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Thread: What goes wrong the most on vintage computers? (Aside from capacitors)

  1. #1

    Default What goes wrong the most on vintage computers? (Aside from capacitors)

    Hey everyone,

    Recently getting really frustrated with a couple of my vintage computers. Living in the UK, my favourite machines are the Sinclair's! (ZX80, ZX81, Spectrum) but they all have a common problem... The keyboard circuit membrane deteriorates over time and some of the keys stop working! There are modern-day replacements, but it's still very annoying.

    So I thought I'd turn this into a forum thread... What non-capacitor common problems do you see a lot with vintage computers?

    Flushy

  2. #2
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    I'd say the second most common failure after caps are RAM ICs and then other such ICs around the board.

    IBM 5160 - 360k, 1.44Mb Floppies, NEC V20, 8087-3, 45MB MFM Hard Drive, Vega 7 Graphics, IBM 5154 Monitor running MS-DOS 5.00
    IBM PCJr Model 48360 640kb RAM, NEC V20,, jrIDE Side Cart, 360kb Floppy drives running MS-DOS 5.00
    Evergreen Am5x86-133 64Mb Ram, 8gb HDD, SB16 in a modified ATX case running IBM PC-DOS 7.10

  3. #3

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    1) Hard Drives

    2) 3" Floppy Drives

    Some of these drive failures may actually be due to caps but then aren't caps the root of nearly all electronic evils? IOW, If you eliminate caps as a problem there aren't that many other general issues that even come close.

    And then there's always battery leakage.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

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    Keyboard pads.
    --
    Thus spake Tandy Xenix System III version 3.2: "Bughlt: Sckmud Shut her down Scotty, she's sucking mud again!"

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    Worn out cables. And more broken cables. All those f-ed up cables! Try it with the wind blowing from the south and they don't work. I don't know, it might just be me.

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    Everything tape related especially if made of rubber. All that wonderful goo. There are a lot of messy plastic and rubber bits that need to be cleaned up and sometimes replaced before the machine can be returned to service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flushy View Post
    Living in the UK, my favourite machines are the Sinclair's! (ZX80, ZX81, Spectrum) but they all have a common problem... The keyboard circuit membrane deteriorates over time and some of the keys stop working! There are modern-day replacements, but it's still very annoying.
    Did those keyboard membranes *ever* work? Sometime around... 1992? someone gave me a box containing two Timex Sinclair TS-1000s and a ZX-81, and none of the keyboards worked. I was able to get a couple of them going by sanding the invisible oxidation off the pinch connectors on the motherboard (and in one case actually cutting the connecting ribbon slightly shorter), but it was clear those keyboard-stickers were dysfunctional by design. (The previous owner had actually peeled the keyboard off one of the TS-1000's case and it was just dangling by the ribbons, I wonder if they may have been trying to get it to register keys by pinching from both sides.)

    So I'm going to name oxidation. Old systems like the Commodore PET and TRS-80 that used card-edge connectors without gold-plating can be a real PITA to get running again. Commodore PETs are *really* bad because the contact pads inside the keyboard oxidize and render them utterly immune to keypresses until cleaned.

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    1. I suspect that more vintage computers have been destroyed at the hands of their owners than from all other causes combined.

  9. #9

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    1) Rodents

    2) Market forces

  10. #10
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    Humidity and associated oxidation.

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