003-ish MSI board. same voltage, same capacitance.


and finally, a look at the inside, a few days ago. don’t have any newer shots, but you get the gist of it.

WP_20150531_017 WP_20150531_018

and a picture of what I’m greeted with at bootup. Got around the blank MAC by telling the sunhme driver the actual ethernet address when it’s loaded using the macaddr= argument. if you look up sunhme.c on google you can get more of a gist into how that works.


More on this miraculous behemoth later on. I’m running a linux-bench run on it, it’s going to be fun to see what it scores.

EDIT: here’s the parser code for the machine for 39031433352219

Powerbook G4 15″ HR: 6 Months Later

So. it’s been a little over 6 months since I traded my titanium Powerbook G4 500, which had a LOT of problems after just 3 years of ownership… I sort of didn’t want it to go, but the Aluminum G4 was a lot nicer at the time.

My current stance on the entire trade? if I had to, I’d do it again. and again. and again.
After I acquired my PBG4 HR, I then found out exactly how rare they are to find on eBay depending on when you’re looking. They also seemingly suffer from the same RAM slot issues that the tiny-bit-older G4 1.67 Powerbooks faced, where solder joints holding the RAM slots in would fail or acquire tin whiskers; as my G4 is a somewhat late model one, I don’t think I’m going to see any of that from it. Aside from their usual problems, and my precautions to protect my investment (thermal compound, heatsink rework, dust removal, etc.) the G4 has been a semi-daily driver for me when i’m on the go. it’s just enough of a no-frills, no-bullshit workhorse to get certain tasks done and to keep me occupied in certain situations. the fact the battery still lasts as long as it does makes this even more of an amazing machine to work with.

Battery Life at 92% with average use.

I’m typing this out right now in a starbucks… I think I joined the hipster crowd a bit too well. if it’s not my Powerbook I take with me when I go to these places, it’s my X120e, or the E4200. the G4 goes the most though. it’s interesting, as i’m next to other people around me that have much newer Macs than I could ever dream to own. it’s not too bad a thing, but it does make me laugh sometimes. When I’m using it, I’m usually SSH’ing into the SS5 or Pogoplug to get on irssi via screen. I’m contemplating trying to compile the latest znc for the SS5 and see what happens… it’s somewhat becoming hard to deal with having multiple boxes on a buncha IRC channels, and although I was against it in the past because lazy, it’s soon going to be a fact that I’m going to need it… or at least I need to accept the fact that I do already need it and need to get my head out of my ass.

That’s about it for now.
tl;dr Alu Powerbook G4 HR 15” 1.67/2GB DDR2/80GB/ OSX 10.4.11 is working completely fine for day to day tasks… albeit a bit slowly.