MacBook Pro 3,1

Purchased a MacBook Pro 3,1 (2008) model via a newsgroup recently that was described as a project machine. It had a habit of shutting down or rebooting unexpectedly. Since it had no battery or power adapter, I acquired aftermarket versions of those as well. When the unit arrived, I found that it still contained a 500 GB drive and had the original 2 GB RAM. I also found that, sure enough, the machine would reboot after a few minutes to a couple of hours. In the process of troubleshooting, I found that both SO-DIMMs were exhibiting faults but a fresh 1 GB installed by itself ran for a couple of days without incident. I went ahead and purchased 2x2GB SO-DIMMs.

While waiting for the new RAM to arrive, I had purchased a second 85 Watt power supply (aftermarket) through eBay. Less than 90 minutes after starting to use that power supply, it popped and took out the MacBook as well. The PS was useless and was severely charred inside; the power/USB/audio board in the MacBook smelled of burnt components, too. I ordered a replacement and installed it when it arrived, only to find that the primary flat connector didn’t seat very well on the logic board, requiring jamming a piece of cardboard on top of it to maintain sufficient pressure at all times.

Lessons learned:

  • Crappy aftermarket PS can kill your MacBook; glad I only had $100 invested in the Mac
  • Green light on cable indicates a complete circuit only to a point; you might still have any number of other problems if the machine won’t boot
  • Three flashes on the white LED on the front of the MacBook generally indicates that there is a RAM fault
  • If green light on cable won’t come on, check that the flat connector from the power board to the logic board is properly seated
  • For some reason, the MacBook won’t run with the keyboard “detached”, although it seems that it should be able to

So far, so good…

OS X hangs on login to iTunes and App Store

I just picked up a MacBook Pro 2008 model and installed Mountain Lion. Everything appeared to be working okay so I upgraded to El Capitan to see how that looked. After the update, trying to login to iTunes or the App Store resulted in the spinning ball of uselessness. However, I was still able to login to Apple’s web site via Safari and Firefox, so I figured networking and firewall were non-issues.

Some research on Google directed and redirected until I ended up at Turns out this can be a common problem with machines that have been serviced, which can apparently wipe out the serial number stored in the firmware. The solution listed on that site worked like a charm. You can verify this is the problem by clicking on About This Mac from the Apple menu; if your serial number is blank or otherwise appears unavailable, you might give the utility a shot.

A couple of additional notes, however. For those that aren’t really Mac savvy or have been away a while, Disk Utility will work fine for this and can create the serial number utility on a USB memory stick. To accomplish this, start Disk Utility from Applications -> Utilities. Insert your memory stick and if any partitions mount, select the in the list and unmount them (don’t eject the memory stick). Once all partitions of the memory stick are unmounted, click on the memory stick itself and then Edit -> Restore. In the window that pops up, click Image and select the .dmg file described in the above article. Once everything is completed, you can reboot and try the serial number utility. Make sure you read the article completely, however, and that you absolutely use the correct serial number. There is no second chance…

Apple II Cards Purchased

Just purchased 4 Apple II cards through eBay. Actually, I was only after the IEEE-488 card but also included were a Microsoft Z-80 card as well as a couple of other interface cards. Will worry later about the rest, currently want to see what the 488 card can do in a IIGS.

Also working on purchasing some other Apple II related items and/or emulation items, including an MFM emulator. Not sure if there were ever any MFM hard drive controllers for the Apple II, but thought it might be an interesting bit of kit at some point…

Eventually going after Ian’s Mockingbird-compatible card, have a bare SDisk2 card, and a couple of prototype boards. Now to find some kit to build from all of this stuff… did I mention that I have around 10 printer/parallel port cards? Must be adaptable to some use.

ADTPro with Xubuntu 15.04 and IIGS ROM01 (Super Serial Card)

This is a duplicate of a discussion item I opened on ADTPro’s SourceForge site. Your mileage may vary but I welcome questions and will try to help.

After several days of combat with ADTPro and my IIGS, I’ve finally managed to get a good connection and create a couple of boot floppies.

One big issue was a lack of a valid DIN8 to DB9 cable. I tried 3 different ones, even hacked a couple of them apart only to find that they only had 4 or 6 of the required wires, none wired to the correct terminals and without enough wires to build the correct cable. Also, make sure you add yourself to the Dialout user group and then restart X or reboot the machine; there are ways around this but this is the proper way to gain access to the serial ports, whether real, USB, or virtual.

I then went through a couple of IIe’s that I had picked up a couple of years back, only to find that one of them actually had a Super Serial Card. Good enough, decided to give that a go. Out of the box didn’t work, though, so found that the modem/terminal jumper block was hosed. In trying to get it out, I broke a couple of pins and hopeless dented others. Using a machined-pin socket, some pieces of leads cut from a resistor, and some more pieces to create bridges, I reconstructed the jumper block. Biggest problem is that the cap from the original was not attached when I pulled the card out so I have no idea whether the jumper is set to the modem or terminal position. However, via 2 different types of USB-Serial converters, it now works… subject to the following caveat:

Each time you power up, you have to go into the IIGS control panel (CTRL-APPLE-ESC), Slots, Slot 2 (preferred) and change to Your Card, Save, then Quit back to prompt. Hit CTRL-APPLE-RESET, releasing RESET first to reboot then hit CTRL-RESET to prevent booting from floppy.

Start ADTPro on the Linux box. I tried several different settings but found that on Bootstrapping tab the defaults work best. One other issue that got me several times is that things appear to work normally sometimes except no transfer occurs. Make sure you type IN#2 and the 14B using the Shift key; even though Apple prints an upper case B when you type the 14B, if it’s not really upper case things will probably screw up. Also, this allowed the Speediboot option to work properly, which is much faster than the regular ProDOS and ADTPro Serial transfers back-to-back.

I’ll try to post pics of the SSC soon. Feel free to post questions.

Also, I’m running Xubuntu 15.04 on an Acer Chromebook with modified firmware. Works great in the small area I have available for testing.

Recent Retro Equipment

So, recently picked up a few different retro computer systems and accessories. First batch was an Enhanced Apple //e with color monitor, duo drive, ImageWriter, and software. Later discovered that the machine had a Super Serial Card, Apple SCSI card, AppliCard, and a couple of other extra cards. I haven’t had time to play with it due to lack of space.

Second batch about 9 months later consisted of a breadbox C64 with (2) 1541 drives, (1) 1541-II drive, and miscellaneous accessories. Also included a rather beat up Apple //e (unenhanced) with several expansion cards, (2) Apple Disk Drives, (1) after market disk drive, and accessories. An Amiga 500 with external 3-1/2″ drive was included (original version 1.2 Kickstart) and an old Packard-Bell 286 machine. A couple of green-screen monitors with composite input completed this batch, along with several books, disks, etc. Unfortunately, no Amiga software at all.

Another score was an Apple IIGS through eBay on the cheap; no cards, but works pretty well and in decent condition. Also, picked up (3) 5.25″ Apple Smart Drives, an ADB mouse and keyboard through This has actually turned into a pretty good little system to tinker with by combining some cards from the previous batches and one of the 5.25″ smart drives that isn’t as flaky as the others. Unfortunately, the IIGS didn’t include a memory card so I’m trying to find one on the cheap.

Some details of my ADTPro adventures with the IIGS will follow.

Commodore PET 2001

I saw a real Commodore PET 2001 today at an electronics repair shop. The owner was the original purchaser many years ago and purchased it directly from Commodore. Accessories included a line printer and dual disk drive. Fantastic condition and the owner’s wife said that it was still working fine when it was retired. Very cool to see one of these up close and personal.

Retro Stuff

Picked up a Commodore 64 (original style), Apple //e, Amiga 500, and Packard-Bell PB301 last weekend, along with several disk drives, books, and other accessories. All of these have been (poorly) stored for several years and will require some cleaning. I’m thinking the //e might be a good candidate for Retr0bright, as it’s very, very yellow. Also have at least 200 disks and tapes but will take quite a bit of time to sort as the previous owner apparently had quite a few accessory items for each machine. Maybe I’ll post some photos once I have things where they can be displayed, but they take up 1 full 72″ x 36″ x 12″ shelf plus another shelf level. Quite a haul…

I told the priest, “Don’t count on any second coming.”

“God got his ass kicked, the first time he came down here slumming.”

“He had the balls to come, the gall to die, and then forgive us.”

“I wonder what he thought it would get us…”

– Concrete Blonde, Tomorrow, Wendy.