Coffee Break DIY: 4.5V Battery Replacement for Old CMOS Batteries

As a hobby, I do a lot of vintage electronics restoration and discovery. Due to time-constraints I rarely find the chance to document any such efforts, which has included everything from restoring a 1950s television set to factory new condition, to repairing old oscilloscopes and making them sing songs. But my main passion remains on retro computer systems, from the 1970s through 1990s. This past year I even developed an extraordinarily comprehensive online design tool called Aquarius Draw for the failed 8-bit Mattel Aquarius computer, which allows designing art and generating necessary code in BASIC and Z80 Assembly for transferring to the actual machine (talented users have made use of it as seen in the gallery).

But every so often I take a few photos of simple projects and figure it doesn't hurt to make a quick blog about it. Here's a fast DIY solution to replacing an old and depleted CMOS battery for a recently acquired Macintosh Performance 5400/180 computer using only random parts laying around. Read Full Article

How To Downgrade Epson XP Printer Firmware (Fix Ink Not Recognized Error) XP-300 to XP-630, XP-640, XP-830


Despite a supreme court ruling in favor of third party ink suppliers, printer manufacturers remain relentless in their quest to eliminate cheaper ink alternatives. Everything from issuing stealth firmware updates disguised as security patches, to questionable takedown notices on eBay, these companies are determined to make consumers pay for their high cost ink.

For Epson, new firmware updates are applied by default as part of the routine software update checks. Although the firmware frequency varies by model, many printers were issued a January 2018 update that effectively disabled the majority of third party ink cartridges. Printers affected by this will suddenly receive notices that one or more ink cartridges are unrecognized, incompatible or non-genuine. The company expects you to replace the ink with their much more expensive name brand format in order to continue using the printer at all (e.g., $100.95 from Epson's shop for the full 410XL ink pack, versus $27.79 by a competing ink remanufacturer). Read Full Article

Goodbye Radioshack, My Old Friend

Today I stepped foot into my regional RadioShack as it approached the final few hours of existence, being one of 1,784 stores to close as a result of the bankruptcy. Growing up, RadioShack was the only tech outlet in my hometown. Many fond memories were made as I'd bike to the store repeatedly to play on their showcase computers or explore any number of other technical toys and gadgets in the 1990s. I recall spending hours playing one of the preloaded games their machines to claim the high score, the name of which escapes me now [it was similar to Snake but you simply kept growing and didn't need to collect any items].

One of my earliest computers was a (Radioshack) Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 2, which contributed significantly to my initial programming developments.  I had the Logo Programming Language cartridge and with it was able to create many goofy designs by programming the on-screen turtle to move in specific patterns. The included BASIC manuals proved to be an endless source of inspiration and knowledge in my youngest days of application development.  My first MIDI-capable electronic keyboard also came from RadioShack and remains in active use today.  In fact, I accumulated quite a number of RadioShack merchandise over the course of two decades including scanners and radios, RC cars, joysticks and peripherals, handheld games and many miscellaneous items. Read Full Article

Thrift Store Gold: Sony ICF-2010 Radio for $3

ICF-2010 Shortwave Radio

The Discovery

When searching for a cheap AM/FM radio this past week, my mom stumbled across one at Goodwill amidst a shelf of electronic rubble. It carried a price tag of $5.99, but all pink tags were half-off, bringing the grand total to $2.99—that's $3.16 with tax. To put this into perspective, she paid a dollar less for this radio than the cost of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonalds. Not bad. However, there was no way to test the radio at the store and, until getting home and conducting a little research, she was oblivious to what type of radio she had purchased.

The radio she acquired was, in fact, the highly sought after Sony ICF-2010 shortwave radio introduced in 1985 for $319 [that's $702 with today's inflation].  Sony manufactured the radio for nearly two decades before discontinuing it in 2004.  As a portable shortwave radio, it boasted impressive capabilities for DXing hobbyists and accrued a large fanbase over the years. As a testament to the ICF-2010's longevity and impact, an active Yahoo Group of over 2,600 members still exists, with more members joining daily. Since being discontinued, the radio has thrived on eBay with most selling for $200-$400 depending on their condition. Read Full Article