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Quadra 950: DOS Cards

I remember back in high school that we had DOS Cards in the Macintoshes we used for Multimedia class. We were either programming Hypercard Stacks or switching to the DOS environment and fragging eachother in Doom II. We weren't meant to be doing the latter... but it was hard to resist.

I had always been impressed that the DOS side worked just as well as the Mac side and switching was seamless. It all makes sense now why the DOS side kept running when switching and why it all ran so well; the DOS card created a whole PC running independently of the host Macintosh.

To re-live all this, I wanted to find a DOS Card for the Quadra 950. Researching the cards lead me to believe that the majority would fit into the the PDS Slot, but I wanted to keep my PPC upgrade in there. I therefore began the hunt to find a Nubus DOS Card.

Some light reading...

First attempt at acquiring one

I happened across an Orange Micro PC Coprocessor Card (dated prior to the OrangePC 290) with a Cyrix 5x86 on eBay. Bidding started at USD50. I bid up to USD70. I was in the lead until the last second when the price nearly doubled to USD126. Sounds like I'm an eBay newbie but, on the contrary, I just wasn't expecting the price to go that high. I actually wonder what the final bidder put down as a max bid... only the bidder ever knows with eBay, the seller only ever gets to see the final auction price and any bids below that.

This kind of crappy bidding brings up a good point: I like how Yahoo Auctions Japan actually extends the auction in the last five minutes, for five minutes, if someone places a bid. That way, just like in a real auction, the final bidder with the most money actually wins; rather than the one with the lowest latency.

The conclusion? These things are in demand!... This model happened to be a Cyrix 5x86 SL50 and was a little below-spec anyway, so I was happy to sit tight for something gutsier.

Orange Micro: OrangePC 290

eBay alerts are all well-and-good when the sellers list their items correctly. Unfortunately, this item was listed as shipping to the US only. I usually don't bother begging, as you usually get a flat-out "no" in response, but I asked the seller if they'd ship to Australia. As luck would have it, they did... but it was through the global shipping program. Not to be discouraged, I took the gamble and bid anyway... I won!

It seems that this card was worth over USD$2500 back in the day. See The Original Macintosh DOS Compatibility Card (Houdini I) for a price list... way down the document. I haven't checked the rest of the doc for valid information on my scenario (I don't have a Houdini card), but I'll read it at a later date when I have Win95B+Plus! running on my Quadra.

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This card is came equipped with a genuine Intel 486 DX4-100 CPU and 32mb of RAM. I scoured the internet and found the drivers on the Wayback Machine. Product information is here and Downloads and drivers for the OrangePC 290 are here. Installation seemed overly-easy. Running the application gave a very simple configuration interface. Thanks to all my partitions I could easily allocate the space on one to a virtual HDD file. It seems that you need to use real floppy disks instead of images... Use Disk Copy to create those via the "Make Floppy Disk..." menu item.

The first warning, as below, was that my Video mode was unsupported. As you can see, it was configured for internal video, but the desktop mode didn't seem to gel with the OrangePC card. I tried quite a few resolutions (not really trusting my MAC to VGA video converter) but couldn't get it to agree with any mode. I was beginning to wonder if this was actually a hardware issue with the card itself.

orangepc-loading orangepc-configuration orangepc-error

I then hit Cold Boot on the setup panel and ... nothing ... 10 seconds later an error: The OrangePC card is not responding to the Macintosh and the error code 32. I couldn't find anything on that error number, but googling the text gave the standard advice of (taken from Orange Micro's FAQ page):

Q: When I launch OrangePC, I get an Error message saying ``The OrangePC is not Responding."
Remove the OrangePC from the Macintosh. With a pencil eraser, clean the PCI contacts. Do the same for the Memory (DIMM or SIMM) modules. Reseat the memory modules on the OrangePC, and insert the OrangePC into the Macintosh. If possible, place the OrangePC card in the slot closest to the Macintosh processor.

I decided to go down the cleaning route and removed the RAM SIMM. Everything then started to become very clear... the teeth in the socket were loose. I don't even know if that's the right term, but either way the three left-most contacts were going to be making very dodgy connections... no good for low-level digital logic. I jumped straight on eBay and found a local 72-pin SIMM socket and ordered it... it's 90-degrees instead of the 22.5 angle, but it'll be a good test.


In the meantime, I removed the SIMM, put the card back in the Macintosh and tried again... this time OrangePC told me that the Memory configuration was incorrect. Slightly interesting... it can tell that the chip isn't there (there must be a latch driven when the chip is in, must be on other pins.) I unseated the CPU and checked for further damage, but it looked ok... I then inspected the rest of the board. There are dints and scratches all over it, but none look track-threatening. I reseated the SIMM as best as possible with its loose teeth and tried again.



Finally, prior to any actual surgery, I grabbed a hair-drier and gave it a once-over. The age-old trick of reheating dry solder joints is a good one. I've never tried it, but I could see dry joints all over the place. A hot hair-drier will actually slightly melt the joints and, as long as you don't angle the board, hopefully re-join any damaged connections. It's a crap-shoot, but it was worth a try. Unfortunately it didn't improve the situation.

Googling further, I came across Andrew's OrangePC 290 page. This guy is a legend; That is all. The site might as well be the technical manual for the card. So lucky to find it. It documents the jumper settings... I assume these would come set out of the factory, but they are there to be configured. It turns out that he has all the information I need for the CPU I have installed. I reviewed the jumpers, and found that they were all wrong. They didn't match the CPU installed at all. I reconfigured the jumpers as per Andrew's page... but the board still would not function.



Re-inserting it and starting OrangePC threw an error Type 1 at me... hadn't seen that before. Oh, the joys of playing with vintage hardware! Type 1 errors are address errors... I assume it's having issues finding the hardware. A reboot didn't help. I powered the machine down and was about to put the card in another slot when I realised I'd bent a pin on the Nubus connector. No wonder the software couldn't find the hardware.



Don't do anything with vintage hardware in a rush... Straightening the bent nubus connector pin proved relatively easy. I inserted it again, gently, and power up the machine. No love... errors... I think we'll see if the RAM socket repair will work.

One note, I attempted to set the video mode to external via jumpers 11 and 12. Andrew's site indicates that there are two configurations, but I tried all. The software actually registered that external mode was selected... it even stopped me from opening the internal view of the dos environment. That only confused me further... the Macintosh could talk to the card fine... it just seems that when it throws the final boot command that the card does not respond... maybe it is the RAM/CPU combo. I really don't know what the history of this card is... for all I know it's been out in someone's flowerpot catching rays for the last 20 years.

Further attempts to get this working resulted in very hot CPUs and other ICs on the board, random bus errors on boot of MacOS and system crashes left, right and center. Not much fun... this card is about to get written off as a dud. I tried reverting to 8.1, switching off the PPC card, switching back to the stock crystal. Nothing. It just wouldn't boot.

I had a lightbulb moment: I could re-wire the first loose tooth on the ram socket prior to receiving a whole new socket. I found some winding wire from my toolbox and installed it. Nothing... it still failed with the same errors... made me believe that the card was hopeless.

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...this effort proved fruitless. No change in error messages.

In the never-ending quest to fix this thing, I also replaced the CPU with a valid substitute. I bought an AMD DX4-100 from a seller on eBay and gave it a go... no love.

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The RAM socket arrived... I replaced the socket, but that didn't work either.


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Could it be the RAM SIMM? I've another arriving sometime in the next week... will give it a go.
Otherwise... I'm beginning to think that this is a dead-loss. Time to sit back and wait for another one to appear on eBay.


Quadra 950: CPU/RAM Upgrades and Overclocking

When it comes to upgrades, the Quadra 950 has 16 SIMM RAM slots, 4 VRAM slots, a ROM SIMM slot, 5 Nubus slots and a PDS slot. RAM and CPU upgrades can be purchased via off-the-shelf means. Little is it known that you can also then overclock your CPU. Below lists some options for getting more horsepower out of your vintage Macintosh.

Apple PowerPC Upgrade Card

The previous owner already had the "Power Macintosh Card" Control Panel installed on the 7.6.1 system. After inserting the card, I went into the control panel and enabled the PPC Card. I was informed that a reboot was required and promptly did so. It rebooted.... Apple System Profiler indicated the same-old 68k processor? I had recalled online that one user had issues with the card, but then found that it wasn't seated properly. Trying this, I shut the machine down and then put the case on its side. A gentle downward press on the card from both top corners resulted in a rewarding click. Nothing sharp, but that feeling of success when you know something is now in the correct location.

I hit the power button and ... jeebuz.... what was that wretched chime? The 68k boot chime of the Quadra 950 is pleasant, if not downright triumphant. The chime that came from the PPC addon card was ... it sounded like a cheap knock-off MOD compared to an MP3. A dodgy, poorly-recorded sample. Either way... it worked. The screen then came on and I could actually see it drawing the background line-by-line as the grey pattern loaded. Then I saw it draw the MacOS central loading screen. I was running the Supermac Spectrum/24 PDQ+ at this point and that turned out to be the cause. It needs a software update. Meanwhile the onboard video performs much better.

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Overall the UI seems much zippier with the PowerPC enabled. Placebo probably... I'll try and perform benchmarks once I have new HDDs and a fresh operating system. Maybe some more RAM too... In the meantime, here's some benchmarks done by Low end Mac.

I've read here at Apple Fool that you can actually remove the 68k CPU when running the PowerPC PDS card. Doing so also resolves graphics issues with other Quadra models. When overclocking (the only reason I found out that you could do this), removing the 68k CPU actually allows you to run the PPC upgrade at faster speeds!

Upgrade VRAM to 2mb

The Quadra 950 has 1mb of VRAM onboard. There are 4 slots in which 4 256kb SIMMs can be installed to extend the video memory to 2mb. This will allow 1152x870 @ 24-bit colour, which is comparable to any video card you can insert! Apple has a support page describing the options for each Macintosh model and you can see that the Quadra can only take 4 more SIMMs.

Four slots support 256k 80 ns VRAM SIMMs for a maximum total of as much as 2 MB of VRAM. 512k VRAM SIMMs can be installed, but four identical ones must be installed and the system can only use 256k of each SIMM.


I initially thought that there was a cache slot next to the RAM slots on the logic board. If you look at the images below in the RAM upgrade topic, you'll see that, apart from the 16 SIMMs for system memory, there is another empty slot top-right. It's near the CPU, so cache made sense. It turns out it's a ROM SIMM slot, not a cache slot. In this slot you can put in a ROM that will override the on-board ROM.

Doug Brown makes ROM SIMM programmers that can write the SIMMs that'll fit into this slot. It doesn't seem that anyone, at all, on the internet has ever done this to a Quadra 950. I've been told that you can change the start-up tune and disable the memory check, if you want to... otherwise your options for profit from tinkering with the ROM are little. It would require some very low-level detailed hardware knowledge also!

But for fun, check out Doug's post where he changed his Macintosh IIci start-up tune to the Super Mario theme. If you do want to code ROM SIMMs, Doug has his ROM SIMM burner for sale here.

This slot does have me thinking... minimal OS on an 8mb chip... it'd be like loading from an SSD!

Cache Upgrades

Meanwhile, you can buy Nubus cards full of cache. These 'MicroMac Cache cards' come as PDS cards or 'slot-free', the latter being a device that is installed between your CPU and logic board. This piggy-back mechanism puts the cache right next to your CPU and keeps your PDS slot free for a PPC upgrade.

Upgrade System RAM to 256mb

This one was simple... purchase from seller in the US on eBay. Wait. Open package. Open Quadra 950. Remove old SIMMs. Install. Or so it should have been... quite the initial scare when, upon applying power, the machine didn't start. It powered, the CD-ROM was eject-able, but it just sat there! around 2 minutes later the grey screen came up. It seems that the machine is busy checking the RAM.

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Further cold starts took just as long; it seems the RAM checks occur every time you boot after a shutdown.

Installing large amounts of RAM in 68k Macintosh computers causes VERY LONG BOOT TIMES. It seems the BIOS runs a memory check and the more RAM in there, the longer it takes. The Quadra 950 with 256mb of RAM now takes 5 minutes from chime to gray happy mac! Note that restarts are as quick as ever.

Now that I've got my RAM in there, it's time to use it with A/UX.

Power Supply Fan

Every now and then, the Quadra would start up and the fan would make terrible noises... It sounded like something was actually stuck in it, but I couldn't see anything. Either way, I managed to take a fin off the fan propeller during an attempt to stop it. I now had to replace it. It's a standard 120mm 12v fan and a replacement was easy to find.

As I pulled off the old fan, I found the cause of the previous noises! There was an unused cable-tie in there. It seems that it had either been sucked in, or someone had shoved it in there. It was not damaged and did not come from inside the power supply. Every now and then it'd make its way close enough to the fan blades to make a racket. Seems that a bump would make it quiet again, but it would've been entirely random!

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Either way, the new fan was in place with some adjustments; it was around 10mm shallower. The previous fan was also powered by the socket on the power supply. I grafted the new fan onto the old fans plug. The system is now running 'cool' again and much quieter! I even get a pretty blue light inside the case.

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Overclocking your Quadra 950

Lowend Mac has the downlow on this. With the PPC card installed, I could max my oscillator out at 80Mhz. The system would then run the 68040 at 40 MHz and the PPC card at 80 MHz. Note that there may be software incompatibilities once you upgrade. Check out Apple Fool's run-down of incompatibilities here. For further information, check out Mac Crystal Oscillator Speedup History 2.6. Note, you may not be here for the Quadra 950, check out the Apple Fool Machine Specifics page to see the recommended crystal for your machine.

Based on the modification options table at Apple Fool, the Quadra 950 can take option 1 or option 2. Option 1 sounds the easiest whereas option 2 the safest... either way you need a soldering iron and some guts to tinker with your vintage macintoshes logic board.

The oscillators are available on eBay for a few dollars. I purchased mine from a Hong Kong seller. I bought a 5pk just in case. The are a standard-size unit and have 4 pins. The existing components are soldered into the motherboard, so from here on in you're in for a challenge. The best bet is to unsolder the current crystal and solder in a socket. This will allow for easy replacement to the original crystal if problems are encountered.

It might be hard to find an exact socket for the crystal. Jaycar has 14-pin sockets but they have all pins when we only want the four corners. I've modified a full-size socket by pushing through the intermediate pins.

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The sockets are a mongrel to manipulate. Firstly, break off the thin end of the pins to be removed. They only bend when you try to force them out, so remove them from the equation. Next, use pliers or find a surface with a suitable space to push the other side of the pin in to. You could use hammer and nail here, with the head of the nail on the pin. Tap them out gently, but be warned, they are in there solidly and will require a bit of work. I used pliers on them, at an angle, and squeezed them out; but not without minor damage to the housing.

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Removing the logic board is straight forward. Remove all the cables from the rear, remove any Nubus cards or PDS PPC card installed. Remove the power supply and hard disks/floppies/cd-roms. Disconnect the speaker and the power switch cables. The debug and reset buttons 'pop out' and can hang half out the front of the case during the process (see pictures.) There is then a tab between the memory banks, to the left, that needs to be pushed down. Once down you just need to slide the whole logic board left and it'll fall into your hands.

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Once out, heat up your soldering iron. You'll find the 66.6mhz crystal directly above the 68040 CPU. There's four pins on the back that needs to be de-soldered. Your process will either be to (as I did) loosen them one at a time, jimmying the crystal off the board, or the smarter way: use a solder-sucker to remove all solder from the pins and hope that the crystal will just slide out.

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Either way, it took me around 10 laps of the pins with a very gentle lever-action in between to remove the crystal. I then soldered my socket in, not doing the cleanest job!

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powerpcI put the original crystal in the socket (keep the 'pointy' corner of the crystal in the top-right corner!) to test that the socket was good. Note that the original crystal will have very short legs! Make sure that it's in as-firmly-as-possible and that you don't bump the machine and dislodge it! Running benchmarks (more on this below) produced the same results as pre-chipping. We win. I then shut down the machine and socketed the new crystal. It was a very suspenseful wait for the RAM checks to happen... was the machine going to boot??

5 minutes later.... I had an 80mhz PowerPC 601 machine~!

Benchmarking MacOS

Speedometer is included with the Newer Technology Disk downloads. The results, pre-clock-chip, are as follows:

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After the chipping, the following results were produced:

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Yeeeeey! Not only did the bloody thing boot, the speed increased! It seems round ~20% too. Makes sense really... since the previous crystal was 66.6mhz, with the new being 80.0mhz.

SieveAhl is a recommended benchmark application for 68k Macintoshes. This application performs two tests: Sieve and Ahl. Pre-clock-chip results are reported below. The 500 tests executed very quickly. The site has a disclaimer that running the tests on PowerPCs isn't accurate as they use all sorts of emulation layers to execute 68k code. Either way, I have a clean set of figures pre-chipping.

sieve-download sieve-pre-chip-1 sieve-pre-chip-2

After the chipping the results were as follows:

sieve-configure sieve-post-chip-1 sieve-post-chip-2

...there's that ~20% increase again! Winner... the overall OS felt much zippier.

Over-clocking equals over-heating!

Of course, your mileage will always vary when over-clocking anything. Extra speed always leads to extra heat and then compounds into stability issues; the system was clocked at a specific speed by the manufacturer after rigorous quality control. Unless politics/marketing have come in, then higher clock-speeds have proven to be unstable and therefore weren't selected/enabled. Don't be sad that your CPU created a nuclear event, be happy that you had it rocketing along for a few nanoseconds! Of course, try and keep it cool for as long as you can.

It turns out that the 20% speed increase also increased the heat coming from the CPU. After around 30 minutes of running, depending on what I was actually doing, the machine would freeze. This is a very common symptom of overheating and the best method is to air-cool the CPU. The PowerPC PDS Card has a heatsink on it, but it's only passively-cooled. Fitting a fan to this should help keep the temperatures down.

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I grabbed a fan from a local PC store that plugs into the standard power cables. It was a little huge for the scenario, but it kept the CPU nice and cool during normal usage. Note that there ain't much clearance in the case with a fan of this size... if you need more than 2 nubus slots then you'll want a smaller fan that fits inside the heat-sink fins.

If you've successfully over-clocked your 68k then fill out the survey at Apple Fool to keep everyone informed. You can see the results of other successful chippers here.


Quadra 950: Alternative Operating Systems

Although Macintosh hardware is first-and-foremost meant to only run it's own brand of Operating System, you can coerce it to run different software with a little bit of work. Most of the methods still require a real MacOS partition with extensions/bootloaders to then hijack the boot process and switch execution to a 3rd-party OS. Even Apple's own A/UX (their variant of Unix) uses this method.

Installing A/UX on the Quadra 950

This machine isn't the Workgroup Server, but we can make it think it is. If your Quadra doesn't have CD-ROM Drive yet, then check out the difficulty I had installing one. Also, we'll need to build a floppy boot disk, you can see how to make them here.

Once you're ready, download A/UX 3.0.1 from here and burn the image to CD. (There's a plethora of Mac OS versions here, if you're bored.) I used PowerISO to burn the image. This image also contains the bootdisk, write that to a floppy too!

Slap the CD in your drive, boot your Quadra. Notice that it doesn't care one iota about your disc? It never will...

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Make sure you have the bootdisk available. Slap it in and boot... It just worked... that's always nice. It got to a monochrome desktop and asked for the A/UX installation disc? Fail. I then googled to this site and found out that "if you don't have an Apple CD drive then you're hosed." Thanks... a lot... Apple.

I then tried to use my Apple PowerCD, but that wasn't found either. Seems like someone else tried and failed as well...

Gah! Is it time to hack the boot image to work with other SCSI serial/device IDs? Or do they all need individual drivers? It seems that A/UX 3.1 supports additional CD drives, specifically the NEC drive that I have. Unfortunately the boot disk is from 3.0.1... might have to try and copy the driver over...

I resorted to purchasing a CD-ROM drive that is listed as working on the A/UX FAQ. The original mention that this drive works is here. There's another reference here. It'll arrive soon and I'll try again!

CD-ROM Drives and PowerPC Upgrades

My Pioneer DVD-303S-A arrived and I installed it. Nothing tricky there, the ID jumpers were set accordingly and I booted in to MacOS 8.6. Unfortunately, the OS wanted nothing to do with the drive, the default extensions wouldn't see the CDs.

Disregarding this, I slapped the A/UX boot floppy in the drive and rebooted the system... it failed, telling me that my hardware was unsupported! Of course, I still had the PowerPC card enabled and it seems that this is not supported by A/UX? It actually seems that A/UX was only for 68k and you would need to install IBM AIX on any PowerPC hardware. The Apple Network Servers (although short-lived) ran PowerPC with IBM AIX. 'A/UX 4.0' was to run on PowerPC, but the project was dropped. Floodgap ANSwers: The WGS 9150 and the Story of Wormhole is a good primer on this generation of servers and operating systems.

Anyway, with the PowerPC card disabled, the installation found the CD-ROM!


This was ridiculously straight-forward. The floppy saw the CD and then booted straight into the installer. From here you simply partitioned a disk and hit next, next, finish.

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Floodgap has a great tutorial on partitioning and installation. You'll note that all partitions mentioned are 2gb. It seems that, since the 'boot' partition is based on System 7.0.1, 2gb is the maximum partition size! Be very careful when dealing with other disks in your system with larger drives/partitions!


A/UX doesn't load from the bios, it actually boots once the smaller 7.0.1 parition has loaded to the desktop. It's interesting to watch, especially with my Supermac Video card. It actually re-initialises the videocard whilst doing so. So you get to the standard Finder and then another 'loading' dialog pops up. After this the screen goes blank, hardware is initialised and the A/UX loading screen appears.

It'll then have booted to the A/UX desktop which looks quite similar. You now have access to the root partition known as /. I opened the CommandShell (aka Terminal) and played around. It accepted my 'cc' command... I had a compiler! I then took screenshots, opt-shift-3 worked fine, but on attempt to copy to my main MacintoshHD partition (4gb in size) it threw an error saying it needed 30mb more space. Hah... fail... System 7.0.1 cannot handle the partition sizes.

Will muck around with this more and report back.

Further References:


Seems that this is the effort after A/UX to get it running on the PowerPC.


NetBSD/macppc will not work. It is for OpenFirmware based Power Macintoshes.

There's probably information here... or here, here, here, here or ... maybe somewhere else. I will try this in the future.


Nope... it needs a PowerPC 604 or higher. Even with the PPC PDS card, the max CPU is still a PowerPC 601. Unfortunate really, BeOS is still one of my favourite operating systems and I'd love to see it running on a 68k. Go and check out the Haiku OS anyway, it's still under active development.

MacOS 8.5+

Not quite as alternative as those above, but this OS is not meant to run on 68k Macintoshes. Not even those with PPC upgrades. 8.5 can be installed and then upgraded to 8.6. More on this soon.


Quadra 950: SCSI Storage, Partitioning and Boot Disks

The Quadra 950 has two SCSI buses. I therefore originally thought that this meant 12 devices (the logic board takes ID 7 on each bus.) Turns out I was wrong... the OS only supports a maximum of 7 devices in total! This is achieved by a software bridge that logically joins both buses. Therefore, you cannot have devices with the same SCSI ID on both the internal and external buses! How frustrating.

Low End Mac explains it, relating to System 7:

Although there are two separate SCSI buses, System 7.0-7.1 "folds" them together so the operating system sees a single virtual SCSI bus. Thus, under System 7.0-7.1 (and only under those systems) you must make sure that all devices on both chains have unique IDs.

So, what's the plan? Fill the bus! 7 slots. That's 2 CD drives, 4 hard disks and a ... maybe I'll try and find a zip drive... with the case full it will have to be external.

Setting SCSI IDs

This seems to get a few people confused. Each SCSI bus (of this vintage) has a maximum of 8 devices. These come with the IDs of 0 through to 7. To represent this, a value comprising of 3 bits is used. If you know your binary math, then this is obvious, if not, then please look at the table below. The bits relate the the jumpers seen on all SCSI devices of this vintage.

Listed below is the Jumper and it's corresponding decimal value in parenthesis. Summing the values associated with the bridged jumpers gives you the SCSI ID.

Jumper Values
SCSI ID J0 1 J1 2 J2 4

So, from above, the jumpers indicate the values 1,2 and 4. i.e. a jumper bridging 'Jumper 0' will give a value of one. When you bridge multiple jumpers then you sum the values.
(i.e. J1 + J2 = 2 + 4 = 6 or J0 + J2 = 1 + 4 = 5 and so on.)

With this knowledge, you can now configure all of your old SCSI devices to play happily on your bus(es). On the Quadra I had all of the HDDs and the internal CD drive on one bus. I used 0 for the boot HDD, 1 for the CDROM and then 2,3,4 for the other disks.

Externally I had the Apple PowerCD plugged in and configured to SCSI ID 5. Just to re-iterate, the external devices, although on a separate physical bus, join the internal single bus and therefore must be using unique IDs. They cannot re-use the IDs of internal devices!

Make sure that your external SCSI devices have unique IDs. They cannot use the same IDs as internal devices!

Terminating SCSI Buses

The SCSI bus is a long chain of devices. Communication along the chain is terminated by a set of resistors and/or current. Some SCSI devices provide internal termination facilities. If you enable termination on a device, then you should not put any other SCSI devices further along the chain. In the end, the chain should look like a row of christmas lights. One end is the motherboard, and this is terminated internally. The other end is a terminator on the cable, or a device with internal termination. ALL devices in the middle must then be non-terminated!

Macintosh SCSI Hardware Issues indicates that no drives in the Quadra 900/950 need be terminated. Instead the cable should have termination at the very end. An active terminator is recommended over a passive one. This identifies with the SCSI bus requirements above. All devices between the terminators (logic board and final terminator) must be non-terminated. The only exception to this is when the final device has internal termination.

SCSI Converters

The Quadra 950 only has 50-pin internal sockets for SCSI cables. It runs an NCR 53C96 SCSI Controller with a theoretical speed limit of 6 MB/s. Finding 50-pin SCSI devices nowadays is a real pain and most now have the vintage "price tag" on them. Fortunately, there's no need to worry. The SCSI interface happens to be backwards compatible and, although there are several different types of connectors, most can be converted (or downgraded!) to the lowest standard.

In our case we need all our devices on the flat 50-pin IDC internal ribbon cable standard. Scouring the net (and then eBay), resulted in some easy finds. A Hong Kong seller (zero results from Australia, as per usual) had the converters for AUD$9.50 a pop. These convert 50/68-pin to SCA 80-pin drives. And I had to buy these after-the-fact as I'd already purchased ~100gb SCSI drives with these plugs. I'd bought the drives because they said 'vintage'... just not 'vintage' enough for the Macintosh.

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The SCA interface includes automatic ID selection and optional termination. This gets converted in the adapter. There are jumpers there for the ID (as per the table able) and then a TE jumper with enables internal termination. This means that I can have any of these devices on the end of my chain when the TE jumper is bridged.

Installing 80-pin SCA drives into the Quadra 950

The size of the case would make one think that you'd be able to store around 8-10 drives comfortably. You would be able to... if the designers had provided the slots. Instead, there are only two fixed locations to install drives. One of these gets stolen by the internal CD-ROM if you choose to mount it. I was hoping that, as that the bays are removable, someone had come up with a readily-available solution for more drive mounting. This forum post was all I could find; the user has managed to get 8 drives in the Quadra. Unfortunately all the images are gone...

I used my second (new) SCSI cable and plugged it into the socket under the power supply. This is the second SCSI bus; it's the internal side of the external bus. I even managed to sneak the cable up behind the power supply. Let's hope it doesn't get too hot!

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First things first... DO NOT sit drives on top of each other freely and turn the power on. Anything could be shorting between them and cause issues. I powered the drives via the piggyback to my new fan and it cooked the lead!

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First attempts to get the devices to show failed miserably. The cooking of the lead may have cooked the converters, but there's no 'smarts' to them, so I don't see how that could have happened. I put the two new HDDs as IDs 3 and 4 on one bus, also testing on the other, but never once did a drive show up in any scanning application. One drive showed a little flickery HDD activity once, but most of the time they both just lay there, like stunned mullets.

Reading SCSI Notes for 68k Macs, the quote that got me was:

80-pin drives aren't required to be 68-pin SCSI, IIRC, so a rare SCA drive that doesn't support Wide might exist. All the same cautions apply to attaching an SCA drive to a 50-pin bus as attaching a 68-pin drive, except that it's even more common for cheap adaptors to cause heartache to those trying to save money.

Go ahead and put those SCA drives into your 68k, but make sure you've got a fair bit of time laid out for getting them up and running. Hopefully it'll just work out fine, but you might have to debug something, possibly including replacing some of your adaptors if they're not working well.

Nothing is working well... the adapters are crap... the drives are crap? I don't know... but I'm writing all components off at this point. Might try again tomorrow. day...
Holy shit. I just booted today after all the unsuccessful attempts last night. The power splitter cable melted when I turned the power on! DO NOT ... EVER ... use SCA drives in your Quadra 950.

...I'll be back once I purchase expensive 50/68-pin HDDs... I AM NOT touching these SCAs anymore.
(Tell me if anyone has ever successfully used an SCA drive in their Quadra 950... kthx.)

Installing 68-pin drives into the Quadra 950

These have both arrived (9g and 36g) and they both just work! ID set, converter in place and presto, the drives appear and are completely functional. Onto the partitioning!

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There are at least two sorts of adapters... the above shows the 'inline' version, a single moulded unit. There's also the version with a PCB in-between. Both adapters worked perfectly for me.

Partitioning Disks

I expected there to be partition size limits, but that doesn't seem to be the case with MacOS 8.1 and higher. There's a multitude of tools available, so I've chosen to try and few of them out below. If you need to download any then check out Gamba's page.

Apple HD SC Setup (Patched)

When Apple HD SC Setup opens, you'll be presented with an ugly little dialog. I suppose it's the visual representation of that similarly ugly little tool called fdisk. Keep mashing the Drive button until the text above it matches the drive you want to work with. In this case mine was SCSI ID 4.

There's notes here on how to set up partitions via Apple HD SC Setup. Note that you have to 'Initialize' a disk before you can manage partitions! If initialisation is formatting, then wouldn't you have thought that it would want to set up partitions first? It seems that this isn't the case. Initialisation also takes a REALLY long time; it'll create and format an initial 4.1gb partition for you.

apple-hd-sc-setup-3 apple-hd-sc-setup-1 apple-hd-sc-setup-2

Once you have the option to press the Partition button, do so. You will be presented with a window that'll let you format your current partition. We don't want to do this, so hit Custom. You'll now see the initially created partition and, presumably, a large grey area underneath. Click this grey area to work with it.

Select Additional Mac Volume and type in a new size. The app puts a maximum size in there for you, but I found this to be different every time I opened it? Your Apple will crash if you do. Actually... it crashes and crashes and crashes... I can't successfully create a new secondary partition with Apple HD SC Setup. Onto the next tool...

Apple Drive Setup (Patched)

Apple Drive Setup was the defacto disk configuration utility with MacOS 8.1* and above. It also only supports Apple Firmware disks and so it turns out that it needs patching too!. Download Drive Setup 1.5 + patch or Drive Setup 1.7.3 and patch.

Download the version you want and the patch. Drive Setup will mount a disk on the desktop; copy the Drive Setup application from it to a folder somewhere. Then extract the patch into this folder also. Double-click the patch... not much happens. Opening Drive Setup will allow you to update your Hard Disk drivers... do this. You'll then need to reboot.

drive-setup-1 drive-setup-2 drive-setup-3

Turns out that when partitioning with Drive Setup, you cannot just add partitions. You need to select the 'layout' and then resize each individual new partition accordingly. You'll also need to realise that changing the 'layout' will wipe your current disk... entirely!

Drive Setup 1.5 also wont let you create a partition bigger than 4gb. I actually managed to create a 9gb Partition via Apple HD SC Setup and this just kept crashing MacOS 8.1 when trying to get to the desktop. Using Drive Setup to create 4 4gb partitions worked a lot better!

FWB Hard Disk Toolkit

You could also possibly use 2.5.3 is also available or . I couldn't get 4.5.2 to load on MacOS 8.1. Note that 2.5.3 is a full CDR image and takes forever to extract on the Quadra via StuffIt Expander.

Making a Macintosh Boot Disk (1.44mb)

Instructions are from here, here and here. Disk images: System 6.0.8 Boot Disk or System 7.0.1 Boot Disk. Note that if you want to install A/UX, you'll need a boot disk. It's included in the download and all is explained here.

I went to local PC store and bought an internal floppy drive and blank disks. I got home that afternoon and tore my windows desktop case open. Lots of mess only to find that there was no floppy plug on the motherboard. Hah. Fortunately I had a spare pc in the cupboard, so I yanked that open and, luckily, managed to install the floppy drive.

Keeping this machine off the internet, as it was archaic and bound to cause issues against my main workstation, I built the disks. The first goal was to write the A/UX boot disk that comes with the download. I opened the image in WinImage and ... it showed the main window with zero contents. There was no "Mac" footer in the status bar and I was concerned. Either way, I hit CTRL-W and wrote the floppy that was in the drive. It warned me that the disk wasn't empty... it was a blank disk anyway? I quickly checked in explorer for any files, but there was nothing.

Either way, I continued the write and it chugged along to 100% and told me it was finished. I trusted it.

Slapping the disk in the Macintosh, it booted. No magical short-cuts of any kind... it just trusted that the disk inserted was the one it was to take priority on. It loaded to a monochrome desktop and a dialog came up stating that we were installing A/UX! Winner... then it asked me where the CD was. Apparently it couldn't find it.... more on that here...

From this... I assume that the standard System 7 and 8 images will 'just work'(tm) Godspeed!


Quadra 950: Optical Drives

This ended up being a tour-de-force. CD-ROM after CD-ROM failed me and I nearly gave up a few times. Turns out that not all CD-ROM drives will work peacefull.... who am I kidding? Apple has always stuck with proprietary hardware.

There's some great things to learn here when trying to use a non-Apple SCSI CD drive. I think the most important is that you cannot expect 100% functionality. That and you may well need to hack your drive to stop the tray locking; or hack the code to correctly support your drive's locking mechanism.

HP C4343A SureStore 6020i

DSC06102So, I bought a CD drive off eBay. Listed as an old HP SureStore Writer, 50-pin SCSI. PC/Mac Compatible. The Quadra 950 had been off (and unplugged) for days and, instead of turning the machine on and ensuring I had a known-state to base my upgrade from, I dug straight into the upgrade. I opened it up and installed the drive. I put it on the SCSI cable right next to one of the 2 hard drives already installed.

Once back together, I applied power and ... crap ... the flashing-question-mark-on-disk of death icon. OK, it cannot find the boot volume? Maybe my SCSI IDs are conflicting or some-such. So, I take the CD drive back out and .. nope .. still the flashing-question-mark icon on boot.
flashing disk of death

It chimes, the hard drives spin up and think a little, then nothing, just the flashing icon. I remove the PRAM battery, zap the PRAM (although only one chime-reboot), take out the PPC card, the real RAM and then disconnect the power supply from the motherboard. I try the second SCSI bus (there's another 50-pin socket under the power supply) to no avail. Whilst doing all of this I notice that I already have the VRAM upgrade! No need to buy more.

But.. nothing... have I trashed the logic board? The SCSI cable? Has the addition of a faulty CD drive killed the other two SCSI drives? I'm at a loss. It's 2am and I choose to sleep on it.

The next day, after a stressful day of reading up on other people's posts with similar symptoms, I return home to test it all out again. I reset the PRAM with 4-chimes (it seems that one chime restart isn't enough for some cases) and try a new PRAM battery. Most articles point that without a proper voltage from the battery, the motherboard will get very confused and behave erratically. I find that replacing this and fully resetting the PRAM does not work.

DSC06106During the day, I purchased a floppy drive, floppy disks and another SCSI cable from a PC shop in the city. The cable only had a total of three plugs on it, so I plugged one end into the motherboard, the middle into one of the two disks and the existing terminator on the end. Presto... the bloody disk booted. It seems that, in my efforts to install the CD drive, I've fractured/damaged/destroyed the original SCSI cable. This cable had bends, folds and twists in it already, so I can only imagine that I've fractured the wires inside those folds when I was manipulating the CD drive into position.

Do you get the flashing question mark or just a grey screen?
The root cause here ended up being a fractured, old and tired SCSI cable.
Replacing it got my Quadra booting again.

Either way, it was a relief to find the machine booting again. I threw the CD drive in the bin as it wouldn't even power up anymore and found another on eBay. Do be careful when buying crappy old HP hardware to stick in rare, somewhat fragile, vintage Macintosh machines!

Update: It turns out that non-Apple SCSI CD-ROM Drives get their trays locked. As found out from trying the second drive below, Apple only wants you to use the eject button or drag-to-trash on the desktop. They try their hardest to prevent you from ejecting the disk manually to prevent data issues.

IO-Data RX4420

My second drive arrived... it's an IO-Data RX4420 from Japan. An Australian seller had it and it's a relic from the same era as my Quadra. It's in an external case that runs on the 110v Japanese standard. I didn't feel like voltage converters and the like, so I ripped it out of it's case (put that aside for safe-keeping) and attempted another internal install.

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I set the SCSI ID to '1', knowing that one HDD was '0' and the other was '2'. All installed and ready to go, I booted the machine. For the first 10 seconds I could happily press the eject button and the tray would pop out. Once on the Macintosh desktop, the drive stopped ejecting! Pressing the eject button would cause the drive to attempt an eject, I could hear the motor humming, but the tray would not move. The tray had been locked!

Ok, Mac OS has locked the drive? Is this punishment for a third-party unit? After a little googling I came to the conclusion that you must have third-party drivers for third-party CD-ROM drives. Needing another driver also means that if I ever want to boot from this drive then I'll need a floppy boot disk with the drivers copied on. As that my drive was Japanese and made in 1999, I assumed that I was nearly out of luck to find a relevant Macintosh driver... googling was resulting with nothing.

I then stumbled across Third-party Optical Drive Support. It explains how to edit your Apple CD-ROM Extension to support any CD Drive. I downloaded ResEdit and gave it a go.

cdrom-ext-1 cdrom-ext-3 cdrom-ext-2

As per the instructions I dragged the extension to the desktop and duplicated it (command-D) as a backup. (Note that shift-command-3 takes screenshots on the System 7 and MacOS 8.) From here you need to open the extension in ResEdit, navigate to "DRVR" and then the first driver in the list marked "42". Select it and then choose Resource -> Open in Hex Viewer. Edit the offsets as mentioned in the link above. When editing, make note of the next data block (7e09 in this case.) Highlight the data block you're trying to replace and start typing. Everything will shift around... but once you've typed in 4 characters it should be back and you should have your new value in the correct spot. Always compare the next line again to audit your own changes. If required, you can go to Resource -> Revert this resource to undo all changes, or command-Z to undo the most recent edit.

I saved the extension and dropped it back into the System Folder. Unfortunately, upon restart the boot process froze whilst trying to load extensions. Was the base MacOS 8.1 "Apple CD-ROM" Extension ever going to work with my drive? I attempted to upgrade to "Apple CD/DVD 1.2.2" as it was mentioned to work with "older Macintoshes." Note that you can get all the drivers here. After throwing the extension in, I rebooted without the mod. No go... Apple CD still indicated that the drive was not responding. So I modded it and rebooted... same result, freeze during extensions load. I held down shift on the next try and booted without extensions. After verifying the resource hacks on the driver, I decided that 1.2.2 was a no-go. 1.3.1 failed as well.

Hindsight: At this point I was using AppleCD to test if the drive was working. As that the tray was locked, I had not put a CD in. I'm wondering if it was working (as it was showing in SCSI Probe) and I just needed to jimmy the thing open.

I gave up... seems I need a real Apple CD Drive to get MacOS 8.1 going... Using Yahoo Japan (and my limited Japanese), I searched once more for the model number of the CD Drive and found out that the company didn't support it under MacOS at all. There's also product information from IO-Data here that never mentions MacOS (thank you again Web Archive!). Apple clearly states that you'll need a third-party driver. There's discussion here on 2-chan where it seems that a user has asked about compatibility, tried it and never responded... can't be good news.

Or is this really the end? I then found a link here with third-party one-size-fits-all cd-rom drivers. The indicate that CD Sunrise works with 99% of CD drives. To get it to work, one must download the archive from that link, extract it somewhere and drop the extension on your system folder. Didn't work...

And now the rabbit-hole continues. Here's a link with a crap-load of drivers to try... I installed Apple CD 5.3.2 and then followed the hack described here. Low and behold it was the same hack as I'd done on 5.4.2. ... No good....

cdrom-ext-applecd cdrom-ext-fwb cdrom-ext-fwb-2

Trying the FWB CD-ROM Toolkit 2.3.1 gave me a little bit of hope. It could see the drive but it told me that I needed a driver to do anything with it. I didn't really have any ideas on what to do next.

Since I had the network going, I started copying games over to the Quadra. One was a CD image and needed to be mounted by the Toast 4.1.3 application. It turns out that Toast comes with its own CD driver extensions? Prior to testing these, I opened Toast and it instantly saw the drive and happily gave me device information. Clicking the eject button had the same effect as the physical button on the device; it tried to work but was locked. At this point I started to wonder if it was really locked... So I stuck a screw-driver in the pin-hole to eject the tray. It jumped out. I then closed it and tried to eject from Toast. It worked. What's going on here?...

Based on this good news I dropped the Toast CD Reader extension into the extensions folder and rebooted. The CD Drive was locked, so I forced it open and slapped a CD in. It mounted the disc onto the desktop. It seems that the tray-locking mechanism just hates Apple. I attempted to eject the CD from the desktop and the drive was locked! I had to physically force-eject it again. For good measure I tried the CD Sunrise driver again. It also worked!

Urgh... I now had a good-enough working CD Drive. I now wonder if the previous HP drive actually worked. It may have just been suffering the same tray-locking symptoms. The Apple drivers (un-modified) may have also worked, if only I'd bothered to try and force a CD in the drive. I'll go back and test this when I rebuild the machine on fresh HDDs.

Either way, the locking meant that the drive was still highly unusable. There's gotta be a way to disable the tray-lock mechanism. Should I break the drive open and remove its ability to lock itself? It should be as simple as disconnecting a plastic pin somewhere in the mechanism... or is there a driver that does the proper 'unlock' prior to eject?


Although I had success with the second CD Drive, I had already accidentally won an 'official' Apple SCSI drive for AUD$10. It's an NEC, so it's not as 'official' as I had expected (no Apple logo on it.) The model number is NEC CDR-1410A. I checked the SCSI ID configuration and saw that it was set to ID '3' (J0+J1). I pulled the second jumper to set the ID to '1'. Prior to shutting down the Quadra, I disabled CD-Sunrise and enabled the original Apple CD-ROM extension... should work right? It's an Apple CD-ROM drive!

Plugging the cable in, I booted the system and the SCSI device did not show in Apple System Profiler under Devices. It was half-way along the SCSI chain, and the hard disks still worked fine. Shutting the machine down, I inspected the cable and jumpers. The internal termination was on! So.. it seems that if you have a device mid-way with TE enabled, it'll only knock out that device? I thought it'd then block the rest of the chain too!

I grabbed a pair of tweezers and removed the TE jumper. Booting back up, the device now showed in Apple System Profiler. I could even eject the tray. I grabbed a MacOS 8.5 CD I had laying around and inserted it. Nothing. Not even the standard CD action of "is there a disk inside me?". On a hunch, I re-enabled CD Sunrise and disabled the Apple CD-ROM Extension. I manually (although not forcefully) ejected the CD for good measure and rebooted.

Once back at the desktop, inserting the CD saw MacOS 8.5 appear as an icon. I then tried the eject button on the drive to no avail; it was locked. Fortunately, this time that was expected. You should not be ejecting mounted disks. For fun, I dragged the mounted CD icon to the Trash and watched the bloody CD eject the tray, offering me a warm CD. How wonderfully frivolous when shit just works.

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All for fun, I then disabled CD Sunrise... This meant that all CD Drivers in the Extensions list were disabled. The drive still worked. At this point I decided that black-magic was at play and I had no chance.

Just for good measure, I returned to the Mac Driver Museum : Disks and noticed that there was an NEC Speedycd v5.31a driver. Note that these are also actually downloadable from the official NEC site also!

Upon installing the driver it turns out that my model isn't supported. I installed the driver anyway and restarted the Mac. The SpeedyCD utility seems to cache random "often used" files to your harddisk to 'speed up' CD access. Interesting theory... Otherwise the software added no extra functionality.

Since it is now working, this is the drive that will carry my Macintosh into the multimedia age! (although in the dark ages, it seems, I need better lighting for my photos!) I'll try booting off it tonight. I want a fresh install of MacOS 8.5 on my new HDDs, which all appear in another post shortly.

Booting from a non-Apple SCSI CD-ROM

Some CDs aren't bootable and your Macintosh will never boot from them. You'll therefore need a floppy bootdisk relevant to that CD. Find an image and then learn how to make a boot disk on a windows machine here. You may also need to copy drivers over for non-standard CD drives. CD-Sunrise is usually a pretty good bet.

I had originally expected the NEC drive not to boot, but the MacOS 8.5 disk I put in there tried to boot on a restart. It didn't get far as the is for genuine PPCs only, not upgraded 68ks.

It turns out you can install 8.5 on the machine... but I'll create a new article on that. If you want to do it now then see the instructions here.

Apple PowerCD

I couldn't resist this item when I saw it on eBay. It's nearly a discman, but you actually need the base to make the whole thing function. It turns out that half of the required 'brains' to even spin the CD are in the base! There's a forum post here that details this more.

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This thing is pretty! It's smaller than I expected. It's not too heavy either. It played a burnt audio CD flawlessly through both the 3.5mm audio jack and the A/V output cable. This cable has Stereo RCA Audio leads and composite video, the video being for PhotoCDs.

It also came with software: Kodak PhotoCD (CD), Apple PowerCD software (CD) and a driver floppy. I'd purchased the Apple Design speakers, which sound great for their age with this unit! My test audio CD was non other than the soundtrack to The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour: Fat Man And Team Fat, The ‎– 7/11.

There was no SCSI cable, so I had to find one online... eBay was only offering results from the USA. The cable required is a DB-25 SCSI to Centronics 50-pin. These are chunky and heavy and old. Be careful not to buy a parallel printer cable... they look very similar but only have a 36-pin Centronics plug on the other end!

The cable arrived and was a nice length to allow the PowerCD to be placed under the monitor. Everything fitted together well and I suppose I'd really fluked buying the correct cable. Note that this (like eSata) needs to be configured, plugged in and set up prior to booting your Macintosh. SCSI is not plug-and-play!

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The display on the unit changes to 'data' once the Macintosh initialises it. First boot saw a disk mount to the desktop, but AudioCDs would do nothing... zero recognition. I then remembered that the drive came with software and installed the AppleCD CD Player. On reboot, inserting an Audio CD made finder crash in MacOS 8.1! What the hell... I haven't since gotten an Audio CD to work. Since the install, unformatted floppies also now make Finder crash. Yey!

I used the PowerCD to install MacOS 8.5 (of which I actually have a legit copy of!) The internal drive kept throwing data errors (blaming on drive speed vs. error correction capabilities vs. scratches) and so, although it took over 50minutes, I switched to the PowerCD for that authentic experience!

I had no further luck with MacOS 8.5. I had to install the Apple CD Player to get the application to work with the drive and it would see data CDs fine... Audio CDs would cause the system to lock up though. It actually turns out that MacRumors has a little hint that 'getting it to work with Macintoshes of the day was tricky'. I wonder what I have to do to make it function...

It turns out that the Apple CD Player is not the way to go... the PowerCD Installer installed PowerCD Audio (under the Apple menu) and this is to be used. I gleaned this information from the PowerCD User Manual. With this open, inserting an Audio CD and hitting play also causes Finder to lock up! I wonder if there's software updates somewhere? Here they are, and also over here. Thank you Macintosh Garden!

The drivers did no good... they're the same as the version on the floppy that came with the PowerCD! The installer locked up trying to install the PowerCD Extension, I assume it was still in use? A reboot made it obvious that the drivers had uninstalled. So I reinstalled from the download once more, rebooted, inserted an AudioCD and everything locked up again.

Final test... remove the internal CD drive... maybe the PowerCD only ever expects one CD drive on the machine. After the huuuuge wait from a cold boot (too much RAM! 256mb makes the machine take minutes to switch on), the same scenario occurred. Who cares... no more Audio CDs. For fun, I connected the internal drive again and threw the Audio CD in there... no lockups, but no response at all... didn't mount, could easily eject.

todo: test CDROM Toolkit.

Further References:

Pioneer DVD-303S-A

As you can glean from the model number, this is a DVD drive. It was reported to work with A/UX installs and so I purchased one from an Australian seller on eBay. It's a slot-loader and makes some pretty cool noises.

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MacOS 8.6 hated this drive. I still need to test CD Sunrise and Toast Extensions, but it wanted nothing to do with it on the base drivers. Meanwhile, A/UX found it and installed perfectly!

Quadra 950 CD-ROM Case Bezel

The case doesn't allow the easy insertion of a CD-ROM Drive. You'd have to destroy the face-plate to mount the drive directly. Due to this, I whipped open Tinkercad and designed up a new bezel.

cd-bezel cd-bezel-2 DSC06207

Find more information on this here.


Quadra 950: Ethernet and Internet

I purchased both a Nubus Ethernet card and an Ethernet Transceiver. The transceiver has arrived and is plugged in, AppleTalk worked perfectly first time.

Make sure that when you change the Connect via interface in the AppleTalk Control Panel that you CLOSE THE WINDOW.
Your changes wont actually take effect until you do this!

Ethernet Transceiver

This device plugs straight into the port on the back of the case. Most Macintoshes (if not all) of this era have this port. I imagine they made this obscure port due to the amount of differing network technologies at the time. Nowadays we just have Ethernet, so most devices simply have the same CAT-5/6 port on the machine. Either way, once plugged in, the green link light lit up and the orange even started in tune, following netflix traffic on the network.

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MC3NB Rev.B2 Asante Ethernet Card

This card is a relic and reminds me of the good old ISA days with BNC (thinnet networks.) It has an AUI (or AAUI) port for hooking up a transceiver ... although it already has a UTP/RJ45 connector on it, so I just need to plug it in!

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Slapping it in the tower was straight forward... I put it in a higher slot than the video card, leaving ventilation room for the PowerPC card.

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Once installed, I powered on the machine. As you can see from above, all the existing Ethernet extensions failed. Once on the desktop, the standard "AppleTalk is not working" dialog appeared. First guess is that I need drivers for this device. I jumped on my main PC, visited The Mac Driver Museum: Network and downloaded Asanté Ethertalk Installer Version - 5.2.9 (636k, 800k disk image) as the 5.6.1 is a broken FTP link. I then booted up a2server and copied the hqx into the G2FILES directory. I had to reboot the Quadra with the above Ethernet Transceiver plugged in to get the file across!

DSC06238The install went well and forced me to reboot. I had forgotten to disable the failing Ethernet extensions so the boot up was slow... they take their time to report a fail. A new icon appeared at the end of the boot extension list for the Asante driver. At the desktop, AppleTalk still failed to start, but this was expected as it didn't know to switch to the new interface. Opening the AppleTalk control panel and selecting "Ethernet Slot 3" worked like a charm.

Testing the Internet, I double-clicked the 'Browse the Internet' icon and IE threw the usual "cannot connect to internet" error. TCP/IP was still trying to use the old Ethernet interface. I therefore went in to the TCP/IP control panel and switched the interface to the newly available "Ethernet Slot 3". Remembering to close and save settings (leaving as DHCP), hitting refresh on got me straight on the net... until IE threw an exception and I landed in MacsBug! To exit the MacsBug debugger (I had no intention on fixing IE), type in es, the abbreviation for 'Exit to Shell'.

Sharing data

I used CockatriceIII as a fileserver. It works with all versions of windows and uses the winpcap library for ethernet. BasiliskII will work if you have something less than Win7-32bit. Both machines saw each other instantly. Even better, I'd had my MacOS 8.1 CD inserted on CockatriceIII and could just share it to the Quadra. I started installing on a blank partition (the machine came with 2 SCSI drives with 4 partitions each... overkill?)

CockatriceIIIAppleTalk DSC06165 DSC06166

If you need OS versions, then you may find some options here, here or here. *ahem*.

Note that from here I loaded up a2server on the network... following their instructions, the vm came up perfectly in VirtualBox (make sure you select a WIRED ethernet adapter, in bridge mode and promiscuous-mode:ALLOW ALL.) Also note that you should not use the A2FILES share. This has a limitation that all file names need to be upper-case and max 15 chars. I talk more about this in another post.

Use the GSFILES folder in a2server when sharing to Macintosh Computers! It supports proper file names and lengths whereas the A2FILES is for Apple II ProDOS files.

Further References

There's a lot of drivers available at the The Mac Driver Museum: Network. Note that the site also has drivers for just about every other peripheral for a machine of this vintage.

If you need network tools, then visit Old Macintosh System Software and TCP/IP. You'll find all of the basic low-level networking tools to diagnose issues.

There's drivers and tools over at Glenn's ethernet cards and drivers page.

A lot of it relating to the SE/30. Apple Fool has the Classic Mac Networking Guide which will tell you everything you need to get your Macintosh on the Internets.

And finally, the System 7 Help Center provides more network drivers and articles on how to install, configure and work with System 7 in the 21st century.


Quadra 950: Updating Graphics and DSPs

This is a tricky one. Everywhere I've read indicates that the onboard video will outrun any Nubus card that you stick in your Quadra. I wanted to play around with the 5 free slots and so purchased (very blindly) a Supermac '7831-0001' from eBay. The item was actually listed as a 'sound card', which didn't make too much sense as the image definitely showed a video card with a db-15 connector. The description then mentioned that it was a 'NuBus Thunder Graphics Card'.

I'd read from the odd forum online that the "Thunder IV" card from Radius/Supermac could out-perform the onboard graphics, but they were as rare as hens-teeth. After a little searching, it turns out that I'd actually purchased a Supermac Spectrum/24 PDQ+ (ROM v1.292). Here's a list of old video card drivers and manuals that I also used to get this relic operational.

Trying to find the original information for this card was a challenge. The Supermac site (thanks to the wayback machine) has nothing on their video card range. The earliest snapshot is from 1997, 5 years after this card was made. There isn't even a single Wikipedia page for the company. A little more digging shows that Radius bought Supermac in 1994. That would explain why the snapshot of their website only shows the Mac clones; Radius took all the graphics cards and re-branded them, leaving just the mac clones under the Supermac name (in fact, they licensed the 'Supermac' name to UMAX Technologies, another clone creator.) Of course, when Jobs got back to the helm, he obliterated the clones.

The Radius site on the Wayback Machine indicates that they kept support running for the Supermac video cards, but I can't find reference to any hardware upgrades. Read here for the history of the Supermac company. And here's some news articles from back in the day: Radius and Supermac merge, Video Graphics Companies Agree To Merge In Stock Swap, Supermac may return as clone seller and Apple Squeezes Mac Clones Out of the Market.

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It's a huge card; reminiscent of a full-length VESA/VLB card from the 486 years. None of the numbers on the board match to the great list of Nubus Video Cards found here. I initially thought it was a 'Thunder', relying on the information from the eBay auction. After a little research via Google Images, I then determined that it in fact was a Supermac Spectrum/24 PDQ+. Turns out this card can do some high colour depths, Gamba's website indicates that it is capable of up to 1152x910 @ 24-Bit (His site also has the Supermac software for download!)

Installing this card was very straight-forward. It didn't seem too secure in the slot during my testing, but I assume the side-panel of the Quadra case secures it correctly. I had left this off during the entire process. There is also a hook on the face-plate which seems like it should lock in somewhere. I'm wondering if I'm missing a part of the Quadra's case.

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Above, you can see the opened case, a close-up of the slot cover-plates from the inside and then a cover-plate removed. From the second picture, you can see the tab that needs to be pushed clear of the frame. Once done, the plate will easily slide out the back of the case.

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Once plugged in, I left the video on the internal video port. The MacOS logo came up, but it didn't proceed any further. I then forced a shutdown and plugged the video into the Supermac card. It booted up in 2-bit colour! I could straight away switch to 'Millions of colours'. Unfortunately, the onboard video could already do this thanks to the upgraded VRAM.

There's a FAQ here for more information on these cards. There's also a good article here which actually indicates that, as at 1992, the Thunder/24 (yes, I have the Spectrum, but when I found this I thought I had a Thunder) is a great match for the Quadra series for desktop publishers wanting (and I quote) "a really screaming solution for serious color-graphics professionals."...

"The combination of Quadra and SuperMac Thunder/24 provides a really screaming solution for serious color-graphics professionals," said Scott Billups, presidentof VIZ-Ntr, a computer-graphics production firm. "I can't imagine why users requiring the power of the Quadras will want anything less than fast, large-screen, 24-bit true color."

Nubus with PPC Upgrade

Having the graphics card up and running, I thought I'd then see how it went with the PPC Upgrade. During a 'warm restart', the LCD stays on and you get to see the "S" in the bottom-right corner of the screen in red. It's the BIOS of the card; the Supermac logo.

After this, the standard grey pattern of the boot screen is meant to show, and it did, but things weren't looking too healthy. The grey appeared... but it took around 1 second to draw the screen from top to bottom... i.e. you could see the individual pixel lines being drawn down the screen. The MacOS logo then appeared and also had the horizontal drawing slowness.

It seems that the PDS PPC card cannot get the data to the Nubus Video card quick enough. I didn't bother trying lower resolutions. This was in System 7.6.1, so I'll try a newer version later. Here's a use-net post of a user having the same problem. It seems we need to upgrade the ROM on the card... where the hell would we find that nowadays? There's a Q&A on the Vintage Mac World site stating that this is the requirement... the PDQ+ can support a PowerPC, but it needs a ROM v3.0 or higher.

Rom Upgrades for the Supermac Spectrum/24 PDQ+

As luck would have it, a user over on the Amibay forums happens to have the ROM available for purchase. He's made an image himself and is capable of burning EPROMs identical to the "Supermac Spectrum/24 PDQ+ ROM Upgrade Kit v3.1" (note that I cannot even find a reference to this anymore!) I purchased both a burnt ROM and the image from him. I also purchased an EPROM burner (not to be confused with an EEPROM burner, this isn't new tech we're dealing with!) from eBay and some extra 27C512 EPROMs ... just in case.

The ROM Upgrade has arrived and is installed. I also upgraded to the SuperVideo 3.1 software which can be found here. The result is that you get a new control panel in Monitors and Sound and can select pre-set monitors and resolutions... now that I have the old and new firmwares to compare I can start digging in to see if I can't output a custom resolution.

Startup Shortcut Keys

It turns that, if you're quick enough, you can hold down OPTION at boot time and get a resolution selection screen. ... I'll try this whilst I'm upgrading the ROM.

Making the card output a higher resolution?

I'll start a new post on this... I think it'll take a bit of work... Will update this post at a later date with more information...

DSP Addon Cards?

Digital Signal Processors are hardware chips designed for specific data processing. They were popular in the 68k Macintosh computers for providing added power to video/photo processing applications such as Photoshop. The applications needed to be coded to support the additional hardware. There seem to be quite a few available on eBay, but I've no real software capable of using them and wouldn't know where to start.

Macintosh to VGA Video Adapters

Vintage Macintoshes use a DB-15 plug for video cables. Back then, the PC world was already up to HD-15 VGA plugs. Converters can be purchased and are usually brand-less with no markings. It gets more confusing: the dip-switch settings on them are varied between manufacturer, so be careful when adjusting the settings.

My Quadra 950 came with a 10-switch converter. Searching google, I found three different pages with differing descriptions of how the switches should be configured. I have a Samsung 913v LCD capable of 1280x1024. Setting the switches to 1-5 on and 6-10 off gives me a blurry 1152x870 fixed resolution. Trying to get it to display 640x480 has been a challenge.

Note: at any point in time, if your machine boots to no image, wait for disk activity to stop and then hit the keyboard power key. Pressing the enter key on the numeric keypad will shut down your machine cleanly. This made for some very long resolution testing cycles with 256mb of RAM!

I first tried the switch settings described here. As that the adapter was on "12345" to start with, I guessed that my monitor happily supported "Mode 1". I therefore tried to get 640x480 (this is all for a game, btw) via setting "235". On boot, the LCD would not display the image. I don't see why not though... it's supposedly 'VGA 640x480'. Maybe these were the wrong instructions for my adapter.

The settings displayed here state '57' for 640x480 VGA and they don't work... monitor doesn't turn on.

Next attempt was the settings at the bottom of this page. Bad photocopy, but they can be made out. But they're the same as the first setting list.... Just for fun, I tried 'Mode 2' '2356'. This showed an image and gave me the choices of 640x480 and 800x600, but it was stuck on the latter and I couldn't actually switch to 640x480. I didn't want 800x600. At this point I left the machine running and yanked out the cable, adjusting the settings to "14589" for "Multi-sync 14". 640x480 came up on the reboot! And thanks to the warm reboot, I didn't have to wait for years. This setting implies multiple resolutions but only allowed 640x480... wrong settings matrix for this adapter?

I tried "14678" because I saw it on the blog post here. It seems the blogger had it working as a multi-sync resolution... I only got 640x480. confusing... Might be time to purchase an adapter that comes with a known dip-switch setting manual.


Quadra 950: Emulating an AppleTalk Network

So, you've got a real mac, but you can't afford to buy more to create a network? Have no fear! You can create impostors virtually with any Windows/Linux/MacOSX pc!

This is where the rabbit hole deepens ( the point of insanity.) There are quite a few emulators out there to bring up 68k/PPC Macintosh systems. Most of these emulators now support networking, so one can, in theory, create an AppleTalk network of both virtual and physical machines. If that network has a router on it, then chances are they'll all also be connected to the net. Godspeed...

Available Emulators

BasiliskII(68k) + MacOS

To be completed...

CockatriceIII(68k) + MacOS

To be completed...

SheepShaver(PPC) + MacOS

Follow this great tutorial to get your emulator up and running. Once going, make sure you have ethernet configured and enable AppleTalk.

Previous(68k) + NextStep

Doom, the game, was developed on the NextSTEP OS/Machine. I had no idea this was the case. Of course, the WWW was also invented on this tech. I assume everything was then ported elsewhere thanks to the flexibility of the C language. There's a walkthrough of NextSTEP here.

The control/shortcut key on windows is RIGHT-ALT. If you've locked the mouse in the emulator, use RIGHT-ALT + M to release it.

To get started, download the package with emulator included here, just select a mirror. The instructions are in the readme included in the archive. There's more information and downloaded at winworldpc.

Of course... the emulator is days away from supporting ethernet over 'pcap', so I'll update this when it does.

Shoebill(68k) + A/UX

Apple had a version of UNIX available for their 68k Macintosh systems a long time ago. I actually had no idea about this. It turns out the Quadra 950 is actually one daughterboard short of being a "Apple Workgroup Server".

Here's a A/UX FAQ.
Here's a Shoebill setup guide.

GSport(Apple IIgs) + Apple GS/OS

I can't even pretend to understand how old this machine is. The Apple IIgs is built on the 65C816 CPU from 1986 and runs Apple GS/OS. I'd actually never even seen or heard of this until I started researching emulators capable of AppleTalk. For further reading, here's a walkthrough of GS/OS.

Below is a list of the full instructions required for getting GSport onto an AppleTalk network. I just spent (what felt like) too long learning the process and feel others can benefit. The result from all this should be GSport with ROM03 and System 6.0.1 functioning on an AppleTalk network (real or virtual.)

Download the required files

Set up your boot order

  1. Double-click gsport.exe (pretty colour apple icon) and let it boot to the 'monitor'.
  2. Press CTRL-ALT-ESC to get to the Apple IIGS internal menu. Go up to Control Panel then Slots. Set "Slot 1" to "AppleTalk" and then set "Startup" to "Slot 5" and press enter.
    IMPORTANT: Make sure you then select Quit and Quit to exit completely back to the 'monitor'.
  3. Hit F4 and select "Disk Configuration". Press enter on "s5d1". Browse to the System 6.0.1 folder and select the "INSTALL" disk.
  4. Navigate down to s7d1 and hit enter. Select "032M.dsk" from the GSport folder.
  5. Quit back to the main menu, save changes and then quit to the 'monitor'. (Note that you can use ESC to get to the bottom of the menus quickly.)
  6. Reboot the Apple IIGS by pressing CTRL-ALT-F12
  7. With any luck, you'll be booting into System 6.0.1... Welcome to the Apple IIgs!

Format your HD

Once booted, we need to format our HD. I found that the trick is to swap to the System Tools 1 disk.

  1. At the Easy Update dialog, press quit.
  2. Once at the "Select the application you'd like to use:" dialog, hit F4.
  3. Go to "Disk Configuration" and press "E" on the first item (s5d1) to change it to have a hash (#) at the start.
    IMPORTANT:The hash indicates that there is no disk in the drive but tells you what used to be in there.
  4. Press F4 once this is done, you'll be back at the Easy Update screen.
    IMPORTANT:You must press F4 in the middle of each disk change. The correct process is Eject, F4, Insert.
  5. Waiiiiiit for it.... Bang... The Apple IIgs has recognised your HD and wants to format it. Press Initialize, give it a name and hit Initialize again. (Confirm the size is correct, don't format the floppies!)
  6. Once initialisation is complete, you'll be back at the Select application... screen. Press F4 again, go back into Disk Configuration and hit enter on s5d1. Select disk one again.
  7. Hit F4 again to go back and then use the up/down cursor keys (or mouse) to select Installer. Hit Open and you should be back to Easy Update.

Installing System 6.0.1

Right, we got here... Make sure you're in Easy Update when starting this component. From the Easy Update screen, hit the Easy Update button. You'll be asked to swap disks along the way.
REMEMBER: When switching disks:

  1. Press F4, go to Disk Configuration, select s5d1 and hit E. Press F4 again to return to the Apple.
  2. Wait 2 seconds...
  3. Hit F4, back to Disk Configuration, select s5d1 and then choose the disk that Easy Update is asking for.
  4. Pressing F4 again will take you back to Easy Update. If all has worked, then the OK button will flash and setup will continue.

Tedious... right? Probably easier to actually switch real physical floppies... either way, your installation should finish successfully. Don't quit Easy Update just yet!

Installing the extras

With the base installation complete, we can now customise our experience. Click the Customize button in Easy Update. Scroll through the list on the left and install AppleTalk, Sounds and synthLab.... actually... install whatever you like!, just make sure AppleTalk (not the 3.5" version) is part of the list.

Once done, click the Easy Update button with the ugly arrow on it to go back to the main Easy Update dialog.

Setup is complete!

Don't forget to switch your boot settings back. Once you're done in Easy Update, press CTRL-ALT-ESC and choose Control Panel. Go to Slots and change Startup back to "Scan". Press ENTER! and then Quit and Quit back to Easy Update.
Make sure you press ENTER after changing the Startup slot. Go back into Slots to confirm you've changed it, just to be sure.

From here, Quit Easy Update and hit Cancel on the Application selection screen. Select Shutdown from the File menu. Hit Restart when prompted.

Booting your HD

If you've followed above, the restart will happen and you'll see the familiar "Welcome to the IIgs" dialog. Its progress bar will will to 100% and then you'll get a prompt to enter a username. This is occuring since you've installed AppleTalk and the IIgs is trying to register on the network.

Type in an appropriate username and hit enter. The IIgs will continue loading and you'll see the control panel/extensions listing themselves across the screen. Next, the desktop will appear and you're set!

Note: At any point in time you can insert the first disk for System 6.0.1 to install further components. Just run the Installer, hit Customize and select items to install.

Talking the AppleTalk

Everything just worked once the above was configured. My Quadra 950 was on the LAN via Ethernet-over-Power adapters and actively seeing and talking to the GSport emulator. a2server was even visible.

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VirtualBox + Windows + A2SERVER


a2server is a virtual machine with atalkd configured and serving out-of-the-box. The site provides all the information you'll need and, as I found out, it's completely hassle-free. You could run into problems if you try to run the VM on the same machine as your other emulators... but most of the time things just-work.

For any emulator, it's highly recommended that, if using pcap for ethernet, you have one real physical ethernet adapter on the host machine per emulator. Of course, this isn't always possible. Fortunately, and against all warnings, a2server worked side-by-side GSport and CockatriceIII on my Windows 8.1 machine.

Starting this up is easy, really easy. Follow the instructions here to get it set up on VirtualBox under Windows. There's also pointers here.

  • Make sure you link it in bridged-mode to a wired ethernet adapter.
  • Make sure the network adaper has been configured to "Allow all" in promiscuous mode.
  • Do not use the A2SERVER for file-sharing to Macintosh Computers. Use the GSFILES share.
  • The 'a2server' may not show up in Chooser straight away... Hit 'Connect to Server IP' or whatever it is and try to connect directly.
  • To find the IP address, jump in to VirtualBox, log in as user1/apple2 and type showip

And you should be set to go!


Quadra 950: Case Issues and Modifications

The Quadra 950 case is huge. The size seems to be due to the requires of its variant, the Apple Workgroup Server required a tower capable of expansion cards and disks. Internally, unfortunately, it's more about Nubus cards then about extra disks.

The infamous Quadra 950 case 'latches'

Known not to survive the test of time, owners of Quadra 950s will probably all have broken latches on their cases, resulting in the side cover hanging half off. My case cover only had one, of two, latches left... and sourcing one was impossible. This is what the latches look like; I needed another one.

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Fortunately for us nowadays, we can model small objects up in free software and send them off to print houses. I've therefore duplicated the case latch in Tinkercad and have sent it off to Shapeways.

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Shown below is the latch in place, the latch removed and then the other location where the second latch should be. The second latch was missing on my case and you can see why. There is meant to be a second vertical plastic bar that prevents the latch from sliding too far forward. The latch has therefore slid out of the casing and disappeared. I'll need to do something about this once the new latches arrive... Sure I have bought a few, so I'll have a stash to rely on; but I want to fix it once-and-for-all, so I'll need to araldyte a vertical bar fashioned out of plastic to replace the missing piece.

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The result

It printed.. it worked 'ok'... but you need to make sure you choose a STRONG plastic! The 'Strong & Flexible Plastic' from Shapeways wasn't strong enough... i.e. the base flexed. So either grab the design here (STL) and make it chunkier along the base, or use the 'Acrylic Plastic (Detail Plastic)', as this might be tougher. Good luck!

CD Bezel: Attempt 1

I've also chosen to design a CDROM Bezel for the front case... the Quadra requires a custom Drive and/or bezel that I've been unable to acquire; but I also want to use my own drives. Hence the following design. I've included a picture of the original drive-bay cover. It actually has metal shielding behind it. In fact, the entire Quadra 950 case has shielding inside it. This adds to the weight but, most importantly, limits the electronic interference the machine can produce and also consume. It really does add to the vintage charm; not many products nowadays care about shielding themselves or others from their beastly interference.

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So... hehehehe... it arrived. I think anyone could tell from the images above that using a tape measure or wooden ruler would be a bad idea. Overall, the outer dimensions are fine. It seems that I was a few millimetres off on the internal drive slot though. I measured the distances for the tabs that lock into the case from the actual outside of the plate. It turns out that I, by a millimetre or two, made the drive slot too narrow; although the height is spot on. Unfortunately, the tabs are butted right up against the inside edges of the drive slot, so I can't do any filing work to make everything fit.

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Balls... Back to the designer to widen that slot. Meanwhile, the vertical dimensions are perfect! The warping is due to the 2mm error. I hadn't noticed and tried to fit it into the case... the pressure easily warped the material. Note that the left side (when looking at the front of the case) is shallower than the right side. The 5th image above explains this. I must've had one-too-many beers when designing to not even realise this!

CD Bezel: Attempt 2

I've re-jigged and re-ordered (Here's the design)... embarrassing... but it's on it's way. A note here with Tinkercad and Shapeways, don't just hit Design->Upload for Printing each time. After your first upload to Shapeways, if you make changes in Tinkercad, download it as an STL and then upload it over your existing Shapeways design. It'll just keep everything neat and tidy for all of your accounts!