Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

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Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby Hamby » 2018-1-28 @ 18:19

Awhile back I bought an AT lunchbox case. It was complete, except the video card.
The brand is "Acme Portable Machines'.

It came with the technical manual.

According to the manual, the LCD display is a Toshiba LTM10C035; a 10.4" TFT LCD capable of 800 x 600 at 256k colors.

Also according to the manual, it takes a chips & technology based video card, a Mintronix 6554x video adapter.
It says the family of boards are the AV545-ISA, the AV548-PCI, and the AV550PCI video cards based either on the 65545 or 65548 C&T controller.
I know it has a 50 pin female cable leading to the display.

The manual also mentions an Acme Conversion board. Basically it connects to the feature connector of a standard vga card, and also connects to the from the conversion card to the vga out on the vga card, routing the video to the display.

What I'm wondering is, if there is some way to talk to this video display? I've seen driver boards designed to make LCD displays work with Raspberry Pi. They take standard vga or hdmi input and pass it on to the lcd.

What my goal is is to put a 486 motherboard in it, and use it as a semi-portable retro-gaming rig. Able to swap in and out vintage hardware as desired needed, and fairly portable so I'm not tied to a desk. If I have to, I can put a Raspberry Pi or other sbc in it (leaving lots and lots of room for batteries!) but I'd rather use it as a vintage PC.

Any advice anyone can give me on this I would greatly appreciate.
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Re: Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby jheronimus » 2018-1-28 @ 22:10

Damn, this sounds like something I’m really looking for. Can you post some photos, please? Is the TFT active matrix?
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Re: Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby xjas » 2018-1-28 @ 22:30

It's likely intended to interface with a standardized LCD pinheader on a video card, a lot of single-board PCs for industrial use had them but I've also seen them on discrete video cards (usually PCI.)

Here's an example on an Advantech PCA-6751 (I have one of these), it's the two white pin blocks below the IDE port. Not surprisingly the onboard video chip is a C&T 69000.
Image

Manual (look at page 21 for info or 81+82 for the pinouts!
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Re: Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby Hamby » 2018-1-29 @ 08:49

jheronimus wrote:Damn, this sounds like something I’m really looking for. Can you post some photos, please? Is the TFT active matrix?


Sure, I'll try getting some pix of the case and manual for you. I believe the TFT is active matrix, but I don't know for sure because I can't attach a video card to it.
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Re: Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby Hamby » 2018-2-08 @ 15:36

Here are some pix of the lunchbox case...

screen.jpg
The screen...


keyboard.jpg
The keyboard...


inside_case_01.jpg
Inside the case...


inside_case_rear.jpg
The rear panel of the case. The schematic indicates that this takes a P5B V3+ motherboard...

(I happen to have a p5B motherboard... it's a socket 7 I have K6-300 cpu in.)

display_cable.jpg
The 50 pin ribbon cable leading to the display.
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Re: Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby Hamby » 2018-2-08 @ 15:45

And here are some pix of the manual...

cover.jpg
Acme Portable Machines...

displays.jpg
The various displays. This case has a 10.4" LCD in it.

video_cards_00.jpg
About the possible video cards...

video_cards.jpg
About the video cards in closer view

conversion_board.jpg
There's a conversion board available as an option, presumably to use another video card with the case.
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Re: Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby Hamby » 2018-2-08 @ 15:47

And in case they're of any use...

switchsettings_01.jpg
Switch settings for various cards using the conversion board

switchsettings_02.jpg
More switch settings...

feature_connector.jpg
About using the feature connector of a 3rd party VGA card with a conversion board
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Re: Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby timb.us » 2018-2-08 @ 17:47

Huh, this looks similar to a lunchbox I’ve got sitting in storage, only mine uses a normal VGA connector for the LCD. (It’s a right angle low profile VGA connector that’s run outside the case, by the card slots; the advantage being it can plug into any video card.)

My keyboard is identical to yours, but the case internals and font panel are a bit different.

Anyway, your connector is most likely a standard digital LCD interface, which was common around that time. It may even be standard VGA. It wouldn’t be hard to figure out if you could take the unit apart and get pictures of the LCD’s PCB.

Now I want to pull my system out of storage and get it going. Unfortunately I lost the cage that holds the drives at some point. I need to find someone with metalworking experience and the tools to build one for me.
Last edited by timb.us on 2018-2-10 @ 21:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby Hamby » 2018-2-08 @ 19:22

timb.us wrote:Huh, this looks similar to a lunchbox I’ve got sitting in storage, only mine uses a normal VGA connector for the LCD. (It’s a right angle low profile VGA connector that’s run outside the case, by the card slots; the advantage being it can plug into any video card.)

My keyboard is identical to yours, but the case internals and font panel are a bit different.

Anyway, your connector is most likely a standard digital LCD interface, which was common around that time. It may even be standard VGA. It wouldn’t be hard to figure out if you could take the uni apart and get pictures of the LCD’s PCB.

Now I want to pull my system out of storag and get it going. Unfortunately I lost the cage that holds the drives at some point. I need to find someone with metalworking experience and the tools to build on for me.


If/when I get time, I probably will take it apart, since if I can't get the existing LCD to work, I'll be compelled to find a more modern 10.4" 4:3 LCD to replace it.
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Re: Talking to an old lunchbox LCD

Postby JidaiGeki » 2018-2-08 @ 21:14

There are three AV550 PCI cards listed on eBay at the moment, though they're a bit pricey (US$85-120). Prices for the AV545 ISA are insane though!

Your post has cleared up one mystery for me, I have a full length PCI card with the same 50-pin connector and no SCSI controller chip, driving a display from that port makes sense.
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