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Thread: Exidy Sorcerer II Questions

  1. #1

    Default Exidy Sorcerer II Questions

    I just bought a functioning but 'in need of repair' Sorcerer II from Chromedome45. I'm excited because I've wanted a Sorcerer for years, but before I can really play around with it I need to fix its issues.

    1. The main problem with the unit is that the video output has some sort of distortion, like a constant waviness to it (it actually almost pulses). I'm thinking that the issue is probably related to some bad caps either in the power supply or on the main board itself. Has anyone seen something like this?

    2. The second and less serious problem is bad RAM. The Sorcerer is reporting that the top of the stack is FFFF which obviously isn't correct since the Sorcerer only supports 48K RAM. I'm guessing the cause of this is either bad RAM (most likely) or the dip switches on the motherboard are set wrong (less likely). Right now they're set to 0111 which according to the tech manual means:

    Switch 1: On - 50hz / Off - 60hz
    Switch 2: On - 3 rows of RAM (which is what I have) / Off - 2 rows of RAM
    Switch 3: On - 16K RAMs (which is what I have) / Off 4K RAMs
    Switch 4: On - 2 rows of RAM / Off 1 row of RAM

    I assume that if you have 3 rows of RAM (switch 2 on) that switch 4 is ignored. Otherwise nothing would make sense. The Sorcerer has some sort of memory test built in, but I'm not sure how to use it.


    3. Not a problem, but I'd like to upgrade the Sorcerer monitor to version 1.1. To do that I need to replace the monitor ROMs with some burned EPROMs. What kind of EPROMs does the Sorcerer monitor use? I assume they're standard 2716's, but are they 3v or 5v?

    I also saw a blurb in a Sorcerer newsletter (July 1985) about an error in the tech manual when replacing the monitor ROMs, but I don't have access to the August 1985 letter where the fix is actually discussed. Anyone know what the 'fix' was? If I plan on swapping in EPROMs with the updated 1.1 monitor, this info would come in handy!

    In the next newslatter I will have a replacement diagram for the error in the Sorcerer II Technical Manual dealing with conversion of the main board from Monitor ROM's to standard 2716 EPROM's. It's easy.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also you can read Chromedome45's attempts at repairing the unit before he sold it to me here: http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcfo...dy-Sorcerer-II

  2. #2

    Default

    I'm sure that the waving is due some bad caps in the power supply. Most if not all of the caps in the sorcerer pcb itself are tantalum ones; so they're more reliable...
    The switches are correct for a NTSC machine, as I stated in the other thread, mine are all in ON position. With three rows of 4116 ICs it must work. Of course you can always test it with only one row; but I'm not really sure of what row is used in this case.
    I'll need also to test all of this as I found that my own Sorcerer seems to have died silently after some months of inactivity

    About the roms, IIRC mine has a PCB with EPROM mounted instead mask roms, need to recheck this.

    Right now I'm in the process of moving home and I have a big mess with my collection

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jltursan View Post
    I'm sure that the waving is due some bad caps in the power supply. Most if not all of the caps in the sorcerer pcb itself are tantalum ones; so they're more reliable...
    That's good to know. Chromedome said he replaced the power supply caps, but maybe he missed some or got a value wrong (I think he said he changed one because it had the wrong value installed). I'll have to see. Now that I have the Sorcerer II tech manual (thanks to Snuci)

    Quote Originally Posted by jltursan View Post
    Of course you can always test it with only one row; but I'm not really sure of what row is used in this case.
    I believe it's row 3. It's in the tech manual anyway. I believe Chromedome said that he added RAM to rows 1 and 3 and the original RAM is in row 2. My plan is to remove the added RAM and make sure the system loads with the original 16K. After that I'll try adding a second row and see if it comes up with 32K. Then I can swap in the remaining chips one by one and see which one is bad. If I can't get anything above the original 16K working then the chips Chromedome used may be the wrong kind or value. I'm not worried about the RAM so much as that should be easy to diagnose.


    Quote Originally Posted by jltursan View Post
    About the roms, IIRC mine has a PCB with EPROM mounted instead mask roms, need to recheck this.
    I'm pretty sure the monitor EPROM replacements are just 2716's. I'm going to have a friend burn a copy of the 1.1 monitor for me and just try swapping them in. If they don't work then I'll need to look into it closer. The quote from the Sorcerer newsletter still worries me though. It seems to indicate that it's not just a drop in replacement.

  4. #4

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    I also think that slowly increasing the amount of RAM is the right approach, let me know if you find the working single row!.
    If all the PSU caps has been changed, it's time to find noise in the voltage lines and/or video signal with an oscilloscope, if they're clean it must be a synch issue (maybe there're pots in the PCB used to regulate this, can't remember). If the voltages have noise even after the caps replacement you'll need to trace each line looking for aging components (regulators?), need to check that schematics right now!

  5. #5

    Default

    We figured it out. The issue was twofold: a bad cap on the 12v line and the dip switches were set incorrectly. Apparently the Sorcerer II tech manual is wrong and the text on the motherboard is correct. The video issue was most likely due to the sorcerer using the video memory for regular memory because it couldn't detect any of the installed memory.

    Now I need to figure out how to get programs to the Sorcerer. Any tips on making tapes from mp4 and wav files? Are all the various Sorcerer games available somewhere?

    BTW is it normal for the Sorcerer to run really hot? I just ran the 48K memory test (it passed) but the back of the system is really warm. It also has that 'warm electronics' smell if you know what I mean. Not a burning plastic smell or anything, but a warm components smell.
    Last edited by tempest; September 19th, 2015 at 03:59 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    1,945

    Default

    You should post the fix here for posterity, especially if the tech manual was incorrect
    ---
    Currently seeking:
    * Roland MPU-401/AT (with daughter card header)
    * Magitronic K-156 Keyboard (5pin DIN w/ XT-AT switch)
    I also collect PC and C64 Sierra On-Line software!

  7. #7

    Default

    The main fix was replacing the blue cap next to the second row of memory so the 12V line wasn't shorted. The writing on the motherboard is actually correct for the dip switches. I'll have to check when I get home what they're set to. I wonder why the tech manual was completely wrong? For example, switch 1 has nothing to do with selecting between 50Hz and 60Hz.

    I'm having a hard time making game tapes. My main problem is that MESS is now part of MAME and the settings mentioned in this article (http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/...re-stockup.htm) are different. I'm also having problems finding software and when I do it's in all kinds of different formats (.bin, .wav, .snp, .rom, etc.). Does anyone just have .wav files I can transfer to tapes?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    1,945

    Default

    FWIW, you might want to read Mike Brutman's experiences with working with waveforms. Good discussion here that kind of parallel's that which you've already read about on Tezza's site. Click.

    Afraid that I'm not familiar with software for the system though. I am quite glad that the unit found a good home, however. I was digging with Chromedome45 when we found that little box... my eyes got big when I saw the "E" on the Exidy box, as I knew it was going to be a good find!
    ---
    Currently seeking:
    * Roland MPU-401/AT (with daughter card header)
    * Magitronic K-156 Keyboard (5pin DIN w/ XT-AT switch)
    I also collect PC and C64 Sierra On-Line software!

  9. #9

    Default

    Ah Mike. I know him from his PCjr forum. I'm sure he could help.

    So where did the unit come from? I didn't hear the tale of its discovery.

  10. #10

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    Good to know you fixed the Sorcerer!
    I'm also eager to know your findings about the dipswitch use. I was sure that switch 1 controlled the 50Hz/60Hz mode...

    Sometime ago I succeeded in generating WAVs for my Sorcerer using MESS. Basically the tricks were using the correct MESS version (can't remember right now; but newer versions were bad, only an old version worked fine for me in generating a WAV that loads) and creating WAVs with lower baud rates. In the monitor you need to lower also the baud rate.

    Thanks to Tezza I was able to load from tape a TRS-80 BASIC. I modified that BASIC to correctly support the graphics mode of the Sorcerer

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