Up and Running!

I had the time over the weekend to set up Sigrid, my TRS-80 Model 4P, in her permanent spot in the rec room.

Sigrid-lexiDig the crimson walls!

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!



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Retrochallenge 2015/01: Here we go again!

I can’t leave well enough alone!  I’ve just entered the upcoming Retrochallenge, despite my earlier assertation that I’d be sitting this one out.

I couldn’t help it, I’ve been in a retrocomputing mood for the last few weeks… I may be able to resurrect my beloved Amiga 2000 after several years of it being dead, my 386 portable (Angry Red) still needs a few tweaks, and I’ve just started a new project or two.  Also, wgoodf has a TI-99 to play with, and I’m curious to see what he does with it, as I own one as well!

So, I’ve sent in my entry with the following project description:

“This winter’s project will be the continuation of my summer project (building up my Toshiba T5200 386 portable) as well as trying to get my Tandy 2800HD to mate with my TRS-80 Model 4P (while my TRS-80 Model 100 takes notes).”

It’ll be difficult to keep myself from starting the RC a couple of weeks early…