If you’ve ever wanted to use your favorite mechanical gaming keyboard on an old PC, you probably failed to find a compatible port—trust us, we checked. It’s not there. Thankfully, DekuNukem has created a Raspberry Pi-powered active protocol converter that enables users to connect modern USB peripherals to vintage computers known as the USB4VC.
DekuNukem is an embedded systems engineer with a history of open source projects under their belt, many of which can be found on their GitHub profile. Although the USB4VC project is also open-source, it’s also undergoing a fundraiser through Kickstarter for users who want to purchase a completed board.
To get an idea of what sort of connections this board can bridge, DekuNukem confirmed the first USB4VC edition releasing next month will work with serial, ADB, PS/2, and even 15-pin game ports. Users can attach a variety of USB input devices including console controllers, keyboards and gaming mice.
The baseboard requires a Raspberry Pi to function but it doesn’t have to be the latest release—DekuNukem insisted a first edition Raspberry Pi 1 would suffice just as well as a Pi 4. This could be the ideal project for that Raspberry Pi Zero that you have lurking on your desk. The board has an OLED screen, wireless support, Bluetooth support and is powered via USB-C. When testing the USB4VC, DekuNukem measured a latency response of just 0.5ms.
Users must attach a compatible protocol card to work with specific PCs. There will be two protocol cards available when the project launches in March that offer support for IBM PCs and the Apple Desktop Bus (ADB). After the initial launch, more protocol cards will be made available for additional machines that have yet to be specified.
As this is in open source project, users are invited to explore the project in depth as much as they’d like. Check out the official GitHub page for the USB4VC to dig into the source code. If you’d like to support the project and order a pre-made board, visit the official USB4VC Kickstarter page.
We admire the creativity of the maker community and always appreciate the effort taken to extend the life of vintage hardware. If this project was up your alley, be sure to explore our list of best Raspberry Pi projects for more cool creations and maybe even make one yourself.Ash Hill