Posts tagged "Repairs"
The catch-all category for each repair job.
In the previous part of my adventure with the 386-based NEC PC-9801RA2, we covered the existence of Artdink’s game Tokio, talked briefly about clone PC-98s, bought two computers, and built a replacement power supply PCB for one of them. That was a lot of work! So now we finally get to play the game, right? Right?!
Despite not being able to understand more than preschool-level written Japanese, I decided to get in on the “importing games from Japan” craze. Of course, I jumped in at the deep end and decided to pick up an Artdink-made city simulator with lots of cultural and regional in-jokes. Also, the city is in space. Did I mention that my PC-9821Ap2 can’t run it?
In order to get a copy of Tetris for the NEC mini5 series of word processors, I had to buy it along with a whole word processor set from the previous owner. This LCD-based mini5SX is sleek, attractive, surprisingly heavy, and broken. Very, very broken. Let’s see if we can fix up this grey beast, and dump its ROMs.
Used Japanese word processors have been a tempting siren for me for years, but I’ve avoided them so far due to the huge shipping weight and my general illiteracy in the language. What if those word processors could run CP/M and had a CRT? Ah, now that’s a different story.
My PC-incompatible Sanyo MBC-555 is now working, although it still looks like it fell out of a garbage disposal. Beyond its nasty exterior appearance, the video output isn’t particularly good either. There’s red garbage all over the screen. I decided to tackle this problem first, before getting my hands, face, cat, and desk sticky with epoxy.
A few years ago, I got the “Magic Smoke” Macintosh SE. It was a pretty rusty machine, but otherwise looked okay inside. However, when I plugged it in after a (very) cursory inspection, it made ugly noises, failed to start, and then spat out a little bit of magic smoke – hence the name. Ever since then, it’s been a really small piece of furniture. I’m going to rip it apart and fix it.
With a new power supply and the entire insect population of Honshu removed from its case, the swamp-bogged X68000 PRO can finally start up, but can it boot floppy disks? In this exciting conclusion to the series, we’ll jump through a frankly ridiculous number of hoops – many of them ultimately proving to be unnecessary – in order to make some disks and find out.
Now that I had a reasonably clean X68000 PRO to work from, I set about restoring power. Rather than doing things the cheap way and strapping up my Meanwell four-voltage test supply, I decided to go whole hog and lay out a brand-new power supply PCB.
What happens when you bid on a Sharp X68000 PRO without looking too closely at the photos? For one thing, you win the auction. What also happens is that the computer spends a while in your garage, waiting for all of its little tenants to be vacuumed out.
Hirofumi Iwasaki’s book on PC-8801FH/MH repair says that the head loading solenoid is so loud that you should be careful using the computer in an apartment at night, lest the neighbours complain. I am not hearing that, or any other noises from the floppy drives. Let’s investigate.
The fellow who sold me the Macintosh LC520 back in 2018 had another listing, a $10 Timex-Sinclair 1000 that needed some work. I decided I’d pop out and go grab it, and see if I can make the machine more reliable than Sir Clive did.
Radio Shack worked hard to get their machines into every possible price tier of the home computer market, so what happened when they went super-budget? Nothing good. Thanks to hard-working community members, this unloved 6803-based computer has gone from doorstop to delight, so it’s high time that I picked one up. Of course, by law, any computer I pick up has to be at least a little broken.
Even after I got it to boot by replacing the video chip, the Casio PV-7 MSX1 still had a bunch of problems. Top of mind were the broken keyboard and the corroded power jack. Let’s fix these issues too, so we can get back to enjoying this el-cheapo computer and the free programs on offer in the manual.
Although it may not be considered an “old” computer, a TI-83+ from the futuristic year of 1999 has a lot of appeal. It’s got a Z80, it runs a BASIC interpreter with machine-language program support, and lots of fun homemade games were built for it over the years. There’s also the small matter of me wanting a desk calculator with which to do binary/hex conversions, so I picked up this broken one to attempt to nurse it back to health. Will my efforts add up to a working calculator?
One of the coolest selling points of the Sharp X1turbo is the built-in “telopper” board. With this board, you can superimpose computer graphics on live TV, and smear dithered-colour games across my tiny Sony CRT. Guess which of the two I’m planning on using it for?
Get ready to step into the cyberpunk future of the mid-late 1980s, and don’t forget to bring your boxed wine. NEC pulled out all the stops on this, their final PC-6001 computer. I have to pull out even more stops to get the disk drive to work.
You wouldn’t think it’s hard or expensive to find a Model 2 Genesis, but apparently in Japan it is both. I’d been looking for one of these for a while, and finally got just the right (cheap) console. Let’s explore some Japanese Mega Drive games with it.
I’m a little late to the whole PlayStation ownership game, but what better way to start than by attempting a modchip install? This one had some twists and turns, but ultimately ends up with me being able to play A-Train in blurry composite video.
If you read a lot of gaming magazines in the early 90s, you might remember being confused about some crude ads for this handheld game system. For everyone else, there’s a pretty decent repair in this one.
Before the X68000, Sharp had a Z80-based 8-bit personal computer that tried valiantly to compete with the PC-88 and MSX. Actually, they had a couple, but the one that I’m most interested in is the Sharp X1. It combines flash VCR-esque styling, sturdy construction, decent graphics capabilities, and AY-3-8910 sound. What more could you want? Well, you could put the word “turbo” on the front.
You might recall that I own a Sharp X68000 ACE, the world-beating, sprite-spitting computer of everyone’s dreams. So far, though, the ownership experience hasn’t been the most fun I’ve ever had. Repairing the battery damage in mine has been challenging, as the damage goes deeper than I first thought, but I have accomplished one thing so far: installing a more reliable power supply.
On my latest jaunt to the wild world of Japanese auctions, I found this Sega Mark III that nobody else seemed to love as I got it for only ¥1100. Once it arrived at my home, I realized why. A Sega that can’t play games is too sad for words, so let’s get the thing up and running again.
With all this discussion of budget Japanese computers and video game consoles lately, it’s easy to forget that I still like old Macs. This Classic II was picked up years ago, and it’s been on the shelf ever since I got it home and spotted the telltale sign of Simasimac. Now that I actually know how to fix it, let’s try to fix it.
With the recent success of the PC-9801NS/T capacitor replacement, I had chip-electrolytic capacitors on the brain. And like I said in this article, the easiest place to find more of those leaky little rectangles in my house was in the Game Gear I hadn’t bothered to repair for years.
One of the more unloved MSX1s is the Casio PV-7. This poor little 8-bit computer was saddled with a crappy keyboard, only 8kB of RAM, no printer port, no built-in tape interface, and only a single cartridge slot. And that cartridge slot doesn’t even follow the MSX standard!
I got ahold of a PC-98 laptop. Unfortunately, it has a lot of battery leakage and won’t power on. Come hang out and smell the vinegar with me for a little while.
While a ColecoVision is sometimes pricey and hard to find in my area, the much more rare Coleco Gemini fell into my lap while looking through my favourite flea-market junk bin. Because the machine came without cables, a power adapter, or joysticks, it had been relegated to the sad little corner where unloved consoles go, right next to a stripped-for-parts Intellivision II and a battered-looking 2600 Jr. Let’s see if it can be coerced to once again play Combat.
I fixed up my SC-3000’s cartridge slot almost a year ago, but I haven’t been using the computer. Why not? Because the keyboard is super unusable. It’s time to fix it now, though, because I just paid a king’s ransom for a copy of Flicky.
Without a working keyboard, the CoCo that I’ve been working on over the past few months might as well be a fancy desk ornament. When I took a look at the keyboard last time, the membrane had some pretty serious damage to its carbon conductive traces. Before spending money to replace the keyboard, I’m first going to try and fix those traces with the conductive paint I already paid for.
When I first set up the PC-6001, I had to bring it back to life by replacing the shorted tantalum capacitors on the motherboard’s power rails. It’s such a great little machine! After some more testing, however, it became obvious that I was getting no sound out of the poor little thing.
Now that I know that the computer wasn’t horribly killed by my recap job and repair of all those broken traces in the ADB input system, let’s take a brief moment to recap that original Astec power supply from the “bad” LC. And fix the video!
While I was working on the bad ADB Mac LC, I tested it by using the “good” power supply from my childhood Mac LC. How good was that “good” power supply, though? Well, it smelled a little fishy.
When I first fixed the PC-6001, there were a few sticky keys on the keyboard. “H,” Left Shift, and - most importantly - Return were all bad to a certain extent. I could limp along with Ctrl-M for a little while to replace Return, but it was pretty awkward. How hard can it be to clean the keyboard?
My first real computer was a Macintosh LC. They’re not held in especially high esteem, and they haven’t been redeemed by history, either. It’s not hard to see why: a pitifully low RAM limit (10MB) introduced alongside a more RAM-hungry System 7, generally poor performance across the board, and cheap components. I still have mine, but this isn’t it.
The internet is both really good and really, really bad for my hobby. On the one hand, it lets me buy cheap broken computers and shows me how other people fix them. On the other hand, sometimes people offer me machines and then I take them.
I finally got a keyboard for my PC-8801MH (I was on the verge of making one myself), and had to settle for a very dirty one as prices are just a hair shy of ridiculous. Even though I was primed by the pictures, I was shocked by just how disgusting the keyboard for the MH was when it arrived.
The Sega Nomad. A tiny Genesis you can take on the go, and have access to Phantasy Star IV and Gunstar Heroes on the bus. While that may not seem impressive now, in this age of smartphones that can cure cancer and cause depression, I desperately wanted one when it was new. Ten years ago, I was finally able to get mine. Unfortunately, because I am really cheap, I picked one that was, as the French say, “a little bit broken.”
I’ve had the PC-8801MH for awhile, but haven’t even bothered to get it open. It was only this morning, when I looked over my pickle jar full of removed clock batteries, that I realized I probably hadn’t removed the clock battery from it - and hadn’t done the SR either. No time like the present!
Pop quiz: what do you get for 221 yen? If you answered “nothing but problems,” you’re correct. What kind of problems? Two WonderSwans, at the same time? Now how can that be a problem?
When I made a trip to Japan recently, one of the things I was looking for was a Bandai WonderSwan Color. I’d had a black and white one previously, but the colour version can run so many more games. Games I can’t understand, but it’s most of the way there.
We fixed the 1000SX’s power supply, and tested the motherboard for shorts. There’s nothing left to do but put the computer back together again and see if it works. And take it apart again. And to wish I had a fully-operational chip fab and precision schematics of every custom IC. Yeah, this one is gonna take a little more time.
I was disappointed to find out that my “not working” Sega SC-3000 was in fact not working. However, I had a hunch that it was a common flaw: cold solder joints on the cartridge slot. It also has a more subtle flaw: it smells kind of bad.
Sure, I’ve got NEC PC-88s, I’ve got NEC PC-98s, but didn’t NEC make anything that was a little friendlier to the home user? By now, you should know better than to doubt our friends at the Electric Company. The NEC PC-6001 has a thriving homebrew scene around it in Japan to this very day, and is still fondly remembered. Let’s rip one open and stuff it with hot molten lead.
When we last encountered the Tandy 1000SX, it decided to bravely blow itself up rather than face us in battle. With a lot of elbow grease and a little bit of solder-slinging, this testament to 80s shopping-mall computing will live again.
Last time on the Tandy 1000SX show, I blew a hole in a power-supply capacitor without even getting the machine to boot. Talk about ungrateful! At least it gives me an excuse to buy more tools.
The more questionable of the three “for parts” Sega Genesises I traded for in the previous entry is now fixed. It didn’t take too much effort - just some attention to detail, a few games of Columns, one cheap spare part, and a soldering iron.
Some more mini updates for things that weren’t big enough to merit a full update on their own. In this entry, we’ll finally get A-Train III running on my PC98, fix an Atari ST keyboard, and ship new hardware for a whole new brand of Japanese 8-bit computer.
When I first got the HB-101, its combination of small RAM and lack of any way to get software on it was a problem, sure. There was a bigger problem waiting, though: the grim spectre of an inconsistent keyboard.
A few years ago, my friend Grant completed a refresh of one of his Model M keyboards (I know, right?) Here’s his writeup on the process.
I popped open my “good” Atari ST today. As you might remember, I have two 1040STFs: a very battered one I got from a flea market, and a nice-condition one that was owned by a guy who really cared about it, but had passed away. The only thing that was really wrong with this machine is that the mouse didn’t work.
I’ve had my Apple IIe for a few months now, and it’s been great. One of the things that’s kept it from getting more use has been the spotty “I” key, which the seller warned me about.
Many years ago, I grabbed an SGI Octane off eBay from a junk dealer. They didn’t pack it well, so the machine arrived beat up and stuffed full of styrofoam fragments from the packing material it had shredded on the way. After a few attempts to lug the machine around in the small condo I had at the time, I gave up and just let it slowly be re-absorbed into the pile of non-working computers.
I delved into the depths of my trusty Showa-era NEC to remove its leaking (leaked?) battery. Here’s what I found.
The Mac TV is a machine that I’ve had for awhile. It’s a much better TV than a computer (the board is unusually limited, even for a Performa, and has almost no possible upgrades beyond what the computer already has), so it has been in storage for quite some time.
The replacement keys for my battered C64 arrived from Retroleum. It took a bit longer than I expected, but then again the postage was ridiculously cheap and it wasn’t like I was biting my nails waiting to play with the C64 I’ve had on the pile for a few weeks now. I’ll definitely be back to get more parts from them.
Today was a good step forward. I finally got the case back onto the Amiga 2500, but there are still a lot of tasks left until the machine is really “ready” to be tucked away on my desk.
Now that work space is once again at a premium in my workshop, I find myself having to reassemble the diaspora of parts that were removed from my Amiga 2500 when it was dismantled to replace the 68000 socket.
I bought a large lot of Super Famicoms off of Japanese auction for cheap, and set about trying to repair them. Almost all of them had problems.
The keyboard I got with my Amiga 2500 had:
- A broken right alt key,
- A spotty (at best) return key,
- And a numpad enter key that wouldn’t stay up, but did work,
I just got my A2500’s badly corroded CPU socket replaced with the help of my buddy and his employer’s substantial rework gear.
A Model 2 VA1.8 Sega Genesis purchased off eBay as non-working presented as non-working. After several days of diagnosis, tracing and research into the system, I finally figured out that the problem was the corroded trace I identified right off the bat.
Threw a few more hours at the A2000 today, cleaning up here and there. I popped out the 68000, cleaned up the pins, and checked the socket. The socket wipers are immaculate, not a speck of corrosion or acid on them (I checked with a magnifying glass). The pins for the socket on the underside of the board are still nice and shiny, so I’m willing to say the socket is alright.
I’ve had this Amiga 2000 for several years, but it was only recently that I put in the effort to fix it. The big problem with these machines long-term is that the Varta clock batteries explode and corrode all the traces and sockets. Mine has a leaky battery for sure, so I hope I can save it.
A couple years ago, I traded some car parts to a friend for his dad’s old Amiga A3000 and A2500. I knew that clock batteries were going to be a threat on both of those, so I nobly waited a year to take apart and desolder the battery from the A3000. That was back in 2014.