A few years ago I bought a Global Village Teleport Gold II fax/modem for my personal vintage collection. I had been always fascinated from old stuff used to communicate in the world wide web of that era but today they are almost useless except as an ornament accessory for my Macintosh Classic.
I don’t why but these days I started thinking when I was younger and I was moving my first steps into the Internet. No many years ago, really, but there weren’t broadband connections, wifi and social networks. To navigate I had to plug my serial modem to the telephone outlet, dialing to my internet provider and start the PPP session, wait for the complete loading of every web page keeping an eye to the minutes counter or my father would have scolded me! Now everything is changed, we are always connected, social networks are became the usual way to communicate each other. So that old serial modems are became useless, even for fax messages (who’s still use them?).
So I got this idea: why don’t try to reconvert my Teleport Gold modem to allow at least a wifi connection to my Macintosh? I had already known the amazing Bo Zimmerman’s Zimodem project buying an adapter for my Commodore C64 and I’d liked to get something similar for my Classic also.
The first goal was to keep the aesthetic of the original modem. In addition I wanted to use the Macintosh modem port. So I started to search informations about the RS-422 interface and how it could be connected to the UART of a ESP32 MCU. I discovered that the RS-422 is very similar to the more standard RS-232 and that I could use a MAX3232 IC as signal converter.
At this point I built the circuitry needed for my project. I pulled up from the original logic board the serial cable, switch and power plug . I replaced the telephone plugs with a DB9 connector in case I would use this modem with my Amiga. Since Zimodem firmware supports an SD card on ESP32, I put it one. I added also an internal speaker in case I want to simulate the old dial-up sound (do you remember that Pshhhkkkkk krrrrka kingkakingkakingtsh chchchchchchchcch dingdingding ?) or if I’d wanted to add some extra features.
Then I got a copy of the Zimodem firmware and I added some changes to drive the LEDs on the front panel of the Teleport Gold modem: one green led for the power on, another green one when the wifi connection is active and a yellow led for the serial activity.
After flashed an ESP32 and made the final checks (I didn’t want to blow my Classic, of course) I started the Terminal program – no, it’s not the Mac OS X one 😛 – and input some AT commands.
Here following some picture of my work. Any feedback is appreciated.