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Thread: My first Sol-20!

  1. #1
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    Default My first Sol-20!

    At last after years and years of.. well.. buying other stuff first, I finally bought a Sol-20 (thanks Brian!). It arrived today and appears to be in great physical condition. I apologize for the poor photo quality.. my Samsung Note 4 took a swim this summer and is literally falling apart.

    20171023_164808.jpg 20171023_164853.jpg 20171023_164904.jpg
    20171023_164949.jpg 20171023_164956.jpg 20171023_165045.jpg

    Pretty exciting. This has always been one of the big ones for me. It's quite something to see it in the flesh. And to lift it.. ugh! I cannot believe how heavy it is!! The CPU is not original (date code is 1981). And there were no additional cards other than the personality module installed.

    The first thing I did, naturally, was open it and check out the PSU. Voltages appeared to be good and stable on power up. Next I connected it to the computer and fired up. Nada. Just a flash on the screen. I decided to check voltages on the chips. While I was doing that, suddenly the screen came up full of Ps. I shut the machine down, reseated all the chips in the immediate area, and then fired up again. I had the > and cursor prompt!

    But the cursor does not flash, and the keyboard does not produce anything -- just a steady 'Upper Case' light that you can't turn off. In videos it looks like the cursor is supposed to flash. A third time I powered up, I got some zeros onscreen with the cursor. Subsequent powerups seem to be consistently producing the > and solid cursor. I did try disconnecting the keyboard to see if it had any effect.. none. I'm sure the keyboard will have foam issues.. but I think it unlikely every single key has failed completely. Even my Lisa had a few goodish ones. Going to use my digital group machine's video card to vet these. I'm impressed I'm even getting as far as I have. I'm kind of suspicious of the RAM at this point.. going to vet those with my digital group z80's video card.

    All in all very happy with it. Glad I could find a fellow Canadian to buy from -- US shipping would have been insane! My first S100 computer.. woohoo! I own well over 150 machines now but this is one of the big ones; special just because of the people involved (esp. Felsenstein) and some of the firsts it achieved. Now time to break out that 260+ page manual....
    Last edited by falter; October 23rd, 2017 at 05:15 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Oh, it's your *first* S-100 machine...that explains why you think it's heavy

    Congrats! The SOL-20 is a nice machine. Note that the power supply is foldback limited, so if you plug in a card with a shorted tantalum cap, it'll fold back instead of blowing the cap apart (usually). The keyboard will definitely need refoamed, and it's 100% possible that zero keys work. I've got a Key-Tronic parallel keyboard like that, not a single key works, but you can get keypresses with a bit of mylar on a pencil eraser.

  3. #3
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    It makes my digitap group box seem featherweight! I expected it to have *some* heft to it but not this.. feels like they stuffed it with lead!

    I will get more of those foam pads and get the keyboard rebuilt. I don't suppose there's any way to fake keypresses just to see if the machine is responsive? The non-blinking cursor is bothering me.

  4. #4
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    Might be wrong.. found a video with a non-blinking cursor. I'm guessing there's a setting somewhere to enable/disable that.

  5. #5
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    Darn.. I can't find those capacitive foam pads anywhere now.. anyone know if they're still being offered somewhere?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by falter View Post
    Darn.. I can't find those capacitive foam pads anywhere now.. anyone know if they're still being offered somewhere?
    Check out my recent purchase and restore of a Sol-20. What a machine! Thanks for the introduction Martin! http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthrea...Sol-20-Restore

    Sun 320-1018 keyboard availability

    You can get the keyboard that I used as a parts donor here; http://www.memoryxsun.com/3201018.html They are ~$25 buck$ and $8 - $20 for shipping.

  7. #7
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    I opened mine up.. yikes.

    20171023_203529.jpg

    I'm assuming they were all shiny like the one in the upper left. Yikes. Yeah, I think this will be a replacement deal.

    Thanks for putting me onto the Sun keyboard option -- there *was* a guy on ebay selling hundreds of new pads... no idea what happened or if it was just an NOS supply that ran out.. should have bought extras!

    I did for kicks take the shiny pad from that one key (the foam disintegrated) and very carefully glued it to the battered pad of the T key. I just wanted to see if I had any problems beyond these with the keyboard. Unfortunately the computer chose that moment to throw a curveball.. it started throwing up screenfuls of garbage. I did hit the T key once and saw a whole screen of Ts appear.. but by the time I got done playing with RAM and back to normal the T key was dormant again (probably my glue job failed) and now nothing. Oh well.. the computer seems mostly ok, which is a victory in and of itself.

    I was reading your post... my keyboard has the discs stuck to the actual keystem like yours. I was trying to figure out how early my machine is.. there's no serial number plate or anything on it to help.

  8. #8
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    I've always bought foam pads from this seller....

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/121266887970

    No connection, just a happy customer

    Cheers,
    Dave

  9. #9
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    You can often just type on the keyboard PCB pads with your fingertips if you just want to get some reaction from it.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by falter View Post
    Might be wrong.. found a video with a non-blinking cursor. I'm guessing there's a setting somewhere to enable/disable that.
    I seem to remember it's one of the DIP switches - the manual will certainly clarify.

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