Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

I have had an X68000 on my radar for some time, but hesitated to buy one because they are notoriously expensive and failure-prone machines. Maintenance and/or repair are a must, and I’m ill-equipped to do it myself. But I took a risk. I bought one on Yahoo Auctions for a very reasonable price, untested, not very coveted model (X68000 Pro), no keyboard or mouse, and a little scratched up. Between the low ending price and a 10% off coupon I had, I didn’t have to pay much at all.

And I got it, plugged it in, and *boom*, it just worked. Kind of. It powered on and showed me the “feed me a disk” screen, which is where I had to give up on the first night. Oh, also, I suppose it was technically incorrect to say there is no keyboard. It has this softkeyboard you can bring up with the right mouse button. Seems to work both in the opening screen and the OS.

The next day, I went to BEEP in Akihabara and found a disk to test, also on the cheap, because it had mold. I cleaned off the big mold and put it in the drive and tested it. The drive put two scratches around the edge of the disk and refused to load it. Sadistic. 🙁

So I took it apart and cleaned out the drive and chassis. It was by far the dustiest computer I’ve ever worked on! While I had it open, I took it apart enough to check for battery leakage. Seems okay in that department.

I cleaned both drive heads and swapped them for good measure. Powered it back on and it was able to successfully load my disk!

And that’s where the problems began. While initially it powered on fine and reliably perhaps a dozen times, after finally reassembling the whole thing and closing the case for the last time (haha), it didn’t power on. A few power cycles later and I saw a little flicker, and then it turned on. And the whole next day, that’s how it was. It wouldn’t power on immediately, although it did work okay once it eventually decided to power on.

Anyway, even if this is not my final machine, I need a keyboard and mouse, so I perused Yahoo Auctions again. Keyboards and mice are expensive for this machine. 12000-25000 yen for various keyboards and 5000-10000 yen for mice. But then I noticed an entire system, X68000 plus mouse and keyboard, for only 15000 yen, ending in about an hour. Indeed, I was able to win the auction for less than the price of some keyboards alone. And it brought hope that the X68000 would just magically work.

Finally arrives and indeed, it did work! For about 30 minutes. Then the video wigged out and now it doesn’t work at all. But the machine itself is such a masterpiece of computer design. It is such a unique piece, I have decided to hold onto it for a bit and then get it repaired.

In the meantime, I am using the X68000 Pro, which is hobbling along a little bit better than two days before, with the original X68000 mouse and keyboard. My next step is to see if I can get the HxC floppy emulator communicating with the machine so I don’t have to worry about buying expensive games and risking disk damage. But soon, I think that gray tower is going to be a fantastic addition to my collection!

By Sean

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