These instructions are for the Version 1.5 board with an acrylic case (both “Standard” and “Pro”.) If you aren’t sure what board you have, take a look at this page: What Kind of Kit Do I Have?
NoticeI’m no longer publishing an HTML version of the assembly instructions. It was difficult keeping up with three versions of instructions (downloadable PDF, printed manual, and HTML version.) Instead there will be one PDF version that you can download below. This is the same PDF that will be sent to the printer for the spiral bound hard copies.
Your Arduino will arrive pre-programmed, but you may have to upload the software at some point. You can do that by following the instructions on this page.
You also would have received a Micro SD card with disk images. If you’d like to download the contents of that card again, you can download this archive.
The manual mentions David Hansel’s documentation. You can download that here.
If you are looking to upgrade your existing version 1.4 kit (in the bamboo box) you can see those instructions here.
THIS IS IMPORT STUFF, READ BEFORE BUILDING! Here’s where I’ll add a few items that did not make it into the manual:
- There are a couple of errors on the version 1.0 and 1.1 expansion board. They are fairly simple to remedy. First, you will need to install capacitor C3 in reverse. Install the capacitor with the long lead (positive) in the right hole. C3 ONLY. The other two 10uF capacitors install correctly.
- Second, the MCP1700 voltage regulator U1 needs to be installed 90 degrees counter-clockwise from the orientation noted on the circuit board. Install it as indicated in the photo.
If you have already built your expansion board, these errors will not cause any problems under normal operation. However, you should change them when you get around to it.
- You’ll notice there’s a notch on the rear panel. That notch should face to the right (as you’re looking at the back of the case.) When you install the I/O expansion board, you’ll see where it fits.
- If you received a micro SD card module with unattached header pins, you will need to solder them with the header pins coming out of the top of the module.
- The build of the revised I/O board is different. There is no longer a PS2 connectors, there are only two (not four) 4.7k resistors, and the USB connector has been relocated.
- Your printed instructions will call for one 82Ω resistor and one 150Ω resistor. The revised boards instead have two 150Ω resistors. This resistor controls the brightness of the LED and the small variation in resistance will not be noticeable.
If you are building the Standard kit and have the new 1.5.1 version (printed on the lower right of the circuit board), you will need to add a couple jumpers to use the Bluetooth module.
You can either solder a couple wires as the jumpers, or add a couple jumper pins and put shunts over the pins.
Hey! Why is my PROT toggle not working?To enable a second serial port on the Altairduino, it was necessary to “steal” a pair of pins from somewhere. It was determined that the PROT toggle was probably the least used, so it’s disabled. If you absolutely want the PROT toggle and don’t care about the second serial port, take a look at the documentation and search for “PROTECT”.
If you’re looking for a PS2 keyboard and/or a VGA monitor to use with your Altair-duino Pro, I can recommend these from Amazon. They’re inexpensive and they work fine for retro-computing:
Here’s the ProHT PS/2 Serial Standard 104-key Keyboard. Granted, it’s not retro enough, but it’s cheap and it works. At this writing, it was only a bit over $11.
I also like this LSLYA 8 inch TFT LCD Security Monitor. It’s small, light, and inexpensive (about $64) and it has a variety of inputs, including VGA, HDMI, composite, and component. Everything you need for almost all retro computing possibilities. Plus it has a 4:3 retro computing aspect ratio.
UPDATE: version 1.1 of the I/O expansion board (available March 2020 and later) now has a USB keyboard connector. Any standard wired USB keyboard should work, but you need to avoid using a keyboard with a USB hub. Some keyboards have built-in USB hubs and those will not work either. If your keyboard has one or more USB sockets on it (to connect a mouse for example), or is wireless, then it likely contains a USB hub and will not work. Also, I’ve never seen a back-lit keyboard that works. I suspect they have an internal hub to route power to the lighting.
The build of the new I/O board will be slightly different – there are now only two 4.7k resistors (instead of four), no PS2 connector, and the relocation of the USB connector.