10 Jun 2010

USB Mouse/CMI Lightpen Interface for Fairlight CMI Series IIx

I'm happy to see that there are still people developing for the Series IIx. In this case Joe Britt.
He has developed an interface to connect a USB mouse to a Series IIx instead of the lightpen. Lots of lightpens aren't working anymore, including mine, and this is a cheap solution to use the IIx back at its fullest potential.

As an extra the interface provides a composite video output connector. So no more looking at the green terminal screen. You can now connect an LCD screen to your IIx.

Here's what Joe has to say about the interface he designed:

Each unit will come with a 5VDC AC adapter. Unfortunately, the CMI doesn't provide power on the monitor/lightpen connector, so the interface has to provide its own supply. The AC adapters I am including operate from 100V-240V, 50/60Hz, so they should be OK regardless of where you live.

I'm also including a short IEC power cable that will connect to the VDU AC power connector on the back of the CMI, and provide a US-style 3-prong outlet. You can plug the interface AC adapter into that cable, then that cable into the CMI's VDU power connector, and the interface will switch on and off with the CMI. This is probably most interesting if you are using the interface to connect the CMI to a modern display, like an LCD, and so don't need the CMI's VDU power connector.

If you want to use the interface with a real Fairlight VDU, you will need a 5-pin XLR male/female cable wired according to the CMI service manual. I'm debating making these and offering them for sale. If you would want one, please let me know. The connectors are fairly expensive, the cable is 3 shielded cores, and they take a while to properly assemble.

If you plan to just use the RCA video out connector on the interface, you'll just need a composite video cable (RCA male to male) and a display with a composite PAL input. Some NTSC monitors/LCDs can deal with the signal from the CMI, since it is monochrome PAL.

You'll need a USB mouse. I've been using Microsoft USB mice, as I have a few on hand, but hope to try some other brands soon.

When the interface is powered on, it defaults to mouse cursor on, and positions it in the center of the screen. You can toggle it off and on with the right mouse button.

If you have a real lightpen fitted as well and bring it to the screen, the mouse cursor is automatically turned off while the lightpen cursor is being displayed. If you take the real lightpen away from the screen and the mouse cursor was previously on, it will reappear.

For more info or if you want to place an order for a unit you can contact Joe Britt at "britt AT shapetable DOT com".
Also take a look at Joe's site at: http://nonmaskable.com

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