1980's HP85B computer

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1980's HP85B computer

Postby tezza on Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:32 pm

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Computers/Vint ... 216588.htm

An interesting one if I had the room (I don't!). However, 1983 so not quite as vintage as it looks. Also broken.
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby lizardb0y on Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:25 am

I have one already - it's an interesting beast, and heavy. The build quality on this thing is impressive - as you'd expect for HP gear of the era. The CRT still gives a good picture and the printer even works! It uses backup style tapes for storage.
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby tezza on Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:34 am

These were quite popular in science labs. I'm sure I remember seeing one in a lab somewhere at Massey Uni back in the day.
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby Gibsaw on Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:19 pm

tezza wrote:http://www.trademe.co.nz/Computers/Vintage/auction-382216588.htm

An interesting one if I had the room (I don't!). However, 1983 so not quite as vintage as it looks. Also broken.


Mmm.. Yes, I have seen this machine first hand as Ian graciously showed it to me when I was picking up a green screen monitor. (This one if you're curious)

Looked in quite good condition when I saw it, but I didn't take the top off. I was urging him caution (and a thorough clean/service) before switching it on. Not sure bringing it up on a variac is a good idea though. It's good advice for an old amplifier or radio, and it'll avoid the thermal shock to old capacitors, but would probably leave a digital machine in a very funny state that would require a cold reboot.

The house and garage are down in a gully in the bush on the west coast. (and it was a rainy day when I was there) He had it up high, but even so, I'm not sure that the garage he was keeping it in would be entirely moisture free so... mm. I hope it's just paper electrolytics. :)

It's still an interesting trip though. Ian's a serious retro equipment hoarder of all types. (Stuff EVERYWHERE. His wife seemed like a very patient lady. :) )
"dsakey" on trademe. Apple II's are my thing.
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby tezza on Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:54 pm

hehehe. Good to get an insight into some of these things and the people that own them.

Yes, I never used a variac when booting up old computers that have been resting. I figure if something's gonna blow, it's gonna blow. Nornally it means you can then identify it.

I do disassemble them and give them a good visual inspection beforehand though. It means you can remove any deceased (or alive) creatures which may have been living in there :)
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby kaimaiguy on Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:31 am

None of this is terribly reassuring as you see I am the obviously unlucky fool who won Ian's cyber corpse on Trademe which you speak of here.

Ian described it as a working model with no CRT display but after reading your posts
I have suddenly lost any enthusiasm for the much anticipated project At very best it will be a challenge far beyond my knowledge and abilities. Just getting started out with the ole timers but was hoping my first project wouldn't be a pre designated disappointment.

I would imagine that if the CRT itself is actually burned out finding a replacement will be like trying to find a wallet that fell from a Cessna Skylane stuffed with $3- bills. OR be fair trade for the punjab diamond.

Actually expecting it's arrival via Post tomorrow. I'll send you all a vial filled with the ole git's teardrops as a made in New Zealand keepsake.

The Very Best to you All!

Cheers Mates!

Rick
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby Gibsaw on Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:10 am

kaimaiguy wrote:None of this is terribly reassuring as you see I am the obviously unlucky fool who won Ian's cyber corpse on Trademe which you speak of here.

Yep.. Ian's just emailed me, suggesting you may have been disheartened by this thread. I should point out Rick, that around 50% of the machines acquired by the denizens of this board are in this state and need lots of love and attention... and nearly all of them come back to life. Tezza's IIgs was one exception, but there's no fixing motherboard corrosion from battery acid.

kaimaiguy wrote:Ian described it as a working model with no CRT display but after reading your posts I have suddenly lost any enthusiasm for the much anticipated project At very best it will be a challenge far beyond my knowledge and abilities. Just getting started out with the ole timers but was hoping my first project wouldn't be a pre designated disappointment.

Rick, My comments are meant to let the others here know that the machine may need a careful disassembly, clean and check for corrosion. (and if you have the resources an alcohol bath and a little strategic oven drying for some boards)

There are plenty of people on this forum and on the international forums who are talented enough to point you in the right direction. I doubt the machine is "dead" (at least not permanently) although I would have advised something a little less "off the beaten track" (more available parts, i.e. C64, Apple IIe, ZX-Spectrum etc) as my first foray into restoration. Maybe a second slightly easier project in parallel to keep your enthusiasm up?

kaimaiguy wrote:I would imagine that if the CRT itself is actually burned out finding a replacement will be like trying to find a wallet that fell from a Cessna Skylane stuffed with $3- bills. OR be fair trade for the punjab diamond.

I wouldn't necessarily assume that yet Rick. CRT's can blow, but there's plenty of other more likely candidates. You're more likely to have to replace a few capacitors controlling the screen.

The main thing is going to be to very carefully disassemble and clean, especially around the HT sections of it. Buy lots of isopropyl and WD-40 contact cleaner and q-tips and find a well ventilated area and get busy. Re-seat (and clean) any socketed chips. Go over the circuit boards and look for dry/loose solder joints... and THEN we start looking for dead components.

if the CRT or the HT Transformer is blown, and you try looking for a "screen for an HP85B", also remember that HP probably made neither of these items, and it's a matter of hunting for the component by it's real name. (for example it might be a "General Electric 12345A")

[UPDATE] - It looks like your prayers have been answered Rick, if you can get the machine diagnosed reasonably quickly. New Screen. Main board. etc.

kaimaiguy wrote:Actually expecting it's arrival via Post tomorrow. I'll send you all a vial filled with the ole git's teardrops as a made in New Zealand keepsake.

Best of luck.... and one more thing. Get a schematic, and be VERY VERY VERY CAREFUL around the high voltage sections of the screen. These voltages are still present with the machine switched off and unplugged.
Last edited by Gibsaw on Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby tezza on Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:13 pm

Welcome to the forums Rick,

Yes, I like to reiterate what Gibsaw posted here. Don't get discouraged. Machines can often be fixed and restored.

The Internet is a big place and you are bound to find someone who is quite familiar with these machines somewhere. I've found in the main vintage computer enthusasists and happy to help and give advice.
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby kaimaiguy on Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:22 pm

Thank you all very much for your kind responses, sage and advice and just for being there.

Against my better judgement which isn't always so better, I decided to just keep the unit. I felt as if I had to honour the trade even though Ian was kind enough to open the way for a refund. it would have only meant a further loss in shipping funds and perhaps even a boat anchor is a better thing.

so far as addressing the actual restoration I simply do not have the resources, funds etc it will require . The past 10 years has seen much loss and maikng any investments is out of th question. When I veiwed those offerings on Ebay you were so kind to suggest it was akin to having a parched throat and being stranded on a beach.

As to the machine after I took it out of the carton I very momentarily turned it on. The power led came on and heard a timer ticking sound. the led by the front right tape drive also lit up. that was the extent of any signs of life.

I have searched for quite a long time and cannot seem to locate the schematic however I was fortunate enough to find and download a few of the original documents such as the full original repair course, math pack , user manual etc. Would any of you gents possibley know where I might be able to find the schematic?

It is stting here now on the desk next to this Pc in silent coma, I stare at him but he cannot stare back. at times however I hear a very faint scratchy voice saying fix me fix me and I'll give you secret ATM pin numbers

Again I thank you all.

Have the finest of weekends Gentlemen

Cheers

Rick
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby tezza on Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:47 pm

kaimaiguy wrote:It is stting here now on the desk next to this Pc in silent coma, I stare at him but he cannot stare back. at times however I hear a very faint scratchy voice saying fix me fix me and I'll give you secret ATM pin numbers


LOL.

I have had similar experiences with my machines when they were broken. They stare accusingly at me until I'm forced to dedicate time to fixing them. Most of that time involves simply staring at the circuitboard willing the faulty component to simply announce itself. It never works but I find I still do it, even now.
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby Gibsaw on Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:25 am

kaimaiguy wrote:Would any of you gents possibley know where I might be able to find the schematic?

not yet... but the appendix A of that service manual you've downloaded from series80.org has some interesting stuff in it. pinouts and labeled component layouts etc for each section.
kaimaiguy wrote:so far as addressing the actual restoration I simply do not have the resources, funds etc it will require . The past 10 years has seen much loss and making any investments is out of the question. When I veiwed those offerings on Ebay you were so kind to suggest it was akin to having a parched throat and being stranded on a beach.

Yeah, I feel for you. ALTHOUGH... Ian was reasonably clear that it has at least some sort of fault, resulting in no display. (may not be a CRT fault though :) )

Is it fixable? Absolutely. Is it a good project for a first timer with no diagnostic tools? Maybe not.

Don't think I'm being negative Rick. It just depends where you're coming from. If this is a machine you particularly admire or have a historical attachment to, then by all means, start down the road to restoration... It's a rare(ish) machine by 80's standards, but there are people who can help you.

But if you just want a working, interesting vintage machine on a budget, you're better off to resell this HP85B to a more experienced collector with repair ability, claw back a little cash, and make your very first machine something really common with heaps of online resources like a Commodore 64 or an Apple IIe.

If you DO have a hankering for fixing something, start with something where there's working and broken examples able to bought cheaply, LOCALLY (i.e. trademe) almost every week. My pick for someone starting out learning restoration on a budget would be the Commodore 64.
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby kaimaiguy on Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:01 am

Thank you very much for your input. All I know is that we must keep on making decisions in life even if they are the worst ones. Nothing is worse than stagnation. Seeing things that were designed and destined to work in a non working state does something to me even perhaps if it's time for it to take a powder.

I have been a craftsman for the past 40 years and have done all sorts. Restored quite a lot on vintage macinery including old slot machines, tractors and much much more. also an armourer and sword maker.

The non common denominator with anything that has circuits is you cannot always see the faulty bits and thats where savy is important but technical background is a must which I do not have. I believe even with next to nada supplies, gear etc I may at least get close to gettng it running. After giving it some thought I really don't believe that the CRT unit is burned out per se, in a sense that wouldn't really make sense why should it be? Possibly in the CRT controller itself or other on board component etc but either way there is something that prevents the machine from functioning and there may be no reason for it to remain that way.

The reason I was drawn to it was it's so remenicient of the old Heath days. I once had a few Hero robots and a bit of that kit gear and this in some way takes me back there. The more I learn about it's full abilites the more I think it deserves some credit and to live again. I also believe that it would be a shame to allow such keystone players in early computer technology to disappear never to be appreciated first hand by the next generations. Thats why we have museums to understand and appreciate what it took to lead us up to Windows XP and what comes next

Someone has some very interesting early IBM items up on TM at the moment not sure when the auctions close Again I am very grateful for your comments and reassurance which helps me to make the decision to go ahead with the project.

Many many thanks again mates!


Cheers

Rick
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby kaimaiguy on Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:59 am

Good day to all

Just wanted to ad that I am a little nonplused abot the subject of schematics for the HP85b. I was advised to dowload them for purposes of repair both by Ian and yourself however now you say not yet. I have already spent some time online trying everything short of Indiana Jones and have come up barren. I am wondering do the or do they not exist??

Thanks

Kindest Regards

Rick
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby tezza on Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:24 am

Hi Rick,

Unfortunately not all schematics are easily found on the web and this machine might be in that category. I had a quick look myself and didn't find any but it was only a quick search.

There are some documents on bitsavers here (but no schematic)
http://www.bitsavers.org/pdf/hp/hp85/

Also there is a google group dedicated to this machine. Someone on that group may have schematics, and they also may be quite helpful when it comes to advice. Consider joining them and asking them where you should start.
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/hpseries80/

Given the age of the machine and the fact it was not that common (like the Apple IIe or Commodore 64) resources like schematics, manuals, advice etc. is going to be a lot more limited. As Gibsaw says, it's a difficult project to start with given your lack of experience. Like you, I came into the hobby with no electronic experience and had to learn. I mostly started with Apples and better known machines though. Even then, I needed lots of help. I now know far more about how these machines work but even I would still consider this HP85b a big challenge. You can do a bit with a multimeter, but access to an oscilloscope and logic probe is usually needed for the difficult projects. I'm grappling with a Commodore Pet right now. It ain't easy and as you can see I'm getting lots of advice.

There are some things you can do without too much knowledge. Opening the machine, reseating any socketed chips and unplugging and replugging connectors is sometimes enough to knock oxidation off and for the machine to work.

If you do start to seriously work on it, and want to post progress notes, please use the "Repair and Restoration" forum rather than this Trade Me one.
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Re: 1980's HP85B computer

Postby Gibsaw on Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:55 pm

tezza wrote:Unfortunately not all schematics are easily found on the web and this machine might be in that category. <...snip...> Also there is a google group dedicated to this machine. Someone on that group may have schematics,

Yep, Rick. with a machine like this, you're definitely going to need to start reaching out to people's personal resources. You're going to have to get a schematic the old fashioned way. Contact people and if they can't help you, see if they can suggest other people.

Email that HP Museum and the guy who runs series80.org and see if they have one that's not online, or can point you in the right direction.

Who knows...You might end up on a phone call to the USA to that factory that made them in the end, but they won't have vanished from the face of the earth.

It's not like you're trying to restore a Short Stirling. (i.e. The people who made it are still living and the documentation is 30'ish years old and was probably commercially available, not 80'ish years old and a former military secret.)

tezza wrote:If you do start to seriously work on it, and want to post progress notes, please use the "Repair and Restoration" forum rather than this Trade Me one.

Yep... since you've decided to keep it, start a thread where Tezza's suggested and keep us posted.
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