New-to-Me Sun 3/60

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jjacocks
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New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby jjacocks » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:06 pm

All,

I have recently, after years of looking, acquired a Sun 3/60, in what seems to be decent condition. However, I don't have a keyboard, or a B/W monitor that is compatible with the onboard BW2 adapter. As far as I have read, type 4 keyboards and mice, which are much easier to obtain, are electrically compatible with Sun 3s. Can anyone with a Sun 3 and a type 4/5 confirm this? If so, I'll work up an adapter PCB.

As far as monitors go, has anyone tried to get the unusual resolutions of the onboard mono FB working with an LCD? I'd assume that a CG3/CG4 would be much easier, but those are going for serious $$ on ebay.

Thanks for any suggestions that you may have.

- Alex

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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby robespierre » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:52 pm

Hello!

The Sun 3/60 uses a Sun Type 3 keyboard connector (a DA15 plug), but it is electrically compatible with the later and more common Type 4 and Type 5 using the Mini-DIN-8 plug. You can see how the connectors are pinned here: http://www.sunhelp.org/faq/sunref5.html
When the SparcStation came out in the late 1980s, Sun sold adapters between the two connector types (the adapters are completely passive and just move the pins around), but I imagine they are very hard to find now.

The onboard graphics on a 3/60 (if present), is monochrome ECL. Connecting it to an LCD is not going to work.

Code: Select all

The monochrome video output levels are ECL/TTL. The output can
        be switched between low resolution (1152 x 900 61.8KHz
        horizontal sync, 66Hz vertical sync) and high resolution (1600 x
        1280) via a jumper in J800. The pinout of the monochrome video
        connector is:

            1   VIDEO+              6   VIDEO-
            3   HSYNC               7   GND
            4   VSYNC               8   GND
                                    9   GND

High resolution is actually 1600x1280 at 89.3 kHz horizontal, 67 Hz vertical.
Adapting the ECL video to analog RGB may be possible with an Extron amplifier box or one of the devices made for Atari TT computers (which also used ECL video).
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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby thunderbird32 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:56 pm

Is this the one that was on eBay recently? If so, you're lucky I hadn't gotten paid recently, or you'd have had to pay a lot more for it than you did. :lol:

I couldn't justify bidding any higher, but I've really wanted one for a while as well.
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jjacocks
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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby jjacocks » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:11 pm

robespierre,

Thanks for the information. I'll make an adapter PCB and printable case, and post links to them, here.

As far as ECL-to-RGB goes, I've made one of these https://sites.google.com/site/tandycocoloco/mda-cga-ega-to-vga, and it seems like it is a possible future avenue. Until then, I'll keep on the lookout for a CG3/CG4. If anyone has a spare one, please let me know.

Thanks!
- Alex

robespierre
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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby robespierre » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:54 pm

jjacocks wrote:As far as ECL-to-RGB goes, I've made one of these https://sites.google.com/site/tandycocoloco/mda-cga-ega-to-vga, and it seems like it is a possible future avenue. Until then, I'll keep on the lookout for a CG3/CG4. If anyone has a spare one, please let me know.

You probably don't need rescaling (or FPGA control), just video and sync level translation. TI has a large selection of parts for this.
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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby jjacocks » Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:09 pm

robespierre,

Do you have a schematic that I could reference? I’m quite able to build, but I’m no EE.

- Alex

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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby robespierre » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:35 pm

No, I do not have a schematic. If I have free time, I can scope the 3/60's output and see how to handle it.
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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby kokoboi » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:29 am

You can try with Extron RGB 202xi. I can confirm it works with Sun 3/60 and 3/E frame buffers.
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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby robespierre » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:49 am

Yes, or the Extron 118, 120p, 124, or 202 Rxi should also work.
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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby jjacocks » Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:52 am

Interesting...I read about the Extron units. Do you have to use the Extron Frame Buffer that they show in their diagrams, as well, or will the Extron RGB units work, on their own?

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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby robespierre » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:45 am

The big application area for Extron was companies who wanted to mirror a computer's CRT display onto a projector. A lot of their products were designed for that market, but they can be used in other ways too. So to make this scenario work, it needed to do three things:
1. Replicate the source signal from the computer to two outputs, one for the local monitor, and one for the remote projector. You can't just hook them up in parallel because of impedance and interference issues, so they made MBCs (monitor breakout cables) and MBC Buffer units (for longer cable runs) to achieve this. Some of the RGB converter boxes also had dual-outputs built in. The signals were identical to the signal output by the computer, so they needed to make specific "ECL MBC" & "ECL MBC Buffer" for Sun 3 machines.
2. (optionally) Switch between different data sources to display on one projector. They made large units with several inputs, as well as small ones with only 2 inputs, or some without a switch and only 1 input.
3. Convert the input signal format to the format of the projector. This may or may not include scaling! Without scaling, it re-creates the video and sync signals based on the input characteristics. This can include synthesizing RGBHV based on TTL or ECL video input, or adding or deleting Sync on Green, as well as other things like controlling the video position by adding or removing timing delays.
Scaling and Time Base Correction are additional features that would have added to the expense, since fancy projectors had them built-in anyway if they were required, and CRT projectors didn't even need them. Most of the smaller Extron units do not include them.

The only reason for the MBC Buffer is when the computer and local CRT were going to be located a long way from the RGB Converter and projector. If the RGB Converter was local to the workstation, they weren't required. In your case—converting ECL video to a RGB monitor—the Monitor Breakout Cable isn't required either (no need for twin displays) so Part 3—converting the input signal format to RGBHV—is the only one you have to consider.

I should qualify this by saying that although I have used the Extron DAs, I haven't used them for a Sun 3/60. So there may be something about the ECL video signal that needs to be handled differently. For example, the instructions for the ECL Buffer include many different settings, so it isn't just a passthrough amplifier. Extron says that the Sun/Apollo ECL connector is like this (different from sunhelp.org):

Code: Select all

Pin 1   ECL Video       Pin 4    V Sync      Pin 7   ECL Video Ret
Pin 2   ECL Video Ret   Pin C5   5 Volts     Pin 8   Sync Return
Pin 3   H Sync          Pin 6    ECL Video   Pin 9   5V Return
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jjacocks
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Re: New-to-Me Sun 3/60

Unread postby jjacocks » Sun May 06, 2018 12:39 pm

Thanks for the advice. I just received the 3/60, and while the case is a bit worn, the PCB is great.

I’ll take pictures soon, and hopefully be able to fire it up.


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