Vintage Computer Festival Midwest 2023 Recap

I've just returned from Vintage Computer Festival Midwest 2023.  I had a great time during my first year as an exhibitor.  The thing I enjoyed most were seeing so many people enjoying the computers I brought along...

Many types of people enjoyed the computers, from those who have never gotten to work on a NeXT machine because they were too young to those who had used the Apple Power Mac G3 w/ the 21" Studio Display back in the day.  It was so much fun hearing about peoples memories with these computers,  answering questions, or hearing small parts of many many different stories.  It was a really great time.

I was also able to connect with some of my favorite YouTubers, purchasing a boxed game from David Murray (the 8-bit guy), meeting Adrian Black for the first time, and even recording a YouTube Short for RetroTech Chris, in addition to hanging out with Steve from Mac84 and Ron from Ron's Computer Videos who I had met 2 years ago at VCF Midwest for the first time.

Also, I was able to purge several project machines that I'd lost interested in onto the "Free Pile".  Hopefully my failures can become part of a successful repair or refurbishment for another collector.  One of my friends, Matt, had a table right next to the free pile and he gave me a couple of items off the pile that he had recovered.  The crowds were so large that the good stuff came and left the free pile pretty quickly!

One goal I had set for myself was to buy only parts and pieces for projects that I already had pending.  I didn't want to leave VCF with a bunch of new projects and I was able to accomplish that goal!  I found many parts and pieces that I was looking for, mostly on Sunday.  I waited till about 11AM on Sunday to make offers.  With only a few hours left in the show many of the vendors were happy to make deals.  I have 4 or 5 projects now that I can complete with parts that I found at the show, including hard to find parts like: a DEC keyboard w/ a PS/2 port, a SUN CRT, and a New Old Stock Floppy Drive.

In summary I had a wonderful time at VCF Midwest 2023.  There were some growing pains that go along with the number of people at the show but my overall impression was quite positive and I hope to return as an exhibitor next year with a completely different set of computers to show and to share.

Preparing for VCF Midwest 2023 - September 9 and 10

I'm heading back to VCF Midwest this year and I couldn't be more excited about it.  I consider the year of the pandemic (2020) as my first VCF because I eagerly watched all the sessions (the event was online only that year).  The following year (2021) I attended for the first time in person.  I was able to pickup a NeXTstation during that show and meet so many interesting people including regular collectors like myself and a few YouTubers like Clint from LGR and David Murray, The 8-Bit Guy.  I missed last year (2022) but ended up buying several machines before the show from a local friend who has been downsizing his collection.

This year I decided that I'd like to try to exhibit.  I was inspired by a couple of different sources.  The first was a history book that presents computer history as a series of computing stories.  This book made an impression on me this year and left me thinking about the importance of teaching computer history to the next generation.  Last year Bill Degnan gave an interesting talk about how to build a Vintage Computer Museum at VCF Midwest.  I found his idea of building exhibits one at a time and looking for opportunities to display them pretty interesting and so this year I'm taking advantage of the opportunity at VCF Midwest to bring this exhibit...

The title of my exhibit this year is "Engineering Workstations of the 1990's".  This was a time when I was going to school and early in my career.  I really wanted one of these specialized machines, but never had anything other than a PC.

Three Computers

The first computer I'll be displaying is the NeXT NextStation from 1990 I've already mentioned.  It's had a bit of preventative maintenance since its last appearance at VCF in 2021, and it works great.  Come and check out some of the applications I've installed and maybe even surf the web a bit with

The next computer I'll be showing is the Digital Equipment AlphaServer 300 from 1996.  This machine is running Windows NT 4.0, an OS that I experimented with back in the day (on PC hardware) but never used at work.  As I have learned about the history of Windows NT and its chief architecture David Cutler I've wondered if the DEC Alpha may have been the primary development target for Windows NT.  There isn't very much software for the machine, but you can come and try out what I've been able to install so far at VCF.  Perhaps we'll find some other applications to install during the show.

Finally, the last computer is an Apple Power Macintosh G3 Blue and White from 1999 that I have recently upgraded.  The G3 B&W is a machine that I had at home back in the day and shows an amazing progression during the 90s from the expensive and rare NeXTstation to the much more affordable G3, becoming so affordable that it could be purchased as a home computer.  Come and check out all the different OSes I have installed on this machine, including Rhapsody.

There is an interesting "what if" scenario about a pivotal event in computer history that ties these machines together but I will save that story for the show.  Stop by my table if you are there!  I'll be in the "Big Iron" room, table D33.

Power Macintosh G3 Blue and White from 1999

A couple of years back a friend sold me a Power Macintosh G3 Blue and White from 1999.  I owned this machine back in the day.  It was my first computer that I bought coming out of College.  I had been a PC user all throughout college and I switched because my employer at the time had me using Macintosh and I had gotten used to them and was enjoying Digital Video as a hobby at the time, where Apple had a significant ease of use advantage over the PCs of the time.

But back to the present day.  As soon as I got this G3 B&W I put a HDD drive in it and installed Mac OS 8.5, the first version of software that would have shipped with this machine.  I played with the machine a bit but then put it away.  In the meantime I'd been able to collect the period correct keyboard and the horrible puck mouse to go with this machine.

A recent acquisition from a garage cleanup that I did with my friend John Bumstead gave me reason to get this machine out again, the matching Apple Studio Display 21" monitor...

I don't know that I'd ever seen one of these displays in real life, and if I did it would have been very briefly.  When I owned a G3 I had it paired with a 17" Flat Sony Trinitron CRT.  That CRT had an amazing image, but it was in a boring beige case.  This CRT is also a Trinitron, and it's an absolute beast to move because of how heavy it is.

Several recent YouTube videos have been instrumental in giving me the knowledge to get the G3 working better.   I'd had trouble getting flash storage options working with this computer and wondered why till I watched a video where Sean from Action Retro talked about getting Rhapsody running on the G3 B&W.  In this video Sean explains that the original G3 B&W machine had a buggy IDE controller chip.  I checked the part numbers on my board and sure enough this is one of the machines with the buggy IDE chip.  That being said, Sean tried and struggled with SCSI on the machine, too, so that left me with an open mind about SCSI vs. IDE on this machine.

Mr. Lurch has strongly recommended the StarTech SATA to IDE bridge for Power Macintosh machines as a reliable solution for getting flash storage into vintage computers.  I had purchased one to keep on hand which I paired with a low cost SATA SSD from Free Geek Twin Cities.  This gave me a working IDE flash storage solution for this machine for about $40 total in parts, but that was only the beginning of the fun.

Sean @ Action Retro has a video investigating all the early versions of Mac OS to see how the UI had evolved over the years.  He did this online in a browser, but as we all know doing this in hardware is more fun.  The Power Mac G3 B&W supports every OS from 8.5 to 10.4 as well as Rhaposdy versions so there is alot of scope for interesting OS explorations on this one machine.

After a great deal of experimentation with an IDE HDD, with the SATA SSD explained above, and with a SCSI HDD I was able to get the folowing OSes all installed from CD media and booting on the machine:

MacOS 8.5

MacOS 9.1

MacOS Server X (Rhapsody)

MacOS X (10.0)

MacOS X (10.2)

MacOS X (10.4)

It's been alot of fun getting this machine configured and having a look at MacOS Rhapsody for the first time.  This OS shows alot more of the elements of the OpenStep operating system from NeXT as it slowly morphed into the MacOS X that Mac users are still using today.

I hope that this machine will be part of my exhibit at VCF Midwest this year, but more to come on that topic in the very near future as VCF Midwest is only a couple of weeks away on Sept. 9&10, 2023.  If you are in Chicagoland for that event come by my booth and say Hello!

Macintosh Quadra 800 Restoration

I was recently able to add a Macintosh Quadra 800 computer to my collection.  This computer came from another collection that my friend John and I helped clean out.  I'd been on the lookout for a 68040 based computer that was on the A/UX Compatibility list, but I knew that the Quadra 700 would be out of reach for me price wise due to its popularity.

As I have previously blogged about, I've already restored a Macintosh IIci System that I run A/UX on.  This was a fun project and I learned a ton about classic Mac hardware, but it's not the fastest Apple Unix experience, so I've had an '040 machine on my wish list since that project ended.

My Quadra 800 has had a hard life, there's some light rust on the shielding inside the case, but it's nothing as bad as two of its sister machines which had been stored on the ground in a shed for many years.  But despite the poor storage conditions this machine still boots up and runs.  For some reason the machine had three video cards installed, so with the built in video this machine from 1993 would have been able to have four monitors attached.  The hard drive had died, so I was not sure what the machine had been used for, but a four monitor setup would have been interesting and unusual!

The restore process on this machine was pretty straightforward.  I was able to find the Apple Service Source manual online and used that information to take the machine apart.  While it's not at all easy to take apart compared to the Macintosh II series, it's really not that bad compared to PCs of the time.  After I had the machine all apart I cleaned the case with warm soapy water and dusted the main logic board.  The logic board on this machine doesn't have any Electrolytic caps so I didn't have to recap this machine.  I replaced the Tadiran Clock Battery w/ the same brand, so this computer should be good for another 30 years.  A couple of the drive bay covers were loose so I used Hot Glue to attach them from the inside of the case, it looks really nice on the outside and they drive bay covers are secure.

The floppy drive in this unit needs attention but I had another manual inject drive ready to go so I swapped that in.  I will service this drive at a later time.  This machine came without a hard drive.  I decided to use the ZuluSCSI Hard Drive replacement in this machine as I had one on hand, but also I like the mounting options on ZuluSCSI better than the options for BlueSCSI V2.  I can attach Standoffs and zip tie the ZuluSCSI down on the bottom of the machine with the SD card facing out the back of the computer.  Perhaps if I had a 3D printer this wouldn't be as big of a deal.  But as things are now, this makes it alot easier for me to experiment with alternate OSes, swapping SD cards for MacOS and Apple A/UX.

One other upgrade was to go through my supply of RAM and see if I could find matching pairs of FPM RAM, I was able to find another pair and bring the machine up to a total of 104 MB of RAM.  The memory check at power up takes quite a while about 30 seconds from power up to the chime, but it's a worthwhile compromise to have this machine near its max capacity.

One quirk with this machine is the strange Ethernet connector on the back.  It requires an Apple AAUI Media Adapter so I installed that with this machine and got Internet going with MacOS 7.6...

Getting Apple's Unix A/UX to boot was almost too easy with the Zulu SCSI, as I had a backup of the Disk Image from the BlueSCSI on my Macintosh IIci.  I was able to copy that onto another SD card, install that into this machine and it booted the first time.  There was a warning message from A/UX about the hardware change, but it made those changes automatically and after a single reboot the machine came right up and ran.

Remaining tasks that I have for this build are to configure networking in Unix.  This should enable me to transfer program files or build new tools on this Unix as it is missing alot of the "quality of life" tools that I've gotten used to with modern Linux distributions.

Retro PC Repairs - Know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em.

Things were quiet here on the bLog in April.  I was busy working on computers but I experienced a string of repair failures.  As discouraging as these can be I think it's important to write about them as a way to document lessons learned and to perhaps help others who may experience similar challenges.

The machines were a Compaq 386SX machine, a TI Travelmate 486 laptop, and an IBM PS/note Laptop.

The Compaq Deskpro 386S/20N was labelled as "not working, needs recap" but as my friend John Bumstead has said, when we are troubleshooting machines we need to disregard notes on the machine and do diagnosis ourselves.  In this case however it was obvious by doing a visual inspection on the board that it did need a recap.  As I removed the capacitors it became apparent that this board had suffered alot of damage from capacitor leakage.  There were many, many lifted pads and sections of the board that were heavily corroded with traces coming up.  I did some trace repair during the recap, but it was not enough to bring this board back.  I'm not sure if there are Vias that are missing or if the board has middle layers but after spending many hours with the board with no signs of life, I'm setting this machine aside for now.  This is such a cool little small form factor PC that I have put this on the wish list and I'll be looking for another parts machine, although I wouldn't be willing to pay to much knowing how bad the caps were on this particular one I had here.  Sadly, the end may be near from these Deskpros, although I'm hopeful that ones stored in better conditions may have faired better than this one.

The next repair attempt was a TI Travelmate 4000 Laptop.  This machine was reported as working but the Floppy Drive was not reading disks.  The previous owner suggested replacing a belt inside of the floppy drive.  I have done this on larger machines and so I thought this would be a repair I could handle.  I even found a bLog article explaining how another owner had been able to do this.  For me, I personally feel like a retro project is not complete till the machine can be rebuilt using its own  drives, so I started in on this repair knowing that the machine was partially working and could be left as-is.  Unfortunately, after getting all the way into the machine I discovered that I was not going to be able to take the drive apart far enough to get easy access to the belts.  I was not able to thread a belt onto the machine from the floppy slot although I did try for quite some time.  During the re-assembly process I also caused additional damage so sadly this machine will have to be split up for parts.  Although I'm very disappointed, I don't regret starting the repair for the reasons I've already described.  This is the only one of the three repairs that I consider a total loss.

The final repair attempt of these first three is an IBM PS/note portable computer.  This machine was described as "working for a while, then not working" The note indicated that they believed that the power supply circuit needed recapping.  This is also a repair that I feel quite comfortable doing, and did.  Sadly, after the Power Supply circuit inside the machine was recapped the machine still wouldn't start.  This leads me to think that perhaps the Power Supply Brick is also needing a recap, so this repair that is on hold, and not a failure (at least not yet).

After all these challenges I was able to turn things around a bit.  I bought a couple of "project" computers from a trusted local seller on Craigslist in my area.  He was selling two machines at low cost because he knew they had something wrong with them and needed repair.  I've had a high success record for machines from this seller so I jumped on them as soon as he listed them.

The first machine is a DTK KEEN-2530 machine from around 1991.  The reported symptom was that one of the four SIPP Memory Modules had a RAM chip broken off of it.  Since this machine is a full 32-Bit machine, a 386DX-25, it requires four matching memory modules in order to Post.  I decided to work on the memory issue before doing a through cleaning on the machine, but I did a light cleaning on the outside of the case and disconnected the power supply and tested it first before trying to fire up the machine for the first time.  

I've never worked on a machine before with SIP or SIPP memory, so I had to do some research.  According to Wikipedia and another source, this SIP is basically a 30 pin SIMM with pins soldered onto it.  My first instinct was to try to repair the SIP with the chip broken off, but after a careful examination that did not look easy with broken traces and multiple layers.  I tried searching on FleaBay for a part, but none were available at the time that I looked, so I started digging in on what I had to see if I had an equivalent.  It turns out the machine had 1 MB SIPPs in the 9-chip parity arrangement.  I was able to find a stick of very similar memory in my stock but the one I had was a SIM and not a SIP, and a 70ns part instead of the 80ns chips on the good SIPs.  I found some solid wire that would fit into the SIP socket and started soldering, adding 30 pins to this SIM memory to turn it into a SIP.  I was very gratified at the end of the soldering and leg trimming exercise to discover that this is a working system, my SIP was functional and the machine booted for the first time!  The connection is a bit flaky when I move the system around, so I've hot glued the home-made SIP to its neighbor in hopes that this will hold it in place better.  In the long term I may end up soldering the two end pins into the socket below to prevent movement.   I think this could have been avoided if I'd have had some lead frames on hand in order to cut and solder on proper leads instead of the solid core wire. but I didn't have those parts on hand.

The finishing touches on this build included desoldering a dead Dallas RTC and installing a socket for that, adding a 1.44MB Floppy Disk Drive, and testing the early Seagate IDE HDD in the machine.  The machine cleaned up quite nicely and is a good time capsule 386 machine.

The next repair candidate is an HP Vectra QS-16S from 1989.  This machine was reported to have a failed capacitor which released the "Magic Smoke".  After this failure, the owner powered the machine down quickly.  I find that this seller is very accurate in his descriptions of failures so I knew these symptoms would have been reported accurately.  What I didn't know what what kind of failure I was dealing with, my initial assumption was that it was a capacitor failure inside the Power Supply.  This made the purchase a bit more of a risk because HP machines of this era have a proprietary power supply, so if I couldn't find the fault and correct it then the repair may have to go on hold waiting for a difficult to find part.

So, as usual I started the repair by spending some time learning about the machine.  The HP Computer Museum is a great resource for these machines and did not disappoint with information about the HP Vectra QS-16S.  I also did a bit of light cleaning before starting to take the machine apart from inspection and repair.  As mentioned above, because I suspected the power supply, I didn't even try to test it, but immediately opened it up to look for blown RIFAs or other capacitors with obvious bulging or leaking, but there were none inside the Power Supply.  On putting it back together and testing I was a bit surprised to see all the voltages responding as expected, so I needed to dig deeper into the machine.

This machine has the processor and RAM on a daughter card.  I removed everything from the case and did some cleaning.  As I inspected the main board I noticed a burned surface mount capacitor (C1)!  It was near the keyboard connector on the main board and I can only assume it's part of the power supply section of the machine.  The cap was so burned that I was worried about not being able to figure out the value of it, but after a close inspection every other capacitor on the board had the same shape, size, and value, 22uF, so I was able to find a replacement cap from my stock and install that on the board.  I did some more cleaning as I reassembled the machine as this one had gotten quite dusty inside.  Once I got the daughter card and VGA card re-installed, I was thrilled to see the machine boot for the first time!

Once I started reattaching drives and devices too the machine, I entered another no-start condition.  After isolating the fault two one of the two MFM hard drives (identical ST-251s) I was able to remove the second drive get the machine booting again.  There was a burnt tantalum on the ST-251 board that was causing the machine to not be able to start.  I set the drive aside and came back to it later, but it didn't end up back in this machine.

The next hurdle was the Floppy Disk Drive.  As I've already mentioned in this article, it is important to me to have computers that can start up on their own.  The 1.2MB 5 1/4" Drive in this machine was cleaned and tested, but it is exhibiting some odd symptoms.  The drive spindle rotates and the heads are moving freely, but it can't read or format disks.  In the short term the easiest path forward (and probably the most reliable path forward in the long term) is to add a 3 1/2" High Density 1.44MB Floppy Drive to the machine.  This would have been one of the factory options, so I purchased a replacement drive and bezel kit at Free Geek Twin Cities and installed that.  Since this HP Computer does not have its BIOS setup program in ROM, I also made a couple of floppy disks from images on the Internet in order to set the BIOS settings and deal with Error messages on boot up.  The machine now starts and runs without error.  It's a great looking machine...

The picture above shows the HP Vectra up and running with my copy of IBM OS/2 Version 1.2, but my interest in and history with OS/2 is a story for another time.  

If you've made it this far thanks for reading and let me know if you have had any interesting repair successes or failures you'd like to share either in the comments section, or you can email me at the address shown in the Bio section of my bLog.

The Last of the CP/M Kaypros - Kaypro 1 (1986)

Due to the generosity of a fellow member of the Vintage Computer Forum, I recently re-homed a Kaypro Model 1 computer from 1986.  Despite its numerical sequence the Kaypro 1 (1986) is the last of the line of Kaypro CP/M machines that started out with the Kaypro II in 1982.

I also have acquired and restored a Kaypro 2X (1984) machine which I've previously blogged about.  This machine is still in my collection.  That experience lead me to feel pretty comfortable tackling another Kaypro project.  The previous owner of the machine let me know ahead of time about issues with the machine, but there was really only one problem, the A drive was intermittent and the machine wouldn't boot any more.  I'd experienced this exact same symptom with the other Kaypro.

It's important to get the Kaypro back to a state where it can make bootable copies of its own floppies.  Especially since this newer Kaypro has a newer ROM that requires slightly different version of CP/M (2.2U1) and it wouldn't boot off the disks that I'd made last time for my other Kaypro (2.2G).  Step one of the repair was to get the two drives out and inspect them.  The inside of this machine was clean.  The floppy disks both looked good the heads could move freely and the direct drive spindle motors were spinning freely.  There was noting obvious wrong, so I cleaned the heads and swapped the A and B drives around.  Swapping A and B on a CP/M machine requires both changing jumpers and moving the termination resistor pack on the drives.  Now the A drive was the drive with much lower hours on it.

It worked!  The Kaypro 1 booted the first time after swapping the drives, always a good feeling to get another machine booting again.  And this enabled me to do a bit more troubleshooting on the bad drive (formerly known as the A drive).  I used the COPY utility to copy the Boot & Extra Utilities disk over to the B drive.  The copy operation is slow on these machines but it went all the way to the end and then failed when it go to the boot sector (track zero on the drive for CP/M).  I had another 360K floppy already serviced and ready to go so I decided to use that instead of doing further troubleshooting on the faulty drive.  The drive formerly known as A will go into storage for a future repair.

For now, the replacement TEAC drive is working well as the A drive and the old Kaypro drive is back as the B drive once again.  I got all the jumpers and termination setup correctly and the Kaypro 1 is able to make its own boot disks once again...

This machine came with some cool accessories including a canvas carrying bag a desktop stand and ALOT of software on floppy disks (over 100 disks).  The next order of business for me on this project is to go through and try to figure out what software I've got...

This software is quite an exciting addition to the collection since previously I've only had a handful of disks of the software I was able to find on the Internet.  Thanks again to the previous owner of this system for sending it along, I know it will bring alot more hours of enjoyment.

TRS-80 Model 1 - Trash to Treasure - Part 1

Due to the generosity of another member of the Vintage Computer Forums I was recently able to re-home a TRS-80 Model 1 (With 16K RAM and the Level II Basic Upgrade).  The machine had come from a smoking home, but it hardly had a smell any more.  Unfortunately it did have a coating of yellow sticky tar over the entire surface, so the grey pained areas look gold instead of silver...

When I first got the unit and before I even brought it in the house I did a bit of scrubbing with water and a microfiber cloth.  With a bit of effort and lots of water the tar layer came off, so I was hopeful that a more thorough submersion with dish soap warm water and scrubbing I'd be able to bring it into a condition that I wouldn't mind touching.  Since the computer is painted, I felt that using Isopropyl Alcohol for cleaning on the outside would be too risky.  I took both the keyboard and the monitor completely apart and washed all the plastic parts with water, including removing and cleaning each keycap individually.  When I had the computer apart I rinsed the circuit boards with 99% Isopropyl and did an inspection of the circuit boards.  There were no bulging caps and nothing obviously wrong.  After putting the computer back together it looks alot better...

The silver portions look silver once again but you may notice that some the paint on the black parts of the plastic has thinned out quite a bit.  I didn't use any abrasives but the textured areas seem to have been stripped a bit even with only using dish soap.  I was pretty sure this would not be a museum piece when I started so even with these defects I'm happy with how the system has turned out.  Perhaps I will come back and use some car cleaning chemicals to try to restore some of these plastics, a trick that I've seen Adrian Black using.

The next order of business was the keyboard.  I was excited to learn that the key switches were from Alps.  The amazing key feel of these retro computers is a bit part of the appeal of these machines for me.  However the Level II machines are know to have keyboard problems and this one is no exception as most of the key switches didn't work.  This mirrored a problem I'd had with my Apple II Plus restoration, and because of the film on the surface of the machine and the dust inside I was not too worried about it.  When I had the computer apart I cleaned the keyboard deck w/ 99% Isopropyl and sprayed DeOxit into every keyswitch actuating each switch about a dozen times to start.  After waiting for things to dry I tested each key and most of them were working again with only 6 or 8 requiring a second application of DeOxit and a few dozen more actuations on each switch.  After probably about 100 actuations I finally gave up on the F key.  I had Alps keyswitches in my stock because I'd purchased some spares for the Apple II Plus repair, so I was able to use those parts.  Although, the TRS-80 uses Short Stem Switches which are more expensive and rare, so it was easier for me to take the non working switch apart and swap the stems since I only needed one.  After soldering in the F key the entire keyboard is working and I was finally able to write my first 10 PRINT program on this machine, always a happy milestone in these retro computing restoration!

More to come on this project.  I don't have the cable for the Cassette player, so I can't even use the computer to play programs in over the headphone port yet, but I have one on order and I'll be bringing the machine back out for some gaming fun when that arrives.

I'm very happy to have an example of one of the original 1977 "Trinity" of home computers.  This is the first one I've had, my Apple II Plus and a Commodore PET 4016 are the closest I'd gotten so far.  Do you have memories of using the TRS-80 Model 1?  Do you have suggestions for games or programs I should triy out when I get my cassette cable?  Let me know in the comments below, or my email address is in my Bio and you can reach me via email.

Nabu - Glad to be on the Bandwagon!

Recently I was happy to be among those who purchased a Nabu computer listed by the seller PellMill Inc on eBay.  I'd missed out on the first round after the video from Adrian's Digital Basement, telling myself that it would be a long time till anyone would be able to reverse engineer the product enough to load code on it.  How wrong I was!  Within a couple of weeks of the video coming out, DJ Sures and the team at The Nabu RetroNET had code up on their website that would allow a modern computer to emulate the network adapter and feed software to the Nabu PC.  Once I found out about this I regretted not purchasing a machine at first and I took the opportunity when the next batch of machines was released.

While I was waiting for my Nabu to arrive I watched videos and did some reading up on this computer.  I was able to buy the USB to RS422 adapter and solder up an adapter cable using 9 Pin D-Sub connectors I had on hand, and 5 Pin DIN connectors (DigiKey Part Number CP-1050-ND) that I'd purchased for another project.  I purchased the Dtech adapter recommended on, but I don't like the look of the screw terminal connector so I soldered both ends of the cable and got a nicer looking cable.

Getting the software going was a bit more of a challenge.  I used the PC based version of the application to get started.  This was actually quite simple and it worked out of the box the first time...

What I really wanted too have is a Raspberry Pi based solution so that I could permanently pair with the Nabu and have a functioning stand alone solution, just like the Nabu would have had back in the day.  Aaron at the Retro Hack Shack has a video showing how he did this which was inspiring.  It turns out that the software team has made some significant improvements in the Linux version and Mono is no longer a dependency, meaning that this can run from the "lite" version of a Raspberry Pi, and so it's easier to run this on a lower power Pi.  This is quite helpful because of how hard it has been to get Pis.  I was fortunate to find an RPi 3A+ unit from Microcenter back in December 2022.  This model doesn't have alot of RAM, so it's a good match for the lite version of Raspbian, and ends up being a good match for the proeject with a the compact size but also a full sized usb port for the Serial Dongle to plug into...

This solution create a nice clean solution which can easily be mounted behind the Nabu, and I can remote in to the Pi (via ssh) from any modern computer to run the text based console app that is handy in order to change to a different software cycle.

I'm excited about learning more from my hands on experiences with the Nabu.  I've already moved it out to the main entertainment center...

It's great been alot of fun playing DigDug and other 8-bit classics on the flat panel TV.  The Nabu fits in quite well with the "mostly" black look of my entertainment center, it truly was a product ahead of its time both in both form and function.

I Can't Be-leive it!

I've been wanting to run BeOS for quite some time.  I've made numerous attempts over the last couple of years ever since learning that my Power Macintosh 8600 is on the hardware compatibility list for this OS, but I've always had it lock up on boot up, or very shortly after during the install process.

I could not resolve my issue(s), I didn't know if it was due to a hardware problem with my Power Mac's Logic Board, an incompatibility with the upgraded ATI Rage video card I had in there or some other problem.  Also, I had some concerns about the stability of the machine, I'd even done a recap on the main logic board.  So, the project remained on the back burner for quite some time.

But I recently got re-inspired because Sean from Action Retro was willing to go to great lengths to get BeOS running on his TAM (and show the failures along the way).  Sean has used various disk imaging hacks before to get software onto his computers.  Because of limitations of SCSI2SD, I'd been trying to run the install process of BeOS and this was what kept on locking up on my computer.  I decided to make a couple of hardware changes.  First, I went back to the built in Video on the motherboard, I wanted to eliminate any potential incompatibility with the ATI video card.

Watching one video alone was not be enough information to get going, but Sean pointed to a rollicking good thread about running BeOS on the TAM on Tinker Different.  This thread contains a helpful link onto Macintosh Garden that has BeOS disk images that are useable with compatible machines, bypassing the install process.  All one needs to do is copy them onto a modern SCSI to SD solution and give BeOS a try!  In order to enable using these pre-made disk images, it was time to upgrade my SCSI2SD solution.  As amazing as that tech was when I installed it in 2018, solutions like BlueSCSI and ZuluSCSI are much easier to work with on projects like this.

One other cosmetic improvement that I have been wanting to make is to move the SD card slot around to the back of the machine and replace the front cover on the machine (which of course I've kept) so I took this opportunity to make this change as well.

Of course I didn't want to loose access to the MacOS disk images I've built up over the last years.  Another interesting post on TinkerDifferent lead me to this amazing tool called Disk Jockey.  This software runs on the modern computer and allows the analysis of disk images.  I was easily able to create a disc image of the Mac Volume on the SCSI2SD card(s) and then convert them to full drive images for the modern SCSI solutions so the PowerMac can still boot the first and last versions of Mac OS (7.5.5 and 9.1) was well as BeOS.  I've stored these each on a separate SD card for easy of swapping.

It's really great to finally have a BeOS system, and I'm quite happy with how it looks...

I've really been enjoying tinkering with it.  The history of Apple's negotiations with both Be and with NeXT for their "next generation" version of MacOS are now the stuff of computer history legends.  I consider myself lucky to be able to go back and see the best of what both OSes had to offer at the time.