My pick for today’s PC Mod is the Atari 800 ITX, built by Andy Huston. There is a lot of bias at work here as the Atari 800 was my first computer / gaming system, and I actually still have it sitting on my desk.
Though it is sad to see it with the beloved ANTIC/POKEY chips and other vintage 70’s electronics, it’s still cool to see a classic computer used in the manner.
For more info and commentary check the rest of the story…
Here’s the main layout inside of the Atari case. We can see the laptop DVD in the center, a blade server style PSU on the left and the mini ITX motherboard on the right, which also puts all of the ports in the same place they are (were?) on an original Atari 800.
A close-up of the connections end. He even installed an old SIO port like the Ataris originally used, so people can use this PC with a super slick program called APE (Atari Peripheral Emulator). This, along with a special cable called an SIO2PC, allows a vintage Atari to use a PC like a big hard drive/disk drive. Kind of ironic in this mod’s case, but a great addition nevertheless.
I especially like this part. On the old 800, you could lift open the lid to gain access to the 10K OS ROM, as well as the (3) 16K RAM cartridges.
In this mod he uses the door as a hard drive access mount. Very clever, and again, he’s modded this without being obtrusive on the outer shell of the case – everything fits inside nicely.
The rear of the unit. He’s installed hinges which allow the entire top half of the case to be opened in a clamshell-like manner. This is far more convenient than taking apart an original Atari was. When modding it’s almost more important to decide on how your product can be taken apart moreso than how to put it together. You have to think sort of in reverse… though if you’re like most modders you’ve taken apart enough stuff over the years to have a good knowledge base of how best to do it.
This part is great – he took a Star Raiders cartridge and turned it into a mouse! Perhaps not super-ergonomic, but very clever!
The main suggestion I would have regarding this project is the keyboard – its really too bad he wasn’t able to make it functional for the PC. Pretty much the only way would have been to manually wire a PC keyboard’s matrix directly to each Atari key – a lot of work, but would have been totally worth it.
That’s all for today, join us back here tomorrow for yet another exciting chapter of “Ben Heckendorn’s PC Mod Picks of the Day!!!” (echo sound FX)
PS: I’d be up for reviewing Mac Mods too, if I saw any.