Raspberry Pi Turns Typewriter into Working Linux Terminal

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Riley, Artillect)

If there’s one thing a Raspberry Pi is good for, it’s breathing life into vintage hardware. Today we’ve got an exciting project to share with you created by maker and developer Riley from Artillect. Using our favorite SBC, he’s upgraded an old Brother AX-25 typewriter into a functioning Linux-based terminal.

In order to upgrade the typewriter to work as a terminal, Riley opted to use more than one SBC. In addition to the Raspberry Pi, he’s integrated in an Arduino Uno to handle the key input so commands will be automatically typed out and printed in real-time. The Pi is responsible for communicating with the Arduino to complete the circuit.

Riley has created a video over at his official YouTube channel, Artillect, that breaks down how the project goes together and demonstrates the final build in action. It essentially works by accepting terminal input and outputting the corresponding results on paper by telling the typewriter a key has been pressed.

Riley explains that the typewriter keyboard uses an 8 x 11 matrix which is controllable with 8-pin and 11-pin cables. The Arduino Uno is able to control the keyboard input using two multiplexers obtained from Amazon. Any multiplexer should work as long as it is capable of supporting more than 11 channels.

The software for his creation is totally open source for anyone who wants to explore it or even make this project themselves. There is code available for both the Raspberry Pi to enable UART login as well as code that can be used to flash the Arduino. Check out the official project page over at GitHub to get a closer look.

If you want to recreate this Raspberry Pi project, check out the Artillect YouTube channel as well as the project thread over at Reddit for additional details.

Ash Hill
Contributing Writer

Ash Hill is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.