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DOSBox – Serial INTERLINK to a real machine

So, I recently had Interlink running between two REAL machines. It occurred to me though: Wouldn't it be cool if we could use a USB-Serial adapter on a newer machine and use Interlink from DOSBox to transfer out files? You could then copy anything into the DOSBox HD and get it onto your vintage unit. Great if you have no network, CD or are just sick of unstable floppy disks!

The requirements

DOSbox happily talks to real COM Ports. We'll want DOSbox running real DOS, so follow a guide like Transmission Zero has here to install DOS to a read HDD image. Firstly, download an SVN build of DOSbox. Then download the 256mb image and get your DOS disk images here. After copying everything into the dosbox folder, grab the dosbox configuration from your user profile (you might have to boot DOSbox up once first!) and bring it over as well. I renamed the disk images to make it easier and then edited the configuration as follows:

imgmount 2 "hdd-256mb.img" -size 512,63,16,520 -fs none
boot .\D1.IMA .\D2.IMA .\D3.IMA

Run DOSbox and you should be presented with the DOS installation screen. Use CTRL-F4 to rotate through disks. Finally, you should be at the DOS prompt!

Serial Ports

Now for the serial configuration. First up, I'm going to show you a neat trick to get everything tested and working. We're going to use a virtual serial port between two instances of DOSbox to prove that Interlink works in the emulated environment. There's a plethora of virtual com ports available for Windows and they all vary greatly... officially I want data to flow from one COM port to another virtual COM port, so I'll need software that'll do this; you'll find that a lot just want to send data over a network. If you have Windows XP or lower (Windows 7 might still work also), then use com0com. Otherwise, if you need signed drivers then Eltima's Virtual Serial Port Driver is pure magic... but expensive. You get a 14-day trial with the standard version, so plan ahead and use it as much as possible! I've actually sent out a plea for help, asking for a cheaper license for just a single 'null-modem' serial port.


So, you've installed a pair as the above picture. To get here you simply installed the VPSD and chose all default values. It's really simple. From here, you now have a com1 and com2... or maybe you have com20 and com21... (my laptop has no REAL comports, so com1 and 2 were available) regardless, we need to edit the configuration (as per the DOSbox manual) of your DOSbox instance and update the serial1 line to:

serial1=directserial realport:com1

Save it, close it and run dosbox. You should see one connection on one of the virtual ports in the port configuration application...


Whilst DOSbox is running, edit CONFIG.SYS and add the line DEVICE=C:\DOS\INTERLNK.EXE to the bottom. Once this is done, close DOSbox and copy the entire folder to a new folder. Rename this to server, or somesuch. Go in and edit this configuration to point to the second comport of your virtual two.


From here, you can boot up both DOSbox's and see that they connect to either side of the virtual com ports. You can then run INTERSVR from the prompt of one node and INTERLNK from the prompt of the other. You'll then be connected! Totally pointless... but we've proven that Interlink via serial port works in DOSbox!

Intercepting data...

Just in-case I wanted to spy on the data, I thought I'd try something quickly with C# and the SerialPort class. I set up two pairs of com ports, connected DOSbox #1 to COM1, DOSBox #2 to COM4 and limited their speeds to 9600. I then used the following code to write a quick WPF app to see if I could get the data to traverse...

		<TextBox Grid.Column="0" Name="FromText" TextWrapping="WrapWithOverflow"></TextBox>
		<TextBox Grid.Column="1" Name="ToText" TextWrapping="WrapWithOverflow"></TextBox>

That's the WPF, just two text fields to see the data... then the c# to hook it altogether...

	public string FromData { get; set; }
	public string ToData { get; set; }
	private SerialPort port1 = new SerialPort("COM2", 9600, Parity.None, 8, StopBits.One);
	private SerialPort port2 = new SerialPort("COM3", 9600, Parity.None, 8, StopBits.One);
	public MainWindow()
		port1.DataReceived += new SerialDataReceivedEventHandler(port_DataReceived);
		port2.DataReceived += new SerialDataReceivedEventHandler(port_DataReceived);

	private void port_DataReceived(object sender, SerialDataReceivedEventArgs e)
		var port = ((SerialPort)sender);
		byte[] data = new byte[port.BytesToRead];
		for (int b = 0; b < port.BytesToRead; b++)
			int fromPort = port.ReadByte();
			data[b] = (byte)fromPort;
		if (sender == port1)
			port2.Write(data, 0, data.Count());
			Dispatcher.BeginInvoke((Action)(() => {
				FromData += " " + BitConverter.ToString(data).Replace("-", "");
				FromText.Text = FromData;
			port1.Write(data, 0, data.Count());
			Dispatcher.BeginInvoke((Action)(() => {
				ToData += " " + BitConverter.ToString(data).Replace("-", "");
				ToText.Text = ToData;

Starting the app saw the relevant COM ports fire up in the port configurator... then I booted DOSbox:


Hahaha... it's 99% working. I wonder how hard it'd be to disect the entire chat and build an emulator. I had to limit everything to 9600 as my code doesn't auto-negotiate the speed. Without the limits, the client Interlink was speeding up to 115200 BAUD and the server had no idea what was going on.

I'll dig into those bytes in another post... the data looks pretty simple and might be easy to emulate... anyway... what was the point of this post? Oh yeah!

Talking to real metal

Back to that 286 from the previous post about Interlink. Let's talk to it! This time, instead of virtual ports, we're going to talk to real ports. I've got a USB Serial port which will help out a lot here.


I used this recently when talking to the Apple II. It's always good to know that things work before mucking around with them. I also ended up using the real serial port on my main desktop. Either way, any serial port will work.

Install your COM port and make sure your DOSbox configuration is correct as per the hardware port number. Mine is COM1 on this main desktop.

serial1=directserial realport:com1

Then simply boot up as you've done before with DOSbox. This time the client (or server) will be over the real wire.

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Crikey! It just-worked(tm). The laptop happily saw the data in DOSbox. Easy file transfers! I wonder if I can make a Windows app that'll just let you share a drive?!

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DOS – Serial File Transfers

This was meant to be easy... I was building a 386 for sale on eBay and had a spare 286 laptop hanging around. I was also selling a 4-metre NULL-MODEM cable which I wanted to list as 'tested'.

First, a warning: Don't let the magic smoke out

There's an age-old notion of magic smoke. This smoke is contained in electronic components and, most importantly, needs to stay inside them. Usually the mistakes of an impulsive, rash, impatient user will cause the smoke to escape. Once it has, there's usually no going back... or if there is, then you'll be spending a lot of time/money trying to get back to the spot you were at prior to the damage.

In this case, I did it to the old 286 laptop used below. On the back of the machine, there's two female DB-25 ports. They're not labeled and I thought I was simply in luck! They've already put a correctly oriented serial port (COM2) on there for me!

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Turns out not... turns out one is the printer port (duh!?) and the other is for an external floppy drive. Regardless, I plugged my null-modem cable into the printer port and one electrolytic capacitor started cooking. I turned everything off quickly and inspected the damage. Yup, just one black capacitor (it was meant to be orange!) Unfortunately, when I powered the unit up, the capacitor kept cooking! Currently I've just disconnected it... could just be that that cap was shorted or reverse-polarised and fried... could also be that the whole LPT1 port is dead... gonna be hard to test.

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Anwyay... I later found the part that labeled the ports... DOH! Where were we?...


Would you believe that DOS 6.0+ came with serial transfers as standard? There's an application in-built known as INTERLINK. From here you just set one machine as the server with INTERSVR.EXE and the other as the client with the INTERLNK.EXE application itself.

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The basic idea is to load the INTERLNK.EXE as a driver first, in CONFIG.SYS. You can configure extra options here, but if your connection is correct then it should just-work(tm).

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The best method is to use a specific printer cable, affectionately known as a LapLink cable. This is a cross-over cable for printer ports and is only used for transferring of files. The next best bet is a null-modem cable which does the same thing, but via the serial port, and supposedly slower as there are less data lines.

We're going to use a null-modem serial cable today and you'll find any number of methods for creating one. You can get adapters that'll convert a standard serial cable, entire cables that are 'null-modem' or you can just create your own.

I had actually picked up a 4-metre 'null-modem' cable from a misc eBay auction and wanted to try it out. This had a male plug on one end and a female on the other and didn't quite make any sense. Hence it allowed me to plug it into the wrong port on the laptop (as mentioned above) and wreak havoc. After that little mishap, I decided to just use other spare parts and rig up my own.

I've spoken a bit about serial cables before, but the basic idea is that there's a DTE and DCE end. It's a standard client-server relationship. In our case, our servers need to talk to eachother, so we need to adapt then of of a cable to allow it to connect. The goal is to cross over the transmit and receive lines to have data transfer correctly. There's also some supporting wires to allow data-handling negotiations to take place. You'll find all the wiring methods on the Wiki page.

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Somehow, I found both a female DB-9 and DB-25 in the junk box and followed the first diagram on the wikipedia page. It was only three wires, GND from 5-7, RX from 2-3 and RX from 3-2.

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For the life of me, I couldn't get this to work. Interlink just wouldn't see the other end of the cable. I then tested both ports (just to see if I'd fried more parts in the laptop) with a serial mouse and everything worked fine. From here, it must be the cable, right? Maybe it needs to be more fully-fledged with the other data/signal lines linked up. This site seems to indicate further handshaking is required.

I browsed back to the null-modem page on Wikipedia to work out the other wires to hack together. Something then occurred to me... the DB-29 port has RX and TX the other way around! Why would they do this? Regardless, I simply disconnected my taped and twisted wires and ran 2-2 and 3-3 through directly.... the result? Success!

Configuring Interlink

Before you even think of entertaining this idea, make sure your ports are tested functional with a mouse and that you've gone over your wiring 16 times prior. Make sure you've re-read your serial port pinouts and that you have traced each wire. As mentioned above, the DB-25 RX and TX lines are swapped when compared to the DB-9 pinouts!

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Once you're feeling game, edit CONFIG.SYS on both your machines and add the line DEVICE=C:\DOS\INTERLNK.EXE on BOTH server and client! At this stage, you can reboot the server. It'll boot up and will spit out a little 4 line message indicating that it's loaded the driver, what disks are mapped and what printer ports are mapped. It'll also tell you that no connection is available. Once at your command prompt, run INTERSVR.EXE. You'll be presented with a pretty boring screen indicating the current activity.

Now, return to the client and reboot it after saving changes to CONFIG.SYS. When this one boots up, you'll hope to see that it's connected. Initially I didn't and it just tells you in CAPS that no connection is available. At this point, it's actually checked all of your ports for a server. This is both your printer and COM ports, so it actually really means that it couldn't find a server! I had this a lot at the start and began fine-tuning the configuration, attempting to limit it to a single com-port with /COM:2 switches... but it ended up being my cable!

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Once you're up though, it's all easy! As per below, you'll be told what drives/ports are mapped and it really is as easy as just switching to that drive and listing directory contents, or copying from them!

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I pulled over A-Train (quite quickly, actually!) and tried to run it on the 286 Laptop... it's not VGA, so we didn't get far at all. But it's a 286 without VGA, what was I expecting? Might need to try Railroad Tycoon... I wonder if I can Interlink that over from DOSbox?

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Editing InfoPath 2013 Form Code

Turns out Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, decided that InfoPath Designer 2013 will only work with one specific version of Visual Studio. If you don't have the correct bits installed, you'll get this:

Browse over to here for downloads. Note that there's around 16 versions of Visual Studio 2012 to choose from. Do not choose Visual Studio 2012 Express! Also do not choose the standard 2012 version as it seems to be a link to some other random installer. Instead, select Visual Studio Professional 2012 and install it... You should then get the following error:

From here, just hit download (direct link here to Visual Studio Tools for Applications 2012) and then install/repair. I had tried to install it first and so had the extra message that it needed repairing.


That time Microsoft saved Apple

Hah, I don't often post things like this, but Gizmodo just had a great article reminding us of that time that Microsoft saved Apple. Back in the day, there was a patent fued from Apple, against Microsoft, who had decided that MS had used too much of their 'design' in Windows. As Apple had been in a financial mess, Apple actually had to bend over and apple MS to invest $150 million to keep it afloat. From this, MS got an amazing deal!

Jobs really does deliver the whole thing tongue-in-cheek and the crowd plays along well. The video, from start to end, is a perfect summation of the entire scenario back when Jobs had just re-taken the throne.


Sony Picturebook – CD-ROM, RAM, Linux and WiFi

This poor little machine has been in its box for quite a while. I bought this Sony PCG-C1VS/BW PictureBook a while ago from Retro ShopBox on eBay (highly recommended!), but just hadn't gotten around to really using it! It's in great condition, with the only real issue being a missing battery latch, but the battery is still nice and snug. I've recently picked up a CD drive for it and can now install random OS'sss! I also found a RAM upgrade to max the poor thing out.

64mb Memory Upgrade

This unit is limited to 192mb of RAM, coming with 128mb RAM as standard. This means that, somewhere in the universe, there's 64mb upgrade cards floating around. I had to scour Yahoo Auctions Japan to find the component and used Buyee to get it over here.



Installation couldn't be any more simple. Flip the unit over, undo the single screw, open the case and insert the card.

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Yey! 176mb usable RAM after the Video took 16mb? (Below Linux only seems to think it's 8192kb... what's a CMS?)


I found the CD drive on Yahoo Auctions at the same time as the memory upgrade above. It was to be more economical to ship them all at the same time.


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Note that the PCMCIA card and cable are fixed; there's no ability to remove them. Sony thought ahead though! You can actually run the cable in the space provided under the drive, with the card finally popping into it's housing to be tucked away!



And check that out, the drive even comes with an eject pin! It's neatly housed underneath and locked away when the PCMCIA card is slotted in. Very handy to get your CD back our when you've disconnected the drive! No more paper clips.


I love that it shows the raw name of the ATA hardware. It's a Ninja!?

RedHat Linux 5.2

I purchased this beautiful boxed set from a flea market a while back and got it running on an old 386. I simply assumed it would just work on this unit also. The Transmeta Crusoe emulated an x86, right?


There was a floppy disk, but I can't run both a CD and Floppy drive at the same time... fortunately CD1 is bootable!


...unfortunately, that's where it stopped... no amount of boot arguments got the boot process any further than the above line.

RedHat Linux 7.2

It was obviously going to be an uphill battle from here, so I prepared myself with a little google'ing. Of course, people have already gone and installed linux before, so it was totally possible. The main point was to choose a distribution that was of the same era (or maybe even 6-months older than the unit) to make sure that there had been time for the community to make everything compatible. I ended up chosing RedHat 7.2. Note that this isn't RedHat Enterprise Linux! Well, I lie.. it is, but RedHat 7.2 is actually RHEL 2.1.


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Default boot parameters caused resolutions that were well out-of-range for this unit's display (1024x480). I fought a little.. lowres nearly worked, but didn't let me actually see the required buttons! I decided to just go with text mode.

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Make sure you configure the x-server at the end and set a resolution that will display! I chose 640x480.


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From here the unit booted nicely! We were at the login screen, but I wanted to set the resolution correctly, once-and-for-all. XF86Config-4 had created by the Anaconda installer and was the file I needed to edit to get the proper modeline in. At the graphical login prompt, you can switch to any text console by pressing the CTRL-ALT-F[1-4] key combination. Hit CTRl-ALT-F1 and log in as the account you set up during install; or log straight in as root. Switch to root (if required) (su -) and then edit the XF86Config-4 configuration file located in /etc/X11. You'll need to use vi if you've installed no other editors! Browse down to the Monitor section and add the following ModeLine (press the insert key to start editing):

"1024x480" 65.00 1024 1032 1176 1344 
                  480  488  494  563 -hsync -vsync

Once saved (: w q) you can press CTRL-ALT-F7 to get back to the graphical login screen. From here, choose Menu and then Restart X-Server... yosh!

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Sound also actually just-worked(tm) out of the box, albeit a little choppy.

Wireless Networking: Belkin F5D7011 v1000

I have other PCMCIA Wireless cards, but this one happened to be in the same box as the laptop. To get it going, we'll need to use ndiswrapper which is a neat windows-drivers-on-linux translation layer utility, and luckily my card shows up as supported in the hardware compatibility list. Following the changelog, we'll need to download Version 1.48 2007-09-19 or earlier, as they dropped support for our Kernel (2.4) in version 1.49. The main list of downloads it here, and v1.48 is here.

As I've got no network yet, I'll need to either burn a CD, or use a thumbdrive... Don't forget to download the actual windows drivers (I need the F5D7011 v1000) and extract them on the windows side first. But! That link didn't work, so I actually found them here.

From here, things got murky... turns out 1.48 of ndiswrapper needs a newer kernel. I tried lower versions and found that 0.1 tried to compile. It actually built! But then told me that I needed a kernel with loadable module support. Oh good... should we recompile the kernel? Can't! No sources! Downloaded the RPMs for that here.. then performed rpm -i. Ok, sources... let's try make them... make config.. I just hit the enter key through most of it... made sure you that I answered the question to loadable modules. Then I followed this to build the required components: make, make dep, make bzImage, make modules, make modules_install. Copied bzImage to boot, edited grub.conf... reboot... fail...


I might just upgrade to a newer version of Linux.

Wifi: Buffalo WLI-PCM-L11G

Just worked when I plugged it in... no eth0 or wi0 though? WPA Supplicant would be needed, but it didn't want to run with my base 7.2 kernel. the earliest release.

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Can't work with the driver? I have no idea if it even works with my card :(

Other distributions?

Moray Allan has a post regarding Linux on the C1VE. It details debian and installation procedures. But that would/could still cause me to have a kernel that doesn't support WPA. Either way, I scoured ISOs are available here.


Choose to Expert install and set a proper video mode, otherwise you'll get the screen above. I failed the installation as it's netinst and I needed my PCMCIA slot for the CD!


What about Puppy? Make sure you choose a version that is both non-uefi and non-pae! Currently to be found in here. It tried to boot the ISO and then failed to find it. So I copied the ISO to a USB and had that inserted on boot. It found it and tried to go further but then got stuck at the sound module, letting out an awful noise that seemed to be destroying the hardware!

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Modernising a Vintage Fluoro Magnifying Lamp

I found this thing a while back at the flea markets in Canberra and instantly decided that I needed it. I mean, who doesn't need a lighted magnifying glass on their workbench!?! It sorta reminds me of the Pixar Lamp.



Out with the old...

This unit had a 12" fluoro tube, which worked very well. I often just used it to light the apartment... but from this, could also often hear an audible buzzing from the ballast. Although the ballast provided a nice weight at the base of the adjustable arm, I wanted it out... or at least off!

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To gut everything, I first removed the tube and associated housing. It then became apparent that the wiring went through a DPST switch and nice heavy-duty cabling was therefore already provided for me.

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The next step was to remove the ballast. It turns out here that they've actually glued it into the base. Not a bad thing, I'm happy to just disconnect it as the weight it handy. Doing so, I simply gutted all the wiring to the terminal block and then wired in my own power brick.


From here, I quickly tested the power supply and polarity.


In with the new...

It was off to Jaycar again to find some LED strip lighting. This turned out to be really easy! It comes in short segments and already has circuitry embedded requiring a 12v power supply. Each segment needs only 50mA and the brightness is insane for the power usage. I purchased 8 segments (at a guess) to hopefully run a full lap inside the lamp recess.

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Tinning up the wires, they were then soldered on the correct way around.

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And a quick test...


Finally, the backing was peeled off and the strip was secured around the inside of the shade.

The result

I was a little concerned when I tested it during the day... that all changed when I turned it on at night!

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Yes, that's a 386DX40 rendering 3D cubes... and doing pretty damn well!


Of Pin Straightening and CMOS Batteries

Whilst rebuilding a motherboards thought long dead, I have been required to perform a myriad of tasks. These have been related to anything from re-building PCB traces to fabricating batteries to straightening IC pins. Honestly, there's nothing quite like a good challenge and, recently, there's been nothing short of serious challenges appearing on my workbench!

CMOS Batteries

Some older motherboards have the batteries soldered on... or worse... incorporated into the freaking CMOS RAM chips! Luckily, this latest motherboard had no provisions for an on-board battery. Instead, it just had the usual 4-pin header for an external battery. Of the four pins, the two next to eachother are ground and the single pin to the side is positive. Don't be fooled by the CON1 label thinking that anything with a 1 should be positive!


I ended up at the usual Jaycar franchise and purchased a coin-cell holder and plug socket. It's a little chunkier than a standard header, but it is so much easier to work with!


Solder everything up and determine which way is positive. Note that, for coin-cells, the positive side is the 'bottom'. I had always assumed it'd be the 'inner-ring' (as per AA and AAA and all other batteries)... but it ain't. So be careful!

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Once rigged together... install!


Yosh! Worked like a charm. If only all motherboards came with external batteries... the next mobo on the shelf has so much corrosion that I just feel like throwing it out.

Pin Straightening

Whilst doing the previous Recycle-Shopping-Tour-Of-Kumamoto, I stumbling across this 100-yen dream. It's a 386/486 era CPU with an alloy heatsink to obscure its actual identity!


I spent no extra effort breaking it out of the bag... and probably bent more pins... I wonder if works? Or what spec it is?

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First step... pop that heatsink off. This required a fair amount of jimmy'ing...


Ooooo! It's a 486 DX2/66. This is seriously my favourite 486 CPU. So much natsukashiiii.


Will have to find a motherboard to slap it into... but before I even have a chance to do that, it's time to break out the tweezers. Actually, I discovered a better method this time around. Use a credit-card/transport-card/library-card to align an entire row of pins at the same time!


Nothing like being an adult and using adult tools!

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Apple IIc – Floppy via Serial

I've recently acquired an Apple IIc and it's time to play games! As previously mentioned, the best way to do this is to hook up the Apple to a PC and transfer data via serial cable. This is all done via the aid of a software program known as ADTPro.

Building the serial cable

You'll find the required information on the connection page of ADTPro. Back to Jaycar we go to get the required components. Needed was a DB-9 female serial connector and a DIN-5 male plug. Some 6-core wire helped also.


Soldering it all together is very straight forward. Firstly, bridge pins 1 and 5 on the DIN side, then solder up pins 2-4.

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Next, on the DB-9 port, join pins 1,4,6 together. Then join pins 7 and 8 together. That's two separate groups, not all 5 in one join! Finally, wire through (DIN-DB9) the three wires, 4-3, 2-2, 3-5.

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Bootstrapping the software

Everything you need to know is on the ADTPro bootstrapping page. Java is required, so grab a JRE and install it on your platform of choice. Make sure your hardware has a functioning serial port! A USB->Serial adapter will work fine here. Download ADTPro from sourceforge and the RXTX Java Libraries. If you don't install the libraries, the application will remind you anyway...

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To install RXTX, unzip the downloaded archive and move RXTXcomm.jar to \jre\lib\ext (under java) and rxtxSerial.dll to \jre\bin. Open the program once you've got it all installed. It'll be asking what serial port and what speed to use. Leave the speed as default and then choose the correct port.

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At this point, you'll want to copy your disk image files into the disks subdirectory inside the ADTPro folder. Once you're ready to go, turn on your Apple IIc, holding down CTRL-RESET to get to the prompt. Expect ugly characters on the screen... it's no issue.


Once up (disregard that I already typed the first step above!), go back to ADTPRO and choose Bootstrapping -> ProDOS -> Speediboot.

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Follow the instructions and type out the commands on the Apple. Note: Replace the # with the pound sign on UK keyboards! From here, you'll hopefully load into the main menu.

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Hit R for Receive File and then make sure you are in the correct 'working directory'... i.e. where you copied your disk images to! I found Frogger, renamed it as frgr.dsk and copied it into the ADTPro disks folder. I was about run the floppy disk image from RAM... but why? I have spare floppies... lets use this thing as a floppy image writer!


It took a good amount of time... sounding REALLY unhealthy. Those Xs didn't look too good either. Turns out this was because I was trying to use PC formatted high-density disks... and that would never work! Regardless, due to the sounds, I wanted to open up the drive to check if it need maintenance.



For its age, it was in perfect condition. Dusty, yes... and the top padded head was deteriorating... but nothing a little cleanup with alcohol wipes wouldn't fix! I then remembered I had a 'disposable' 360k disk in my repertoire. Using this, I finally had a bit of success... it read the disk header!


Frogger then burnt, but wouldn't boot :( As that I had no idea if this version of Frogger was for my machine, or if it was even a bootable disk, I thought I'd try the actual images that come with ADTPro. I therefore chose the first image and wrote it to the disk. TADA! It booted!! Very different menu from the remote version when loaded over the wire.


What next? Oh yeah, Police Quest 1. Turns out this is in NIB disk image format, but it seems ADTPro can handle this. There was a warning of file size mismatch, but I went ahead and burnt it anyway... I didn't bother burning the second side. Once cooked, I turned the machine off.. counted to 10... held breath... crossed fingers... powered on...

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Hahahaha! It worked! But I can't flip the disk without repeating the whole process and writing the other side. I don't think I'll bother as the game loaded so bloody slowly. I'd probably never end up actually playing or using this machine... so it's now on eBay. What a perfect unit if you loved these old games!?

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Melbourne – B74’s Birthday Bash

Another weekend in Melbourne brings about another Heritage Train Trip. This time it was Seymour Railway Heritage Centre running an excursion to celebrate the 65th Birthday of locomotive B74!

The trip was initially meant to run via Newport and Werribee, so I located myself on the curves into Albion Station to snap it as it came through. The following shot is of a track-machine transfer back in 2016 and shows the angle you can get from the road overpass.

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It was touch-and-go to get there in time... but then I noticed that the train had disappeared at Jacana junction. Broad-gauge trains only do this when they're running through Essendon into town, so I was a little perplexed. Further googling resulted in the revelation that the train would 'run around' at North Melbourne. I assumed it'd then run via the triangle and head into Newport... so I re-located to Brooklyn.

After a little time passed, I checked the radar and noted that the train hadn't actually shifted. Quickly off to the Facebook page for SRHC I went; only to find that the train was to run via the RRL! This was great news... but I was in the wrong location. I've previously caught consists approaching Tarneit before and wanted to do it again with this one. Back in the car... back on the highway... and based on timetables, with very little time to spare.

Regardless, by the time I got to Tarneit, the train had not moved from North Melbourne. Hah. Such is the Australian Railway life. I waited at the station and watched two train-loads of AFL fans head into Melbourne.

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Whilst this was happening, the suspense was building outside... Seems like others had a better idea as to where to find the perfect angle.


I had a better position inside on the walkway to the platform. There's a good viewpoint, framed nicely by the station and the signals (if you wish), that let me get the previous shot of the steamer in the link above. I was the only one there, with a nice and clear line-of-sight. In due course, the train thundered through...


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And then I was off to Sunbury for computer markets and tip-shop scrummaging.

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Introducing the Apple IIc

I suppose I should be using italics there, but the heading doesn't allow it. The Apple IIc is an all-in-one (apart from the monitor) unit from Apple, built in 1984. Amazingly, this model was released at the same time that the original Macintoshes were hitting the market, directly competing with their own graphical systems?

I happened to stumble across one recently at the Camberwell Markets and haggled it down to a price I was comfortable with.



This thing is like a cute little suitcase. It has a fold-out handle at the back which actually makes it really portable. What doesn't make it portable is the power supply! It's huge and heavy and really does ruin the whole 'portable' aspect.

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The keyboard is relatively clicky, but a little sluggish. From what I read, they fixed this in later versions which came out with 'alps' switches. Note that you can determine your model by typing PRINT PEEK(64447) at the BASIC prompt...


Mine is a 255... the earliest revision.

ROM Upgrades

Fortunately, the ROM is a socketed EPROM and therefore easy to upgrade. Big Mess O' Wires has a great blog post on upgrading the ROM. Turns out that my version of the motherboard has a 16k ROM in it, but the board has provisions to support a 32k (27256) ROM. A 64k ROM is also usable, if you burn the image to the 'second half' of the chip. See my old post here on burning EPROMs if you need a hand to do so.

Firstly, download the ROMs. I'd recommend ROM 5x as it is a modified ROM with extra features. Unfortunately, they don't provide a direct link, so you'll have to follow the instructions there to create it. There's another link here.


I spent a bit of time trying to see if I could use Windows 10 to burn... short answer is that I couldn't. I booted up the old IBM NetVista which had a fresh install of XP, but that was also troublesome. So I threw in a spare HDD and re-installed 98se. Note, make sure you set your parallel port to just ECP. I'll try XP again as this setting made the burning work under 98se. Also make sure your EPROMs are blank!

Next, pop the thing open. Firstly, undo the top two and bottom 4 screws. The 4 middle screws are for the floppy drive and aren't required to remove the case lid. Once you've popped the lid off... and be very careful, there's clips all around that just need manipulating, you can disconnect the data cable to both the floppy and the keyboard.

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You'll then have the mainboard totally exposed. One thing to note is the Integrated Wozniak Machine, used to drive the floppy.


The ROM is the bottom-middle IC. Hahaha... look at that copyright requirement... it says MICROSOFT '77!


From here, pop out the old chip and slap in yours. You'll need to break W1 and bridge W2 (as per the instructions in the link above) if you're not replacing with a 27128.

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First boot and I got the following...


Oh bullocks... but hey, if you actually plug the keyboard in, then it'll actually work!



Colour Video

I was a little disappointed that this only had monochrome composite output. Fortunately, Kaput(?) has created a schematic for a Apple II Colour Demodulator. The inline images seem to be dead, but just click the first link for the circuit. My main issue is that I found that shitty little TV above, as it nicely matched the IIc. It's monochrome also... so... I'm not overly fussed if the unit stays mono.


Turns out there's a whole lot of popular games on this unit! Here's the list, thanks to Wikipedia.. And what!?!?... Police Quest 1? I wonder how hard it is to write a 5 1/2" floppy for this thing. Here's Frogger. A little googling tells me that writing floppies needs to be done via ADTPro and a serial cable. That'll be another post!

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