[Coco] New Coco3 owner

Mark McDougall msmcdoug at iinet.net.au
Fri Aug 4 23:31:19 EDT 2006

Hi all,

Having at one time owned an original silver Coco 1 during its hey-day, I've
been a lurker on this group for about 2 years now.

To be honest, I never really did get "into" the Coco as much as other
computers I've owned. My father bought it for me whilst I was in high
school, between him owning a TRS-80 Model I and him then buying me a Model
4P for "serious" use when I started uni.

However, for a couple of years I did use it regularly and we attended a
local monthly Coco users group religiously. By the end I had a
(third-party?) floppy disk controller and an extra 32KB to allow me to play
disk images of ROMPACKs. I even booted OS/9 (Level I?) once! Alas, after I
stopped using it it was given away - *long* before I would develop an
interest in "retro" computing.

More recently I've become more interested in the Coco again, particularly
since I started my FPGA emulation based on John Kent's CPU09 core. I've even
submitted an article which should appear in the next CocoNutz eZine!
Unfortunately, my time is forever divided amongst a multitude of "retro"
interests - but I have been on the lookout for a Coco for quite some time
now. I even seriously considered buying one of the "new in box" coco 3's but
in the end decided that NTSC and 110V was just too inconvenient.

However, to my utter delight I was offered the chance to give a PAL 128K
Coco3 a new home - which I picked up yesterday afternoon about 2 hours drive
away from where I live. It is in pristine condition and never been opened
(until last night). Attached was a Tandy FD-500 disk controller.

It had never been powered on by its previous owner - it had been on display
in a "mini computer museum" for about 5 years! Naturally the first thing I
wanted to do was plug it in - and given its condition and the facts that it
had never been opened and there was not anything rattling around inside, I
threw caution to the wind and tried it immediately. Perfect! Even tried my
DoD cartridge too!

A few questions tho'...

It doesn't appear to have an RF connector in the back, despite the existence
of the metal can around what would/should be the RF modulator and the
channel switch. Should it have one? Has someone pushed too hard and snapped
off the connector and pushed it into the can?

What sort of quality should I expect from the composite output? Admittedly,
I've become used to seeing the output from MESS and my FPGA board (VGA) but
I didn't expect washed-out colours and fuzzy text.

BTW I've since learned that the FD-500 requires a 12V supply and hence
requires a multi-pak on the Coco 3.

Anyway, it's quite exciting to have a *real* Coco in my collection now. At
some stage I'll look into getting a compatible disk controller (are any 3rd
party *floppy* controllers considered "better"?) and also a 6309 and
SuperIDE controller (I need to see what all the fuss is about Nitros09)!
Would also love to play Nickolas's Donut Dilemma and Pacman Tribute on it too!


|              Mark McDougall                | "Electrical Engineers do it
|  <http://members.iinet.net.au/~msmcdoug>   |   with less resistance!"

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