Prototyping With a Vintage Plotter From 1987

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David (the hardware guy on my blog) made this cool modification. He used the Aritma Minigraf 0507 plotter manufactured in socialist Czechoslovakia to draw an etch-mask directly onto a PCB. He added an ARM-based interface and created the software that can generate vectors out of hi-res images of boards.

Check the video description for more information (including source files to download).

Btw the new version he is currently working on has a laser instead of the pen.

Repairing IBM PS/2 P70 before Bytefest

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I shared a photo of computers we brought to Bytefest (a vintage computer show in Czech Republic). IBM PS/2 P70 was one of those which needed fixing before the show. In this case, there were issues with an Alps floppy drive and power supply. I have to admit that this was one of the most painful disassemblies we did.

This is a dream machine for a user but total nightmare for maintenance. One example – it was necessary to disassemble a half of the unit just to connect a floppy cable back to the drive.

Fixing issues on an SGI keyboard

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There will be an annual vintage computer show called Bytefest soon in Prague, so my friend and I must prepare all the hardware we want to take with us. Last year, I was told by some visitors that it is inappropriate to use an IBM keyboard with SGI computers. Thus, we started our repairing marathon with this defective SGI keyboard (although I don’t think that using IBM Model M with any computer is inappropriate).

I’m used to the fact that servicing SGI computers is always pain in the ass. It seems that SGI peripherals are exactly the same story. The keyboard is designed the way that it is not possible to clean switches if you don’t want to disassemble the whole thing destructively.

Olivetti Quaderno (PT-XT-20)

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This little machine is a very interesting piece of engineering. It is an XT compatible (four times faster than original XT) and there is a standard 2,5” hard drive inside. Unfortunately it is hard to find any Quaderno in a working condition. Main problems are dead hard drives, bad capacitors and leaked batteries. I was given this one from an old guy who bought it new and had been using it for years in 90s. It was fully working when it was put in a box twenty years ago, but now we are unable to power it on and it looks completely dead.

We disassembled it to see what happened. The problem is probably in capacitors as there is some leakage around few of them. Backup battery was not leaked and fuses seem ok as well so I believe that we will manage to fix the unit.