Inside the job network terminals

Originally posted sometime in 2010

These terminals are commonly found at Centrelink and some other job network provider locations. I recently managed to get my hands on some of these terminals to use for POS systems.

Outside the unit
Solid stuff

These units are as solid as they look, and weigh in at about 100kg each thanks to their steel construction. After all, they have to be able to handle some abuse.

Anyway, here’s a few pictures showing how to get in to the terminals. After disassembling one of the terminals the hard way, we found a relatively simple way to get in to the terminals.

Basically, the key mechanism hooks on to a spring loaded bar inside the unit, which can easily be pushed up to release the screen, which is hinged at the top of the unit.

Release lever
Pull to release lock

Now, knowing this, we can easily bypass the lock. We simply have to make a slot in the main unit directly behind the keyhole, as shown below. I chose to cut the slot by wasting several cutting discs with my dremel.

Cutting a bypass slot
The keyhole and the slot

Next, I grabbed a solid implement to use as a lever. I chose a steel ruler, which has the added bonus of showing you how deep to insert it in the next image. I simply inserted the ruler though the slot in to the unit just below the level of the key lock about 8cm deep.

Bypassing the lock
Open sesame

Next, I levered the steel ruler up until I felt resistance from the spring loaded locking lever mentioned earlier and lifted the screen from the bottom until it locked in to its open position. This revealed the internals of the top half of the unit.

Inside the top half
Inside the head

Points to note in the unit above:

  • The screen. This is an Elo capacitive touchscreen. I don’t recall which model
  • The big power switch on the left side. This is a switch for (mains) power to the entire unit.
  • The thermal printer. This is a Swecoin TTP8200, connected to the computer via a parallel port.
  • The orange button on top of the thermal printer. This feeds and cuts one sheet, which drops down and comes out through the large opening visible under the monitor.
  • The travel lock at the top, which releases the printer. The printer pivots at its base, with its movement dampened by a gas strut at the back of the unit.
  • The two metal lock tabs on either side of the printer head sticker. These release part of the printer mechanism to allow you to hand feed a new roll of thermal paper.
  • The computer door release at the lower left. Pull this up at the same time as the green handle below the keyboard to release the computer tray. This panel hinges at the bottom, and holds the computer. Unfortunately, this panel has no dampening, so care needs to be taken when releasing it so that it doesn’t fall.

Another point of interest is the monitor connections, shown below.

Monitor connections

We can see that the monitor is connected via VGA and the touchscreen via a serial connection (RS-232). Also of interest is the small white connector to the left of the VGA and power connections. This plug is used for the monitor control remote, which should be located somewhere within the unit. In our case, we found one of the units had the remote secured with velcro next to the monitor, and another had it loose at the base of the terminal.

Using the latches mentioned earlier, we release the bottom panel to access the PC and power supply.

Bottom half internals
In the bottom half

Here we can see the power supply, which provides 5 and 12 volt rails for the thermal printer and monitor. The PC in our units is not the original PC, as the seller removed the PCs from the terminals. We simply replaced it with a PC in a desktop case and secured it with a belt, since our seller cut the original rubber retention belt (seen in the bottom right corner in the image above).

Connections provided for the PC are:

  • IEC power connection
  • VGA connection to the monitor
  • Serial connection to the touchscreen
  • PS/2 keyboard connection
  • PS/2 mouse connection to the trackball
  • RJ45 network connection
  • 3.5mm audio connector to the terminal speaker
  • TNC connector to the wireless antenna at the top of the unit

Last of all is the back of the terminal, which provides an RJ45 jack for network connection and an IEC socket for power.

And so concludes the look inside the job network terminals.

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