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UnaClocker

My quest to see video output

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Hey guys. Got my recently restored Mac IIci back together. New caps and a new power supply in it. The PRAM battery hadn't leaked, amazingly enough, though the caps had. Got that all cleaned up while I was replacing the caps. I think it was all successful. The chime chimes, and after a suitable delay, the hard drive starts booting. Unfortunately, I can't get any video out. I've tried 4 completely different VGA LCD monitors, all generic/rebadged units (dell, gateway, etc). I've got the DB15-VGA adapter with the 10 dip switches. And I've searched this forum up and down and tried all the suggestions as well as several of my guesses for the dip switch settings. Seems to be all OFF and 1,4,5 ON being the predominant suggestions. My IIci doesn't have a video card yet. Just trying to see the onboard video for now. No luck yet. Screen stays in power save mode. I did see one suggestion saying maybe the PRAM battery must be installed before video would work? I also saw something about holding down the E key during boot to change video modes? I tried the E key. And I'm hesitant to put a new PRAM battery in as I've also read that it's not that important.

I'd honestly be happy to just buy the period correct CRT that would have gone with this machine if nothing else.

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Make sure you're restarting after each time you change the switch settings.

 

If you just so happen to have the same kind of adapter as I do, try turning on 2, 3, 6, and 7, and then applying power. That's what worked for me (check the reviews for other suggestions).

 

 

Edited by macosten

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Alright. What a half working machine I have. So to get the video to work on my most compatible monitor, I turn it on with 2,3,6,7, and then switch to 2,4,6,7 and hit reset. At which point I saw a mouse cursor and the disk with the question mark.I'd already had to give the hard drive open heart CPR to get it spinning once, so at this point I popped it open again, and unplugged it's power. While spinning it by hand, I plugged power back in and it took off. Good old stiction problem, I remember that back in the day. At which point I got a happy Mac and it started booting. I carefully set the cover back in place over the drive and grabbed my keyboard and mouse. Booted up, it's System 7.0.1. Has 20mb of ram (I wasn't even sure how much ram it had, prior to this, all my sticks are mismatched). It came up in Black & White, oh, and it was only using the top half of the display. And it's running at 1152x870@75hz, according the the LCD's OSD. I tried changing it to 256 colors, but the display went bonkers. Clicking randomly I got it back down to 16 color mode, which works, albeit on only half of the LCD, with a very strange distorted former image below.

I still may just buy a CRT for this thing, but I'm super stoked to have it working. I didn't find anything worth saving on the HDD, so I'll probably leave that disconnected and try to boot off my Floppy Emu for the time being.

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I have that same adapter and use 145 settings.

 

However, I have a little MEC Multisync lcd which may be more flexible than a normal monitor.

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Have you looked up the specs on your LCDs? If they're standard, 60Hz VGA only panels without multisync capability they're just never gonna sync with IIci output.

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Is there some reason a IIci would be unable to output 60Hz 640x480? Every other Mac I've ever used with one of those fixed-mode adapters has been able to output that mode.

 

IIci is fixed sync, so one of the dial-wheel or DIP switch adapters is the best bet.

 

Fixed 640x480 VGA LCDs aren't particularly common, but those DIP switch adapters and thusly wired VGA cables have worked for a couple such devices I've had over the years (namely: nView nSight projector) with, at the time, a Mac LC. Plus I know my fixed-sync adapter worked with my friend's IIci back in the yore of my childhood.

 

The trick is just finding the combination for 640x480@60 on any given adapter and setting that. I don't use any of these adapters right now, but I suspect that's what "1, 4, 5" refers to on the cited type of adapter.

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46 minutes ago, Cory5412 said:

Is there some reason a IIci would be unable to output 60Hz 640x480? Every other Mac I've ever used with one of those fixed-mode adapters has been able to output that mode.

It may well not support it. My vague recollection is that support for VGA-spec monitors was something that Apple introduced with the Macintosh LC. The IIci predates that so it would be perfectly reasonable to expect it only works with the 67hz composite-sync standard Apple used with the original Mac II video cards.

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No worries. I went ahead and ordered an Apple Color Plus 14" CRT on eBay. Known good and comes in the original box. I don't mind having a period correct display sitting on top of this thing. :)

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Neither the IIci nor the IIsi can output a 60Hz signal IIRC. Multisync monitor or panel required for the vampire video Macs outside of the period Apple CRT solution.

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I'll have to research the IIci/IIsi issue at some point. I have a IIsi, and the requisite adapter, and a couple modern high-end LCDs that will tell me what refresh rate is being fed to them. I'm not in a place where I can pull all those things out at this exact moment and give it a try, however.

 

Given that when the IIci launched, Apple didn't generally sell any affordable Macintoshes, I can easily see why none of their documentation from the time reflects this capability, if it exists. The LC and subsequent systems were much more focused on being budget friendly, and as such support for "regular PC monitors" was made explicit.

 

I'm around 95-99% sure that my friend (this would be, in, like, 1998) my friend brought his IIci and a VGA adapter over and we used it on my ho-hum regular PC monitor at the time. Granted, this was, you know, literally 20 years ago and I was literally a child and it would've been an event that happened just a handful of times before us garage-sale hoppin' kids acquired different equipment.

 

By the time I had my first IIsi, which was probably in 2000, I also had some Apple monitors, so I almost certainly never used that particular system with a VGA adapter. This would be good wiki fodder, presuming of course it's not already there and I just didn't look, so I'm going to pin this thread to that one.

6 hours ago, UnaClocker said:

I went ahead and ordered an Apple Color Plus 14" CRT on eBay. Known good and comes in the original box.

Very nice! It's always good to have an Apple display around anyway. The old fixed-sync Apple displays work up through some early G4 models, using adapters or specific cards, but not on PCs and not on anything newer.

 

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I'd guess that the reason it worked with a CRT 20 years ago is that was around "peak" CRT era. The PC monitors had gotten really nice by the end of the 90's, with only a few more years left to go before they were obsolete. Most any 17"+ could run at 75hz, especially at 1152xsomething or less. I'm half kicking myself for not having saved my last 21" CRT. I remember running that puppy at 1600x1200@75hz It was a beast.. hehe, oh well.

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1 hour ago, UnaClocker said:

I'd guess that the reason it worked with a CRT 20 years ago is that was around "peak" CRT era.

This. Unless your monitor was more than about six or seven or so years old in 1998 there's a very good chance it was sufficiently flexible to digest Macintosh video. Technically speaking in the late eighties through the nineties there was kind of an informal divide in the monitor market between "True Multisyncs" which claimed to be capable of digesting almost anything (including digital RGB, CGA/EGA/PAL/whatever frequencies below basic VGA resolution, and every sync protocol known to man) and mere "multi-frequency" monitors that only supported a more limited subset of fixed modes. (IE, in the most limited cases they might be like IBM's 8514, which only supported 640x480@60hz and 1024x768@43hz interlaced, but by 1990 or so 800x600 had become such an ad-hoc success they'd usually at least also support that at either 56 or 60hz.) Monitors in that latter category would have problems displaying Macintosh-native video modes, but by the mid-90's even the cheap monitors were usually capable of syncing with them because at that point the distinctions between the two had mostly disappeared. Support for composite/sync-on-green was admittedly still somewhat patchy, but it wasn't really rare either.

(I suspect at this point they'd shrunk the necessary multisync detection-recovery circuitry down to a single off-the-shelf chip or two, so if the manufacturer happened to use capable parts it came along for free. Also, since Apple had legitimized using third-party monitors with the LC it would actually be in the monitor manufacturer's interest to toss in the capability to work with "any" Macintosh if it didn't cost them much, because otherwise you're going to have to deal with the support headaches of trying to explain to disgruntled customers why the monitor you're selling as "Macintosh Compatible" doesn't work on this short list of older machines.)

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The monitors I had were $0, quite small, hand-me-downs intended explicitly for the PC market. I never saw them do anything other than 640x480@60, but I never connected them to PCs that could do better than that.

 

The point of contention in my memory is more about whether or not the thing I'm thinking of ever happened, as opposed to, if my friend wouldn't just have brought over his own monitor as well.

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Okay. It is on the record, though (Apple KBs, Gamba's old site, etc) that the only monitors the IIci supports with its internal video are the 512x384 12" color, color or monochrome 640x480@67hz, and the single-page portrait. Stumbled across a table that specifically said it didn't work with Apple's oddball "Basic Color Monitor", which was this weird one-off they specifically sold for LCs which is VGA standard 640x480@60hz. (It's a head-scratcher why they would even bother with that, I can only assume the engineering investment was limited to pasting a sticker to it.) If it doesn't work with the "Basic" monitor it's not going to work with VGA.

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1 hour ago, Gorgonops said:

which was this weird one-off they specifically sold for LCs which is VGA standard 640x480@60hz. (It's a head-scratcher why they would even bother with that, I can only assume the engineering investment was limited to pasting a sticker to it.)

I believe the Basic Color Monitor was introduced in 1992 alongside the Performa 600, it cost $500 if I'm remembering correctly, which is even less than what the 12" RGB launched at, albeit two years earlier. Several of Apple's displays were re-badges, and the actual engineering and manufacturing on most were outsourced.

1 hour ago, Gorgonops said:

Okay. It is on the record, though (Apple KBs, Gamba's old site, etc) that the only monitors the IIci supports with its internal video are the 512x384 12" color, color or monochrome 640x480@67hz, and the single-page portrait.

I'll admit, this discussion would've been shorter if someone had led with that.

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1 hour ago, Cory5412 said:

I'll admit, this discussion would've been shorter if someone had led with that.

Well, if we want a related mystery to ponder I suppose it's an interesting puzzle as to why the IIci, which according to the various sources was introduced in September 1989, includes support for the 12" RGB monitor as EveryMac says that came out alongside the original LC in October 1990. Apparently someone was thinking ahead.

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But not too far ahead - given that we know the LC supported VGA.

 

My guess is Apple figured nobody in 1989 buying a new $6700 computer was going to try to run it with a $500 display.

 

That said, the other thing to consider is whether or not the IIci works with the older monochrome 12" 512x384 display. (or, the newer one that was restyled to go along with the LC, for that matter.) That might be where the support for the color 12" display comes from.

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1 hour ago, Cory5412 said:

I'll admit, this discussion would've been shorter if someone had led with that. 

I said it was impossible right up front, and then explained why. But when I looked for the tables on Gamba to post confirmation, for some reason I got side tracked. :-/

 

IIci DevNote

In addition to the existing NuBus video options, a new video solution
has been built in to the Macintosh IIci, supporting the Macintosh II 12”
B&W or 13” RGB and the 15” B&W Portrait monitors. The video signals
are generated by the Apple custom RAM-Based Video

 

IIsi DevNote:

In addition to the existing NuBus video options, a new video
solution has been built into the Macintosh IIsi computer, supporting
the Macintosh II 12-inch B&W, 12-inch and
13-inch RGB monitors and the 15-inch B&W portrait monitor.

 

Oddball, "flicker free" refresh rates all around and totally incompatible with standard VGA timings.

 

Wondering about the Macintosh II 12" B&W monitor supported by the IIci. Was it the Pizza Box Topper or was there an earlier Display with those specs??

 

 

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Not so sure about the LC and VGA.

 

LCII DevNote:

Video: built-in video support for Apple 12-inch and 13-inch RGB monitors. A
color look-up table (CLUT) allows the selection of 256 colors from a palette of 16
million colors. The video interface is RS-343. An internal video connector
facilitates development of video overlay cards for the expansion slot.
Video data is stored in a video RAM (VRAM) SIMM. The Macintosh LC II can be
configured with either 256 KB or 512 KB of VRAM. With 256 KB of VRAM
installed, the following video modes are supported: 512 x 384 monochrome or 8-bit
color on the 12-inch RGB monitor, and 640 x 480 monochrome or 4-bit color on the
13-inch RGB monitor. With 512 KB of VRAM installed, the Macintosh LC II also
supports 16-bit color on the 12-inch monitor and 8-bit color on the 13-inch monitor.

 

VGA pops up in the DeveNote of the far more capable LCIII.

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9 minutes ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Wondering about the Macintosh II 12" B&W monitor supported by the IIci. Was it the Pizza Box Topper or was there an earlier Display with those specs??

Here's Apple's specs for both. First the "High Res", circa 1989:

 

https://support.apple.com/kb/SP417?locale=en_US

 

And the "Topper", as you call it:

 

https://support.apple.com/kb/SP420?locale=en_US

 

Both list only a single video mode:

 

Quote
Mode Resolution Vert
Rate
Horiz
Rate
DPI
Macintosh 640x480 66.7 Hz 35 kHz 76

Now I'm starting to wonder if anyone has a IIci and one of the 12" RGBs lying around so they can check and see if the IIci *actually* really does support the 512x384 mode.

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4 minutes ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Not so sure about the LC and VGA.

Gamba's giant chart of monitor support shows the LC working with the "Basic Color" Monitor, which means unless he was wrong about that it supports VGA. That the LC was the first of the breed to support "plain" PC monitors is mentioned a lot of other places, I suspect if you go through the MacWorld (etc) archives contemporary to its introduction you'll see VGA support called out as a semi-undocumented feature that was new to it.

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I've got 'em, but it's not worth checking, everymac screws up significantly less than LEM, but they still get a lot wrong. Go by the info I quoted from the DevNotes.

 

LCII DevNote doesn't appear to name the video controller at first glance. IIci and IIsi both used RBV and Apple didn't step up their game until the Sonora Video Controller of the LCIII began supporting VGA output.

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