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Mr. Argent

The sad ADAM: New and inexperienced owner seeking restoration advice

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So, I've bagged myself an ADAM, the keyboard, the printer and a controller plus a data pack still in the box from a neighbor -- and for $20! what a steal, eh?

 

There's a bit of a problem, though: When I got it the machine itself was in rather sad shape, and more or less inoperative. It's pretty obvious the thing's spent the last thirty years in the dude I got it from's garage. Exterior condition's pretty messy and on boot the machine partially renders the word processor and hangs, leaving the under-oiled printer to repeatedly slam the...uh... platen*? ... into the side over and over.

 

Since that may not have been the clearest explanation, here's a video showing off the machine failing to boot.

 

For clean-up I've done a bit of toothbrush-and-isopropyl cleaning work on the main unit's case, and the expansion slots. did a bit on the PCB inside the printer too, but I'm afraid of what might happen if I brush up against that huge cap on the board. Efforts thus far have not helped the machine much, sadly. I'd like to do some more in-depth scrubbing, but I still need to figure out how totally tear the printer and console apart.

 

Anyone know what's up with this thing and how I can fix it? Can this thing be saved? If worst comes to worst, I have some experience with a soldering iron and I do own a SMT soldering station. I have to admit I've never really done any particularly tricky repairs before but I'm willing to give this one a shot.

 

Here's another photo, showing about as far into the startup process as the machine gets.

 

2tdWxWK.png

 

*this may or may not be the first printer of it's type I've worked with. actually never seen the internals of a non-inkjet or a non-laserjet before, lol... more like a typewriter than anything. kinda weird.

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I picked up an Adam system with a broken printer. It seemed to hang the same way. The wire that controls the carriage was broken, so it never moved all the way to the left. There is a little sensor switch to detect when the carriage is at the proper position.

So, either the carriage is not moving far enough to the left, or the switch is damaged. If the switch is working then you can manually press it to allow the adam to continue.

 

Steve

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Welcome to AtariAge and ADAM ownership. From the video, I would say that the problem lies completely with the print head not completeing it's startup cycle and therefore freezing the system before the word processor SmartWRITER is displayed. I would consider this good news as the Memory Console should be in working condition and the power supply in he printer should be working fine as well.

 

As far as the print head issue goes, if you turn it off and then on again, does the print head travel all the way to the left and start knocking as well or does it always go to the right and start knocking? Basically what is happening is that the controller board in the printer (mounted to the power supply) can't determine where the print head is and no further operations of the system can proceed thus locking up the system. The normal startup for the print head is to move all the way to the left where it comes in contact with a small metal contact switch (IIRC there are two green wires running to this switch... my printers are boxed up), the print wheel will cycle and then the print head will move to the right a small distance and stop at it's ready position. Most issues with this print head involve the small metal contact switch being dirty/grimmy and a good cleaning of the switch will fix it, but sometimes it's a bigger issue of the printer controller board being defective and there is no easy fix hear and nowhere to buy replacements. If it is the print controller board, then the easiest thing to do is to open up the printer and remove the connections between the power supply and the printer controller board, thus giving you a very big power supply!!! It's not the ideal fix, but at least it will allow the system to bootup completely and be used... sans printing anything out. The next big question to be answered is does the Data Drive work?

 

There were a number of repair/service workshop articles in the NIAD Newsletter that should prove very helpful. I don't have an index to make life easy in finding the appropriate article(s), so you will have to do some reading... but it will be worthwhile.

 

http://www.sacnews.net/adamcomputer/newsletters.html

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The head tries to force it's way to the right no matter what - I can see the switch you guys are talking about and the wiring appears to be intact, though. I'll try cleaning it, and if the printer can't be saved that's not an overly big deal - i don't have an ink ribbon for it anyway so it's not of too much use to me currently. :P

 

EDIT: Rubbing down the switch with the ol' isopropyl toothbrush to resolve any potential issues with grime. Here goes...

Edited by Mr. Argent

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Definetly check the newsletter PDFs that I linked you too and in the meantime if you want to play with the system, just remove the connections between the printer controller board and power supply and you will be able to use the ADAM for everything but printing.

 

Here's a good source for ADAM supplies and software, click on the A.N.N. Catalog (U.S.) link:

 

http://ann.hollowdreams.com/

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Cool, thanks for the help and links! This thing's gonna rock once it's working. Space Fury, anyone?

 

UPDATE: I've gotten it to recognize that the head is all the way to the left and the head is depressed, but now the daisywheel is just spinning indefinitely. Any idea what I ought to do about that?

 

WE HAVE BOOTUP!

Edited by Mr. Argent

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The cassette housing of an ADAM DDP is identical to an audio cassette with the exception of a couple extra holes on the back and you can drill these out on an audio cassette and then attempt to dub using your boombox. People used to use their stereo dual cassette decks all the time to make new ADAM DDPs and copies, but there's a learning curve to getting it right and I'll admit to never having attempted this as I had access to all the DDPs that I could ever need or want.

 

The favorite/best audio cassettes to use were the Sony HF-60 brand.

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Ah, cool! Figured it'd be a bit more complicated than that. Wonder if my boombox could house the blank DDP I've got? I'd hate to remove it from the original packaging, but I don't own a drill...

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Aaaargh, it's reverted to the head slamming. Assuming this is a reversable procedure, it might be worth my time to disconnect the printer until I get a ink reel (or indefinitely) - how would I go about that? I'm seeing some cable connections to the board that look like they might be removable. would I want to give those a nice tug?

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As usual, NIAD delivers the goods! Just a quick note on copying DDPs: you can use the tape deck to tape deck method, but it's a pain. It's how I made my first copy of Dragon's Lair almost 30 years ago. The drill is a must. You'll need to drill holes in BOTH the original DDP and the cassette to make things work. On the new cassette (Sony HF60's were my tape of choice, but others would work, just not the cheap tapes for reasons I don't technically know) you'll need to drill the holes on the B side near the top under the write protect tabs to allow that cassette to fit into the DDP drive. The one you'll figure out once you try this method is where to drill on the original DDP. This is the tricky one because if you don't proceed with caution, you risk ruining the DDP. Cassette decks have an extra pin that the Adam drive doesn't. So to fit in a cassette deck the DDP must be modded. To do so is simple, but again, exercise due caution! You'll need to drill 2 holes all the way thru the original DDP. Thankfully the hole locations are already marked on the DDPs I used in the past. Looking at the face of the DDP, near the bottom where the tape is exposed is the elevated plastic area. In that area you'll see two circles (look like seams from the mold) symmetrically located. Those are the holes the idler pin needs on the standard cassette deck. Drill 'em gently to avoid shards of plastic grabbing or scratching the tape and you're set to do a "dub". I used volume level 7 I think, and was even able to use a dedicated high speed dub deck with some (random) success. It's easy to do, but I stress: Do not rush! Good luck and welcome!

Edited by Murph74
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Man, this thread makes me want an Adam. Never even seen one for sale here.

It's a great little computer and there was A LOT of quality hardware and software made for it after Coleco abandoned ship, plus it plays all the ColecoVision carts and some of the SGM games that do not require the additional sound chip that the SGM provides. Collecting for it is not an overly daunting task as well if you stick to Coleco made products seeing how short of a lifespan the system had, but if you try to collect all the Homebrew products that were made from 1984 until present day... you are in for one helluva challenge.

 

There are a couple good websites (that I have linked above as well as in my SIG) that provide valuable information and once I can find the necessary time to finish off my digital collection of files, I will make it available again... the cold winter months are upon us so it's time that I get on my high-horse and finish this already.

 

A tested and verified working system in the original box can be difficult to acquire through eBay, Craigslist, etc., so I highly recommend contacting ADAMcon (Bob S.) via a PM or his website if your interest is peeked.

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Aaaargh, it's reverted to the head slamming. Assuming this is a reversable procedure, it might be worth my time to disconnect the printer until I get a ink reel (or indefinitely) - how would I go about that? I'm seeing some cable connections to the board that look like they might be removable. would I want to give those a nice tug?

The connections you have to remove are at the back of the printer controller board (closest to the power supply) and may be a little difficult to get to without taking apart the printer. The connections at the front of the controller board, that are for the printer head, are not the ones you need to remove.

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The connections you have to remove are at the back of the printer controller board (closest to the power supply) and may be a little difficult to get to without taking apart the printer. The connections at the front of the controller board, that are for the printer head, are not the ones you need to remove.

Ah, the one by the rather intimidating-looking capacitors? hmm... should be easy enough to pull, if I can work out how to get to it. Thanks for the pointer!

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IIRC the connectors in question are a clearish-white color and now I am thinking that there were a couple of exposed wires that need to be cut as well that are in the same area... but my memory is really failing me. With this being said, any connector or wiring that connects the printer controller board to the power supply needs to be removed. tell you what, from now on I am taking pics o videos of everything as they are a lot more reliable than my memory.

 

OR

 

buy one of the new ADAM Power Supplies from AtariAge member rey_1178.

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That isn't complete though, right?

No, it's missing a lot such as the Keyboard with Controller Attachment and Cable, Printer, Controllers, owner's manuals, software, etc.

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So what should a verified working CIB Adam system go for?

I'm also interested to know, except I don't really care about the box.

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So what should a verified working CIB Adam system go for?

It depends on whether you are looking to sell one you own or if you are looking to buy one. Selling $50... Buying $250. ;) Just kidding.

 

Sometimes you can get an amazing deal on a complete in the box ADAM system via eBay because the shipping charge is considerable for this behemoth of a box, but the dilemna is how well does the seller actually know the system and therefore how well was the system tested. I would also recommend trying to acquire the Stand-Alone ADAM (Blue box) that has the ColecoVision built-in as it's already configured for with composite video output and takes up less space. I would also recommend the ADAM Power Supply made by AtariAge member rey_1178 unless you have the space needed for the printer.

 

Now if you want to be 100% guaranteed to get a very well tested system with everything included down to the addendum manuals, etc., I would recommend buying one from ADAMcon thru his website. Piece of mind when it comes to this stuff goes a long way.

 

http://ann.hollowdreams.com/ and then click on A.N.N. Catalog (U.S) or if you live in Canada, you can try Rich Clee by clicking on ADAM Srvc Catalog (Canada).

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Printer disabled and cleaned - ADAM no longer sad and boots consistently! Datapack drive seems to be okay, too. Catalogued the preformatted blank fine. Any advice on cleaning the keyboard? Should I worry about my isopropyl toothbrush wiping characters off the keys like with some keyboards?

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Printer disabled and cleaned - ADAM no longer sad and boots consistently! Datapack drive seems to be okay, too. Catalogued the preformatted blank fine. Any advice on cleaning the keyboard? Should I worry about my isopropyl toothbrush wiping characters off the keys like with some keyboards?

Congrats! Glad to hear that you have yourself a working system sans the ability to print, but I'm sure that won't be missed much. As far as the keyboard, never had any issues with character label degredation with anything that I have used to clean them.

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