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Monday, March 5, 2012

Building an 8-bit computer project named Veronica, which lands in a 1942 Philco radio case.

This is a Great Article, with good documentation. About, Building an 8-bit computer project named Veronica. Which lands in a 1942 Philco radio case. I'm posting some of it here. Make sure and read it all and see all of the Pics, on her Site...


Veronica – Enclosure « Blondihacks

First things first. If a computer has a case, it needs a badge on that case, right? I figured it was time Veronica had her own cool 1980s computer logo. Here's what I came up with:


For best effect, look at it while imagining Wham wearing zebra-print spandex and rocking out in a New Coke commercial. Picturing it? Good. You may proceed.

I stalked eBay for a long time looking for the right Philco, and when it came along, I pounced. The trick here is getting one that you like, and also one that is the right size. They usually don't list the dimensions in the eBay ads, and that information proved difficult to find online. Some of the eBay listings do have measurements, so if you read enough of them, you can start to cross-reference the sizes. The website PhilcoRadio is a great resource, with wonderful photos of every model ever produced. You can usually deduce dimensions from similar models built on the same chassis using the information from that site.


Here it is! I settled on the Model 42-327T, which was produced in 1942. This one isn't working and is missing a number of parts, so I don't feel too guilty about gutting it. It's really quite pretty. Philco made some damn fine things in their day.

Skipping on Down...

After deciding I wanted my control panel to go where that glass tuning display is, I had my second flash of inspiration for this project. I realized I can etch the control panel as a PCB! It will be sturdy, easy to make, and the resulting copper colour will compliment the old radio perfectly. Huzzah! Okay okay, this idea is hardly original either, but let me have this one.

So, with that plan in mind, it was off to the drawing board. I took measurements from the glass panel, fired up Inkscape, and came up with this:

For comparison, here's the radio's original tuning display. I did some test prints from Inkscape ahead of time to make sure that the sizes it claimed would be correct in real life. I wasn't about to etch this and find out the holes don't line up! For the record, Inkscape is in fact very accurate. It didn't need any scaling or fudging to print at the correct size.

Skipping on Down...

Also, note how light shows through the etched portions of the control panel. That's just screaming for some LED illumination, isn't it?


Here it is from the front, all buttoned up! I'm really, really pleased with how this turned out, to be honest. It was way more work than I expected, but the best ideas always are. While assembling things, I noticed that the hole where the radio's mechanical pushbuttons used to be is actually the perfect size for a row of seven-segment displays. I've propped up HexOut in there to test the idea. So... yeah... THAT will be happening. Looks like I can fit eight or ten digits across there. Sweeeeet.

Here's Veronica running some code in her new home. Apologies again for this really awful picture. The display is showing the address bus, running an infinite loop at $FE10.


8-bit computer project lands in a Philco radio case
8-bit computer project lands in a Philco radio case - Hack a Day
HEX Out reveals the secrets your data bus holds - Hack a Day
Veronica – Enclosure « Blondihacks, an informational website owned and operated by Ron Ramirez, Philco historian and collector.
Inkscape. Draw Freely.
About BlondiHacks « Blondihacks

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