wirenth: Expality 2000

I sold this machine on in the summer of 2006, since it had been sitting in my study taking up space for years; hopefully the new owner will make better use of it.

wirenth is a very unusual creature: it is the computer from a Virtuality SU1000 virtual reality arcade machine. I have the helmet, joysticks and so on for this. Virtuality were kind enough to provide the service manual free - unfortunately it's more of a board-swapping guide; no programming information. Virtuality now sell 2000-series machines (I have the promo videos) and the details of how to program the 1000s seem to have been lost.

[A note on terminology: the whole machine is a 1000-series. There were several models: the SU1000 (user stands up), the SD1000 (user sits down) and the CS1000 (CyberSpace 1000 (!), user stands in confined area). The actual computer unit, however, is an Expality 2000, and serial numbers begin at 2000...]

The machine is based on a standard Amiga A3000. The A3000 chassis is held inside a 19" rack casing. The Amiga part is completely standard and has SCSI harddrive, CDROM and floppy. It also has a standard thin ethernet network card. The custom hardware consists of two graphics cards for the Amiga (one for each eye) with TI graphics processors on them. These, together with the standard Amiga serial/parallel/joystick ports, connect to a PCB known as the 'format board'. This has power supplies, audio amplifiers, joystick calibration stuff and other minor circuitry. Finally, head/glove positions are sensed using an off-the-shelf tracking board which outputs results via an RS232 connection.

I note in passing that apparently the 2000 series machines are based on the same fundamental design idea of using an off-the-shelf computer with custom graphics cards. The difference is that they use PCs...

This page written by Peter Maydell (pmaydell@chiark.greenend.org.uk).