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MikeJ

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  1. There's a great archive of BBC educational software here if you want to try to find it: http://www.flaxcottage.com/Educational/Default.asp
  2. Acorn BBC Micro Model A - Repair My Apple II and Speccy both had bad RAM chips which gave similar issues to what I was seeing with the BBC, so I was confident enough that this was the fault to start there. With my Spectrum 48k, I could type some BASIC in and use the output to identify some bad RAM - it basically stores data in relevant locations and reads it back, so if it changes something is wrong. I could do the same with the BBC, and doing so indicated either multiple bad RAM chips or something else at fault. I downloaded MartinB's more advanced BASIC RAM checker from stardot.org, transferred it to a tape image using a BBC emulator on my Mac, then loaded it on the Micro via the iPad which identified three(!) bad RAM ICs: I took the plunge and ordered some new old stock RAM chips. When they arrived, I "piggy-backed" (basically sit them on top so the pins of the new chips squeeze against the pins of the old ones - only really useful to check something before desoldering, you can just about see this in the bottom right of the pic) them over the indicated existing chips to see if the behaviour changed, and it did indeed solve the issue. I don't have an electric desoldering pump so removed the old chips by snipping them off at the top of the legs, then heating each remaining pin with the soldering iron and removing with tweezers, then cleared the pin holes of old solder with a manual desoldering pump. This worked well, I then fitted sockets where the chips were (in case they fail again in future this will allow them to be easily swapped) and put the new ones in to be greeted with what appeared to be a fully functional machine. The BBC only outputs mono video over composite for quality reasons (colour makes the text output significantly worse) so I connected up the RF output to my test CRT TV as the LCD one didn't like it and gave it a more thorough test by loading Elite, which is still pretty impressive considering the specs of the machine: Which worked fine. I enabled colour composite by bridging two solder pads on the motherboard and set it up for some extensive testing on an LCD monitor with a composite input, and loaded up the big dog (ostrich?) from my school days: I haven't been able to locate a tape image of Granny's Garden so I will be spared the terrifying spectacle/nightmares until I do. I had forgotten how most of the text screens looked like Ceefax, which I have learned since being at school was to do with the teletext adapter you could buy for the machine to browse teletext services with via a TV aerial. This machine is now finished - annoyingly considering its excellent condition it is an almost-unmodified Model A and quite scarce so I don't want to expand it to Model B specs and ruin it. I will likely sell it and get a proper Model B so I can get things like SSD drives, RGB output etc etc.
  3. It all gets a bit blurry when you have things like the PC Engine around but technically I would say Sonic Triple Trouble looks pretty great on the Master System for 8-bit stuff and probably Garou Mark of the Wolves on Neo Geo for 16-bit. For me Super Mario World still looks stunning despite being technically surpassed many times.
  4. Sensible World of Soccer Super Mario World Puzzle Bobble
  5. Acorn BBC Model A - Initial Power Up The replacement capacitors for the power supply arrived and I fitted them - one of the old ones was very much exploded: I put it back together and powered it on to be greeted with this: Which is not as it should be (it should say "BBC Computer 32K"), but the keyboard worked OK so the system was mostly working. I did a bit of googling and found that there's a jumper inside to switch between the two 16K banks of memory it has, so I changed it and got this (see also "after" shot of case and keyboard after cleaning): Which suggested half of the RAM was OK - it wouldn't boot at all with the other bank enabled and I got the corruption as seen with both banks enabled. Half of the RAM is socketed and half of it is soldered in, with the Model A only coming with the soldered 16K as standard, and as rotten luck would have it whatever is causing my issue seems to be in/related to the soldered in section. In the meantime I found that the cassette port on the BBC is basically the same pinout as the video adapter I made for my Atari 130XE, so using a website called PlayUEF I could load cassette software via my iPad. Most stuff on the site needed 32K, but I found something that didn't and loaded it up, which worked fine: Next: Identify and fix RAM fault so I can play Chuckie Egg
  6. If you are having issues with PAL games on NTSC consoles (usually weird image shifting or apparent sync problems) a lot of them can be solved by doing this: https://mmmonkey.co.uk/dreamcast-ntsc-pal-r422-mod/ This doesn't fix compatibility with RGB SCART cables on games that don't support them however.
  7. Acorn BBC Micro Model A A few months later and I’ve had a bit of a clear out of stuff I have that is similar to other things and getting no use - the Amiga 2000 and Acorn 4000 have been sold and a load of accumulated spares have been moved on also. This meant that I had a bit of space freed up for another project, and fittingly (40th anniversary and all that) a BBC Micro appeared for a reasonable price on eBay so I bought it. I couldn’t see what expansion ports were present underneath, and I was hoping for a model B with a disk controller ideally so I could hook up my Gotek floppy emulator. Having arrived it’s apparent that I have a Model A that has been expanded to 32K and has had a joystick interface installed - it is completely unexpanded other than this, so cassette interface only for loading, composite video only, no serial port, no disk capability etc. I have no idea if it works, and having opened it up for cleaning/inspection I noticed one of the filter capacitors on the power supply has failed (very common, generates smoke but doesn’t normally break anything) so am waiting for replacements before I switch it on. I’ve done the usual dismantle and scrub on it while I’m waiting and it’s in excellent condition. Here are some “before” pics, more to follow as I make up some cables and see if anything works…
  8. I got this just over a week ago and just finished it with 74% items (the only other Metroid game I have finished is Prime), I enjoyed it more than any other new game I have played for years that isn't Animal Crossing. The EMMI things/repeated deaths weren't that annoying in the end despite me expecting them to be, and the boss fights allowed clear progress with practise and put up a bit of a challenge which I liked, despite getting close to a bit of a boss rush as the game progressed.
  9. The Super Famicom lettering will be OK but on mine it ate the writing off and pitted the plastic of the eject button, as well as slightly discolouring the grey plastic top and cart flap. In retrospect I would dissasemble all of the case parts and remove the top grey plastic piece, eject button and cartridge flap leaving only the lighter plastics to go into peroxide - these bits don't normally yellow.
  10. I personally find discussing personal experiences with others who have similar interests much more appealing than reading someone else’s (who often have little real interest in the topic) take on an old subject that is generally available a million times over for free. I am also generally suspicious of nostalgia based Kickstarters.
  11. Anything from that age will be running in 480i on a CRT like that for the most part so you’ll see interlace flickering that you don’t get on LCDs etc.
  12. You can burn a copy of the 240p Test Suite on PS1 and sort all your calibration and geometry out with that. I also have one of those Sony TVs and you can flip between 50 and 60hz, adjusting as you go, to get around the weird requirement to be in 50hz to change anything.
  13. I think I missed that issue (for shame) but yes - there are some great titles mentioned and it seemed like good times indeed. Within a few months we had a magazine with half the page count and staples in the middle.
  14. Amiga Power 44 (December 1994) for me - I remember reading it on the way back from school via the newsagents and it had previews of Mortal Kombat 2 and Super Streetfighter 2 with reviews of stuff like Cannon Fodder 2, Theme Park and Sim City 2000. I felt reassured that my Amiga 1200 would get decent games for a good while yet, which didn’t really turn out to be true, but that was the peak for me and the only time a particular issue of a magazine stuck in the memory.
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