Posted on April 11, 2012
Apple //c: un caballo de batalla
A few weeks ago I acquired an Apple //c on eBay, and have been rebuilding it. I first cleaned and renewed it on the outside, which came out very good, along with the monitor. However, had no opportunity to turn it on as it did not came with a power supply, which I had to wait to find a good one on eBay, and wait for delivery. Finally the power supply arrived, which i hooked immediately along with the green monochrome monitor. With pleasure I saw the green LED lit, but nothing more. The classic “beep” and the floppy drive did not move. We have to bear in mind that this computer is 28 years old, was most likely used in schools for years, before end up auctioning on eBay. With this in mind, I was saddened a bit by thinking that it would be difficult to get parts to start up again this computer. Nowadays, any computer require to add and exchange pieces when it breaks down, and it is difficult to diagnose without knowing or have technical manuals. Having nothing to lose, the first thing I did was take it apart and try to move all the “chips” to see if they had a false contact. The good thing about the //c is that it is very simple: a motherboard, keyboard and disk drive. That’s it. With the machine opened, I tried a couple of times to turn it on, and when I separate the floppy drive, it worked! The problem was that one of the foundations of the mechanism has to make contact with the motherboard and was not doing it. fixed this, I inserted several floppies that had saved programs. All I got was a “check disk drive” after the computer started. I was not sure if it was that the discs were old and did not work or the floppy drive was damaged. I focused on the latter. I then disassembled the drive, and had open access to the reading head. I remembered that these drives suffer from dirt in the reading head, so I cleaned it with alcohol, which made it shine like new. With this done, I inserted the disk again and turned on the computer. The program loaded! From there I had other problems with multiple discs, which forced the reader to “align” the head, producing a loud and unpleasant noise. In the end I fixed it by cleaning the floppies themselves by wiping them with a trick: running a program that kept running indefinitely the floppy, and was turning all the time, then with a cloth soaked in alcohol, cleaned the surface of the floppy, then turned it over and did it again. the cloth was dirty, indicating that the floppy had dust and dirt on the surface, which in turn dirtied his head and prevented me to read the data. After an hour cleaning the disks, I tested one by one and all worked. then I reassemble the computer and it has been working perfectly. Ultimately it is clear to me that these computers are workhorses, strong and reliable, like the Volkswagen Beetle from the 70’s. A computer and floppy disks with 28 years work perfectly after a good cleaning. is more than I can say for some modern computers.
Yesterday I received several extras to the //c: a video modulator to connect the TV directly, a Mouse, and the cable to connect directly to the serial port of a Mac or PC.
The first two are very yellow, another excellent job for Retrobright!
The cable was a problem: a DB24 serial port instead of a DB9. As these cables are not readily available, much less at these prices ($ 6 with shipping) I tried to adapt to several cables that I have stored in the closet. I got a cable DB9 female to DB25 male, one female DB9 to DB9 female (extension) and the USB to DB9 serial, already had. Was too long, and after several attempts there was no connection. I eventually got bored and decided to make my own cable, according to the diagram in this league.
After installing the driver on the macbook, was finally connected. I had to play with different speeds so you do not send junk. I could send the system, but I still can not send the ADT program to create floppy. Continue to report.
I tried again to create the ADT disk, this time it worked! After creating the ADT disk, download some games Asimov.net, rename and transferred to the program download folder in the Macbook, where he met and transferred ADT by writing to a floppy.
Scare: I started testing some floppys they began to fail reading. I opened the computer to clean the head, and after a couple of times it just stopped reading the disc. Just showed on the screen “Check Disk Drive”. I worried, and after many attempts, I decided to stop and try the next day. If not, would have to buy another drive.
Luckily the next day it worked perfectly, I believe that I poured too much alcohol in the head or something. Since then I bought a floppy disk cleaner, and will not have to open the disk all the time.
This weekend, though it rained a bit, there Retrobright session. I disassembled the monitor again, which still has a yellowish hue and beside the new Mouse and the modulator, applied the gel. I added the photo next to the last, for comparison.
I don’t know what ishappening with retro computing, suddenly the Apple II has become popular. I’ve been looking for a joystick – the Apple brand in particular as is the one I used to play with – and prices are skyrocketing! One of them sold on eBay at $200 dollars!
I have spent almost two months following a few bids and all have ended up around $100, I do not think it’s worth more than $25. In the end found a “CH” brand much like the original Apple at $19. I want it to play with it, not collecting, so I got it. I suppose another session Retrobright is at bay.
I welcome your comments.