MattInX's Miscelaneous Musings Say what now?

11Nov/150

Gaining traction on an old interest

I've always had an interest in old computers - especially those systems contemporary to my youth, be it systems that I owned or wished I could have (or even just get access to). Back when I was at university, I amassed quite a collection of various systems, both small and large. Most of this had to be re-homed when I left the UK (Mum and Dad refused to store everything indefinitely), but a few systems I really cared about stayed. These included my ZX Spectrums (two 48k models and a +3), a TRS-80 Model 1, and my three Amigas (an A500 with A570 and A590, an A1200, and an A2000). After holding onto these for approaching 10 years, I finally bit the bullet and found a new home for the A500 (plus bits), the A2000 (along with all *those* bits), and the TRS-80 over at MicroMuseum.co.uk. The A1200 and Spectrums I decided were small enough they could probably find their way home with me at some point. 

Well, the stars finally aligned back in September - we were making a trip over to visit Mum, who'd asked if I could clear this stuff out; I actually had the forethought to get a quote for seafreight of a large enough box to pack things; and most importantly, I had kinda-sorta-maybe received approval from my wife to let said box into the basement, on the proviso that I have a purge of some of the other "junk" I have down there first.

When the time came, there was some sorting to be done, along with a little trimming to both fit everything in the box, and keep it under the 35kg maximum weight limit, but I was able to include most of what I'd set out to pack. I couldn't flat-pack the disk boxes, so they had to stay; and I removed the guts of the +3 PSU, as it's an old linear (and thus rather heavy) 240V unit, which should (in theory) be easily replaced with a modern switcher that will take 100-240V in and deliver the required +5V and +/-12V outputs with a bit more headroom than the original. I plan to do likewise with the A1200 PSU, but as that's already a switcher, it was light enough to just leave as-is for the purposes of packing.

Here are most of the things I was hoping to pack - most of which actually made it into the box

Here are most of the things I was hoping to pack - most of which actually made it into the box

I ended up packing the floppies in a square cardboard box, double-bagged in plastic bags in batches of disks to at least try and keep the humidity reasonable. I was able to fit all the disks from the boxes on the right, which is all Amiga stuff, with disks that are labelled. Most of the box on the left didn't make it, but those are assorted unlabelled disks, which I suspect have a lot of PC stuff on. That's a job for another trip I suspect, along with finding the drive to read the 5.25" disks.

Here's a quick summary of what we've got going on there, roughly speaking starting in the top left and going clockwise:

  • Box of assorted unlabelled disks that didn't actually make it into the final box - who knows what's on these!
  • Amiga A1200, PSU, spare 2.5" HDD, small handful of cables with 23-pin D-sub connectors (for the RGB-out socket)
  • Box of (mostly) Amiga goodies - there's an AMAS sound sampler/MIDI interface, a couple of atari-pinout joysticks (one of which also has a connector with the +3 pinout), a PC joystick, and some Amiga CDROMs
  • Several disk boxes full of Amiga floppies
  • Assorted 5.25" floppies - there's a box of brand new DSHD disks, and a box of assorted DSDD disks with mostly PC software, also some TRS-80 disks which may or may not be readable
  • Spectrum +3 - I tested this back in December 2014 and it was working then
  • Panasonic portable cassette recorder - for the speccies
  • Sinclair Interface 1 - I don't actually know if this works or not. It's hard to test without a working 48k Spectrum
  • Two 48k ZX Spectrums - neither of these is functional. I suspect some combination of capacitor, possibly transistor, and RAM replacement is necessary.
  • Pile of assorted books
  • Box of all the Spectrum tapes I could lay my hands on - I think I lot must've been thrown away, because I used to have 3-4x this amount

That pile of books contains most of these:

These are most of the books that made it into the box - excluding the VMS release notes

These are most of the books that made it into the box - excluding the VMS release notes

As well as all these goodies - I also managed to shoehorn my old Hameg scope into the box, along with plenty of padding around the knobs and connectors. It's built like a tank, so I'm hoping it makes it through the shipping process in one piece. It's already in need of a little TLC, but when I powered it on was mostly functional. Just some of the trim/cal knobs have lost their connection (a long rod) back to their respective pots.

My Hameg HM705 scope - needs a little TLC, but mostly working

My Hameg HM705 scope - needs a little TLC, but mostly working

The box was picked up, and in principle is somewhere on its way to me - they claimed 6-12 weeks, which means it should be here at some point before Christmas. I'm hoping that I can find the time to fix one of the 48k speccies come January, which would make a nice entry for the Retro Challenge 2016/01

Between now and then I just need to clear some space downstairs...