Posts: 1
Joined: Fri May 24, 2013 6:06 pm

Minitel as serial console

Fri May 24, 2013 10:55 pm


It's almost a year since the minitel network has been shut down.
So give it a pi to resurrect it!

1) What you need:
  • A minitel
    You need at least a minitel at least in revision 1b (with the funct key) to have a serial din interface.
  • A raspberry pi
  • A logic converter board
    To convert logical signal from 5V to 3V3 and vice versa. Because raspberry work at 3V3 and minitel at 5V.
    I use a sparkfun logic converter
  • some wires
    You can bring a 5-way din wire to make a clean test, like this
2)How to make it, the hardware part
  • cut the din wire to access ground (pin 2), pin 1 and 3 (cf spec)
    Test each wire to "number" them.
  • wire raspberry pi gpoi pin 1(3V3), 2(or 3, for the 5V), 6(or an other ground), 8(TXD) and 10(RXD).
  • connect ll these wire to your logic converter, like this:
    schema.png (42 KiB) Viewed 4478 times
    don't forget to connect all grounds together : raspberry ground, converter ground and minitel ground (pin2, the one in the middle).
  • connect the Din wire to the minitel.
bazar.JPG (60.28 KiB) Viewed 4478 times
3)How to make it, the software part
connect your raspberry pi with a screen and a keyboard to configure
  • Remove startup serial console
    On your raspberry pi, edit (with sudo) the /boot/cmdline.txt file : remove the bold part

    Code: Select all

    dwc_otg.lpm_enable=0 [b]console=ttyAMA0,115200 kgdboc=ttyAMA0,115200[/b] console=tty1 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootfstype=ext4 elevator=deadline rootwait
    It may be possible to keep it with 4800 instead of 115200, i didn't try it.
  • Configure your minitel
    power on the minitel
    then type:

    Code: Select all

    funct+T A
    funct+T E
    funct+P 4
    You will have to do this at each power on.
    some modes:

    Code: Select all

        T then I : memory reset
        T then V : Standard Téletél mode Vidéotext (40 colonnes)
        T then A : Standard "téléinformatique" ASCII US (80 colonnes)
        T then F : Standard "téléinformatique" ASCII FR (80 colonnes)
        T then E : Echo local (On/Off)
        C then E : Enable extended keyboard (ctrl, esc, arrows)
        C then V : Disabled extended keyboard
        P then 4 : 4800 bauds
  • Test your connection with minicom (if you want)
    • install:

      Code: Select all

      sudo apt-get install minicom
    • configure:

      Code: Select all

      sudo minicom -s
      Edit the serial conection : speed to 4800, no parity, 1 stop bit. Then save, and exit.
    • try

      Code: Select all

      sudo minicom -o
      Type some letters on your raspberry pi, it should appear on your minitel.
      Type some letters on your minitel keyboard, it should appear on your raspberry pi.
  • Create your getty configuration
    • open the /etc/inittab with sudo
    • go to the end and add this line:

      Code: Select all

      T0:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyAMA0 4800 minitel1b-80
      If you have an other model of minitel, search your into folder /usr/share/terminfo/m/
    • restart your raspberry or type "init q"
    Now you should see some weird characters, type your user then "entrée". Type your password then "entrée".
    You should see a login message and the command prompt, you're connected!
I installed Lynx to use my minitel as an internet browser ([troll] internet = minitel 2.0 [/troll])
google.JPG (52.7 KiB) Viewed 4478 times
next step : put the pi inside (i check, there are plenty of room) with a wi-fi dongle : the wifi minitel

Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:30 pm

Re: Minitel as serial console

Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:23 pm

Very NICE dude! I'm French, I'll try with my computer and a USB->Serial adapter, then with my rpi but I've to reinstall it before.

Glad to see minitel as passed frontier, personally I'm too young to knew them but It still a cool retro hack!!! :)

EDIT to remove password on a Phillips minitel 2, plug it, but do not switch on it.
Press FCTN+T while 5 second. then release, and press "I" (as initialise^^), it will reset de password.

French manuals of differents versions of Minitel: ... r-4215.php

Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:16 pm

Re: Minitel as serial console

Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:30 pm

Hey ! I found this superb article just now after I had found an old Minitel and I was keen on making it work, got the logic level converter and din port all set up, but I'm using raspberry pi zero W and couple of things changed in software (as it seems, correct me if I am wrong) and thus some steps are irrelevant or different, I am not as good with linux so I am not sure how to continue, the line in /boot/cmdline.txt is fairly different to begin with and the /etc/inittab is not in current version of Debian. I'd really loved to finish this project as it is really cool connection between old and new tech and also it just looks awesome on display! I also can't find a way to save the configuration of the serial port setup so it stays the same after exiting from the Minicom. Another thing is, because I have the RPI Zero W I've managed to add the wifi config into the image before I plugged the sd card into the RPI so I could use my MacBook for controlling it wirelessly without the need of a keyboard or a display, would that be a problem? I am not 100% sure as I can't try it out any other way! (I don't have another keyboard and display other than my MacBook).

Thanks in anticipation !

Return to “Other projects”