Reocomputing: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back (Repost)

(Originally posted on LinkedIn Jun. 15, 2020)

Retrocomputing continues to help me find my happy places.

I’ve been extensively working on new things. I recently rebuilt the area all my consoles live, to simplify things, going from having to use four different remotes in various combinations, down to two, one of which is only used to turn on the telly.

Currently I have seven different devices plugged in, all using different connection technologies, all needing to be scaled. It’s a nightmare of cables and adaptors but I got there in the end and now it all just works.

I also finally “emptied” a project box by finally fixing one of my retro computers. I now have a working C128D. It had stopped working a while ago, with the PSU tripping under load. After a lot of research, trawling through forums and finally asking someone to break out a multimeter and measure some resistances, I was confident the issue was with the PSU. A complete rebuild later and it’s happily booting! There’s a couple of minor issues I want to resolve with the disk drive, and I want to heatsink the custom chips but I’m generally very happy with it. Can’t wait to fire up some of the more obscure titles that could take advantage of the extra processing power over the C64.

As for the Apple II, it still isn’t working any better. I need to get it back on the bench. I’ve had someone suggest a rather clever website that plays back audio files that I can then play directly into the Apple II tape port, which will then (hopefully) write out a disk for me.

The Apple II forums I hang out in suggest I should probably just abandon my current model, due to all the limitations it has, and get a newer model. Unfortunately that’s not cheap, particularly as they’re not well represented in Australia, so I’d most likely need to import one from the US, easily doubling my costs through import duties and shipping.

I’ll keep that as a backup option. Until then I’ll keep slogging on with this one. The price (free) was certainly not something I could argue with.

I’ve started thinking more about my “next” purchase too. I’ve managed to secure an Atari 800XL, a lovely 8 bit machine designed by engineers who went on to design the Amiga. Unfortunately it and the BBC Master system are stuck in the UK by Covid 19, as the people who were going to bring them back to me have been under isolation for several months now. I think I might just have to “bite the bullet” and get them to ship them to me.

I’m thinking about getting an Amstrad CPC system, most likely the CPC6128, as it’s a nice sweet spot of compatibility and power.

After that it gets more difficult to choose. I do have a wish list, but some of the remaining systems are tricky to source at the best of times. I’d love to add an Acorn Archimedes of some sort. A Microbee would be a lovely Australian system to have, but I suspect the next thing I’ll actually get is a Harlequin 128.

I still need to get my NES working, so I will need to order a proper edge connector for mine, as I’m 99% sure that’s the issue. I have located an improved edge connector, but once shipping is factored in, I’m going to have to save for this one. I’ll get there, just not this month.





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