Meetup #11 – 2020-12-12

Meetup number 11 was another in a string of good times. There were six in attendance with a variety of different technology in tow. Sean was first on the scene, bringing his Fujitsu FM-8 complete with kanji ROM set and a Sharp MZ-centric magazine for some light reading. He also brought a few items for repair – a keyboard for diagnosis and solder reflowing, and an FM-7/77 sound card and speaker set to have a new connector put on the speaker – courtesy of Edoardo, who showed up a bit later with his full arsenal of soldering implements.

Soon after came Greg with many different things to show off, for example his very unique Mega65 developers system, a beautiful piece of equipment with a great aesthetic and a classy-looking keyboard. He showed off the Commodore 65-looking startup screen and the included maze game that takes advantage of the 40MHz CPU mode, as well as some classic Commodore 64 games. Sven also tried testing if cartridges were compatible by loading up his 1541 Ultimate II+ with a cartridge image file, but it ultimately wouldn’t work.

Greg also brought other goodies, including his modern-day Nintendo Game & Watch, MiSTer, and Atari ST. The Game & Watch features a full-color Super Mario Bros. 1 & 2 as well as the classic Ball. The MiSTer is loaded and prepared to emulate many classic machines, for example the PCEngine. The Atari ST pumped some Star Wars action through Curt’s PVM.

Curt came with his Robotron KC 87, which is unfortunately not ready for action, but got some thorough diagnostics for future repair. It’s a computer released in East Germany that, much like the FM-8, is built like a tank. Edoardo and Curt also worked together on a power supply for running the European Atari ST on the Japanese electrical system.

Sean’s FM-8 got some attention not only for its enormous footprint, distinct appearance, and its very simple games – Black Jack and Lunar Lander – but even some crude tools such as a word processor and a drawing tool got some curiosity use.

Meetup #10 – 2020-11-07

Our little monthly gathering plods along, despite our meetup date coinciding with another spike in coronavirus. This time, we had a little bit of a theme going – portable units. Sean arrived first (surprise!) and set up his machines for the month: Toshiba J3100-101SGT, Toshiba HX-31 PasopiaIQ (MSX platform), and NEC PC-8201. Edoardo, who arrived shortly after, had a previous commitment so traveled light – bringing a few lightweight project boards instead of his usual heavy-duty soldering equipment.

The Toshiba MSX is not portable, but brought along as sort of a crutch so some typical gaming could also be done. Pitfall II was a source of consternation for Sven, Justin, and Sean, in turn. Those scorpions are hard to jump over, and those bats hard to run under!

Curt brought his own PC-8201 to compare voltage measurements to Sean’s seemingly more complying machine, but no significant differences were found. He also explained carefully and in good detail how to transfer files back and forth between a modern PC and the PC-8201, but Sean is likely to need reminders. Jim also made his much-anticipated return due to having another commitment in the neighborhood.

The J3100 got some love, at first with the classic Shanghai, and then with Heaven and Earth, a multi-faceted collection of games and activities, one of Sean’s favorites from DOSteryear. It was also the subject of poking and prodding to try to understand its video output, and the contents of the gigantic mess of a hard drive were mulled over a bit.

Meetup #9 – 2020-10-03

Our ninth meeting was another good time. We met new member Greg and welcomed back original member Christian after a prolonged busy schedule. We had the big meeting room to ourselves again, which was fantastic because there was equipment galore.

Sean arrived first with his Fujitsu FM-16π and Sega SC-3000, which had been recently upgraded to red. Greg arrived not too long after with his The C64 and a decked-out Spectrum ZX-80.

The FM-16π is a fairly heavy but portable machine that came with a dedicated carrying case and a printer. People took turns entering small amounts of text into the text editor and testing the printer.

With tremendous effort Sven brought in his bulky Commodore 128D for diagnosis. Edoardo went to work with testing components and changing capacitors, and although it didn’t end in success, perhaps some progress was made and hopefully Sven can get it working again from home!

Curt brought in his Sony HitBit MSX machine for testing and potential repair, as well as his heavily modified (by the previous owner) and wonky TRS-80.

Christian was in charge of the PVM this time, but he also brought his Japanese Commodores – the Japanese Commodore 64 and MAX Machine. It was his first time to test the Japanese Commodore 64 and despite the bulging PSU, it worked nicely!

The PVM was quickly put to use with Michelle’s PC-8801MR. It was the first time one of the big-three Japanese 8-bit computers was properly represented at the meet-up.

People took breaks from the test and repair cycles to talk or play games.