ADM-3A Dumb Terminal Home Automation Hub

Using a terminal from 1976 as home automation hub. Because we can.

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Setting up server side application for controlling smart home appliances, using a 45 year old front end.

Why not use an old terminal as home automation hub?

Tired of voice interfaces?


I got no other reasons...

It's a pretty simple build.

On a Ubuntu server, I am running a Node.js and Python application, that allows me to control my various home automation protocols. I connect the terminal via telnet, through the fantastic Retro Wifi Modem Si, by Simulant.

What made it simpler than expected was the stellar Google Assistant Relay application, developed by greghesp. 

Currently the application controls lighting, temperature/thermostats, smart blinds and remote control of my vacuum.


Just a neat pic of the logic gates of the ADM-3

JPEG Image - 1.05 MB - 06/05/2020 at 00:44


Application for running custom requests through Google Assistant

plain - 1.83 kB - 06/03/2020 at 17:24


Main menu and submenus, including their requests and setup

plain - 10.26 kB - 06/03/2020 at 17:24


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  • 1



    • Ubuntu with open Telnet access
    • Node.js
    • Python3
    • Main Application (Python Script running upon Telnet session/login)

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J Groff wrote 06/11/2020 at 23:30 point

I spent a lot of hours in front of one of those connected to a Honeywell 1648A, in fact, I credit it 50% with my nearsightedness.

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Great Oak wrote 06/10/2020 at 18:44 point

This is so cool to see a "Clam Shell" being used this way. It's fantastic. I used to repair some of these from time to time. Awesome job.

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Entunassa wrote 06/06/2020 at 19:19 point

...weird to see how many ICs were necessary decades ago. One cup full 74xx for decoding the keyboard, a second cup for the video interface.

Nice project ☺!

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Myon wrote 06/06/2020 at 01:58 point

The ADM-3A is a beautiful example of industrial design.

I have a couple of WY-55sI been thinking on finding a use for as I only needed one for a CP/M machine I might make something like this.

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Daniel Karpantschof wrote 06/05/2020 at 19:41 point

True. There is a UART for the 232 connection, as well as a video rom for character generation. you're right. But aside from that (: Pure logic in it's logically purest form ;)

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Dan Maloney wrote 06/05/2020 at 00:47 point

Love the look of that terminal! Did you have to re-cap it at all?

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Daniel Karpantschof wrote 06/05/2020 at 19:43 point

Interestingly enough I didn't. I should though -- better safe than sorry. But it works like charm with the old caps. Granted, there aren't that many in it to begin with, only a handful or so, but I really ought to switch them out.

The video does "wobble" a bit, which I imagine is a shaky cap on the CRT drive, but so far it lives with original components.

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Ken Yap wrote 06/04/2020 at 00:47 point

Hahaha, cool project. That terminal was a classic, now that you remind me of it. You could even charge museum entrance fees of people wanting to see it.  😉

My first experience of the ADM-3A was as a rookie tasked with writing a terminal driver for a PDP 11/03 to handle a cluster of terminals doing data entry replacing more expensive punch card stations.

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Daniel Karpantschof wrote 06/05/2020 at 00:40 point

Thanks a billion (: Yeah the ADM-3 is a really beautiful piece of technology history, built entirely from logic gates (I'll add a picture of the insides. It's gorgeous! Just rows upon rows of logic gates, not processing unit at all).

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Ken Yap wrote 06/05/2020 at 00:48 point

Though IIRC there is a UART chip.

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