The Kaypro II Extreme




Found in a dumpster, this Kaypro II was rescued and brought back to life as a linux server.

Gallery of Images


The Kaypro II is a throwback to the CP/M days.
It was one of the (if not the) largest/heaviest portable computers ever built.   Moreless a desktop with a handle and built like a tank.
While the machine is old and more rare than an IBM PC 5150, quite a few were sold, and they dont fetch much on ebay (an early osborne is worth much more, and a kaycomp, not kaypro, is more sought after by collectors). So there was no guilt in going ahead with the hack.


The original monitor is one of the things that makes the Kaypro unique.  It's a green screen TTL monitor with an NTSC scanrate.   Instead of going out and getting a POS monitor (that wouldnt quite fit right anyway), I based the project around the original.     The monitor is clear as it was almost 25 years ago.   Despite the common belief that these display's are "digital" and text only, old TTL monitors display graphics just fine up to a little over 640x480 interlaced, similar to a TV.

A lot of hacking went into it, including a custom VGA card BIOS  (to post the proper scanrate at poweron, see my Linux on Obsolete Display's Project Page for more info about this.), power supply rewire (I needed a the right size supply and I got a Dell), and of course the case cutting, drilling, switches, and LCD display. The arrangement of the components are completely different from the original, where the motherboard was suspended at the top just above the crt, power supply was center back (just an open PCB, not in a case), and the dual 5.25" floppy drives consumed all of the space on the right. (some examples of an original: img1, img2, img3 ). The back of the kaypro had to be cut to accomodate a backing plate from a standard ATX case.
The original kaypro had only a rocker power switch and reset on the back. That didn't work well with an ATX motherboard, so I made up a switch panel. From left to right they control, mb power, mb reset, crt power, lcd power, lcd reset, audio amp power, and 2 audio control pots.
LCD is an 20x4 Pic-an-LCD I bought a few years back.

Motherboard is a Biostar M6VLQ.   Originally I was going to use a full size atx board (which fits fine) but ended up using it for another project.   The biostar board is a little smaller and leaves a little extra space inside, but almost any motherboard would fit.  No need for a mini-itx here.   Processor is a 1Ghz PIII with 512M ram.

I went with a standard PC keyboard and used the shell of the original to house it for transport.   The original keyboard was mostly a hollow box anyway.  The PC keyboard as well as a mouse, CD's and other things fits nicely inside.

I got some emails asking about the kaypro monitor and its pinout.
It's a ttl monitor with a 10 pin edge connector.  This were
farily common during the early/mid 80s.

1       GND (hsync return)
2       Brightness pot (100K ohm) CW end
3       Brightness pot CCW end
4       Brightness pot wiper
5       GND (sometimes called arc GND)
6       Horizontal Sync
7       Power (see below)
8       Video in
9       Vertical Sync
10      GND (vsync and video return) 

Power is 12v.  On my kaypro monitor, pins 2-4 were not used.

Neatorama's Ultimate Case Mod List