If you have been lately "tormented" about tinkering with your 800's internals / integrity, plus also being constantly reminded of its compatibility shortcomings (considering most recent and coolest games / apps), while also being drawn to the fuss and buzz of INCOGNITO, well, this post may be for you.
Here are some key points of Incognito that struck my attention, right from the get-go:
- Incgonito appears with a clean and well-organized layout (even "stylish" with its white-color outift).
- The materials, soldering and craftmanship seems pretty much in line with my (x2) Ultimate1MB boards (just fine).
- It replaces four separate PCB/boards, and a total of (3x12) + (1x6) + 1 = FORTY-THREE (43) discrete components / chips (!)
- It frees up TONS of space on the 800's expansion bay/tray... like if someone had already planned how to use that PBI-connector integral to Incognito, in the future.
- Once installed, it is very easy to access, not just for Compact-Flash card updates, but for on-board clock-battery replacement & FLASH-memory extraction / programming.
- It just runs cool. Gone is stock-cards's heat radiation (especially during memory intensive games like Stealth, etc.). I also noticed the 800's right-side running cooler, too (maybe less DC-power drawn, but I have not measured it, though). This may also translate into a more DURABLE and RELIABLE operation, in the forseeable future.
- It seems designed and built with sense of pride & quality (THANKS, Candle!)... And, YES, it is made in Poland... 8-)
I. Main MoBo/BackPlane work:
- Incgonito installs by simply routing and soldering six (6) signal-sampling connections and two (2) jumpers, connecting a ribbon-cable to an existing socket, inserting your card and re-assembling the system. Such connections are FULLY reversible (no trace of them could be left, provided a a good soldering station). They are non-invasive, and pretty much safe.
- If you are building your own cable-connector (for Incognito's sampled signals), proceed by first preparing Incognito-side connector (x6 for system control and x1 for SIDE Image Switch). I normally use wiring AS THICK AS POSSIBLE (in an act of desperation, I had to purchase these in RadioShack, only finding three colors). This step could take 15-30mins, especially if you desire top-grade soldering, joints between cable and connector pins (provided by Candle) and "click" latching of the pins to actual connection plug (also provided by Candle). However, If you decide to purchase an assembled set (they seem readily available in Ebay, etc.), you can SKIP THIS STEP.
- Next, proceed to carefully bundle, cut and solder cabling to signal points, as well as installing cable-jumpers. You could temporarily place plastic-tray and Incognico back in place, to determine precise cables routing. Cut cables only when reaching sample-points. Because of how the expansion-bay Plastic Tray is built (and the points where it makes contact on the top-surface of the MoBo), I decided to implement all changes UNDERNEATH the back-plane, which allowed a safer and cleaner routing of main cable-bundle, away from expansion-bay:
- If you decide to proceed in the above fashion, soldering will be easy-as-pie (with a FINE-tip @ 300-325 C). It takes approx. 2-3 secs per solder-point (they are big/generous). Please, note specific soldering points and lead ANGLE chosen in CPU/Chipset board. Also note that my CPU-board revision is the latest / most-recent.
- At this point you may proceed with Cart-voltage resistors (RD4 & RD5) removal/upgrade, as well as R189 removal/upgrade (existing 75Ohm to be replaced by 200-220 Ohm). This latter will help you recover 16-shades of Luma's (Y) top-brightness scale, because it is massively overdriven as it is).
- Now proceed with sanding of bottom-section of expansion-bay, as well as proper installation and routing of Incognito/BackPlane main MoBo ribbon (takes about 5-20 minutes, depending on how quickly and finely you can sand). Notice that signal-cabling bundle can be routed without any changes / mods. to expansion-bay tray. Also, note that (in my unit) there was NOT enough clearance and flex-tolerance at the base of the tray to let the ribbon pass without excessive pressure. if you have it on yours, please, SKIP THIS STEP:
- Remove corresponding IC on MoBo (second from left-to-right, in-between cart slots), and proceed to route and bend main ribbon EXACTLY as shown (which will protect it from Incognito's sharp solder-through pins in both the left and center areas), as well as serving as a natural insulator / separation between Incognito and the massive outer-shield (connected to ground!). Always track position of ribbon's pin #1 (colored-edge):
- Proceed to install expansion-bay tray, Incognito, CPU/Chipset Board, re-attach bottom shield-plate + pins (now pushed from the bottom, and those you hopefully set aside on a safe place), slide back TOP Shield-assembly (while CAREFULLY GUIDING main-ribbon between Incognito and shield-wall) and prepare for final assembly. Note that expansion bay should appear clean and free of any cabling/ribbon slack:
- Proceed with integration of main-assembly with Power-Board. Notice placement and routing of SIDE-Switch cable OUT of Shield-case and around speaker/keyboard, as well as exact location of SIDE-Switch, in bottom-panel (will be invisible from the top-view of the system). Also note grounding-point of SIDE-switch lead (solder ground-terminal to it, and insert plate/shield screw through it, as shown:
- Proceed with final re-assembly of case (by GENTLY and CAREFULLY rotating ALL five screws). NO NEED to brutally torque them, as they are affixed to 30+ years-old plastic guides. Notice final arrangement on Expansion-Bay, cable plug/connectors placement and original/OEM board spacer/guide being re-used to fully protect/guide Incognito. It is time now to install battery and chosen CF-Card (I mostly use SanDisk), and finally affix expansion bay's top cover.
- You are now ready to enjoy one of PCWorld's finest computers ever made (http://www.pcworld.c...ime.html?page=5), to its full potential:
GENERAL BACKGROUND / INSTALLATION NOTES:
I. Minimum Installation Materials / Tools (for a clean, high-quality and FULLY reversible install):
- Everything that Candle sent you in his little bags.
- A temp. controlled soldering tool/station, with *fine* tip, + solder extractor +solder/resin
- Any narrow & stiff (moderately) "sanding" tool. A Dremel would yield *best and quickest* results.
- A set of Phillips screwdrivers, plus thin pin/push-rods (no driver on the tip).
- Seven (7) 20"-long wire-cuts (>-= 3 different colors) + wire cutter, if (like me) you build your connectors. Include a small ground-terminal for SIDE-cart ground wire.
- A small 1/4" push-switch + DRILL (if you do not like the idea of cutting traces in any board, like me).
- Thermal-sleeves (optional, for nicely routing/bundling your cabling).
- 2x(1.8K to 2.2K Ohm, Cart. Voltage) resistors and 1x(220 Ohm) resistor.
1. Main dissassambly will take approx. 10mins, by simply:
- Removing top-cover of expansion bay and ALL cards,
- Removing five "black-anodized" screws on the outside,
- Disconnecting keyboard ribbon by pushing it back gently and removing top-assembly with keyboard + speaker,
- Removing three more black screws detaching main boards assemby,
- Removing ~9-10 screws to remove bottom shield.
- DO NOT force/trip your screw-driver on ANY black-screw (to protect original / sleek-looking OEM finish).
- Turn main board upside, remove top-shield casing,
- Remove plastic-board/cart tray from underneath (by locating latches between main board and back-shield,
- Push central pressure pins (on round-white retainers) OUT and down firmly, with thin pin/push rods (four in total). ***DO NOT LOSE*** these pins.
III. Incognito FLASH rom-IMAGE Update:
1. I will be soon posting a "nuts-and-bolts" package with several key upgrades of stock Icognito's ROM image, for anyone to update via external PLCC/Flash burner.