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Entries tagged 'cat:Diskettes'

Another never finished electronics project: my electronic typewriter that would make a very nice retro style terminal but isn't one

Background story: I wanted to park my car at a certain small parking lot that's usually pretty full. I was lucky: There was a free spot. Or so it seemed. As I drove up to it I saw there was something lying in the middle of the free spot. Looked like somebody got rid of some scrap there. I got out and honestly I wanted to put the stuff to the back of the parking spot under the tree that was there. If somebody decided not to bring their scrap to the right facility for free for some reason that doesn't make me responsible to pick it up and bring it there, I thought. But when I saw that it was an almost new looking electronic typewriter, I quickly decided to take it with me instead. It was a Triumph Adler Gabriele PFS. As I read somewhere it came out in the late 2000s or early 2010s. So not as vintage as the name typewriter may sound. But definitely some old piece of tech that is obsolete now but has a nice character and conveys a feeling from a certain time. That and the fact that I've never had or even used one made me add it to my collection of retro tech (that I've never before called collection because it doesn't really deserve that name).

Back at home I examined and tested it and I would have cleaned it, but there was nothing to clean. The case of the internal transformer was cracked and the outer case had a deep scratch at the corner where the transformer is. Everything was working fine except for the 2.8" diskette drive. The rubber band had long been degraded. But the bigger problem was that the main motor didn't do anything else than heating up very quickly. I couldn't find a replacement easily and still couldn't find a good replacement when I searched more thoroughly later. So I've replaced the drive with an emulator so I could use SD cards instead of diskettes. That not only has the advantage of working right now but also of using a medium that is more reliable being handled by my clumsy self and available easily. New 2.8 " diskettes would cost more than SD cards and couldn't hold nearly as many and long documents.

Before the drive emulator worked I had to work a bit with the developer of its firmware. I was lucky that I had a logic analyser and that the project was actively maintained by a developer who cared for adding support for my typewriter. The interface for that model of Mitsumi QuickDisk drive was already supported before. But the reverse engineered parameters, especially the timing was just not exact enough for my Gabriele.

Well, that's the state the machine is in right now. I can use it, I can save documents to SD card, I can't read the original diskettes and I can't read the documents on a PC or create documents for the typewriter on a PC without writing software for it first. I'm not using it for anything. The best thing I could come up with on what I could/would want to do with it is to add an interface that allows me to use it as a text printer. It has a printball with all important characters (no ASCII line art though, sadly) and maybe completely switch out its software to give the machine a new purpose. The easiest way for me would probably be to ignore all the electronics that are already inside and add a microcontroller that handles the LCD, print head and communication with the outside. I still wouldn't have any use for that though. So additionally I would turn it into a serial or telnet or SSH terminal, maybe all three. That would be more fun. Vintage look, vintage keyboard, vintage feel overall, a display that is subpar because it's old technology but still good enough to do its job, and the ability to print text on paper. Yeah, that would be fun. But I still wouldn't really have a use for it. I have a laptop that can do that job better and the keyboard of the typewriter doesn't have as many keys as I'd want it to have.

So, I'm not going to do it, or anything else with it. Maybe some day. Or none. Got any better/additional idea what I could do with it?