User Tools

Site Tools


Steampunk computer

Steampunk computer
founder: ruza
depends on:
interested: kxt
software license:
hardware license:

~~META: status = suspended &relation firstimage = :project:brazil-computer.jpg ~~

Goals of the Project

  • The aim of the project is to build Steampunk style computer, similar to that one you could seen in the movie Brazil_(film), that can be used as a public terminal or cash register for brmbar.


Status and Plan

The project is currently in the planning stage.

  • [WANTED] collect materials, any metal/brass parts from your old mechanical hw is welcomed
  • [DONE] investigate ATM screens we have
  • [investigated] choose VGA or composite
  • [DONE] IBM thin client tests




We can build one similar to this dyi project

There is also dyi kit available but its too expensive.



Investigate posibility to use ATM screens we already have at hackerspace. At least one of them has EIA 1240 tube. Most of them are Motorola 9VADP4 9" CRT or similar type. Input is probably composite video on 12V. One of them was tested by sargon and it works!

vga 2 rgb

on chip VGA to composite converter

Analog Devices AD723

we can also use xduino board to act as VT100 terminal and show some useful infos from computer

Arduino TV-out project


works with standart LCD and IBM thin client. needs eye-candy improvements

Analog meters (optional)

It would be great to design some analog meters on our device measuring bandwidth, cpu, net, or memory usage. Also some funny type of “You have new message” arrival notification can be implemented. steampunk_torrentmeter_bandwidth_meter.jpg

MegaBitMeter (de)

Notification sound

is imo perfect (from


Blinkenlights (optional)

Lamps from an old radio could be possibly used for some stuff like power light or network activity light.

Case and internal HW


A small board such as Beagleboard xM could be used.

It has a S-Video output which could be converted to composite video (cables are readily available) and fed into one of the ATM screens. It comes with some flash storage which can be further expanded with SD cards and an Ethernet port which makes it quite useful computer platform out of the box. The board is about 3.5×3.5in or about 90x90mm (3.25in w/o connectors).

A clone of the board which has composite video output is also available. However, it comes without an Ethernet port (could be probably added with some USB dongle). The advantage is that this board is smaller.

PC boards with TV output tend to be much larger and are somewhat rare so one of these embedded boards looks like a good candidate for the core of this project.

For nice steampunk housing one can get a box like this


This should be more than enough to contain the board and some additional cabling. Nice thick cables or tubes can be routed to the other parts of the PC. Exact specs available here.

IBM Network station 8361-110

Actually I (ruza) found out this IBM thin client in brmlab hardware not beeing used, so now I am into make it work as XDMCP client.

# Terminal 3270/5250/X-Windows
# Web Browser
# Microprocessor: PowerPC
# Memory: 16MB expandable to 64MB (actually 32Mb I think)
# Connectivity: Ethernet 10BaseT
# Video Support: minimum: 640x480 VGA; maximum: 1600x1280 SVGA
# 1MB VRAM expandable to 2MB
# Monitor Support: VGA/SVGA monitors
# Keyboard: 102-key PC keyboard (you'll need to find your own)
# Mouse: 2-button PS/2 (again you'll need to find your own)
# Audio support: 8-bit audio with internal speaker (beep)

Details of getting it working

innen.jpg s_p_29313_1_17866_zoom.jpg

Status: it works! Below is a picture of IBM Network station 8361-110 booted via NFS with XDMCP session on brmko. Magic tip for those who wanted to follow my steps: cabextract nsmsetup.exe




Hardware sources

project/steampunk_computer/start.txt · Last modified: 2016/11/28 01:37 by ruza