View Full Version : You know you are getting familiar with Vintage computing when...

December 29th, 2009, 01:55 PM
So, last night I was making some Kaypro disks using my stock MS-DOS machine and my Kaypro II. Both were on the desk and operating. After the Kaypro had been on for about two hours there was this dramatic "pop" and smoke issued out of the back...

In earlier days I would have shut down the machine immediately, wailed and rent my garments and anticipated a weeks worth of diagnostic work and impossible to get parts-sourcing.

This time I just opened a window. I didn't even switch the machine off! I figured it was just one of those rice-paper RF filters in the PSU that always go eventually. I've seen it happen 3 times now on various machines. The Kaypro ran fine until I had finshed...there wasn't even a flicker on the screen.

I'll pull it open and replace the capacitor in a day or so. I even have spares.

Why am I writing about this? Well I was just reflecting on how much fun I've had playing around with these machines and how I've gone from knowing nothing all at about hardware two years ago to becoming familiar with many of the common problems. I've a long way to go yet, but it's been an interesting personal journey.

My apolgies if people find this a little reflective but hey, it's the end of the year and the decade. :)

Of course, I could be wrong about the Kaypro. I'd be the first to admit it's bad practice not to switch it off and investigate. With a little knowledge being a dangerous thng I'm probably complacent and overconfident :D

Oh well...ya gotta live dangerously sometimes :)


December 29th, 2009, 02:30 PM
In earlier days I would have shut down the machine immediately, wailed and rent my garments

And don't forget about "gnashing of teeth" :)
Actually, when smoke is involved, I still do all of the above!

December 29th, 2009, 04:58 PM
And don't forget about "gnashing of teeth" :)
Actually, when smoke is involved, I still do all of the above!

Me too. I also snort, snarl, and use the f-word repeatedly. (...but not nearly as much as when I'm forced to use Windows ;))

December 29th, 2009, 05:08 PM
Yeah, getting forced to use Windows really stinks. I prefer me some Linux, Unix, or Prodos 8/16. Heck, I'd even take GS/OS over Windows on the average day. Well, maybe not...

And I have had more and more of these kinds of experiences, especially now that my friends look at it kinda like I'm some kind of vintage car enthusiast, except instead of temperamental old cars they're computers. I beg to differ, since I actually use my machines as real workhorses, but at least I don't get so many strange looks that way.

December 30th, 2009, 01:45 AM
So far I have only renovated one power supply, although I had at least 4-5 poppers. Half of them were stuff I was going to donate anyway, so I tell the recipient about the item's condition.

I still have a (hopefully still) fully working CBM 710 in the basement which had a white smoke accident. Due to it lacks a matching keyboard (there is a German dude who sells one keyboard a week so they're possible to get), I never bothered replacing the caps although I probably should.

January 14th, 2010, 04:41 AM
Several years ago I rebuilt the battery on a Gateway Handbook 486 laptop: I pulled out the old cells and replaced them with rechargeable AA cells. However, when I soldered the leads on the battery holder inside the battery case, I accidentally reversed positive and negative (cripe, I even took extra care to ensure that wouldn't happen). I switched it on and smoke came out of the laptop. I checked the motherboard, saw nothing alarming, re-soldered the leads in the battery and tried it again, and it has worked fine since.

January 15th, 2010, 10:36 AM
Hey guys... new here.

I had 3 poppers in one day once, and somebody also brought me a Lisa PSU to repair the popped mains filter cap in the same week. it's like they had it all planned :)
I now have a stock of these and always replace these caps on any new (old) additions I get. (BTW the poppers were on a BBC Micro, and 2 Apple IIs (Europlus and e).... and why did Astec have to put damn rivets in those PSUs!)

nige the hippy
January 15th, 2010, 11:31 AM
Veering off topic but.... A pair of side cutters ground so that they're flush on one side will just slip under the rivet head & nip it off. You can always replace it with a self tapper.

January 15th, 2010, 12:05 PM
Thanks for the tip Nigel. I wish I knew that before I drilled too far on one PSU :(

BTW... again, off topic: I need 2 keyboard 'pushers' for my Europlus... they are smashed (bits missing, no chance of gluing)

January 15th, 2010, 02:00 PM
If it was just a pop, i would have left it on and check it afterwords but if there is smoke, check it now so it does not catch fire!

Micom 2000
January 15th, 2010, 03:43 PM
Tony Duell of classiccmp fame would likely have you whipped with SCSI cables for that action. His mantra was always have a light-bulb fuse apparatus before ever starting up an old computer. He expounded on this regularly.

On the other hand I would likely be whipped at the same post for my frequent eager-to-try-it transgressions and watched the magic smoke escape, sometimes with fatal results.