Lorenzo Herrera's DEC Mini Is a Fully-Functional 3D-Printed Reinterpretation of the DEC VT Line

A successor to the Commodore PET Mini, this somewhat larger build accepts a range of SBCs and drives a full-color 10" display.

Gareth Halfacree
18 days agoRetroTech / 3D Printing

Maker Lorenzo Herrera has released a 3D printable interpretation of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)'s classic VT family of terminals: the DEC Mini, complete with fully-working keyboard and optional floppy drive.

"I’ve built the DEC Mini just because I irresistibly knew I wanted one as soon as the idea crossed my mind," Herrera writes of the project. "It was after being inspired by the Callisto 2 by Solar Hardware Computers, another full-sized 3D-printable computer that looks amazing, that the idea of using the board of a full-sized keyboard for a new computer came alive."

"The DEC VT line of computers not only forged standards in the telecommunications industry, but they certainly also took the industrial design of computers to a whole new level, where the looks and the function started to work together for a better human-machine interaction. Nowadays it seems natural to buy, use and love computing devices for their looks, not only for their capabilities. It would only seem logic to say that the interface revolution started in the hardware, not in the software."

Herrera's reimagining of DEC's VT line features a 3D-printed chassis compatible with a range of single-board computers, including the Raspberry Pi, LattePanda, Udoo Volt, and Banana Pi — each of which is capable of being used as a fully-functional modern computer or running an emulator for any of DEC's vintage line-up.

The machine is designed to be paired with the internals from an off-the-shelf USB keyboard, while a 10" 4:3 color LCD replaces the CRT of the original family. A 3.5" drive bay to the side of the screen can be fitted with a floppy disk using a suitable USB or GPIO adapter — or with a blanking plate.

There's only one real catch: You can't actually buy the DEC Mini. Instead, Herrera provides files suitable for printing on any 3D printer with a 220x200mm or larger bed, plus a list of compatible components.

It's not the first time Herrera has brought back a classic computer as a miniaturised modern reinterpretation: The maker is also responsible for the Commodore PET Mini, which was designed to accept a Raspberry Pi and based on the PET 8032 — complete with initially non-functional keyboard, which was later upgraded with working internals.

More details on the DEC Mini are available on the project website, with the 3D files published to GitHub under an unspecified license.

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