Articles in the Hardware category

  • A Minitel as a Linux terminal

    The Minitel (from the French Médium Interactif par Numérisation d'Information Téléphonique) was an interactive videotex online service accessible through phone lines, operated in France from 1982 by the state-owned PTT (Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones), the ancestor of France Télécom. The service was retired in 2012, after more than 30 years of existence. It might have been the world's most successful early online service, before the World Wide Web era. It offered services like telephone directory, purchases, reservations, mail, and chat just like the Web offers today.

    The Minitel, starting from model 1B, can be used as a VT100-compatible Linux terminal with the proper wiring. So let's try...

    Minitel 1

    The first version of the Minitel, made by Telic Alcatel. So 80s.

    Before starting to tinker, it's interesting to recall that the story behind the Minitel is actually pretty tragic despite its success. In the 70s, France was leading research on packet-switched networks. The CYCLADES project, directed by Louis Pouzin, inventor of the datagram, designed an early datagram-based packet communications network. In parallel, the French PTT was developing Transpac, a packet network based on virtual circuit switching with the emerging X.25 standard, which would be used by the Télétel network of the …


  • A small 3D-printed NAS

    Network-Attached Storages (NAS) are very handy devices on a home network. They offer a simple way to share or synchronize files, and can host various useful services at the same time provided they are generic enough. A NAS being nothing more than a specialized file server, we will actually build a small home server than will be able to do anything.

    The functions can be the following:

    • File server (FTP, NFS, SMB/CIFS...)
    • Streaming server (audio or video on the local network)
    • Personal web server (to host a website, synchonize contacts or send files to people)
    • Local seedbox (to download torrent files)
    • Domotic hub (for instance by adding a Zigbee USB dongle)

    The server will be pretty simple in its technical design: a Raspberry Pi 2 model B with two hard disks connected with USB adapters.

    The finished NAS featuring a Raspberry Pi 2

    The finished NAS featuring a Raspberry Pi 2

    The Raspberry Pi is actually not able to power the two drives over USB, since we would need 500mA per drive, so 1000mA overall, and the Pi can only supply 600mA over USB. There is a possible boot setting in /boot/config.txt called max_usb_current, which when set to 1 raises the maximum current intensity over …


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