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How do I load programs into Powerbook hard drive?

LisaXL

Active member
Hi,

I am thinking about buying an 64K Powerbook because I used to own one back in college decades ago. But my question is how do I load programs into one? Obviously, 3.5 inch disks won't work and I don't have them laying around. Any clue is appreciated

Also, I wonder where else besides eBay can you get one? I prefer Powerbook 100(the one I used to own) but there seems to be no workable unit available on the eBay.

Thank you.
 

3lectr1cPPC

Well-known member
I can't really help much with your first question, but I can explain the lack of working PowerBook 100s.

Unlike other 68k PowerBooks, the 100 has a very different motherboard design that has caused it to fall victim to the plague of leaking capacitors. A capacitor's job is to filter power around the board, but the kind used in the PowerBook 100 are prone to failing and leaking all over the board. They leak a corrosive fluid called "electrolyte" which first stops the laptop from working, but eventually will cause further damage by corroding parts of the board.

These caps need to be replaced on every single one at this point, and the ones on eBay have not had this done yet, thus why they don't work. There are also many of these capacitors in the display as well, so most of those are also dead at this point. Unless you're handy with a soldering iron, getting one of these working is going to be tough. There are plenty of other models that aren't affected. The PowerBook 140, 145, 145b, 150 and 160 have those capacitors in the display, and early PowerBook Duos suffer the same fate at the 100. The 170, 180, 180c, and the PowerBook 500 series laptops are better, but they also have their own issues with the display, hinges, and more.

There is no perfect 68k mac at this point that isn't going to require at least some work to get up and running. Each model has its own set of problems, but some are a lot easier to maintain than others. The PowerBook 100 is a pretty tricky one though.

I hope this helps!
 

LisaXL

Active member
I can't really help much with your first question, but I can explain the lack of working PowerBook 100s.

Unlike other 68k PowerBooks, the 100 has a very different motherboard design that has caused it to fall victim to the plague of leaking capacitors. A capacitor's job is to filter power around the board, but the kind used in the PowerBook 100 are prone to failing and leaking all over the board. They leak a corrosive fluid called "electrolyte" which first stops the laptop from working, but eventually will cause further damage by corroding parts of the board.

These caps need to be replaced on every single one at this point, and the ones on eBay have not had this done yet, thus why they don't work. There are also many of these capacitors in the display as well, so most of those are also dead at this point. Unless you're handy with a soldering iron, getting one of these working is going to be tough. There are plenty of other models that aren't affected. The PowerBook 140, 145, 145b, 150 and 160 have those capacitors in the display, and early PowerBook Duos suffer the same fate at the 100. The 170, 180, 180c, and the PowerBook 500 series laptops are better, but they also have their own issues with the display, hinges, and more.

There is no perfect 68k mac at this point that isn't going to require at least some work to get up and running. Each model has its own set of problems, but some are a lot easier to maintain than others. The PowerBook 100 is a pretty tricky one though.

I hope this helps!
Thanks a lot for your feedback. Now I understand why people on eBay offer "Recap" service. I saw a Powerbook 100 still in operation on eBay last year. But I wasn't in a mood to acquire it. Miss opportunities as those things are rare.

As for putting programs on 64K Powerbook. I think the best option is SCSI to SD adapter. If someone else has a cheaper way to do it, please let me know.

Thanks.
 

3lectr1cPPC

Well-known member
I've heard the BlueSCSI (which also uses SD cards) is a cheaper (but admittedly slower) solution. I know very little about it, but I do know there is a PowerBook version. Maybe someone who knows more can give more info.

There's also the RaSCSI, an external SCSI device that uses a raspberry pi to emulate a SCSI device. I believe you can use it for file transfer, but I also don't know much about it. Here's a video that Action Retro did on it (I haven't finished it, I probably should) that might give more info.
 

AndyO

Well-known member
There is a BlueSCSI device which appears to be compatible with the PB 100. See: https://androda.work/product/powerbook-bluescsi-version-4-f1-tba-pb-v4/ for example. It replaces the internal hard drive though, so there would still be the problem of getting software installed on the microSD card it uses. This can, I think, be done using an emulator such as BasiliskII on your desktop system, and I think there are pre-made images that would likely do too.

I must admit that I was skeptical about one of these, but the BlueSCSI I got for my Classic was remarkably easy to set up - there are basic instructions on that page, and they work.

I have seen speed given as a concern for these things, but it seemed more than adequate in my Classic before it (the Classic) failed, due to needing to be recapped.
 

Tom2112

Well-known member
I just got a PB 165 myself. Looks like your options for data transfer are pretty limited. Floppy disks just aren't practical. So that leaves LocalTalk and SCSI.

The trouble with LocalTalk is that you need something else that can talk LocalTalk too. Most things that will work with LocalTalk probably won't communicate with modern devices on your modern network. Though the AssanteTalk is an option. They are still available online, brand new, direct from the manufacturer for about $80. I have a link somewhere if you need it.

If you mess around with other 68k Macs you'll likely have a SCSI-to-SD-Card device of some kind (SCSI2SD, RaSCSI, BlueSCSI, MacSD, etc. there are several available), but you'll also need an adapter like this one - so you can plug the SCSI device into the back of the PowerBook:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/223851094917?epid=19037155297&hash=item341e90a385:g:0yAAAOSwM71eHOZ0
At $13 shipped, that's not bad for a 30-year-old proprietary adapter. I like the cable version of these adapters better, but they're also 2 or 3 times the price.

There's a couple of internal options for the SCSI-to-flash-memory, including the above mentioned BlueSCSI and an adapter for the SCSI2SD. But the downside is once the BlueSCSI is installed internally, you have that same problem you started with: you can't get files on it from a modern PC/network without disassembling the PowerBook to get at the SD card. That would be a real drag. I'm thinking of doing an internal BlueSCSI and having an external RaSCSI that can float between different systems to easily bring files to my various 68k Macs.

As mentioned above, the RaSCSI seems to be the easiest to work with if you want to be able to put files on it from your modern computers over your modern wifi network. The other SCSI solutions, while they work great, can be a hassle to get files on the SCSI device from a modern Windows machine. (Modern Macs are probably easier, but I don't have one.) The distinct advantage of the RaSCSI is that the Raspberry Pi part of it gets on your modern network and presents a web interface that you can control the device through, including putting files on it.
 

LaPorta

Well-known member
First:

1. Do you have any other newer Macs?

2. What other vintage equipment do you have (if any)?
 
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