Today I received my latest BBC Micro-related purchase, an ATPL Sidewise ROM board:
I decided to fit this board to the BBC Micro with the RetroClinic Datacentre installed in it, however fitting this board was not as easy of a task as I had initially anticipated.
Problem #1: The power supply
The Sidewise board requires that the power connectors be bent at a 90 degree angle in order to make room for the board. This was not a problem in the past, as the spade connectors of past power supply revisions used a softer plastic/rubber connector which could be bent easily, however newer power supplies use a hard plastic connector. Thankfully, the instruction manual that came with the unit came with an addendum covering this scenario. The solution is to cut a notch into the spade connector and carefully bend it round. The manual with the instructions on this process, as well as general fitting instructions, can be found on Retro-Kit’s website here.
Problem #2: CombiROM
The next problem came when I booted up the machine for the first time. I was greeted with a message that simply said ‘Language?’, meaning that the system cannot find the BASIC language ROM.
After some further testing, I narrowed the problem down to the use of the RetroClinic CombiROM for the language. From what I’ve found online, it seems that this ROM contains the BASIC language and ADFS. I believe it also contains RamFS, but there is a second chip installed which is labelled ‘CombiUtils/RamFS’, which I believe is what the Beeb uses for RamFS. I swapped out the CombiROM for a standard BASIC language ROM salvaged from an old BBC Micro (now used for parts), and the system booted up into BASIC. RamFS is being picked up in the socket corresponding to the CombiUtils/RamFS chip, but no ADFS.
My theory is that the Sidewise board cannot handle this combination of ROMs in one chip, but I could be wrong. I believe that I can get ADFS back by fitting the CombiROM chip back into one of the on-board ROM sockets, however I haven’t tried this yet.
Update (7 May 2017): No joy with installing the CombiROM chip into the on-board ROM sockets. After switching into DFS using the *DISC command, typing *XADFS causes the Beeb to hang.
Update (5 June 2017): I have managed to re-gain access to the ADFS drive by burning a copy of ADFS 1.33 to an EPROM and installing it in the system. Hooray!