Sunday 11 February 2024

$10 Monitor for Minstrel or Mini PET kits

How about a mini monitor for a Mini PET?

I am occasionally asked about HDMI converters for things like the Minstrel and Mini PET kits. I have not tried many of those, but in general they don't like monochrome composite video. The lack of the colour burst signal confuses them, and so they don't detect it, or try to see colour where there is no colour.

George Beckett has a Dell monitor which does similar things:

Normally most older LCD monitors are quite happy with those signals, and it is sometimes cheaper to buy a monitor with a composite input than an HDMI converter for an existing one.

Case in point, a $10 LCD designed to be used as a car reversing / DVD player monitor. I had used several different versions of this type of thing, so I thought I would try the smallest and cheapest and see if it was still viable.

There seem to be many of these around with different brands and part numbers, but the same things inside.

These usually run from 12V, although in some places they say 12-24V, and in practice, they run fine from 9V.

They usually have three plugs, one 2.1mm DC jack (centre positive) and two phono jacks.

Contrary to the photo on the listing, the red one is the power jack.

You can use either input, and if you have two devices connected, the one in the white jack takes priority. I think the idea is you connect a DVD player to yellow and the reversing camera to white, so that when reverse is engaged, the reversing camera is shown, then when you go back to drive, it switches back to your movie. If that isn't already illegal, then it really should be.

I would recommend using the yellow jack, particularly with something like the Minstrels, as it switches between white and yellow when the sync drops, as it does on the Minstrel 2 when you press a key, and on the Minstrel 3 when you enter a line of code.

The screen is very bright, not sure the brightness control does anything, this was brightness 0, and still washed out the whole screen so you couldn't see it.

You can just about make it out in this photo.

However, looking at the screen itself, it is quite readable.

I did better taking a picture with a "white on black" screen on the Mini PET.

The specification (if you can believe it), shows the resolution of this 4.3" LCD as 480x272.

That should be good enough to read the 32 or 40 character displays (32x8 = 256 pixels, 40x8 = 320 pixels).

It is certainly good enough to see what is going on.

Where there is the option, setting to NTSC works better as that reduces the borders and more closely matches the lines available.

However PAL also works.

The display updates are also fast enough to use the machines as normal.

Of course I am going to have a go at Tut-Tut.

Those sort of displays are available in 3.5, 4,3, 5.0 and 7.0 inch formats, from as little as $10, so a useful thing to have around.

The one shown here cost me £9.99 delivered from Amazon.


Minstrels and Mini PETs

Minstrel and Mini PET kits and ready built units are available from my SellMyRetro store.

Minstrel 4D

Minstrel 4D kits and ready built units are available from


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