DL1416SmarTerm LED Computer/Terminal

DL1416SmarTerm with printer
This project came about for three reasons. I had resurrected an old hall-effect keyboard, a friend at my local hackerspace had given me several tubes of an old intelligent LED display and others there who were part of the retro-computing scene reminded me of the joy that personal computers gave in the early days. I decide to combine the keyboard and intelligent displays into a terminal that would be used with a retro-mainframe I also wanted to build. I remembered that the IBM 5100 "Portable Computer" had a switch on it that allowed selection between BASIC and APL programming languages and I decided my terminal would also support a paddle switch selecting between fundamental operating modes. I never built the retro-mainframe but the terminal was completed. Instead of an external computer I added a Tiny Basic interpreter ported from a version written by Mike Field and Scott Lawrence.

Currently it supports Tiny Basic in one mode and a set of VT102ish terminal-related stand-alone programs in the other. It can emulate a VT102 terminal as well as run stand-alone versions of Eliza and the BSD Banner program.

In addition to the computer itself, I gave the hall-effect keyboard and an original parallel-port HP Thinkjet serial interfaces.

This page mostly provides links to the various repositories and descriptions of this project that exist elsewhere on the web, as well as a few photos.

The Historic "Parents"

Rockwell AIM65 computer

Rockwell AIM65 that sported the DL1416 LED display

IBM5100 with mode switch outlined

The IBM5100 with the mode switch I found so intriguing


Project descriptions on hackaday.io.

The keyboard and printer links include code downloads.
Github repository with documentation and code for the Teensy 3.2 that powers the computer. Code includes the Tiny Basic interpreter, VT102 terminal emulator, Eliza and banner modules and is modular enough that you could hack it into your own system if you wanted.


Custom PCB for intelligent display with 4 DL1416 LED modules

DL1416 Display with custom carrier board (PIC16F1469 micro)

Rear of computer showing connections

Rear Panel with DB-9 RS232 host and printer interfaces

Display showing terminal configuration menu

Terminal Configuration Menu

Ancient hall-effect keyboard with added circuitry

1971 Keyboard brought into the modern-ish age
(I did, however, use an incandescent light for the shift-lock indicator)

Front of computer with bezel removed showing array of LED modules

Array of Display Boards

Guts of computer showing power supply, fan and Teensy assembly

Guts with an old-school switching PSU found at my hackerspace

Raspberry Pi with custom RS232 shield

Adding a RS232 interface to a Raspberry Pi (complete with getty)
The VT102 emulation worked (once the correct number of lines and columns are set)

HP2225 printer with added circuitry

Hacked HP2225 Printer
(Thank you HP for the wonderful service manual!)