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About Turbo-Torch

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  • Birthday 06/06/1970

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  1. An 80 track 720K disk drive (QD or quad density) is rare and not the same as a 1.2mb HD drive. It's also difficult to format a 360K disk on a 1.2mb drive and then use it on another PC with a 360K drive. The HD head is narrower and you end up with noise on the tracks. Can't hurt to try, but I doubt you'll create a usable M3 disk on a 1.2 drive.
  2. In post 5, look at the second picture. On the top circuit board there are little tabs that are twisted which holds the screen to the board. Sandwiched between are rubbery zebra strips (that you won't see). If just one has poor contact, you lose a line of pixels. I use a pair of needle nose pliers to try and tweak the tabs so the board presses tighter against the strips and lcd...most of the time it works. I've had a few where it didn't help, and removing the board to try and clean the zebra strips made things 10X worse. I've not found new zebra strips and even asked around at Tandy assembly each year and no one is making repros yet.
  3. That's why you need an extension cable like the one I linked to and then slightly shave down the corners with a razor or exacto. I've used the extension cables on my 2600 and Vectrex, I've not tried it on my 7800. I don't see any reason for a Sega extension cable to ruin any game system unless it was defective and shorted internally.
  4. I bought a new 130XE motherboard from him and it was about 1/2 of what used defective ones were selling for on eBay. About 2 months in I noticed a weird glitch where any single character (I think two spaces in from the right of the screen) would show up inverted. Only seemed to be in BASIC. He had me send it back and I had another new one within a few days. I often wonder how much stock he actually has and what it would go for if he ever decides to sell the business. I'd love to buy a business like that after I retire, as it seems like it would be a lot of fun. And even though I'm planning on moving to a warmer climate, the current location is still a huge issue due to the crazy cost of living in that area. After setting up a business, buying or renting a proper warehouse, utilities, taxes, etc. would the profits cover all of that, let alone leave you with extra money for your own life? If you bought a house and store front out there 35+ years ago when prices were still sane and owned it outright, you'd probably be golden. I'm also thinking there is so much stuff, packing and shipping it half way across the country wouldn't be feasible. Hopefully it doesn't all end up as e waste.
  5. That's the hi-res graphics card! 👍 Imo, that's the ultimate Model III peripheral and I can't tell you how many years it took to find mine. It came out in '82 and allows graphics that were mind blowing for the time. My avatar pic is an actual photo I took of my screen. You definitely need to get the system up and running, and I'm guessing once you get a few good disks, it'll be fine. Mine has been with me since I was a kid and it has a few battle scars but that's just part of the patina. The graphics board will be a whole new animal to learn about later on with its own commands and version of BASIC. Normally it sits transparent and won't get in the way of anything else you'll be doing. Now if you decide for some reason you don't want it and remove it, there's a mod to the motherboard that needs to be undone.
  6. Can you post a photo of what you have? You should only have the motherboard and a disk controller which is about ½ the size of the motherboard. If you had the RS232 it would take up the remaining space. I'm curious to know what has the yellow plastic shield as I've only seen that on the factory hi-res board. You may have a really cool holy grail hidden inside. The hi-res board comes mounted on a new RF shield cage that replaces your old one. It's a single large horizontal board that's the same width as the motherboard but the shield cage over it makes it look like two boards. It connects to the 50 pin expansion connector with a special short cable that tightly loops and connects from within the computer's case. From there it daisy chains and exits out the opening to rear of the computer with another 50 pin card connector so you can still expand with other accessories. That piece could have been tossed by someone years ago and unfortunately they are made of unobtainium. It's a pain in the ass but you can build one if you have decent soldering skills and patience.
  7. He sent me LDOS and NewDos80 disks several years ago. I gave him $20 bucks. Unless you know that you're converting an original cassette program to a WAV, know how to load that program and that it's at 1500 baud (and probably a million other factors), you're wasting your time trying to use the cassette port. And if you're trying to load something that was a disk program, it ain't gonna happen. For example, Dancing Demon is a mix of BASIC and machine language and you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to make it load. I can't remember the details but I think it involved peeks and maybe changing the Memory Size at startup. I got that program when it was released and the proper information wasn't in the manual. Local RS computer center was stumped too as they couldn't load any of their copies. They called back the next day (after hearing from Fort Worth) and told me how to load it. Furthermore, cassette use was flaky at best even when using the proper cassette deck and commercial software. The volume had to be just right and if you had the cassette deck too close to the side of the computer, the load would fail due to RF interference. I can only imagine the added garbage in a WAV file. Get a good tape deck and buy some commercial RS games off eBay and then give it a try. All of mine are nearing 40 years old and still load fine. Or find some sealed data cassettes, write a BASIC program, CSAVE it and then CLOAD it back into the machine. Of course, finding a good cassette deck may not be easy. I've had my CTR-80A since new, never stored it in a harsh environment and still had to recap it and replace the belt. For disk drives: You need to hit eBay and buy a cleaning disk that comes with a fluid solution. New 5¼" floppies haven't been made in many years and even good floppies will leave oxides behind on the heads...and when you get a bad one, it'll really contaminate the heads. Also, when you get some good bootable operating systems, make about a ½ dozen backups of each...you won't regret it. For any disks that you buy, look at the disk surface under a bright light. If there are faint white splotches, don't even try to use the disk. It's mold and will often smell like it too. Lastly, only use SSDD or DSDD disks, 1.2 mb HD will not work. If your drives are aftermarket, they may be double sided, so use DSDD and LDOS to take advantage of them.
  8. Start with the most simple. Remove the mylar flex ribbon that connects the disk controller and motherboard. Gently clean the ribbon contacts with a pencil eraser, spray contact cleaner into each board's connectors and reassemble. There's also a longer and narrower ribbon that jumps two areas on the motherboard that should be cleaned too. If either of those have a flaky connection, it will cause the system to crash in a million different ways or not function at all. I eventually hard soldered mine with real stranded ribbon cable years ago. Another test is to simply disconnect the flex ribbon from the controller and turn on the computer. It should instantly boot to Cass? If you still have issues at that point, check your voltages...if good, I'd next move on to RAM.
  9. What cassette baud rate are you using and what baud rate was the WAV created at? The III will load 1500 baud default or 500 low speed. It's selectable at the Cass? prompt. Also what kind of program are you loading? You may need to use system instead of cload.
  10. Hahaha...it actually looks like it might taste good! Now I really want to know what its purpose is/was? Not sure what to tell you about the memory issues...are you using 1.5 volt alkaline and not nimh? If using an external power supply, is the output ok?
  11. You obviously have something going on with the internal RAM. Is that "gelatin bar" bleeding over the circuit board? I have a Sharp PC-1500 version that had funky issues with the display and that bar thing was like a hemorrhaging internal organ. Nasty, sticky blob that oozes and leaks all over and doesn't want to wash off your hands...took a lot of q-tips and rubbing alcohol to get the circuit board clean. It also seemed to migrate to certain areas of the board while leaving other areas spotless, as if it was intelligent and knew what it was going after. After removing it and cleaning everything, the PC has worked perfectly since.
  12. I'm almost certain the cassette cables are the same across most Tandy computers so don't pay more than a few bucks for one. The serial board is going to be difficult to find and it requires a special mylar flex cable. Jay or Ian may have one to sell and I know Jay had the flex cables reproduced too. You have several other options on getting files to the III. As mentioned earlier, FreHD is awesome. It's like having 6 hard drives from back in the day (at $2K+ each) attached to your computer. You can also get an auto boot ROM for a few bucks and not even need to boot from a floppy anymore...they'll just be along for the ride like booting to C drive on an old PC. You'll have around 40mb of available storage after bootup between drives 0 to 5 (floppies become 6 and 7). And of course many other sets of images can be kept on even the smallest SD card. HxC floppy emulator is another option and inexpensive, so something to look into. I've never tried it, but if you have an old MSDOS PC kicking around, there is also a way to write TRS-80 compatible floppies using an emulator on a modern PC and then moving files to the old PC with a 360k floppy drive and writing the disk. The computer has to be running MSDOS (not through Windows) and the drive cannot be a 1.2 mb. Only a tiny fraction of software came on cassette. I don't see trying to convert disk programs to a WAV file, loading it into the cassette port and then converting and saving it back to disk as an option. Unless someone has come up with a special program that can load in segments of code (into the limited 48K RAM) and then stitch it back together using multiple operations, it's going to be next to impossible. This is some of the software out there available for your Model III. http://www.classiccmp.org/cpmarchives/ftp.php?b=trs80%2FSoftware%2FModel+III I think I have a bookmark on another computer to a site with even more than that.
  13. For the dimming...spray DeoxIT into the brightness and contrast controls. There is a video board in the upper shell next to the CRT, remove that edge connector and clean up the connection. The fingers on the board can also be built up a bit thicker by adding thin layers of solder. Lastly, clean and re-seat the power supply connectors at the top left of the motherboard as viewed from the front. The keys will need to be unsoldered and removed. You can then easily disassemble each one with a small screwdriver. Inside will be a gray rubber cup with carbon pads and a spring. I would first take an ohm reading to see what you have (probably over 1K). Then disassemble the key and clean the lower contact portion with a pencil eraser and clean the carbon pads with a soft cloth. Some guys even rotate the cups 180 so that contact is being made in a fresh area. Reassemble and test again. The reading will probably be down to a few hundred ohms and good for another 30 years. Don't expect to see 0 ohms like a switch. If some of the carbon pads are ruined, one of the repair coating kits should work fine. I used some foil dots on my spare Model III that I picked up on Craigslist...that was the one with the newer keys that I messed up with DeoxIT cleaner. Underneath you should have four connectors. You found the edge card for the printer port, next to it and inward is the bottom edge connector of your floppy controller card, you can add two more external floppy drives off of it. The large edge card towards center is for expansion, that's where things like a Hard Drive or Orchestra 90 would attach...they can also be daisy chained with a special cable. Sharing that same cut out area will be a standard 25 pin RS232 serial connector for your modem. Now, if your III started life as a 16K cassette based model (as mine did), it did not have the floppy controller board or RS232 board. It's possible that you still don't have the RS232 board...that was my first upgrade in 1984 and I believe I paid $100 for that kit from Radio Shack. Later on I added the floppy drive kit. RS also sold other odd configurations such as 32K and one floppy which may also not have the RS232 board. On the rear, you'll just find the cassette port. Even if you're not going to use cassettes, you'll definitely want the cable since that port is also used for sound output. You attach one of the cables to the aux input of an amplifier and now you have surprisingly good sound effects and speech, especially in Big Five Games. If you look back up at my photo, you can see the little amplified speaker that I use.
  14. Hold down BREAK while turning on or pressing the orange reset to go into BASIC. It's going to have one of two different ALPS keyboard. One style has keys soldered in with two legs and the other 4 legs. The one with the stem broken off will need to be replaced and if it has 4 soldered legs, you'll probably have a hard time finding a replacement. If it has 2 legs, I should have a spare I can send you. No matter which you have, you'll need to unsolder each key, disassemble it and clean the bottom contact point with something like a pencil erasure where the carbon pad makes contact. DO NOT JUST REMOVE THE KEY CAPS AND TRY TO WORK IN CONTACT CLEANER! It will destroy the carbon pads in the later style keys with 4 legs and I wouldn't try it on the older 2 leg keys either. It did work great on my old 2 leg keys, but when I tried it on a late Model III with 4 legs, I ruined a bunch of keys. Also, the keyboard circuit board can develop cracks, especially from the center which can take out a vector of keys. Easy to repair with jumper wires if needed. Jay Newirth will most likely have everything you need. http://plaidvest.com/newsoft/ Very nice guy and his prices are more than reasonable. At the 2018 Tandy Assembly, he was giving away free key caps. He also has excellent repro emblems. Disk drives probably need to be taken apart and gone through. Definitely need to clean any old hardened grease from the rails and re-lube. The fact that it boots from a disk is a good sign. Getting files off the internet and onto the III is a chore. You can download them to your PC and then attach your III to the PC with a null modem cable. You'll need a host program on the PC and a terminal program on the III and then download like an old school BBS. FreHD is basically a modern hard drive for the III that uses an SD card. You can copy cmd files onto the card from your PC and then pop the card into the FreHD and use the import2 command and they'll show up. A FreHD setup is around $130 and a must have imo. Orchestra 90 is really cool but difficult to find; however, Ian Mavric makes new ones (along with FreHD kits). The ultimate cool accessory is the hi-res graphics card (see my avatar) but good luck find one. Had a search string setup on eBay for years with no luck, but managed to buy one from Jay at the 2018 Tandy Assembly. Here's a pic of my FreHD on the top case. Edit... You can get the replacement X capacitors from Digi-Key the part # is: 399-7483-ND
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