Wednesday, November 6, 2019

JX stuff to

I'm starting to get my unique stuff online.

My IBM JX documentation and software will slowly start to appear on at this link here.

I have simply linked to the search IBM JX as there is hardly anything there.

Finally imaged my IBM PC JX titles!

Well - I finally managed to get my Super Card Pro to image my IBM PC JX disks. This was required as some of them are copy protected and they are all self booting disks. It took me a while to figure out that to image them and get them to work you had to set the program to IBM 1.44MB (and not IBM 720k).

So - all you need is a high density 3.5" disk drive and load these images into Super Card Pro and you can boot your JX! I will note that if you don't have the 720k ROM chip (that is the 8732KY chip as opposed to the 360k 8532K9) - you can only use the DOS 2.1 boot disk. 

All the other disks are 360k 3.5" disks - once again, only the DOS 3.2 is 720k.

DOS 3.2 is FANTASTIC - It has sorted out a number of issues with my super IBM PC JX. For those who don't know, I removed the old Matsushita 10 MB drive and replaced it with a DREM HD Emulator. Its super sweet.

As for the productivity titles, they are underwhelming. The Sampler is a bit of a laugh. There are full versions of the Writing Assistant, Planning Assistant and DOS versions - and the My JX Sampler as well as demos of Writing Assistant, Planning Assistant, Graphing Assistant and Filing and Reporting Assistant.

Enjoy. You can get the SCP images here or by using the link below.

Here is some screen shots of the products I have imaged -

Thursday, October 24, 2019

September / October 2019 Update

Wow wee -

A lot has happened in the last few months.

1. I received my Applesauce Disk Imager and its amazing. I have started imaging all my Apple // and Apple /// disks with great vigour. I need to get around to finishing what I have started and uploading to the internet. Whats even better is I downloaded the Washington Apple Pi DVD and have been able to download ADTPro for the Apple ///.. which leads to point 2.

2. My Apple /// Plus is working fantastic. I bought a new power supply from ReactiveMicro and its amazing. The plug to the mains wasn't quite right so I had to resolver an end on it but my Apple /// Plus is going well. I then connected it to the recently aquired Apple /// Hard Disk and imaged the disk and uploaded it. You can get it here. Feel free to dig around and beat me to whatever is on there.

3. I finally got around to re-carbonising the keys on my Commodore PET 2001. This is fantastic as now I can use it like it was 1979.

4. My IBM JX has had its Hard Disk replaced from a Mechanical Disk to a DREM MFM Hard Disk Emulator. Its a magnificent piece of work that brings my bad sector filled disk from 2 MB to its maximum extent of 10 MB! Pricey, but makes it fun again.

5. An auction at Yarra Valley Auctions was hosted where I was successful in buying a number of items. What is sad is that a gentlemen here in Victoria sold his entire collection. 

You can view what it was here. Hopefully it doesn't get ripped down any time soon. There was a hive of activity from 2004 and then nothing from 2013. Whats sad is the post when he got the collection of computers from the ANU which you can read in his LOG -
Private collections are often donated to public institutions after, the owners pass away or want to move on and the items are usually kept in good hands, but not always. One person set up an antique bottle museum in Clunes (not far from Ballarat) it flourished while he was around, when he died the museum was past to public hands and the best bottles in the collection soon disappeared. Privately owned collections are owned by one or a few individuals and they can choose to do what they want with the items, sell to the highest bidder? My point is both privately owned collections and publicly owned collections have desirable and undesirable characteristics and I guess when it comes down to it. No single person can own an item forever. Anyone involved in a museum of any kind, should do there best to do the right thing. I would like to see the items in my museum kept together maybe some day a public institution could take the collection, or maybe it could go to my children, I don't know what will happen but I will try and do the right thing.

Anyway. Back to me.

I bought a pile of neat stuff - including -


Coleco ADAM Computer

Boxed OS/2 Versions and an ADLIB Card Boxed

IBM PC JX parts including 5.25" Drive

Adam Box

Exidy Sorcerer

RAM Expansions for AIM 65.

I have been successful in putting a massive JX structure together with all my expansion units but IBM clearly did not want more than 1 expansion installed on a JX as there is no way to power it. As a result I needed 2 JXs to run all the hardware on 1 JX - but it worked!

But I have been having a lot of fun!

Anyway, I'll update soon - I'm pretty active again in Vintage Computers.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Huge Progress in the Shed!

Over the last two weeks (I'm on Annual Leave), I have been taking the time to tidy up my shed. Its been a bit of a disaster and I have been too stuck to do much about it.

I listened to a back episode of the RCR Podcast about Hoard vs Private Collection vs Museum. I always wanted the latter, but it sometimes resembled the former.

I have struggled since 1997 to not just collect everything. While that has actually benefited my collection, I have gotten rid of many systems.

I have essentially cut down to -
- Commodore 8 bit line (really all NON Amiga Commodores)
- Atari 8 bit line
- Apple everything
- IBM Everything up to the AT
- Random assortment of odds and sods like DEC Rainbow, Professional 350, VAXMate, couple of MicroVaxes 
- All consoles up to PS2

And while that sounds like a cut down, I have still a large collection. I have removed a heap of equipment and manuals from my collection that were just simply being hoarded. I had no intention of reading them - they were just taking up space. A couple of machines and parts have been sold and a few more are about to go.

Whats great is it gives you such relief when you can actually use the workbenches and things are not on the floor. The main section of my shed now looks like this - no obstacles on the floor - generally tidy and workable.

My "office" and repair area is much more organised - I have installed shelving and tidied up the area - there is still work to do as I am still removing things from the shed but it give you an idea of where I am heading.

My dreaded back table is now just an enormous pile of disks that need to be categorised - and it already has had a quick first chop and 25% has already been sorted and removed from this area.

So I have been giving myself a break and doing some of the stuff I have wanted to do for a long time. Namely - get my PETs working and backup all my PET software. To do this I have been using ZoomFloppy on a Windows 10 PC using OpenCBM and CBM Transfer software. This works OK, but backing up a 8050 or 8250 disk takes around 45 minutes. So I have plenty of time to do other things while that is happening.

I have also been solving my PET problems using the wonderful PET Diagnostics by Tynemouth Software. This thing is fabulous - identifying what is right and wrong with my PETs. Makes it real simple to figure out what needs to be done.

This PET has ROMs installed. I guess they are dead!

This 8296D tests OK but has a boot problem. As the PET Diagnostics chip is a 6502 replacement, I'll have to try testing with a known working 6502.

So yes - I have been having a bit of fun. Lots of work to do but plenty of challenges.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

New Aquisitions

It was brought to my attention that a seller in Narre Warren was offering some fairly unique pieces of equipment via Facebook Marketplace (thanks Ian). In the peculiar post it showed a number of interesting items in unknown condition -

- Apple IIc
- Apple IIc Monitor with its electronics removed
- Apple /// with no motherboard
- Monitor ///
- Profile Hard Drive
- Macintosh 512k

I made him an offer, he countered, we struck a deal. I picked up the kit yesterday.

Today, I started up the Profile first - this is why I bid on this bundle. Initially, it flashed its light at me and sat there making no noise. I have experienced this before with other MFM drives before so I opened up the unit and hand spun the disks. Then when powered up, it pulsed and made all the right noises that a profile does! It then started spewing the acrid smoke that the lovely filter capacitors make when tired. (RIFA PME 271M 610 0.1uF) Replaced.

I then wondered what was on this! Plugged it into my Lisa... and its not a Lisa formatted drive! I'll get it setup on my Apple /// in a few days and see what it is!

Quickly tested the other gear - Mac 512k works but disk drive is misaligned with the case so can't load software until fixed. Apple //c works perfectly with the exception of some stuck keys and general untidy condition. Monitor /// works well.

A good pickup!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Weird Dick Smith VZ-200 Mess

I am going to try to work on that pile of debris at the back of the shed piece by piece, and today I decided to grab this thing and have a look - identify what it is and whether it works.

On inspection, I assumed it was a product marketed by Dick Smith Electronics, the broken disk drive cable reminded me of either a VZ-200/300 or an Apple II - and it wasn't the latter.

I connected the power cable, removed the IO cards (so it boots "natively"), connected an RCA to the motherboard (the outer cable is a coax connection) and powered up the unit.

A great clue that this is the VZ range of computers (also known as the VTech Laser 200). I plugged in the IO boards and booted up to see what we had.

This was a HAM radio operators computer - and this board is a Radio Teletype board. Neat!

Unfortunately as my collection is busting at the seams, I'll be cleaning this unit up and moving it along. It does not fit in the criteria I defined and I don't consider the VZ-200 to be interesting - especially in this shape.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Bit Corporation Bit-90

The Bit Corporation Bit-90!

There is unfortunately not very much information about the Bit90. I received an email from Mark from Traralgon who offered me this machine. When he contacted me, I had never heard of this machine so I was pretty excited to learn all about it.

What I did learn that the machine was some kind of Z80 machine that was based on the Colecovision hardware.The other reference had a bit more information but it was quite sparse. This made it even more interesting a find.

The box was interesting. You can see the Bit 90 machine in the corner with what appears to be Atari 2600 cartridges, however the graphics on the screen are way more advanced than the 2600 offers, which made me consider the Colecovision as factual.

Unfortunately, the machine came with NO MANUAL and the box does not provide any insight into the machines capabilities.

This particular machine is in pretty good condition - better than I would have expected. It does have a few interesting modifications which at the time of this writing are for functions unknown. However I will show what has been done.
The unit has two ColecoVision compatible joystick ports on the right hand side. I have proved this later in the blog.

The rear has a power switch, power supply connector, what I would describe as a multi-purpose connector (it has composite out, audio out and tape interface all in one cable), an unknown switch (interestingly the case has a professionally milled out hole so something was here prior to this switch) and an edge connector on the rear for some kind of expansion.

On the left side the system has a cartridge port which is definitely ColecoVision.

The bottom has the usual fixing screws, however 2 were missing as is typical for a unit that has been worked on or modified.

When you remove the back cover, I was surprised to find the system board is retained by the top half. It is held to the top of the case with two screws.

This then reveals the interesting condition that this unit is in. The switch appears to switch the ROM to a different mode or fires up an additional ROM. I have been unsuccessful in identifying what it does at this stage as the switch makes no change on power up OR while on.

As you can see, the ROMs next to each other do not look original. The HM6116P static ram chip has also had its legs mangled and soldered to this additional circuit. 

This birds nest of wiring contains a couple of resistors and some joins, held poorly together in some ancient tape wad. 

This little unknown circuit board is attached near the power supply and nicely wrapped in gaffa or duct tape.

This power supply has also had a hard life. Not quite sure why, but there is some additional cables peeled back and covered with tape, and the power supply unit has been opened for some reason but all appears well inside.

Here is the "multifunction" cable of video, audio and tape control.
Ok. Lets set thing thing up and turn it on. Without any cartridges and plugged into RCA, initially you get this for around 5-10 seconds.
Then comes the BASIC prompt.

I was curious to see what keys worked on the keyboard so I typed the Alphabet then typed the numbers on the keyboard. As you can see, I will have to clean this keyboard internally and possibly regraphite the keys.
The system beeps when typing.
So I then decided to see what ColecoVision compatibility we had. I grabbed the closest cart to the unit, which happened to be Steamroller.

Amazingly, after a few seconds - the game looks like it should!
I grabbed my ColecoVision controller, plugged it in. I was able to follow the instructions and play the game!

The whole setup was very painless. That wraps up my initial play with the Bit 90 but I will no doubt delve deeper once I get the keyboard working. What a great find! If anyone knows the whereabouts of a manual that I can read, it would be most appreciated.

JX stuff to

I'm starting to get my unique stuff online. My IBM JX documentation and software will slowly start to appear on at this li...