My retrocomputer projects, Q1 2022

Hardware

I haven’t done a proper update for a while. At best I get half hour chunks of time these days to tackle these, but I’m slowly making progress. I also didn’t appreciate how much silly stuff was here until I wrote it all down.

Commodore stuff

  • Fixing 80-column mode in my Commodore 128. I’ve confirmed my RGBi to VGA converter works, so it must be an issue with the IC or board itself. I got the service manual handy on my iPad Mini now, so I just need a solid afternoon to work through it.

  • Recapping my NTSC Commodore 16. She still works, but there’s one cap that’s starting to look a bit rotund, so I’ve kept her powered off. I ordered a kit in December, hopefully it arrives soon. I know the Plus/4 has more ports and features, but I might like using the 16 more.

  • Finding a home for my Commodore 1541. I have a 1571 disk drive that acts like as a 1541 on my Plus/4 and 16, and I don’t have space. She also needs some attention; I think the motor that moves the head is kaput.

DOS stuff

  • Installing another 32 GiB CompactFlash card for my Pentium 1 tower. Turns out that while Windows NT and BeOS can see larger capacities than the BIOS, they’re incredibly unstable when running on them. Ironically, DOS/Windows 3.1x and Windows 95 work fine with a smaller partition.

  • Fixing the sound on my Toshiba Libretto 70CT. I suspect it’s just the 2.5 mm [sic] jack has come loose, which means it should be an easy fix.

  • Testing EMM386 in the latest QEMU. It’s always been unstable for me, which has limited my ability to write DOS stuff on my modern machines. Thank you, but yes I know about $other_emulator.

  • Taking stock of all my spare SCSI paraphernalia, now that I’ve installed everything I need. I think I’ll keep a spare ribbon cable and terminator, but the rest can probably be sold or donated.

  • Swapping out the dying hard drive in my Compaq Contura Aero 4/25 subnotebook when it arrives. Did I mention I got a tiny monochrome laptop from 1994 with the same specs as our first family computer? That’s for another post!

Mac stuff

  • Replace the busted hinge in my iBook G3. Every time I look at the iFixit guide I blanch a bit and put it away. I need to just do it!

  • Test why I’m not getting VGA output in my iMac DV. I get the feeling the logic board might have been damaged during a house move. Maybe just a cracked trace?

Hi-Fi stuff

  • Tackling the power supply for my LaserDisc player. Hales has offered to walk me through it because he’s a gentleman, need to figure out when I have a proper block of time.

  • Disassembling and testing my cassette Walkman to see if I can get auto-reverse working. It plays tapes flawlessly, but it jams when it hits the end of a tape. Belts and gears all look fine.

  • Researching a decent pair of powered speakers. Clara and I don’t play loud music, and we’re thinking of replacing the heavy, hot amplifier with a small input selector and a basic vinyl preamp. Not sure if that counts as sacrilege.

Author bio and support

Me!

Ruben Schade is a technical writer and IaaS engineer in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Wait, not BIOS… my brain should be EFI by now.

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