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MC6205/MS6205 | ESP32 Weatherstation, NTP Clock

Weatherstation based on MC6205 (MS6205) Russian Gas Discharge (Plasma) Display using ESP32

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ESP32 Weatherstation based on MC6205 (MS6205) russian gas discharge plasma display

This is my first project to make public. I love neon filled tubes, because of their warm glow.
Sure, I've already build some clocks using nixie tubes, but this russian 1990´s MC6205 is very special and it catches my interest.
The MC6205 uses a IGPP-100/100 (GIP-10000), which is  a 10000 pixel plasma tube. Technically similar to Burroughs SelfScan Plasma tubes.
It has been used in USSR CNC systems, programmable logic controllers and bill counters.

Unfortunately, after I powered it up the first time, I realized, that it has only a limited set of 96 characters.
Most in cyrillic and that rendered it nearly unusable for me.
But hey, in the package, there was the solution for it. Some very detailed schematics.
It took some time, to re-engineer the used eprom's character-set definitions, which was/is really weird.
So, what you will find in this project is a MC6205, which works with an expanded set of 127 characters based on western ISO-Latin-1 and connection to the internet via WLAN.

Obstacles:
- main obstacle, you need a customized ROM (EEPROM 2816 or EPROM 2716, 2732)
- further you need soldering experience, a PCB with the driver logic and an e(e)prommer

What you get:
- Some really nice days of hardware and software hacking
- a functional basic weatherstation (openweathermap), NTP-clock and terminal, where you can display text
- ESP32 Arduino knowhow

MS6205_HW_Test_V1.0.zip

Arduino & VS Code (platformio) code to test the MC6205

Zip Archive - 11.92 kB - 05/07/2021 at 21:54

Download

Custom_PROM.mp4

Video of running the testprogram with the customized PROM and after hardware change. (Described in the project)

MPEG-4 Video - 21.44 MB - 05/07/2021 at 21:43

Download

Original_PROM.mp4

Video of running the testprogram with original PROM but after hardware change. (Described in the project)

MPEG-4 Video - 21.07 MB - 05/07/2021 at 21:41

Download

MC6205_Driver_PCB-V1.1-Horizon.zip

Driver PCB with ESP32-WROOM (Eagle format) you do "not" need a СНО63-48 connector

Zip Archive - 174.48 kB - 05/07/2021 at 17:56

Download

EPROM_ISO.bin

the ISO-Latin1 e(e)prom data. MD5: e4b68f60f8ba3c8036d98be958cd3137

macbinary - 2.00 kB - 04/26/2021 at 15:27

Download

View all 9 files

  • 1 × Connector СНО63-48 (optional) MC6205 connector
  • 1 × ESP-WROOM-32 ESP32 DEVKITV1
  • 1 × MP2307 module step down converter (fixed to 5V)
  • 1 × 74HC595 Electronic Components / Misc. Electronic Components
  • 1 × PCB the driver PCB

View all 6 components

  • Connector removal

    jopo643 days ago 0 comments

    If you are planning to use the all-internal version, here is the „how-to-not-to-do“ way to remove the connector. ;)

    If you don‘t want to preserve it, then it is a way...

  • Easteregg

    jopo644 days ago 1 comment

    There is a hidden set of characters in the original PROM. It was pretty funny to discover it.

  • Hight reduction

    jopo644 days ago 0 comments

    Be carefull, if you reduce the spacer of the display board to the tube board. Attention not to break the glass-seal.

  • Testsoftware

    jopo644 days ago 0 comments

    First publish of testsoftware for the MC6205 on Arduino.
    The Zip is in the files section.

  • MC6205 boxed

    jopo645 days ago 0 comments

    Just a short update:
    A new set of PCB's V1.1-H arrived. This time I had included all parts in the original metallcase.
    PCB (Eagle format) and Gerber attached in files section.
    Have fun.

    I'm very satisfied with that look.



  • PCB's V1.1

    jopo6404/27/2021 at 08:35 0 comments

    The PCB's (V1.1-V) arrived. I've assembled it and it is working flawless.

  • Driver PCB version 1.1-V

    jopo6404/13/2021 at 20:36 0 comments

    Created new version of the PCB for connecting the ESP32 to the MC6205
    Schematics and Gerber attached in the files section. 

    This PCB can be self-etched (traces are pretty wide) and yes, it's double sided.

    I've ordered a small batch (5).

View all 7 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    The MC6205 bottom PCB must be changed to support the additional address bit.
    Please check your MC6205 schematics against my published one, because they could be slightly different, same for the PCB.

  • 2
    Step 2

    Run your code to display the standard character set (original PROM) but with advanced address range 0 to 159 characters.
    Be surprised...
    Please feel free to give feedback, if that works or not.

  • 3
    Step 3

    Software:
    In the files section, you will find a zip with test-software for the MC6205.
    Compile it with the Arduino IDE or Visual-Studio Code + platformio.

View all 3 instructions

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Discussions

jondaddio wrote 3 days ago point

Fantastic project !!

  Are you sure? yes | no

jondaddio wrote 4 days ago point

Is the external antenna on the ESP-WROOM-32 board really needed (ESP-WROOM-32U)?  I see a few boards for sale with that external antenna connector, but is it needed for the metal case with the holes in it ??

  Are you sure? yes | no

jopo64 wrote 4 days ago point

An external antenna must not be used. My home WLAN is a bit weak, so I solderd the antenna based ESP32 on it. And an external antenna outside the case could look nice. Anyway, it‘s only an option. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

jondaddio wrote 3 days ago point

Thanks for the reply !!

  Are you sure? yes | no

jopo64 wrote 4 days ago point

If someone want to get the PCB's and/or PROM, feel free to ask.

  Are you sure? yes | no

sig freud wrote 5 days ago point

Would love the info about the programmer too :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

jopo64 wrote 4 days ago point

Hi,
ok, it will follow.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Niklas Fauth wrote 04/24/2021 at 23:29 point

Hi! This is amazing work!

I have the same display and would like to replace / reprogram the EEPROM. Can you go into detail how you did that, what part / programmer you used and share the binary you ended up flashing?

Thanks!

  Are you sure? yes | no

jopo64 wrote 4 days ago point

Hi, thank you.The programmer is a DIY one using an old Arduino UNO with python code. I can share that, too, if there is anybody interested in. The old EPROM must be removed and a 24-pin socket soldered in. It is a bit tricky, to remove the PROM. But a good solder-iron, or Hot-air station will do the work. If it don't mind, the PROM could be removed with a wire cable cutter.

  Are you sure? yes | no

jondaddio wrote 3 days ago point

I also will have the same display (ordered today, so I'll have it in a month-and-a-half or so) and would like details on the EPROM replacement.  Are there photos of this old EPROM (was that the black device I saw)?  I looked through the photos and did not obviously see it.  Though you did post the schematic.  Great project !!

  Are you sure? yes | no

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