MiniPET 40/80D - Replacement PET Motherboard (Includes SD2PET)
- Product Review (submitted on 19 May 2022):
I've been a huge fan of the PET series since I was a kid on 1977, and while it's easy to emulate, there's absolutely nothing like using real hardware!
What I liked:
I bought the MiniPet 40/80D to mount in a PET 8032 casing and be my workhorse, every day use, PET. It mounted into the case very easily, connected up to all the original cabling, and booted up perfectly the first time!
Its great that the MiniPet 40/80D can be configured to use either the PET graphics or business keyboards as it means I can use it as a replacement in either my 2001 or 8032 casings.
The built in PETSD is really convenient and, if you select the 4.1 OS ROM, the built-in file browser that's accessible by the side button is a very handy feature.
When I needed help or had a question, TFW8B's support was prompt, newbie friendly and awesome!
Things to keep in mind:
While its a 80 column PET, it don't contain, or emulate, the 6545, which means software that specifically use it's functionality to alter the display won't work. The CRTC in the MiniPet is microcontroller based and does not have any RAM mapped registers, which makes the MiniPet 40/80D closer to a 2001/3000 series with an 80 column upgrade then a 4000/8000/9000 series PET. As such the only real inconvenience that I've encountered is that there isn't a way to switch to 40 column mode through software and it must set via the DIP switch. So far I haven't run into problems with the majority of the 80 column software I've tried so it may not be much of an issue.
The composite output worked flawlessly, but with for the 8032 monitor, and I'm not sure it was because of slight signal differences or that the 8032 hadn't been powered in close to 20 years, I had to open the monitor and adjust the vertical height control. Please Note: Because we're talking about CRT monitors, I don't typically recommend people do these adjustments with out educating themselves to the high voltage hazards they present, how to safely work with them, and have the proper tools and safety equipment.
One thing that tripped me up was, if you follow DIP switch settings on the setup card, is by default it adds extra lines between text rows in the 80 column for readability. It's a nice feature but it made some 80 column software look funny. TFW8B pointed out that DIP #9 controls that feature and once i switched out everything looked perfect!
As the previous problem illustrated, it's important to read the switch legends on the board itself as it will give you further insights on it's workings and assistance in configuration and problem solving.
I absolutely love the MiniPet 40/80D, I highly recommend it, and my only regret is that it appears to be a limited run and I can't afford a second one right now. In this period of severe parts shortages, costs are higher then they may have been at other points, but it's still entirely worth it for a drop in PET replacement board.