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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2022 12:38 am 
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Location: Milton Keynes
Car Models: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa 2.0T & Several Others...
Not going to be a massive amount of progress to report over the coming week as it's forecast to be a million degrees and I simply cannot function when it's hot. So anything is getting done in about 20 minute bursts before I start fading fast from the heat.

The Caddy has been working very well as dog transport, only real gripe is that the floor in the back is a very hard plasticy material and they slither around a bit. Star in particular doesn't like that so I've been meaning to put something in which will provide a little more friction.

Progress so far.

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Should also help bring noise levels down a little which can't be a bad thing.

I had wanted to have a look at the area around where the ramp used to be. I know if you open the driver's window half way it tends to pull a bunch of exhaust fumes into the cab so there must be a fair sized gap somewhere.

Well that won't be helping.

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This is the point at which I started looking more closely at the workmanship of the ramp delete...To call it shonky would be something of an understatement.

For a start, this Sikaflex appears to be structural.

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Originally that rear section would have been part of a hinged ramp which was attached to a big hinge on the floor. That took up a bunch of space and would basically delete 70% of your rear visibility (and probably weighed about 100kg), so not surprised it was removed.

It would be nice if they had done a better job of it though!

Apart from the Sikaflex, the only thing that seems to be actually connecting the centre section of the bumper, lower door latches etc to the rest of the vehicle are these *quality* welds.

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They hadn't even bothered to weld the other side!

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Yeeeaaahh... quality workmanship.

The inner and outer panels there are "spot welded" together...in so far as someone has thrown some weld vaguely at the panel...however there's about a 1/8" gap between them and I don't think a single one has actually connected the two bits together.

I think the plan will be to pull the outer section off entirely, remove the currently structural Sikaflex, at which point I think the inner ramp delete panel will basically fall out.

I will then clean up and rust proof everything involved (there's no paint on the outside of the ramp delete bits at all). Then I think I will permanently attach the outer section to the inner off the car. Then I'll offer the whole assembly up, and bolt the whole lot into place using some hugely overkill 90 degree brackets and high tensile bolts and big washers. Then we'll seal up the joins with fresh Sikaflex. That should do a far better job of sealing things up and sort the wobbly bumper issue.

I did wonder about reinstating the ability to drop that section down as it would be nice for the dogs, but the latches and everything are long gone plus the hinges so it would be quite a bit of work, probably more trouble than it's worth.

The whole underside of the dropped floor is quite crispy and really wants going over with a wire brush, some rust converter and some underbody protection. It'll need some repair in that area at some point, especially to the floorpan itself - but the frame is about 1/8" thick box section and it's all just flat panels and right angles so wouldn't be difficult to rebuild if necessary. The actual VW metalwork under there is in good shape, especially by the standards of a 20 year van.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2022 7:50 am 
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Yee Haw!

The person that did that job needs a new pair of spurs!

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2022 2:33 am 
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Car Models: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa 2.0T & Several Others...
beardydave wrote:
Yee Haw!

The person that did that job needs a new pair of spurs!


It's astonishing how little the back of this thing rattles and crashes as it is...be curious to see how much quieter it is once that lot is no longer flopping around.

-- -- --

Had the scans for a film from a couple of months ago come back today. This was a bit of a throwaway example as it was very ordinary Velvia 100 which was several years out of date. It hadn't been stored well, being found at the bottom of a box in our loft where it gets hotter than the core of the sun. So wasn't expecting much.

Cue surprise when quite a few decent shots turned up on it. Here are some from a local classic car club meet at the start of May. This was an evening event on an already cloudy day so the lighting was poor. So I was having to shoot these generally wide open, especially as being so far out of date I was treating the film as about ISO 80.

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Would have been nice to get a more neutral background for this. May need to try desaturating the background in post processing and see how that looks.

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Really happy with this shot though. This was pretty much spot on in every way what I was aiming for.

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Hailing from the same corner of the world was this absolutely gorgeous Nash. Which I'm massively irked that I messed up the focus on the main photo of. There were only two photos on the whole film out of focus, this being one of them.

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Interior on that was lovely.

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Whole car was...the little details on it meant I could probably have used a whole film on the one car.

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This one was precisely as painfully orange as this photo makes it look.

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I had deliberately dialled the exposure back a little on this as it suited the subject better I thought.

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Lovely to see a Mini that's not been "upgraded" into a Cooper replica.

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Frustrated with myself on this one...I absolutely should have moved a fraction to the right and totally hidden that car in the background behind the subject. Never occurred to me at the time. Oops.

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Another one I wish I had a clean background to, but was very happy with how it came out otherwise. Was seeing quite how far I could push depth of field while still keeping the subject sharp.

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Couple of non car related ones. The spectacular sunsets I used to see regularly up north are something I very much miss, though we do get them here occasionally.

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Speaking of keeping things sharp, the definition in the next few shots really impressed me.

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Definitely shows that you can get some decent images out of that camera and lens. Not bad for a film I nearly didn't bother using!

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2022 2:11 am 
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Oops.

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So much for self restraint. Insomnia and eBay are a dangerous combination.

I always keep half an eye out for T1200s going cheaply as they're a big favourite of mine, despite being machines that don't cope with decades of hibernation very well. This one was collection only and obviously quite rough so I had a feeling might go cheap. So I stuck a low bid on and promptly forgot about it for six days until an email arrived telling me I'd won it!

This was for a pair of machines, a T1200 and T1600, which piqued my curiosity as I'd never seen one of them before. Obviously from the same period as the T1200 but clearly a more advanced machine.

Being quite used to the trials and tribulations of Toshibas of this era I didn't even think about applying power straight out. The power supply at the very least will need to have the electrolytic capacitors replaced and the inevitably leaked slime cleaned up. So I immediately started to strip the T1600 down.

The odds I gave it for surviving dropped significantly only a couple of minutes in.

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This is the frame the drives attach to, the corrosion there being caused by the suspend-to-RAM battery pack leaking. By some miracle Toshiba in this case had sat the pack in a little plastic tray and had also put a plastic shield on the motherboard underneath it, so this is the only actual damage I can see from it.

You can see the rust flakes at around 4 o'clock in the photo below, though the motherboard itself seems to have avoided the corrosion.

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The hard drive sits straight above the corroded area yet aside from a bit of surface rust on the outer casing looks to have escaped. Whether it still works is another matter. I thought I'd seen all of the different proprietary drives Toshiba had used by now, but no... here's yet another one.

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I believe this to essentially be a 40Mb version of the 20Mb drive used in the T1200, using the same I/O connector.

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The model numbers are very similar and the early T1600s apparently had a 20Mb drive, which I'd put money on being the same one as used in the T1200. So if this drive is dead I can probably still get it going with one of the spares I have for them. Only choice I'd have really given finding a replacement is likely to be near impossible, and the proprietary interface means solid state solutions aren't really an option. You can't even use a Gotek or similar for the floppy drive as those are also non-standard. This is the connector they use (the black one below), which carries both data and power.

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At least they did use this all the way to the mid 90s so I have a few spares of those. The one in the T1600 is a high density drive too, the T1200 being double density only is occasionally annoying.

With that lot extracted I could wriggle the power supply board out.

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Quite similar to the one in the T1200 just laid out a bit differently.

Closer inspection revealed the entirely expected incontinent capacitors. The goop was literally dripping off the power transistors in the foreground.

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I can't see any eaten traces though so hopefully we've caught it early enough.

This is basically standard on these things nowadays and is why it's so important to not power them up. On the T1200 it is quite common for the resulting fault condition to stuff unregulated 12V down the 5V rail, usually nuking the motherboard.

Speaking of the motherboard, the CPU isn't attached to it. The CPU and memory both reside on a little daughter board crammed in under the keyboard.

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Which being an 80C286 does support the belief this is the big brother of the T1600.

The whole machine was absolutely filthy so in addition to the innards which needed to be cleaned of capacitor slime, everything was removed from the case so it could get the same treatment.

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Everything was left out in the sun to dry this afternoon after blowing things dry with the air line. Ignore the heat gun in the photo below, it's just waiting to be ferried to the garage.

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The difference is pretty clear to see! These two were identically grubby when we started out.

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The keyboard will be getting the same treatment tomorrow having been passed by today as I couldn't find the keycap puller (it's since turned up). This layout was carried over to the T3100SX in 1993, possibly longer.

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I will need to get some capacitors ordered up before we can go much further, but I should be able to build most of it back up tomorrow before I have the chance to lose too many screws and forget what order too many bits go together in. I know getting the one flex connector back into place is going to be an absolute pig as fishing it out was a real logic puzzle.

Must have been a real beast of a portable in 1989. 12MHz 80C86, 1Mb (standard) memory, 40Mb HDD, 1.44Mb floppy, full EGA graphics (onboard monitor is grey scale), optional inbuilt modem, 50 mins or so per battery (2x slots, hot-swappable), and a weight of around 5kg - with a much better handle than the T1200. The footprint is barely any bigger though which surprises me. This really couldn't have been made any smaller.

Speaking of dates, based on the codes on things it looks like mine dates from the first few weeks on 1990.

I'll probably pull the T1200 apart tomorrow for assessment and cleaning. Though given the *externally* visible corrosion I don't hold out great hopes for it.

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I've found these are usually worse inside than out, so am expecting this to be pretty bad. At the very least it should yield come useful parts though.

Hopefully I'm just being a pessimist...watch this space I guess!

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2022 1:19 am 
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Car Models: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa 2.0T & Several Others...
The Caddy continues to surprise me and make me realise what a cracking little motor it is.

Today I drove from our house in Milton Keynes up to a friend's place just outside Ellon, Aberdeenshire.

Of course this was a journey I chose to do when the northbound M6 was closed at Carlisle.

A journey I can basically do on autopilot and should take eight hours plus change wound up taking twelve hours twenty-nine minutes. Blarg.

Nevertheless, I got out at this end of the journey not feeling at all frazzled. Despite the last two hours being straight into the sunset then along tiny country lanes in the dark with no road markings. Tired, obviously. However I'm not a bundle of nerves, I'm not sure anywhere aside from my fingers cramping a bit from holding the steering wheel but I get that in any car after a couple of hours. It really is far better a long distance mile muncher than it has any right to be. As an added bonus it looks like we managed to see 54MPG on the run.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2022 12:49 am 
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Car Models: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa 2.0T & Several Others...
Some cars can really surprise you. For instance I fully expected my Xantia Activa to be a fantastic motorway mile muncher...it's a luxury car with big cushy seats and plenty of power.

You wouldn't really expect much in that regard though from the Caddy. Over the weekend she's covered a little over 1000 miles on the motorway plus quite a bit of local running around. Including a run up to my traditional photo spot.

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I still reckon that for a car derived van that the Caddy isn't a bad looking little thing. The proportions just seem to work.

She does need a wash now though...I seem to have brought back half the insect life in the country with me. This was clean before I set out on Friday.

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The little van didn't miss a beat at any point over the whole trip, even despite me having the return run being done in temperatures hitting 38C, and having "a little bit" of cargo on board on the way home.

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The economy over the whole weekend looks to have been pretty much 50MPG on the nose. Absolutely no oil or coolant used.

I really am staggered how comfortable this little van is on long runs like this. If we could get cruise control fitted that would really up the game. I was very much wishing for working AC on Monday though and despite applying sunscreen I have ended up with rather a significant case of trucker's elbow.

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So what was I doing messing around doing a 1000 plus change trip on a ridiculously warm few days anyway?

Well you all know I've got a serious problem where old computing equipment is concerned. Sadly a friend has been working on clearing a family member's estate. Quite a lot of old tech was among that which I am very grateful for them offering to send my way as it has given me the opportunity to tick off a couple of wish list items.

The first of which was this. The main reason really for making the trip.

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In there we have an Apple ][ Plus, a bitsa badged as a Europlus, and a matching Kaga branded green screen monitor.

I've been after one of these machines for a long while now for obvious reasons as someone with an interest in computing history, but have always baulked at the prices they usually command on the open market.

The top machine looks to be in really good shape and it certainly worked fine about 20 years ago, so hopefully once I've gone through and replaced a few capacitors in the power supply we'll have it up and running again.

The second machine is one that was built over a period of time from spare parts, though we don't know for certain it's condition beyond missing a keyboard. I do have two keyboards though so that isn't a huge issue. Hopefully I can get it going, but if not it should be a good source of spares for the other one at the very least.

Along with the machines themselves there was also a small mountain of floppy drives and probably a couple of hundred discs.

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Two of the Apple drives definitely more or less worked when we last had the machine out, though I'm planning on them all needed a good going over and at the very least a good clean.

In the garage I knew there was a small stack of PCs waiting too.

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In that stack there lies...

[] Compaq DeskPro 386S.
[] Compaq DeskPro 5100.
[] Packard Bell Club 40.
[] Dell Dimension 4000 and matching monitor.
[] Seikosha SL-90 printer.
[] Commodore MPS1230 printer (intended for use with a C64 as I understand it).

However this wasn't by any means the end of it as you can probably guess from the amount of kit that was crammed in the back of the Caddy. Here's what else ended up coming south with me.

[] Acorn Electron and the expansion unit. Both in box showing very little signs of ever being used.

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That's quite nice to have given I've been a long term Acorn fan.

[] Atari 800XL.

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I'd never even seen one of these up until a few days ago, will be nice to have lined up next to the ST.

[] Amstrad CPC464.

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Again this shows very little sign of use...still had the introductory tape in the drive.

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[] Brother Pro-Lectric 6213 electric typewriter.

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[] Adler Tippa manual typewriter.

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[] Ansafone Model 6A answering machine from the late 60s/early 70s.

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[] A pair of portable B&W televisions.

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[] Ferguson B&W TV.

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[] Fidelity HF42 portable record player. Very cheap and nasty!

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[] Samsung A10 laptop.

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This thing is a bit painful to use being based on a single core AMD Duron. Might prove useful for automotive diagnostic software though.

[] An Ecko portable record player which I've kept forgetting to photograph.

Most things other than the older computers will be moved on, but much better I spend a bit of time to find them homes rather than winding up in the e-waste skip.

Should keep me out of trouble for a while! Hopefully start digging into the Apple kit at the weekend.

The plethora of computer gear though will definitely come in handy next year if I wind up running the retro computer and technology panel at Scotiacon. Fills in a couple of big gaps. A Sinclair QL, Vic-20, Commodore PET and a BBC Master probably make up the last couple of things on my wish list.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 1:16 am 
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It's going to be a little while before I get to testing the Apples. Before they go near mains the power supplies will need the Rifa filter capacitors replacing and the output voltages checked.

Nothing to say I can't take a look at some of the supporting hardware though. First up I decided it was the turn of the monitor.

CRT monitors from this sort of era I have always found to be pretty bulletproof unless they've been massively abused. They just soldier on and on until the tube eventually wears out.

I did a couple of sanity checks, and after replacing the missing fuse in the mains plug we were up and running, the BBC standing in as a video source.

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Not the best for getting an overall impression of the image quality though...so I grabbed the next machine which had a composite video output (Toshiba T1200) and hooked it up. I've always associated monochrome monitors like this with text only systems, so it appealed to my sense of technological oddity to see a GUI running on it.

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Shame the camera doesn't capture the colour very well. It's quite pleasing to the eye even if I do personally prefer amber to green - though I suspect that's just as I've spent many hundreds of hours in front of plasma displays so black and orange is something my brain is just used to and feels natural.

While the size needs a tweak, the geometry is decent. The CRT is a little tired it looks like as it's pretty dim, entirely usable though. Wouldn't be the first time I've seen one improve a bit after a few hours of use either following a long period of hibernation.

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DOS programs look a little less odd.

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This photo shows something (albeit a bit hard to see in the photo) I hadn't realised before. The composite output on this machine obviously supports colour (or at least grey scale) as the bars in the graphs are different shades. I thought it was monochrome only like the internal LCD. I'll need to hook it up to a colour display to find out.

While I can't do all that much about the brightness, I figured I could see if the focus would respond to adjustment. It doesn't matter how long I've been working on things like this, but carrying out adjustments on a live CRT monitor always feels like a very precarious operation. I'm always acutely aware of the fact you're only a muscle twitch or sudden sneeze from extreme pain!

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Thankfully the focus control on this isn't buried right in among the EHT circuitry as on several I've worked on, instead it's nice and easy to get to. It's the little white doodad on the lower left corner of the PCB you can see in the above photo. It definitely did help things, photo doesn't do the difference justice but hopefully you can see it.

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Before putting the monitor back together it seemed a good opportunity to do some cleaning. Firstly was just to blow any loose fluff and dust out, second was to clean up the back of the CRT around the EHT anode connection. I hadn't been aware of any issues with tracking on this, but figured it was good insurance against it if the area was clean.

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Speaking of cleaning the case needed some attention too. It was rather grubby.

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I could have spent ages manually scrubbing that down, but I'm far too lazy when I have mechanised assistance available.

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Much better.

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There are quite a few marks that will never come off but it's a thousand times better. Sadly the front bezel will have to be done by hand as I don't want to risk damaging the maker's badge...so I suspect an hour or so of scrubbing with a toothbrush is in my future.

While I had the "parts cleaner" running I also stuck in the key caps from one of the spare Apple keyboards and the ones from the Toshiba T3200 which I pulled for cleaning a week or two back. I've long since decided that I don't have time or patience to manually scrub each individual key cap... especially when this does a better job anyway.

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To give an idea of quite how much digital archaeology I have in my future, this box is full all the way down of 3.5" discs and they all have stuff on them.

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There's also about 1/4 that amount again we decanted into another box as it was simply getting too heavy to manhandle. There's probably a couple of hundred of 5.25" ones in the box with the Apple ][ drives as well. It's going to take a while to archive everything from those.

There is another decent bit of news on the vintage technology front too, it looks like a Sinclair QL has been sourced.

Something I'll need to start thinking about sooner than later will be making sure that I have enough displays and display adapters for all of the involved machines for the hands on event they'll hopefully be used for next year. In a similar vein I need to get the power supplies in several of the Toshibas recapped as several are showing signs of issues. I really want to do everything I can to ensure things are as reliable as possible, last thing I want is machines disgracing themselves while they're being demonstrated.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2022 11:05 pm 
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TPA has been out and about again today doing normal car things.

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I do need to try to figure out why she occasionally has issues at idle/on light throttle after running for a while. It feels like fuelling, though I don't think it's delivery. Guess I probably ought to actually check the float height in the carb given I have to confess to having not touched that so far.

The van will be going in sometime over the next couple of days to get a full set of new tyres on to deal with the horrible perishing going on with the current set.

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Given how much weight sits on the back axle of this thing I'm not inclined to take any chances whatsoever.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2022 6:24 am 
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Zelandeth wrote:
TPA has been out and about again today doing normal car things.
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Where do you store the guard when you're not using him? :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2022 7:28 am 
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BillJ wrote:
Where do you store the guard when you're not using him? :lol:


Perhaps the 'guard' version of Otto?

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2022 8:13 am 
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Buzz wrote:
Perhaps the 'guard' version of Otto?

Actually brought "Gort" more to mind to me.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2022 10:16 am 
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BillJ wrote:
Buzz wrote:
Perhaps the 'guard' version of Otto?

Actually brought "Gort" more to mind to me.


Yes, but brings you back to where they would fit in the car, whereas Otto is an inflatable.

Anyway, this is a car that we can value in all sorts of ways and deserves to be guarded!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2022 5:05 pm 
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BillJ wrote:
Zelandeth wrote:
TPA has been out and about again today doing normal car things.
Image

Where do you store the guard when you're not using him? :lol:


Had to get inventive given the limited storage space so went with the hologram option.

-- -- --

While there was still no visible wear on the tyres on the van, the rear ones in particular were starting to perish quite badly.

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Given the amount of weight particularly on the rear axle of this thing I'm not willing to take chances.

Quite how the rears didn't get an advisory on the MOT a couple of weeks ago I've no idea. There was significant perishing visible around the whole tyre between the tread bands as well as what you can see in that photo.

So the second trip to The Garage over by Wolverton in a month (the Caddy had a full new set just prior to a run up to Aberdeen a couple of weeks ago) was arranged.

The situation has now been greatly improved.

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Funky sidewall design.

How they age and wear we'll see as the months pass I guess.

I really wasn't expecting to feel the slightest difference from the driver's seat given that the Mercedes T1/TN really isn't the last word in driving dynamics, though you really can. Most notable is that it is much more stable in the straight ahead position and the steering response is far sharper. I realise that using that word where there's something like three and a half turns lock to lock is a little ridiculous, but you get the idea.

I found a deserted road in an industrial estate and did a couple of test emergency stops from 30mph and can definitely say they bite a whole lot better than the old ones in that situation which is definitely a plus.

Guess next up on the tyre roster will the the Cavalier when it arrives. The tyres on that date from 2007 so definitely will be needing replacement before it goes anywhere near the road. Though little details like you know...having any brakes whatsoever might be up first.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2022 7:59 pm 
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Hey Zel, your retro PC post reminded me. It's probably too new for you but I have a Dell Dimension XPS M166S I'd be more than happy to donate if it's of interest. As far as I know it's fully working but I can look it over and get some specs for you if desired. I’ve also got a Dell Latitude D830 XP/Vista-era laptop but I think that needs a bit of work.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2022 11:01 pm 
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lancer778544 wrote:
Hey Zel, your retro PC post reminded me. It's probably too new for you but I have a Dell Dimension XPS M166S I'd be more than happy to donate if it's of interest. As far as I know it's fully working but I can look it over and get some specs for you if desired. I’ve also got a Dell Latitude D830 XP/Vista-era laptop but I think that needs a bit of work.


That Dell is actually right in there - my real target area is from the dawn of home computing up to the mid 90s, where it feels like it just became a matter of different versions of Windows and choosing your 3D card. That XPS is from quite early in the days of the MMX enhanced Pentium chips which I've never actually had a chance to play around with. That could be a really good base for late DOS/Windows 3.11/95 applications. Additionally I do have another Dell from the P3 era, my original Dimension 2300 (I think, P4 based anyway), so it could be really nice to have them lined up next to each other if I have the room at a display. Bit like I've got the two Compaq machines from from a good few years apart.

Dell systems from back then we're pretty solid old systems.

The laptop is probably getting a little new for me, but an XP era machine can always be useful though.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2022 6:52 am 
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Didn't realise you went that modern.

I've probably chucked it, but if I haven't I've got a Pentium II 350Mhz, Slot 1 chipset from about 98. It was my first overclock, to 466Mhz. Using jumpers on the motherboard! Came with 128MB of RAM.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2022 11:21 pm 
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I've never had a Slot based Pentium so that would be quite interesting. My biggest fondness is for the really old stuff, but the 90s saw quite a bit of innovation too.

beardydave wrote:
Didn't realise you went that modern.

I've probably chucked it, but if I haven't I've got a Pentium II 350Mhz, Slot 1 chipset from about 98. It was my first overclock, to 466Mhz. Using jumpers on the motherboard! Came with 128MB of RAM.


Over the last couple of days I got around to photographing all of the computer hardware I picked up a couple of weeks ago.

Main reason for the trip really was the Apple ][

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The Acorn Electron was another one I was really happy to bring home having been a fan of Acorn hardware for years. This is boxed and honestly looks like it's never been used.

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An Amstrad CPC-464 is nice to have rounding out the home computing lineup given I've already got Sinclair, Acorn, Apple and Commodore from this sort of era represented. This also looks to have next to no use. The protective film is still on the panel above the keyboard.

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I will need to find either an Amstrad monitor or a plug in RF modulator for this though. Sure we can sort that out though.

The appearance of an Atari 800XL was a real surprise, I'd never even seen one of these in person before this was dug out of the cupboard it was stored in.

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Classy looking thing with the black and silver colour scheme.

Also representing Atari is a very sad looking 2600 VCS.

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We reckon this may have been a kerbside find at some point, so may be beyond help. Obviously I'll do my best to save it. One of my housemates is very into their retro gaming so it would be really nice to re-gift this to them if I could get it going.

Tying in with my fondness for Toshiba's early portable machines is this little T1850C.

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This is a very compact little unit, though sadly does have a smashed display panel so will likely just be safely stashed away unless I come across another machine with a good display.

Finally was a trio of desktop PCs.

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These are two Compaq DeskPro machines, a 386 and P100, and a 300MHz Cyrix based Packard Bell.

The 386 Compaq is the one I am most interested in here as it has the potential to be quite a useful machine for me given the number of older machines I work with. Should be easy enough to get this on the network and a good base for writing disk images to both 3.5" and 5.25" discs for various other machines. My main PC only has access to a USB floppy drive, and you can't write certain images using that because of how the interface works.

-- -- --

After far too long a wait I was finally able to get the time to properly look at the Apple II today. I knew I'd want to get a few hours without interruption to work on it so I'd waited until I had a decent chunk of time. So finally hauled it upstairs today. Hauled is maybe an overstatement as the Apple II isn't actually as heavy as I thought. They still feel substantial, but I was expecting IBM 5150 sorts of heft rather than being quite easy to move.

For folks who know their Apple gear, here's the vital information.

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Which I'm taking to mean that this is a 48K machine.

Also on the subject of codes, it looks like we have a mid 1982 date code.

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Which if I remember rightly given the Apple IIe replaced the Plus etc in early 1983 is quite a late one.

Unsurprisingly someone has definitely been in here before me, two of the retaining screws for the power supply are missing.

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Given the original owner was quite technically minded this wasn't a big surprise.

Yep...plenty of screws missing from the power supply case too.

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No nasty surprises in here though. Or Rifa filter capacitors which was a bit of a surprise. I'm sure the last one of these I looked at had a couple in.

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Some funky looking really tall electrolytic caps though. Don't think I've seen ones quite this tall and skinny before.

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A very quick test showed sensible voltages on the output. I didn't want to run it for more than a second or two without a load connected as I know some switching supplies from this era can't safely run with no load. I just wanted to make sure we didn't have 12V on the 5V rail or anything like that. Only thing left to do was test it in the machine. Well, after I'd checked there were no dead shorts present on that too.

We have life!

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Seeing an incandescent lamp used as a power indicator on something as high tech as a computer amuses me somewhat. I do have to wonder if there was some technological reason for the choice (a very cheap crude VDR?) or if it was just cheap. It looks really striking either way.

In addition to the power light there was also a beep and life on screen.

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We did have life, however no cursor and the machine refused to respond to keyboard input. I did have a vague memory of these machines refusing to boot without a disc drive hooked up, so pulled the interface card and tried again.

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Excellent. That got us a cursor and working BASIC interpreter.

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Without a disc drive though there was a limit to what I could do, so this was our next target.

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This was just plucked completely at random out of the box of drives. I know these are pretty reliable old bricks, but it seemed prudent to at least do a quick visual check of the internal condition. Removing the case just requires four screws to come out.

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Two further screws once removed allows the analogue card to swing back giving you access to the drive mechanism.

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The little metal shield over the head just unclips allowing easy access to clean the read write head and pressure pad - these are single sided drives so there's only one head. Which in this case was quite clean even before I gave it any attention.

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The first disc I grabbed turned out to have Apple Writer on it, which the machine happily booted into.

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I was able to correctly load and view a file - which I'm not showing here as it contains personal information from the original owner.

After ten minutes or so we did seem to start having issues. Initially running the catalog command (the equivilant of "dir" on an MS-DOS or similar system) would result in a proper listing of the disc contents. Like so.

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After ten minutes or so however the machine seems to lose its marbles regarding disc I/O. It will start to list the disc contents before starting to print out nonsense and the head actuator in the drive repeatedly slamming against the stops.

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Resetting the machine it will try to read from the drive for a couple of seconds just locking up.

The power supply voltages still look to be spot on, so I don't think we have any voltage droop problems. I should get the scope out though to confirm we don't have ripple on there as there could be output stage cap issues.

It's something heat related it seems as if you leave the machine for a couple of minutes it will then work perfectly again for about ten minutes.

No ICs appear to be getting any warmer than I would expect, and the behaviour seems to be identical using either of the two disc interface cards I have. So I might need to do some more digging to get to the bottom of that. I'm sure given the following these machines have most of the common faults are well documented.

I need to do some further research anyway as it's so long since I've used these that I can't for the life of me remember any commands beyond "catalog" to be honest. Basically I need to read the manual! Helpfully I do have quite a bit of the original documentation so the information I need is likely in there.

Having a dig through some of the disc boxes though I did find a rather nice surprise I wasn't expecting. You may remember I found some of the original software documentation when I was packing things up for transportation. Today I found these in one of the disc boxes.

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There's about ten discs in that box, with DOS system, master, a print manager and the Pascal series of discs. Aside from the labels on a couple looking a little aged they all seem to be in good order. So far I've had no disc read error issues, a couple of random discs have showed a bit of mould, but I'd say 1 out of 10 out of what I've looked at in terms of the ones which were loose or in cardboard boxes. All the ones in plastic boxes have been fine so far.

Found a couple of other bits of software, including a graphing program.

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There was also an expansion card in there which will potentially be useful going forward.

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That's a serial card. Not sure, but I think this *may* open up options for communicating with other machines, which could be well be a real bonus when archiving all of these discs.

I did a little testing and we seem to have three working disc drives. Two of the Apple ones and the Cumana one (which sounds like hell, so probably wants a good clean and grease as it sounds like it uses a leadscrew head actuator). The other two Apple and the Super 5 drives run the spindle motor but don't seem to make any effort to seek. That's something we can work on going forward.

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A pretty solid starting point I reckon. Machines being stored in good conditions can be a real help!

If folks have any suggestions for the misbehaviour after running for a few minutes I'm all ears.

Getting hold of some actual diagnostic software would probably be really helpful - though how to create the media is then a headache as I think both of the 5.25" drives on other machines are 1.2Mb ones so reliably creating a 100K disc may prove problematic.

Ah, the joys of dealing with stuff this old!

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2022 5:41 pm 
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These videos may be a good start down the rabbit hole of Apple ][ repairs

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e1_aI88Xr98

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8YfV2Oo-kow

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2022 11:00 pm 
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Zelandeth wrote:
Image

A bit off-topic (as if the rest of this thread isn't!) but that monitor on the wall at the top left of the photo - is it plugged into the Raspberry Pi next to it? It looks like "htop" is displayed on the monitor, which probably means a machine running Linux.

Talking about slot-based Pentium machines, for a long time after it was obsolete I ran a little PC with (I think) a Pentium III running at something like 650MHz. Its little ATX case fitted neatly wherever I put it and was great for running server stuff with no GUI. I remember running FreeBSD on it for quite some time. After a while, though, I moved on to more modern PCs, still small in size and power, that could boot from a modern hard drive.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2022 12:58 am 
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BillJ wrote:
Zelandeth wrote:
Image

A bit off-topic (as if the rest of this thread isn't!) but that monitor on the wall at the top left of the photo - is it plugged into the Raspberry Pi next to it? It looks like "htop" is displayed on the monitor, which probably means a machine running Linux.

Talking about slot-based Pentium machines, for a long time after it was obsolete I ran a little PC with (I think) a Pentium III running at something like 650MHz. Its little ATX case fitted neatly wherever I put it and was great for running server stuff with no GUI. I remember running FreeBSD on it for quite some time. After a while, though, I moved on to more modern PCs, still small in size and power, that could boot from a modern hard drive.


You are correct that it is indeed Htop running on that display. It's not hooked up to the Pi though, it's display number four hooked up to my main desktop PC. It generally just has Htop running on it, but occasionally gets other low priority things such as Spotify or a live webcast of something I have on in the background etc. Usually though it's just my system monitor.

The Pi is actually booked up to the centre monitor, and is running the current version of RiscOS for when I feel like messing around with that.

Here's a wider view as of about an hour ago following a bunch of tidying up.

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It's a bit convoluted.

All four displays are hooked into my main PC. The upper left is just an ancient Android tablet which simply runs as a digital photo frame. It's not connected to any other computers in any way.

The upper right is only hooked up to the main PC, it spends 95% of its time showing Htop or a terminal. It's about 20 years old and I think was white at some point, and has image retention issues...but does absolutely fine for what I ask of it.

Lower right: Main PC and the Compaq DeskPro 386S which you can see has taken up residence to frame right. That's where that will be living now as it's really useful for disk imaging and such as it seems to have really good quality drives. It's also lovely and quiet.

Middle is the main PC and the Raspberry Pi.

Lower left is the main PC, and has two floating inputs tucked away behind it. One from a composite to HDMI adapter, and a VGA lead. That's the one used for random testing generally. The bench power supply is buried just out of frame to the left too.

-- -- --

I am slowly getting buried under computers here...another two were picked up yesterday. One of which was a surprise.

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The first of the line of Toshiba's portables in what we'd recognise as a modern laptop format.

While it has the same footprint as the T1200 from a couple of years later, it's a lot thinner.

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Screen size is about the same, and I *believe* the display resolution is the same - the T1000 lacks the backlight of the T1200 though.

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Specs are very like the original IBM PC-Portable. It's based around a 4.77MHz 80C88 (a low power, CMOS based variant of the 8088) and 512K of memory. Does have more standard ports than the IBM though. It does only have a single floppy drive though, rather than the IBM's pair. Toshiba came up with a clever solution to that though by incorporating MS-DOS into ROM, which makes the single drive far less of a headache in the real world.

The T1100 added the option of a second floppy drive, which on the T1200 could also be swapped for a 20Mb hard drive.

Will be interesting to see if we can get it up and going as it would be really nice to have along with the T1200 and the big grey luggable plasma screen brutes that ran into the early 90s.

The T1200 and 1600 both suffer badly from electrolytic capacitor leakage which can easily write them off...I've never had the cover off a T1000 so we'll have to see. I can't see any external signs of corrosion around the power supply socket and around the I/O panel as you often can on T1200s, so we'll see. It will be coming apart completely shortly either way as it needs a deep clean.

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This would originally have had an internal NiCd battery pack too, though judging from the weight that has thankfully already been removed from this one so hopefully that at least hasn't nuked anything. Watch this space.


I didn't know that little Toshiba was waiting for me, it was simply a nice surprise. What I had actually gone to meet up with someone to collect though was this.

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Finally got me a Sinclair QL.

Even in its current grubby state it's quite a striking looking thing. I had to get the photo backdrop out for this as it was otherwise basically invisible on my black desk mat.

Big black slab of a thing, has a very purposeful sort of industrial design to it. Must have looked really quite futuristic back in 1984.

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If memory serves the serial and controller ports were changed to more conventional D-sub connectors rather than the oddball RJ-45 connectors they originally used, so this isn't a later machine.

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A close up of the somewhat infamous microdrives that Sinclair eschewed floppy drives for.

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You have to wonder if this machine would have done any better if they had gone with a more conventional floppy drive.

In contrast to the ZX81 and Spectrum which are very lightweight (and indeed that was claimed as a selling point), the QL has quite a heft to it and feels quite solid.

Definitely needs a good clean. This case design has plenty of features which like to gather grime.

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Likewise the keyboard will need to come apart as the sculpted key caps are filthy and would be a bit of a faff to clean by hand.

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This will look a lot better once it's clean.

The keyboard is...well...meh. Compared to the Spectrum it's absolutely brilliant. It's entirely usable and once you've got used to the slightly oddly sculpted keycaps I reckon it would do an absolutely fine job of being "an keyboard." It's not going to win any awards though.

This machine had been reported as basically working but with no keyboard response, likely due to the membrane failing (they basically all do that, and replacements are available). So first thing was to look in to that.

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Yep...that would explain why the keyboard isn't working! The membrane cables have decayed to the point they have snapped clear off the headers. We'll need a new membrane.

Some quality cable termination for the case LEDs...just jammed into a pin header.

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Let's face it, it wouldn't be a Sinclair product if there wasn't at least some degree of shonkiness in there would it?

Which basically sums up the whole de-cased microdrives plonked right next to each other (and I note, right next to the RF modulator...that doesn't seem ideal) without any shielding whatsoever around the heads.

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Before I can go any further I'll need to wait for the keyboard membrane to arrive and will also need to figure out a power supply solution. The socket for power on the QL is an odd three pin setup.

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However the connector isn't half as strange as the supply it expects. This takes an unregulated 9V DC supply on one pin, and 15VAC on the other, with a common ground. That's regulated and derived locally on the board into 5V, 12V and -12V where it's needed. I reckon I may well go down the road of a regulated external supply of those rails as it's going to be far less awkward to engineer.

Aside from a good clean though this will be taking its position in the queue until parts arrive.

Car-wise I've had little to report as there's not been much going on *to* report. TPA being out for today's errands has been about as exciting as it's been this week.

Image

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