There is no telling what you will discover on eBay—like an previous keyboard and trackball initially devoted to firing off nuclear missiles.
As detailed Tuesday by YouTube channel Pointless Tinkering, an fanatic purchased the keyboard off eBay just because it “regarded superior” and had “some fascinating buttons” saying issues like “TRANSMIT,” “ABORT,” and “INITIATE.”
The keyboard and trackball had been half of a bigger management system for a nuclear missile silo command heart. Extra particularly, the peripherals had been a part of a console used to launch Minuteman III missiles within the ’80s as a part of the US Air Drive’s Fast Execution and Fight Focusing on (REACT) program.
As defined by the Chilly Struggle historical past website Nuclear Companion and cited by Pointless Tinkering, “There’s one gorgeous distinction between REACT and the previous Command Knowledge Buffer (CDB). Whereas the CDB had two separated workstations, in REACT, each crew are aspect by aspect. In different phrases, they function in a single console with keyboard and trackball included.”
The keyboard has reed switches, which use magnets to actuate. Different components embody an Intel MD82510/B chip as a serial controller, an Intel 8051-family microcontroller, and RS422 communication chips.
After grabbing the keyboard and trackball from eBay and studying about their historical past, the fanatic went to work, armed with instruments like an Arduino Professional Micro (which ultimately acquired fried) and a programmer for the microcontroller, which he acquired via Dromeda Analysis. He additionally repaired the trackball that stopped working after buy and acquired each the keyboard and trackball to work with trendy computer systems with a USB port.
“All that reverse engineering led to me creating this little interface, which has the Arduino Micro, which might emulate a mouse and a keyboard,” the proprietor mentioned. There’s even custom software for the keyboard.
After all, there is not any RGB lighting, however some keys truly do have LEDs.
Pointless Tinkering additionally highlighted a “BIT key” that appears to reset the keyboard.
In response to the video, each the keyboard and trackball work like common PC peripherals, save for the Ctrl, Alt, and down keys, making the Nuclear Keyboard, because the video dubbed it, “very onerous to make use of as a standard, every day driver keyboard.”
Pointless Tinkering mentioned he would attempt to deal with any points that pop up in a follow-up video. Regardless of its flaws, the Nuclear Keyboard remains to be an interesting testomony to the ability of previous tech and recent minds.