(REPOST) Beagle Bros IIGS Clean Up–Phase 1

This article was originally posted on May 6, 2012.

Here are some images of the initial clean up efforts on the Beagle Bros Apple IIGS.  You can see that one pin on MC1337 has been completely destroyed, and there is heavy corrosion on several others.  As this chip’s only function is to convert the RGB signal to composite, I don’t know that I actually need to replace it since I never use composite monitors with my IIGS machines.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - MC1337


 

There is still quite a bit of “goo” present on the board, and I will need to clean out the pin holes for C44 and C45 before I can replace those caps.  Should be a simple procedure.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - Caps


 

And while I’m at it, those expansion connector slots don’t look too healthy either.  Not sure of the corrosion I’m seeing in there is related to the leak, but it never hurts to be sure.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - Motherboard Damage


 

You can see the damage to the bottom of the PCB here.  I’m not sure what the white substance is.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - Bottom of PCB


 

I’ll continue to keep you updated here, and you can see higher-resolution images in this Flickr set.

Communicating with the dead (posts)

I said recently that I’d be re-posting here all the articles that were published before this site was hit by the PharmaHack.  That’s still going to (mostly) happen; it’s just taking a more circuitous path than I’d expected.

A reader comment to that initial musing suggested I restore the articles from the original WordPress database.  After spending several hours this weekend watching quietly as the sql admin thing resolutely refused my requests, and looking at the pages upon pages of error messages that I recognized to be in English only because each individual word (most of them anyway) could be located in The Oxford English Dictionary; I realized that if I wanted to restore my posts and keep the existing ones in place, this wasn’t the best course of action for me or my sanity.

I swung by archive.org and went back through a few of the old crawls it had done here.  The front page on any given day is there, but nothing deeper.  Any of the links I tried to visit to get to older posts returned with 404’s.

This leaves me to go through my old Windows Live Writer and Mars Edit caches and try to snag the texts there.  This will be more time-consuming to be sure, as I’ll have to manually re-add pictures and any other media that were included, but this will probably work out okay.

When my natural laziness runs into a thing requiring more effort, it just gets efficient, I suppose.  I won’t be restoring the old Tuesday Trivias, any of my assembly language learning rants, or the Thing a Week posts that never really went anywhere and will not be missed. I think there are a handful of interesting bits on various hardware and pieces of software I’ve collected over the years, and that’s what I’ll be concentrating on going forward.

What Apple got for $10K

I discovered Ed Tracy’s fun and informative series of articles titled “Apple and the History of Personal Computer Design” this afternoon as I was looking for something to do that I could pretend was work, should the boss’s shadowy form suddenly find itself looming in my cube entry.  It ties in with his series on computer design and is a good read.  This paragraph caught my eye:

“Though thought impressive on its introduction, the plastic of the initial Apple II case was quite crudely constructed. To fit a tiny budget and tight deadline – Jerry Manock was hired only nine weeks before the West Coast Computer Faire in April 1977 where the Apple II was introduced – reaction-injection molding was used. This process is fast and inexpensive to set up, but leaves surface irregularities. Many case parts had to be sanded to fit together properly. Moreover, the light brown paint chosen did not adhere well to the polyurethane, so that surviving cases from early production inevitably have flakes revealing the lighter colour of the plastic below. By December 1977, tooling was completed for cases made out of the more durable and smooth ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) plastic which did not require painting or finishing and could be produced in larger volume (Kunkel, 15).”

The bit about the irregular cases was particularly arresting, as I’d heard before of the unique personalities of each early Apple II and how they were so physically different, a lid from one case couldn’t be used in another because it wouldn’t fit.  I could feel my post-lunch carb crash hiding in ambush in the shrubbery just up the sidewalk, wearing a 70’s era hockey goalie mask… waiting… and I decided to stave it off for a bit by researching more on this.  Nothing like reading to help you stay awake, right?

Anyway, Jerry Manock’s own web page discusses this a bit more.  In the first paragraph under the “Manufacturing Process” section of his Apple II page (found here), Manock states:

The initial units used the Reaction Injection Molding process from wooden tooling due to the very short three month design and development schedule.  The lids were hand finished, then painted, and were non-interchangible. (sic)

There’s that non-interchangeable lid thing again.  He also mentions wooden tooling, a thing I find particularly fascinating, as I have next to no knowledge of industrial design and case manufacturing.  I’ll admit that I didn’t even know wooden tools could be used in what sounds to me like a physically punishing environment.  Stuff gets all hot and melty, and there’s chemical gooeyness usually happening. Stuff that you don’t normally associate with getting chopped up and punched full of holes, gets chopped up and punched full of holes, that sort of thing.

Were they really using wooden tools to make those Apple IIs?  Why on earth would they do that? (Spoiler alert).  Money, that’s why. (Shocking revelation, I know.)  It didn’t take Google long to lead me to the March 8, 1982 issue of InfoWorld, in the search giant’s own collection of digitally available issues.  On page 12 begins an interview of one “Steven P. Jobs”, then just 26, deigning to gift the eager tech news journal readers with some of Apple’s unique philosophies and even some company history. The piece was part of the issue’s “Special Section: Apple Computer”, which I’m sure Jobs insisted upon as a condition for allowing himself to be interviewed.  Therein, he reveals the answer to my piny mystery.

To the InfoWorld interviewers’ question, “What sort of problems did you have at the beginning?“, Jobs – his penchant for bombast and hyperbole already well-developed and on full display, even at that young age – replies,

We didn’t know much about plastics back then.  We went with the Apple II case with a molding process. We didn’t have much money to make molds. So we hired an outfit in Mountain View.  The company said it would make the molds for $10,000.  The problem was, you got wooden molds for $10,000.  Well, we introduced the Apple II and all of a sudden the orders started coming in like crazy.  The wood came off the molds and a third of the cases would stick in the mold.  We almost went broke because we couldn’t get cases.  It got so bad at one point that we decided the outfit wasn’t interested in supporting us, so we went down there and some of us kept the guy busy while the rest grabbed our mold real quick.

Apple's Steven P. Jobs

Apple’s Steven P. Jobs

So there you have it.  Steve and his wild and crazy team, pulling of one caper after the next!  A totally minor bit of Apple trivia there, but a fun afternoon spent researching Apple II case manufacturing was enough to keep me awake for a fe…d.g.hkllkhndg;lhn…

sleep-computer-460_1205647c

… While visions of Reaction Injection Molding Process manufacturing danced in his head…

Whistling past the graveyard… of blog posts past

Over the weekend, I was talking to a reader of this very blog when… okay – you got me. No one talks to me, and if they did, it certainly wouldn’t be about this place. But if they *did*, I’m pretty sure it would go something like this:

Totally not made up blog reader: “Hey Mike, I hear you used to have some Apple II stuff on that there 6502lane blog?”

Me: “What of it?”

Totally not made up blog reader: “Why don’t you repost some of those old articles? At least that way it will look like *something* is going on around here, even if it really isn’t.”

Me: “What a terrible idea! Go away, one remaining reader! I need you not!”

(Note to self: restore old articles and, if possible, pass it off as new content.)

(Second note to self: claim credit for the idea.)

Okay, so maybe trying to pretend like I’ve written anything interesting in the past few months is a bridge too far, but even if it’s for no other reason than to feed my bloated ego, I’ll be reposting some of the old posts that were here before the blog was hacked by Pharma-spammers way back in 20… 12?  11?

I don’t know enough about the goings-on of the WordPress database back-end black magick to be able to do a restore in the true sense of the word – reader comments and stuff like that won’t make reappearances. And that’s unfortunate, because they were often the best parts of my posts. Oh well.

So look for that in the near future.

Of things new, old and somewhere in between

I felt it important to post something, if just to remind myself that 6502lane is still here and only mostly dead.  The latest lack of updates can be attributed to any number of things, but here are a few thoughts, just off the top of my head.

I started this with another Apple /// user (fan? user? is there really a difference when it comes to this particular Apple?):

http://drop-iii-inches.com/

Yep, that’s an Apple /// podcast.  I have an unnecessarily long blog post mostly written up for that.  I think it will be up soon over at that web page.  It explains why we started it and what we hope to get out of a podcast about a very (*very*) small corner of our hobby.

And this changed:

Open_Apple

I’ll be recording the next episode this weekend, actually.  Yep, you heard it here first, folks.  I don’t have a whole lot to say about it this very minute.  I may not have much more to offer once the mic is hot.  I know I have a few points I need to address and then maybe I’ll catch us up on the Apple II news.  Of which, there’s a lot…

I bought one of these:

BrickPi for LEGO and Raspberry Pi

Essentially, it lets you interface one of these:

RaspberryPi

with this:

9797_prod_27seethru

I’m hoping to plug this:

e7c1103d6ff854ada87f6e639b315cd8

into one of these:

DSC02211

… at the other end of the chain, the result being an Apple II that (eventually) talks to the LEGO NXT set at the other end.  Way back when, LEGO made a robotics set designed to interface directly with the Apple II.

952-2

Today, these sets are hard to find and command a premium price on the rare occasion they are offered for sale.  My little Frankenstein’s Monster project is probably as close as I’ll ever get to owning my own Technic set.  And who knows?  Maybe I’ll lug it with me to KansasFest this year and we can have some fun in the dorm hallways.

Next, a Facebook thread on the MicroSci A143 drive for the Apple /// prompted me to install a trio I acquired a while back and test them out.  According to the old articles in TauTales, ON THREE and other resources from that era, the A143s are notoriously tricky to configure properly.  I didn’t run into any of the problems noted by those authors, but that may be because the driver disk had already been configured for that set of drives, so it was mostly plug and play.

I did run into the dreaded “I/O Error” bomb when I tried to format a disk in any of the three A143s, but I think that’s probably a speed adjustment or alignment that needs to happen and not due to the vagaries of drive set up and installation.  The Apple /// was able to identify and communicate with the MicroSci’s, at any rate.  I attempted to document the process by making a video with this new thing I received for my birthday:

41+Y4ONKC2L._SY300_

The Zi12 was designed by Kodak and was about to go to market when they went out of business.  When Kodak’s assets went up for auction, JK Imaging bought the unsold stock and licensed the designs and the rights to continue making them (and other cameras) using the Kodak name.  More on that here:

http://kodakcamera.jkiltd.com/company/about.php

It’s a neat camera, earning high marks on most reviews and comparing favorably with the latest GoPro models.  I suspect that the Zi12’s uncanny resemblance to a circa-2005 BlackBerry dampens the “cool” factor that the GoPro enjoys, but it’s every bit as capable.

Anyway, my awfulness at making a video was really displayed nicely in the footage I captured.  I messed around with camera settings and watched a bunch of tutorials, but I couldn’t get anything decent, other than a new-found respect for anyone able to create watchable videos with home equipment.

And finally, my ongoing battle to learn 6502 assembly language continues unabated.  I’ve been trying to absorb the lessons of the Easy6502 guide found at: http://skilldrick.github.io/easy6502/

I really enjoy the interactive simulator and it has made a big difference in my learning process.  Of course, completely skipping the binary and hex math at the outset of the process is a big plus, as well.  For those keeping count (just me, I’m quite certain), my current obstacle is to understand how the carry flag works.  Admittedly, I am not making much headway, but hope springs eternal, and I’m not ready to give up just yet.

So that’s mostly what’s been happening.  6502Lane still has a pulse… sort of.