25 July 2018

To TRS-80 COCO 2 Or Not To COCO

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I've had a TRS-80 64K PAL Colour (not Color, it's an Australian version) Computer 2 laying around for a little while now. Purchased as an untested item and as such I presumed would have some issues to deal with. Thankfully I've finally I found some time (in amongst everything else)  to look into what issues if any there might be, and decide if it's worth going further and conducting a full restoration.

Plugging the computer in and turning it on revealed that there was indeed some life inside; but it's bit of a half life with a screen full of garbage characters. On the plus side the garbage is over a green background, green being the colour it's supposed to be. I was suspecting this was going to be a DRAM issue, a little bit of googling seemed to confirm suspicions. Time to open the COCO up.

First switch on of the COCO and a load of Garbage Characters on the screen.
From the awful amount of rust on the modulator it appears the computer has had a hard end of life.  It looks as if the COCO's spent some time in damp back sheds and garages. What we're looking for at this stage though is the DRAM. This is to be found on a plug in board hovering above the motherboard, with some cardboard shielding over it.

TRS-80 64K PAL Colour Computer 2 Motherboard
Arranged in a row on the plugin board, are eight 8k MB8264A DRAM chips, these provide the systems total of 64k. Unfortunately the DRAM is soldered onto the plugin board, these needed to be removed to find the problem ones. Rather than solder replacement DRAM back in directly I also took the opportunity to solder IC sockets.

Plugin DRAM Board, eight 8k MB8264A chips.
After some time consuming un-soldering a bit of snipping, re-soldering and finally mounting new DRAM, four ICs in total the Colour Computer came back from the dead. I now have the expected boot screen on a green background, this is a good start.

I'm not sure if it's the LCD TV, the computers modulator or something else, but the quality of the display is abysmal. Still now that I know the computer is essentially working I'm going to give the whole system a going over and full restoration.

Plenty more updates and some proper investigations into the world of TRS-80 Colour Computers to come.

And We have a Working Computer, Sort Of.


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