View Full Version : Intertec Superbrain Call For Help 10 Years On...

October 1st, 2016, 09:37 AM
Hi - I posted a plea for help on the net regarding my intertec superbrain vintage computer. That was 10 years ago, how time drains away! Here is the original post...

I have the same issues with it now and wondered if any expertise had appeared over the last 10 years. As in the above post, I have a complete machine, a spare power supply, 2 spare video driver boards, spare fly back transformer, 5 tandon full height 5.25 drives, a spare motherboard and loads of spare chips (the socketed ones) including 2 working z80a cpus, 4 BIOS ROM chips (status unknown) 5 character gen ROMS/Crt mask chips, various floppy controll chips.

The motherboard the machine came with gives no display. The a: drive briefly flashes on and the drive motor spins the disk mechanism. I have 2 healthy clock crystal outputs out of three crystals - the third is related to the serial ports so I think only functions when needed. I have healthy voltages everywhere. The RAM chips need -5 +5 +12v all present and tested. I've substituted all the socketed chips with spares so I guess the fault could be any of the soldered in chips? I also cannot find any short circuited decoupling caps, I've unsoldered one end of most of the large black ones and lifted that end away to no effect. There is no short between +5v and the ground line. That's it for that one. No display at all.
The second motherboard is one I've had since I has 12 years old. All the above is true except that the +5v seems to drop to +4.5 volts the lower you test through the banks of RAM chips - the top most bank runs warm and the banks below are always cold. The psu output seems healthy and voltages are fine on the other board so I don't think its a weak psu. The voltages look clean on the oscilloscope too. There is a trim pot on the psu board that adjusts all the output voltages so you can up the +5v a bit so the lowest RAM voltage reads +5v (they then all get warm as if they all become functional as they are getting a correct voltage) but that then overloads other devices on +12 and -12volts. Saying that, this board is the better of the two - it gives a black block cursor at top left on a fully white raster - yes its in reverse for some reason. The cursor starts at top left, moves to top mid when you switch on as if its trying to display the 'insert disk' message. There is no text however, just the block cursor. The a: drive also spins and the drive light comes on too. Pressing the two red reset keys results in a screen refresh and the drives stopping while the keys are held down and the cursor goes through its top left/top mid thing - so there is a hard reset occurring.
With this second board, in the last few days I have de socketed the chips, solvent (methylated spirits) washed most of the board (excepting the keyboard area ) on both sides to clean all contacts. I've tried different video driver boards, washed the power/video board, different disk drives etc. Tested for clock crystals and found 2 of them working and in range. the third is for the serial ports as above. I cant get better than a white raster and black block cursor as described. Anyone with any expertise with these machines, your advice would be much appreciated.
My test kit includes a digital multimeter, 2 20khz oscilloscopes, soldering equipment, a Polar Instruments Z80 diagnostic unit that plugs into the CPU socket and emulates the cpu/runs RAM/ROM tests, address bus tests etc plus a logic probe that plugs into it (that's what I used to test the clock frequencies) This device also has a Z80a programmable training board plus a 100+ page course to teach you how to diagnose faults on such a system. I also have a Hewlett Packard Logic Pulser, Logic probe and Current tracing probe, each with its manual. These date from mid to late 1980's I would say. Another tool I have - i forget the name/model of the device but its basically a self contained computer with built in screen/keyboard/floppy and zif sockets that let you plug in any 7400 type logic/RAM/ROM type chip for diagnostics and comparison to a known set of good values in the systems on board ROM. It will also do in circuit testing although I lack all the cables for it to do so. It has all the manuals and dates from 1987. Currently it has a PSU problem - it didn't like my cellar much. I hope to repair it.
On top of ALL that, I still have the Superbrain manual I've had since I was 11 plus the electrical schematics for each sub assembly of the superbrain - logic board, drives, psu, video board, the lot. You would think it possible to come up with a working unit by now! What I lack is knowledge. I have an interest in electronics going back to my childhood (I'm now 40) so I have some knowledge. I also have good diagnostics skills as I've been in the IT industry for 14 years and can fix PCs, laptops, servers, LAN networks, phones etc etc in my sleep. What I lack is the more specific knowledge relating to logic circuits and related test equipment. I have the kit but I'm only just learning to use it.
My belief is that its either a ROM related issue - in that case, does anyone know of a download source for the ROM binaries' for the SB QD? I've spotted an EPROM burner on ebay that i could use for this. The other possibility is that the problem lies in one of the numerous 74LS or RAM or bespoke chips soldered in place. I would be prepared to de solder one at a time, solder a dual in line socket in its place and test each component in my logic chip testing unit. A mammoth task but if that is the only way forward then so be it. If anyone can give me any pointers then that would make the process less random, that plus all the test gear I have.
I should explain that I have a weird long term attachment to the Superbrain. I had 5 or 6 as an 11 year old, my school let me have them as they where just part of a display by 1988 or so. I made 2 working ones out of the lot and for a while had a cp/m system disk plus Wordstar and Dbase2 running. I loved those times, I had loads of old computer systems given to me or that I dragged out of the local household waste site but the Superbrains where the best! Eventually my mum got sick of not being able to ser my bedroom carpet for all the tv/computer circuitry/crt/amplifier gubbins that littered my room like a scrap heap so she made me get rid of them. Determined not to be defeated, I hatched a 'cunning' plan that as desperate as much as it was ridiculous - but that is a whole other tangent. Suffice to say I held onto the Superbrain in the back of my mind until 17 odd years later I put a want it now out on ebay and a kind soul from Cardiff uni donated the above non functional to me.

To wrap it up - can anyone give me some pointers?! Sorry about the book and I hope to hear from someone soon. This is the first appeal I've put out there in 10 years but I may have to troll the other vintage computer forums with the same books worth. Thankyou and good day��

October 1st, 2016, 10:06 AM
The Superbrains were not unusual for their time--pretty much commodity parts.

This may seem a bit harsh, but it'll save you grief if your object is to get a working machine. Take the system to someone who's familiar with the technology and who knows how to repair it.

Just my opinion at any rate.

October 1st, 2016, 11:32 AM
I completely agree, nothing very amazing logic wise for the time. Are there people here on the forum who repair equipment of this age as a service? There used to be a place in town called Sound Service - the guy retired recently but said he used to repair computers of 70' and 80's age. I had asked back when I got my Industrial Micro Systems IMS 8000 S100 machine. Wasn't working from eBay but I eventually got it going myself so no need for his services. He was one of those one off shops - I wouldn't know what sort of place to go to in this age? other than some sky high price specialist outfit dealing with data recovery or something?

October 2nd, 2016, 03:18 PM
I repair stuff for people, at a discounted rate for fellow hobbyists, as do others on this forum. You probably don't want to ship an Intertec product though, IIRC they used a foam core plastic which is easily damaged in shipping. Where are you located?

October 2nd, 2016, 03:24 PM
Hi, I'm in the UK, I hope you have a apprentice or two - that kind of knowledge needs to be preserved!�� Looking at your website Id guess you are in the US?

October 12th, 2016, 10:44 AM
I can help with the ROM . I happen to have two SB's pulled apart on my table right now and will dump the rom.
One is a QD one is not. A few years ago the QB was running till the P.S. failed.
Expect something today from the QD.
That's a good place to start.
I also recall from that last go-around that until the floppy boots all you get is a cursor, but I could be wrong.
This coming Saturday I may be firing up one of these SBs. When I do I and can do some further correlation with you.

October 12th, 2016, 11:07 AM
Spoke too soon! Just pulled the QD rom and read it and its garked. All 0x40 and 0x00.
Now I'm in the same boat, to find the QD rom image.

October 12th, 2016, 11:32 AM
Try this one:
Should be the QD type.


October 12th, 2016, 11:37 AM
This is the only ROM file I can find.
What's the chances that there is one ROM for all machines?

October 12th, 2016, 12:38 PM
I'll be over at dmemphis' house this weekend and we will be working on his Intertec SuperBrain. I have a ROM reader. We can collect some images if necessary.

October 12th, 2016, 01:22 PM
Great EagleTG!
I'm suspecting now that the EPROM is the same across the machines... its only 2K so perhaps all its got is just enough to
power up, initialize, prompt, and get to the floppy drive boot sector. If so that's all any of the machines likely needed.

My eproms are probably OK. Turns out the MicroPro cheapo eprom programmer has trouble with 2716s,
and probably 2716c's in particular, which are the type in the SB's. I know one of the EPROMs is fine,
even though I can't read it, cause the machine its in, I powered it up for the first time since receiving it
and it booted. WOW that was lucky.

So when EagleTG comes over, we'll read these SB EPROMS and compare between the two and the BIN file on the web.
Then we'll let you know what is what with the EPROM contents.
Then I'd like to configure a 2816 EEPROM to work in the socket.

October 12th, 2016, 01:38 PM
I have two Super Brains that I have never turned on since I acquired them a couple of years ago. Maybe I should pull the ROMs and read them before I do anything. What locations are they in?

October 12th, 2016, 01:39 PM
Where are you in the UK Alan8086?


October 12th, 2016, 02:01 PM
@ snuci
there is only one rom,

October 12th, 2016, 03:03 PM
Unfortunately, both of mine are Motorola TMS2716C's and my GQ-4X programmer won't read them. It does look like this if the markings and version number helps. One of mine was marked, the other was covered with a seemingly blank sticker.


October 12th, 2016, 04:19 PM
I forgot I also have an ME2700 programmer that reads TMS2716's :) My fancy labelled EPROM shown above was blank. The plain white labelled one was full. If you go by the text string, it looks like it is the same version... "4.003 insert diskette into A:".

Hope this helps.

0000: 00 00 00 DB 0A 2F 3D 28 1C 21 00 04 11 00 C0 01 ...[./=(.!....@.
0010: 00 04 ED B0 01 00 04 2B 1B 1A BE 20 EC 0B 78 B1 ..m0...+..> l.x1
0020: 20 F5 C3 06 C0 AF 32 07 88 32 06 88 DD 21 00 88 uC.@/2..2..]!..
0030: DD 36 00 00 DD 36 01 23 18 07 D9 DD CB 00 7E 28 ]6..]6.#..Y]K.~(
0040: 05 AF D3 10 CB 80 D9 AF 32 0C 8A 31 FE 8B 21 00 ./S.K.Y/2..1~.!.
0050: 00 06 07 3A 07 88 B7 20 0B E3 E3 23 7C B5 20 F3 ...:..7 .cc#|5 s
0060: 10 F1 18 D6 3E 2F D3 08 AF 32 07 88 32 0B 8A 3A .q.V>/S./2..2..:
0070: 03 88 E6 01 47 04 3E 01 07 10 FD E6 1E 32 03 88 ..f.G.>...}f.2..
0080: 3A 05 88 2F DD 96 01 FA 96 00 2F 32 05 88 3A 03 :../]..z../2..:.
0090: 88 F6 20 32 03 88 3A 03 88 F6 11 D3 10 D9 CB 40 .v 2..:..v.S.YK@
00A0: CB C0 D9 20 07 06 0E CD B5 02 10 FB 3A 02 88 FE K@Y ...M5..{:..~
00B0: 0B 28 54 FE 04 CA C0 02 FE 01 CA 27 01 F2 2D 01 .(T~.J@.~.J'.r-.
00C0: 3E 05 32 0D 8A 3A 03 88 E6 1E 32 06 88 CD E9 00 >.2..:..f.2..Mi.
00D0: E6 1C EE 04 32 0B 8A CA 44 02 21 0D 8A 35 CA 3C f.n.2..JD.!..5J<
00E0: 02 CD A3 03 CD A3 03 18 DC DD CB 02 7E 28 04 3E .M#.M#..\]K.~(.>
00F0: F0 18 07 3A 00 88 E6 03 F6 F4 D3 08 06 04 CD B5 p..:..f.vtS...M5
0100: 02 10 FB CD 92 02 C9 CD EF 00 21 00 00 DB 08 CB ..{M..IMo.!..[.K
0110: 4F 20 FA 23 DB 08 CB 4F 28 F9 23 DB 08 CB 4F 20 O z#[.KO(y#[.KO
0120: F9 22 19 8A C3 44 02 AF 21 19 00 18 05 3E 01 21 y"..CD./!....>.!
0130: 00 05 22 08 8A 32 0A 8A 3A 06 88 57 3A 03 88 E6 .."..2..:..W:..f
0140: 1E BA 28 22 32 06 88 CD 57 02 28 13 CD AB 03 CD .:("2..MW.(.M+.M
0150: 57 02 28 0B CD E9 00 CD 57 02 28 03 C3 3C 02 DB W.(.Mi.MW.(.C<.[
0160: 0A D3 09 CD B3 03 2A 04 88 4D DB 09 BC 28 1C 7C .S.M3.*..M[.<(.|
0170: D3 0B CD B3 03 3A 00 88 E6 03 F6 E4 D3 08 06 04 S.M3.:..f.vdS...
0180: CD B5 02 10 FB CD 92 02 C3 47 01 79 D3 0A CD B3 M5..{M..CG.yS.M3
0190: 03 21 08 88 3A 0A 8A B7 20 30 3E 77 D3 08 CD B3 .!..:..7 0>wS.M3
01A0: 03 3A 02 88 FE 01 28 07 CD B8 01 DB 0B 18 F9 CD .:..~.(.M8.[..yM
01B0: B8 01 DB 0B 77 23 18 F7 DB 08 1F 1F D0 17 30 F8 8.[.w#.w[...P.0x
01C0: 3A 0C 8A B7 C2 A1 03 E1 18 19 3A 02 88 FE 03 3E :..7B!.a..:..~.>
01D0: 57 20 02 3E 54 D3 08 CD B3 03 CD B8 01 7E D3 0B W .>TS.M3.M8.~S.
01E0: 23 18 F7 0E 7C 3A 0A 8A B7 20 02 0E 1C CD 92 02 #.w.|:..7 ...M..
01F0: A1 32 0B 8A 28 27 21 08 8A 3A 0A 8A B7 28 07 23 !2..('!..:..7(.#
0200: 35 28 39 C3 47 01 35 C2 47 01 3A 02 88 FE 01 28 5(9CG.5BG.:..~.(
0210: 2B 23 35 28 27 3E 01 32 0A 8A C3 47 01 3A 02 88 +#5('>.2..CG.:..
0220: FE 06 28 20 FE 01 28 1C 21 0A 8A 7E B7 28 15 36 ~.( ~.(.!..~7(.6
0230: 00 3E 01 32 08 8A 3A 04 88 C3 8C 01 3A 0B 8A F6 .>.2..:..C..:..v
0240: 01 32 0B 8A 3E 2F D3 08 CD B3 03 3A 03 88 E6 3E .2..>/S.M3.:..f>
0250: F6 10 D3 10 C3 47 00 3E 0A 32 0D 8A 11 00 A0 21 v.S.CG.>.2.... !
0260: 0F 8A 3E 3B D3 08 1B 7B B2 28 34 DB 08 1F 1F 38 ..>;S..{2(4[...8
0270: F5 DB 0B 77 23 DB 08 1F 1F 30 F6 17 30 F7 CD 92 u[.w#[...0v.0wM.
0280: 02 E6 0C 32 0B 8A C8 21 0D 8A 35 20 CF 3A 0B 8A .f.2..H!..5 O:..
0290: B7 C9 2E 05 2D 20 FD 21 00 00 2B 7C B5 20 08 3C 7I..- }!..+|5 .<
02A0: 0F 32 0B 8A C3 3C 02 DB 08 2F 1F 38 ED 17 F5 3E .2..C<.[./.8m.u>
02B0: 2F D3 08 F1 C9 21 00 18 E5 E1 2B 7C B5 20 F9 C9 /S.qI!..ea+|5 yI
02C0: 3E FF 32 0C 8A 3A 03 88 E6 1E 32 06 88 01 01 FF >.2..:..f.2.....
02D0: 3A 03 88 E6 20 28 02 06 FE ED 43 19 8A 3A 05 88 :..f (..~mC..:..
02E0: 57 DB 09 BA 28 0D 7A D3 0B 3E E4 D3 08 CD 92 02 W[.:(.zS.>dS.M..
02F0: CD B5 02 1E FE 26 0A 3E 0B D3 08 01 28 B1 CD 8A M5..~&.>.S..(1M.
0300: 03 01 10 B1 CD 8A 03 01 0A FF CD 8A 03 01 03 0A ...1M.....M.....
0310: CD 8A 03 01 01 01 CD 8A 03 42 0E 01 CD 8A 03 ED M.....M..B..M..m
0320: 4B 19 8A CD 8A 03 43 0E 01 CD 8A 03 01 01 FD CD K..M..C..M....}M
0330: 8A 03 01 01 08 CD 8A 03 01 16 B1 CD 8A 03 01 0C .....M....1M....
0340: FF CD 8A 03 01 03 0A CD 8A 03 01 01 05 CD 8A 03 .M.....M.....M..
0350: 01 FF E5 CD 8A 03 0E FF CD 8A 03 0E 02 CD 8A 03 ..eM....M....M..
0360: 01 01 08 CD 8A 03 1D 25 20 97 01 FF B1 CD 97 03 ...M...% ...1M..
0370: 0E FF CD 97 03 DB 08 2F E6 22 32 0B 8A C2 3C 02 ..M..[./f"2..B<.
0380: 3E 2F D3 08 CD B3 03 C3 44 02 DB 08 1F 1F 38 FA >/S.M3.CD.[...8z
0390: 78 D3 0B 0D 20 F4 C9 CD B8 01 78 D3 0B 0D 20 F7 xS.. tIM8.xS.. w
03A0: C9 C1 C9 3E A4 D3 08 CD 92 02 C9 3E 84 D3 08 CD IAI>$S.M..I>.S.M
03B0: 92 02 C9 3E 05 3D 20 FD C9 FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ..I>.= }I.......
03C0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
03D0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
03E0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
03F0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF 56 0A 07 99 99 01 FF FF FF .......V........
0400: C3 06 C0 C3 75 C2 21 00 04 11 00 C0 01 00 04 1A C.@CuB!....@....
0410: BE C2 00 00 23 13 0B 78 B1 20 F4 F3 31 FF F3 3E >B..#..x1 ts1.s>
0420: 82 D3 6B 3E 2A D3 6A 3E 43 32 24 C3 D3 68 3E 08 .Sk>*Sj>C2$CSh>.
0430: D3 6B 3E 55 32 00 88 3E AA 32 01 88 3E B2 D3 6A Sk>U2..>*2..>2Sj
0440: 3E C3 32 38 00 21 EF C0 22 39 00 21 00 00 22 E0 >C28.!o@"9.!.."`
0450: C2 22 E2 C2 22 E4 C2 22 E6 C2 21 EB C2 06 19 3E B"bB"dB"fB!kB..>
0460: 00 77 23 10 FC 21 04 C3 06 19 3E 00 77 23 10 FC .w#.|!.C..>.w#.|
0470: 32 20 C3 32 21 C3 CD 3A C1 D3 48 ED 56 FB C3 B8 2 C2!CM:ASHmV{C8
0480: C0 21 95 C0 CD 88 C0 C9 7E E5 CD 0C C1 E1 7E B7 @!.@M.@I~eM.Aa~7
0490: F8 23 C3 88 C0 34 2E 30 30 33 20 69 6E 73 65 72 x#C.@4.003 inser
04A0: 74 20 64 69 73 6B 65 74 74 65 20 69 6E 74 6F 20 t diskette into
04B0: 64 72 69 76 65 20 41 BA 01 00 FF CD 86 C2 CD BC drive A:...M.BM<
04C0: C2 CD B0 C2 E6 80 CA DD C0 CD 81 C0 01 00 00 CD BM0Bf.J]@M.@...M
04D0: 86 C2 CD BC C2 CD B0 C2 E6 80 C2 CC C0 21 80 C7 .BM<BM0Bf.BL@!.G
04E0: 11 01 00 01 00 01 CD 75 C2 C2 CC C0 C3 80 C7 E5 ......MuBBL@C.Ge
04F0: D5 C5 F5 DB 69 E6 04 CA 06 C1 CD 3A C1 DB 48 F1 UEu[if.J.AM:A[Hq
0500: C1 D1 E1 FB ED 4D CD 24 C1 C3 FD C0 E6 7F 47 D6 AQa{mMM$AC}@f.GV
0510: 20 FA 19 C1 78 CD 65 C1 C9 FE 0A CA 4B C2 FE 0D z.AxMeAI~.JKB~.
0520: CA 69 C2 C9 2A E9 C2 7E 23 22 E9 C2 B7 CA 35 C1 JiBI*iB~#"iB7J5A
0530: 3E 02 D3 6B C9 3E 03 D3 6B C9 CD 00 C2 21 04 C3 >.SkI>.SkIM.B!.C
0540: 11 EB C2 01 19 00 ED B0 21 EB C2 22 E9 C2 CD 24 .kB...m0!kB"iBM$
0550: C1 3A 1E C3 3D 32 1E C3 3A 1D C3 3D 32 1D C3 C0 A:.C=2.C:.C=2.C@
0560: 3E 0C D3 6B C9 32 E8 C2 CD 7F C1 7E B7 CC EA C1 >.SkI2hBM.A~7LjA
0570: 2A E2 C2 7C F6 F8 67 3A E8 C2 77 CD 25 C2 C9 21 *bB|vxg:hBwM%BI!
0580: 04 C3 16 00 3A E1 C2 5F 19 C9 F3 2A E6 C2 11 50 .C..:aB_.Is*fB.P
0590: 00 19 22 E6 C2 21 05 C3 11 04 C3 01 18 00 ED B0 .."fB!.C..C...m0
05A0: 3E 00 12 FB C9 21 B8 C1 3A E1 C2 07 5F 16 00 19 >..{I!8A:aB._...
05B0: 5E 23 56 2A E6 C2 19 C9 00 00 50 00 A0 00 F0 00 ^#V*fB.I..P. .p.
05C0: 40 01 90 01 E0 01 30 02 80 02 D0 02 20 03 70 03 @...`.0...P. .p.
05D0: C0 03 10 04 60 04 B0 04 00 05 50 05 A0 05 F0 05 @...`.0...P. .p.
05E0: 40 06 90 06 E0 06 30 07 80 07 CD A5 C1 16 50 3E @...`.0...M%A.P>
05F0: F8 B4 67 36 20 23 15 C2 EF C1 CD 7F C1 36 FF C9 x4g6 #.BoAM.A6.I
0600: 2A E6 C2 22 E4 C2 EB 2A E2 C2 7C E6 0F 67 7A E6 *fB"dBk*bB|f.gzf
0610: 0F 57 3E 01 D3 6B 3E 03 77 3E 01 EB 77 3E 02 77 .W>.Sk>.w>.kw>.w
0620: 3E 00 D3 6B C9 2A E2 C2 23 22 E2 C2 2A E0 C2 2C >.SkI*bB#"bB*`B,
0630: 7D FE 50 C2 47 C2 2E 00 7C FE 18 C2 46 C2 E5 CD }~PBGB..|~.BFBeM
0640: 8A C1 E1 C3 47 C2 24 22 E0 C2 C9 2A E2 C2 11 50 .AaCGB$"`BI*bB.P
0650: 00 19 22 E2 C2 3A E1 C2 FE 18 C2 64 C2 32 E1 C2 .."bB:aB~.BdB2aB
0660: CD 8A C1 C9 3C 32 E1 C2 C9 CD A5 C1 22 E2 C2 3E M.AI<2aBIM%A"bB>
0670: 00 32 E0 C2 C9 E5 CD 86 C2 CD BC C2 E1 CD A0 C2 .2`BIeM.BM<BaM B
0680: CD B0 C2 E6 01 C9 CD C9 C2 21 02 88 70 23 71 23 M0Bf.IMIB!..p#q#
0690: 7B 2F 77 23 7A 2F 77 3E FF 32 07 88 CD D7 C2 C9 {/w#z/w>.2..MWBI
06A0: CD C9 C2 EB 21 08 88 01 00 02 ED B0 CD D7 C2 C9 MIBk!.....m0MWBI
06B0: CD C9 C2 3A 0B 8A F5 CD D7 C2 F1 C9 DB 69 E6 20 MIB:..uMWBqI[if
06C0: 28 FA DB 69 E6 20 20 FA C9 3E 0A D3 6B DB 69 17 (z[if zI>.Sk[i.
06D0: 38 FB 3E 08 D3 6B C9 3E 09 D3 6B 3E 0B D3 6B C9 8{>.SkI>.Sk>.SkI
06E0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
06F0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0700: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0710: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0720: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0730: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0740: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0750: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0760: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0770: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0780: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
0790: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
07A0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
07B0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
07C0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
07D0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
07E0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................
07F0: FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF ................

October 12th, 2016, 04:43 PM
Nice. Now we are getting somewhere.
Here's my two ROMS. Left is QD, right is from regular SB.

What machine type is yours from?
It is assumable that both of your EPROMS were the same, 4.003 being in the one, and on the label of the other.
Comforting to see the 4.003 is also on the label of one of mine.

NOTE that the superbrain.bin is not like your dump at all. When I load that into my programmer software
I can scan and find the "insert disk" text but ahead of that there is nothing like the 4.003 version text.
The superbrain.bin also appears to fill up the space, there is not a block clearly unused data at the end.
Its something different for sure.

October 12th, 2016, 05:02 PM
Mine are both regular SBs. For the record, the TMS2716C that was read properly above was from 8112. At least you have something to compare with. Good luck! I really should make some disks and try to fire mine up. Sounds like a good project for the weekend. It IS a very cool looking computer with an awesome name :)

October 12th, 2016, 06:12 PM
Cool name is right!
Very good. I'll check my date codes too.
I can't wait to see what the QD ROM is like.

October 12th, 2016, 10:27 PM
Would it be possible to post any images you extract from these ROMs? I'd heard that ROM borkery was a common problem with the Superbrains, and having a reference source of images will solve that.

I would also ask if anyone has a repository where we could keep these things permanently.

Oh, and I am looking for a Superbrain if anyone's got a spare... UK only.

October 13th, 2016, 02:31 AM
Would it be possible to post any images you extract from these ROMs? I'd heard that ROM borkery was a common problem with the Superbrains, and having a reference source of images will solve that.

I would also ask if anyone has a repository where we could keep these things permanently.

Oh, and I am looking for a Superbrain if anyone's got a spare... UK only.

I will post mine once I've confirmed mine is operational but it should go onto the Bitsavers central repository for permanent availability just in case.

October 15th, 2016, 11:23 AM
Would it be possible to post any images you extract from these ROMs? I'd heard that ROM borkery was a common problem with the Superbrains, and having a reference source of images will solve that.

I would also ask if anyone has a repository where we could keep these things permanently.

Oh, and I am looking for a Superbrain if anyone's got a spare... UK only.

Yes sir, this was most definitely part of our plan.

We built the adapter, and confirmed we can read the ROMs! See the following thread:

I will try to post back with some pictures of the adapter that dmemphis and I collaborated on building. It's kinda cool.

October 15th, 2016, 03:41 PM
You still monitoring this? Our ROM exercises have been a good effort but I think the upshot for you is that your
ROMs are probably good. Putting a block cursor and appearing to write a line at the top of the screens sounds right
and suggests the z80 machinery is running about right. I have not seen reverse video coming out of either of my
two machines. I have not studied the video generation circuitry of the SBs, but I think that's what you are going
to have to do, using an oscilloscope to trace to something that isn't forming the video correctly.
Also, you mentioned that the disk drives get hit when powering up. Do you have working floppy disks to know if
it will seem to boot if a good floppy is mounted? Might be hard to tell- the booting happens really fast and might
be hard to differentiate from the LED just coming on. Especially since you can't really see anything material on the
However, that said, this SB regular that I was running today has a small problem that might be helpful for you to know:
When it is first powered on, I only get a cursor block in the upper left. If I reset with the red-red keys, then it
resets and hits the drives. Seems there is something slow in the power-up that keeps it from resetting properly.

November 14th, 2016, 03:51 PM
I had completely stopped monitoring the thread- its taken a life of its own since I posted it- thanks to all involved. To be honest I've been a bit caught up with work and a death in the family, my father in law died recently so I've set my Superbrain aside for now but I hope to get back down to it soon. I do have a box of boot disks and software for it - wordstar, a database package plus a Kermit disk, various disks with MIDI written on them and the graphics software for the graphics card it came with. I probably tried booting with a cp/m disk when i first got the machine but I don't remember getting a positive result. I had bought a Compaq portable III as a machine to use Dave Dunfield's software to make boot disks - I finally managed to get the Compaq to boot up its setup disks when it developed a memory fault at POST. Nothing is going right regarding.my vintage computers - my IMS 8000 now has an address bus error too! I've put everything on hold for now untill my workspace/test gear and 'time' are in order.

November 14th, 2016, 05:25 PM
Condolences- I 've have some of the same problems in the past few years.
Hopefully you can get an IMD machine going...
The Compaq III would make a nice portable IMD computer, I started down that route
too but the 20MB drive seems failed and I got stalled there too.
I continue to use a crazy old dual Pentium server in a huge case, but it does the job.
See you when you get back to it all we'll be able to help.
I sat my Superbrain aside for over a year and the good news is that it came together.
Here's a preview of the final push:

November 15th, 2016, 08:18 AM
Oh my! Just followed your link - was it you who called me a few days ago? I followed the link in the email you sent - same write up I think but this time with the pictures. Nice to see a working superbrain at the end. I haven't seen that Insert System Disk message and the disk directory screen in CP/M since I was 13 or so and had 6 superbrains given to me by my schools IT department, took me back! I have a similar device to your ICE unit - a Polar Instruments SPT Z80 microboard troubleshooter. Possibly not quite as versatile as you cant connect it to a PC but it has a lot of built in test functions, RAM/ROM test, read/write to memory, bus line tests, a logic probe you can plug into it etc. Just got to learn how to use it properly! I need to get up on hexadecimal memory maps and ill have a better idea of what is actually going on.