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Announcing and interest check: Integrated AirTalk for PowerBook 100 series

twelvetone12

Well-known member
I recently restored a PowerBook 100 and I was thinking that it would be very cool if it could connect to LocalTalk without cables, basically to have an AirTalk integrated. I realised that the internal modem port is unused (I imagine for the most part nowadays!) - what if I could condense @cheesestraws's AirTalk to a small board and fit it there?

Well, here is the integrated AirTalk for PB 100 series. I'm opening this thread to share my project with the community and see if somebody else may be interested :)

The idea is this: fit the AirTalk on the modem board and connect it to the modem port. To make it work it needs a patch (I am working on and INIT and a CDEV) to turn on the modem power, and then in the Networking control panel one can select Modem for LocalTalk. I tried it with a TashTalk and an USB adapter and it work beautifully, so I imagine that it should work too with the ESP32.

At this stage I finished the first schematic - which is full of jumpers (all the 0 ohms) so I can test various configurations. Since the board will be buried under the keyboard the LEDs are obscured, so I want to see if I can read the status line in software and show the status in the system. The same goes for the ESP reset, I included a button that will be aligned with the external modem port connector, but ideally also usable via software. I will see if I can make it work :)

This repo contains all my work until now: https://bitbucket.org/twelvetone12/portable_airtalk/ , and I'm attaching the current schematic. I'm working on the PCB layout so hopefully I can have a prototype soon.

For the moment I can only test it with the PB 100, but I would be interested in trying it out with other 1xx series too!
As usual, comments are welcome!
 

Attachments

  • pb100-airtalk.pdf
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twelvetone12

Well-known member
Small update: with the help of a kind friend I (actually he) made the PCB layout, I will be ordering prototypes this week and see how it goes!
 

twelvetone12

Well-known member
It should work, the connector carries basically the same signals, but I think the board would need to be adapted. I will finish assembling tomorrow I'm very curious to see if it really works or how much magic smoke I release :)
 

LaPorta

Well-known member
Yes, the board could be made larger and you’d have more room! Excited to see how this works out for you. I’m constantly amazed at the intelligent people here.
 

twelvetone12

Well-known member
Turns out the footprint for the connector I used numbered the pins differently, (top to bottom) 1-10 and (top to bottom) 11-20. I've never seen a connector do that, and needless to say the real connector is odd numbers on one side and even numbers on the others. When the pins are numbered sequentially, they generally "wrap" at the bottom as in ICs. I guess idiot me for not double checking that the footpront was properly made. I will put this project on a hold before I reach for a hammer.
 

twelvetone12

Well-known member
Thanks @LaPorta :) yesterday I was quite upset with myself for not noticing the different pinout in the connector, but I just realized that I route all the signals out of the machine and I can still use the prototype externally! Which is also handy for debugging! I'm very excited again now :D
 

alexGS

Well-known member
Thanks @LaPorta :) yesterday I was quite upset with myself for not noticing the different pinout in the connector, but I just realized that I route all the signals out of the machine and I can still use the prototype externally! Which is also handy for debugging! I'm very excited again now :D
Please keep up the great work :D
Since making a battery for my PB100, I love the idea of having a wireless connection to my G3 Wallstreet AppleShare server. I also wonder whether a similar idea would work with the Powerbook 500-series. I was brainstorming for how to get around the lack of a PCMCIA adapter for my machines, and came up with a similar idea, using an ESP32 for a serial connection, though I have no knowledge of how to achieve it. I’m really impressed at your skill :)
 

twelvetone12

Well-known member
Thanks Ales :) and I can announce that

IT WORKS!!

WhatsApp Image 2023-10-15 at 17.51.17.jpeg

Here it is! I connected the connector pins manually since I already had cables coming out the machine. There was a problem with the 3.3 buffer, but in the end it is good since I have a chance to debug it before the next run of boards.
There are two servers: mini vmac running on my MacBook, and "anselmo" (sorry for the silly name) which is my Linux PC, running netatalk, running my localtalk tashtalk driver, connected to my makeshift LT2USB, connected to a real AirTalk :) And it works! I could print wirelessly too! (the serial adapter in the photo just gives power and is connected to the debug port of the ESP, no localtalk goes there ;) )

WhatsApp Image 2023-10-15 at 17.51.18.jpeg

MacIP via MacIPGw + localtalk kernel driver + airtalk works too!
I'm so excited!
 

LaPorta

Well-known member
Very nice, this is great!!! If we can also make a board with a Portable modem slot connector, that should work as well! I can always look into the parts, etc…do you have some technical info on your design?
 
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