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Thread: Original Altair 8800 - Restoration Questions

  1. #1
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    Default Original Altair 8800 - Restoration Questions

    Original Altair 8800 - Restoration Questions

    Hi,
    I now have an original 8800. Not an A or B version. This is my first one. It is very dusty, and several of the switches appear to not be functional. It only have the CPU and an upgraded ram card.
    I have been looking over YouTube for a tear-down video and could not find one. I do not want to break anything pulling it apart to clean it up. Is there any particular procedure to doing so?
    I see that the front panel is connected to the bus, and the PSU. So it looks like these need to be removed all together. But that bundle of white wires has me worried. I do not want any to snap at their solder points.
    Where can I find the correct switches for replacement? They are the power, 7, protect/unprotect switches
    Thanks
    Atari Falcon030, Atari MSTE, Atari PS3000, STACY 4, 4160STE-CosmosEX, Atari PC1, 400/800/1200XL,800XL,800XE,130XE, XEGS, Apple IIGS, TRS-80 4P, TI 99/4A, Co-Co 3, Amiga 500, C64/128D

  2. #2
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    Wow - lucky you. I can't help with your questions but would love to see some pictures of your machine.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    You can still sometimes find American (that's the maker) ST series round bat switches for 8800s, but if you don't care about using the actual same switch and just want it to look right, C&K makes replacements that will look fine. The mounting collars are shorter so you'll have to use two mounting nuts behind the panel (instead of one) or a washer or two.

    That bundle of white wires is a mess and you will almost certainly break some just from moving it. It's really low quality wire. Get ready to either replace all of it (you can use high quality stranded wire with white insulation, it'll look the same and hold up a lot better) or spend a while chasing intermittent breaks in the wires!

  4. #4
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    Jun 2012
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    Default

    Thanks for the kind replies.
    I'll post some pics soon.
    glitch, would you kind enough to post a link to the C&K switches that would look right for both types needed?
    Again thanks
    Atari Falcon030, Atari MSTE, Atari PS3000, STACY 4, 4160STE-CosmosEX, Atari PC1, 400/800/1200XL,800XL,800XE,130XE, XEGS, Apple IIGS, TRS-80 4P, TI 99/4A, Co-Co 3, Amiga 500, C64/128D

  5. #5

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    The switches appear at surplus outlets, eBay, Jameco, and sometimes Amazon (surprise).
    Since you are in northern California, Al Lashers in Berkeley should be on your list.
    http://allashers.com/

    There are several American miniature switch manufacturers, that offer different actuators (toggle handles).
    You can purchase more common units from distributors: Mouser, Digi-Key, Allied, Newark, Future.

    C&K Switches
    https://www.ckswitches.com/product-selection/toggle/

    Carling Technologies catalog (84 pages)
    https://www.carlingtech.com/sites/de...ch-Catalog.pdf
    Last edited by w9gb; August 9th, 2019 at 10:19 PM.

  6. #6

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    We’re you able to get switches for your Altair. I have the same Altair.

    Thank you
    Dave

  7. #7

    Default

    Unless those switches are physically broken from the outside, it's unlikely that seven of them have failed. Most likely you have some problems with the front panel board logic.

    If you do need switches, the best match for the original American Switch brand switches are the switches from APEM (who purchased American Switch). I've had terrible luck with the C&K switches. Not only do they have a different feel (especially the momentary switches), they break easily and have a slightly shorter body so you need to space them off the board slightly when soldering them in.

    Here are the APEM part numbers:

    Momentary switches: 5237CDB
    Address switches: 5236CDB
    Power switch: 5236AB (silver contacts)

    Mike

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