More SE/30s

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Feb 292012
 

I got a couple more SE/30s from somebody’s garage recently, both of which externally look a bit nicer than the first (recent) SE/30 I got.

Se30 three tabled

One was assembled in Ireland, and one was assembled in Singapore. I don’t at the moment know what the difference would be. Maybe the Ireland one is actually a European model? It also has a newer copyright date on it, 1990 on the Ireland one and 1988 on the Singapore one.

Se30 three label

Se30 ireland label

I was pleased to discover that both of them came with the power/reset switches. These are little plastic switches that you attach to the rear left side of the SE/30, and provide external access to a programmer’s reset button (which can drop you into a kind of a system monitor) and a restart switch. The SE/30 I got first didn’t have one, and thinking about it, they are actually probably kind of rare.

Se30 intact switch front

Se30 intact switch back

Though, to be clear, they are really just a little piece of plastic with “prongs” that poke into the computer. Nothing else. You could make something of your own that performs the relevant function just as well. No call for this kind of ebay opportunism. I hope nobody really considers this little plastic doodad to be worth $110. But I was still happy to have one.

Se30 ebay switch

I would have been happier to have had two, though. I almost did. Except that the second one got mashed up during shipping and broke off inside the machine. Oh well.

Se30 broken switch front

Se30 broken switch back

Se30 three brokenswitchinside

I haven’t done much with these yet, these are just as much a future project as the first SE/30 I got. I did open them up at least. The Singapore one looks pretty much ok. The Ireland one had some really nasty corrosion of some sort on the rear underside of the board. It looks like a battery leak or something, it also took out that corner of the metal shielding and bleached the inside of the case. This one I think I’ll need to be a bit careful with.

Se30 ireland back corrosion

Se30 ireland incase

For comparison, the Singapore one is shown below, which is more like what the Ireland one should have looked like.

Se30 three backports

I will probably try to get all three SE/30s on their feet, though maybe I’ll only be able to manage it for two of them. However, one thing about these compact Macs is that they have a screen inside, and tube screens carry scary voltage. Before I proceed any further, I need to rig myself up a CRT discharge tool so I don’t wind up electrocuting myself. Spring break project.

Feb 292012
 

Including Apple stickers with computers and other hardware was always kind of a goofy, childish thing, but I think it worked. People used them, people stuck them to their folders in school, to their file cabinets, very often (kind of superfluously) to their computers or disk drives.

AppleSticker old

Mine, for some reason lost to history, was installed on the inside of my computer, on the underside of the ][+ lid.

Home iiplus applesticker

Apparently, a previous owner of the 3.5″ floppy drive I recently got had one of the stickers on it (in the old style too, Motter Tektura), but then—too late—had second thoughts.

35drive appleshadow

Feb 292012
 

I spent a little while going after “the freakish horrorshow that lives under the keyboard” of my childhood Apple ][+, and I have two comments. First: to the extent that I’ve managed to lift it off, it appears at least as if the PCB below is undamaged. Second: that is some stubborn goop. I’ve been soaking it with isopropyl alcohol and scrubbing it with Q-tips, and eventually a lot of it came up. The picture below is more of a progress report than a completion report, there is still enough around the edges and between a couple of chips that I still want to clean further before I run power into it. I’m a bit concerned about what might be under the chip sockets, too, so I may ultimately pull those chips out and try to clean inside as well, though given the stubbornness of this whatever-it-is I think it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll ever be able to get all of it up.

Iiplus home open

Iiplus home cleaner

Feb 182012
 

There are still a couple of things that I’ve gotten that haven’t been documented here yet. They’ll get more discussion later on. This is really mostly a list with pictures. I now have a Macintosh LC II, which has the notable property that it can host the Apple IIe emulator card, which might make moving software between Mac and Apple II platforms easier (plus, it’s just cool). I don’t have the emulator card yet, but I intend to.

Lcii label

There’s an Apple //e machine that I got some time ago, which contains a number of cards, most notably a Novation Apple-Cat ][. That one starts, but the disk drive that was in it doesn't work, so I need to do something with it and just haven't had a chance. But here's a picture at least.

Iie zthe boredom

Also, on my recent trip to the recycler, I got a ruby iMac G3 (for basically nothing). I'm going to need to put in a hard drive, but it turned out to have an AirPort card already inside. I've got a iMac DV/SE on its way (the best looking of all the translucent iMacs, in my opinion, and also the one that I used to have as my main machine). The photo of the graphite DV/SE below is from the auction, but I should have it soon. Both are relatively usable and modern, but I think I really have them for their looks. I also have an original Bondi Blue iMac that I salvaged, but the last time I tried to turn it on, nothing happened, so that one may require some work.

Ruby imac

Imac dvse auction

Bondi imac

A third machine that was acquired at the recycler was a "MacLamp" iMac G4, though I didn't take a picture of mine. Here's a stock photo.

Imac flat up

I also have an iBook SE that I've had since it was new, and it still starts up but I think the hard drive is getting close to failing, so I'll probably need to replace it. However, replacing it is quite a procedure (you don't even see the hard drive until step 34 of the ifixit guide, step 50 of this other guide), so that may not happen soon.

Ibook se open

Also, the battery is dead, which can probably only be solved by finding another one to buy.

Ibook se closed battery

What else? There's also a couple of eMacs that I want to set up and make AirPort-capable, and a bunch of PowerMac G4s (one MDD, something like five of the earlier kind) that probably need hard drives and power supplies. I have a PowerMac G3 and a couple of PowerMac 7500/100s and a PowerMac 6116CD and a PowerMac 8600/200, all of which were salvaged from the trash and may not be in very good shape, but which I may at some point want to make start. And my Duo 2300c, from graduate school, which still seems to be working fine (though it too may not have very good batteries at this point).

Tower of powermacs

Pm8600 200

Duo mdd pmg4

G4s over lcii

I think that's about it. Unless I can manage to get an Apple /// or a Lisa. I'm still toying with the idea of getting a platinum //e as well, and I'd probably take a Bell & Howell Apple ][+ or an original Apple ][ if one were within reach. Hard to believe that all fits in this little office I’ve got, but so far it does. It’s conceivable that I might eventually (once they’re clean and working) unload some of the duplicates, since I don’t really particularly need/want more than a representative sample. (Though, then again, having parts machines in the event of failure doesn’t seem unwise either. But, whatever, everything mentioned here is really kind of a long way off I expect. There’s a lot of real work to do in the meantime.)

Feb 182012
 

I went to my first computer recycler today. I’d written some email to a few of them, one wrote back quickly saying that they didn’t have a lot of old Apple stuff, and that it changes day to day, but that said at the moment they had “some old laptops such as Apple IIC plus, Macintosh PowerBook G3.” This place is about an hour out of Boston, but the Apple IIc Plus was actually one of the next things I wanted to buy, and it would have been worth the trip just for that, if they really had one that was ok.

I actually only recently became aware of the existence of the Apple IIc Plus. By now I already have three other //cs, all first generation. I’ve got about enough of those, and they don’t seem to go for much (which is why I have three–the second two I got because they were $15 each). The Apple //c went through a couple of ROM changes, and near the end a color change as well. But the Apple IIc Plus is the end of the IIc line, and has three interesting properties: (1) it runs at 4MHz instead of the standard 1MHz; (2) it doesn’t need a power adapter, the standard three-prong power cords just plug straight into the back; (3) it has a 3.5″ disk drive built in, rather than a 5.25″ disk drive. And it’s platinum. It is also pretty rare, they didn’t make a whole lot of them, and they were never marketed outside North America.

There are always one or two on ebay, but they wind up going for $150-$250 each (or, in one case, $1250 with all the original packaging). Many of them not really in good (or tested) condition. Yet I was starting to get close to caving on the $150 price point.

Iicplus ebay 139 Iicplus ebay 153
Iicplus ebay 1250 Iicplus ebay 76 4days
Iicplus ebay 127 1day

Iicplus ebay 275 bin

When I got to the recyclers, they did have one, but it had a sticky note on it: “No video. $10. Final sale.” For $10, I didn’t care whether it had video or not, I took it.

Iicplus usd10 novideo

Although I also suspected that it probably did have video. The primary video out on IIcs is a composite video out, just like all of the Apples II before it. My guess was that they didn’t really test it with a composite-capable monitor. Sure enough, when I got it back and tried it out, I got this:

Iicplus there is too video

I took it home thinking I’d hook it up to the television, but then an interesting idea occurred to me. I had an old XLR8 InterView video capture device, which converts composite video to a USB signal.

Xlr8 interview

It requires software, but the USBVision software from echofx can interpret the InterView’s signal. So, I could get the IIc Plus to display on my MacBook Pro screen. But I’ve also been fairly regularly using my iPad as a second monitor by using Air Display to send the video over WiFi to the iPad. So, this was the result (the screen was watermarked with “EchoFX” because I was using a demo version of the USBVision software, although I think if I can find my original documentation, it has a serial number that should register the software)..

Iicplus ipad

More a proof of concept than anything else, but pretty nifty.

There’s more to explore with the IIc Plus, but that’s as far as I’m going to get today.

Feb 122012
 

A more daunting project than using the Kryoflux to image old PC floppies is trying to image the floppies that I used on the Epson QX-10 I had for a couple of years.

There isn’t a lot out there on the QX-10, actually. There’s a page that has some information about the keyboard and components, an entry at the obsolete computer museum with some interesting information, a page in French about one person’s recent experiences with the machines. You can still download the operations manual from Epson. There are some information pages and some disk images.

There’s even an emulator, which was linked to from the “information pages” above. It’s part of a suite of emulators created by Toyisha Takeda, and you can download the lot and run them under VirtualBox running Windows 2000. It needs the ROMS in the same directory.

I got the emulator to start just fine. The keyboard layout is a bit bizarre, so I can’t just type B: to get to the B drive, because the : key is actually where my + key is. I type B+, it hears B:. But it does work. Though it also seems to constantly play an annoying squeal out of the speaker, so I had to turn the volume down.

Qx10 emulator running

The reason I’m interested in this primarily is that I ran, for a while, a small and mostly unused BBS on it. It wasn’t really ever advertised widely, but it was a somewhat extensive program, and ran natively on the QX-10. I’d like to see if I can recover it. In order to do that, I need to image the disks, which the Kryoflux should enable me to do. And if it can manage it, it is going to be a minor miracle, since the media in the disks looks terrible.

Blotchy qx10 disk

I imaged stream files with the Kryoflux, but the issue now is how to turn it into an image file that I can use in any sensible way. According to this page, the disk geometry is 40×16 256-byte sectors. When I ran it through the Kryoflux software, using MFM, 40-track distance, and 256-byte sectors, I just got a lot of sector-count mismatches.

Kryo qx10 256attempt

When I ran it through with 512-byte sectors, I got quite a lot of green (successfully-read) blocks, but it reports 10 sectors per track, which isn’t right.

Kryo qx10 mfm720attempt

A hex editor on the image confirms that I have read some real data from the disks this way.

Kryo qx10 mfm720 hex

But I have no idea what I could use to mount this image, and moreover, I don’t really trust it given the “10-sector” problem. Did it find 16 sectors and mix in 1K of garbage into 2-sector chunks? Did it lose 6 sectors? Was I wrong to expect 16 sectors in the first place? (Or is that actually 0×10, in which case it is correct?) I tried mounting it in FreeDOS and Win2K to see if I could use some CP/M disk readers to deal with them, but that didn’t work very well. The QX-10 emulator can read TeleDisk format, and a couple of versions of TeleDisk are available from the QX-10 disk image page, but neither was willing to recognize the mounted image as anything. Nor was Anadisk (linked to here) or the elusive 22disk (which I found a link to here). I even tried using Virtual Floppy Drive to try to fool those programs into thinking that the image I had was a real drive, but they’re all too “smart” and want something in the real (virtual) disk drive.

What I’d like to do is just get the files off those disks and onto a different CP/M machine. One possibility is to run the software one of the Apple ][ machines I now have with Z80 cards in them, that's my current goal. (And in that form, they would also be usable in Virtual ][, since that emulates a Z80 card as well.) But I think I’m still a ways away from being able to do that.

Feb 122012
 

So, my Kryoflux unit arrived, and I have set it up. No time for enclosures, I just used the box it shipped in as my enclosure.

Kryoflux enclosure

I ran a number of my old PC floppies through it, and for the most part had pretty good success. I recovered a number of old disks full of documents, like little journal entries of a kind of I’d written in high school. Should be interesting/embarassing to read at some point. And a working copy of WordStar, even. It was quite straightforward to install VirtualBox, FreeDOS, mount the images, and try it out.

Life 530 wordstar

It was less straightforward to actually get the files onto my computer. For that, I installed a Windows 2000 machine in VirtualBox, created a hard drive that I mounted in both the FreeDOS and Win2K machine, and then copied the files onto the shared hard drive in FreeDOS, and then out into a shared folder under Win2K. The reason for the circuitousness is that FreeDOS doesn’t support the additions required to use shared folders on the host machine.

There are also a few old programs I wrote, the most important of which is a program for scheduling appointments and charging clients in beauty salons. It’s actually quite complex, written in Clarion 2.1. I recovered the source files, and even the executable program still runs.

Salon calendar help

Salon appt setup

Apple ][ minus

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Feb 102012
 

Along with the “READY GO” clone I posted about previously came our original Apple ][+.

Iiplusmn logo

It looks pretty good. These machines generally do. They don't turn yellow like the //es and Macs do. This is, as I recently learned, because they're actually painted that color, and the paint doesn't turn yellow.

Iiplusmn overview

This is actually a fairly late Apple ][+, as far as I can tell. With a serial number of A2S2-542439, it's not far under the the highest serial number this poster in 2007 had ever seen (A2S2-544703).

Iiplusmn snsticker

This machine has been mostly stripped of its cards. I'm really not quite sure how this happened, I do think that there was a time that both machines (this one and the "READY GO" clone) were operational, and we had enough disk drives to go around. Maybe somewhere there's a box with another controller card and another disk drive and an Apple-Cat ][ modem and a 20MB hard drive. Maybe I gave them away to somebody at some point. If they're still in our possession, they're very well hidden. All that's left in this computer is the 16K RAM card.

Iiplusmn overview inside

The 16K card is not actually an Apple 16K card, which surprised me somewhat, since I didn’t even realize we had a third-party 16K card. But, there it is. The internet doesn’t seem to know much about these Ace Electronics 16K expander boards, but I assume it’s completely compatible with the Apple 16K card. It is possible that this card actually came with the “READY GO” machine and I swapped them, though I’m not even sure why I would have thought that worth doing.

Iiplusmn ace 16k card

But, now. Take a look in the lower right corner of the overview of the inside of the computer above. There’s a spot in front of the third 74LS161 from the left. It doesn’t look healthy. It looks even less healthy close up.

Iiplusmn small board spot

It’s possible at least that this is just… goop. That a bit of isopropyl alcohol will bring it up without incident. I’m kind of hoping so. There are a few more of these spots as well.

Iiplusmn small board spot2

However possible it might be to fix those little spots up, though, I’m not at all as sure about the freakish horrorshow that lives under the keyboard.

Iiplusmn subkeyboard blotch

That might be a real problem. There may well be stuff that’s simply eaten away under there. Clearly it is going to take a lot of cleanup before I would risk putting power into this board. I have no idea what that is. I don’t even really want to speculate. But whatever it is, it doesn’t belong on the motherboard.

So, this one is going to take a fair amount of work to bring back to its feet. I’ll do what I can when I get a chance and see what I can manage. But I also am not going to hold my breath. It is conceivable that what I really have here is a parts machine.

Ready go

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Feb 102012
 

My Apple ][+ clone from high school arrived today. In a big box, along with an actual Apple ][+ our family got slightly earlier. By the box is a pen, you know, for scale.

Readygo shipping box

This computer has appeared in these pages before, I used to see it every time I made it back to Minnesota. But now it is actually with me in Boston. It could use some cleaning. It's kind of interesting, insofar as it is extremely rare as far I can determine. There are a few different kinds of clone, but very few references to something like this. It looks to me as if there is one in the same kind of case being auctioned as I write this on ebay. But yet it isn't quite the same, because that one says "SELECT" on startup. I think it's quite possible that what I have is an entirely homebrew affair, the result of somebody buying a case and a motherboard and assembling it. The computer says "READY GO" instead of "APPLE ][" when it starts up, which has been referenced here, but picture of the “Citron II” is nothing like my clone, and here, but my clone is nothing like an RX-8800. So, who knows? I think the “built from parts” idea is probably the most likely explanation for the existence of this machine.

Readygo fromtop

Readygo readygo

I did get this from some guy who shipped it to me who I probably got in contact with over a BBS. I seem to remember he was in the Southwest US somewhere, so that makes the BBS theory plausible. But I have very little information about the provenance of this machine. It had at one time a nice 20MB hard drive. I wish I knew what happened to that.

One thing that’s strange about this machine is that the top lid is really pretty short. It is not at all easy to get in and do anything with the motherboard inside. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do if you need to access something near the front, maybe just take the top off altogether.

Readygo toploose

It’s pretty dusty in there, but it looks mostly ok (and it does start up). I see that I have an 80-column card I didn’t realize was in there.

Readygo cards

I notice that when I look at the back, the bit of the motherboard that peeks through (providing inputs for the cassette port and video, entirely unlabeled on this clone) seems to be bent somehow. I need to investigate what’s going on there. And, I think this one would also be a pretty good candidate for retrobrighting.

Readygo tiltyboard

Feb 092012
 

Today, an Apple //c arrived. I hadn’t really meant to buy this one, exactly, but it was basically $15, or $30 with shipping. Seemed like not very much. (Though I’ve come to see that it’s not a steal, really, either. For some reason, the //cs really are not commanding much of a price on ebay.) But, here’s why I got the thing anyway.

The auction showed this picture, along with a description reading

Selling used APPLE IIC COMPUTER SYSTEM MODEL A2S4000 FOR PARTS. I have no way of testing this unit, comes with a power supply, did power it but nothing happen, no light no nothing so I am selling it for parts as is. Comes as pictured.

Iic powerprint front

Well, but that’s not a Power Supply IIc. That’s some generic power adapter. That’s some generic 5V power adapter. I found it online somewhere by model number, and, as the actual device shows (now that I have it in my hand and can turn it over), I was right about that.

Iic pp mypower

Well. Of course it wouldn’t turn on. It effectively wasn’t plugged in. The //c power brick is actually 15V.

Iic power brick specs

Though, it was really the picture below that indicated most clearly to me that the statement that “did power it but nothing happen, no light no nothing” was pretty much meaningless.

Iic powerprint plugged

I bought it. It arrived. I took a picture of the power adapter that I was sent (above) and then set it aside, and used an actual //c power brick. Below are the images of the end of the power cords. The black one is the one provided with this auction. The white one is a known-good //c power cord.

Iic power plugends

Here’s the back of the machine, with the power adapter that I was sent sitting on top of the machine. Look carefully.

Iic backports and power plug

No light no nothing looks like this:

Iic powerprint booting

However, not everything is kittens and bunnies. There is probably some kind of RAM problem here, as indicated by the ghosted zeros on the screen. Will need some further diagnosis.

Iic powerprint flakeyzero