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Classic Macintosh gets a massive ePaper display

Arduino TeamAugust 24th, 2022

The original Apple Macintosh computer, launched in 1984, was fundamental for ushering in GUIs (graphical user interfaces). It wasn’t the first personal computer to feature a GUI operating system and the concurrent Apple II still retained a more traditional command line interface for years, but we largely have the Macintosh to thank for modern GUIs. So it is appropriate that Dave Luna chose to use an Apple Macintosh Classic II to retrofit with a modern ePaper display.

The Macintosh Classic II hit the market in 1991 as a low-cost model, but it retained the design aesthetic of the original Macintosh. It was also the last Macintosh computer with a black-and-white screen. Luna replaced that CRT (cathode-ray tube) with a 9.7” Waveshare ePaper display. He also removed all of the original PCBs and replaced them with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B single-board computer. Interestingly, Luna added an adapter to feed the output from a Chromecast device to the Raspberry Pi’s camera input in order to show family pictures stored in Google Photos.

But there were two components that Luna couldn’t replace without ruining the look of the system: the keyboard and mouse. They utilized proprietary connection protocols and are not compatible with today’s computers. To make them work with the Raspberry Pi, Luna turned to Arduino. He  used an Arduino Micro to create an adapter for the keyboard and mouse. That runs TMK’s ADB (Apple Data Bus) to USB Keyboard Converter Arduino library, which deciphers the signals coming from the keyboard and mouse and then connects to a computer as a modern USB HID. Finally, Luna programmed a custom Python script to display a Macintosh-styled GUI for the Raspberry Pi.


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