Fabrizio Di Vittorio's FabGL Project Gets a Serial Terminal Board with TTL and RS232 Connectivity

Designed specifically for the FabGL project, this ESP32-powered board can act like almost any vintage terminal you can imagine.

Gareth Halfacree
2 years agoRetro Tech / HW101

Fabrizio Di Vittorio has launched a second official development board for the FabGL library, this time combining the functions of a display controller with those of a serial terminal for both TTL and RS232 connections.

Dubbed, to no great surprise, the FabGL Serial Terminal, Di Vittorio's latest board is the second official piece of hardware designed specifically for the FabGL project — a library designed for Espressif's ESP32 family of microcontroller modules designed to convert the chips into fully-functional graphical computers with games support, PS/2 keyboard connectivity, and VGA video output.

Late last year Di Vittorio released the first official development board for the project, the FabGL Dev Board. Designed as a reference for those looking to build their own FabGL projects, as well as a quick-start device for anyone simply looking to play around with it, the board could be used for a range of tasks — including emulation of vintage computers including the Commodore VIC-20 and the IBM Personal Computer.

The FabGL Serial Terminal now becomes the second official development board for the project. Rather than acting like a personal computer, though, it's designed for use as a serial terminal — supporting emulation of ANSI, VTxxx, ADM 3A, ADM 31, Hazeltine 1500, Osborne, Kaypro, and VT52 terminals, with connectivity via 5V TTL or RS232.

In addition to its serial ports, the board offers two PS/2 ports for a keyboard and mouse, a VGA port for a monitor, a line-level audio output, a power-only USB port designed for driving external boards plus an eight-pin connector designed for the MBC2-Z80 single-board computer, and six general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins. Unlike the FabGL Dev Board, though, it does not include an SD Card slot for storage — and neither is it programmable over USB, requiring an external programmer if you want to replace or upgrade the FabGL firmware in the future.

The board is now available to order on the FabGL Tindie store at $25, a $14 discount over the FabGL Dev Board; a compatible USB programmer can be added for $12.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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