For our December meeting we are once again holding the annual gadgets evening. This is always a light hearted look at any new gadgets and toys we have bought or been given during the year and does not have to be computer related.
I hope you can all join us for the final meeting of 2010 to enjoy some banter along with seasonal fare and refreshments. Please feel free to bring along something to share, I'll be bringing mince pies, Doritos and dips as usual - Gareth
At our last meeting we attempted to strip down 2 old Acorn Risc PCs one of which was no longer working to rebuild a single machine from the functioning parts.
The non-functioning machine would not power up at all, with just a faint glow from a power LED. This machine was a 1995 vintage single slice ARM6 Risc PC owned by the club, with 8-bit sound, 1 MB VRAM, 16MB RAM, RISCOS 3.5 and the original 2x speed CDROM drive and 512 MB Hard drive.
The functioning RiscPC was a battered StrongARM Risc PC with RISCOS 4.02, 2 MB VRAM and a number of expansion cards including SCSI, MIDI, DX4 PC Card and a RiscTV card. It also contained a none-working Syquest drive along with an IDE CDROM and the original 1.2GB Hard disk.
Both machines were suffering from leakage from the CMOS backup battery which had started to attack the motherboard so Frank decided we would attempt a battery replacement on the older system as the motherboard itself was in better condition. Despite the obvious issues with the battery and the significant time since the machine was last powered up the battery was holding a charge and maintaining the CMOS data.
To replace the battery the motherboard needed to be removed, so we disassembled the machine which was quite simple given the design of the RiscPC case although some trouble was experienced with the case pins and the VRAM which was a tight fit and caused much head scratching.
Frank had brought his "box of tricks" toolbox along for the evening for removing and replacing the battery including a soldering iron from 1958!! With the motherboard removed from the base unit Frank proceeded to melt the solder on the legs from the battery and remove it from the motherboard.
With the battery removed it was important to clean the motherboard and components that had been affected by the battery residue as much as possible. Ideally this would have been properly cleaned with isopropyl alcohol but on the evening we had to improvise as best we could.
Prior to soldering in the new battery, Frank needed to trim the legs on the cell to the required length using sidecutters. With that done and with all hands on deck to hold the board and battery in position he was able to melt a blob of solder through from the reverse side to hold each leg in place.
The motherboard was then refitted to the base unit ready for reassembly. As we had decided to create one working machine to the best specification possible from the 2 old systems we also planned to move the StrongARM card and RISCOS 4.02 ROMs over from the other system. As the StrongARM requires RISCOS 3.7 or higher to boot we needed to complete this first. Removing ROMs without bending pins can be a tricky business, fortunately Frank had also made a tool for the job, a screwdriver bent at 90 degrees to lever the chips out of the sockets. The ROMs were a very tight fit and difficult to remove even breaking a screwdriver in the process, but once removed were easily refitted into the new system.
We then fitted the RAM and VRAM from the old StrongARM system together with the Hard Drive to get the RISCOS 4.02 boot sequence and stand the best chance of a running system by the end of the evening. After refitting the first slice we were able to insert the StrongARM card ready to test the system. On power up the system reported RISCOS 4.02, 66MB RAM and booted to the desktop although we did have an error related to the missing DMI card due to the fact the old RiscPC contained a number of podules which had not been refitted.
(OK I admit this is what happened on the 2nd attempt at booting up, on the first attempt the screen stayed dark as I had forgotten to fit a processor card - Gareth)
While we had the system in this state Peter took the opportunity to try out a number of his old hard disks on the system to see if any still worked and what data they contained. Most did not work but at least one did still contain data from his own RiscPC.
We ended the evening by refitting the second slice and podules from the original StrongARM system. Frank took away the other motherboard to perform a more thorough cleaning and battery replacement as it is a newer 16-bit sound board so perhaps we will swap everything back again in the future!!
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this meeting which was a very hands on event and I hope everyone who attended did too!
I took several photos during the evening some of which are shown here. (Peter)
RPC No.2 opened.
RPC No.1 Stripped down. This will become the finished machine.
Showing CMOS battery corrosion.
Frank reviewing the board.
Cleaned board ready for new battery to be soldered in.
And it works too!
Along the way, Dick amused at the procedings.
Frank and Michael.
Andy checking we were doing it right; and Gareth, pleased at finding an almost inexhaustible supply of cleaning material!
Just wishing every one a very Happy Christmas especially those who cannot get to see us in person. Let us hope 2011 will be another good year for you all and ICENI Computer Club.
|15 December||Gadgets and Party evening||All|
|19 January||Social Evening - Venue TBA||All|
|16 February||Gigabit Networking , USB2 & 3||All|
|16 March||Linux update||Gareth|
|20 April||AGM plus Games||All|
Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.
Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website. http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com
The first visit is free and subsequent visits for non - members is £2·50. The membership fee is £20 due from the AGM date in April, but may be reduced for those joining late in the year.
Continuing our publicity for EAUG events, there is now a full list of meetings up to the end of the year on their website.
Tea/coffee/biscuits usually available.
Visitors pay 2.00 GBP for the evening, which is deductible from the normal joining subscription if you decide to join at a later date.
See the Membership page of the website for more information:
Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month
opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.
For directions see below (note the new web addresses)
They have now moved to the St. Andrew's Computer Club at Britannia Road, Ipswich. They have picked up a couple of people from the Church and are seeking to include people from the Parish.
There's not much about the Computer Club on the website (http://www.ourstandrews.co.uk), but there are a few words. (Ken Tew)
"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."
However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)
If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.
I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.
Our website URL is
http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com as a virtual domain,
it can also be reached using http://www.btinternet.com/~icenicomputerclub
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org