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It's not common for the crystals to die... but it happens... here are some common ways to kill them...


   crystal clock oscillator package with ceramics have an expansion coefficient that is different from that of the ceramic material, the soldered fillet section may crack, if subjected to extreme temperature changes, make sure the package and circuit board are warm during installation and you don't cool it too quickly when cleaning up with fluorocarbons or IPA

    Static electricity and emi, handle oscillator products in an environment where countermeasures against static electricity have been taken. damage to the  components in the oscillator package can occur

     shock from small drops, ultrasonic cleaning, and board flexing can make the crystal oscillator suffer resonance fractures.

The leads can fracture if the metal package is impacted as well, best not to put pressure on the package or bump the package.


I've seen someone solder with the power supply connected and have a loop through the soldering tip destroy stuff even thought the power switch was off. There weren't sparks but the differential was measurable.


That's about all I can think of off the top of my head why the crystals are going poof....

Edited by _The Doctor__
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3 hours ago, flashjazzcat said:

Fortunately - today - I decided to select an identical motherboard (actually from an 800XE) in order to take yet more measurements, and when I noticed the 14MHz crystal had the same 'HOORAY' branding as the one in the dead machine, I hopelessly swapped it over and the dead Atari immediately powered up. This is the second spontaneously dead clock crystal I think I encountered; the first was on an XL. Jurgen tells me it's not common for a 14MHz crystal to die, meanwhile... which is clearly why it happened to me. :)


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9 hours ago, _The Doctor__ said:


That's about all I can think of off the top of my head why the crystals are going poof....

So some forms of malpractice, predictably? Did I mention I saw two failed in several years, only one of which (this one) died on the desk. :) Out of about 150 machines, it's not exactly an endemic problem.

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You said you didn't know why, but whatever. God forbid. I ran down the common reasons why. Of course you will turn it around... it couldn't ever possibly be any other way. I understand. Please don't take any regard of the list at all, anybody... and please hone in on just the last statement because on it's face there is nothing wrong with the statement but might be twisted or construed poorly in some weird way if one can attach crap to it afterwards. I get it, the question wasn't a question, you didn't want a real answer. You wanted to hear someone say the crystal gods wanted to take their lives, and we should assume that it only happened 25 or so years apart or twice in some quantity of machines. I get it. I frankly gave the common reasons why they die. Somehow it's a slight? Short of theorizing some defect in it's manufacture that waited all these years to finally show up what else could it be? Was the can rusty? was it subject to detrimental gases eating its way into the thing? Perhaps it was dropped by the mail man or the sorting machine at the postal hub. You see that's all possible, but of course you can't see any of that happening, you make it some conflict about yourself personally. Why is that? ANY of those things listed could have happened outside of your care. Really don't understand you these days. Taking sound information and trying to make it a pissing match on a personal level. Nothing stated was such that you did anything.


I suggest folks put what I wrote to the test... see what the manufacturer or repair logs say about such failures. I don't think they mention anyone in specific for some odd perceived 'slight' or 'blame' either.


For everyone else, my list will hold true. Take it under advisement. Most crystals are only rated for a few serious shocks and can be damaged in the ways I listed.


Just to be punny, see what you can dig up on crystals. The answers to these things could be buried somewhere amongst other nuggets of information, or even under another rock we have yet to turn over.

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hope this gets folks started, with a little knowledge, successful practices to be imparted.

my goal is to make everyone's projects and desires a successful and interesting experience.

who knows... we could learn something together and have fun!

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1 minute ago, flashjazzcat said:

Yes: that escalated quickly. Doesn't take much incentive before it all starts spewing out. :)


I must stop soldering parts to the board while the machine is powered up, or working on a desk bristling with static charge. :D

Don't clean the boards off in your ultrasonic cleaner after you're done soldering either!

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read further down in the ee blog you will find some answers about the cleaners...and you can use them..


No where does it say a machine was soldered powered up in the post either. Plugged in and powered off yes. Please continue misquoting and making bs arguments. You truly are excellent at that sort of slippery word-smithing. Will you next accuse a person of saying you ran across carpets and intentionally zapped stuff?


as usual even the manufacturers guidelines must be wrong following this fellow because no mistake would have or could have been made in the entire chain of custody...


hopefully reasonable people will read the information and find it useful. I didn't get all defensive and make up stuff, I simply answered and then backed it up when after you got bent. I am sure the fanboys will continue on. But at least the information is posted and it's from credible sources.


So much for giving some answers anybody can use, providing others experiences as well as information direct from the fiels as well as the manufacturer.


all the best.

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I stumbled across this video this morning and it just seemed appropriate to post it here, although there are a lot of other topics on AA where this would work equally well. Of course take it with a grain of salt, and love it or hate it as you see fit :) .




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he asked why and was told it was uncommon (which is true)... I answered with the common reasons why the failures happen in light of that rarity.


it is what it is... hope it helps someone... it's clear no answer is going to be acceptable so we'll just have to turn on the person who provided some. It's all good. I hope it's helpful to those that wish a little knowledge. A good number of people went to all the trouble of discussing it, and the manufacturer decided it mattered enough to include it in their sheets.

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22 hours ago, flashjazzcat said:

This is the second spontaneously dead clock crystal I think I encountered; the first was on an XL. Jurgen tells me it's not common for a 14MHz crystal to die, meanwhile... which is clearly why it happened to me.

Yeah I don’t see a question there. 

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4 minutes ago, _The Doctor__ said:

he asked why and was told it was uncommon (which is true)... I answered with the common reasons why the failures happen in light of that rarity.

Wow that was a quick response. But I beg to differ... as far as I recall the 'why' was never asked. But boy do you have a lot of advice for everyone lately... quite the chatter box of ideas aren't you ;) .


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ah, he wasn't searching for the answers so someone else just gave their opinion for no reason and that was accepted. Got it.

Shouldn't have participated in the discussion since there really isn't one... I guess I should have read it in a blog instead of a discussion forum. My mistake.


I still hold out hope someone gets something out of the post and provided links. I thought the point was to help everyone out and to share knowledge and experiences.

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7 minutes ago, _The Doctor__ said:

ah, he wasn't searching for the answers so someone else just gave their opinion for no reason and that was accepted. Got it.

I'm sorry Doc but I must be reading from a different forum, because I only see you giving your opinion after the posting in question. That really was my only point... that the question had never been asked, but now you intrigue me. No matter as you say this is a discussion forum, so proceed :) .

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7 hours ago, toddtmw said:

Out of curiosity, what happens if you plug a monitor plug into a Midi port, or a Midi cable into the monitor port? Is there any theoretical electrical danger there?

Other then it not doing what you expected, no danger what so ever :) .


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  • 3 weeks later...

So after a long period of hard work by @flashjazzcat the Wednesday before Fujiama Jon shipped my 130XE off via ParcelForce, I paid for GlobalExpress shipping so it would reach me at Friday whilst I was working from home.

And as such the machine would accompanied me to Germany on Sunday.

Helas , long story short, the machine didn't leave the depot,got returned to Jon luckily, Jon had to ship it again and yesterdayevening after a 5 day no-movement in tracking status I picked it up at a local Fedex station after work.


I still have a lot to explore especially the Ultimate 1MB and all it's bells and whistles but WOW, I can't stress enough what a fine job Jon did.


SpartaDos , 130XE and the Serda X3M Buran MIDI module.






Here it is reunited with it's own topcase and desk :)






Sophia DVI, lefthandside Composite for sound, Righthandside the second MIDI port , cable running to the X3M




The cutout I made to lower the diskdrive and allow to lay flat (before the shield to go due to amount of wiring and mods taking place)




A lot of wires , a lot of upgrades on 1 picture


Sophia DVI with under it , SIO2MIDI where the RF modulator used to be, Jon cut out part of the PCB so the SIO2MIDI sinks into the PCB.

Hidden under the keyboard Ultimate 1MB.

Laying on the ECI standoff, Zaxon's PCB with currently WD1770 controller, as such the HYPERXF-ROM (which is disabled by a jumper ) won't work until a WD1772 is installed.




Powercable running to the Floppy PCB




SIO connections running to Floppy PCB




Ultimate 1MB which Jon found a place here due to the Sophia DVI sitting in the way




The MIDI led (blue) which Jon kindly provided with extra length of wire so I can still decide where I will mount it




A close up at the Power connector Jon installed so I could detach it




And Jon inspiring use of the VIA's , the long part runs towards the SIO2MIDI .

The short part runs again to a detachable connector which connects to the Floppy PCB.




Ultimate in clear DVI output




Floppy loaded with MIDI files








Playback in progress, hence the blue SIO2MIDI led






Altough I could have run this on a stock 130XE using Syscheck's extra RAM function, I never did run Numen until now, WOW





What beholds the future of this machine ...


Reattaching this part and maybe make a 3D printed cover for the diskdrive bezel , 

still have to finetune it.




After I bought a broken ST case from Drygol which I didn't use in the end, I did

buy a 1040STfm badge from him with the idea to splice both together to get

a 1030XEfm




but in the meanwhile I've also ordered a badge from Drakon at Atari.org.pl




Also arrived in the meanwhile , disk swap button PCB and track/drive-ID display by Mq at Atari.org.pl






Due to arrive this week from France , a WD1772 to fully use HYPER-XF on this 3,5" drive.


Apart from a lot more fun , maybe more expansion ports , WiFi , who knows ...

Edited by Lastic
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