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NASA Rack Mac IIfx - Official NASA mission flown Macintosh IIfx [JPG Warning]


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20 hours ago, olePigeon said:

The HDDs currently have System 7.5 loaded, which is causing some interesting artifacts.  I'm going to back up the drives and load System 7.1 onto it.  I finally have a use for my black IIfx SCSI terminator.  Never thought I'd get to use it.

 

I also only just noticed that the ribbon cable (which can have two devices, just like the custom power cable) has a special connector on the end.  I was wondering if it was a terminator, but it seems too small.

 

Edit:  Oh, you can see it still stuck in the pictures above.

 

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IMG_0890.JPG

I believe this was the internal SCSI filter, mentioned in the same docs that explain the black terminator. I've got one of each for my IIfx as well, though mine's actually a very late production unit and likely doesn't need them from what I've read. 

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@JDW @MJ313 Prepare for liftoff. :)

 

https://youtu.be/PvCU9EqCYzk

 

Sorry it took so long.  I don't know why the 8*24 GC is so popular and expensive.  It's a terrible card if you run it on anything other than System 6 on a 68030.  The software says it's compatible with System 7.0 and 7.1, but it's not really.  Little bugs here and there.  The card is really for System 6 and that's it.

 

It's a shame Apple never patched their own driver.  It's so buggy.

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20 hours ago, olePigeon said:

It's a shame Apple never patched their own driver.

I bet with all the enterprising people on this forum, someone could probably disassemble Apple's driver and reverse engineer a new one with all the bugs fixed and better System 7 compatibility. 

 

c

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21 hours ago, olePigeon said:

@JDW I don't know why the 8*24 GC is so popular and expensive.  It's a terrible card if you run it on anything other than System 6 on a 68030. 

 

That's interesting to hear because I found that startup rocket icon to be rather, well...  anticlimactic.  Sometimes reality simply doesn't match up with the glory we have crafted in our minds.  I suppose that is why a good book in many ways beats a movie based on the book.  Nothing beats human imagination.

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22 hours ago, olePigeon said:

The software says it's compatible with System 7.0 and 7.1, but it's not really

I recall two separate versions of the software; one intended for 6 and the other for 7.0-7.1. In my experience the latter works well enough in 7.1, but noticeably falls apart texture-wise when used in 7.6.

 

20 hours ago, JDW said:

I found that startup rocket icon to be rather, well...  anticlimactic.

Sorry if my comment contributed to over-hyping it. I found it so pleasant when I first saw it because it was totally unexpected, especially as Apple had tended to stay on the conservative side of icon design compared to some of the fancier animated third party extensions. 

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19 hours ago, jeremywork said:

Sorry if my comment contributed to over-hyping it. I found it so pleasant when I first saw it because it was totally unexpected, especially as Apple had tended to stay on the conservative side of icon design compared to some of the fancier animated third party extensions. 

 

I have an especially creative mind, so it's not your fault.  I thought it was something that took over the entire screen and showed me a flying rocket animation on order of the quality of After Dark flying toasters.  Now THAT would have impressed me! :-) 

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19 hours ago, JDW said:

 

I have an especially creative mind, so it's not your fault.  I thought it was something that took over the entire screen and showed me a flying rocket animation on order of the quality of After Dark flying toasters.  Now THAT would have impressed me! :-) 

Now I want to see this ;)

 

If we ever produce a compatibility update to the GC control panel, this idea should be incorporated!

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@jeremywork I was using the System 7 specific control panel under 7.1.1 Pro.  So maybe 7.1.1 Pro is different enough from 7.0 and 7.1 (it's pretty close to 7.5), that it still has those quirks.  Under 7.5, you start to get minor screen artifacts (like the desktop patten being filled into the top of a window control bar instead of the usual horizontal lines and control boxes.)  At least, I do on mine.  It occurred to me that both of my cards could be bad.  I don't know.  I've never used them before and don't have a frame of reference.  I might try installing System 7.0 and giving that a whirl.

 

I've also had issues trying to get it to sync with my LCD panel.  Seems to really want a CRT.

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On 3/17/2021 at 12:44 PM, olePigeon said:

like the desktop patten being filled into the top of a window control bar instead of the usual horizontal lines and control boxes.

This sounds exactly like mine. I'll have to test a bit more in 7.1.1 Pro. I think at some point I wrecked my install and have been using a 7.1 folder I copied from another machine.

The most annoying aspects tend to be that if a menu is snapped down, scrolled away from, and then reopened in the same mouse drag the contents are all scrambled until the mouse is dragged over to highlight and update the area. That, and the fact that every button in Netscape looks like the back button, and every bookmark says "What's new". Overall I deem the speed worthwhile for most situations despite these quirks. 

I run mine on a CRT, but I have noticed once in a blue moon the card will reset incorrectly at reboot and display a proper sync signal, but with the RAMDAC timing significantly out of sync, such that the image appears in a crisp square as usual, but is rapidly cycling to the left in a partial interleave pattern. The Mac won't know, and will continue to operate like that unless I hit the reset button, which sets it straight again.

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@jeremywork Mine does the exact same thing.  I forgot to mention about the pulldown menus.  I've also noticed that about the sync signal.  My LCD tries so hard.  Roughly every third boot it's fine.  Every now and then the sync is so off it's just a black screen and the monitor can't display it.  So it appears my cards are "working as intended." :-p  Holy cow.  I can see the incoming signal on my video capture box, and it's almost never the same after each reboot.  I suspect the card needs a fixed-sync CRT at a set resolution.

 

I'm really bummed because I like 7.1.1 Pro.  It's my goto OS.  With all the additions, you can make it as fully functional as 7.5, but it's all optional, so you can remove them and make it super lean like System 7.0.  I'm guessing 7.1.1 Pro is too close to 7.5 for the card to work reliably.  Of course, even in an optimal environment, it only works most of the time.

 

I might have to retire my 8•24 GCs until later.  Maybe someone super smart can patch the driver, but I don't think the hardware can be fixed.  Not unless someone wants to dump the ROM and maybe patch it?  Or can look at it with a scope and see what the heck is going on with the sync signal and if it's something that can be fixed.  I wouldn't be opposed to either or both solutions.  An actual fix to the 8•24 GC would be fantastic.

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Posted (edited)

Upon further testing, it looks like both hard disk drives are bad.  The bigger 500MB one completely failed.  I was able to read from it for a while, but then started to get read errors.  I tried to format it, but it kept giving me bad SCSI command errors and would ultimate fail to format.  The smaller 200MB drive is making bad noises once in a while.  I'm afraid that one is on its way out, too.  I was able to back up most of the apps from the hard drive, but I'm getting read errors.  I'll need to swap the drives out.  Fortunately I have a few SCSI dries laying around, so I should be OK.

 

Edited by olePigeon
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Posted (edited)

Didn't want to lose the keys to my IIfx.  So I got a couple keychains off eBay (pictures from eBay auctions.) :D  I'm gonna use the Boston one for my IIfx keys, and the Shiva one for the keys to the rackmount enclosure.  I need to do some measurements, first.  The enclosure is a wall-mounted kind, but it has spots to put casters on it and make it a rollable floor one (I'm gonna put it under my desk.)

 

 

s-l16002.jpeg

s-l1600.jpeg

 

Edited by olePigeon
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I am glad you found and have such an awesome machine, especially since it is so unique. This has a definite place in history! I think you should use this machine for Bolo when you are done with it ;).

 

P.S. - I really, really miss The Computer Museum. I used to go as a kid. All I have now is the AppleDesign book I purchased there when I was younger (Amazing how that book has shot up in price and desirability, as well).

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@LaPorta  That would be one of the functions. :D  Assuming this rackmount works out:  https://www.ebay.com/itm/V7-9U-Rack-Wall-Mount-Glass-Door-Enclosure-RMWC9UG4501N/382918035150

 

I need to measure the server when I get home and make sure it's deep enough.  If it is, I'm going to order it + a set of casters.  Just need to track down a set of rackmount ears for my Shiva Fastpath.  I emailed a guy on eBay that's selling an unrelated Shiva 1U device for prettying much the cost of shipping.  Offered to buy just the ears, then he can just relist hub.  *crosses fingers*

 

I'm anxious to get it all set up.  I need to get an additional ethernet card or two.

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Forgot to mention that the other HDD is nearly dead.  So I installed a beefy 1GB drive in it.  All is good now.  Next step is to clean the floppy drive.  It doesn't eject floppies.  Either it's gunked up or the eject gear has failed.  I have a spare gear, assuming it doesn't crack when I put it on the shaft.

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You know, its gotten to the point that when I receive a machine that has a Sony drive, I don't even turn it on before opening the floppy drive. I figure if I clean and lube it beforehand, the gear won't crack!

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Just got my stimulus check, so I'm gonna order a rackmount enclosure.  My server is 19" deep, but the enclosure I linked to was only 17.7".  I've found others that are 600mm (23" or so), so I'll need to order one of those instead.  A bit more expensive.  Good thing I measured it and double checked.

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On 3/10/2021 at 11:49 PM, olePigeon said:

By the way, if anyone here in the Bay Area is interested and has a video camera, I would love to lend the machine out to you so you can post a review.  I don't have the equipment or charisma to make a vlog, but I'd love for this machine to get up on YouTube #Marchintosh.  Feel free to Tweet these pictures.  I don't have a Twitter either.

 

 

<raises hand and waves like a maniac>

 

I'm in the Bay myself and I'm also the lucky/proud owner of a (non-NASA-customized) Mac IIfx, so once it's safe to do a meetup, I'd love to collaborate on a video, maybe even a comparison type thing showing my IIfx against this crazy NASA beast! My IIfx was originally purchased and used as a CAD workstation during the earliest design phase of the New Mexico SpacePort (currently called "SpacePort America," I think), so while it isn't NASA surplus, it too has a space-connection :)

 

Either way, congrats on finding and restoring this insanely-cool machine!

 

Huxley

 

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@Huxley Ooo, that would be cool.  I just got my 2nd COVID shot, so I'll be at peak protection in a couple weeks.  The week of April 11th also just happens to be spring break for my school district, so I'd be available that entire week.

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  • 1 month later...

A small update.  I finally finished cleaning the machine.  Reinstalled the cards.  Replaced some disintegrating foam.  I also found another Apple NuBUS ethernet card ... it was in my garage.  Apparently I had a second one. :D  I bought and installed some ZIP memory for the ethernet cards.  I plan to do some rudimentary speed tests with the ethernet cards.  Speed test on a non A/ROSE card, speed test on an A/ROSE supported card, and a speed test on an A/ROSE card with upgraded memory.  I'll need to make or get some reference files to transfer.

 

My next step is, I think, I might try replacing the fans with some modern silent PC fans.  It's a bit noisy. :)

 

However, my ultimate goal is in the below picture.  I'll need a 9U rack.  I was originally going to install two ethernet cards and run Apple Internet Router, but I really wanted to use my rackmount Shiva Fastpath.  Plus, if I use the Shiva, it'll keep the IIfx CPU free for other things like FTP, Hotline, etc.  Only issue is that I don't have the right rackmount ears for the Fastpath.  I've been on the hunt for some Shiva ears, but no luck.  There's a bunch of overpriced Shiva hubs and gatesways that are no better than ewaste, and the people selling them won't budge.  They think they can get $150 for an 8-port AUI 10BaseT hub, and they've been on there for about 10 years.  *shrug*

 

Anyway, what do you guys think?

 

IMG_0959.jpeg

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