A mini, portable display for Commodore gear?


Speaking of displays! I had a dream last night where I was using my Commodore Plus/4 out on our balcony with a little external display. I can’t remember too many details, but it was in a 3D printed beige box with a power connector, signal cable, and some card slots. This lead me down the rabbit hole of figuring out how such a display would work.

I’ve talked here before about how our balcony saved us during lockdowns, thanks to trees and fresh air and not feeling cooped up. Aside from a weather-sealed power point, it’s otherwise just like a coffee shop out here, so whatever we want to use we have to set up on the spot.

Ideally I’d want a 4:3 display that can accept composite video, which would work with the Plus/4, the C16, and the C128’s 40-column mode out here. A smaller size would make it portable, maybe something a bit bigger than what the SX64 had.

But then my wishlist started growing! What about a built in:

  • CGA2RGB converter and upscaler, for the C128’s 80-column mode?

  • SD2IEC card reader, or a Pi1541 for disk access? Maybe a datasette emulator as well?

  • A battery? Either for the screen AND the computer? What about a switching power supply for the computer as well? Would that be a stretch?

At this stage the display enclosure would be taking on everything that that Commodore computer itself doesn’t have. It’d be the luggable component, in 1980s parlance. It wouldn’t matter if it’s chunky; something I could put into a bag or stand on my balcony would be brilliant. I’d even see myself using this as a way to take my Plus/4 to my dad’s place up the coast on holidays. Or even the C128 or C16 if I were able to source a bigger bag.

To do everything above, it’d need power, two display signals cables, and one or more data lines. Maybe I could braid or heat shrink them together, with sufficient shielding on the power cable. I could set up a port replicator-style connector for the other side so it’s just one bracket being plugged into the Commodore itself, though that would limit it to just the Plus/4.

Even if nothing comes of this, I think it’ll be a fun experiment to see just how these parts would fit together, if at all. Maybe I could get a small panel form eBay or Ali Express, and get a few 3D models printed to test.

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