DIY: Turn Your Oscilloscope Into An Old-School Terminal
By James Grahame
Jan de Rie introduced his $24.95 Dutchtronix AVR Oscilloscope Clock kit almost a year ago. Now he's back with the AVR Scope terminal, an open source software upgrade that turns his clock into a seriously retro 20 x 12 display driver. It's a great way to repurpose your test bench oscilloscope to display serial information from your latest microcontroller-controlled widget or vintage computer project.
This project is a brilliant reminder of the early days of computing, when the Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-1 was programmed to play futuristic games like Spacewar on an oscilloscope display. Of course, vector display technology was eventually surpassed by less expensive raster displays (similar to those used in old-school TVs, where the screen is scanned line by line) built into dumb terminals.
Jan tells us, "The code is currently targeted for the Dutchtronix AVR Oscilloscope Clock hardware but could be easily ported to an alternate platform consisting of an AVR and some form of a DAC. The Scope Terminal displays 12 lines of 20 characters each. There is also a line showing the current time (it's a clock hardware after all). Configuration is possible using a "Command Mode" where you can use a terminal (usually a PC) to set options (currently Time Change and baud rate change are supported). This alternate application can be downloaded to the AVR Oscilloscope Clock using the built-in bootloader; no AVR programmer required."