The Battle (Part 1)

Thanks to https://macintoshgarden.org/apps/stuffit-expander-55 for the basis of this image.

So 11 days ago I posted about getting the SE/30 booting and mentioned I wanted to get some software over but that it would be a battle for another day…

Oh past me. So sweet. So Innocent. So not filled with rage and hate.

Ahem.

So it’s been a bit of a learning curve. OK. A lot of a learning curve. Less curve. More cliff.

Basically there are multiple problems I’m facing getting the software from the PC to the Mac

  1. There aren’t even any easy to access interfaces: Apple used a non standard SCSI interface and a non standard serial port. I can make up adapters, but I’ll need to order more parts. I’ll probably need software, in the case of serial.
  2. There’s no software on the Mac yet: I repeatedly hit the problem of “To get software A on the computer I need software B. To get software B on the computer, I need software A”. I’m also limited to Floppy disks.
  3. The Mac FDD is a little flakey: It needs a clean and a service. Unfortunately opening up the SE/30 is a pain so I want to minimise the number of times I open and close it. I have more RAM coming and I need to replace the internal 3.6v battery with a new one. When the RAM comes I’ll pick up a replacement battery and do all the work at once.
  4. There’s no “shortcut combination” like there was with the 8 bit Apples. With those, I was able to bootstrap my first floppy disk from the tape port and use that floppy disk to make the rest, thanks to ADTPro. No such convenience for the SE/30
  5. The Macs of this era are notorious for being sensitive to the formatting of their disks. My SE/30 currently doesn’t have enough RAM for System 7, so I’m limited to System 6, which can’t read PC Floppy disks out of the box. I need to make the PC write Mac disks.

So I’m stuck on Floppy disks and I can’t read PC Disks on the Mac? Simple, right? I just need to make my PC write Mac disks. Herein lies my NEXT round of problems. All the software able to reliably write out Mac disks to PC doesn’t officially work under Windows 10. (Caveat here. I have had some success using some of the apps I tried under Windows 10, but they were inconsistent). It all needs Windows XP

So, of course, I build myself a Windows XP Box. It’s not like I don’t have parts lying around.

Except it’s NEVER that easy.

My first box was built out of an old mini-tower PC I’d got from a junk pile a few years back. It was a “mini-server” so had some server related features on the motherboard. This would come back and bite me. XP went on fine. The drivers went on fine. I even found a SCSI card for “future plans”. That went in fine. It was working well except… the video was VGA only and limited to 1024 x 768. Rather limiting, especially as I also installed Linux on it and started playing with some related software.
OK, lets replace the video card, except this motherboard only has x8 PCI-E slots and none of my videocards are working in x8 mode (Only x16).

Hmm. Not the end of the world. I have two motherboards with FDD connectors. Much older but let’s give them a go.

I set up the first one with 2GB of RAM and turned it on. It lasted all of four minutes before it suddenly died. Hmm. 12 year old technology. Not a worry. I have another one. I plug it in and it fires up to the BIOS screen. A good sign. I get a nice Lian-Li case I have in authentic Beige, a DVD drive, the floppy drive and build it all together. Fire it up and… there’s a problem with this one too. While it fires up OK, it makes a ticking noise and the keyboard doesn’t work. I think something in the keyboard chain is stuck as registering as always held down.

I’m starting to get worried at this point, but we have a room chock full of old computers. (Mostly not mine. My housemate has been hoarding). so I go in with an eye to the series of Dell mATX based systems, but as I’m going in I pass another machine I KNOW is good that might have a FDD connector, and it does!

Without much more work I have a dual boot Windows XP / Linux Mint PC, with 4GB of RAM, a reasonable videocard, SCSI, a FDD and a DVD drive.

Since then I’ve had very mixed results getting files across.

My current approach has been to run Basilisk II (A Mac emulator) as a system I can use to manipulate various disk images so I can copy them to real Floppy Disks in readiness for transferring them to the floppy disks to then read in the real Mac.

Both the flakey FDD and limitations of the OS continue to confound me.

  1. Only the first MB or so of each disk can be read reliably currently.
  2. Key pieces of software (UnStuffIt) seem to need a newer OS than the one I’m on.
  3. Basilisk II seems to have spontaneously decided not to read Floppy Disks.

My current plan, going forward is as follows.

Get more RAM. It’s on its way. This will get me to System 7, which has a lot more tools, including ones with improved interop with PCs.
Get a SCSI CD-ROM. This will hopefully allow me to install key pieces of software a LOT faster.
Get another SCSI HDD, in a SCSI enclosure. This will hopefully allow me to connect to Basilisk II, and use the emulator as a “bridge” to get the software from the PC world to the Mac world in bulk.
Get Terminal software on the Mac, make a Mac RS422 to RS232 bridge and see if I can get something like ZModem running on both ends so I can simply squirt files across from the PC to the Mac. This is a more long term strategy.

Published by ilike8bits

I collect old computers and consoles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: