Apr 072012
 

On the Bell & Howell front, I have now cleaned it all up, and reassembled it. In the process, I found this stamped under the keyboard, which pretty definitively indicates that I was right about this being an August, 1981, machine. (Further evidence that the “8138” really does mean “38th week of 1981,” corresponding to September 14–18, 1981. So, I guess they built the case on Monday, August 10th, and put it in a pile for five weeks, then built up the motherboard and assembled it.)

Bhiiplus keyboard date

When I plugged it in, frayed cord and all, and hit the power switch, I got nothing. No response. This means one of two things to me: either the power supply in the machine is dead, or I plugged in the leads from the backpack to the power supply wrong (which, I suppose, might also mean that the power supply is now dead as a result). I have not tested the power supply separately, but I did plug in the terrarium power supply to the Bell & Howell and got this:

Bhiiplus side powered

All keys working, power light on, everything at least initially appears A-OK. The video is running on my composite amber monitor, out of the backpack, courtesy of a BNC-RCA adapter I picked up today as well.

Bhiiplus keytest

This also rectifies the oversight from before, as I now have a picture of the game I/O port on my own machine. Here it is close up, for your viewing pleasure.

Bhiiplus gameio

Now I just need to decide what cards go in it, replace the feet with some authentic spares I have coming to me in the mail, replace the power supply (with something authentic I hope), and set up the backpack in some useful way.

My current semi-crazy but interesting plan is this, for the record: I will install a language card (to bring it up to 64K), a Super Serial card (to allow it to connect to other computers), and a Disk ][ card (with one or two drives connected). Here is an "artist's" rendition of that, courtesy of Penultimate on my iPad:

Bhiiplus art slots

And here is my similarly skillful rendition of the AV connections I intend to make with the backpack.

Bhiiplus art av

The features of the diagrams above are as follows:

  • I will bring audio in from one or two nearby machines, to allow them to be mixed by the backpack (just to give the mixing knobs in the backpack something to do, I can't think of any real practical use for this).
  • One video out goes to a monitor atop the machine.
  • The second video out goes to a capture card, probably the Wings personality card in the Power Mac G3. Caveat here: I need to put some kind of surge suppression mechanism in there, because otherwise the power surge over that cable when the Apple is turned on will likely kill the G3. I don't know if I have to build this myself, or if there is something out there that can accomplish this for me.
  • The speaker out also goes to the capture card, right channel.
  • The cassette out goes to the capture card, left channel.
  • The cassette in comes from the G3, left channel.
  • The Power Mac G3 streams the video/audio to the internet for remote consumption.
  • A webcam is also placed facing the Apple so that it can be viewed that way, too, and not just through the straight video out.
  • The Super Serial Card in the Apple will be connected to some Mac capable of communicating with it and with the internet (maybe the Power Mac G3 again, maybe the Performa 6116CD).

What I will have accomplished here is, I think, the following. Presuming that I write the Super Serial Card modification to the modem driver that I discussed in an earlier post, and presuming that the Apple is set to start that up automatically upon power up, I will be able to control the Apple's command line over the internet. I will be able to see what I'm doing both through the webcam stream and through the AV stream. I will be able to send programs not already on the machine through the cassette port, which I can get on the internet. If desired, I can also save data via the cassette port into one channel of the AV stream (though for both loading and saving, I could do this over the serial port if I made a slightly more sophisticated driver). Et voilà. Mostly controllable Apple ][ plus over the internet. Better still, using the backpack for what it adds to the machine, since the "speaker out" function wouldn't have been available in a regular Apple ][ plus, and none of this requires additional line splitting.

Further, if I can get the Apple Cat ][ set up with X10 modules on a different Apple II that I can communicate with over the internet, I can use that to power the Bell & Howell off and on if it ever freezes or gets into a state where it needs local input that I can’t provide.

There are a lot of moving parts to this plan, but if it works, it would be very cool. And it seems like it should be technically feasible.

Netbooting

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Apr 012012
 

I recently got an Apple II workstation card, which provides AppleTalk support to an enhanced //e or greater.

Workstation card

Unfortunately (though I knew this when I bought it), it did not come with the required adapter box that actually makes the connection between the connector pins and the LocalTalk cabling. I figured that this would be something I could solve later. I may be forced to attempt to build my own adapter, in fact, because I don’t know where I’m going to be able to find one of the dongles (except maybe if another Workstation card comes up for auction, that has it). But that is probably something that can be done without a great deal of effort, once I know the pinouts, so I’ll work on that.

Workstation card manual

After seeing the video of Ivan Drucker demonstrating how to netboot a //e and IIgs at KansasFest 2011, I have decided that I absolutely must set this up. Ivan has packaged it all up as A2SERVER, and so I will definitely give this a try. On the Apple II end, one needs either one of these Workstation cards, or a IIgs (or, probably, the LC PDS IIe card, which has the Workstation card built in). To get from LocalTalk to ethernet, one needs a bridge, and this function can be performed by a Mac running MacOS 7.1 through 8.1 or below with the LocalTalk Bridge driver. I expect that I’ll use my Performa 6116CD to perform the bridging function, since it has both a serial printer port and an Ethernet port. And out of the box, it is notoriously dog-slow. As it happens, I also was fortunate enough to get a Sonnet G3 upgrade board for it, though I haven’t verified that it works. I plugged it in, but there may be some software I’ll need to set up to enable it, since booting up the 6116CD after installing the accelerator didn’t seem to have any obvious effect on the speed. Because the heat-sink on the Sonnet Crescendo is a nice purple color, I’ll include pictures of it as well. You’re welcome.

Sonnetg3 sink

Sonnetg3 comp

As for the server itself, I will probably run it on either the iMac G4 1GHz, or one of the PowerMac G4s—something that can run Leopard, which is the prerequisite for the simplest installation of A2SERVER.

The IIgs can basically netboot out of the box, though it might take a little bit of tinkering. The Workstation card will probably go in the platinum //e once I’ve replaced its power supply and tried fixing its keyboard (and, I suppose, built a dongle). Netbooting the LC II PDS IIe card is somewhat less interesting, but I’ll probably set it up to do that as well. Without further Workstation cards, I think that’s about as far as I can go. I do have one more //e, but I still haven’t verified that it is enhanced, and I have a bare //e motherboard about to arrive that I’m considering putting inside one of the PowerMac G4 cases (if it fits), so that might also be a (distant future) candidate for a Workstation card. For the ][+es, I think the options are pretty limited. I do have a Focus card on order, which can at least serve as a hard drive, but I am not sure it works in a ][+ [Edit: Tony Diaz confirms that it will]. None of the //c line ever had real AppleTalk capability, but they do have serial ports, so connecting to the outside world (even just via software) is not out of the question. If I were to get a 6502A into one of the ][+es, the Uthernet card should work to connect to the outside world, if I were able to get one, which I’m not.

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.)