Jun 302012
 

Ok, as a motivator for getting one of the projects done I’d hoped to do, I have decided to attempt the Summer 2012 Retrochallenge. The plan of the project is to get one of my Apple IIs screen-shared on the internet.

Updates on that project will appear on the Retrochallenge 2012: Apple ][ screen sharing page, though probably they’ll make appearances in regular posts as well.

Jun 302012
 

The last thing I needed to embark on the mission to put my X/ProFile into the Lisa 2/10 arrived today, a bunch of blank CF cards. I mail ordered them because it turns out nobody local seems to sell them this small anymore.

CF64MB

The reason I was waiting for those is that I didn’t want to do anything on the original CF cards that came with the X/ProFile without having a pristine backup first. With these in hand, I was set. Here’s the X/ProFile by itself, prior to attaching the mounting hardware.

xprofile-bare

The default place to mount the X/ProFile in a Lisa 2/10 is to the side of the drive cage, above the disk drive. It fits there, though only just barely.

xprofile-mounted

xprofile-clearance

I then attached my separate IDE-to-CF adapter, which I had lying around anyway, to the primary IDE connector on the X/ProFile. The X/ProFile allows two devices to be connected at once. One device is the CF card on the board, and the second (actually, primary) device is the IDE drive connected to the standard IDE connector. Once two CF cards are plugged in this way, the X/ProFile can be set to copy them. It’s a pretty straightforward process, it didn’t take me long to make backups of all of them and one more of the Lisa Office CF card as well, to use as a working drive.

xprofile-copying

While I had the Lisa open, I took another go at trying to make the disk drive work as well. I’m not sure what the problem with the drive was/is, but it wasn’t reading disks. It (surprisingly?) did seem to accept and eject disks ok, but it wasn’t doing anything with them. I did have a spare 400K external Mac drive, however, and the internals of the two drives are almost identical. They aren’t, as I understand it, exactly identical, having to do with how ejecting is handled, but I thought I might be able to do some kind of substitutions anyway.

I took my usual approach, which is to just completely disassemble, observe, and clean, to see if I got any ideas. So, out came the Lisa drive, and off came the eject mechanism.

lisa-35-ejectless

I flipped it over and took off the controller board, and cleaned up a bit inside, though it wasn’t particularly dirty.

lisa-35-inside

I looked on the underside of the controller board, and it seemed to be mostly in order.

lisa-35-under-pcb

There was, however, a certain amount of goop on the board. Although I’m still not an expert at looking for this, it seemed like it was at least possible that C120 and C119 had leaked. It’s not too clear on the picture. But on the back of the board, the area around IC101 did look pretty dodgy.

lisa-35-back-of-ic101

I thought, ok, maybe something has gotten corroded or shorted out here. So, I opened up the Mac 400K drive to compare it. The area around IC101 was much cleaner on that one.

mac-400-35-back-ic101

However, inside, the Mac 400K drive was much goopier around IC102. Really, very goopy. It didn’t look so much like a leak as something intentional.

mac-35-goopy-ic102

I decided there wasn’t much to lose, so I cleaned off the area on the Mac 400K drive board around IC102 to get rid of whatever that was, and then reassembled the Lisa drive with the Mac board in it. I know that if the drive worked but didn’t eject properly, then it would probably be due to whatever it is that differentiates Mac and Lisa 400K drives. The Lisa board did have a number of things wired together after the fact, and the Mac board (which was a revision or two more recent) didn’t. And maybe some of that wiring had to do with how the eject works. But, first things first.

The other thing I did, while I was dealing with the Lisa, is get out the RAM board that was giving me trouble and try to fix (temporarily) the bad RAM chip. As you might recall, I believe that I’d isolated the chip that was at fault on one of the RAM boards (which I’d removed altogether), and I in the meantime got a few replacement chips. I thought I’d at least try “piggybacking” the believed-to-be-good RAM chip over the believed-to-be-bad RAM chip, in case that would work and show that it was indeed that chip at fault and that replacing it would help.

lisa-piggybacked-ram

And: test time. As for the RAM, no, the piggybacked good RAM didn’t help.

lisa-try-piggybacked-ram

Faulty RAM card back out, restart. And:

lisa-profile-boot

lisa-profile-boot-desktop

lisa-profile-boot-desktop-folder

Desktop! Ok, now the disk:

IMG 3145

lisa-disk-initializing

lisa-disk-init-error

lisa-disk-eject-again

Nope! Ok, the problem with the disk hasn’t really been solved.

lisa-powerdown

The rest will need to wait for another day, but it looks like: the X/ProFile works and the Lisa now boots ok, the RAM failure is not solved, and the disk failure is not solved. Still, progress!

[Added notes: The next step with the 400K drive will be to put the Lisa board back in the Lisa drive and see if adjusting the read/write-head distance helps any. Also, I'm wondering if maybe the goop that was floating around on these boards was some kind of thermal dissipator. Do these chips get hot? Pondering whether there is something I should replace it with once I've cleaned it off.]

Jun 262012
 

Lots to catch up on here, but here’s one thing that I got fairly recently that I’m pretty pleased about. For some reason the Epson QX-10 seems to have faded into obscurity quite a bit more dramatically than some of the other machines of its time. As I’d mentioned before here a couple of times, I had an Epson QX-10 (not strictly speaking mine, but borrowed from work) in the mid ’80s. Ostensibly, I had it so I could work on dBase II programming at home. But, really what I used it for was modem communication. Most notably, I’d written a BBS system for it, which I still plan to try to resurrect.

I was happy to be able to get my hands on a pretty complete QX-10 system some time ago, but it had no cards in it at all. In particular, it didn’t have a modem card, and though I had searched for it for a while, I had pretty much resolved myself to never being able to put that system I had before back together.

However, my luck changed not too long ago. Someone was selling a couple of old QX-10 items on eBay. Fortunately for me, even though these things are super-rare, nobody really wants them either. It didn’t cost me much. And now I have, once again, a Comrex ComMunicator CR-103.

CR103 manual cover

IMG 2714

Of course, at this point, I still don’t have the QX-10 really working entirely, insofar as I only have one working disk drive. But we’re getting there.

Along with the CR-103, I also got an acoustic modem (an Epson CX-20) and a QX-10 RS232 serial card, which could in principle provide me with a second modem to use, although I don’t know if I can find a phone that will fit in the cradle anymore.

epson cx-20

I suspect that this will really just be decorative, but it is a nice looking modem.

The RS232 card was even in its original box, pretty much untouched.

epson-rs232-box

epson-rs232-label

epson-rs232-wrapped

epson-rs232-closeup

The RS232 card also opens the possibility that I might be able to connect with other devices in the outside world, too, I’ll have to think about this more to see if I can do something creative with it.

Though, of course, there is also the possibility that one or more of these things simply don’t work. However I am optimistic, they all look to be in great shape, and as far as I understand it, the previous owner hadn’t even really used them.

The manual that came with the RS232 card is extremely technical, and I have scanned that as well.

Manual scans:

Jun 132012
 

Still setting this up, this is mostly just a straight transfer of the previous “Hagstromusings” blog, but the intention is to have additional topic pages (many already there in some kind of skeletal form) so that not everything needs to be viewed (reverse!?) chronologically.