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My Mega STE restoration......or just clean up ?


Level42
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Hello guys, this is my first post on the ST section of AA but I've been around the 8 bit pages a lot and Lynx too.

 

The A8 has my heart for a lot of different reasons but I've owned a 1040STFM from the mid 80s and it's actually the only machine I still have that I bought originally, although I did a LOT of modding on it....and I haven't powered it up in about 15 years or so .......

 

But that's another story.

 

The one ST machine I have always wanted to have was the Mega STE though. I loved the design of the case with the monitor "clicked on" the wide part and the separate keyboard of course. In fact I moved my 1040 motherboard to a towercase BITD and hooked up a STE keyboard to it.

And I also was always curious what the added features could really do.....

 

Never bought one though but recently I was actually kindly given one in return for a couple of (de)solder jobs :):)

It was tested and working but I will be at least completely cleaning everything.....

 

Because I can't stand filthy keyboards I started with that one first....

 

To properly clean it I completely disassembled it to the very last part.

 

But first let's take a look at how it was when I got it.....hey it was free.....you don't hear me complaining !!

 

Of course there's the usual dirt....there also seems to be some coffee leftovers on the keys but it looks like some kid tried it's crayon and pen on it too :)

 

.....and I don't even want to try to take a guess of what those white substance spots are ????

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Edited by Level42
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So I completely disassembled the keyboard.

I started with removing all the keys and the rubbery things that are under them. Also of course there are the usual metal things for the larger keys and the space bar also has two separate springs.

 

I first had hope not having to completely open up the metal backed keyboard itself but figured I should go all the way....

Opening it is done by carefully opening all black tabs that hold the plastic part to the back metal one by one.

 

Be very careful with those tabs....the plastic has become brittle over time and I had one break in the process of removing it and one later during the scrubbing......hope it won't have any influence on the working of the keyboard.....

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Note: I did not do anything with the white moving parts that hold the carbon contacts because they were not dirty and I was scared of hurting them.

 

I cleaned every key independently while removing them one by one from the water which contained some dish washing soap, using a magic sponge just gently whiling one or two times on each side and top.....man I hate that part....tedious as hell...

 

I cleaned the outer plastic case also using a magic sponge and some Glassex. They key when using magic sponges is being gentle with them, don't overdo it. The great thing I see that it removed absolutely everything like the crayon, blue ink and all the other messy stuff....and it also always seem to bring back up the original color of the plastic (unless it is discolored of course).

 

I washed the rubbery things in one go, drying them with a kitchen cloth al in small bathes of a few at once...just squeezing them inside the cloth.....

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With everything you wash, it is key to dry it immediately. I used my hot air solder station without a nozzle installed and set at highest airflow and lowest temperature (100 degree) to dry all the tiny holes on the large black plastic part of the keyboard, but a general hairdryer will do just as well.

 

The label on the underside survives washing quite well but do not rub the magic sponge over the serial number......it is very sensitive.....I did it a bit and it got a lot lighter very quickly,....

 

The only problem I had during reassembly was that the Q key got stuck down....I swapped the moving white part for another but that didn't help. It was something in the hole that kept it from moving back freely. I ended up enlarging the hole a tiny bit using the back of a teaspoon which turned out to be enough to just give the required extra room to move.......really weird !!

 

So that's step 1 done.

 

Well of course the keys are obviously clean now but they did suffer discoloring so I will look into retro-brightens them....

 

.....next is hooking up the machine to see if it's still alive then I'll disassemble that one and clean what is necessary and I am also curious because I never saw the inside of a Mega STE for real... I wonder if there might be anything special....one thing I noticed is that there is a second power switch on the hard disc section of the top cover....which is not standard AFAIK.....

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Edited by Level42
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Nice! Should retrobite quite easily, just don't use the paste or you'll likely get bloom on the gray case. I found a quite easy way to retrobrite the keys, just use a paintbrush and brush on light layers of clear conditioner on the keys and let it sit out in the sun, brush every 15-20 minutes and after a few hours the yellow will be gone! Done it to many retro computers without dismantling the case or keys. ST, XE and Amigas.

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Thanks for the tips !!

 

I don’t think I will retrobright the case, only the keys.

 

I found out what the extra power switch on the side near the HD it’s for....it switches the +5V going to the HD. My guess is that either the former user loaded stuff from his Hd then turned it off, or turned off the HD before booting a floppy, to have a more silent system.

 

Alas the system is pretty silent already now....the HD does not spin up :(

 

It’s a Quantum , no real indication of the size on the labels....strangely.

 

But the machine works otherwise !! Already successfully loaded a number of my old floppies.....but a lot also show problems...

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Nicely done on the keyboard restoration!

No pics of the MSTE?

It will be difficult to find a replacement HD. There are not that many Atari 'compatible' scsi HD's out there. It took me a couple years to find one the MSTE liked. Suggest a UltraSatan SD HD. Internal if you want to drill a slot for the SD card. Or get the external version and just set i on top the HD section.

Did you reseat all the socketed IC's?

Also highly suggest replacing the loud PSU fan, if not already done. I suggest this. https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAADY4B02543

A bit pricey but the MSTE will not ever need a new fan.

Also did you replace/upgrade the RTC battery?

Have fun!!

 

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Oh by the way....the Hard disc probably works again, at least I got it spinning again after giving it a "swirl" while powering it up.....didn't read from it yet but I think it will be just fine :)

 

Yeah the battery is very dead of course....but at least it doesn't leak :):)

 

One thing I noticed is that the things that hold the power and HD LED and the metal parts carrying them didn't match very well....both very rusted....going to fix that and get new LEDs and holders...

 

The PSU fan needed a good cleaning....took some Q-tips dipped in Glassex but it turned out nicely.....yeah I may replace it for a better and more silent one later (I like Papst from Germany).

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Edited by Level42
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Retrobrighting the case....

 

And the PCB. I wish there was some picture with all the chip names etc.

 

Luckily I already found out the DMA chip is the right one :)

 

No co processor but a full 4 Mb is very nice :)

 

Sadly the floppy is an Epson SMD-380 so DD only......I'd love to find an Epson SMD-340 or other HD floppy drive that will fit with the same original bezel, no drilling is going to happen in this case !!

 

I'd like to extend it further.....of course I will replace the battery but just for fun I'd want to add a coprocessor and adding a nice graphics card would be great.....if affordable.

 

Really do want to have a switchable TOS.....there is TOS 1.06 in it now....and even though it has been a bit 15 years since I powered up my original 1040....I was surprised that 2.06 was so much more advanced....(I have 2.06 on my 1040).

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Edited by Level42
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Ah.....found out that the blitter is integrated in C302183-001 :)

 

 

 

Further.....

 

I've been restoring arcade games for about ten years....I sold them not too long ago but if there was one thing I learned about restoring stuff it is that it is often two steps forward, one step back.....and sometimes even one step forward, two steps back.

 

What happened today was one of those situations.....and I've never covered up my foolish mistakes...in the hope others might learn from it.....

 

Stupidly I had put the HD cover back on the top cover....and because I wanted to find a spot that showed the original gray color I held the entire thing above my head...guess what happened.....

 

???????

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Edited by Level42
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I have done that a couple times, but the fall was short and mine did not crack.

I think BEST still has replacement HD covers still. If not, and you are going to glue these back together, be sure to test your glue, or epoxy. MANY types do not stick to Atari palstics!!

MSTE's came with 2.06 from Atari. Interesting there is 1.06 in it. Or is it 1.62?

Good luck on a video card upgrade! The compatible video cards are a bit hard to find. They come up on evil-bay once in a while. But the VME adapter is extremely hard to find.

I hope your HD is ok. My original HD spun up ok, and initialized, but would not boot. It had many, many bad clusters. A low level format could not even help. I hope you have better luck.

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