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Vintage computer hobby updates

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Sorry if I'm repeating some of this, but since most of it is buried in other threads, I thought I would simplify and summarize the most important aspects of my recent experiences and project updates. This is really my first blog, so I hope it live up to standards.
If not, let me know what to do better.

So, I'm waiting for all of my floppy drives to be returned, finally! Chuck G was amazing, as he turned my two drives around in only a little over a day. He'll be shipping them back on Monday, so I should have them before the weekend. One drive was seriously clogged with gunk and the other was definitely out of alignment. (See my other thread titled Floppy Drive Update for the results) According to Chuck, they are both now in great condition. The other drive I bought from Recycled Goods should also arrive either Monday, or Tuesday. The one I bought from them originally was not compatible with the 5150, so they're replacing it with one that is. Even though they sell the correct drive for an additional $25.00, they aren't charging me anything extra. If you ever have the need to buy something from Recycled Goods, speak with Glenda. She is amazing! She was an absolute pleasure to work with.

I am officially calling my donor 5150 "IBMPC Mark ll". Any future posts regarding this computer and its rebuild will reference the computer by that name. Any way, 5150 Mark ll has a brand new (NOS) power supply and 256K mother board. After I stripped the system down to its nuts and bolts, I was left with a completely empty case. I donít know why, but the new mother board didn't come with a processor, math co-processor or memory, so I bought those from a guy here in Vegas who just happened to be getting ready to throw out a bunch of old PC chips. Theyíre all still in their original packaging, so they should be OK to use. I paid a whopping $20.00 for the lot, including 3 processors, and 8080a, an 8086, and an 8088. There are also the required memory chips to fully populate the mother board with 256K of RAM. (Why don't computer manufacturers still include RAM on their board like the old days?) While it was all stripped down, I completely scrubbed the case and chassis and waxed it with a clear car polish. This computer case looks like brand new, even better!

My 5150 Mark ll will have a monochrome video adapter, 386K memory upgrade to bring the system to a full 640K, one 5 1/4" full height floppy drive and a MFM 20 Meg hard disk, serial and parallel ports and even a sound card. The only thing Iím thinking of doing to it later is to possibly change the floppy controller so we can add in a 1.44 Meg 3 ĹĒ floppy drive. If I do that, Iíll change out the one 360 K full height floppy drive with another 360 K half height one so both floppy drives will have a home in addition to the hard disk.

It already has most of the upgrade parts, and I'm in the process of cleaning all of them prior to reinstalling. There is a lot of accumulated dust, dirt and who knows what all is on some of the expansion cards, but with a little careful cleaning, they should all come out like new. (Speaking of cleaning, I have GOT to clean the model M keyboard I'm using on my primary PC. It is filthy!)

My 5160 XT systemÖ Ah, yes. This computer is so boring. There just isnít anything I need to do with it. Hargle sold it to me for my wife. Sheís been using it to play games on ever since it arrived and we got it set up. Hargle put a lot of work into this computer. He installed a Quadram Multicard with 384K of RAM, but for some reason or other, it will only read 576K. Itís missing 64K. So far we havenít run into any issues so weíre going to leave it alone. Hargle also installed a CGA video controller, parallel and serial ports, one 360K full height floppy and a 20 Meg MFM hard drive. I couldnít believe the price either. No, Iím not going to pass that on. Letís just say he gave me one hell of a deal.

The last item on my list is my Apple lle. (I have been pretty much neglecting it because Iíve been focusing all of my attention on my PCs.) This is the first computer in my small vintage computer collection.

My best friend since childhood actually won it in a Salt Lake City Utah school district auction. It was a private auction, and only members of the school district, or students in some of the colleges could access it. Since he was attending college at the time he was able to bid on the computer and won it for the princely sum of only $5.00! The computer is complete, and came with Appleís Duo-Disk floppy drives along with the required floppy drive controller, and green monochrome composite monitor with the swiveling CRT display. The system works well, and boots to Apple Basic, or if using the floppy drive, Apple DOS. There are absolutely no other upgrades installed on this computer.

Apparently, this computer, or at least the monitor has been in storage for a very long time. The case is a bit dirty, and it has some small stickers, like a child would put on things to decorate them. Luckily, there are only one or two that need to be removed.

When my friend came to Vegas for a visit, he brought the computer with him. We plugged it in and in less than 5 seconds, the monitor went out. It had completely lost power. We tried everything we could think of, but we just couldnít get it to power up. Since he had to leave, we left it where it was until I could get to it later in the week. When the monitor was opened, I found that it had blown the main power supply fuse. The fuse was soldered directly to a small circuit board, so removing it wasnít really an option for me. I tried to have me wife help me with it, but she was more of a hinderance, so I just decided to head over to Radio Shack to buy an inline fuse holder and a 1.5 amp slob lo fuse. At home, I tapped the fuse holder directly to the wiring leading to the blown fuse and tried again. Still no power.

Since I didnít have access to a volt ohm meter, I really didnít have any way to test the patch, so I left it alone. Later, I was able to get a nice vintage Radio Shack VOM, and tested the circuit again. It looks like when I put the wire tap in, I missed making the connection. Repairs took only a few minutes and the monitor powered on again.

Mt friend has since moved back to Vegas, so we have been fairly active in working on all of the vintage computers, the Apple included. When I booted the Apple later that day to show him that I had fixed the power issue, we started hearing a pretty loud snapping noise. It turns out that the monitor blew out some 35 to 30 tantalum capacitors! The monitor is still functioning though, and since there are so many of them in the monitor, we decided to leave them the way they are. Besides, our power is much more regulated now than it was when the Apple lle was first manufactured, so we donít think this will cause too much of an issue at all.

OK, so here we have it. Some projects are complete, some almost complete and one just getting started. I have to thank all of those who have helped me get going in my newly discovered hobby of vintage computing. Without you all, I would still be stuck at square one. Who knows, if I learn enough, Iíll have to start advertizing my services as a vintage computer technician.

Time will tell.

Thanks for reading everyone. Have a great weekend.

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