Mac Woes, Creativision wins.

Macintosh SE/30

On Friday, another peripheral finally arrived, so I had hoped today’s post was going to be all about my experiences upgrading my Macintosh SE/30 into its final form. While I got a lot of upgrade done, unfortunately I hit a setback that will mean this system is out of action until I get a solid few days to fix a major fault.’

We’ll start at the beginning. On Friday, my much anticipated SCSI2SD adapter arrived. This is a magical device that allows you to use an SD card as a replacement for up to four SCSI hard disks. I sourced mine from the Eastern States, as there’s an authorised assembler / seller over there. (He also has a YouTube channel you might want to check out if you’re into classic Macintosh repairs.)

I waited for Saturday morning before starting as working on the SE/30 is always an adventure. The integrated CRT means there are some excitingly high voltages in there, and the shell is part of the structure.

I started by mounting the SCSI2SD in a 2½” to 3½” bracket, choosing to mount it inverted so the overall profile was much lower. I then grabbed a 2GB MicroSD card and an SD to MicroSD adapter. From there I plugged the SD into the SCSI2SD, and connected the SCSI2SD to my PC via a micro USB cable. I booted up the configuration software and started carving up the MicroSD into chunks. My plan is to run System 6.08, 7.1 and 7.51 from different virtual drives, so I carved out 4 temporary drives as a test.

Mounting hardware
That looks very neat

The software was VERY choppy, which should have been a warning.

Once done, I pulled out the 40MB HDD from the Mac and screwed in the SCSI2SD. While in there, I also gave the board a bit more TLC. This board has been recapped, but I’m not 100% sure I got rid of all the nastiness so I give it an inspect each time and a scrub with isopropanol in any bits that seem dodgy.

I also inserted my BMOW ROM-inator. This has been sitting pretty in it’s original anti-static bag for months as I really didn’t want to have to open the Mac more than absolutely needed. This seemed like a good opportunity.

There’s the ROM-inator, tucked inside. BTW, that battery is less than 6 months old. It’s not going to corrode itself yet.

With both in, I did a partial refit and the system booted up with the ROM-inator “one eyed Mac” logo, and offered for me to boot to ROM if I wanted. I did want, as this is a super fast way to get the Mac up to the point where I could run SCSI tools, before buttoning up everything. Once up I ran SCSI Probe and could see the extra drives. Yay!

(A quick aside here. I made the disks SCSI ID 1,2,4 and 5, leaving SCSI ID 3 free for a CD ROM at a later date.)

I screwed everything back together, plugged in my FloppyEmu and booted to System 6.08. From there I ran the installer and…
“No disk found.”
Okay then! Run the disk initialiser.
“Drive selection failed. Unable to locate a suitable drive connected to the SCSI port.”

Computer says “No”

Yay! Not!

I had a suspicion what the problem was, so a quick trip down to the local supermarket and I had a full sized SD card from a semi-reputable brand in my hot little hands. I unbolted the SCSI2SD and swapped in the new SD card. This time when I ran the configuration software it was blazing fast! Clearly the MicroSD wasn’t up to snuff. It was also amazingly quiet. (I understand why people swap out the fans. It’s the only source of noise. Maybe I should look at a nice Noctua fan or the like). I divided up the card and reinstalled.

I had a little problem reseating the case this time. The Analog board has a nasty habit of jumping out of its rails, at which point the case won’t close properly. I was also noticing a bit of electrical noise on turning on the switch. I put it down to a dirty switch.

This time the disk initialiser worked and formatted the drive…
Do you know how long it takes to initialise a 2GB HDD? I do. It takes about 2 hours.

Firing up the FloppyEmu again, start the installer and several disk swaps and I have a booting System 6 install. Yay! We’re making progress! I was also able to determine that the SCSI2SD will happily run off SCSI temination power, so I didn’t even need the

The FloppyEmu hard at work.

I formatted up the next two disk drives and rebooted the computer and then disaster struck.

Turning on the computer again from cold, I got an angry buzzing crackling from the back left corner. Whoah! I quickly turned it off and unplugged.

A visual inspection showed nothing, so the next step will be to pull out the power supply and inspect that. As that’s a major job (You need to pull the Analog board to get to the power supply, so remember all those scary voltages? You’re right in the middle of them).

I figure this will be a multiple day project so I have put the Macintosh aside until then.

(As an aside, I’d love to see a version of the BMOW FloppyEmu designed to replace the internal Mac Floppy disk. It could have a connector poking through the FDD slot to mount the OLED onto, and a couple of long tactile buttons poking out through the drive slot.)

Creativision / Dick Smith Wizzard

Meanwhile, back with the DSW, I have been busy finishing off the keyboard. I’d already done the schematic in KiCAD, so the next logical step was to fix the mistake with the key footprint and actually lay the keyboard out.

My initial attempt went well, but then I decided I really needed to refactor the whole thing. I’d laid it out as a grid as per the original controller. I decided that was actually a really bad idea, and proceeded to lay it out as a proper staggered row keyboard, similar to a “real” keyboard. I also moved the “arrow” keys around so that the left arrow was in the “backspace” key position and the right arrow was in the “tab” position.
I also added a Shift to both sides, made more room for the Return, and two Space keys at the bottom, so I could join them up and have something much closer to a “real” keyboard size.

I then began the grand routing exercise.

People kept wandering through and asking me what game I was playing. I’d reply by explaining the “rules” of the game, and pretending it was a game made it more fun.

Eventually after about 2 hours, I had it fully routed, without too many long traces and, more importantly, no Vias at all! The trick seems to be to change sides regularly for long routes, which allows other routes to go past. There are plenty of through hole components, so really, there should be no need for Vias. I was just glad I was able to complete it.

The final result is tiny! It’s so cute! It’s not really suitable in this form for “real” typing work, but as this is a prototype, that’s not really the point, is it?

Respect out to the original keyboard designers who did all this without the aid of CAD tools

I’ve uploaded it to my GitHub page.





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