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falter
January 23rd, 2017, 06:33 PM
I decided to do this as a separate thread from my original post in Other because I have what I need now and am proceeding.

Anyway, a background. I've for years known the basic story behind the Sol 20, and had been under the impression that it evolved from what was originally envisioned as a terminal (hence its name). I had never seen the pure terminal version nor bothered to look up the original article that introduced it. I simply stumbled onto it one day and saw the front cover of Popular Electronics, July 1976 and saw a prototype-looking unit with a keyboard that looked suspiciously like one I had. Sure enough, it more or less was. I started reading more and of course, later, found the artwork for the original motherboard. I became really intrigued at that point because the motherboard clearly looked set up to do more than mere terminal duty - it had multiple ROM sockets and an S100 connector. I then read that Processor Tech essentially called it a terminal to deke around Popular Electronics' reputed ban on new projects involving computers (I don't know if that's true or not). I did find it interesting how the 'optional' ROMs were mentioned in the article with little or no explanation about what they did. Had a definite cloak and dagger feel!

Naturally once I realized I, again, had the correct keyboard to build a replica of an important prototype, I put it on my future project list. Now, looking at the artwork, I expect it to be extremely challenging. The only copy of the artwork I've found is messy, to say the least, and that particular design is reputed to be unfinished/unworkable. Reputed.

And this is where the story gets kind of convoluted. Was this 'prototype' a one off to herald the arrival of the eventual Sol-20? The article advertised boards for sale, in addition to the artwork provided in a construction guide you could mail out for. I've never seen and have not been able to find any pictures or auctions or anything in private collections I'm aware of that shows that first design board made it into the hands of the public. But if they were selling plans, you'd assume probably at least some did.

Anyway, to resolve the matter I decided to try emailing the designer, Lee Felsenstein. I didn't expect him to answer, being (I'm sure) a busy guy and a bit famous and probably not having time to answer queries from some random stranger about work from 40 years ago. But to my delight, he did answer. My questions to him were: what were the ROM sockets for? Could you run CONSOL or SOLOS on this board? Was this purely a 'terminal' or was it a computer from the start? Did any get built beyond the cover unit? And where is the cover unit?

I asked a lot more politely than that of course. :) Anyway, Lee very generously answered, and his answer leaves a few more question marks. He said the unit that appeared on the cover of PE was indeed a prototype of what would become the Sol-20. Without confirming or denying that the ROM code for SOLOS worked on that unit, he simply said the ROM code was printed in the manual. He said the prototype cover unit still exists and is owned by Bob Marsh. The tape deck seen was non-functional, and that only two boards were made -- the one in it, and a unit he has that required some 100 wires to work. He did not indicate if any of those first design boards were sold. I did ask but did not receive a response in a second email and declined to pester him further. To read what he said over again, it sounds like this was a prototype that was a one off, and it almost sounds like whatever boards Processor Tech was providing were likely the boards used in the eventual Sol 20. But the thing that throws a spanner into that is that PT/PE were sending out construction guides with this first motherboard design. They advised it was complex and offered pre-made boards for those not skilled enough to fab one themselves. It doesn't make sense to me that they'd be shipping out artwork for one design and selling kit boards for another.

But anyway, there you have it. And it is my intention to build another copy of the prototype, someday. Certainly I can accomplish the case, keyboard, etc. To a degree -- there are no color photos of that unit. I don't know how to get in touch with Bob Marsh and I'm not sure if he'd want to share that info. But I'm imagining the case was probably 'IBM blue' like the later -20 and probably the wood is the same as the -20 also.

From there, recreating the board will be a huge challenge. As I said, the artwork is really messy, but I think it's salvageable. It would be a monumental task to line everything up perfectly (it is double-sided), but that's part of the fun. I never go into these things with unrealistic expectations. If I end up with a non-functional unit that *looks like* the prototype, I'm happy. If it works, what a great story, right?

For those curious - here is a link to the artwork: http://www.sol20.org/articles/img/PE_SOL.pdf Check out that S100 connector way off in the corner where it'd be kind of tricky to use in any sort of case.

falter
February 3rd, 2017, 08:13 PM
Took a break from TVT building and plunged headfirst into the terminal project.

This is going to be oodles harder than any of the others:

1) Very tightly packed, thin traces.
2) Messy artwork.
3) It's double-sided
4) At 9.5x13.5, this is way bigger than any board I've ever made

To simplify things, I'm going to call the artwork I'm using the 'prototype' artwork. From what I now understand, readers of PE could write in for plans to build their own Sol terminal using this artwork. However, there were also drilled and etched boards on offer, and what eventually shipped was *not* using this design. It was using what became the Sol-20 design, with personality modules and all that. In three weeks of searching I have not found a single instance of someone building using the prototype design, and the sol20.org site says it didn't work.

Anyway, with a Mark-8 build and other stuff in the pipeline, it'll take me a long time to get there -- but I figure I'll start working on the artwork. The scan is regrettably messy (or the artwork itself was) and I need to clean it up and make sure we're not having any unwanted shorts. I used Threshold to black and white it.. and for now am using the marquee and fill tools to clean up the clutter one bit at a time. It'll take a long time this way and that sucks.. I'm hoping along the way I find a tool of some sort that'll help.

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I haven't quite wrapped my head around how I'll print the toner transfers for it. I'm thinking I will have to break it into segments somehow and print each side on multiple press'n'peel.

HoJoPo
February 3rd, 2017, 08:36 PM
Could you print the toner transfer on a printer like an HP Laserjet 5si, 8500 series, etc... that can print tabloid 11x17 paper? That is if you can find tabloid sized press'n'peel...

falter
February 3rd, 2017, 09:43 PM
I'm not sure I understand the photo resist etching process.. but I am thinking I get that photoresist stuff, apply it to a large pcb.. then use my Designjet to print on an 11x17 transparency for the UV process?

Chuck(G)
February 3rd, 2017, 10:29 PM
Well, a lot of what we used to use for photoetch has gone bye-bye. Kepro (the big small-quantitiy supplier) has been out of business since 2003 (hazmat probably did that do them).

You're really best off today using a commercial service. There are many of them, all reasonably priced, with excellent results.

Old_hitech
February 4th, 2017, 07:35 AM
This sounds like a very nice project! I have always liked the Sol-20 computer. Other than the keyboard foam discs it has been a reliable computer. Good luclk with your project! Keep us posted on your progress and let us know if you need anything.

falter
February 5th, 2017, 07:16 AM
Thanks!! I think it should be a lot of fun. It'll be tricky.. especially the case, since I only have the one photo to work from. However, knowing the original keyboard dimensions (because I have one), I did attempt to scale it next to a real Sol.. the dimensions of which are known:

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Sort of. I did some calculations and I get a case width about the same as the Sol 20 (20 in), but a shorter depth.. 10.5 vs 18. That could fit but seems tight.. the board is 9.5 in deep. Height seems to come out at around 6.5".. at the highest point but that is still suspect to me.

What do you guys think? Anyone got a better estimate method?

Color wise it must be a dark color.. I can rule out green.. I'm thinking either blue like the Sol or black..

falter
February 14th, 2017, 06:50 PM
So yeah, this is going to be tedioussssss

Basically what I'm confronted with is a horrible scan job. Thankfully it didn't distort the artwork too much, but I don't know if the quality of the drawing was bad or what the deal is... all the traces are choppy and messed up, and of course some as a result are connected when they shouldn't be.

I'm basically using Photoshop, an hour a day, using the rectangle draw tool to clean these up. You can see where I've done a bit here:

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I'm wondering, is there a better way, before I invest many hours in this? I have to do this for two sides, top and bottom. It will take eons but I will do it if there's no other way. I've had it suggested that I farm it out to a PCB fab place, but a) that's expensive and b) that's now how the hobbyist of the day would have done it.

Anyway, if anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears. I've tried messing around with various tools in Photoshop to smooth the lines out but no dice so far.

HoJoPo
February 14th, 2017, 07:34 PM
Try using Adobe Illustrator to convert to vector? That would give the cleanest results.

falter
February 14th, 2017, 08:05 PM
Try using Adobe Illustrator to convert to vector? That would give the cleanest results.

I thought about that but from what I saw in videos it was the same deal -- have to trace the whole thing again. Unless there's some converter or such.

HoJoPo
February 14th, 2017, 08:51 PM
Illustrator can convert raster to vector, then you'd clean up the vector files... the end result would be a lot smoother on the edges and solid in the middle, also a lot sharper.

falter
March 22nd, 2017, 08:12 PM
My TVT project is nearing completion so I'm starting to look more closely at my Sol prototype project.

I'm wondering if anyone out there has any fancy math-wizardly ways to figure out the height and depth of this thing:

http://www.sol20.org/articles/PE-7-76-p35.jpg

That and the cover photo are all I have to work with. I can sort of divine the width because I have the same keyboard, so that dimension is known. Depth is a bit trickier and height.. from that photo.. yikes.

The case top shape is also hard to make out. Sometimes when I look at it it looks sort of like the Sol-20 case -- a gradual rise from the front just past the keyboard, then a sharp 90 degree rise, then a mostly flat top to the back. But it's really hard to make out. Sometimes it looks like it's just a gradual rise from front to where it flattens out and the keyboard is just plunked in the middle.

In the photo above, if I squint while looking at the tape recorder.. it almost looks like you can see the faint outline of tape recorder buttons -- like two lighter coloured buttons faintly visible on left and right.

Wonder if there's a way to colorize the photo. I've seen that done for old Titanic photos, etc. Not sure how many reference colors they need. These are just really horrible photos - PE should have been flogged for using them. :) I've continued searching for a color shot somewhere but no dice. Seems like this thing did the cover shoot and then went into Bob Marsh's closet for the next 40 years.

Mike_Z
March 24th, 2017, 07:07 AM
Here's a picture of my SOL Terminal. I know it's not the same as the cassette model, but the keyboard looks similar. At least it is five keys deep and so it your picture. The key board in the case is 3 7/8" deep. I tried to print off your picture and draw some lines in an attempt to figure the depth, but I'm unsure whether my number is correct. I found 9 1/2". The fact that the keyboard is on an angle also messes with the perspective calc. This seems short, yet the picture looks short. My SOL is 17 1/2 inches deep. You have to figure there are s-100 cards, a power supply, the bottom of the cassette and key board in there. Hope this helps. Mike
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KC9UDX
March 24th, 2017, 09:38 AM
The PE picture looks clearly fake, a cut-and-paste mockup. Perhaps they didn't actually have one yet when they wrote the article.

clh333
March 24th, 2017, 10:46 AM
Aside from Illustrator two other tools available to you are Adobe Streamline and Inkscape, both of which can convert raster to vector, which is what you want.

It seems to me, though, that the hard part of the project is drilling holes in the right places.

-CH-

falter
March 24th, 2017, 11:52 AM
I know for sure the prototype is a real thing - Lee Felsenstein himself told me so, and that it is still in the possession of Bob Marsh. Regarding the height of the case -- bear in mind the board design in the prototype was completely different from that of the later Sol 20. I can't see your picture Mike_Z (says invalid attachment), but if it's a Sol 20 then probably not the same thing. The prototype board has the S100 connector at the back left hand side - the Sol-20's was moved more towards the center I think. I'm not sure any provision in the case was made for actually using the S100 slot as this was a one off. Here's the artwork:

http://www.sol20.org/articles/img/PE_SOL.pdf

I suspect perhaps the prototype wasn't quite perfect... Lee's account is that they were quite rushed to meet the magazine deadline, and Bob was always adding new features he wanted it to have. Lee said one of his prototype boards required nearly 100 wires to operate at all. It's not clear that the design above ever was sold to anyone in kit form -- seems to be the Sol-20 design won out, but that they did send out plans featuring the first version to those interested. I've yet to find any example of a Sol terminal built using the above board design.

I wish I could divine the color -- obviously dark -- probably not green or purple or brown.. so either black or dark blue I would think..

Mike_Z
March 24th, 2017, 12:50 PM
Here's another try at the picture. You can see that mine is a SOL20 and it is BLue.
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Mike

smp
March 24th, 2017, 01:36 PM
Within the July 1976 PE article is a photo of the wire-wrapped prototype board. Since the sizes of the various ICs is known, maybe you could then make an estimate of the size of that board, and then would that help you extrapolate to an approximate size of the prototype case?

Just a thought...

smp

UPDATE: It appears that I thought this was the wire-wrapped board due to the poor quality of the scan I have. Upon further inspection, it looks like the board is actually printed wiring. I think my suggestion remains valid though.

Corey986
March 24th, 2017, 06:05 PM
It's most likely the prototype board without the solder mask that Lee couldn't get working on his first trip to NY. It had a solder whisker or something if memory serves.

As for keyboard it looks like an early keytronic capacitive discharge just like the one that's on the Apple-1 at the Victoria and Albert museum in London. The production Sol used a newer and a little more complicated model with numeric keypad.

I expect the sides on the prototype to be similar in material to the production units since the story is they had access to a quantity of this gunstock material.

The rest of the case might be simply bent metal. Something you can recreate on a brake.

falter
March 24th, 2017, 09:12 PM
Yeah the keyboard is definitely Keytronic. I have the exact same one. Mine came from a mystery 8080 terminal off ebay. It has a few keys that are marked/coloured differently but otherwise is the same layout. The Computer History Museum also has one exactly like the Sol prototype attached to a CT1024 they have.

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I don't know how its encoder is set up. Hopefully ASCII since it was in a somewhat modern terminal.

I wish I had known about brakes before I did my TVT case.. did not realize just how hard bending metal into square corners would be!

Chuck(G)
March 24th, 2017, 10:39 PM
I've seen ersatz metal brakes constructed with angle-iron and hinges, but Harbor Freight has some small ones for cheap that will do the job. If you know someone in the HVAC business, he's probably got a sheet metal brake on his truck.

falter
April 17th, 2017, 12:31 PM
With my day off, I worked on building a cardboard mockup of my Sol prototype. After fidgeting with measurements I realized a much simpler way to get the dimensions of the case in the PE article was to simply blow the image up until its keyboard reached the same dimensions as my keyboard, and then just measure normally, no math required. I did have to account for some distortion -- doing that made the cassette deck bigger than spec, but I got the case dimensions down to roughly 11"L x 19"W x 5"H (back, sloping to 3" front). I figured that was good enough to build a cardboard mockup and then take some test photos to compare. Looking at the keyboard and average size of cassette deck machinery, I was a bit skeptical that these dimensions would suffice. However, it appears we're pretty close, actually:

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One adjustment I had to make right away with comparing the photos was the width.. looking back and forth it became clear the tape deck didn't have much clearance to its right from the side panel. So I shortened and then mounted everything.

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Pretty close, eh? I'm going to spray paint it dark blue and then take some B&W photos at an angle close to that of the cover and see how much closer I can get. There are still a few mysteries to resolve:

a) What color *was* the case (probably impossible unless someone knows how to reach Bob Marsh)?
b) Is the top of the case just a straight slope up to about 4" before the back, and then level? Or does it have a sharp 90 degree rise like the Sol-20 has for its logo faceplate? In pictures it's kind of ambiguous - kind of looks like there's a sharp corner there just before the keyboard but not enough room to drop it very much.
c) How does the top connect to the sides? I note there are three screws across the back.. so that tells me the top is likely one piece but the back is separate. Maybe there is wood structure inside between the side panels?

falter
April 17th, 2017, 03:53 PM
Here's a photo with the painted case.. pretty darn close dimensionally I think! I might need to lose another inch in depth.. space above keyboard seems to be a bit too much.

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falter
June 25th, 2017, 09:09 PM
So yeah, still continuing the cleanup effort on the original SOL prototype artwork, in between other things. I can only do about an hour or two at a time before my carpal tunnel acts up. And it is a monumental job.. this is a huge board with tons of tightly packed traces. But I think the challenge of it is enough to keep me motivated and when it's done I'll have the ability to do something not many others can - make a new SOL Intelligent Terminal motherboard!

Here's a sample section where I've done cleanup:

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And after:

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Not perfect by any means, but better. I figure as long as they're continuous and do not bridge where they're not supposed to, that's okay. This will be going in my case and probably not seeing the light of day afterwards.

I have tried other programs, like Illustrator, to trace this out.. but the learning curve is huge.. Photoshop I know and understand. I've found some ways to get it to trace the lines, but it wants to keep the jagged edges I'm trying to get rid of..

I'm trying to make a deal with the guy I bought that vintage board stock from for a piece that'll be large enough for the 13.5"x9.5" needed for this board. If I can't pull that off, I wonder, could I somehow join the smaller 12x8" boards I have? Two to each side?

clh333
June 30th, 2017, 02:53 AM
I copied your .jpg file and loaded it into Inkscape, where I converted ("traced") the raster image to a vector image. Depending on the settings of the program you are using for conversion (e.g. Inkscape, Illustrator, Streamline) you can control settings for how closely or loosely the program follows every little "jaggie". The vector file, in .svg format, could not be uploaded but I exported the vector as a .png (back to raster image after cleanup in Inkscape). Results attached; might be a faster way to go.

HTH

-CH-

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falter
June 30th, 2017, 07:45 AM
I copied your .jpg file and loaded it into Inkscape, where I converted ("traced") the raster image to a vector image. Depending on the settings of the program you are using for conversion (e.g. Inkscape, Illustrator, Streamline) you can control settings for how closely or loosely the program follows every little "jaggie". The vector file, in .svg format, could not be uploaded but I exported the vector as a .png (back to raster image after cleanup in Inkscape). Results attached; might be a faster way to go.

HTH

-CH-

39406

That looks great... did you use the Trace Bitmap? I tried something like that but it turns everything into these big thick lines.

snuci
June 30th, 2017, 11:12 AM
falter,

Take a look at this page with the Sol-20 prototype. These are pics of VCF 1998.

https://web.archive.org/web/20150602101741/http://www.vintage.org/vcf98/vcfpics3.htm

The dimensions appear to be a little more boxy with it being taller and not as deep in Bob Marsh's hands. It looks more like the "Build Sol' Popular Electronics July 1976 article picture here:

http://sol20.org/articles/PE-7-76-p35.jpg

Here are the pics in case they disappear. I'm not sure if the pictures are out of proportion but they don't look too bad. There are no larger photos available that I could find.

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Hope this helps.

falter
June 30th, 2017, 01:27 PM
Definitely! Many thanks for that. I googled around a lot and found references to a Sol 20 prototype but the pics that came up were all of an actual Sol 20 with a funny keyboard. I wonder if I could find whoever took those and get higher res shots. Many thanks for this.. every little bit helps and these give me some dimensional help for sure. Looks like the case was painted black?

falter
June 30th, 2017, 02:53 PM
Found one larger.. yay google image search!

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I'm actually amazed at how close I got on my first try. My side profile is only an inch or two off. I bet I can extrapolate more since those folding tables are probably a standard width?

falter
June 30th, 2017, 03:06 PM
Okay so based on that photo, if we assume a standard table width is 30" - then the width of the side on that computer is approximately 12-12.5". And the height is about 6". Anyone concur?

KC9UDX
June 30th, 2017, 03:52 PM
A have four folding tables, each a different size. And they're all old enough to be in that photo. I wouldn't make assumptions about their sizes.

Mind you none that I have look quite like that photo.

Al Kossow
June 30th, 2017, 04:50 PM
Found one larger.. yay google image search!

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I'm actually amazed at how close I got on my first try. My side profile is only an inch or two off. I bet I can extrapolate more since those folding tables are probably a standard width?

I am really puzzled. Lee is still around, doesn't he know where the prototype is?

falter
June 30th, 2017, 04:55 PM
I am really puzzled. Lee is still around, doesn't he know where the prototype is?

I asked him about it. He said Bob Marsh has it. I did a follow up email to ask a couple more questions but he didn't answer. I sent one more and no answer to that either. I didn't want to wear out my welcome so I decided not to bother him further. I've no way to contact Bob Marsh.

Al Kossow
June 30th, 2017, 05:51 PM
I've no way to contact Bob Marsh.

http://www.inveneo.org/about/team/

clh333
July 1st, 2017, 03:55 AM
Found one larger.. yay google image search!

39418

I'm actually amazed at how close I got on my first try. My side profile is only an inch or two off. I bet I can extrapolate more since those folding tables are probably a standard width?

The point of using a vector drawing as your source is that vector images are resizable. Attached is a re-configuration of the previous conversion, vertical dimension shortened and horizontal dimension lengthened. I would think the easiest thing to do is to convert the images to vectors and then simply stretch or compress them to fit the specified dimensions. After all, you don't know that some publication hasn't already altered their illustration to fit their layout.

Yes, I used trace bitmap:
-file / import the .jpg image
-edit / select all
-path / trace bitmap
-single scan / brightness cutoff (used default values)

You can preview the resulting conversion if you check the "live preview" option.

-CH-

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snuci
July 15th, 2017, 02:46 AM
I asked him about it. He said Bob Marsh has it. I did a follow up email to ask a couple more questions but he didn't answer. I sent one more and no answer to that either. I didn't want to wear out my welcome so I decided not to bother him further. I've no way to contact Bob Marsh.

Perhaps this will help with the early history. http://sol20.org/articles/ROM_7_1977.pdf

I have recently acquired a home-made Sol-PC with documentation from October 1976. The original owner appears to have been a Sol-PCB purchaser (paid $40). The Rev D board looks like the regular "S-100 slot in the middle" board that is hand soldered, has a third-party ASCII keyboard from Electronics Warehouse, a hand built power supply and comes in a case that looks nothing like a SOL-20 (clearly a third-party case). Once I clean out the dust bunnies, I'll take come pics.

What I don't know is if this was purchased from the original Popular Electronics article from July 1976. I don't see any evidence of the Sol-PCB being sold in any subsequent price lists or this September 1976 press release (http://sol20.org/articles/img/Sol_20_board_press_release.pdf) but it is mentioned in the PE article so I believe this may have been from that original article.

The documentation I have is not very complete but comes with full schematics and a placement guide. The components are all over the place in terms of dates so I don't think this was a kit. The personality module is also a bit strange because it's a 2708 version from 1977 (I think this was a replacement).

My Rev D schematics are dated September 23, 1976 so it's not too far off of the article date. I originally though the schematics had a 3 (March) date instead of a 9 (September) so three months away were four revisions of a totally redesigned motherboard. That's not a lot of time.

Does anyone have a Sol motherboard earlier than a rev D?

EDIT: Post with pics here: http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthread.php?58697-Sol-PC-acquisition

falter
September 20th, 2017, 02:37 PM
I've done a bunch more research and it seems that, as far as I can tell, the very first revision of the Sol 'Intelligent Terminal' board never went into production. It sounds like the article was doing a bit of 'vaporware' in that it was offering something that wasn't quite available until the later, more familiar Sol board came out. Re-reading my email from Lee it's clear they had a lot of trouble from that first 'prototype' revision. Which means I have that to look forward to, someday.

I'm working diligently still on fixing the artwork.. it'll be months. I tried the conversion method clh333 was kind enough to post but across the whole board I seem to either end up with a blur or still too-jagged lines. So I think I have no choice but to just spend the time to do this by hand and hope I don't screw it up somewhere. It'll look nice once finished. I'm determined not to do it all in CAD -- I want whatever board I produce to ultimately come from the (mostly) original plans.

I'm not sure what I'll do regarding the PCB material itself. The vintage blank PCBs I have are not big enough for this board. I mean, I could probably do some fancy gluing.. my boards are 12x8 and the SOL PCB is 13.5x9.5.. heh. Just slightly too large! Or I could just wait in the hope someone comes up with blank PCB stock from the mid 70s that is double sided, 0.06 thick and large enough. Would it be a major faux pas to like, take two 12x8s for the top and two 12x8s for the bottom, one turned 90 degrees, all four epoxied together, with trace connections between them via solder? It would be unpleasant.. but the substrate would look right.. hmm.

clh333
September 21st, 2017, 03:46 AM
I tried the conversion method clh333 was kind enough to post but across the whole board I seem to either end up with a blur or still too-jagged lines.

Redrawing those traces with CAD is like performing open-heart surgery by going in through the foot. I don't have any experience with the Sol but if you would care to send me the full-board artwork (as a bitmap of some sort, I assume) and the board's original dimensions or some other spatial reference I'll be glad to try conversion. There are several approaches for converting bitmaps to vectors and one may be more successful than others. Even if only 90% successful I estimate it would save you countless hours of drudgery.

You can PM me for an email address if you like.

-CH-

Chuck(G)
September 21st, 2017, 06:47 AM
I'm not sure what I'll do regarding the PCB material itself. The vintage blank PCBs I have are not big enough for this board. I mean, I could probably do some fancy gluing.. my boards are 12x8 and the SOL PCB is 13.5x9.5.. heh. Just slightly too large! Or I could just wait in the hope someone comes up with blank PCB stock from the mid 70s that is double sided, 0.06 thick and large enough. Would it be a major faux pas to like, take two 12x8s for the top and two 12x8s for the bottom, one turned 90 degrees, all four epoxied together, with trace connections between them via solder? It would be unpleasant.. but the substrate would look right.. hmm.

I suspect that to most people, the patch-together job would look worse than having a slightly-wrong substrate. After all, how much of a PCB substrate is really visible?

falter
September 21st, 2017, 08:04 AM
I suspect that to most people, the patch-together job would look worse than having a slightly-wrong substrate. After all, how much of a PCB substrate is really visible?

Well, in this case, it'll be completely obscured by case. You have a good point. And actually, with the dye job I did on my first batch of TVT boards, it's really not that far off from the vintage stock in appearance. The only mistake I made was not knowing the correct dimensions, so now I'm redoing. But in that case, my PCB stock is large enough.. I can sandwich two boards together and it doesn't look out of place. The guy supplying these said he had a 4x4 sheet of double side 0.60" also.. but he won't ship. I gotta think (hope) more of this NOS stuff will bubble up eventually.

falter
September 21st, 2017, 08:08 AM
Redrawing those traces with CAD is like performing open-heart surgery by going in through the foot. I don't have any experience with the Sol but if you would care to send me the full-board artwork (as a bitmap of some sort, I assume) and the board's original dimensions or some other spatial reference I'll be glad to try conversion. There are several approaches for converting bitmaps to vectors and one may be more successful than others. Even if only 90% successful I estimate it would save you countless hours of drudgery.

You can PM me for an email address if you like.

-CH-

I have a Photoshop file of what I've worked on so far here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4pq0-BHd2x6WXhGNHp5dmU2d0k/view?usp=sharing I could convert to bitmap although for some reason when I attempt that it crashes PS (too large/complex?). Much appreciated if you've got any magic you can work there. If not, I've printed it out on paper and am not 100% convinced that I need to go crazy and fix every trace.. a lot of the 'mess' is lost in translation to paper. There's just some places where traces are tightly packed that they bleed into each other, or a few really obviously bad ones.

Al Kossow
September 21st, 2017, 08:17 AM
I ul'ed a 300dpi .tif at http://bitsavers.org/pdf/processorTechnology/sol/

clh333
September 22nd, 2017, 04:35 AM
I have completed a conversion of Al's TIFF file. The image is of the top of the board's traces.

It looks like there may be some pass-throughs; is there a bottom side to the board?

I used Inkscape to perform the conversion; the vector image I have is in SVG format. Do you want it in some other format, e.g. Postscript or Photoshop?

I can't attach SVG files to this site. Where can I upload it?

The attached JPG screen capture is poorer quality than the SVG conversion, which preserves the pad holes, for example.

Thx,

-CH-

Attachment: 40903

clh333
September 22nd, 2017, 04:51 AM
It just occurred to me that the reason falter was having difficulty with Inkscape conversions ("blurry and jaggy lines") may have to do with his unfamiliarity with the way conversion works. Forgive me for preaching to the converted:

From the Inkscape menu open the file to be converted. Accept the import dialog defaults. From the Edit menu choose "select all". From the Path menu select Trace Bitmap. In the dialog you can accept the default settings: single conversion based on brightness differences. You can check Preview and Update if you like to prove that the conversion will take place but in any case select OK to perform the conversion, then close the dialog.

What you will have then are two images superimposed: Your BMP on the bottom and the conversion directly on top. Each of these is a movable layer. Move the top (conversion ) layer to the side by click-dragging and then select the original (bottom, BMP) layer to re-select it. Hit delete and the layer is removed. Save the remaining layer, your conversion, as an SVG file or Save As to save in some other format.

If you don't do this the original, with all is imperfections, will "bleed trough". That may be why falter was having trouble.

Hope this helps.

-CH-

falter
September 23rd, 2017, 10:44 AM
It just occurred to me that the reason falter was having difficulty with Inkscape conversions ("blurry and jaggy lines") may have to do with his unfamiliarity with the way conversion works. Forgive me for preaching to the converted:

From the Inkscape menu open the file to be converted. Accept the import dialog defaults. From the Edit menu choose "select all". From the Path menu select Trace Bitmap. In the dialog you can accept the default settings: single conversion based on brightness differences. You can check Preview and Update if you like to prove that the conversion will take place but in any case select OK to perform the conversion, then close the dialog.

What you will have then are two images superimposed: Your BMP on the bottom and the conversion directly on top. Each of these is a movable layer. Move the top (conversion ) layer to the side by click-dragging and then select the original (bottom, BMP) layer to re-select it. Hit delete and the layer is removed. Save the remaining layer, your conversion, as an SVG file or Save As to save in some other format.

If you don't do this the original, with all is imperfections, will "bleed trough". That may be why falter was having trouble.

Hope this helps.

-CH-

Yeah I freely admit I got completely lost there. Thank you so much for the tutorial. If you'd like to upload, I've set up a Google Drive spot here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B4pq0-BHd2x6cldQQmQzYXJQOGc?usp=sharing

There is also the PSD file of the bottom if you're interested in tackling that. Appreciate the help!!

clh333
September 24th, 2017, 03:27 AM
Done.

falter
September 24th, 2017, 08:50 AM
Fantastic! Thank you so much for that.. that'll save a ton of time and carpal tunnel! This I can work with, fix a few things and away I go!

Question - the 'bottom' one only has a piece of it.. is that my program reading it wrong? Strangely the file is bigger than the top one, which comes up just fine.

clh333
September 24th, 2017, 03:03 PM
Let me investigate that and get back to you.

clh333
September 25th, 2017, 03:39 AM
Reprocessed and reloaded.

-CH-

falter
September 25th, 2017, 03:19 PM
Thanks so much! Now I can get down to fixing what needs fixing and then try producing it.

clh333
September 26th, 2017, 02:17 AM
Pas de quois. The original images, from which the vectors were derived, are at 300 dpi and print at 9.5x13 inches (2850 by 3900 pixels). That does not necessarily mean that the image was to scale to begin with; I can't know that after the fact. But the nice thing about vectors is that they are easily scalable with no loss in resolution. You simply stretch them to fit. Before committing the traces to a board I would try a printout on paper and verify that some component, like a 28-pin DIP, is going to fit the holes.

Please keep us posted with your progress. Good luck!

-CH-

Al Kossow
August 14th, 2018, 02:24 PM
This arrived at CHM today, unexpectedly

47381

47382

--

funky monkey, I just discovered I have an almost identical kb in my kb pile
CBC instead of Keytronic

47383

snuci
August 14th, 2018, 02:33 PM
This arrived at CHM today, unexpectedly


Love it! Killer logo :)

falter
August 14th, 2018, 10:26 PM
Nice! Is the cover some kind of plastic/acrylic? Ulp.. not sure how I could replicate that.

I wonder if I could sweet talk someone again into taking some measurements and profile shots for my replica.

Thanks for posting what you did!!

ef1j91
August 17th, 2018, 07:45 AM
This arrived at CHM today, unexpectedly

Totally amazing! Any details? What is the process and timeline for entering the collection and showing up in the catalog search?

Corey986
August 21st, 2018, 03:35 AM
Can you share the provenance of that one. Is it from a PT employee?

Al Kossow
August 21st, 2018, 07:38 AM
Can you share the provenance of that one.

It came from Bob Marsh.
It's been known he had it, and it turns out it was offered to us several years ago, just never got over here.

I'm going to take more pictures of it, just don't have time right now.

Time to catalog is indeterminate. Whenever the volunteers get around to processing it.

falter
August 24th, 2018, 06:41 PM
Dag Spicer very generously agreed to provide me with a slew of photos of the prototype, along with measuring tools for scale. I have placed the pictures on my google drive so as to preserve the resolution for those who would like a peek. Please note they are mixed in with my other prototype project files. The ones Dag gave me are prefixed IMG. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B4pq0-BHd2x6OWE1WnVTOUFGYUE?usp=sharing

I have to say I'm amazed at how close I got in my cardboard mockup of the case, given all I had to work with were badly distorted magazine photos. I guess all my training in model railroading came to some use finally. :)

This thing looks very haphazard. Which is great, since anything I produce will also look haphazard. The keyboard PCB is quite different from the one i have, so making that work will certainly be interesting. I wish I could see more of the PSU that I think is hidden under the non-functional tape deck. It'd be nice to replicate that.

I notice the jumper wires they have where the S100 slot should be, and that some chips are not present. I'm wondering if some fixes were implemented in the artwork/design they gave to the few people that mailed in for the first revision SOL PCB plans.

Don't know how I'll replicate the smoked (acrylic?) cover. Pretty sure there are companies that have that.

I doubt it will ever run again, and based on what I'm seeing I doubt my replica will ever run period. In my conversation with Lee it took something like 100 wires to make the thing run at all, and even then it apparently wasn't very stable. I've also read that the EPROMs apparently were suffering from bit rot when it was last fired up in the 1990s. Maybe the museum will try to dump them? Would love to know what is on there if anything survives. Lee was a bit cryptic in his email to me but it sounded like they have SOLOS or CONSOL on them.

falter
August 24th, 2018, 07:00 PM
I didn't ask him to dump the EPROMs and don't know if they plan to.. maybe you'd like to do that? I didn't feel it was my place, and I know they worry about the fragility of these things. If you get them dumped hopefully I could grab a copy? Really curious to see if it's just SOLOS on there or something unique.

Al Kossow
August 25th, 2018, 09:12 AM
I'm wondering if some fixes were implemented in the artwork/design they gave to the few people that mailed in for the first revision SOL PCB plans.


here is a scan of the letter

http://bitsavers.org/pdf/processorTechnology/sol/SOL-PCB_early_letter.pdf

snuci
August 25th, 2018, 09:59 AM
here is a scan of the letter

http://bitsavers.org/pdf/processorTechnology/sol/SOL-PCB_early_letter.pdf

Thanks for that Al. It clears up a mystery for me where I thought I had one of the original SOL-PCBs and associated documentation but wasn't sure.

Since it was documented in Popular Electronics, I would guess PT would have had to make this documentation available but steering readers away from making the original magazine version (if people made their own PCBs?) and make the "new and improved" PCBs available since they were already in the works. I believe the documentation I have is of the actual PCBs that were shipped. It is available here: http://vintagecomputer.ca/files/Processor%20Technology/Sol-PC-documentation.pdf Please take a copy for Bitsavers, if appropriate. Pictures of my SOL-PCB are here: http://vintagecomputer.ca/processor-technology-sol-pc-an-early-sol-20-minus-the-20/

Please note, you may have to try a couple times. I am having issues with my ISP at the moment and really need to move, I think.

falter
August 25th, 2018, 10:21 AM
Interesting. Parsing the letter, it sounds like the first rev board was never produced, except for the prototypes?

I am trying hard to find vintage blank copper clad large enough to do the first rev board. It's too large for my 8x12 sheets.

Al Kossow
August 26th, 2018, 10:09 AM
http://bitsavers.org/pdf/processorTechnology

Made an adapter to read 5204 eproms and read the parts
for a SOL personality module, als-8 board and the prototype. The third eprom in the
proto was all FFs, hopefully there is enough there for the welcome msg to come up
on the screen.

Corey986
August 26th, 2018, 11:30 AM
snuci,

You’re PCB here http://vintagecomputer.ca/processor-technology-sol-pc-an-early-sol-20-minus-the-20/ matches my Sol-20 with the rev D board. It is also my Sol that has the extra transformer factory mod as this predates the T2 transformer. I’ve never seen a product rev B or C. I was told by the person I got this Sol from it was an early one. My other Sol 20’s are all Rev E or F

ef1j91
August 27th, 2018, 02:33 AM
Corey,

Curious what the serial number is for your board? Mine is exactly 150 after Snuci's (S/N 303848, also hand written in white-out). I have the PM 5204 personality module with ROMs labeled 4.1 and S0, S1, S2, and S3.

Corey986
August 27th, 2018, 06:13 AM
Corey,

Curious what the serial number is for your board? Mine is exactly 150 after Snuci's (S/N 303848, also hand written in white-out). I have the PM 5204 personality module with ROMs labeled 4.1 and S0, S1, S2, and S3.

I'll try to pull it out later today and let you know.

falter
August 27th, 2018, 10:03 AM
http://bitsavers.org/pdf/processorTechnology

Made an adapter to read 5204 eproms and read the parts
for a SOL personality module, als-8 board and the prototype. The third eprom in the
proto was all FFs, hopefully there is enough there for the welcome msg to come up
on the screen.

Thanks for this Al!! Are you able to discern anything from the two 'good' eproms? Really curious what's on there. I'm assuming the third must have had something on it but rotted away over time?

Al Kossow
August 27th, 2018, 11:07 AM
Thanks for this Al!! Are you able to discern anything from the two 'good' eproms? Really curious what's on there. I'm assuming the third must have had something on it but rotted away over time?

There is clearly 8080 code in there, and a big SOL text string, just like the picture on the cover.
It was probably make for the demo. I'm hoping most of the code was in the first 1K and there isn't much in the 3rd 512 bytes.

The third 5204 has a crack on the quartz lid and read as all FFs. it's possble it bent some bond wires, but I didn't dig into it farther

I think the perfboard patch board adds sense switches. and it looks like they didn't lay out the S-100 connector out quite right.

falter
August 27th, 2018, 01:26 PM
Thanks Al. As I mentioned I did ask Lee what it was running but he was a bit cryptic... just pointed me to the code in the Sol 20 manual for SOLOS.

Do you think the museum will try to get it working again? Or just catalog and store it?

Corey986
August 28th, 2018, 03:33 PM
Corey,

Curious what the serial number is for your board? Mine is exactly 150 after Snuci's (S/N 303848, also hand written in white-out). I have the PM 5204 personality module with ROMs labeled 4.1 and S0, S1, S2, and S3.

My board is 306067 written in white-out and the chassis is 213852. I don't think they used sequential numbers starting at 0. I find it hard to believe they sold 2200 rev before they realized they messed up on the DMA line let alone all the ones before yours.

falter
August 28th, 2018, 04:00 PM
Mine is 305951 (or 9.. hard to read as the whiteout they wrote in is smudged on the last number). Nearly everything on the board is date coded to 1976, except the CPU ( 1978 ), 8T97s ( 1977 ) and the personality ROM ( 1978 ). Mine has one large transformer and one that sits just under the right side of the keyboard.

Snuci's is one of the ones sold as a board only, right?

Al Kossow
August 28th, 2018, 04:21 PM
Thanks Al. As I mentioned I did ask Lee what it was running but he was a bit cryptic... just pointed me to the code in the Sol 20 manual for SOLOS.

Do you think the museum will try to get it working again? Or just catalog and store it?

well, that wouldn't be very helpful as the code is completely different.

I just uploaded a disassembly of the code to bitsavers. Unfortunately, the very first thing it does is jump into the third eprom
There aren't THAT many routines in that prom, the entry points are labeled.

The thing I should have thought of is the memory map is completely different from the production version, as can be seen on
the decodes on the schematic. The poptronics article didn't show a memory or i/o map at all.

--

It is unlikely that we will do anything further with the machine. I may take a look with a microscope if there is some physical defect
to the third eprom, but that's going to be about it.

At least we know a lot more than we did a few weeks ago about it.

falter
August 28th, 2018, 05:37 PM
well, that wouldn't be very helpful as the code is completely different.

I just uploaded a disassembly of the code to bitsavers. Unfortunately, the very first thing it does is jump into the third eprom
There aren't THAT many routines in that prom, the entry points are labeled.

The thing I should have thought of is the memory map is completely different from the production version, as can be seen on
the decodes on the schematic. The poptronics article didn't show a memory or i/o map at all.

--

It is unlikely that we will do anything further with the machine. I may take a look with a microscope if there is some physical defect
to the third eprom, but that's going to be about it.

At least we know a lot more than we did a few weeks ago about it.

Thanks Al. I wonder if it's just the ROM monitor equivalent of a Potemkin Village - just enough functionality to show the computer can do something, but not really do anything meaningful. I would assume there would be routines in there to run output to the integrated VDM-1, handle the keyboard, but maybe not much else given the tight timeframe they had.

Yeah Lee didn't really offer much and I only ever got the one email from him. He was kind of... short... and never replied to another. Bob Marsh was much more helpful and was willing to discuss the prototype early in the New Year, but I got busy with other things. Maybe i'll shoot him a note and asks him if he remembers anything about what the ROM code does.

Really appreciate your efforts and info. I think I have enough to build something that is close in resemblance to it. The only bits I'm missing are a shot directly from the side of the machine w/ruler (so I can determine the slope of the wood), and the cover. I'm curious how far the front curve bends back and if it hooks underneath. Dag was great with the pictures he provided. Great and helpful crew over there.

Al Kossow
August 28th, 2018, 06:07 PM
Really appreciate your efforts and info. I think I have enough to build something that is close in resemblance to it. The only bits I'm missing are a shot directly from the side of the machine w/ruler (so I can determine the slope of the wood), and the cover. I'm curious how far the front curve bends back and if it hooks underneath. Dag was great with the pictures he provided. Great and helpful crew over there.

I took another set of pictures which are up on bitsavers.

falter
August 28th, 2018, 07:49 PM
Thanks Al! Those are fantastic!

I just got an email from Bob - he said the code was a one off, not related to SOLOS etc. He said the EPROMs were cheap 'off-spec' units and didn't hold a charge long. I'm hoping he might remember what exactly it did. I'm guessing if it were set up as a 'terminal' initially maybe all it did was handle communications.

falter
August 29th, 2018, 08:51 AM
Another thing I noticed, flipping through the original article.. the motherboard shown in the article and the one in the protoype is not the same - the one in the article has the S100 slot installed. I think Lee said they produced 3 or 4 boards. I wonder where this board from the article ended up. I understand it was common practice for magazines to keep samples.

I'm also looking at Al's photos more closely and notice the drilling for the IC pads is off center in a few places. I wonder if these boards are professionally made with thru plate? Or just something they etched themselves?

Corey986
August 29th, 2018, 09:44 AM
Another thing I noticed, flipping through the original article.. the motherboard shown in the article and the one in the protoype is not the same - the one in the article has the S100 slot installed. I think Lee said they produced 3 or 4 boards. I wonder where this board from the article ended up. I understand it was common practice for magazines to keep samples.

I'm also looking at Al's photos more closely and notice the drilling for the IC pads is off center in a few places. I wonder if these boards are professionally made with thru plate? Or just something they etched themselves?

If I recall correctly from Fire in the Valley, the board in the prototype didn't work there was a short on it because there wasn't a green coat or something like that. I may have to re-read that chapter now.