Monday, May 20, 2013

The Power Tower

For some time, I've been thinking about how to organize my collection of working Color Computers and Ataris into a super connected DriveWire mash-up. I envisioned a rack system based on the same hardware that is used to stack networking equipment, where one CoCo would sit on top of the other. Each CoCo would have its own roll-out shelf for easy keyboard access, and at the very top would be space for a monitor that each CoCo could drive, switchable by a video routing system.

I shared my idea with Aaron Wolfe, who gave me some additional things to think about. After going on eBay looking for a rackmount cabinet, I quickly realized that they don't give that stuff away. Plus, the shipping costs would make acquiring a racksystem that much more expensive.

Giving some more thought to my options, I began to look around my workshop and came across an idea. Years ago, I rescued a rather large Hewlett-Packard plotter. The plotter itself was discarded; I kept the rolling steel cart frame that the plotter sat on, however. It was used as a roving sawhorse a few times, but mostly just sat out of the way.

Looking at the cart, I realized that with some lumber, I could create something akin to an organizational system, albeit more wide than tall as I initially envisioned. A few trips to Lowes and some days later, I began to work adapting this plotter stand into a CoCo "Power Tower."

The project was relatively simple. I picked up three boards of 1'x4'x1" red oak shelving, sanded each with 120 grit sandpaper, then sealed each board with Helmsman Minwax clear semi-gloss, waited for it to dry then sanded again and wiped down.

 The top board is 4' wide and sits atop the cart where the plotter was. The steel frame had two rows of screws along the inner sides for a basket; I decided to expand to two additional shelves, using angle brackets to hold up the shelving, which had to be cut a little over 10 inches to fit in the smaller width.

This photo shows the back, with a power strip mounted underneath the back with wire guides allowing the cord to go to the side and down.

Here's the finished result with several CoCos and Ataris.

The next steps are:
  1. Add a monitor stand.
  2. Find a way to keep the machines locked down. Right now they are just sitting atop the shelving.


  1. That's pretty cool, but what if you want to plug a multi-pak interface into one? Will you have the room?

  2. Sure, there's room if I'm willing to remove one of the Atari systems on the bottom two shelves. But keep in mind, I don't intend to use a Multi-Pak with this setup. These CoCos and Ataris will be equipped with DriveWire ROMs in their motherboards and all will be hooked up to a DriveWire server to be determined.

  3. Boisy, I would like the details of the DriveWire setup used when finished.. It would make an intersting module for my DW4Man GUI. I want to also hook a bank of Cocos up to DW4 but I want them to talk to each other through DW4

  4. Sure Bill. I will continue to update the blog as I make progress.

  5. Boisy, Looks good! The next version should be motorized like a shorter version of this. :)

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