Rescuing a 28 year old Mac

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Rescuing a 28 year old Mac

Post by |darc| » Tue Apr 25, 2017 8:59 pm

So, it's been a goal of mine for a while to obtain a real original era compact classic Macintosh computer. I'm not nearly as much of an Apple fanboy as I used to be, but I have a massive amount of respect for many of the Apple designs and the classic Macintosh is about as iconic as you can get in classic computers.

About a year ago DaMadFiddler offered to trade me a Macintosh Plus for some NES mod work. Unfortunately even though he offered it to me as a working model, when it arrived the monitor only worked when flexing the analog board (meaning the solder likely needed reflow) and the floppy drive was busted (when I opened the drive, several plastic gears, having grown brittle over the years, were missing teeth). At that point, it wasn't worth the cost of repair, but I had already been bitten by the bug of classic Mac ownership so I went ahead and bought an "as-is" Mac SE/30.

The Mac SE/30 was the last of the compact all-in-one classic Macintosh models of the 80s. Despite having been released in 1989, with some modification it can accept a whopping 128MB of RAM and run Mac OS 8, so it is one of the most coveted classic Mac models. Unfortunately, the capacitors inside of them are known to leak after a few years, meaning unless you purchase a unit that's specifically been restored already ($$$), it's going to require some work to be done. That's not to mention that if the internal battery isn't removed it can explode and really fuck the inside of the machine up.

Luckily when I got this thing it booted up just fine, but it had no audio whatsoever and it would hang occasionally. Upon opening it up, indeed it had a bad smell and the capacitors were leaking electrolytic fluid. I removed all of the capacitors from the logic board, scrubbed the board down, and put it in the dishwasher to clean everything out. After letting it air dry for a while, I soldered on new capacitors and had to repair a couple broken traces on the board that fell victim to corrosion from the electrolytic fluid, but when I powered it on I got the beautiful sound of the Mac chime from the speaker, and the machine no longer hangs constantly!

The system ROM in an SE/30 is written for 24-bit addressing which limits the RAM to 8MB unless you replace the ROM with a hacked 32-bit clean version. I went ahead and did that, and maxed the RAM out at 128MB (8x16MB modules). Then I replaced the 40MB SCSI hard drive with a SCSI2SD adapter and put in an 8GB SD card "SSD." Finally, I added an Ethernet card and installed MacOS 7.5.5 and a bunch of apps, and here I am posting from the machine! The web browsers are slow as fuck rendering modern pages but a lot of pages work fairly well. Using MacIRC I'm able to join the IRC channel, and I can use Fetch to transfer files and software back and forth between my modern machines via FTP.

When I get some time I am going to retrobrite the case to remove its yellowing and restore it to its original color, but in the mean time, I have a pretty impressive piece of vintage computing going here!

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Re: Rescuing a 28 year old Mac

Post by |darc| » Mon May 01, 2017 2:17 pm

Thanks for making me feel like DMF, guys.
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Re: Rescuing a 28 year old Mac

Post by nymus » Mon May 01, 2017 9:13 pm

That's amazing! Do you have some formal training in electronic repair? I once tried a DIY motherboard re-cap which failed misrably so it's impressive that you could do this with a piece of precious equipment.

Did the sound work again? I used one of those (maybe not the exact model) long ago, but I don't know how images and video look on it.

Enjoy!
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Re: Rescuing a 28 year old Mac

Post by lerabot » Tue May 02, 2017 8:30 am

I love seeing the forum on that old browser, how long did it actually take to load the page?
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Re: Rescuing a 28 year old Mac

Post by |darc| » Sat May 06, 2017 3:32 pm

nymus wrote:That's amazing! Do you have some formal training in electronic repair? I once tried a DIY motherboard re-cap which failed misrably so it's impressive that you could do this with a piece of precious equipment.

Did the sound work again? I used one of those (maybe not the exact model) long ago, but I don't know how images and video look on it.

Enjoy!
No, no formal training. I learned to solder as a young teenager installing modchips in PlayStations and Xboxes. A few years ago I really got into vintage gaming and I've done tons of modifications to consoles from Atari 2600s to the Dreamcast. In the beginning I was following guides very closely, but learned enough that I could start doing other mods myself.

And yes, the sound is now working again.
lerabot wrote:I love seeing the forum on that old browser, how long did it actually take to load the page?
Not too long, surprisingly, maybe a minute or so?




This morning I opened the SE/30 back up and removed and replaced all of the capacitors on the analog board. Some of them were leaking, but weren't causing any problems because they weren't completely shot yet and the fluid was only on one side of the board where there are no traces and the components are sparsely placed so nothing was shorted out.

The other problem this Mac had was that when the brightness dial was at zero, the monitor was at full brightness, and if you turned it up it got super washed out and you could see the monitor's diagonal sweep lines. There are a few components on the analog board that are known to be able to cause this (a few resistors and a logic gate chip). I replaced them all and recalibrated the internal brightness resistor and now the monitor is working perfectly!

I'm not entirely done with it yet, though.
1) I'm going to order the capacitors I need to recap the power supply (no reason other than preventative maintenance--those could be leaking too)
2) I'm going to take apart the floppy drive and relubricate all of the mechanical parts. Over time the original factory lubrication can dry up and cause the drive's motor and gears to fail, so I want to get on top of that.
3) I'm going to take all of the plastic off and bathe it in peroxide ("retr0brite" it), so that the yellow color will be gone and the machine will look like the day it came out of the factory

I basically want to do a full restoration so the machine looks and works like brand new.
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Re: Rescuing a 28 year old Mac

Post by Eviltaco64X » Sat May 06, 2017 10:05 pm

128 MB. That's something to cook with.
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Re: Rescuing a 28 year old Mac

Post by Stormwatch » Wed May 17, 2017 5:30 pm

That's a sexy machine. :roll:
In the naming scheme used at that time, Apple indicated the presence of a 68030 processor by adding the letter "x" to a model's name, but when the Macintosh SE was updated to the 68030, this posed an awkward problem, as Apple was not willing to name their new computer the "Macintosh SEx". Thus, "SE/30" was the name chosen.
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