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Pet Laptop project, just some fun


EMwhite
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It will be a 'one-off' but once done, I'll be happy to share the FPE and design details;

In short, it's a MiniPet repackaged in a braked aluminum and sheet metal enclosure with an external 12" monitor (repurposed from a '82 Northstar Advantage; see below), optional external Petskey Keyboard, 10" LCD screen from China, internal SD, and a few surprises.

Will not be battery powered (currently running off an 8 lb. linear differential power supply : )

Though depicted as a rounded corner traditional laptop (see FPD mock-up below), I plan on honoring the circa late 70's office furniture/vintage Pet look; call it, Tesla Cybertruck meets Atari Battlezone styling (said another way, I have a garage full of sheet metal brake, punch, shear tooling so outside of a wood enclosure, this is my only option - be prepared for something that looks more like a piece of aircraft than a computer)

The good news is that I procured the monitor (below) and the LCD panel and controller for next to nothing (about $60 each) from eBay/Amazon.  The bad news is that you get what you pay for and it looks about as good as what LCD technology offered in 1979-1982.

Will post pics and info to this thread as I make progress.

 

 

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Edited by EMwhite
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Some pics of prototype cardboard form with mock panel applied.

Call it "The shape of things to come..." if anybody here remembers the old TR-7 campaign.

The wedge shape is not just style, it's necessary in order to sandwich multiple PCBs (one for power handling, one for inversion of the component video, one for LCD driver)

Centered on the front edge will be an external keyboard DB25 port which, when fitted with an adapter will reduce down to a 9 pin joystick mapped to specific Pet keys.  At least that's the plan.  Still trying to work out whether I"ll get my hands on TFW8bit's 'deluxe' kbd (just released) or stick with the dreadful buttons that 8bitguy''s build showed (this is standard on the Minipet).

In other news, I received a Cherry switch set from Mouser and all of the surface mount parts for the shift lock circuit.  That will be 'together' by next week with any luck; if I don't have luck, I'll build using through-hole on breadboard and wire into the pads on the back of the Petskey.  Eyes, age, experience (three excuses) I can solder through-hole all day long, surface mount hasn't been for me but I'll give it a go.

More later...

 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, EMwhite said:

Thanks for that feedback, I don't even know what an HEIC file is (converted to .jpg and reposted)

 

It's a new "standard" that is a de facto proprietary format for Apple that has been unwittingly foisted upon their users. But this doesn't need to become a political rant...

Anyway, thanks for reposting! I love the donut boxes as prototype material! The idea of a miniPET laptop tickles me to no end and I can't wait to see the finished product.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Been on hold for a few weeks waiting on parts from the UK and mouser etc. but have some some news on the keyboard front.

The internal keyboard will be the 'new' deluxe keyboard offered by Tfw8bit seen here (not the terrible contact buttons demo'd by 8bitGuy on his review of the MiniPet.  Black 'keycaps' pictured below attach to the plunger similar to the way keycaps do to Cherry mechanical switches.  A Pet-look key insert (supplied via paper that you must cut out) is sandwiched between the black cap and the clear cover that you see below.  It should be better than the contact mini switches but not quite as good as a true mechanical keyboard, when done.

IMG_4210.jpeg.37bc82062b5a412678f94131043c565e.jpeg

As for the external keyboard, I painstakingly soldered the surface mount components for the caps-lock circuit and all 74 switches (see below); also painted the undersides of the double-shot keycaps as to obscure the key names.  (see the Pet "Z" with lovely CBM ASCII(122) applied to the Cherry switch).

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The other news is that I also received a set of hinges from Amazon, and a new SD2PET IEEE interface which I will now dissect in order to mount within the laptop case.  I'll also be cutting about 1.5" of width from the prototype cardboard.  Hoping to make some progress on the actual case next weekend.

 

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  • 1 year later...
  • 2 weeks later...

(only a year later, the forum reminded me) sort of progress, but not really:

  • External kbd is done, at least it's fully built and works; this is based on Kevin's w/Cherry MX in a 'custom' metal case; (it's rough but complete)
  • Case is 1/2 done, bottom clamshell is complete with standoff holes punched; I blew through an entire tank of MAP-P gas (3,000+ degrees) brazing the edges before my tank ran out
  • PCB was however pushed; my PET 4032 died and I ended up buying a new mother board project that distracted me, meanwhile my original MiniPet (shown in cardboard above) has been serving my daughter and I well while mounted to the wall. We play Weather (old school) and PetScii robots on a tiny JVC monitor.

What's next?

Need:

  • A new MiniPet or to remove my original from my 'wall'
  • More Map-p gas
  • Time

Typical me.  Distracted by blockers and onto-the-next syndrome.  Will post some pics in the coming week as I limp towards end-of year vacation.  This email inquiry is probably what I needed in order to bring focus back.  Thank you !!

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had this wild, wacky idea:

There's this company, called Framework.  Admittedly, their first model uses a 13.5 inch form factor with a previous-generation Mac Book style with all the problems that implies, and because the keyboard lacks a number pad means that the number line characters will need the shift key to put into functionality (which means slightly rewriting the BIOS ROM), and it simply won't be able to access PET peripherals without a specially made USB hub, (unless someone wants to try their hand at Centronics, PET Floppy, and Datasette expansion cards) and I don't know for certain if your current motherboard will fit into the chassis, but it looks like another option to look at for people considering similar projects.

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Tom, unless you are adept at SMT, beg Kevin to bake in the tiny components associated with the caps lock circuit.

I built two of these: the first is a miracle (that it works).  I’m an experienced through-hole bod but pushing 60 and my eyes are crap.

The second kbd came prepopulated because I asked and because Kevin is accommodating.

 

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On 1/4/2022 at 5:48 AM, EMwhite said:

Tom, unless you are adept at SMT, beg Kevin to bake in the tiny components associated with the caps lock circuit.

I built two of these: the first is a miracle (that it works).  I’m an experienced through-hole bod but pushing 60 and my eyes are crap.

The second kbd came prepopulated because I asked and because Kevin is accommodating.

 

Thanks for the tip. I ordered the "complete computer" kit, which includes the PET Style keyboard. I'm going to evaluate those key switches before making a final decision. It may be that I use the chicklet keyboard for a while and eventually switch over... regardless, I'm eager to see this system in action. 

Do you know if there's an electronic manual for the Mini? I'm interested to know what the "Mini BASIC" is, as well.

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I have the pdf for the 'build-it-your-f'ing-self' through hole version from Summer of 2019/2020 that I'll dig up and post.  It offered a number of versions of BASIC/Kernal, etc.

The current product on offer is a superset of that so I think you get it all, and it's fully built and mostly surface mount.

I have a Pet 4032 which this is meant to fit within if bought in green-board-only form.  You will be getting the integrated and complete version but in any case, it supports an RCA or orig Pet monitor connection.

Some time ago, TFW8Bit offered a piggy back ROM product which allowed for diff version of Kernal and BASIC via dip switches, then they offered the Mini Pet and separately, the IEEE SD card bit, then an integrated keyboard, then an enhanced keyboard (though only slightly... the TexElec is superior and pin compatible).  The current product is a superset of all of what they've offered over the prior 3-4 years.

Be sure to get your hands on Dungeon, Weather, Invaders, all of the classics.

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On 1/4/2022 at 8:18 PM, EMwhite said:

I have the pdf for the 'build-it-your-f'ing-self' through hole version from Summer of 2019/2020 that I'll dig up and post.  It offered a number of versions of BASIC/Kernal, etc.

The current product on offer is a superset of that so I think you get it all, and it's fully built and mostly surface mount.

I have a Pet 4032 which this is meant to fit within if bought in green-board-only form.  You will be getting the integrated and complete version but in any case, it supports an RCA or orig Pet monitor connection.

Some time ago, TFW8Bit offered a piggy back ROM product which allowed for diff version of Kernal and BASIC via dip switches, then they offered the Mini Pet and separately, the IEEE SD card bit, then an integrated keyboard, then an enhanced keyboard (though only slightly... the TexElec is superior and pin compatible).  The current product is a superset of all of what they've offered over the prior 3-4 years.

Be sure to get your hands on Dungeon, Weather, Invaders, all of the classics.

Thanks. I'm hoping to do a few things of my own, although mostly I'll be re-making (or de-making) existing games. 

I'm starting with a remake of the classic Star Trek, and then I'm going to get back in to my "Space Trader" game (a sci-fi, non-drug clone of "dopewars.")

 

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Pg. 4 of the attached mentions the diff between their custom BASIC and the others.  Further in the doc is info on the Monitor, the DOS wedge, etc.

Much of the doc discusses build info and part details which are no longer applicable to the latest Mini PET, but still interesting to see where the project came from and it's a well written doc with lots of detail including hardware interfacing detail.

Mini PET A Build Instructions v1.45a.pdf

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On 1/5/2022 at 9:38 PM, EMwhite said:

Pg. 4 of the attached mentions the diff between their custom BASIC and the others.  Further in the doc is info on the Monitor, the DOS wedge, etc.

Much of the doc discusses build info and part details which are no longer applicable to the latest Mini PET, but still interesting to see where the project came from and it's a well written doc with lots of detail including hardware interfacing detail.

Mini PET A Build Instructions v1.45a.pdf 1.48 MB · 0 downloads

This is perfect, thank you. I haven't gotten any sort of shipping notification from TFW8B yet, but I'm assuming that this is because they have a bit of a shipping backlog. When it comes in, and I start building it, I'll post deets. 

 

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