Retrochallenge 2016/10: The 8-bit hospital

Welcome to the 8-bit computer hospital.

The Patients

Patent number one is a 28-year-old 32kB Tandy 102 suffering from acute amnesia. Patent reports being in the middle of some casual BASIC coding when it suddenly crashed and erased the program. Upon cold-boot, it couldn’t remember anything from its upper 8k of RAM. In fact, the patient insists that it only ever had 24kB. When asked, under hypnosis, to recall anything from 8000 to 9FFF, it simply repeats the question.

The Tandy 102 has undergone oscilloscopic imaging to determine the extent of memory damage. It appears that chip M6 has failed, leaving the patient one quarter of its RAM dead.

Patient number two is a 33-year-old Atari 400. This Atari has previously received several elective procedures, including a RAM augmentation, an RF-ectomy, and a keyboard graft. Patient is here to correct a previous composite video surgery that left it with poor luminance. While on the operating table, patient has also elected to receive a stereo pokey implant.

Retrochallenge 2016/10 begins!

Retrochallenge 2016/10 has been announced! Go to retrochallenge.org for more details. If you’re not familiar with retrochallenge, it’s basically a month-long excuse to monkey with vintage computers.

I’ve never participated in retrochallenge before. I’ve always been interested in vintage computing, but only recently became more active in the hobby. I figured I’d have to wait until next year to do a retrochallenge, so I was excited to see the announcement. My challenge will most likely revolve around much-needed repairs and upgrades to my Atari 400 and Tandy model 102.

The Atari I’ve had since I was about 6 years old. My dad upgraded it to 48k and built an awesome external 800 keyboard. However, it only had RF video out. I’ve tried in the past to convert it to composite via a drop-dead simple tap of the signal, but I have never gotten good results. I also have a dual-pokey mod to install and a bare SIO2SD to get connected and working.

The Tandy 102 is the most recent addition to my vintage machine collection. It’s a 32k machine, but last month it suffered an unexplained reboot followed by a loss of 8k of RAM. I’ve done a bit of investigating, but I have some soldering ahead to get this unit back to 32k.