Sun Ultra 60 serial console login with a VT132

I recently assembled a VT132 and have been connecting it to various things to enjoy some serial terminal goodness.

I’ve tried a number of serial cables and serial terminal programs on my Atari ST to get a serial connection to my Sun Ultra 60 but never managed to get it to work. I didn’t know if this was due to my serial cable or something else. I bought and assembled the VT121 as a VT100 compatible serial terminal to have a better attempt at connecting to some of the devices I have around that support serial connections.

On the VT132 there are jumper pins to switch between a straight though connection or a crossover connection. Through trial and error I found I needed to put the jumpers on 1-3 and 2-4 for the cross over connection and this worked with the Sun Ultra.

I don’t have a pic of the pins in this configuration, this is the section in the docs, and here’s the pin layout next to the voltage regulator for reference (center of the photo):

Pins 1 2 3 4 are on the right. Here’s the pins in the straight through config 1-2 and 3-4, the two jumpers on the right need to be switched to the other 1-3 and 2-4 configuration to work with the Sun Ultra:

There’s two serial connectors on the Sun Ultra 60, note that the DB25 at the top is a parallel connector. Serial A and B are beneath the keyboard connector:

Here’s some useful info on configuring Serial console connections to Sun hardware here. Typically on Sun Sparc systems, if you disconnect the keyboard and have a terminal connected to Serial A when you boot, the boot messages are redirected to the serial terminal instead of the video output. This is useful if you need to run diags on a machine, but it’s also fun to boot the machine up and logon from a serial console. Here’s what the console boot messages look like on my Ultra 60:

At this point I could successfully logon via the console. As I was looking into getting this working I took some notes as I was working on this. I’ll include them here for future reference in case they’re useful.

Other useful notes:

/etc/remote has section for enabling hardwire tip via /dev/term/a|b

See also here https://docs.oracle.com/cd/E19455-01/806-1377-10/tipapp.html talks about /etc/ttytab to enable logins

To enable a logon prompt via Serial A or B after booting, and with keyboard connected:

From here: https://docs.oracle.com/cd/E19253-01/817-0403/modsafapp-84569/index.html

sacadm -a -p mbmon -t ttymon -c /usr/lib/saf/ttymon -v `ttyadm -V` -y "TTY Ports a & b"

cat /dev/term/a shows keyboard entry from my VT132 terminal when I press enter, so I know input is reaching the port.

With my serial cable, I needed to set the straight through vs crossover jumpers on the VT132 to the crossover position get any output to appear on the terminal.

Set terminal to 9600 8N1.l

VT132 Using the AT Modem over WiFi

The VT132 includes a telnet/WiFi modem that supports AT commands to ‘dial’ online sites, such as BBSes that are accessible using telnet.

To connect to the modem, use the Alt-F1 menu and enable the ‘Enable modem locally’ option:

Useful commands:

AT$ – lists commands and help:

AT+W? – displays current WiFi status

AT+W=ssid,password : connect to WiFi ssid with password

AT+W$ – shows IP address when connected to WiFi:

AT+W+ : reconnects to WiFi using params last used and stored

AT+W- : disconnects from WiFi

Testing dialing up Retro Battlestations BBS: ATDbbs.fozztexx.com

Since VT132 also supports ANSI escape sequences, dialing up Blackflag BBS has some awesome ANSI graphics: ATDblackflag.acid.org :

Using a VT132 for Packet Radio

I have an AEA PK-232 that I picked up a couple of years ago at my Amateur Radio club’s White Elephant sale for a few bucks. With the VT132 that I just recently built, it works as an excellent terminal client to the PK-232.

To connect, set baud rate in the VT132 to 1200 8N1. Connect with a null modem cable. Power on the PK-232 and you should see:

Press type a star (*) for auto-baud routine.

Press * and then you should see the AEA PK-232 startup copyright message.

To get a cmd: prompt to enter commands, press Ctrl-C.

I’ve attached my 2m radio with the audio in so far, and here’s a pic while decoding some APRS messages:

Next I need to make a custom cable to connect to my Icom’s data port, and then I should be all set to work some packet.

VT132 kit assembly – step by step

I’ve just finished assembling my VT132 standalone kit from The High Nibble. It was an enjoyable build and pushed my soldering skills with soldering the tiny pins on the ESP32 chip. Initially I had issues getting solder to flow onto the tiny pins and pads, but I changed to a thinner tip which worked well.

Here’s a look at the board as it comes in the kit. I chose the option USB keyboard option instead of the default PS/2 keyboard connector:

Starting with the ESP32 first, here’s a look at my soldering on those tiny pins. I used the liquid flux, and the ‘drag’ method to pull the solder from the pads up to the exposed connector on the chip board:

Row of resistors for the VGA connector completed, and a few of the caps:

Almost done, just need to attach the DB9 and DB25 connectors:

First power on and looking at the settings. To access the ‘Set-up’ from a regular keyboard, press Alt PrtScrn. To view the onscreen menu help press F1:

More details on using the VT132 coming up in following posts.