Author Topic: Norland 3001  (Read 477 times)

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Offline OneAnachronism

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Norland 3001
« on: January 18, 2019, 07:11:54 pm »
I realize this is one heck of a long-shot, but I have to ask on the off chance that someone out there has a lead for me to follow.

Got my hands on a Norland 3001 Oscilloscope - well, "mostly".  This is one of those early 1980s "Frankenstein" affairs that's part scope, part computer, all rolled into one.  The original "kit" was 3 parts - big beast of an actual cabinet (with all the actual silicon and probe interconnects in it), a small monitor, and a special keyboard.  I got "two thirds" of the kit - no keyboard (some doofus threw it out within the last year, which is how I was able to get the other parts).

The missing keyboard is weird (see photo).  Aside from the unconventional key layout, the interface is not something I've seen before.  The "scope body" has a big Centronics connector (looks like 36 pin) for the keyboard - no idea what the interface protocol is for it.  That's what bugs me.

So - anybody got any ideas?  Ideal scenarios are:

1.  Finding someone who's got a spare keyboard for it (ha ha - fat chance)
2.  Finding another Norland 3001, even if its dead, get the whole thing (if I can afford it) and get up and running , and then have one working scope (funny how "slim chance" and "fat chance" seem to mean the same thing).
3.  Figure out how the heck the keyboard was supposed to work, and build my own to replace it.

I'm holding out the most hope for option #3 - if anyone's seen this style of keyboard interface, any hint would be appreciated.  Am waiting on a copy of the operator manual - there may be something in there that might help deduce the original keyboard function.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2019, 03:49:36 am by OneAnachronism »
 

Offline OneAnachronism

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Re: Norland 3001
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2019, 07:20:31 pm »
Clipping from an 80s manufacturer ad - what the keyboard SHOULD have been
 

Offline NTSC

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Re: Norland 3001
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2019, 04:04:42 pm »
I just saw your post. I have one of these Frankenstein affairs as well. Big bummer that they threw out the keyboard. I've been searching the web for years for any service documentation on these with no success. I have the user manual. It describes the various board functions, but no circuit details. I can open up my keyboard and at least see what you might be in for if you try to build one. The fact that the interface has all those wires may indicate that keys are directly connected to the mainframe without an intermediate CPU. That would certainly simplify trying to build a replacement.
 

Offline Alex Eisenhut

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Re: Norland 3001
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2019, 04:32:06 pm »
I'll bet there's not much of a protocol there, just the switch matrix exposed directly.

This isn't so far fetched, the Commodore SX-64 and 128D did precisely that in the 1980s.

Just check each pin of the connector with respect to chassis ground, I'd bet half of them show some sort of narrow low duty cycle pulse as the computer scans the matrix. Just take a 10R resistor and connect a pulse to some pin that isn't showing a pulse; probably an input.
*Except AC/DC adapters on eBay. Avoid them all!
 

Offline OneAnachronism

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Re: Norland 3001
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2019, 08:23:13 am »
Hey, if anyone can offer a photo of the keyboard innerds (thanks in advance to NTSC, whether or not it ends up being feasible) to reverse-engineer, I'd be one heck of a leg up from where I am now.  Even if I figure out the interface protocol, it's still trial-and-error to figure out how all the "specially labelled" keys map to whatever addresses or matrix-locations the CPU is looking for, so any info I can get is helpful.

Regarding the notion of it just being a very simple wire-matrix breakout (ala Alex Eisenhut's comment, and NTSC as well) you know I hadn't thought of that, but now that you mention it, yeah - it does seem like the very sort of thing you WOULD see in a late 1970s or early 1980s machine.  Somehow I guess I'm just accustomed to expecting "elegant" solutions whether they were used or not.  But, yeah, it sure would explain the need for a large pin count on the connector, and it makes WAY more sense than something silly (like setting up a custom system with parallel data lines and a large word size just to talk to a keyboard).  And yes, the scan rate would probably be in the kHz (or maybe less), so it would be REAL easy to see the "polling" happen.  I gotta try that out...

And maybe my memory is failing me, but I vaguely remember peeking inside an old "numeric keypad" for an Atari once, and being shocked to find just a switch matrix (with NO ICs) mapped out direct to the connector.  This is a bit fuzzy, but if you say that some Commodores did the same kind of thing, I'd totally believe it.  Hey, thanks for the clear-headed perspective!

 


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