If you want a retro computer that does not rely on a powerful modern computer to act as a dumb terminal then Marco's VGA serial terminal module is a great solution. The kit is well presented and easy to assemble. I've documented my experiences with the terminal module on my website, here: https://smallcomputercentral.wordpress.com/third-party-products/marcos-vga-serial-terminal-module/ Great job Marco.
Great design, easy to assemble simple clear document action, worked first time. Only improvement I would like would be to be able to set the baud rate from the setup screen. This is probably trivial to do, I just need to get to grips with the code - not my strongest skill 😊
Not to disparage any of the other kits out there. I own quite a few of them. It is just that I find being tethered to another PC to run the RC2014 is inconvenient. There is the PI based terminal, which I have but I find this to be more compact and easier to use. It was also a breeze to build. Took under an hour.
Easy layout to solder. Had no issues and the terminal sprang to life first time I plugged it in and turned it on. And there was a satisfying beep at power-on just like my old PC's in the 80's. I may have to mod it to output to an amplified, actual, PC speaker at some point just to get some more oomph out of it :-) but not until I build a case for the RC2014.
Easily my favorite addition thus far simply for the utility of it. I am running it in a Backplane Pro with the CPUv2, Pageable ROM, 64K RAM, Compact Flash Storage, original clock board and original serial/FTDI board. This is basically the upgraded, original RC2014 with the original G Searle CP/M add-on kit and I upgraded it to the Backplane Pro to have more expansion slots.
Works with every USB keyboard I have tried so far.
Absolutely __love__ this bit of kit. I'd give it 6 stars if I could.
Simple to make, clear documentation, and easy to use. I had the kit built and running in about an hour. My only problem was that I was connecting it to a Z180 CPU using the built-in serial ports where the default speed of the serial communication was not the same as the speed hardcoded in the terminal's ROM. It works fine at the default speed with a standard Z80 CPU and the SIO/2 board however. It's a shame that the speed isn't user configurable, but after a short correspondence with Marco, I had a replacement ROM file for the different serial speed. Thanks Marco! :)
This is, at last, that part I was looking for. A way to get video, and attach a (modern!) keyboard to my RC2014 system. Finally, I have a self-contained system without having to attach another computer to it! For added fun, I tried attaching it to other Unix systems (using jumper wires, it really isn't designed for this, and it doesn't claim to be). This does work! Terminal emulation isn't perfect, but it works well enough. This succeeds in being a terminal on a card. Goes above and beyond what one would need from a RC2014 console!
This module is a game changer. Adding video and keyboard support to my RC2014 has allowed it to become its own independent computer. Assembly was very straightforward, with all components identified and clearly oriented in the provided assembly diagram. All components were well packaged and accounted for. Worked perfectly after assembly and very neat to have a computer that beeps when you turn it on.
The trickiest part was finding a compatible USB keyboard. I actually tried four different models -- two generic Amazon.com ones didn't work at all. Then I tried an OEM Dell keyboard (chiclet-style) from 2018, which worked but had an annoying re-typing kind of problem when one key was released while another was pressed (causing the first key to fire twice). Finally, another OEM Dell keyboard from 2015 (non-chiclet-style) worked flawlessly.
Arrived quickly, well packaged, colour printed documentation and easy to put together. No config needed to set it up, truly plug and play. I can't fault this item at all, I'm going to get great use out of it. I've only got two USB keyboards and it works with either of them.
I found the VGA Serial Terminal Kit by Marco Maccaferri to be well designed and executed. The kit was neatly documented and easy to assemble. I had no problems testing the module and it worked the first time I plugged it in. The "beep" from the on-board speaker upon startup is a nice addition and sounds just like an older computer booting. I enjoy the flashing block cursor and the ease of incorporating ANSI color codes into your programs. Every key on my "standard" Logitech Keyboard works as expected, and the Module observes the "NumLock" key, as well as the arrow keys, in addition to the directional arrows overlaid on the keypad. Function keys F1 through F10 work (by sending a control sequence), as well as the Delete, Home, and End keys. When looking at the characters on the screen very closely, one can observe a bit of "waviness". I'm not sure if it is the Terminal Kit, or my aged flatscreen monitor. The effect is unnoticeable from a reasonable distance, so I am not concerned with it. I did try another "slot" in my RC2014 Pro backplane, but the effect remained. I will try another monitor to see if it persists, and try to update this review. Overall, I would highly recommend this module for anyone that would like to work with their RC2014 system without the use of another computer as a terminal.
Bought this card, assembled it and inserted into rc2014. Work nearly flawless, may be some interference on the screen depending on card position and proximity to screen. I prefer this module more than the usb/hdmi raspberry pi card, due to ease of use, no need for external power and more retro look. I ordered the card with German keyboard driver, this work well with my Norwegian keyboard.