The collected works of RetroHacker

I'd say go for it! I cobbled an AT power supply onto a 3/50 a few years back - it was really, really easy to do.

Nice machine! That's very similar to my main computer - I use a MDD Dual 1.42ghz G4. It started out as a dual 1ghz, but I upgraded the processor module. I've had it since new, and it's been a wonderful machine.

Some notes about it:

It's going to be noisy. It was like that when it was new - it never bothered me, so I never looked into fixing it. One thing I did notice was that after I upgraded the CPU, it got somewhat quieter. The new CPU came with the copper heatsink, which allows it to run cooler, thus running the large fan less.

It gets hot. This is normal. Just allow enough room behind the machine for it to vent and you'll be fine - mine is about eight inches from the wall. You can make it run cooler by installing the copper heat-piped heat sink that came with the dual 1.42's. Use good quality thermal goo as well.

You can fit four IDE hard drives in it, and two optical drives. The bus that controls the rear hard drives is faster than the one that controls the front hard drives, so put your OS drive there. Any standard IDE type optical drive works fine - but you'll have to remove the tray's faceplate (not the whole drive faceplate) otherwise the tray hits the inside of the case when it tries to open. The "superdrive" DVD burner that shipped with my machine is a Pioneer A04. It's a good drive, but it's slow, and won't read DVD+R discs.

The machine tops out at 2 gig of RAM. It takes regular PC2700 DDR RAM (333mhz), although it is a bit picky about which it'll take. Run the Apple Hardware Test (disc available for download from Apple, get the one for your model of Mac), and test the RAM after upgrading. Just because it shows up doesn't mean it won't cause hangs if it's incompatible. I have found that Kingston RAM was crap for these machines. It supports 1gig sticks just fine, provided you get compatible ones. If you plug more than 2 gig of RAM in, it only sees the first 2 gig - the memory controller can't address more.

The PCI slots are standard 64bit PCI-X, although MacOS is picky about which cards it'll work with when it comes to drive controllers. You need a Mac compatible SCSI, SATA, etc. card. PCI USB and Firewire cards seem pretty universal though.

Similarly, upgrading the graphics card is going to be hard. It's AGP, but you need an AGP card with a Mac ROM on it. Standard PC cards won't work - but some can be re-flashed. The stock card has been more than enough for anything I've needed though. I had to buy an ADC-VGA adapter to use the second monitor. The one I bought was made by Dr. Botts, (I think it was the only one available at the time). It works fine, I'm using two 17" CRT monitors.

The USB ports are 1.1. Standard PCI USB2.0 cards work just fine.

Mine has been humming along now pretty much 24/7 since I bought it new. It's been upgraded a lot, I have four internal hard drives, two internal optical drives, 2gig of RAM, SCSI card, Firewire 800 card, USB2 card, and a whole mess of Firewire hard drives and stuff.

Two weeks ago, it died for the first time, in a brownout. I found one faulty capacitor in the power supply and replaced it, and it came right back to life.

indyman007 wrote:
IDE hard drives you say, odd mine comes up under ATA, I'll look into it, you may have just saved me quite a lot of money :) .

Yeah, standard parallel IDE hard drives - also known as PATA. The front bus supports ATA-66, the rear bus I believe is ATA-133, but it might be 100 - it's faster though.
Serial ATA drives will not work in this machine (unless you add a Mac compatible SATA controller).

Do you use any aftermarket drives? Optical that is.

Yes. Shortly after I got the machine, I added a 48x Plextor Plexwriter to the lower optical bay. To make it fit, I simply removed the front of the drive's tray (it hits the rounded opening from the inside). It was not supported at the time under 10.2, so I hacked a .plist file to enable finder burning. Later versions of the OS (10.3+) support most/all third party drives no problem. I'm also now using a Sony dual layer DVD burner externally in a homemade Firewire box. That too works flawlessly, no special software required.

I honestly am unsure of the Mac compatibility of SATA cards. I've never tried to use one. When this machine was new, SATA was still off in the horizon. I do know that I've seen cards billed as "Mac Compatible", so I would imagine that you need one with a Mac ROM, just like you need a Mac SCSI card or a Mac IDE card. There is a chance that a common PC Silicon Image SATA card would work - but you would definitely be unable to boot from it if it did. Again, I've never tried it. If you have a friend with a PCI SATA card, you can try plugging it in and see what happens.

I did recently add two 1tb SATA drives to my machine, set up as a mirrored array. But I did it through Firewire. I bought a converter board from DatOptic - it supports two SATA disks and communicates through Firewire 800. I mounted both drives and the converter board in an old Compaq external SCSI case, and added a Firewire 800 card (cheap!) to the Mac to talk to it. It's very fast.

When adding a dual layer burner, if you add it internally, remember to get an parallel IDE one - fortunately they aren't too hard to find at the moment, but they might be getting scarce in the coming years.

indyman007 wrote: ... 320&sr=8-1

That fit the bill??

:D Looks to be IDE, I was just checking, that price seemed a little to good, also I don't think the Bezel comes off :/.

Looks like it should. I looked up the model number, it says it's IDE. Amazon's site sucks for useful information about products...

The bezel doesn't need to come off - just the end of the tray. I've yet to see an optical drive where the end of the tray *doesn't* come off. Just open the tray, and flip the drive over. Look at the bottom back of the tray's faceplate - they're clipped onto the tray with a two clips usually, one on each side. Just disengage the clips and slide it off.

I would install it in the lower bay and leave the original Superdrive - historically, Macs had a problem booting from non-apple drives. Personally, I've been able to boot from my external Firewire DVD drive just fine.

recondas wrote:
indyman007 wrote:
This may sound a bit dumb but, are all superdrives bootable?I
Not all are - the OEM Superdrives had Apple specific firmware.

Also remember that in the general sense, "Superdrive" is just what Apple calls it's most capable disc burner/drive at the time. Back in the early Mac days, Apple called the 1.44mb floppy drive a Superdrive. Their first DVD burner was a Superdrive. Since then, they just call whatever DVD burner they're currently shipping "Superdrive". Outside the Mac world, everybody remembers "Superdrive" to mean the old Imation LS-120 floppy drive that also wrote to those 120mb SuperDisks.

A generic DVD burner is not a "superdrive". A DVD burner with Apple firmware is, however.

Now, all that aside, my old Superdrive won't play DVD+R discs, so to boot a burned disc on +R or +R DL media, I have to use the external DVD burner. It's not Apple at all, but it boots. The only sure fire way to see if a drive is bootable is to just try it.

Very nice work!

I agree with you - I love the Octane. I really like how well made those things are! The lack of an internal CD drive isn't a big deal - there is an external SCSI connector on the back, so connecting one isn't hard. The only frustrating thing is that it's 68 pin. I'm actually using a 68pin Plextor SCSI drive mounted in an old Apple CD300 case, with a 68pin SCSI ribbon cable leading through the back of the cabinet, and plugging into the port on the Octane. It's a kludge, but it works fine.

Where in NY are you? Anywhere near Schenectady?

I would lean to believe that your board is fine, and it was the power supply that failed. Are you sure it was a resistor and not a tantalum capacitor? I see those fail in smoke and flames in old equipment fairly regularly.

It's real easy to rig up another supply to power your machine - shouldn't take long to just wire it up and see if it works.

You can also check the board for shorts by checking the resistance between the 12 and 5v rails with a meter.

Sleep is flakey on these machines anyway - or, at least, it was in 10.2. The first peripheral I ever bought for my Mac was a USB floppy drive. After it was connected, the machine would crash every time it went into sleep. At this time, the floppy drive was the *only* piece of third party hardware connected, and the machine was under warranty. I called Apple, and explained the problem - their solution? Just plug in the floppy drive when I wanted to use it.

I disabled sleep and have never re-enabled it.

pmjett wrote:
RetroHacker wrote:
Are you sure it was a resistor and not a tantalum capacitor? I see those fail in smoke and flames in old equipment fairly regularly.

Good call. I opened the box up again in a fit of task avoidance, and noticed that indeed the flamed part is a tantalum cap next to a power resistor.

Tantalums fail shorted all the time - just because. It's gotten to the point where I recognize the smell and just ignore it. They're used as bypass caps, and when they fail, they pretty universally don't affect the operation of the device they're in. They fail shorted from age, then overheat and burn. Once they've burned themselves out, they go open circuit, and life returns to normal.

I have a Compaq Portable 286. When I plugged it in from being sitting for years, it came on and worked for about a minute before a tantalum in the power supply let go. Smoke poured profusely out of the vents, and the computer continued to work just fine, booted happily from a DOS disk, not skipping a beat. Being that it's such a royal pain in the neck to remove the power supply from one of those machines, I just left it alone. Thing still works flawlessly.

Clip that tantalum out, and I'll bet that the computer works just fine with the existing power supply.

When you say "complete disassembly", you mean that you had to remove the monitor chassis and whatnot, not that you removed the picture tube or yoke, right?

Assuming that you connected everything back up properly, including the electronic convergence, then you could have simply lost the memory settings. Many Trinitron monitors actually have a convergence function in the menu/controls. There are seperate vertical and horizontal convergence adjustments, the symbol looks like a little screen with lines either horizontally or vertically.

But, assuming that you *didn't* connect everything proplerly - go back and double check any wires coming off the yoke/convegence assembly...