Over the Christmas period, Mike was lucky enough to be gifted a BBC Master 128 along with a 5.25″ disc drive, a load of cables and a few games on tape. The poor BBC Master had been sat in a garage for approximately 10 years with a load of wood on top of it, gathering dust and becoming a home for spiders and beetles. Obviously, the computer was in need of some essential TLC before it could be put into use.
First, the BBC Master needed a good strip down and a clean. The PSU, motherboard and keyboard were all removed from the case. The case was full of dust, dead spiders and beetles and was very dirty. The keyboard was absolutely filthy and was first to be stripped down and cleaned. All of the keys were taken off and given a good wash in soapy water, the chassis was cleaned up as best as possible with some brushes and cotton buds and then the whole thing reassembled. The final result was a massive improvement.
Next, the two sides of the clamshell case were washed in the shower with hot soapy water to remove all of the dirt. The case is very heavily yellowed with age and a future project for the summer is to carry out the retrobright process on the case to bring it back to white again. Next, the motherboard was given a vacuum and the board a brush and wipe down.
Next, the PSU needed some work. There are three capacitors in the BBC Power Supplies that are notorious for drying out over the 30+ years it has been since they were manufactured and when they get hot they emit smoke and die. Mike purchased a capacitor replacement kit from eBay and the three offending items were replaced. The existing capacitors did look like they were in good shape, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
Finally, the battery pack needed replacing. The pack had the original Duracell batteries from the 1980’s and they had leaked all over the place. The pack was thrown away and replaced with a newly made pack using a 3 AA battery holder, diode and resistor.
Next, it was time to install the TurboSPI ROM chip and the SD Card adapter that was purchased at the same time as the capacitor kit. This would allow instant loading of games and other programs from the SD card and allows up to 512 disc images to be loaded onto the card. This was a simple case of pushing the ROM into an empty slot and pushing the SD card PCB into the user port on the underside of the computer.
Now everything was setup and ready to go, it was time to turn the computer on and hope it all worked. Voila! Everything worked fine.
After a few configuration commands were typed in to reset the configuration after it being turned off for so long and the battery pack no longer providing backup power, the Turbo MMC system was available and the contents of the SD Card could be accessed.
On the SD Card that came with the system are well over 1000 games that can be accessed from a menu system on Disc 0. These only take up around 50% of the available 512 disc slots leaving plenty empty to load your own games or to save your own programs to. All of the classics were present.
The BBC Master 128 proved to be a big hit at the next Medway Maker social meetup on Sunday 5th January with several members getting very competitive at Pacmanand a few other games.
There are a few more upgrades on the horizon with a Raspberry Pi co-processor on its way and a ROM for a BBC Master 128 specific MAMMFS file system so that Elite can be played properly.
You can see the BBC Master in use in this timelapse movie below of the last Medway Makers session on Sunday 5th January 2020.