May 042012
 

Quite a while back, I seemed to be a bit of a //c magnet. By now, I’ve got three //cs and a //c+. It seemed to me that in order to complete the //c experience, I should get one of the little 9″ monitors designed for the //c (model G090H). I found one on eBay, represented by the two photos from the auction below:

Iicm pre front

Iicm pre back

Didn’t cost much, I bought it, it arrived. Here’s the box it arrived in:

Iicm1 packing

And here’s the shape it arrived in, given that the person who shipped it seemed to think that shopping bags would protect the heavy monitor and very heavy stand. To be fair, I knew before opening the box that it was not going to end well, given all of the rattling around I could hear.

Iicm1 topfront2

Iicm1 backright

For a brief little while, I discussed collecting the insurance (which had been taken out) with the seller, but first of all, getting the insurance payment is a big hassle (and it has to be initiated by the seller), and as far as I can tell the best I was going to get was something like $20 anyway. So, that was abandoned (particularly because the seller stopped responding to email, but I was just as happy to give up on it). I didn’t plug this monitor in, though, because I really didn’t know how bad the damage was and I wanted to look inside first and shake out all the loose bits. It stayed in its box for probably two months.

Meanwhile, I got another one. This one was much less yellow, although it too had a little crack. I’m starting to think that these things are really quite fragile. But overall, it looked nice.

Iicm2 topfront

However, when I plugged it in to try it, the picture was very, very dim. Very dim. Unusably dim. As far as I can tell, this is not really solvable except by replacing the tube. Great. So, now I had one busted up monitor that may or may not work at all, and one nice one that didn’t really work adequately. I do actually have a third one on its way to me now, but I nevertheless decided today to deal with what I already had. The plan was to figure out how bad the damage is to the first one, and then to switch the cases, since at least if the first one worked at all, it couldn’t be worse.

So, I pulled them apart, shook out all the loose plastic bits from the broken one, and tested them out.

Iicms open

Happily, the one with the broken case worked just fine (pictured above). Nice and bright. So, I went ahead and cleaned up the unbroken case and put the guts from the broken one into it. I didn’t take a picture, but it looks just fine, and a little bit cleaner. Nice and white still too.

I tested the other one as well, and, surprisingly, it didn’t seem dim anymore. I’m starting to suspect that I gave up on it too soon, that in fact it was ok, I was just fiddling with the knobs in the back and neglecting the knob on the side. But, whatever, it was interesting opening them up, and I got to clean out the inside of the case as well in the process. So, then I turned my attention to piecing the smashed up case back together. I didn’t have all of the pieces, or at least I didn’t know where they all were, but it appears that I had all of the major ones. With a bit of superglue, I managed to get it all back in basically working order. It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad. Interestingly, the superglue seems to immediately remove the yellow coloring, so at the cracks I do have little areas of white plastic now. Maybe I’ll do a full retr0brite treatment at some point.

Iicm1 backpanel glued

Iicm1 top behind glued

Iicm1 top panel glued

Iicm1 bottom left inner mount glued

Iicm1 bottom right inner mount glued

Once reassembled, it looks relatively presentable. If you look closely, you can see the cracks, but it’s workable. Also, this was the CRT that I thought was dim. At least now, it’s not.

Iicm1 glued reassembled

So, good. I’ll soon have three of these little monitors, and at least the two that I already have work fine and have been cleaned up and made presentable. I still, all told, have fewer monitors than computers, but I don’t think I need all of the //cs to be out and functioning. These monitors are little and they’re monochrome, but their size and the convenience of the stands make it probably worth having all three.

Mar 162012
 

I’d missed this in my searching around, but there is (going to be) an option for external mass storage on a //c, the SmartPort Virtual Hard Drive, which allows you to plug in a USB thumb drive, with a note from last month saying that deliveries may begin this month.

It does require a ROM 0 or greater //c, and at least two of my three //cs are only ROM 255 (I haven’t checked the third), so I’m going to need to upgrade one if I want to use it. But that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, I hope.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on that.

Mar 142012
 

I’d never advise doing this to a drive that wasn’t irreparably dead, and I would actually think it would be a little bit cooler if the drive retained its original look rather than just being turned silver (though I understand how much work went into turning it silver), but—with those caveats—this Disk-][-as-external-USB-drive project is pretty cool.

Anthony kouttron diskii usb

[Photo credit: Anthony Kouttron; cropped and hosted here.]

Though it’s “//c”, not “2C”, and the Disk ][ couldn’t plug into a //c anyway, only into one of the other models with a 650-X104 card in it.

Which, come to think of it, makes me consider the possibility of creating a modern external device (perhaps CF based) that emulates the floppy drive’s responses to the signals coming over the standard disk connection. With quarter-tracked nibble images, virtually any floppy (even copy-protected ones) should be able to be simulated this way, and with some kind of external selector to switch floppies, you’d have something that would work sort of like the CFFA3000 but would also work for the //c and //c+ (which have no other real option for something like a hard drive). It doesn’t actually sound all that complicated, but it’s still well beyond my current capabilities.