Apr 292012
 

Although I alluded to this earlier, I haven’t gone into detail about one of my other relatively recent acquisitions, a Timex-Sinclair 1000. I got it in the original packaging, although the box is kind of beat up.

Ts1000 box

Revolutionary technology made this computer possible, and the power is within my reach.

Ts1000 box back

The Timex-Sinclair 1000 was marketed as a cheap ($99.95) computer that was accessible to everyone. It’s a tiny little thing, with a membrane keyboard and 2K of memory.

Ts1000 in box

Ts1000 by ipad

The 2K of memory it has built-in can be expanded with the help of a 16K memory pack that you plug into the back. I have this, and actually, it’s pretty much standard equipment with these (though of course buying one took the price well beyond the $99.95 price point).

Ts1016 top

Ts1016 side

It has no disk drive. The only way data gets in and out of this machine is through a cassette recorder. Here are the tapes I got with it.

Ts1000 tapes

But the thing that has stymied me until now from even trying the machine out is that the only way it can display (without doing internal modifications) is through a TV. That was fine back in its day, but now I’d much rather have had a regular composite out. The problem with the signal it sends out is that it is tuned to channel 2 or 3, and so I need a way to find that signal and turn it back into something viewable.

I thought I had a solution with the Power Mac G3 and a set-top DVD recorder. Now that I have the rest of it set up, I tried plugging in the Timex-Sinclair for the first time. First, I set up the DVD recorder to send its output (for now, just the composite video out, though I might later move to S-video instead) into the Wings card at the back of the Power Mac G3. I converted the Timex-Sinclair’s RCA output to a coaxial cable and sent it in the antenna input on the DVD recorder.

Ts1000 into dvdr

I verified that the Power Mac G3 was getting the signal from the DVD recorder by successfully bringing up an image of the DVD menu.

Pmg3 dvdr menu

But, alas, when I tuned the TV to channel 3 (which the Timex-Sinclair was set to) and connected the power to the computer, the best I could get was this noise—and most of the time the screen was just blank.

Pmg3 ts1000 fail

I don’t yet know what this means. It might be that my Timex-Sinclair 1000 actually doesn’t work, which would be sad. But I’m more inclined right now to believe that the video signal just isn’t strong enough to make it through. I still need to test it on a real television (and, in fact, maybe preferably a vintage television) to see if it might work without the signal gating that the DVD recorder and the Wings card are both probably doing. I was kind of hoping I’d be able at least to get to the main prompt, but as far as I can see (and the operative word is “see”), I haven’t. So it goes. I’ll keep trying.

Apr 292012
 

With the AppleTalk server in place, it was time to put the Workstation card in the Apple //e. In order to get the necessary pieces, I’d gotten one that was new in box, shrink-wrap mostly intact.

Workstation card box

Here are the unboxing pictures, in case it ever becomes important to know just what order everything was packed in. There is something very cool about opening something like this new from the box. Perhaps doing this makes it less collectable, but I didn’t get the thing so it could sit on my shelf and then be re-sold.

Workstation card unbox 1

Workstation card unbox 2

Workstation card unbox 3

Workstation card unbox 4

Workstation card unbox 5

Workstation card unbox 6

Workstation card unbox 7

The big advantage of getting it new in box like this, apart from the fact that it is cool to open the box, is that it has this all-important connector. I have another Workstation Card, but it lacks this connector, and so is not very useful. If I’m ever going to use that other card (which I can in principle use with my other //e, although that will require doing an enhancement upgrade on it, since I am now pretty confident that it is un-enhanced), I’m going to need to fashion my own connector. But now at least I have one to model it after, should I choose to make one.

Workstation card dinbox

The card itself was so clean and nice. I don’t think the pictures here really do it justice.

Workstation card unwrapped

Workstation card label

Into the platinum //e it went. I wanted it in slot 7 so that it would be checked first, before the disk drives, but it requires one of the long openings in the back, the nearest of which is behind slot 3. So things got a little bit crowded back there, but for the moment everything fits.

Workstation card installed

Workstation card back connector

And into the back of the Power Mac G3, running LocalTalk bridge under Mac OS 9. Appletalk set to printer port.

Workstation card into pmg3

All systems go.

Workstation card green

Workstation card starting up

Workstation card starting up 2

Workstation card starting up 3

And then there it was. Now that the server is working, I just need to get some content on there, and I’ll be set. Starting up the //e is actually very fast this way, not really appreciably slower than starting off a disk.

Workstation card up

Apr 282012
 

Small update: I installed Mac OS 9.2 on the Power Mac G3, and ran the system diagnostics on it, which all passed.

Pmg3 shelved

I connected it to the ethernet and tried to use the internet for a while. The internet was slow back in the days of the Power Mac G3, and it wasn’t all the internet’s fault. Internet Explorer choked pretty hard on the modern web, but iCab and Classilla both work reasonably well.

Pmg3 twitter icab

I installed the Vine VNC server on it, which enabled me to (go home and) successfully screen share into the Power Mac G3 (here, I’m sharing my iMac’s screen, which is sharing the Power Mac G3’s screen, but it was also possible to just connect to it directly from home).

Pmg3 vnc

I then set up A2SERVER on my modern iMac (which was quite easy), added another share volume for Mac files (by editing /usr/local/etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default) and enabled DHCAST128 authentication so I could connect to the share volume on the modern iMac. And I moved a copy of DarkSide over to it, and set it and the Vine VNC server up as a startup items, so that when the machine rebooted it would be protected from screen burn and would allow me to share into it.

Although it mostly worked, and I was able to mount the AppleShare volume, I found that the VNC server was a little bit unreliable. If the Mac got at all busy (particularly if copying over the AppleTalk network), the connection would freeze. Generally it was no problem to re-establish the connection, but I had to do that over and over. Eventually, it was set up.

Then I tried something dorky. I copied over the Apple II emulator Stop The Madness to the Power Mac G3. [Trivia note: Back in 1994, I wrote an accompanying program for STM called SaveTM that allowed disk images to be saved (since STM didn't do that). There were two versions; paradoxically, the newer version of SaveTM (SaveTM 1.02) only works with the older version of STM (0.851r), while the older SaveTM (SaveTM 1.00) works with the newer version of STM (0.881r). SaveTM long ago disappeared from the internet, but the new links in this paragraph do lead to the program now.]

I thought it would make a funny screen shot to be running the Apple II emulator on the Power Mac G3. However, when I launched the program, the G3 froze, and I haven’t been able to communicate with it since. I’m hoping the screen won’t be completely burned in when I get back to the office next. Oh well. There were some downsides to the days of MacOS 9.

Pmg3 stm bomb

Now that A2SERVER is set up, the next thing I’ll try is to connect the IIgs and try to netboot it (I tried to netboot Sweet16 running on the modern iMac, but it couldn’t see the AppleTalk network), then I’ll see if I can do the same thing for the platinum //e. And I don’t think I’ll try to emulate any more Apples II on the Power Mac G3.

Apr 272012
 

For some reason, I was not motivated to take pictures of this, but I’ve now cleaned up the Power Macintosh G3 machine, pictured here “before,” and brought it both up to the office and back to life.

Pmg3 front before

It was really very dirty. I completely disassembled it (and, again, was reminded of how much I really like the “outrigger” cases), washed off all the plastic, scrubbed out the scuff marks, blew out the many dust bunnies, and then put it back together. I also took the opportunity to put in the Wings personality card, which adds more A/V options. I’m pretty sure I also have a USB card that I can add to this machine, somewhere.

Pmg3 wings card

It took a bit of fiddling to get the monitor displaying properly, but I ultimately succeeded in installing MacOS 8.5 on the machine. I think, however, that I will move the machine up to MacOS 9.2 at the next opportunity. The machine seems to work just fine, though. Probably the next thing I’ll do is try to run a full system diagnostic on it.

Once I get the system software up and running, I plan on running this machine mostly remotely, with the assistance of the Vine VNC server (though I may need to get it a dedicated IP address for this purpose), and setting it up to be a LocalTalk-EtherTalk bridge to allow communication (and netbooting) for the IIgs and platinum //e. And then we’ll see what happens. I have a number of things I’d like to get the Wings card involved with, including serving as a display for my Timex Sinclair 1000, which I have yet even to power on for lack of a usable display (it needs to be run into something with a TV tuner, so I’ll probably send it into a set-top DVD burner I have, which should be able to then send S-video to the Wings card). I’m not sure if the video signal will be too degraded by that point or not, though. I’d also like to hook up the audio in/out to the TS1000 for use as a “cassette recorder.” And when the Bell & Howell’s power situation gets resolved, I have a fairly elaborate plan to connect that up here as well. There’s still a fair amount of tinkering left to do here I think. But there’s some progress at least. Though maybe not enough to be worthy of posting this.

Apr 252012
 

So, the Lisa starts up with an I/O board error, number 52. According to my list of errors, this is an “I/O COPS error” which might have as its solution a replacement of the COPS chip.

Lisa error52 list

There are a couple of other possible problems that could cause this I think. It could be due to a problem with the keyboard or the mouse. I just recently got an appropriate mouse and plugged it in, but that didn’t change anything. Still got error 52. I’m hoping that if the keyboard were at fault I’d get error 53 instead, but the keyboard for this Lisa is in relatively bad shape.

So, I decided I’d take out the I/O board again and see what I could see. Here is the COPS chip, nothing looked particularly wrong, except maybe that it was kind of out of focus. But I figured just for the heck of it, I’d pull it out and reseat it.

Lisa cop421 initially

So, out it came, and—well, that’s not right. One of its pins had not been in the socket, but had been bent up underneath. This problem wasn’t really visible when the chip was seated, but it was pretty obvious when the chip came out.

Lisa cops bent pin

I carefully bent the pin back to straight and put it back in its socket, this time with all pins reporting for duty. The pin I bent back is still bowed out a little bit but is in the socket.

Lisa cops reseated

Lisa then reassembled, I plugged it in again to try it out.

Lisa post cops still 52

Well, ok, that didn’t help. Though I’m not sure that I trust that COP421 chip anymore, it’s possible that it needs to be replaced. One other thing I observe is that the upper right corner of the screen says “H”—this is strange, it is supposed to say “H/88″ (or possibly “H/A8″) where the second number reports the floppy drive ROM version. But there’s nothing. Which suggests to me that this chip might also be a problem.

Lisa uncovered u2a eprom

This is an EPROM, and so should have its window covered. There should have been a sticker over it. Here’s a picture of Mike Maginnis’ chip (cropped and hosted here), from his lovely album of the innards of one of his Mac XLs. Mine should have looked like that, and there is a risk that UV light might have gotten through the window and erased or partially erased that EPROM.

Lisa maginnis u2a

This is the ROM for the 400k disk drive, and is the ROM that should be reporting the “88” after the “H”, but as seen above, I’m getting just “H”. So, it isn’t crazy to think that this might be the source of a problem as well. One thing I’ve been advised to do but haven’t done yet is to clean the gold fingers on the I/O board, but I’ve taken it out and put it in several times now, so I kind of doubt that this would solve the problem by itself. I think what I’ll need to do is start by replacing both the COP421 chip and the Drive ROM. I’m not sure how easy it will be to get a COP421 chip, but the drive ROM is pretty easy and cheap to buy. So, that’s I guess where I’ll go next.

Followup, shortly after the initial posting: you know, there’s another problem. I’m pretty sure that’s quite simply not the right chip in the COPS socket. It’s the right size, but I do not think it is even a COPS chip. There’s a frighteningly detailed analysis of the Lisa COP421 on visual6502.org, where they refer to the chip as being “a difficult chip to replace” and being “a National Semiconductor COP421 from the ‘COPS’ family, customized for Apple.” The correct chip should be Apple 341-0064A, but this one says MM58167AN on it, which appears to be a clock chip. I’ve concluded that what I in fact have here is an Apple /// clock chip. Here is a picture from one of vintagemicro’s auctions [hosted here] for an official Apple /// clock upgrade, and it’s that very same chip that is included in the upgrade kit.

A3cc2 001

I can’t say what happened here, but I suspect that the COP421 chip failed and somebody attempted to replace it at some point with another chip that fits. I think the likelihood that the COP421 chip and this clock chip are functionally identical is about zero. So, there really is a serious problem with the COPS chip, and it might well be a serious problem for me, since I don’t know that I’m going to be able to replace this thing except by finding another Lisa I/O board. The hunt begins.

XLent

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Apr 202012
 

The Apple Lisa was a big deal, you can read all about it on the internet, I won’t go into a lot of depth here. It was Apple’s first foray into GUI, before there was a Macintosh. The original (“Lisa 1″) actually says “Lisa” on the front, and had two 5.25″ disk drives that used “Twiggy” disks. The Twiggy disks were unreliable, and so when the Lisa 2 came out, with a 3.5″ drive instead, Apple upgraded people’s Lisa 1s to Lisa 2s for free. As a result, very few Lisa 1s are left. The Lisa 2 later got a hardware revision (the “2/10″) and then a software revision which basically turned it into a Mac (at which point the machine itself was then called “Macintosh XL” instead of “Lisa 2/10″). Lisa 1s originally sold for $10,000, Lisa 2s for $4,000. They didn’t fly off the shelves, particularly once the much cheaper Macintosh was released. But in a move that’s just painful to think about, Apple took its remaining Lisa stock in 1989 and destroyed it (in order to get a tax write-off), crushing them and burying them in a landfill in Utah. So by now, Lisas are thin on the ground. They do appear on eBay, but very often in non-working condition or missing the keyboard, etc., and regardless of condition their auctions rarely end below $700. Plus, they are relatively heavy (and of course fragile) and so they are expensive to ship.

Not long ago, one of the people on eBay who pretty reliably has Lisa and Apple III equipment decided to clear his inventory of a bunch of non-working Lisa 2/10 (Mac XL) machines that he didn’t want to repair. They went up with a “buy it now” price, which meant that there was no auction frenzy to drive the price up, and there were 10 of them. He was careful to point out in the listing that they did not power up, and he did no further troubleshooting on them. They were complete inside, and they look good, they came with keyboards that were missing some keys and without a mouse. They weren’t cheap exactly, but they were fixed at a level I felt I could reach and well below what recent machines (even non-working ones) had gone for. So, after some internal debate, I decided that this was probably about the best I was going to do, if I were ever to be able to own one. And the fact that it was complete gave me hope that someday I might be able to restore it to working condition.

Fast forward about a week and a half:

Lisa box

Fast forward about 20 minutes:

Lisa unpacked

As promised, it looks nice and is missing some keys. One of the oddities about the Lisa is that it is unbelievably easy to disassemble. The front panel pops off by pressing a couple of tabs, and so I opened it up to investigate. One lonely 400k 3.5″ drive, but with a bonus disk inside (labeled “Mac 512 boot disk 400k”).

Lisa front open drive

Taking the guts out in the back is also very easy. The back panel folds down and pops off after just turning a couple of thumbscrews, and then the power supply and board “cage” slide out. I took it all out.

Lisa back open

I took out the power supply, and then plugged it in all by itself, just to reassure myself that it wouldn’t explode or catch fire or anything when plugged into the wall. It didn’t. It didn’t do anything.

Lisa power supply

The board cage just slides out. It contains four printed circuit boards arranged vertically, one being the main brain, one being devoted to I/O function, and two being RAM. They have nice little release levers to help get them in and out. I took them all out and then put them all back, thinking that maybe this would help ensure the contacts were being made properly. And because I could.

Lisa board cage out

Here is the only Lisa logo I’m aware of anywhere near this machine.

Lisa board lisa logo

Then I put it all back together, and then thought, well, I might as try it. I plugged it in.

Lisa back reassembled

A little series of chimes and then this:

Lisa powered on

It’s showing me that there’s an error on the I/O board. But it’s also showing me that this machine powers on, and the screen and speakers work. This was sold as a unit that would not power on, but now that it is on, I’ve leapt way ahead in the race to get this to work. When I let the seller know it had arrived and that it powered on, he was very surprised. It didn’t power on for him before he sent it.

Lisa power light

It may well not be trivial to get this the rest of the way. But the troubleshooting process can now begin.

Apr 152012
 

I did some testing of the power situation with the Bell & Howell ][+. As it stood, the machine would not power up when I turned it on using the backpack, but did respond when I connected a different power supply, so I initially thought the power supply needed replacement. And I have a couple of replacements, but I'd had my eye on this one (just lying inside the case on top of the original one), which, although not being an authentic power supply Apple would have used, is nicely all black and might have fit in well in the black machine.

Bhiiplus black power supply

However, when I removed the backpack and plugged the original power supply into the motherboard directly, it actually worked just fine. So, I don't need to replace the power supply in this one yet, I guess, and so I won't. I'll find some other use for the black one.

This means that there was something wrong with the connection between the backpack's power leads and the power supply, then. The connection between the backpack and the power supply is made by three wires (green, black, white) that are placed directly over the three prongs of the power cord receptacle at the back. Not being an electrician, I was not initially aware of the conventions, though now I know that green is conventionally ground. I was suspicious that maybe I had connected those leads wrong, so I rigged up a fairly complex setup to test this.

Bhiiplus power bench

The leads coming out of the backpack are running into another power supply I have, which then goes into a spare //e motherboard (useful because there is a red LED that comes on when the power is running to the board). A spare ][+ lid is propped up against the edge of the Bell & Howell motherboard with the keyboard plugged in, so I can see the power light come on if the Bell & Howell motherboard powers up. I used that latter part of the setup to show that the original power supply in the Bell & Howell was working. The backpack also has auxiliary power outlets on a separate switch, and I connected the monitor to those to see if they’re working (and they are). I also took the fuse out and looked at it, but it looked ok, and I think if it were not ok, the power shouldn’t have gone through the auxiliary outlets to the monitor.

Looking inside where the wires go, it turns out things in there are pretty simple, I was able to verify for myself what each color wire was supposed to be running to. The green wire connects to a center track that will connect to the ground hole of the grounded outlets, and the white wire connects on the left (which is to the rightmost blade of a plug inserted into the outlet, with the ground pin up), and the black wire connects on the right (which is the leftmost blade).

Bhiiplus backpack internal wires

This basically confirmed that I had not connected these wires wrong when I’d put the backpack back on. But, still, when the backpack was on, the power supply didn’t get power.

The power

supply

Hmm.

Well, it occurs to me that actually the switch on the internal power supply might have been off. That would have done it. Obviously, that switch has to be on. I’m only realizing that now as I’m typing this, and so it’s quite possible that when I put this together last time, I actually guaranteed that the power wouldn’t get to the motherboard. However, in light of the other couple of tests I did, I still think there’s a problem with the power getting out of the backpack.

For example, I took the output of the backpack and clipped it onto the monitor plug, but when I turned on the backpack, the monitor didn’t light up.

Bhiiplus backpack clipped monitor

And the setup in the overview picture above, where the backpack runs to another power supply which runs to a //e board, also didn’t result in the //e board lighting up (although plugging that power supply in the normal way does). In that case, I am pretty sure that I checked both possible connections with the black and white/yellow wires.

So I really do think that those wires that connect to the power supply out of the backpack are somehow less than fully live, although I’m still kind of kicking myself about leaving the power supply’s power switch off. I think that there really is something wrong with the backpack, though. I’ll try replacing the fuse, just in case it (a) governs only the connection to the computer and not to the auxiliary outlets, and (b) is actually blown even though it looks intact. I’d really like there to be an easy answer to this, and the fuse would be a great one. Beyond that, I don’t know, I guess I will have to open the backpack up and see if I see any broken connections or something, I can’t think what else it might be. I might want to open the backpack up in order to try to replace that frayed cable anyway, though, so I guess it’s probably ok.

Bushel

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Apr 122012
 

The terrarium and IIgs have been moved upstairs now. I don’t think this is the final position for any of these, but at least they’re up in view and out of the lab downstairs now.

Office apples v0 8b

Apr 112012
 

I used ADTpro to make a bunch of diagnostic disks (this time using one of my Apple //cs over a serial cable I’d gotten for the purpose, and which also will allow the //c to connect to the ImageWriter II). I also made one other disk.

Platiie drol

I didn’t really play it, but I did drive the robot around just a little bit. And even today, I am impressed by the graphics of the robot turning around, and the bounce of the stingers on the Garfield-esque jumping scorpions. Very nicely done. A quick search on YouTube revealed this video of Drol (there are a couple of others as well), and it looks a lot worse than what I saw when I briefly brought it up on the real hardware today. Something lost in emulation maybe?