SPARCstation rescue giveaway (Was: Kei cars and motorcycles (Was: Rick Dickinson, ZX Spectrum designer, RIP))

Alan Perry aperry at
Mon Apr 30 12:51:54 CDT 2018

On 4/30/18 10:20 AM, Eric Christopherson via cctalk wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 5:40 PM, Alan Perry via cctalk <
> cctalk at> wrote:
>> I keep them all. Not counting the bad ones in the SS1 and 2, I have 7.
>> I can send them to you. I don't mind pick up the shipping costs for
>> something small like that. But the $70 that is it going to cost to ship the
>> SS20 to its new home is another matter.
>> alan
>> On 4/27/18 3:33 PM, systems_glitch wrote:
>>> You can always send me the dead modules and I'll rebuild them
>>> (GlitchWorks == me, my wife sometimes helps with assembly). Whatever you
>>> do, don't throw out the dead NVRAMs -- I'll buy them or pay for you to ship
>>> them or whatever, they're not making more and they're the only solution
>>> that's 100% compatible.
>>> Yeah, the "still works but pukes errors" is the typical symptom of the
>>> newer, slightly incompatible 48T02s in Sun machines. I don't recall if mine
>>> kept accurate time with the newer modules.
>>> Thanks,
>>> Jonathan
>>> On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 6:28 PM, Alan Perry via cctalk <
>>> cctalk at <mailto:cctalk at>> wrote:
>>>      The ones from Mouser work well enough in every system that I have
>>>      used them in. I still get the IDPROM corrupt message on boot on
>>>      some systems, but it holds the MAC and the systems boot without
>>>      intervention.
>>>      I tried to repair a few and botched most of them. I know that I
>>>      should be using the GlitchWorks stuff, but it has been easier to
>>>      just buy something that I can plug in.
>>>      alan
>>>      On 4/27/18 3:15 PM, systems_glitch via cctalk wrote:
>>>          Don't get the new MK48T02/MK48T08s from Mouser et al, they're
>>>          not fully
>>>          compatible. They will retain NVRAM but the clock part is
>>>          different and
>>>          you'll get an error on that (system won't autoboot). Rebuild
>>>          your old
>>>          NVRAM! I made up some little boards to make the repair cleaner
>>>          and faster
>>>          to do (I had about 50 NVRAMs to repair):
>>>          <>
>>>          There are other guides for tacking on a coin cell holder
>>>          without cutting
>>>          off the entire top encapsulation, but if you do that, it may
>>>          not fit under
>>>          SBus cards if you're doing it on a system that puts SBus slots
>>>          over the
>>>          NVRAM.
>>>          Thanks,
>>>          Jonathan
>>>          On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 6:03 PM, Glen Slick via cctalk <
>>>          cctalk at <mailto:cctalk at>> wrote:
>>>              On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 1:55 PM, Alan Perry via cctalk
>>>              <cctalk at <mailto:cctalk at>> wrote:
>>>                  - SPARCstation 1. Chassis is intact. It has a bad
>>>                  IDPROM; aside from that
>>>                    it passes onboard diagnostics. It has 12M memory, no
>>>                  HDD now, and a 3.5"
>>>                    floppy drive. It has no SBus cards. Aside from the
>>>                  IDPROM, it doesn't
>>>                    have any issues (but I haven't run an OS on it yet).
>>>                  Like the SS2, it
>>>                    needs a bath. A small portion of the plastic cover
>>>                  over the rear of the
>>>                    case is broken off.
>>>                  What are these "actual parts expenses"? IDPROMs are
>>>                  around $25 on Mouser.
>>>                  SCSI HDDs start around $70 shipped on eBay and SCSI2SD
>>>                  are $60 plus
>>>                  shipping to me plus the SD price. Given the price of
>>>                  25 year old HDDs
>>>              with
>>>                  a stated service life of 5 years (according to one
>>>                  spec sheet that I
>>>              read),
>>>                  SCSI2SD looks pretty attractive.
>>>              When you say IDPROM, is that a Dallas built-in battery
>>>              NVRAM type of
>>>              thing? I have an SS1 with a dead NVRAM thing. Are the
>>>              currently
>>>              available versions of those new at Mouser fully
>>>              compatible? Those are
>>>              one of those things that the new versions aren't always fully
>>>              compatible with the old versions for some systems, even
>>>              though they
>>>              are supposed to be.
>>>              My SS1 is also in the Seattle area. If there is much
>>>              demand for those
>>>              it's probably one of those systems I'll never get around
>>>              to doing
>>>              anything with it myself. I also have a 4/110. Those seem
>>>              to be a lot
>>>              less common, and maybe more collectible.
> Last year some time I replaced the timekeeper in my first SPARC with one I
> ordered off eBay. It's been a while since I tried it in that machine* but,
> last I knew, it was slow at keeping time but time was still moving forward,
> and it hadn't lost its MAC or hostid. Would that be caused by it being one
> of the newer not-100%-compatible ones? Alternately, I read somewhere that
> timekeeper/NVRAM/IDPROM chips need to either have power available to them
> most of the time or need to have the computer powered up regularly (not
> sure which it was) -- is there any truth to either of those?
> * I did try the "new" timekeeper in a newer SPARC acquisition of mine a
> week or so ago, because I knew the new workstation's battery was bad.
> Unfortunately the computer failed to give any monitor signal when I did
> that, and I haven't had a chance to hook it up via serial to see what's
> working and what isn't. I wonder if that could be another failure mode of
> those chips, or if it just means the workstation's not quite working (I was
> told that it had just been booted recently using its original IDPROM, but
> defaults had to be set at boot; I also haven't gotten a chance to try the
> original IDPROM in it to see what would happen.)

Jonathan the GlitchWorks guy has better experience with this than I do, 
but I have new M48T02s/M48T08s from Mouser in all of the systems that I 
have had to replace them in.  That would be in SPARCstation 1+, 5, 20, 
IPC, IPX, Classic, and LX. They have worked good enough for me, but I 
only occasionally power them on (which is why I was happy that VCF gave 
me an excuse use them and network them all together).

I retrofitted an external battery to the one in my Axil 320, but never 
found a satisfactory way to fix the battery in place. After I finish 
clearing out the SPARCs that came from Pete's place, I will be giving 
the Axil some attention and may go ahead and GlitchWorks it (since I am 
out of M48T08s to just grab out if the tube).


More information about the cctalk mailing list