Another upgrade, and another fix, and endless errands

Yesterday was a solid day of progress on things. In fact, in general, there’s been a lot of progress on things. We’ve been working on the temporary media stand. It’s coming along.

The many chevrons are glued down (more or less, we won’t talk about that any more than that eh…), we need to order the varnish and decide on a finish pattern for the sides (it’s the chevrons, but it has a stylised flower/plant & planet (well, I kind of think of it as a planet) engraved), and we’ve decided it’s going to be painted. The specifics of that are still being worked out…


Anyhow, the top looks pretty cool – especially for the amount of work that’s gone into it, and I think the sides will look pretty nifty too. Just a case of getting the wood top-surface trimmed (one of the errands today was getting a new blade for one of our circular saws), the sides on, and the whole lot varnished (once the varnish arrives), and praying that the bits on the top that stuck…less well than we might have liked (despite half our library being stacked on there) stay stuck down.

As usual the amount of work that we’re putting into this “temporary” object belies the likely nature of its temporaryness.

Anyhow, then yesterday after a raft of errands (there seem to have been a lot of those recently), I set to on upgrading the Z88. I’d bought a 512K RAM / 512K Flash upgrade for it, but instructions were… absent. Eventually I found this set of instructions which was much clearer than anything else I’ve found and after desoldering the original chips I replaced them and lo, it’s running OZ 4.7 (can I share that it’s wild that people are still collaboratively working on an operating system for a Z80 based machine from 1987?), then burning that onto flash chips and sending them out…?

Z88 memory read out

Aaaaand, it has 512K of RAM! Isn’t that shiny.

Of course, having got it working I was terribly excited to try connecting it to the mac, at which point I discovered that of course, Apple stopped supporting the common-as-muck USB-Serial chipset that’s been around for a dog’s age. There is, apparently, the FTDI chipset variants, that are still supported – and thankfully I was within the return period for the one I got. So back that USB-Serial has gone, and a new one is (theoretically) en-route.

The other thing I need for it, ideally, is a decent set of rechargeable batteries. A set that’s actually a set (because I have a bunch of mismatched ones). In today’s massive list of errands (including switching over Raven’s tyres for the summer ones) was a run to initially Target (out of rechargeable batteries) then to Ace (needed that saw blade, also out of rechargeable batteries). Hence I’ve given in and ordered them online. Because late stage capitalism is working flawlessly *rolls eyes*

*Then* I can really have a play with it.

Since I had a bit of time before Kathryn got home yesterday, I decided I’d also like to try and fix the Acorn Pocketbook II (AKA, a Psion 3a). This, of course, did not go exactly to plan. First up, I *suspect* I’m responsible for the disintegration of the button bar during disassembly (although I’m hoping that superglue will hold that). But more importantly, the fancy replacement ribbon cable I bought in the UK, that I paid for rush shipping on? It’s…



Uh hu. Vastly too long. A couple of options are ahead of me at this point. If it’s 1mm spacing then I can just order a generic one – although whether it’ll be heat resistant is a question – but it needs to be soldered at one end (because obviously, why not? Why not solder a flexible cable permanently at one end, then socket it at the other end). Alternatively, I miiight be able to shave the kapton tape off the top surface of this, trim it shorter and solder it. It’s a possibility which I’m going to explore.

Or I could just I dunno, travel back in time and buy a spare when they made them.

As I put it on Mastodon yesterday: My genius plan of “Oh, I’ll just fix this thing incredibly fiddly object made of unobtainum using pixie dust” seems to have come a cropper for some inexplicable reason.

Le sigh.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at

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