A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

[Retrocomputing: Why Bother?] Machalla IIsi: The Return of the Jederr... 68030 Part 3: I Got 256 Colors But a Retr0bright Ain't One

Can I be updating this fast?  Well I have a lot to get through over the last few weeks.

 While the Floppy Emu guy couldn't help me with my old device he gave me 30% off code for a new one and info on what I might do to fix the broken one.  (It involves surface mount soldering 20 pins in less than a pinky fingernail's space square.  Uhhhh...)

 This one requires me to buy a new MicroSD card as it doesn't use normal SDs.  Oh well that is only like 10 bucks with tax.  The new one even has a new interface cable with a resistor on it.  So perhaps this spicy boy is much more reliable in all the ways?

 I also got myself a nice padded swivel stool that given my current Mac IIsi location I don't actually need but it was only 30 bucks and as I have TurboDuo and Mac IIsi soldering to do in the VERY near future it will come in handy for lots of soldering.

 Thank goodness it works.  Seems to be a lot clearer of a display over the older one though it doesn't quite fit in the old acrylic case.  I need to do some more sanding on it.  Also I had a 1 gig image for a Color Macintosh 7.5.5 OS made so I can switch between OSes whenever I need to.

 Sadly a few things need to be done before I can update the 6.0.7 to 6.0.8.  Gotta made the Floppy Emu the Startup Drive for one thing, and as the install wants floppy disks I need to use DISK MODE.

 So put the two disks the update needs as images, go to floppy mode, and away we go with much swapping.

 But while I am in 7.5.5 might as well check out my performance.  Seems faster than 6.0.7 even though I have Extensions and a super RAM hungry OS in 7.5.5.

 But it is overall more better in spite of a roughly three times as long boot up.  (Its like 30 seconds to boot up 6.0.8.)

 The hard disk is so frigging TINY on the machine I cannot really make it 7.5.5 without having like zero space on it.

 6.0.8 has a lower power than 7.5.5.  I am sure there is an explanation for these shenanigans but.. is it just the way this diagnostic program works?   Coding of the OS is just designed more around the 68030 CPUs?  Extensions have some support that makes it snappier?  

Well I can play Gauntlet in color and it is cool and all but it uses a NumPad or similar suite of keys and thus doesn't control all that well.  Plus I have Gauntlet on multiple arcade collections that controls better.  Was fun to try it out.  (In general I am trying to keep the games I play as ones that are Freeware or that I own in some legit format.  Even if the odds of any 68000 era Macintosh game or port getting rereleased or put on any sort of collection or even acknowledged to have been made is like LOL NO.)

 System 6.0.8 practically sips RAM.  7.5.5 uses around 3-4 times as much.  So until more RAM arrives this works better.  

 Plus older games might be happier in an older OS so it is also good for compatibility issues that might poke up.

 I decide 6.0.8 doesn't need Multifinder which is a sort of multitasking that is on automatically in later OSes but in 6 it is optional.

 It gives me some speed.  Which is a nice thing.

 Being faster is better!  (For many things but not all wink wink nudge nudge.)

 I take all of those boring ass productivity programs off of the main hard disk because this one game is 21 megabytes in size more or less.  

 Also large is my keyboard.  My PC keyboard is microscopic in comparison.  And has a lovely click.  Long term I plan on getting a USB to ADB adaptor for convenience, space, and comfort of using modern input devices.

 I can switch mice too!  I do however use a Magic Eraser to clean off the Apple mouse and keyboard tops to make them cleaner.  

 While this RAM is 55 bucks or so it is 64 megabytes of it.  And as the Commodore has shown us, 64 IS A GOOD NUMBER.  Also it is the maximum this machine can handle.

 No real performance difference in 6 but it is nice to have the RAM to cram when I slam into the jam.

 Or for System 7.5.5 who wants to hog it,

 But we get all sorts of NEW TOOLS and things like an on screen clock!

 And color in our icons!  That rarely matter as I tend to go with file name lists because my brain likes it that way!

 But now no real performance change.  However some may have noticed the hard disk seems faster but its not really since it is a floppy drive port.  So it is loading slower but when it is on it's own doing stuff it is a nice fast SD card over a mechanical hard disk from 1990.  

Now I can play the overall superior Macintosh port of Wolf 3d I have owned since the mid 90s and my Id Anthology collection was teasing me with.  However it has to be in a tiny window and even music turned off to be remotely playable and even then it isn't running at proper speed.

 But we have an automap!  And WASD controls if I set it up.   Sadly can't mouselook as it won't let you turn and strafe together.  But I can turn and shoot with the mouse or just shoot and use the keyboard to strafe.

Well ok Wolf 3d I will try this NO EXTENSIONS mode...

 It... actually makes it SLOWER.  Yeah.  Wow.  So some of those extensions make the machine FASTER.  Which ones I do not know and I don't care too much outside of idle curiosity.  I do have multiple books to look through however.  Perhaps I shall discover the terrible secret of OS 7 within them?

Going back to 6.0.8 on the main drive for now.  Strangely now the disk cache won't go up as high as it did but it shouldn't matter too much.

   So now my rig is working and I can play some RPGs and other less taxing software but at a much more satisfying speed and sometimes in COLOR compared to the Mac Plus.  BUT WE AREN'T DONE YET.   

(I haven't wasted enough money like a dumb ass.  Not by a long shot!)

  So what is next?  The two main needs are an SD2SCSI drive with possibly a case and an external interface unless I just choose to strip out the internal drive entirely, and a Clock Crystal that will bring the machine to it's actual potential that Apple (as was their wont) nerfed so it wouldn't compete with the IIci which is an overall more capable albeit larger and uglier machine.
  After those two things I need to replace capacitors, repaint the case, and possibly get a NuBus Adaptor Card which would allow for more capable video output from said NuBus cards.  The Adaptor itself also can have a Math Coprocessor in it but they tend to not work with the speed boost from a faster clock crystal.

  But even now I have a very capable machine for late 80s and early 90s games.  Pretty much anything of a non action bent from 1985-1993 is fully playable outside of a handful of games that only will autoboot and have no frame limiter.   Most action games will be fine especially if I take advantage of multicolor modes to slow the ones down that just let the CPU dictate game speed.

  We are doing fine but WE MUST GO BEYOND.   Getting the rig to maximum potential is almost half the fun..    It is just the other half is a colossal time and money waste....

Monday, April 16, 2018

[Retrocomputing: Why Bother?] Machalla IIsi: The Return of the Jederr... 68030 Part 2: The Sour of the Sweet and Sour Dish

  I still function!  The Mac IIsi still functions.  But as this update will show I nearly gave up on the whole endeavor.

 One thing you need to do with the old OS Macs is rebuild the desktop.  Sometimes the Mac will do it on it's own, especially when switching OSes at Startup as I am wont to do.

 One reason to go from 6 to 7 is for more sensitive mouse tracking.  There are reasons for slow tracking but not really in gaming which is honestly the only real reason I personally have for old computers.  Modern machines have faster and better and generally cheaper, EASIER productivity programs.  Open/Libre Office?  Yes thank you!

 My current pre anything benchmarks.

 You want more better performance for business or black and white apps?  Go into Black and White mode and like it!

 If something runs a bit too fast in Black and White mode you can go into 16....

 Or 4 color mode and keep some speed but not go full bore out there.  4 Color mode seems to be the best compromise for programs that have no framerate limit.

 All the stuff that was on the machine to start with.  Mostly boring ass productivity applications.

 Well I can solve THAT problem.  And then my problems involve grinding XP in VERY old ass RPGs.  While the Mac versions of many classic titles have the most modern quality of life features (albeit many in black and white only) they are still of their time.

 Since some of my upgrades have arrived I give the case a fair scrubbing with a wire pad that takes off a bit of paint and a "Magic Eraser".  I don't get deep into the little nooks and crannies but compared to the digusting thing it was it is much improved.  

 I do the same to the monitor as best I can without taking it apart.  I use some epoxy on the cracks which takes a good week to properly be unsticky.  

 The case is MUCH improved now but we can see the yellowed plastic thanks to UV light taking a toll over nearly 30 years.  And I have a cracked tab to get more epoxy to put on there right.  I think I am probably just going to spraypaint this thing in a nice dark blue with maybe some purple for the bottom half.

 My new toy open!  Covered in dust but otherwise looks good.  No exploded or corroded batteries or capacitors though having a Sony power supply I should replace most of the capacitors within it ASAP.  

 Out with the 4 megabytes of RAM..

 In with 22 bucks and 16 megabytes of NEW!

 Swapping RAM is very easy but sadly on a IIsi all 4 slots must be filled with the same type at once.  No partial measures here!

 And a shiny new battery to keep the clock and my settings set!
 Yes that is a 1991 expiration date on that old battery.  And the little plastic cover that was a pain to remove.   Sadly the RAM did not work.  Nothing came up on the screen at all and a minute or two later a thing I believe they call "The Chimes of Doom" came up.  I got a refund and even though Ebay said I didn't have to return it I spent 6 bucks to ship the RAM back in case I am just a dumbass.  There is no way to know if it was just a bad stick or not given the way the IIsi handles RAM.  The new battery however works like a boss.

 And my VGA dongle arrives!  There are many flavors and amount of DIP switches.  This one is mine.

 And now you have to put it in, screw it in, then plug and maybe screw in a VGA cable on top of that.  Extra desk space required.  

 And this is what I get on a very old ass VGA monitor.  Given I don't feel like opening it up to fix a bunch of knobs I decide to try it on my HDTV.

 Selecting a couple of DIP switches the dongle to a dongle to the HDTV is giving me the correct signal information but that is it.  Perhaps it is because it is a VGA dongle into a DVI input and it is too much dongle?  My Dreamcast is fine with it but who is to say the Mac approves?


 I have pretty colors now!  

 Do some adjusting and now I have a pretty blue background with some purple.

 Sadly my 1.3 model Floppy Emu decided to die during all of this so I can only test with After Dark which is an old screensaver mostly famous for a Flying Toaster module this version doesn't have.  But I have color and its nice working color.

 This 22" monitor has dual inputs for VGA and DVI.  And is happy to auto switch to whichever input is on.  

 I switch to a proper aspect ratio instead of widescreen.  Sharpness does a bit but it is still being upscaled so isn't quite as sharp as it is on the black and white monitor.  However I only get 10 1/4 or so viewing inches diagonally on it, whereas on this monitor it is around 17 1/2.  And color.  Kind of a no brainer.

 A reminder of what the seller showed this machine to be.

Yeah the shipping cracked the screen plastic.  I could be a baby and get some cash back but honestly 65 or so shipped for this machine was a STEAL so I really don't care.

Next time we get some sweet!


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