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.

More thoughts on HDD replacements, with boring table

I’ve been exploring drive replacement options for the various machines that I have and which might need drive replacements, and I’m finding a surprisingly small amount of information about exactly what all of the drive options really are. This is a much more complex task than I’d originally given it credit for, there are a lot of different drive interfaces. It’s more than just 2.5″ vs. 3.5″, IDE, SCSI, SATA. Many of the spec sheets I’ve been coming across are not sufficiently verbose about the type of drives the machines take, just the sizes they shipped with. So, let me try to collect my thoughts on this in a way more organized than I undertook in my previous rambling. (This is particularly true of the Mac machines, the Apples II I think I basically grasp.) Warning, however: This is not likely to be very interesting to anyone but me.

The iMac Service Source manual for the iMac G3s indicates shipping hard disks of the EIDE type from 7–30GB. My impression, given the casualness with which information is supplied, is that anything with a PATA physically compatible interface is pretty much backwards compatible, so that I can use a newer, fancier PATA drive even if the machine that’s talking to it doesn’t know how to use its features. Also, I learned from the PATA article that the Compact Flash interface is really just yet another PATA type (with a different physical connector), so that explains why IDE-CF adapters are so cheap.

For drive sizes under, or possibly at, 32GB, an IDE-CF solution as replacement makes some economic sense, but for larger drive sizes, the cost of the CF cards starts getting pretty steep. Although I could in principle hit or near the 128GB maximum addressable size for G3 iMacs, graphite PowerMac G4s, and the G4 Cube by getting a 128GB CF card (currently $898 at or an OWC Mercury Pro Legacy SSD (currently $220), I am not composed of cash. The SSD option is fast enough that it might merit some consideration, but it’s still a lot. A spinning IDE drive is over three times cheaper, e.g. OWC’s 120GB drive (currently $68).

There’s a kind of a conundrum in deciding what to put in the vintage Macs, because although they often shipped with smallish drives, when has that ever been enough? Granted, there is a big usage difference between the times when each of these was serving as my primary computing platform, and now, when they’re likely to be fairly specialized in what they’re being asked to do. But do I focus on replacing the hard drive at its shipping size, or max them out?

The SCSI interface of the still-older Macs is more problematic. Since I still think getting actual vintage drives as a replacement is not a smart move, a SCSI-IDE or SCSI-SATA adapter is probably a better option. Also, the size limits on these drives is smaller; in many cases (where I’m running pre-System 7.5), I can’t get beyond 2GB anyway, which makes a CF solution attractive. Something like PCD-50B with a CF-to-PCMCIA adapter (required because booting is constrained to the PCMCIA slot) looks like a pretty good option, even if it’s kind of overkill, since it’s (at $67 currently) about the cheapest way to get from SCSI to CF. Though it is not universally trouble-free. The PCD-50B setup is about half the price of the CF AztecMonster (page in Japanese, though he sells them via artmix on ebay as well). I bought one of the CF AztecMonsters, but shipping estimates suggest it will be a while before I see it. But SCSI-IDE for an actual drive seems like a dead-end road, since nobody is going to be making new 2GB drives.

[update: I came across some notes on Rob Brauns’s page that might be useful: Experiments in IDE-CF adapters, Experiments with R-IDSC-E SCSI to IDE converter (Oct 2009), and SE/30 Storage Benchmarks (Jan 2010). A few other interesting things there, including a writeup of Remote Booting a IIgs (Oct 2009) which can be seen in action on Brian Picchi’s video demo.]

For my own reference, here is a list of the machines, shipping size, and interface, that I have a chance of trying to replace the hard drives in.

shipped size
OS shipped
OS max
Max under shipped OS
(Max under max OS)



SCSI-CF? System 6, A/UX, NetBSD?




IIe card,
System 7.5.5
Performa 6116CD



AppleTalk/Ethernet bridge?
Mac OS 7.5.5?
Agonizingly slow
Duo 2300c

2.5″ IDE

4GB[2] 2.5″ CF-IDE 2GB replace.
Mac OS 8.6
PowerMac 7500/100



Mac OS 8.6?
Use unclear
PowerMac 8600/200


2TB Mac OS 8.6?
PC Compatibility card. Upgrade HDD? Mac OS 8.6?
PowerMac G3 Beige


PM G3/233.
Mac OS 8.6 or 9.2.2.
IDE-CF seems to be an option.
Replace the personality card with a Wings card? (Then what? Use the PMG3 as an external monitor for an Apple II?)
Use unclear.
Bondi iMac

8.1, 8.5

128GB Not sure whether rev A or B.
IDE-CF realistic.
iBook SE

2.5 EIDE

128GB Airport capable. IDE-CF realistic. Mac OS 9.2.2?
iMac DV, DV/SE

8.6 or 9.1

128GB Not sure on models. IDE-CF realistic. Airport with adapter.
Ruby iMac

128GB IDE-CF realistic. Airport with adapter.
G4 Cube

9.0.4 or 9.1

128GB Unsure of model. Airport capable. Mac OS 9.2.2. IDE-CF realistic.
PowerMac G4 Graphite

8.6 or 9.0.4

128GB unsure of models. Maybe Airport capable.
iMac G4

9.2.2 and 10.1.2, 10.2.3

128GB Airport capable. IDE-SATA maybe.
PowerMac G4 MDD



Not completely sure of model. Airport capable. IDE-SATA maybe. 10.5.8 if DP.

9.2.2, 10.1.4 or 10.2.5 or 10.3.3 or 10.4

10.4.11 or 10.5.8
big One is 1.25GHz/512MB, unsure of other model. Airport capable (1.25GHz requires Extreme). IDE-SATA maybe. 10.4.11 probably.
iMac G5


big 75% sure of the model. Modern HDD.

[1] I will use the LC II at no higher than system 7.5.5 so that the Apple IIe card will function.

[2] LowEndMac passes on warnings that ATA-6 drives are not compatible with the 2300c, which may need to be a consideration in replacing the hard drive in the 2300c with a CF contraption.

That took a while to work up, and I’m not completely sure I got the max capacities right or what the precise relationship I need to worry about is between IDE and EIDE and the different ATA levels. But it is interesting to see this list spelled out this way, it suggests to me that I have too many machines to realistically update them all. It reinforces the idea that I should mainly be concentrating on replacing hard drives that have already failed, and stick with the hard drives that are installed if they still work. Also, I am really leaning toward flogging some of the non-unique (or just uninteresting) ones off on ebay or something once I get them to start. And, sorry to say, those I may well consider putting cheap vintage drives in.

A longer list than I’d realized

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.)