Connecting an ADAM keyboard to a PC?


Thomas Buckler has a request; can someone tell him how to connect a Coleco ADAM keyboard to a PC or a Mac?  I’m sure he isn’t the only one that wants to know how this is done.

Notice I didn’t say “if it can be done”.  There are many talented people on this planet and the World Wide Web brings us all together.  There are guys like Ben Heckendorn who has created amazing conversions of classic game consoles and computers.  If you know how to connect ADAM’s keyboard (which uses the ADAMNet protocol to communicate) to a modern day PC, please leave a comment below or respond to Thomas Buckler on YouTube.  Thanks!

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About Coleco ADAM

I’m Justin M. Salvato, a fan and collector of vintage computers. This blog is dedicated to the very first computer I have ever owned: The Coleco ADAM. It is also my favorite. The goal of the blog is to provide information about the ADAM as well as the software and hardware that were created for this vintage computer system.
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28 Responses to Connecting an ADAM keyboard to a PC?

  1. Bob says:

    Oh, I am sure it can be done . Now, just to find someone to do it and why. I have a pc keyboard that was converted to an ADAM, but the inside of that sucker is a wiring mess. I don’tknow of anyone nor would I even attempt. My question is WHY does he want to do this thing????

    • Coleco ADAM says:

      Hey Bob! Howdy. No offense, but did you watch the video..? He explains why he wants to do it. To him & I, the keyboard sounds and to me, feels good as an input device. Hey, maybe someone will see this and have it on display at the next ADAMCon 😉

  2. Jim Notini/NIAD says:

    The ADAM keyboard was one of the best developed back in the 80’s and numerous people asked the same question as to converting it to be used with other systems. I heard, but never saw one, of people successfully converting them and it would seem there was a demand for the ADAM Keyboard seeing as the likes of Radio Shack stocked and sold them in quantity back in the 80’s. They did not include the plastic case, just the guts. Beyond that bit of history, there are many very talented people in the retro scene and I’m sure numerous people who have the skills to perform this mod, but the desire may not be there.

    • Coleco ADAM says:

      Jim! Thanks for that bit of info! Never knew about the Radio Shack bit, but I did read that the Coleco ADAM keyboard received positive reviews when it hit the market. Wish we could find someone that could do this, because now I really want to hook this up to my PC!

  3. I’ve been talking with Justin after he told me people were asking about this. It’s not even a mod really, but a rather simple adapter that would take some engineering to put together but then not very expensive to produce. As you guys said, is there enough interest to bother?

    If there’s a plan to go ahead and make an adapter, you’ll probably hear about it here first.

  4. Thomas says:

    I’d put a Hundo toward the project.

  5. Steve says:

    Count me in as interested, would love to use my old Adam keyboard on my desktop system! 🙂

    • Coleco ADAM says:

      Howard said it can be done, but since so few people want it, it would be expensive.

      • Howard says:

        This is the thing – it’s time consuming. Hardware-wise it’s a processor and a couple of connectors. The processor will have USB hardware and appropriate firmware to tell the world it’s a USB keyboard. The other end is a serial port that speaks 62.5kbps serial and pretends it’s an ADAM. I have to look up the protocols for the second part since it’s been 30 years (yikes, that long??) but I have that documentation sitting around. What it comes down to is whether I want to spend a bunch of time putting this together to sell 2 or 3 of them. I’d probably use one too, so I guess that’s 4. 🙂

      • Coleco ADAM says:

        Would you be able to “guesstimate” a price per keyboard? Would it include the actual keyboard or should we ship you a keyboard? Now it’s getting serious!

      • Howard says:

        It has nothing really to do with the keyboard. It will end up being a plastic box with a USB cord hanging out one end and a phone jack on the other that will take the ADAM keyboard cord. There will be about $10 worth of parts (or less) inside. The problem is whether I have time and decide to spend days writing the code and designing a board. If someone said “Hey, I’ve got 2 or 3K I’d give you to do it”, that would make it interesting. No one is going to say that though, and the two or three of you aren’t going to pony up $1000 each.

        What would happen if I put it up as a Kickstarter thing?

      • Coleco ADAM says:

        Not a bad idea, the worst that can happen is you don’t reach the monetary goal. No one loses anything.

      • Steve says:

        I’d suggest a posting at AtariAge as it seems to be the best hub for ColecoVision and Adam activity on the home brew front.

        Not to OVER shoot the scope of the project, but if you’re going to write code for it, how hard would it be to make it a AdamNET to USB converter that would accept other AdamNET peripherals assuming one made the proper connecting cables? I think it would be kinda cool to be able to wire up a DDP or Disc Drive to a PC. 🙂 Just daydreaming, I guess….

  6. thomas buckler says:

    i am verrry happy to see the most recent comments!

  7. Dale Wick says:

    I have a long term project to make a device of this sort. I have an arduino that can read keyboard input and send it over serial USB to the PC. So that is a start. To make it appear as a USB keyboard, I’d need to work more on the AT90USBKEY: http://www.atmel.ca/tools/AT90USBKEY.aspx which provides HDMI drivers for simulating a keyboard or mouse.

    I talked a little about my progress at AdamCon last year but I haven’t make much progress in the last 12 months unfortunately.

    One of my goals is to enable USB floppy drives/flash drives on the Adam. But running Adam floppy drives on the PC would be fun too.

    • Coleco ADAM says:

      If you succeed in connecting an ADAM keyboard to a PC, let me know!

    • Thomas Buckler says:

      please keep us informed of any progress.

    • Howard says:

      HDMI drivers to simulate a keyboard? Did you mean something else? I’ve only known HDMI as a video interface.

      Yes, code that gets input from somewhere and tells the computer it’s a USB keyboard will get you halfway there. The other half is emulating the functions of the master 6801 in the ADAM to trick the keyboard into sending it keystrokes. Once you get those, you have to map the ADAM keycodes into USB keycodes, make up key combinations to produce missing ones, do something with the function keys,… but that’s the fun part.

      The disk drive isn’t much different. You access the data the same way as the keyboard data except you address it one block (1K block) at a time. The first block or two is the directory which gives you the file names and the block number of the first block in the file. All files are contiguous so that part’s easy. If you expect to run code though, you’ll need one of the ADAM emulators but I’m sure you have at least one of those. I have DOS apps to read and write ADAM disks on a PC that, if I could find them, I’d share with you. They’re currently written to work directly on a PC disk drive to access the disk, but they could easily be converted to talk to a USB device instead (which would then talk to the real disk drive). Alas, even on a PC they’re no longer all that useful since ADAM disk drives are double density and those disks don’t like being written on by high density 5.25″ drives – assuming you can find a PC these days that has one. The code was handy though – when I sold The JKL Utilities, SPLAT! and other Overpriced Software items, I did my disk duping on a PC.

      I have tubes of Cypress ‘743 chips laying around here that are just itching to be turned into something fun and I’d like to explore the keyboard project this winter if I have time. I hope you beat me to it and then I’ll buy one from you instead. 🙂

  8. Shannon Wallace says:

    Any progress? I will buy a couple!

  9. Tom Hafner says:

    I am looking into doing this. Can anyone point me to documentation on the AdamNET protocol?

    Thanks,
    Tom
    2600-daptor.com

  10. Tom Hafner says:

    I am looking into doing this. Can anyone point me to documentation on the AdamNET protocol?

    Thanks,
    Tom
    2600-daptor.com

  11. David H. says:

    Check out:

    http://atariage.com/forums/topic/246869-pc-interface-for-the-adam-keyboard/

    I hope this can come to market early 2016. Please pass the word around.

  12. David H. says:

    Check out:
    http://atariage.com/forums/topic/246869-pc-interface-for-the-adam-keyboard/

    We have a working interface and I am trying to guage the interest in it. I hope we can make some available early 2016.

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