Saturday, 27 February 2010

No it cannot :(

After the elation that I might actually have two working Falcon's without any extra expense I am bummed that just as the vendor described the IDE interface and the floppy drive do not work. I swapped the floppy drive for the spare that was included free but that does not want to work either.

I am going to order a spare floppy drive off ebay and while I am at it I am ordering some IDE->Compact Flash adapters and a SCSI II cable so I can use the external SCSI drive which came free. Both absolute bargains at about £2 each. Also bought an Atari SCART cable which will work with the RGB dongle and my MegaSTe. Wasn't cheap at £13 but I know the ebay merchant and his stuff is always good quality.

It can't be that simple?

The success of bringing up Falcon B yesterday still hasn't settled in, but I am turning my attentions to Falcon A. I knew that it had been electrocuted from what the vendor told me and in anticipation I was prepared to have to replace the power supply and I was just praying that when I opened her up for heart surgery I didn't find lots of burnt bits inside :(

I remove the screws from the bottom of the case and the shielding inside. Putting all the screws in labelled bags so I know where they come from. (Previous fixes I've always just left all the screws in a heap in the middle of the table and lost half of them!)
Inside everything was immaculate. Much more so than Falcon A who's case was full of dust and dead spiders. It even smelled like it had just been manufactured.

On closer inspection of the PSU I noticed that the fuse was blown. It couldn't be that simple could it? A blown fuse?

A friend I met in the pub the previous night had loaned me a spare 110v Falcon PSU in preparation and I just whipped out the fuse, transferred it to the existing PSU and using a 240v AC to 110v AC step-down transformer and a USA kettle lead I powered her on.

Wow, she came up first time. And much to my surprise showed that she had a 14Mbyte RAM card in. Very nice.

Beauty and the Beast

I whipped off the front Bezel and discovered the case opens like a suitcase. Drives in the top half and motherboard in the bottom half.

Once I'd familiarised myself with everything I followed the external keyboard wire across from DIN input on the side of the tower.

Over to where in connected to the motherboard of the Falcon. I got out the Multimeter and buzzed through the cable to check for continuity. There are only 3 wires so it didn't take long. Everything seemed fine. I buzzed the cable and that seemed fine too. So I unscrewed the external keyboard and checked inside. Everything seemed in very good condition so I decided to bypass everything and plug the keyboard directly into the Falcon motherboard just like it would have been in a stock case. I powered it up and bingo it worked fine. I put in a disk and it booted and I ran a quick demo. Ironically enough it is called AmigaDemo2 by Oxygene and you can see it running here. Sound was coming out. CPU was working. Keyboard and mouse working.

Inside the external keyboard was a small PCB with a DIN plug and a PIN header replicating the PINS on the falcon motherboard. I got the multimeter on the PCB and it soon became obvious that the numerous plugging and unplugging had worked the solder loose. I got out the soldering iron and just touched each solder joint gently. Tried the multimeter again and everything was good. Reassembled the case and the keyboard and tried it again. Success.

She's alive! Alive!

I connected a 240v AC kettle lead and plugged in the VGA adapter dongle that came in the box. Hooked up the monitor, keyboard and mouse and pressed the button expecting an all mighty bang or silence. Instead there was the whir of a tired old fan and an image popped onto the screen. The ATARI logo! What ever happened from now on I was almost certainly guaranteed a working Falcon at the end!! Whoopie. Erm. I mean great. :)

The memory check came up and tested 4Mbytes which is OK I guess. Falcons come in 1Mbyte, 4Mbyte or 14Mbyte. But I was more than pleased to get anything. After a few seconds timeout the GEM desktop appeared with the Falcon coloured background. No hard drive icon so I guess no working drive.

Just as the vendor said the keyboard and mouse wouldn't work and no amount of wiggling or pressure would get it to work.

Out with the screwdriver.


The parcel contained a few nice surprises.

A spare Atari Falcon 2.5" IDE mounting bracket kit (unopened), A spare official Atari Falcon floppy disk drive with colour coded bezel. An external SCSI hard drive (unfortunately no cables or terminator). An official Atari Falcon VGA dongle, RGB dongle and most importantly the cable which runs from the LightHouse Tower to the external keyboard (which the vendor thought he had lost).

There are birds here!

Atari Falcon A

This is a USA Falcon in its original case. The vendor said that this Falcon had been accidentally plugged into UK 240V AC mains instead of using a 110v AC stepdown transformer. Before it was "blown up" the vendor said he was having trouble with the internal IDE hard drive and the floppy
drive, i.e. neither worked.

Atari Falcon B

This is a UK Falcon rehouse in a Lighthouse Tower Case. It was described by the vendor as fully working except for the external keyboard which used to work if you put a book on the cable. To me this sounded like an easy fix. Just a loose connection and I could have a working Falcon!! It's not the prettiest cases by far (Actually it is damn ugly) but if it works I can always transfer the motherboard to the stock case.

Right I need a kettle lead and a screwdriver, but first a beer!

Grand opening

Everyone at work thinks I've got a new Flat Panel TV because the vendor shipped the two Atari Falcon's in an old TV box.

The last few hours have been somewhat hampered by the anticipation of getting home to open the box. Unfortunately our USB3 ASIC is very near completion and so I had to stay until 17:30

I've opened the box and the vendor certainly likes DVD's cos it's packed (very well) with old padded envelopes.

Friday, 26 February 2010

They arrive

My two "spares or repairs" Atari Falcon computers have just arrived at work. I bought the two from a nice guy over on Atari Forum for well below what even a single Atari Falcon would sell for on eBay. I put the low price down to the fact that neither are working correctly and that the vendor was a really nice guy who just wanted them to live on. After contacting him I made the decision to do all of the work in arranging shipping so I used the courier middle man I've used them before and they are pretty good and very cheap.