Broken retro machines as emulator keyboards...??

Merlin

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Those that know me on here will know that from time to time, the frustrated inventor in me comes out to play and I get these weird ideas. Yep, it's a Merlin's Musings moment again, but this one might just work and be cool at the same time.

I've got a broken Acorn Electron here with a dead motherboard, but the case is in good condition. It seemed such a shame to bin it, then I had a flash of inspiration; could it be turned into a keyboard to use on a PC, running an Acorn emulator?

Where am I going with this? Well, just think if all of the broken C64s, Electrons, Spectrums etc. could be fitted with a chip to read the original keyboard presses and codes and convert them to PS/2 compatible format?

Rip the original guts out of the machine, blank off the holes, fit a keyboard to PS/2 interface and Robert is your father's brother, as they say... I'm thinking of something along the lines of the MAME arcade cabinet interfaces, but rigged to use the original keyboard instead of a PC one....

You would be able to use a genuine keyboard to use with the emulator and it would 'feel' just like the real thing. That would be :bowdown: to me.

I don't know how feasible or do-able this is, but I can't help thinking that Cloanto missed a marketing trick with their Amiga and C64 Forever packages; they could have bundled a replica keyboard that looked like a real Amiga or C64, yet plugged into the PS/2 interface and it could have made the package much more attractive and marketable.

(I've said that here now, so they can't nick the idea and I'm claim the idea as theirs, they should know about copyright ;)).

I know that Charlie was talking about keyboard matrix encoders over at EAB, but does anyone else think that this can be made to work? I have an Acorn Electron here that I'm willing to donate towards a prototype.
 

Merlin

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WOW!!

Thanks, Justin, that exactly what I'm talking about. Maybe USB might be a better protocol to go for though, as PS/2 might get dropped eventually.
 

xc8

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I think USB would be better ..
like the Keyrah for Amiga/C64 and
this for the ZX

Chris
 

Merlin

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Thanks guys, those links are cool. The Beagleboard inside the Spectrum seems an expensive, total overkill way to do it, though. Maybe a cheaper 'homebrew' version could be put together.
 

Jumping Anaconda

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If you could get PS2 out of the keyboard you could fit a small form factor pc motherboard inside most 8 bit machine cases and avoid the external pc altogether.
 
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