Strange issue with MECC games - none will start

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Strange issue with MECC games - none will start

I'll admit that I don't really know what I'm doing.  But because of that, I'm not quite sure where to start!

 

I just got an Apple IIe (unenhanced).  Obviously, the first thing I wanted to do was to boot up some old games I remembered from childhood.

 

Every time I try to play a MECC game (Oregon Trail, Odell Lake, Number Munchers, etc), the system loads the title screen with MECC logo and . . . stops.

 

Nothing else happens, no matter what buttons are pressed.

 

I've tried this with about 8 MECC games and they all behave identically.  Every other game I've tried works fine.  

 

Right now installed in the system is a 64k expansion/80 column card, a Super Serial card hooked to a printer, an IO card for the Duodisk it has, and that's it.

 

I find it really strange that only MECC games don't work, and NONE of them work.  It makes me wonder if there's something going on where they're all trying to do the same thing, and my system is failing . . . whatever thing that is.  But all my attempts at Googling have failed.  It's like the only thing I can find are articles about "Remember all those MECC games from childhood?"  That every other disk I have tried seems to boot up makes me confused.  

 

The games I've tried have both been actual 30-35 year old disks and also "new" (old) disks with images from Asciiexpress.net.  The original disk that isn't a MECC games boots up, and the two original MECC games do not.  The games I've transferred from Asciiexpress work... unless they're MECC games, in which they behave the exact same way described above.  Just the title screen, then nothing.

 

Any ideas of what I might try, or what might be going on?  I know this is a minor issue in the scheme of things, but I'm wondering if something might be wrong with my system that's preventing those games from working.

 

Thanks for your help. :)

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I'm kind of new to this world

I'm kind of new to this world but I was explained that some of the images you find online still contain the copy protection of the time - hence you can run them on an emulator but not on an actual system. 

 

Check this out: 4am collection  - all the software on this page should have the copy protection removed.

 

(That said, the Oregon Trail from that collection doesn't seem to be working either, I left a comment on the review! :) ) 

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Hi there - I had a similar

Hi there - I had a similar thing happen when I picked up a IIe that was also unenhanced. I had an applied engineering memory card in there, but someone had put one of the memory chips on the card in the wrong way, and my MECC games also wouldn't load. Maybe check the memory card in your AUX slot if you have one? As soon as I saw/fixed it, MECC worked fine. 

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8bit_SchoolBus wrote:Hi there
8bit_SchoolBus wrote:

Hi there - I had a similar thing happen when I picked up a IIe that was also unenhanced. I had an applied engineering memory card in there, but someone had put one of the memory chips on the card in the wrong way, and my MECC games also wouldn't load. Maybe check the memory card in your AUX slot if you have one? As soon as I saw/fixed it, MECC worked fine. 

 

 You know, that is what I'm starting to wonder.

I don't have a great reason to think that, but...   because of Tony359's comment, I got a copy of of Passport off of Asciiexpress.  I was going to try to run it on the copy of Odell Lake I have, and see if a cracked version would magically appear in Drive 2.

But it doesn't work.  Passport says, "Writing to RAM disk... T22 Fatal write error."  Then it tells me that I either don't have a disk in Drive 2 or that it's not formatted.  But it never even tried reading Drive 2; the light never came on, no noises were made.  I know that drive works, because I was using Copy II Plus to format disks using that drive.  To double check, I used Copy II Plus to copy a known working disk to a blank one in Drive 2... and it worked.

So I'm wondering if there's a problem with it trying to use the RAM disk.  (I have not set up a RAM disk on my own, so I'm assuming this is something that Passport is doing on its own perogative.)

Another thing I just noticed is consistent artifacts when using 80 column mode.  Those short diagonal lines always appear in that mode, and always at the exact same places.  I don't know if that's relevant.  For all I know it's normal.  But the 80 column card is the one with my 64k expansion on it, so if there's a problem with the 80 column mode, maybe that... means... something?  Hah.

 

You know, I also just remembered that when I tried to use Cat.doctor, it would crash when I tried to do... anything beyond the main menu.  And it ran in 80 column mode.  Huh.

 

Unfortunately I have to go to work for the next 10 hours so I can't screw around with it until tomorrow.  I will check to see if I can trial-and-error some kind of solution tomorrow!  

 

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Good luck. Post what you find

Good luck. Post what you find out if you come to a solution, I'm curious. I ran a memory test using an Applied Engineering card test software disk image, and that led to my solution. Maybe there's a memory test out there you could run?

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I will!

I'm waiting on some cords to show up so I can try to connect via serial/USB to ADTPro (just hoping that will work).  I can only get files to the system right now that are on Asciiexpress, lol.  I can't use ADTPro's audio connection because my Apple's audio-out jack is broken in some way, and ADTPro requires a two-way connection.

I also have a Floppyemu on order.  So eventually I'm going to have a better way to get programs over there to the Apple, hah.  When that happens, I'll try to find and run a memory test!

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Check the RAM

The screen artifacts and other symptoms definately sounds like you have one or more bad RAM chips in the Aux RAM.

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Good advice here! Bad aux RAM it was

Well that was an adventure!

 

My Super Serial card got here today!  Installed it,  connected to my laptop, and wrote an ADTPro disk that had the ethernet client on it.

Because my Uthernet II also got here today!  Installed THAT card, got it working, and found my PC on the network.

I apparently was more interested in getting the new card working than finding out the problems with my already-existing cards, because I'm reasonable like that.

Downloaded MECC Computer Inspector over the Uthernet, wrote it to a disk, and ran it.

 

Well what do you know.

 

 

Definitely a problem with the Aux RAM!  Not exactly sure where to go from here, but I'm really happy I figured out what the problem was! 

 

I did double check just to make sure none of the chips were literally upside down, like 8bit_schoolbus's situation, but nothing that simple it seems.)

 

Thanks for your advice!

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Just so that you are aware,

Just so that you are aware, MECC Aux Ram test also said that my AUX card needed repair but without giving me details. It's a non-Apple card. I found a genuine one at decent price on ebay and got it and MECC is happy with it but the previous card would not show any issues anyways. 

 

Question: do you need the AUX card to run games? I thought it was only being used by some office software and utilities. Can you temporarily remove the card and try the games again?

 

Can you post a picture of your Aux card? Mine had all socketed chips so I could reseat them. If yours are not socketed, well I suppose you may have a faulty chip.

There is another test which is telling you which of the chips are good (G) or bad. You get a GGGGGGGG (8 chips) if they are all good and I suppose you get to know which is bad if one is bad.

 

My //e is disassembled right now but I believe it's XPS that does that - and I really like XPS as a test companion.

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shadmere wrote:Well that was
shadmere wrote:

Well that was an adventure!

 

My Super Serial card got here today!  Installed it,  connected to my laptop, and wrote an ADTPro disk that had the ethernet client on it.

Because my Uthernet II also got here today!  Installed THAT card, got it working, and found my PC on the network.

I apparently was more interested in getting the new card working than f

 

What exact RAM exp card are you using?

 

MECC needs 64K, so unless there is some kind of address corruption, the ep RAM shoul not matter. You can always try it without the RAM exp card to verify. 

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Oh yeah, forgot to mention that

I did try removing the Aux RAM card and now the MECC games boot right up.   They apparently don't need the card, which makes sense, but if there's a problem with it, they get angry.

 

It's an Apple 64k/80 column card.  The chips are socketed.  I can try reseating them... just carefully try to lever them out and then push them back in?  

 

I'll try to check out that XPS program tomorrow!  I have stayed up far, far, far too late messing with this.  (Was fun though.)

 

 

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Nice looking card with all

Nice looking card with all the Apples :)

 

Yes, I'd re-seat those. Be careful if you don't have a chip extractor. If you had any contact cleaner, that may help. Hopefully XPS can tell you which chip is bad - then you could just swap it around if the fault follows the chip or the socket.

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My Apple // has survived the

My Apple // has survived the board wash - it looks brand new now!

 

I managed to take a pic for you - see where it says GGGGGGGG? I would hope those are for each of those memory modules. How reliable that is, that's another story. (Main Memory being tested in the pic as I didn't have the expansion plugged in but the screen is the same)

 

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shadmere wrote:I did try
shadmere wrote:

I did try removing the Aux RAM card and now the MECC games boot right up.   They apparently don't need the card, which makes sense, but if there's a problem with it, they get angry.

 [[{"fid":"31298","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","alignment":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},

 

The //e Diagnostics told you the location. 10,829B Each chip is 8,192B, so that should be chip 2..

 

If re-seating fails, swap chips 2 and 8, then re-try the //e Diagnostics test and post a snapshot of the results. 

 

Also, note that you have J1 enabled. You may want to remove that on some //e systems, or install a toggle switch on it, as some software may not operate properly when this is enabled.

See Page 6 (PDF lit. 12/24) here:

 https://www.apple.asimov.net/documentation/hardware/video/Apple%20IIe%20Extended%2080-Column%20Text%20Card%20%28Rev%20B%29.pdf

 

and Pages 11-12 (PDF lit 23,24/72) here:

https://archive.org/details/Apple_II_Extended_80-Column_Text_Card_Supplement/page/n22/mode/1up

 

Here is a more comprehensive manual covering the card features:

https://archive.org/details/iie-80-column/page/n74/mode/1up?q=res+graphics

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Thanks for the info!

I wondered if the 10829 was just referring to bytes, but didn't know if it was that simple.

Before doing anything, I ran XPS.  The results made me feel bad for putting my Apple in so much pain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wYZ4so_hQM

Testing 80 column mode had similar results.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSpS9zpmhLU

 

I carefully wedged out chip 2 with a screwdriver and reseated it.  Exact same error, both in XPS and MECC Computer Inspector.  

 

I carefully wedged out chip 2 again, and also chip 8.  I swapped them.  Exact same error, in both programs.  Computer Inspector still returned an error at 10829.  Hrm.

 

Thank you a lot for the documentation about the card.  I see that motherboards  that end with 0064-A must remove the jumper or the machine function. I didn't really see anything in there about some software not working with the jumper on.  What is the "Annunciator 3 soft switch," and how is that switched on?  The extended 80 column card manual says that for the double hires graphics, the Jumper must be attached, and also the Annunciator 3 soft switch must be switched on.

Do all the other auxillary RAM cards have jumpers like that?  Or is it a situation where someone who bought a Ramworks card would just know what functions they needed it for, and they'd know that they were making their computer incompatible with some software?   Sorry if these questions are trivial. 

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So you swapped the ramchips

So you swapped the ramchips and you still have the same error in the same position? I just wonder which chip is number 2 - XPS is mentioning starting from the right, I would have thought from the left. Others will know better but you may want to swap 2 with 7 - that should cover both :)

 

Failing that, the next step would be to check continuity - all chips should be paralled together so you can just make sure that there is continuity between the pins (1-1, 2-2, 3-3 etc). 

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D'oh!

You know I noticed that the "*" on XPS was not on the 2nd chip counting from the left, but somehow completely missed that it was on the 2nd chip from the right.

 

Okay, so I swapped 2nd-from-the-right with 8th-from-the-right.

 

Computer Inpsector still returns the error at 10829. 

 

However, XPS now specifies 8th-from-the-right as the problem chip.

 

 

So that chip (now at the far left) seems to be the issue.  Odd that the Computer Inspector error is still at 10829.

 

As a side note, the 80 column mode still has artifacts, but they're slightly different now.  Which... makes sense.  

 

 

Exact same pattern of artifacts, but now they're "!" instead of "`".

 

Huh.

 

So I'm thinking that the continuity testing isn't as necessary now that I'm pretty sure which chip is the problem?  But I should probably learn how to do that anyway.  Off to Youtube...

 

So on a related note: I saw on another thread that the Apple II uses 4164 64x1 memory chips.  Those seem to be readily available on the internet. The chips on this board are all labeled 4264, and those seem harder to find.  I found this, but it's an 8264A10 and then just lists "8264 4264" afterwards in the title.  It seems to be implying it's the same thing, but I am sort of out of my depth at the moment.  

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Well done!I am not sure why

Well done!

I am not sure why the different software is giving inconsistent results and I am not sure which one you should trust but XPS seems to be consistent with what you did so maybe it's just that chip. 

I'll leave others to comment about the chips but I believe good practice would be to get all chips identical - same speed and manufacturer. Still, your chips have a nice Apple logo on them and it would be a shame to remove them. I do not see the speed of your chips though, there should be a -15 or -20 printed on the chips. That would be nice to match. 

 

I can find 4264 on Ebay US - even coming from the US.

 

For continuity, set your meter to continuity (it beeps when you touch the probes) then touch one leg of a chip with one probe and the correspondent leg of another chip with the other probe. The meter should beep - even though I believe some sockets have slightly different wiring but number 2 - either left or right - should be paralleled.  To clarify, you do not need to remove the chips.

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Not sure why I couldn't find

Not sure why I couldn't find 4264 on eBay earlier.  I went back to "prove you wrong" and immediately got all kinds of results.  Ah well.

 

Removed the bad chip again and looked on every side just in case, but there's no further text on it.  Just "8350 G MT 4264."  Hrmph.  I like the little Apples too!  Hah.

 

I should buy a multimeter.

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shadmere wrote: I went back
shadmere wrote:

 I went back to "prove you wrong" and immediately got all kinds of results.  Ah well.

 

ahah LOL!

I have a feeling those are 20ns - all my original Apple ones are 20. Again, others will know better. From youtube videos I understand that MT is quite an unreliable brand so no surprises one of yours has failed.

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I was under the impression

I was under the impression that most were 150ns and that Apple recommended at least as fast as 200ns. Does the 20 stand for 200, or are most chips just way faster than necessary?

 

I'm at work right now just using my break to try to unsuccessful Google stuff, but wondering if I'm misunderstanding you. :)

I went ahead and ordered a chip puller and a multimeter. I was trying to use a screwdriver today but that was horrific. Out of 4 extracted chips, I bent the hell out of the pins twice. Both times was able to bend them back, and nothing broke, but that's terrifying! I was trying to rock them back and forth, going from one side to the other, but twice, the side I was lifting just POPPED out and stood the chip nearly vertical into the air. -_-

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200ns not 20ns

I think you'll find that those RAM chips are 200 ns not 20ns.

 

Back when these things were being produced, 20ns is the things dreams are made from.  :-)

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ahah sorry, my bad! 200ns

ahah sorry, my bad! 200ns indeed.

My 1982 Apple//e fits 200ns ram chips from Apple. 

 

A screwdriver may be ok but you need to be very careful. You need to be very careful with a chip puller too. I found that the trick is to "pull up" and not sideways. You'll have to rock the chip a bit to pull it out but you always want to apply a perpendicular force while doing so. That way, when it suddenly comes off it moves away parallel to the board and you do not bend the legs. 

 

If using a screwdriver you'll have to pry both sides of the chip gently and a bit at a time by twisting a small flat screwdriver between the chip and the socket.

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tony359 wrote:ahah sorry, my
tony359 wrote:

ahah sorry, my bad! 200ns indeed.

My 1982 Apple//e fits 200ns ram chips from Apple. 

 

A screwdriver may be ok but you need to be very careful. You need to be very careful with a chip puller too. I found that the trick is to "pull up" and not sideways. You'll have to rock the chip a bit to pull it out but you always want to apply a perpendicular force while doing so.

 

If the chip is just dead, you are going to toss it, protect the socket.

 

I do advise buying a set of angled probes for lifting ICs, as they are a worthwhile investment. Ordinary automotive picks will be better than nothing. 

 

As you are in the US, I found a set that I would advise buying:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OSLBWAE/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Basically the same tools that I use.  With these, you can lift ICs from sockets with ease. 

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