• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here

Soroc serial terminal - Part 5. Hardware build


Veteran Member
Apr 24, 2009
Canberra, Australia
The hardware choices were made on the basis of what I already had to hand. I wanted sealed PSUs rather than putting something like an ATX PSU inside it with a potentially noisy fan. I wanted PS/2 keyboard interface and VGA video out. I wanted fast and minimal boot on power-up.

Old Compaq laptops are not great, but they are plentiful and cheap. The 7800 had a built-in PSU, so I could just patch AC flex from the Soroc AC fused/switched input to an IEC plug for the Compaq, branching to another IEC plug for the monitor's PSU pack.

The re-mapped Soroc keyboard attachs via the Honeywell keyboard controller board to the Compaq PS/2 port.

A DB9 plug for the Compaq's serial port runs via a short lead to a DB25 socket in the rear connection slot of the Soroc body, to take the original DB25 serial connection lead to the host.

I removed the screen assembly from the Compaq. It is a good SVGA display and would have fitted the aperture of the Soroc cabinet. I considered trying to make an extension to the video connectors of the original Compaq. These are on a wide flat plastic printed membrane.
The choices were either to cut the membrane and join the cut ends via a standard flat cable of some sort, or to try to find plugs and sockets to enable me to build an extension cable without cutting anything.

I don't know any good technique to join a cut plastic printed connector to wires - obviously solder is out of the question. :confused:

The only source I could think of for compatible plug/socket would be to totally destroy a laptop with identical connectors - not impossible, but a lot of trouble.

So I saved the laptop monitor and focussed on the VGA stand-alone alternative. The POS monitor I got would fit in the available space with its normal bezel and housing intact, supported by foam upholstery padding and some blocks of urethane foam to support it above the keyboard PCB.

One final connection was made from the internal speaker socket inside the Compaq (not the headphone socket) to the Soroc's feeble system speaker, so that beeps would be transmitted from BIOS or DOS levels, or if invoked by CP/M programs. No higher-level audio is needed for this setup.

None of the fabric of the Soroc cabinet had to be cut or altered, so it is intact if at some future date a CRT authentic restoration becomes feasible. The cabinet is built in Taiwan of a moulding material similar to fibreglass, but apparently a composition of sawdust in an epoxy resin, like a kind of super-saturated moulded MDF. The exterior is spray-painted duck-egg grey and black. Exterior hex screws holding the cabinet together are not even recessed. It's a real ugly duckling.

As far as I know, these things have never been collected by anyone, and I keep mine out of personal sentiment rather than for aesthetic appeal. So until proven wrong I will claim to have the only Soroc IQ35 on earth that even looks like it's working.