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I finally kicked out my Apple TechStep video today.  This has been long in coming.  Be sure to check out the text description beneath my video on YouTube because it contains a link to a SIT file containing Disk Copy images of the two included floppies, one of which has a pretty neat HyperCard stack.

 

 

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One thing that inspired me to finally make that video was the fact that I wasn't putting my own TechStep to good use.  I also was surprised to see there really wasn't a good video on the subject (only two on YouTube I could find, one being from Apple back in the day, and the other video being low quality and not comprehensive).  It's my hope this video will inspire TechStep owners to pull it from storage, connect it, and at least have some fun.  Troubleshooting is never fun, but the TechStep makes it more interesting and even useful, especially for people who aren't serious technicians or engineers.  At the very least, people can enjoy using the HyperCard stack, which in an of itself may get some people back into HyperCard again.

 

I'd love to hear comments from those of you who have successfully diagnosed a Mac problem with the TechStep that led you to a repair you otherwise would not have been able to make on your own.

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37 minutes ago, pcamen said:

I’ve got one too never been off my shelf so far.  Thanks.

Keeping vintage Macs around which are never used is one thing, but the TechStep really is a waste in one's closet if never used.  If you have at least one Mac with problems, use my video as a guide and use your TechStep to troubleshoot it, assuming you have the right ROM cartridge.

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3 minutes ago, omidimo said:

Fantastic Video! You sir are a scholar and gentleman. It is nice to see one working. I have two of them, and never really got past the "well I got a complete set" phase. :D 

So you have all 5 ROMs then?

 

I only have the 4 you see in my video.  But there's a CPU Tests Vol.3 which I do not have.  It's no loss to me since I don't have a Classic II or the other Macs compatible with it.

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1 minute ago, JDW said:

So you have all 5 ROMs then?

This is going to sound a little lame, but I don't even remember, I got them a few years ago and during the last apartment move, they were boxed up and put Into storage with all the other stuff. I totally forgot to remove the batteries, so I might have to go digging for them soon. 

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That's why I thought it best to make mention in my video about the need to remove the 9V battery.  I doubt yours has leaked.  I honestly don't remember ever seeing an exploded 9V battery, but you never know.  It's best to remove them before putting it in long term storage.  

 

Anyway, it seems there are only 5 ROMs that were ever made.  The SCSI and CPU Tests Vol.1 are standard with every TechStep, and the CPU Tests Vol. 2 and Vol.3 are sometimes found being sold with TechStep kits.  But the CPU Tests Vol.4 (the one I lack) is more elusive.

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45 minutes ago, olePigeon said:

I lucked out with the Volume 4 ROM.

 

I wonder if new custom ROMs could be made?

If we could somehow obtain the original source code or notes from Apple, the door to that would swing wide open.  Reverse engineering existing ROMs would no doubt require a lot more time, and even then such wouldn't tell us exactly what a ROM for other Macs would need to do to properly diagnose them.  You'd really need to know the hardware on the design level like Apple does.

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@olePigeon do you mean copying existing ROMs that some people who have these might not have, or creating ROMs to test things Apple never developed ROMs for? 

 

What does the Vol4 ROM cover? 

 

After starting to watch the video I quickly rushed to image the floppy disks; didn't realized there were some in there.  Be a bummer to have them go bad. 

Edited by pcamen
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On 11/15/2019 at 12:54 PM, JDW said:

I finally kicked out my Apple TechStep video today.  This has been long in coming.  Be sure to check out the text description beneath my video on YouTube because it contains a link to a SIT file containing Disk Copy images of the two included floppies, one of which has a pretty neat HyperCard stack.

Nice video! :)

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2 hours ago, pcamen said:

do you mean copying existing ROMs that some people who have these might not have, or creating ROMs to test things Apple never developed ROMs for?

Both.  However, once you have the all the ROMs, it pretty much covers all the 68k based Macs after the Plus.  So any new ROMs would have to test PowerPC Macs (or, I guess, a custom ROM for the 128k through Plus.  Would require a few adapters, though.)

 

I think a very useful ROM would be one to test and format non-Apple SCSI drives.  If you could hook up any old SCSI drive, low-level format, scan for bad blocks, reallocate said blocks, etc.  Being able to test hard drives without needing a computer would be really useful.

 

Likewise with floppy drives.  Not sure how that'd work, though.

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4 hours ago, MOS8_030 said:

Nice video! :)

Thank you!

 

By the way, if Apple could have made a ROM for the TechStep to diagnose the Macintosh 128K or 512K or 512Ke, they certainly would have. One thing I notice whenever the TechStep connects to a computer is that it says it’s controlling the machine via SCSI. As you all know, the earliest Macs did not have SCSI. So there appears to be something special about SCSI in that all of the commands that the TechStep uses to diagnose the computer seem to be routed through SCSI.

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Just tried my TechStep to troubleshoot a non-functional IIci.  I was hoping to use this IIci to test my Daystar 040 accelerators.  :(

 

The first time the IIci booted up today, it booted and then got a system error.  Second and subsequent times, I hear a chime but get no video and no further boot. 

 

When I connect the TechStep, it won't enter Test Manager Mode.  I've removed all the cards and gone through the troubleshooting part of the manual (remove non-apple cards, remove apple cards, ROM problem if no boot tone, bad SIMM).  I tested all the SIMMS with my Simcheck and they are fine. 

 

Stumped. 

 

I've tried a few other tests and it appears it just can't talk to the IIci. 

 

 

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You need to press the programmer's switch to manually enter Test Manager Mode.  This is mentioned in the printed documentation.  At first my SE/30 would boot with the TechStep attached, which is wrong.  The SE/30 needs to show the sad Mac and not boot.  As strange as that sounds, it is correct.  And I had to press the programmer's switch to accomplish that, as per the documentation.  The TechStep needs to be powered and properly cabled before you press that switch.

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Great informative video!  Nice to see the TechStep being put to use; I imagine they were only used for a few years at best in Apple authorised stores, in the day.  I bought one about ten years ago and I don't even remember what ROMs it came with, however your video has spurned me on to have a look :)

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4 minutes ago, Byrd said:

Great informative video!  Nice to see the TechStep being put to use; I imagine they were only used for a few years at best in Apple authorised stores, in the day.  I bought one about ten years ago and I don't even remember what ROMs it came with, however your video has spurned me on to have a look :)

That's great to hear, Byrd!  Thanks.  When you do try yours out, please be sure to report back about your testing experience.  In my video, I only showed an SE/30.

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I watched the video. Absolutely amazing. I would encourage you to scan those manuals and software disks and upload them to the internet archive. If you want me to clean up those watermarks you can send me a message and I will be happy to labor over that and return it to you.

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16 hours ago, JDW said:

You need to press the programmer's switch to manually enter Test Manager Mode.

Yea, I see it now in the documentation.  Unfortunately pressing that doesn't change anything.  I think my Mobo is just toast for some reason, despite the fact that it was recapped.  I also tried a different working power supply with no luck, and tried it after disconnecting the internal hard drive.  Nada. 

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Well this just takes the cake.  I have 7 IIci systems and 2 IIcx's, and not one of them will boot now.  I think these might quality as the least reliable system.  I've got at least 5 recapped motherboards and none of them work (but 3 of them were done by Allmacs and arrived dead so there's that).  I tried three different systems and the TechStep can't get into Test Manger Mode on any of them. 

 

Unless I am doing something completely wrong.  It just seems odd that so many systems are totally dead, even my IIci that had been recapped and working for some time; I've been using it to evaluate other components like power supplies with great success. 

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