A Census of europlus PSUs

I think this tabulation of date codes is going to become the most tedious part of my Retrochallenge entry – but I’m using the fact I’ve entered Retrochallenge to push past the tedium and just get it done.

Having the data and then using it to align the various components will satisfy some deep OCD tendency within me, so apologies to those who were hoping for more Magic Smoke™ and soldering.

So, in my continuing series of serial number and date code compilations, I give you my 2016 europlus PSU Census:

europlus SerialPSU SerialPSU StampPSU Date Code
676433No PSU

The “PSU Stamp” is punched into the metal on the side of the PSU near the motherboard’s power molex connector and is on all of the PSUs…except the highest serial numbered PSU, which is also the only one with a date code anywhere externally. See the Figure 1 below for a stamp example and the sticker.

The number listed under “PSU Stamp” for that PSU and the date code is on a sticker in the same location as the other PSUs’ stamped number. The sticker has a dot matrix-printed serial number and date code (and the serial number is different to the number on the main label). This sticker looks very much like the stickers on the silver //e PSU.

I don’t know what the stamped number and sticker serial number represent vs the serial number on the PSUs’ main label, and would appreciate any info on that in the Comments below.

Another external difference is that PSU 160082, which is the only PSU with a stamped number not starting with “T” (see Figure 1), has a sticker at the switch end with the Apple logo and product details (see Figure 2 below) – I wonder if this was from a batch of 110V cases they repurposed for use on 230V units?

I’ll be looking for date codes elsewhere inside the case, but I suspect there won’t be any – there are certainly none obvious on the spare keyboard and keyboard encoder card I have, so I won’t be doing a census of those (“Hooray!” I hear you say).

I will be, however, comparing the date codes of chips on the motherboards vs the QA date code hand-written on them so I can see if I can come up with a rule of thumb and estimate a date for the un-dated motherboard (in the currently lid-less 669150 case). It may just come down to the 6502 date code vs the QA date code if that seems consistent.

As I start to look more closely at the motherboards, I’m noticing differences in the green colour of the board itself, and one board has dark green slots with “feet” (which have holes in them, presumably for fixing via screws/bolts) vs the other motherboards’ black slots. But documenting that sort of thing is really a project for another day…

Have you ever done a refurb like this, documenting such minutiae as you go? I’d be interested to hear about it in the Comments below – primarily so I can see if I’m the only freakperson in the world who would do such a thing.

Late europlus Census Info

So, I’m home from my Retrochallenge Roadtrip (and very tired), and I have some info to add to my europlus Census. Here’s the updated data…

Serial numberDate CodeCPUNotes
IA2S2-669150no date code65C02wrong (apple ][plus) lid
IA2S2-667843518265C02no speaker or joystick socket
IA2S2-61449482376502previously no label
IA2S2-67643381096502no PSU

(Note: that table is sortable – click on the little up/down arrow icon that appears next to columns headers as you hover your cursor near them to sort by that column. When you do, you’ll see how out of sync the motherboard date codes are vs the serial numbers.)

Among the changes beyond adding the two new machines, I have assigned the base plate I sourced from Jeremy with serial number 614494 to the machine with the label-less base plate, and I found the PSU for 671330.

676433 has had its case modified around the keyboard – it looks like it was meant to move the keyboard 3cm to the left and leave a 6cm wide gap for something(?) to the right of the keyboard. I originally thought it was for a numeric keypad, but 6cm isn’t wide enough.

It also has a 9-pin D-SUB connector at the top of the keyboard encoder card – the other machines’ keyboard encoder have a screen-printed outline for a connector there, but no notation.

If anyone has any clues or pictures of these two mods from back in the day, please let me know in the Comments below. I’ll try and do dome searching when I’ve recovered somewhat, but I would not reject a shortcut to the info.

What this all means is I may end up with six functional machines – I’ll likely move 676433’s lid to 669150 (which is lidless/wrongly lidded), not bother getting another PSU, and have spare parts from 676433’s motherboard (or swap the motherboard into one of the other cases).

While I’d rather have seven fully functional and complete machines, sourcing a spare PSU, lid and unmodified top case may not be feasible (without getting a whole extra machine, which would leave me with the same remainder of parts), so I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with having spare parts for six.

I already had a clone motherboard for parts, and Jeremy has lent me another clone motherboard, a europlus keyboard, and a keyboard encoder card for spare parts as well.

So, my current Retrochallenge status is:

I’ve not done much actual work (driving for 7+ hours doesn’t quite count), and I’ve now got more work to do!

And we’re almost a week in…phenomenal!

How’s your entry going?

A Retrochallenge Roadtrip

I wasn’t really expecting to go any further than the local Jaycar Electronics store for new capacitors as part of my Retrochallenge entry.

I certainly wasn’t expecting a 650km round-trip roadtrip, but that’s what I find myself undertaking today to expand my europlus Refurbapalooza.

The main purpose of the trip is to pickup two europluses I’m adopting – they normally live 1700km north of me in Townsville, Queensland. Their current owner, Chris (who donated an EDD+ card to me for disk imaging work), is visiting our national capital, Canberra, so I thought a day’s roadtrip early in the month would allow me to include these two machines in my entry. I’m going out of my way as Chris is gifting them to me – I couldn’t really expect him to drop them off as well!

One machine is missing a PSU, and the other’s operational state is unknown. I’ll post an updated census once I have them all at home.

While in Canberra, I’m also picking up a europlus case base with original sticker I’ve acquired (thanks, Jeremy!) – one of my europluses is missing its label, so it’ll be nice to have labels on them all by the end of Retrochallenge 2016/10. The machines are already a weird mix of date codes vs serial numbers, so I’m taking the liberty of grabbing this serialised base for the label-less europlus.

Hopefully, that’ll be the bulk of my Retrochallenge travelling done for the month – at least it won’t be said I didn’t go the extra mile (or 400 miles) for my first Retrochallenge entry!

Let me know in the Comments section below the furthest you’ve gone specifically to pick up gear for your retrocomputer collection.

A Census of europluses

Retrochallenge 2016/10 has begun!

The first task for my entry is my 2016 europlus Census.

I have a much simpler job doing my census than the Australian Bureau of Statistics had doing theirs – and I’m not going to face any backlash making all my results public. Nor will I (I suspect) attract any sort of nefarious hacker attention, so here goes…

I currently have five europluses (stay tuned!). Unfortunately, none of them are the one my family had in the 1980s.

With a view to re-uniting them with the appropriate PSUs, here are the main unit details:

Serial numberDate CodeCPUNotes
IA2S2-669150no date code65C02wrong (apple ][plus) lid
IA2S2-667843518265C02no speaker or joystick socket
IA2S2-67133081186502no PSU
82376502no label

Despite the serial numbers not seeming to be in the same order as the date codes, I’m going to use the date codes to try and tee the main units up with their corresponding PSUs. The 65C02s are the ones I incorrectly installed to replace the original Synertek 6502s – I’d replaced more than I thought, so I’m glad I now have a good stock of SY6502s (they arrived several days ago).

According to this post, europlus serial numbers ranged from IA2S2-600000 to ca. IA2S2-710000, so I don’t have any particularly low ones. The europlus was released on 1 June 1979 and was manufactured until December 1982, so the 5182 date-coded one I have is one of the last ones off the production line. Given its relatively low serial number, I’m wondering if the motherboard is actually in its original case?

This brings me to something I’ve been contemplating given that misalignment of serial number order vs date code order – I’m going to reserve the right to align the motherboard date code order with the serial number order.

However, I may also have the opportunity to get a europlus base with a lowish serial number label from a semi-local collector (thanks, Jeremy!). The europlus case that base is from currently has a clone motherboard installed in it, and Jeremy and I are hoping to come to an arrangement whereby I end up with that base to make my label-less europlus more complete. What that means is I’ll have to make a policy decision on any such alignment before too long.

And there’s still the issue of the missing lid to contend with (anyone have a spare?!).

In the interests of maybe making my census data useful to other owners, I will be adding them to the Apple ][ Serial Registry and another registry here once Retrochallenge finishes.

I’ll update the above table if/when I get any more machines to add to it. When I come to the point of removing and testing the PSUs, I’ll prepare a census table of those and their serial numbers and date codes (if present). I’m just hoping I have enough of the gold PSUs for the europluses I’ll have by the end of the month!

If any other europlus owners have details of their collection, I’d love to hear about it in the Comments section below!

Retrochallenge preparations

One of the things I may need to do while engaged in my europlus Refurbapalooza is replace the CPU in one or more machines. I’m pretty sure at least one of my europluses has a dud 6502.

I bought some Rockwell 65C02s many years ago with a view of having them available for replacing dud CPUs – and then I found out that the 65C02 won’t work out of the box with anything before the enhanced //e. There’s some info online on what need to be done to get an older Apple ][ to work with a 65C02, but I’m not keen on modding my europluses like that.

So, if I’m going to be able to overcome that hurdle, I need some old school 6502s – and where do we all go to source such things these days? eBay, of course!

I was surprised by some eBay auctions when I did a search there – it seems to me possible that they have just reproduced old datestamps on newly-made 6502s. I may be wrong, it just seemed that was a possibility given the number of items (both number of auctions and quantity available) listed as “new” with datestamps from the 80s. Of course, they could have all been squirrelled away in the corner of some office or factory for all this time! Maybe I should stop being so suspicious!

Anyway, I settled on an auction for 11 Synertek 6502s with original Synertek-branded anti-static tube – in fact, I’ve organised a group buy of two tubes with other Australian Apple ][ enthusiasts. They should arrive just before the start of October, and that will give me the one/s I need for Retrochallenge and a few spares, supply some other enthusiasts’ needs now, and perhaps have some available to pass on in the future.

I have two Synertek 6502s which came from a couple of my Apple ][s stored in the Rockwell 65C02s’ anti-static tube (I hate throwing out anything!), so I’m pleased I’m finally replacing like with like.

Until I test other chips on non-functioning europlus motherboards, I won’t know which I might need to buy to get machines operational. But at least I hope to have a shopping list by the end of October!

I’d be interested to hear in the Comments below what prep you need to do for Retrochallenge (without doing any of the project itself, of course!).

europlus Refurbapalooza

I’ve watched from the far sidelines (maybe from the carpark?) as previous Retrochallenges have been held, always wishing I had the time to dedicate within one month to try and achieve something pre-planned, documented and tangible related to my retrocomputer interests.

January is never a good month, with birthdays and new year’s really putting a spoiler on doing anything solid.

Similarly, July has always seemed challenging as well, even though I can’t specify exactly what it is about that month that would preclude my involvement.

However, with the revitalisation of my Apple ][ efforts since attending Oz KFest 2015 (which has included holding WOzFests, sorting through my collection, holding more WOzFests, and getting back into this blog after rehoming it to self-hosting) and the move of Retrochallenge to October, I’ve decided to finally enter that worthy competition.

As per my “official entry” (read “e-mail to John W. Linville, who will be running Retrochallenge 16/10”) my project:

[…]is an Apple ][ europlus refurbapalooza as I have several europluses (europli?!) in various states of disrepair. Most have blown PSU capacitors, and at least one has other non-PSU-related issues. Most of them have also been rigged up with other PSUs at one time or another.

So I’m planning on doing a census and re-uniting the europluses with model- and date-appropriate PSUs, replacing the blown capacitors, and trying to identify any other issues. General cleanup, keyboard testing, etc., will also feature.

And on the subject of John being involved in Retrochallenge 16/10, may I just extend publicly my gratitude to him and the other Retrochallenge organisers past, present and future – such a tangible effort on behalf of the retro community helps to make it a richer environment for us all.

So, what’s your Retrochallenge 16/10 project going to be?