A slightly dog-eared Atom

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balford
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A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:19 pm

Hi all,

Thought I'd share some photos of my Issue 4 Atom that I recently acquired, and document the steps I've taken and will take to refurbish it.

As you can see, the topside is in reasonable condition, albeit missing a couple of keys and suffering from a little plastic burn.

Image

Looking around the back and underneath, you can see a previous owner's attempts to manage cooling - which they appear to have given up on as links LK6 and LK7 have been made. Filling these and making it look good will perhaps be the biggest challenge here.

Image
Image

Next, a quick PCB photo. It came to me not working, with 1K in the video RAM space and 2K elsewhere. The faults turned out to be a combination of poor soldering resulting in track damage around the modulator, and one of the 3.57MHz crystal legs had sheared off :)

Image

Flipping around to the other side, it amused me slightly to see that the silkscreen on side one was the wrong way around :D Any idea if this was common or not? Also, the PL8 headers weren't present (reinstated in this photo)

Image

Stripping the keyboard down for cleaning revealed this delightful bodge:

Image

So since these were taken, I've recapped the board and replaced all sockets with standard double wipe items (I know turned pin are best, but I find that they don't take reclaimed IC's very well). I've also made a start on reproducing the rear labels so I can replace the damaged originals:

Image

I've also relocated the rear bus expansion socket to PL6, instead of PL7 which located the socket incorrectly and I imagine could never have worked properly in that configuration.

I'll also attempt retrobriting the lower case portion, as it's a a good few shades more yellow than the top. This might have to be an indoor solution though, as here in sunny* Ireland the best of retrobriting season is well behind us.

Long term, I'll be aiming to max out the memory configuration, add a colour board of some description, and of course an AtoMMC.

Comments, questions, criticism etc all welcome!

B

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by Lardo Boffin » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:24 pm

Good luck!!!!
Adventure Language on GitHub
Atom, issue 5
Elk
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1024MAK
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by 1024MAK » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:46 pm

Them there holes :lol:

I don’t think I’ve ever see so many added ventilation holes that have been ‘hand’ made in a production computer! :shock:

Roland in the past has repaired cases, filled in holes and then painted the case a nice bright colour :D click the linky...

Mark

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:48 pm

Wim - Thought you might, I've actually ordered some Elk key switches as a plan of last resort - the only problem here is that I can't install such a fix for the M key, as a switch here would interfere with the space bar mechanism.

I believe I've sorted some original posts thanks to Boydie though, and I'm going to have a crack at 3D modelling them. The part doesn't look that complex, but a high resolution print technique like SLS will be required to reproduce the necessary detail.

Mark:

(clicks link)

(shields eyes)

:D

Painting the lower case half is an option of course, I've done Spectrum cases before the availability of replacements was a thing, so depending on how the filling process comes out, I might just go that route.

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Multiwizard
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by Multiwizard » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:39 pm

balford wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:48 pm
Wim - Thought you might, I've actually ordered some Elk key switches as a plan of last resort - the only problem here is that I can't install such a fix for the M key, as a switch here would interfere with the space bar mechanism.

I believe I've sorted some original posts thanks to Boydie though, and I'm going to have a crack at 3D modelling them. The part doesn't look that complex, but a high resolution print technique like SLS will be required to reproduce the necessary detail.

Mark:

(clicks link)

(shields eyes)

:D

Painting the lower case half is an option of course, I've done Spectrum cases before the availability of replacements was a thing, so depending on how the filling process comes out, I might just go that route.
Or you paint it black:

viewtopic.php?f=44&t=13022&p=168655#p168613


Greetings, Wim... :-)

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oss003
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by oss003 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:17 pm

Hi Balford,

can't you restore the 'M'-key insert with eg the 'W'-key insert and replace the 'W'-key with an Electron key?

Greetings
Kees

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:38 pm

I actually have the M key, it’s just in storage until I’ve sourced a replacement key post.

The only missing key is the ] key of which sirmorris potentially has a replacement for me.

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1024MAK
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by 1024MAK » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:40 pm

Multiwizard wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:39 pm
balford wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:48 pm
Wim - Thought you might, I've actually ordered some Elk key switches as a plan of last resort - the only problem here is that I can't install such a fix for the M key, as a switch here would interfere with the space bar mechanism.

I believe I've sorted some original posts thanks to Boydie though, and I'm going to have a crack at 3D modelling them. The part doesn't look that complex, but a high resolution print technique like SLS will be required to reproduce the necessary detail.

Mark:

(clicks link)

(shields eyes)

:D

Painting the lower case half is an option of course, I've done Spectrum cases before the availability of replacements was a thing, so depending on how the filling process comes out, I might just go that route.
Or you paint it black:

viewtopic.php?f=44&t=13022&p=168655#p168613


Greetings, Wim... :-)
Beware my friend, for Wim will try to get you to move to the dark side.... :shock: :P

Mark

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Multiwizard
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by Multiwizard » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:06 am

1024MAK wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:40 pm
Multiwizard wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:39 pm
Or you paint it black:

viewtopic.php?f=44&t=13022&p=168655#p168613


Greetings, Wim... :-)
Beware my friend, for Wim will try to get you to move to the dark side.... :shock: :P

Mark
Why would you think I would do a thing like that?... O:) :lol:


Brendan, you can do it! , may the force be with you!! :twisted:

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:17 am

Multiwizard wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:06 am
Brendan, you can do it! , may the force be with you!! :twisted:
I'm quite tempted :D

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1024MAK
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by 1024MAK » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:19 pm

:lol:

balford
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:05 pm

Right, an update of sorts. Today this arrived:

Image

However there are a couple of teething issues with the model. The cylindrical bumps on the sides of the post to prevent 'rattle' are marginally too big, so needed filing down, the key post is a touch too high, and the retaining 'feet' in the middle of the post are a little too wide.

Topping all this of course is the fact that the fine detail plastic I chose to have them printed in is incredibly brittle, even more so than the originals. Good job I ordered four as I'd broken three before I managed to get the fourth in place with the keycap in place :D

This is expected though, I didn't expect to get it right first time and have refined the model and sent off an order for a second batch. More updates when I receive them!

Have some pictures in the meantime:

Image

Image
(The ] key is the one that got replaced with the 3D printed post, and the return key is on an original but glued post which is also on its last legs)

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-B-
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by -B- » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:08 pm

Good work fella!
Atom | BBC Model A | BBC Model B | Electron | Olivetti PC128S.

balford
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:28 pm

Oh, some progress on the speed holes in the case, too. Just need to find some paint to match :)

Image

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by bprosman » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:03 pm

Curious what paint you will use , personally I find it always tricky, paint on plastics.

balford
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:37 pm

The key is to use a suitable plastic primer, and to give the object being painted a going over with some sandpaper. This gives the primer something to adhere to. It’s also important that the surface is scrupulously clean before painting - a quick wipe down with IPA will do the job.

Also, several light coats of paint are preferable to a couple of heavy coats - less risk of runs in the paint and promotes quicker drying. A final bake at around 40-50 degrees in the oven will harden it nicely too, just don’t tell domestic management 😀

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by marcusjambler » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:32 pm

Those new inserts are looking very good

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:14 pm

Glad to report the v2 model prints were received and successfully tested today :)

The model is attached, and I've added them to my shop on Shapeways. Apologies for the price there, but I don't take any payment or profit from anything there to help keep prices as low as possible:

https://www.shapeways.com/product/XQXYE ... =125603837

The model contains five parts as I'm guessing most people will need spares :)
Attachments
Acorn Atom Issue 4 Key Post x 5.zip
Contains .STL model for Atom Issue 4 key posts
(377.98 KiB) Downloaded 23 times

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by Boydie » Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:33 pm

I have a (not quite pristine but much better condition than yours) rear label for the cassette/video etc area, if you want to keep things as original as possible. I also have the one from the Bus Extension etc side, which may (or may not) be in better/worse condition than yours...

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:29 pm

The cassette/video label would be much appreciated, thank you! The bus extension label is actually in very reasonable condition, I've just removed it while I consider how best to fix the case holes :)

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by JudgeBeeb » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:45 pm

How did you remove the damaged post and insert the replacement?

Having been directed to this thread: viewtopic.php?f=44&t=5526&p=171067 I have concluded that (i) it is a miracle that the issue 4 keyboard works at all; and (ii) if one removes anything from the keyboard mechanism, the chances of getting it back in are fairly remote.
There is so much wonder in the universe; why should you want to imagine that there is more?

balford
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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:57 pm

I followed martinw's advice from that thread and snipped the damaged posts in half, slightly offset from the centre. The smaller part will just fall out, and then a firm but precise vertical tug with some needle nosed pliers will free off the other part. You'll want to give the frame a shake at this point to make sure any debris remaining from this procedure is removed.

The replacements just need to be inserted and pushed home gently.

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by martinw » Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:48 pm

Well done =D>

I'm glad we're getting together a decent body of knowledge/experience and the (new) parts to fix these things more easily 8)

BTW how did you get on with getting the springs back in, I remember faffing about for ages with the scalpel trying to pre-tension/turn them in the holes before inserting the new plastic insert.

Martin

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by marcusjambler » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:32 pm

how did you get on with getting the springs back in
I intend to leave the frame and springs in situ and just hoike the insert out vertically...
In fact I've managed to get one of the damaged posts out in this manner and the springs look happy and ready for a 'new' insert.
It was a little tough... so, splitting it vertically as suggested will be my next plan...

Marcus

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:53 pm

Yep, I’ve done three damaged posts on this machine, and splitting all three made removal quite easy without damaging the frame or springs.

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by 1024MAK » Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:19 pm

balford wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:53 pm
Yep, I’ve done three damaged posts on this machine, and splitting all three made removal quite easy without damaging the frame or springs.
Yet another meaning to the phrase “splitting the Atom” :lol:

Mark

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:03 am

1024MAK wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:19 pm
Yet another meaning to the phrase “splitting the Atom” :lol:
Badum-tish :D

For my next trick, I'm going to try and replicate this circuit, and adapt it for the Atom as it appears the designer doesn't sell these boards anymore:
https://thezippsterzone.com/2018/05/07/ ... ite-board/

(I'm not a fan of modified outputs that output perfect RGB, as I prefer an output closer to what would have been available when these machines were contemporary!)

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by JudgeBeeb » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:29 pm

balford wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:03 am
For my next trick, I'm going to try and replicate this circuit, and adapt it for the Atom as it appears the designer doesn't sell these boards anymore:
https://thezippsterzone.com/2018/05/07/ ... ite-board/

(I'm not a fan of modified outputs that output perfect RGB, as I prefer an output closer to what would have been available when these machines were contemporary!)
The problem with that circuit is that it outputs NTSC encoded video, which is not likely to be supported all modern displays (and very few CRT displays).
There is so much wonder in the universe; why should you want to imagine that there is more?

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Re: A slightly dog-eared Atom

Post by balford » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:39 pm

That’s ok - my LCD panel can do NTSC video (I have an NTSC converted Spectrum), so I’m happy with this simple approach 🙂

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