I recently purchased a large cache of Microbee computers with the intent of refurbishing them and reselling to the retro computer community.
My original intent was to work my way through them, repair them as needed, and sell them onto the vintage community at cost.
I’ve done this for five or six systems, but I no longer have the time to invest in returning the remainder of the systems to fully working conditions.
I’m now offering seven Microbees in as is condition. All are tested and working. DRAM has passed a memory test, video is stable, and at least some of the keys on the keyboard are working
Systems 1 through 4 are network clients, which means they have 64k of DRAM, and no floppy controller. An additionall 64k of RAM and floppy controller can be fitted but will require medium to high level soldering skills. These systems are $350AUD each, plus shipping. I can include extra 64k of DRAM, floppy controller, 128k PAL, and 34 connector for an extra $50.
Systems 5 through 7 are ROM systems. They have 32k of RAM, but cannot be upgraded to more RAM, nor can they have a floppy controller added. They would be suitable someone who wants a case for the new Microbee Classic Plus when it is available. These systems are $275 each plus shipping.
The follow caveats apply:
The cases have a variety of markings and some have stickers. These can be removed with some elbow grease and Windex.
The cases and keyswitches may be yellowed from age or sun exposure.
All cases are engraved with “Lisarow High School” in some manner. This can be sanded off, or the case can be refinished with a filling primer.
The keyswitches will need cleaning, so not all keys may work correctly. You will need to clean then (excellent instructions from Ewan Wordsworth of Microbee Technology can be found here), or you can buy a full keyboard replacement kit from www.microbeetechnology.com.au
This poor System 80 has been subject to cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of previous owners.
I’ve got the Ready prompt (the equivalent of the TRS-80 Memory Size) but it’s been hard work. All of the 2102 video RAMs needed replacing, as well as several LS157 muxes. I managed to link A4 and A5 when replacing a mux – that cost me a few days.
Pressing Enter gives a screen of full graphics blocks – I think the video RAM read is not working fully. But to debug that, I need to understand what is left of a lower case support mod and (I think) software switch for 32 col mode
The Model 1 is reporting 48k memory without a DRAM in sight. Only two solder wires required, plus adjustments to the two sets of jumper pads which I have replaced with DIP switches for ease of testing.
I’m still working on the solder-less 16k upgrade. May not be possible. Will look at this tomorrow (maybe).
Two minor issues with the board. Seems I can demux 14 bit DRAM addresses but have forgotten how NOR gates work.
Also had to rewire the keyboard cable as the janky job performed by the previous owner died when I opened the case.
I’ve also 3D printed some replacements for the rubber-ish board standoffs that crumbled to dust when I flattened the boards. If anyone wants the files, let me know.
One suggestion stood out – not only because of it’s simplicity but because I have used it many times myself over the years. This procedure requires a very special tool, one that is nearly obsolete in this day and age. I wasn’t sure I had such a rare device.
I did find one, eventually, in the back of a drawer
The mighty pencil eraser, handily attached to it’s applicator wand.
A few quick pokes on the offending contacts, and the resistance dropped to below 1k in most cases. In an hour so, all of the key switches had been reassembled and resoldered.
I did look at the contacts under the microscope but didn’t see anything significant. Perhaps the gold looked a little brighter, but that’s hard to tell on an $80 microscope with 1080p screen that is three inches across 🙂
We’ll see how long the fix lasts, but for now, I am declaring victory.