Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Apple II+ RAM Replacement - Power

Replacing the RAM in my Apple II+ has become a bit of a project in and of itself. Sure I could just buy some 4116 (16 bit) DRAM, but that's not very exciting, and its not an upgrade. So, Instead, I have been figuring out how I can use 4264 (64 bit) DRAM in its place. There are a lot of considerations that need to be made including power, refresh circuit, and addressing the new RAM. The descriptions below are for an RFI Revision 01 board, and may be different for other revisions. Click below to see the details of re-routing the RAM power lines and my preliminary results.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Apple II+ Logic Board Repairs

Here are the two Apple II+ logic boards that I have for repair. They were mostly stripped of integrated circuit chips, and even have some ports and connectors that were de-soldered to repair other boards (back in the 1980's).

I chose to repair the board on the left due to the missing D6 RAM socket on the other board and a possible damaged trace under the F8 ROM.

I swapped the power connector and added a missing audio jack. These are still available on eBay as "panel mount mono jack":

A word of caution. I have found that the solder on these old boards has the potential to make you feel sick and hung-over. Drink some milk before you solder and work in a very well-ventilated area.

I was able to replace most of the missing IC on the board from the box of spares I had, and from the other board. I have no idea if they work, so that will probably require a lot of troubleshooting.

The only IC I could not replace from old pulls was the one labeled "9334" in the J14 position. Fortunately, this IC can be replaced by a 74LS259, which I had on hand from my early experiments with my SPI based Disk II emulator.

Finally, I did not want to have to troubleshoot with old, possibly bad RAM, so I have some 64K 4264 DRAM chips on hand to see if I can replace the original 16K 4116 chips. This will require some modifications to the logic board (due to the different power requirements and slightly different pinouts), which I hope I can complete before the end of RetroChallenge.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Apple IIb Model

Added power supply and logic board texture. Color change to be Apple II+ olive-beige rather than Lisa tan-beige.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Feet and Boots!

The parts donor Apple II+ I am trying to repair is really a mess. Even the rubber feet were harvested for another computer. Fortunately, I found some decent rubber feet on eBay. I bought two packs of 12 20mmx20mmx8mm and it is a great replacement part for Disk II and Apple II feet.

Regarding my other project, I was pretty scared to connect the repaired IIGS Upgrade board to a power supply, half expecting everything to start smoking. It boots! First time in about 15 years:
IIGS Upgrade board and composite video IIGS Upgrade board and RGB video
Composite video worksand RGB works!

Apple ][b Refinements

Coming along nicely. I used a more period appropriate keyboard layout, and I think it improved the over-all aesthetics. That's the kind of keyboard I would be using anyway. I am thinking, I might make this an Apple ][b -> IIGS upgrade, since the IIGS logic board is looking so good. I could also use the internals of an AppleColor RGB monitor that I have for the IIGS.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Apple IIGS Repairs

Here are the fruits of my labor for the past two weeks. I had already attempted to repair this Apple IIGS Upgrade board, after a battery explosion did a lot of damage to the board and chassis. However, I wasn't really satisfied with how it was working out. I purchased some copper tape, and I am impressed at the way it worked to replace the traces. Much flatter and smoother, like it should be. A couple of resistors replaced and I tinned it all. Then, a lot of continuity testing. I bought some UV cure solder mask and after some time in the sunshine and under a UV light, it looks pretty good. Not perfect, but considering the terrible damage inflicted on this board, I am impressed!
Trace repairs and new SMT resistors in R193 and R14 locations.

Trace repairs and new battery holder.

Copper Tape, UV cure Solder Mask, and a weird spatula thing.

The Hakko soldering iron definitely made this possible. I am afraid to hook up the power supply though...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Some Progress, Some Distraction

I spent some time last week working on a Google Sketchup rendition of my hypothetical Apple IIb. The idea is to solve some of the problems with the Apple II+ as a incremental update. It is clear from the Apple II+ design that some of these fixes were deliberately removed from the design late in the process, possibly to keep cost down and possibly because the Apple III was on the horizon. For instance, the odd keyboard decoder arrangement and missing switch clearly contemplated lowercase and a keypad, but the final design did not include either. Here are my specs:
  • 80 columns. This is difficult without a full terminal card, which was how most Apple II+s were upgraded.
  • Upper/lower case keyboard. Shouldn't be too hard, other than a new character ROM.
  • Separate keyboard with numeric keypad. This didn't catch on until after the Apple III, but it should be a relatively easy addition.
  • Integrated disk drives.
  • Integrated monitor. I'm indifferent here. Although I really think the Tandy TRS-80 Model III and Apple Lisa are some of the best looking retro computers.
  • Two serial ports, and a parallel port. This just requires a few expansion cards.
So, mostly a standardized, well equipped, Apple II+ with a few conveniences we have come to expect. Here is my first rendering with elements borrowed from Lisa I and Apple IIe Google Sketchups:
So, that's the progress. The distraction is work on my Apple IIGS Upgrade. Rather than take on another project (Apple II+ logic board), I decided to dive head first into fixing the IIGS. After replacing some of my previous repairs with copper tape, and a lot of soldering, it looks pretty good. The solder mask is curing under UV light, so I will have pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

RetroChallenge 2016/10 Entry

RetroChallenge 2016/10 snuck up on me due to the new start month. For my entry I would like to focus on the Apple II+.
  • First, I want to try to revive an old parts donor Apple II+ which is missing a lot of pieces and ICs.
  • Next, I would like to start work on designing the Apple ][b, a computer that could have been released by Apple circa 1979. The b is for business! An incremental release of the Apple II+.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Apple IIe RAM diagnosis

I have an old, un-enhanced Apple IIe that that would give me errors while trying to load disks, like: UNABLE TO LOAD PRODOS or NO BUFFERS AVAILABLE . Now that I know a lot more about the Apple IIe (and electronics in general) than when I put it in mothballs, I tried my hand at fixing the problem again.

I recently leaned that by holding down the closed (filled) apple, while turning on the un-enhanced Apple IIe, it will do a self diagnosis. Here were the results:
RAM: F13 F12 F11 F10 F9 F8 F7 F6
This indicates that every built-in RAM chip was bad (or that the unenhanced Apple IIe can not distinguish which chip is bad). I didn't quite believe this could be true, so I tried replacing some of the ICs around the RAM... to no effect. So, I splurged on an ebay auction for a set of "MICRON MT4264-10 64K 100NS DRAM". I replaced all of the RAM chips, and my un-enhanced Apple IIe sprang to life for the first time in 25 years! As it turned out, only 2 of the RAM chips were bad, but they both failed in a way that would cause the self-diagnosis to report that all of the RAM was bad. Anyway, based on my machine having 2 chips that failed in the same way, I think it must be a relatively common problem.

Now all this thing needs is a "V" key and a replacement key switch. I think the V key is around here somewhere...

Monday, February 22, 2016

Apple II Development

I am pretty amazed at the current rate of development of new Apple ][ conveniences and devices. It is worthwhile to look up from a project to see what others are doing every once in a while.

VGA adapters for the Apple IIc and IIGS seem to be hot right now.

The Nishida Radio Disk II adapters are gaining more and more features, including a nice looking web interface!

Big Mess O' Wires had added Apple II support to the Floppy Emu Disk Emulator.

It's impressive to have a microcontroller with more power than the Apple II strapped on the back of it. Although it does feel like cheating sometimes...

I merely managed to find a switch that perfectly fits the Apple II keyboard encoder for enabling lowercase once the character ROM is updated. It is labeled "ONLEDA MTS-202" and is a knock-off of some old high-quality switch, I'm sure. Good ebay search terms : Right DPDT toggle switch. Just take note of how the pins are oriented to make sure you get the right ones. I'm putting mine away for a rainy day.

A new style of Apple II prototyping card popped up on ebay too. Had to buy one.