30
Jan
13

More Adventures in hardware land

Last weekend I got into working on some of my collection of hardware. I modified my spectrum but also did a few other things you may find of interest.

Gravis Gamepad

Gravis Gamepad

Gravis Gamepad

I recently had gotten myself an old school gravis gamepad that was around in the 90’s. So in order to test it I had to dust off an old PC hook it up and try it out with a few games. I didn’t have one of these gamepads on any of our old computers so it was interesting to see how games worked with it. It is also interesting as it allows you to turn the gamepad upside down in case you happen to be left handed. Because of its shape it feels comfortable in either orientation. I found that the buttons were quite good, but the dpad wasn’t quite as good as it felt a bit mushy. I couldn’t tell sometimes when I was going diagonally or just left and right. The one I have may need a clean as well because it didn’t always respond as well as I would have liked it to.

Floppy disk backup

QuickBASIC Manual and disks

QuickBASIC Manual and disks

I have numerous bits of software on floppy disks of all different sorts, and I had decided it was time to finally backup some of them up. I have an old 5.25″ floppy disk drive in one of my old PCs that I normally use for tasks like this and I made a copy of some software I have. I hadn’t previously created disk images for them before and I wanted to do it now. The only trouble is rawwritewin (a program for imaging floppies) didn’t seem to work for disks other than the standard 3.5″ 1.44Mb disks. After much internet searching I found a program called ImageDisk that was created by Dave Dunfield, I haven’t tried it yet, but it comes highly recommended on many retro hardware forums and is free for personal use. I also noted it supports reading and writing disk formats for many machines other than just PC floppies.  Have a look on his personal site at http://classiccmp.org/dunfield/. I found the transfer utilities on a page he has with archives of old disks from ancient systems like the kaypro. You have to use it under DOS and with a compatible floppy disk controller (no usb floppies) so it is best to use it on an old machine.

Practising de-soldering

A practise board

A practise board

After my work on the spectrum I realised I needed to practise de-soldering components – alot! Quite some time ago I got some boards out of some old printers exactly for that purpose and I started practising on it just this weekend. I’m hoping that by learning this I will be able to salvage old components from boards that no longer work, and be able to repair old parts that can no longer be replaced. I recently learned how to test a transistor from some kind people on youtube which will definitely help as well.

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