The Battle (Part 2)

You can NEVER have too many of these. ©2020

The battle against the SE/30 continues…

So since Part 1, I have made progress, mostly forward, some backwards.

Digging for “Gold”

First up, I went looking for some “easy” upgrades. Specifically I remembered I had an old SPARCStation IPC I wasn’t currently using in a cupboard. I grabbed it out, hoping to “pillage” the SCSI hard disk for something a bit bigger than the 40MB currently in the SE/30.

It did indeed have a “bigger” hard disk. Bigger in capacity as well as height. There was no way I was going to fit that inside the Mac.

But wait! What’s that underneath the drive? Are those 30 pin SIMMs? Yes, yes they are! There were no less than TWELVE in there. 8 were 1MB SIIMs and 4 were 4MB SIMMs. My Se/30 suddenly went from having 2MB to 20MB. A tenfold increase in one step. This opened up vistas!
I also used this oppurtunity to clean and lube the Floppy Drive, which gave me 100% read and write from it. I also cleaned the drive heads while I was at it. Things are looking up.

Clean and Lube ©2020

Looking for SCSI

Next I went to increase my SCSI capacity. An old friend an work colleague invited me over for a glass of red and a raid on his stash of old SCSI gear. While the red was much appreciated, unfortunately his employees had been cleaning out his gear and had ditched all the SCSI CD ROMs, cables and Drives. D’oh!

When I got home I found an online store in Australia selling the much needed 25 DSub to 50 way Centronics cable that would allow me to connect external SCSI devices to the Mac. I also ordered an external SCSI terminator from them.
I also discovered I could order 50 pin Centronics IDC connectors from AliExpress. These would allow me to make up a SCSI enclosure out of any old PC.
Next were some SCA 80 pin to IDC 50 pin adapters. SCA 80 drives are very easy to come by as they come out of mid age SANs in the hundreds. I can get some of the drives for next to nothing.
Finally I ordered a SCSI CD ROM (Super cheap, should have been a warning) as New Old Stock from EBay.

This is not a happy message. ©2020

System 7 Blues

My next move, now all my orders were running was to start burning disks for a new OS. Now the FDD was fixed, I could move on to larger OSs over multiple disks.
I started with System 7.01. I burned the disks to Floppy disks directly from Windows 10 using WinImage, which works fine to burn out the image files that System 7.01 came on. It took a while to burn the 6 disks, but I got there, and was able to install System 7.01 no worries.

I’d also worked out that if you run Basilisk II on Linux as root (In this case using ‘sudo’) and remember to start it with a floppy drive in the drive already, you can reliably read floppy disks with it. (Note to anyone trying to follow my trail here, it’s not well documented, but if you stick a disk in the drive and press “Ctrl+F1” in Basilisk II, it reads this as a “Disk has been inserted” event in the emulator, allowing you to work with the disk.)

I was able to start moving software across. The Basilisk II had OS 7.5.3 installed on it, which gave me a good launching point, and allowed me to install UnstuffIt 5, which many many archives used as their “baseline”, but I was still unable to run it on the SE/30 so I decided to “punt up” and upgrade to System 7.1.4.
Several disk writes, followed by a lot of swapping and…
  An error occurred while trying to
  complete the installation. Installation
  was cancelled, leaving your disk
That’s no good…

My first thought was that the HDD had somehow died, but running the disk tools disk over it showed no obvious issues.

OK. Let’s try System 7.5.3 instead. This was going to be a challenge.

First up it came on 18 floppy disks. Eighteen!
I cracked open the box of floppy disks I’d found in an Op Shop while on holiday and got cracking. I also had a box of disks left over from cleaning out cupboards at work.
Between the lot I had 33 disks. 2 were double density not high density. 5 were bad. I just managed to get the 18 disks I needed.

I got sick of this. ©2020

<Insert disk swapping montage>

  An error occurred while trying to
  complete the installation. Installation
  was cancelled, leaving your disk

OK. Let’s have a look. Google was not helping. I tried removing the RAM and “dumbing” it down to 8MB in case it was something to do with the SE/30 ROMs. (They’re a bit notorious for being not exactly the best set of ROMs as some of the code in them wasn’t “32 bit clean”, harking back to the older 16 bit “first generation” Macs like the Plus).
Nope. Back in goes the 20MB.
Could it be the missing battery I’d pulled? (One of the infamous “Varta” style 1/2 AA batteries.)
Nope. At least the clock is now right.

Forums weren’t much better but someone suggested I check if the Disk was actually bad by going back to 7.01.

Guess what? It worked perfectly.

By now I’d perfected using Basilisk II to open .sit files I couldn’t open locally, so I decided to just “live with it” for now.

I’ve managed to get all the software that I could want that actually works on this model across and running fine.

About that SCSI CD Rom..

Turns out it wasn’t a SCSI CD ROM. It was an IDE CD ROM. The seller was confused. I accepted the blame as they had included the model number, and I hadn’t checked.

One Final Hurdle

The final piece of my Mac SE/30 battles was getting serial communications going between the SE 30 and my Linux box. That would allow me to simply “ZModem” across files from the Linux box directly to the Mac. I could use Basilisk to prepare files and simply shunt them across as .sit files of any size, rather than being limited to 1.4Mb.

It’s a well documented cable, also used on later Apple models like the //c and the IIgs.

I ordered the parts and soldered it up. I was quite proud of how it came out, especially in the light of soldering to the super fine pitch onside the connector. I toned it out to make sure it was all correct and…

It turns out there are two versions of the 8 pin Mini DIN. I had the wrong one. They even look the same except one pin is shifted. It wouldn’t plug in.


(I think the other local electronics shop might have the other one so I’ll check them out tomorrow.)

Overall I’m in a good place with this project.

In Other News

This is VARTAAA! ©2020

A friend has offered me a SCSI CD Rom, and I have taken up on their extremely kind offer.
I also finished and tested the shell for the videocable for the IIgs.
I replaced the soldered in 1/2AA “Varta” style battery in the IIgs with a battery holder. It also has a new battery.
I have ordered both a BMOW FloppyEmu and ROM-inator II. These are now my Christmas / Birthday present. Sorry to anyone hoping so see me try and build a Harlequin 128. You’ll have to wait another year 😀

IIgs Videocable in the raw.©2020
Backplanes. Did you know that Epoxy doesn’t stick to baking paper? Neither did I. ©2020

Published by ilike8bits

I collect old computers and consoles

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