First post, by Hamby

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I've been doing a little reading / viewing videos about the Altair 8800 and Imsai 8080.
I know there are expensive replicas out there, but that's not what I have in mind.
Since AT cases are so hard to come by anymore (especially desktop formfactor, rather than tower), I've been thinking of neat ways of making custom AT desktop cases.
I love the retro look of those two machines.
And I got to wondering if there was some way, maybe with an arduino?... to build toggle switches and LEDs into an x86 DOS PC case... that actually *do* something.
I even thought about maybe such a case for the Commander X16, 6502-based computer.
I just think it would be so neat if I could enter a program into a DOS pc's memory via toggle switches, and then run it. Or use the toggle switches to get it to load a regular program from disk into memory, then run it.

Has anyone tried anything like this? Does anyone have any ideas for practical uses for toggles/leds on the front of a PC?
I'm not looking to copy the Altair or Imsai directly. I mean, it might be cool if the case had an LED like the MT32, and the results of your toggling showed there as text, rather than as LEDs.

Also also... does anyone know of a source for the cool paddle switches like on the Imsai 8080? Don't care about the color, just the style.

Reply 1 of 1, by jmarsh

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It was common for development cases to have a drive bay replaced with a panel full of toggle switches for various purposes (setting clock speeds, simulating laptop battery charging states etc.) as well as a two digit LED display for port 80 (debug) values. The switches were usually connected to specific GPIOs so every system was different.