The following cartridge adapter board completes my already presented series of Sharp PC adapters: my Interface and my Cartridge.
The Sharp PC-1500 and PC-1600 can both be extended via one (two) module slots. Pretty common are memory extension cartridges, but there are also more sophisticated modules. I have a few that contain an (E)EPROM with program code on it. I have a few of the latter ones and to facilitate reading out their content I’ve built an adapter board:
The 40-pin connector was cut out of a regular PCI slot (not PCI Express). You can actually get two connectors out of one slot.
Pin headers allow easy access to the data, address, and control lanes of the cartridge. In many cases this allows easier debug access to the content of a cartridge (it EPROM) than reading (i.e. ‘beeping’ out) its content directly via the PC-1500/PC-1600 + PC-150 interface.
The adapter board works for me but it can be pretty annoying to get the pads of a module aligned with the connector pins in the 40-pin slot. It usually takes me a few retries to get good contact on all pins. Some kind of guide rail on both sides would be helpful, but hey, it’s a hack… 😉
For debugging purposes (and also for playing around with memory chips on a bread board) I’ve created little breakout boards for the cartridge slot on the bottom of Sharp PC-1500s/1600s.
I’ve added a layer of foam (not visible on the photo) on the bottom side of the cartridge to prevent the pin ends from scratching on the case.
Typing on the PC while having cables connected to the cartridge is a bit annoying as I tend to pull off the cables when turning the PC around. I’m currently figuring out a better solution by using ribbon cables instead of the pins. I will update the post as soon I’ve managed to make photos of the modified version.
Just a little update for all readers interested in Sharp 1500/1600 PCs: for hacking around with the Sharp Pocket Computers I’m using a self-made breakout board that allows easy access to all 60 pins of the interface connector.
The 60-pin connector is a simple 1.27*2.54 60-pin male header (I’ve bought mine here).
Two LEDs indicate battery or power connection, and on/off state. (In most cases power lights up as soon as the board is attached to a Sharp PC.)
It’s not that easy as it may sound to find paper rolls for a 30 years old printer, the Sharp CE-150. The printer is used in combination with a Sharp PC-1500/1500A pocket computer.
I’ve looked at my small amount of paper rolls, the leftovers I’ve found in a box on the attic. Interestingly they were differing in size (can’t remember why):
|(Left to Right)
Their width and outer diameters did not differ significantly, but the core diameters did. Paper rolls with core diameters of 7-9 mm are hard to get, the rolls sold today mostly have a diameter of 12 mm. I’ve successfully tested thermal (yes: thermal) paper rolls with this diameter in the CE-150, and these are really cheap to get (e.g. on eBay Germany). The ink doesn’t run, but there might be paper rolls with different coatings. I did not check that.
Maybe as a warning: Thermal papers mostly contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a substance that exhibits hormone-like properties!
The approximate dimensions you should look for are:
Width: 57 mm; Inner / outer diameter: 12 / 30 mm; Length: 10 m
One weakness of the Sharp CE-150 printer unit is the non-removal Ni-Cd batteries. After 20 – 30 years now since their release they begin to leak. The battery acid (potassium hydroxide, a base, actually) will sooner or later destroy the circuit board and anything else inside the printer. At that point the batteries are usually already dead and connecting a Sharp PC leads to “Error 78”, “Error 80”, or “Check 6″…
In case of such damages I usually use vinegar to clean up the case. Just put the case and any corroded parts (even if they are metallic) into a vinegar-water-mixture for a few minutes.
In case of circuit boards I’m using simple tap water and a brush to carefully remove the corrosion. Most parts on such a board can handle such a treatment. In this case I avoided getting water onto the relays and the ribbon cable. Afterwards drying the board is important, a regular hair dryer (or a temperature controlled hot air gun) will do.
I’ve made a short video tutorial on how to open, check, and if necessary repair a Sharp CE-150 printer unit which is used in combination with Sharp PC-1500 / PC-1500A / PC-1600 pocket computers:
One final remark: the printer will run fine even without the batteries. These batteries were used to provide the 1 – 1.4 A peak current to drive the printer solenoid and motors. The old power supply that was shipped with the CE-150 only provides about 500 mA. You can attach a newer one that is able to provide sufficient current without problems (9 V, negative pole is in the center).