I had the time over the weekend to set up Sigrid, my TRS-80 Model 4P, in her permanent spot in the rec room.
Rather than run network cables through the walls or ceiling from the router upstairs, and suffering from a lack of wifi-enabled *nix machines, I opted to set my long-neglected Raspberry Pi B up with a USB wifi dongle, using Sigrid as a VT100 terminal.
I’d originally bought the Pi for this express purpose – to allow my retro/vintage computers to connect to the net. Rather than rig up my own serial-to-GPIO cable (my electronic skills are nonexistant and my soldering skill worse), I took the easy way out and bought an RS232 Pi Plate from Linksprite the same day I ordered the Pi. It took a bit of effort to get the thing to work properly – setting ttyAMA0 to 9600 & vt100, not using a null-modem cable, not enabling XON/XOFF in Omniterm, etc – but I’ve been rewarded for my efforts.
Once the Pi was set up and I was able to use Sigrid as a terminal, I updated Raspbian and installed all the command-line stuff I figured I’d want: tin for usenet news, lrzsz for serial file transfers via x/y/zmodem, lynx for browsing, etc.
While this setup performed admirably, the novelty of using my 1980s-vintage TRS-80 online wore off quickly. I mean, I was doing all the stuff I’d do on my *nix boxes (or in PuTTY on my Windows laptop) with little change in routine. The only real differences were not having a colour screen, and having to learn different key combinations in order to type a pipe-symbol, tilde, or underscore on Sigrid’s keyboard.
So, I thought to myself, “Shaun, what can we do to make this set-up more enjoyable?”
Games? Sure, I can install nethack, an Infocom interpreter, and the like, but that’ll only hold my attention for so long.
Command-line media player? Yeah, that sounds like a lark!
So, I downloaded the only command-line media player I could remember, mpg321, after which I downloaded the latest World of Radio podcast (or, as my wife calls it, “You are hearing me talk“) and hooked up the speakers. It worked rather well, so I downloaded a few more shows that I enjoy. But I started to wonder – could I listen to streaming Internet radio?
I know I could use the Pi to listen to streaming audio if I were to start X, but wasn’t sure which command-line audio players could handle streaming audio reliably. I tried a few (mpg321, omxplayer, mplayer), but I only achieved satisfactory results with the venerable mpg123. I started out listening to my favourite station, Luxuria Music, which my two-year-old daughter loved but my wife hated, but soon switched to Anonradio here on SDF. I remembered Anonradio being promoted by SDF on Twitter etc, so I thought I’d give a listen:
Video takes forever to load. I really should shell out for more bandwidth on MOTD!
I’d call it a success!
I have a system I love using, connected to another more powerful system I love using, connected to the Internet. The sky’s the limit!