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Archive for the 'USB Wombat' Category

New Features for ADB-USB Wombat

New firmware 0.3.5 is now available for the ADB-USB Wombat! The Wombat is a bidirectional ADB-to-USB and USB-to-ADB converter for keyboards and mice. Connect modern USB keyboards and mice to a classic ADB-based Macintosh, Apple IIgs, or NeXT, or connect legacy ADB input hardware to a USB-based computer running Windows, OSX, or Linux.

Firmware version 0.3.5 adds some new items to the feature list:

  • Support for remapping the Power Key for ADB-to-USB mode. This was a frequently requested feature from people using an old Apple Extended Keyboard with a modern PC or Mac. The default is unmapped, but you can use the Custom Keymap Tool to map it to a function key or anything else.
     
  • Separate keycodes for left and right side Shift, Control, and Option keys. Now if you wish, you can configure the left modifier keys to have different behavior than the right modifiers. I’d thought this was already happening before, but some extra keyboard magic was needed to make it work. The Apple Extended Keyboard II supports separate left/right side modifiers, but the AEK I doesn’t. If you’ve got an Appledesign keyboard or other model, let me know how it behaves.
     
  • Option to disable mouse-wheel arrow keys. When using a USB mouse on an ADB computer, there’s no equivalent of the mouse wheel. The Wombat converts mouse wheel rotations into keypresses of the up/down arrow key, which accomplishes a similar result in most software. If it causes problems, this arrow keys behavior can now be disabled using the Custom Keymap Tool.

You’ll find firmware 0.3.5 in the Downloads section of the Wombat page. And if you don’t have a Wombat yet, they are available and shipping now.

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Wombat Released into the Wild

The Wombat ADB-USB input converter is now back in stock at the BMOW Store. Head there to get yours now.

Wombat what? The Wombat is a bidirectional ADB-to-USB and USB-to-ADB converter for keyboards and mice, and was developed by Steve Chamberlin here at Big Mess o’ Wires. Connect modern USB keyboards and mice to a classic ADB-based Macintosh, Apple IIgs, or NeXT machine. Or connect legacy ADB input hardware to a USB-based computer running Windows, OSX, or Linux. No special software or drivers are needed – just plug it in and go. For more details, please see the product description page.

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ADB-USB Wombat Manufacturing Trouble

Today I received a new batch of Wombat boards from my manufacturing partner. Too bad none of them work! Connected devices aren’t recognized, in either ADB or USB input modes. Oops.

After some lengthy investigation, I discovered that the main crystal oscillator speed on these new boards is about 3.69 MHz, but it should be 8.0 MHz. At 3.69 MHz the board will not work. But the oscillator seems to be an 8 MHz one (at least it has “8.0” in the part number stamped on it), and the associated capacitors and resistors measure roughly the same in-circuit values as a known-good board, so it’s unclear why I’m getting 3.69 MHz oscillation.

Problems happen, but this particular problem should have been caught by the testing procedure that I designed, before the boards were ever shipped to me. I re-ran the test procedure here, using a copy of the test harness that I previously gave to the manufacturer, and sure enough all five of the boards I tried failed the test. So either there’s some discrepancy between how I’m testing and how they’re testing, or they did the tests incorrectly, or didn’t run the tests at all.

The hardware and the test process are identical to the previous three Wombat batches made by the same manufacturer, but the person overseeing the project changed this time.

This is my nightmare scenario, and I’m not sure where to go from here. With some more bench time, I could probably determine exactly why the oscillation speed is 3.69 MHz. Perhaps these boards could be fixed with some hot air rework and component replacement, but who’s going to do that? I’m not about to desolder and replace crystal oscillators on hundreds of boards by hand, to fix someone else’s mistake. Returning the whole batch for rework in China would be prohibitively expensive in shipping and tariff costs. Even if the manufacturer agrees to stump for a complete re-do of the manufacturing, I’ll still be out roughly $750 for the cost of ICs I purchased and provided to them.

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USB Wombat Parts Shortage

I’m forecasting an extended out-of-stock period this summer for the Wombat ADB-USB Keybord/Mouse Converter. One of the Wombat’s parts is currently out of stock everywhere, and the manufacturer is advertising 16 weeks lead time for delivery of more parts. There are still enough Wombats on hand to cover a few more weeks of typical sales volume, but then it will probably be October before more are available. If you’ve been considering getting a Wombat, you should order it now or be prepared to wait until autumn.

The Wombat is a bidirectional ADB-to-USB and USB-to-ADB converter for keyboards and mice.

  • Connect modern USB keyboards and mice to a classic ADB-based Macintosh, Apple IIgs, or NeXT
  • Connect legacy ADB input hardware to a USB-based computer running Windows, OSX, or Linux

No special software or drivers are needed – just plug it in and go. Now you can finally use a modern optical mouse with your vintage Macintosh, or amuse your coworkers with a retro ADB keyboard on your work machine. ADB-USB Wombat is an indispensable tool for Apple collectors and enthusiasts.

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ADB-USB Wombat Converter Back in Stock

The Wombat ADB-USB input converter is now back in stock at the BMOW Store. All pending Wombat back-orders will be shipped during the next few days.

What’s a Wombat? The Wombat is a bidirectional ADB-to-USB and USB-to-ADB converter for keyboards and mice, and was developed by Steve Chamberlin here at Big Mess o’ Wires. For more details, please see the product description page.

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ADB-USB Wombat Firmware Update

  

Version 0.3.1 firmware for the ADB-USB Wombat is now available. The Wombat is a bidirectional ADB-to-USB and USB-to-ADB converter for keyboards and mice. It enables the use of modern USB peripherals on vintage ADB-based Apple or NeXT computers, or ADB peripherals on modern machines equipped with USB. The Wombat is great for breathing new life into your vintage hardware collection.

Firmware 0.3.1 fixes a small but important bug that affected a small number of USB-equipped Macs that were built between 1998-2003, including some G3/G4 models of iMac, iBook, Powerbook, and Power Macintosh. ADB-to-USB conversion worked normally on these computers when running OS X, but they were unable to detect the keyboard when running MacOS 9. The reverse USB-to-ADB keyboard conversion worked normally under both MacOS 9 and OS X. If you weren’t affected by this bug, there’s no need to update your Wombat and you can safely stay with firmware version 0.3.0.

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