[vcf-midatlantic] Workshop 7/16 report

Alexander Pierson ajpierson1 at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 17 02:59:09 EDT 2016

Here's my report on the status of the Hero 1 following today's efforts.

I removed the old batteries from 2005, then tried out my modern 6V 5Ah batteries, which work alright but are too wide to fit in the head compartment.  The aluminum sheet metal battery retainer was built for square batteries, not rectangular ones.  I have an idea of how to make a custom sized piece at my local hackerspace that will let us preserve the original part.  I will dispose of the old cells properly.

Seems that this robot has had a few internal modifications.  It's running a non-standard ROM configuration, with a demonstration program.  I'll have to dump the contents of that custom EPROM some time in the future.  On the Main Drive board, a relay has been removed and replaced with a modern professional custom made board from 2006 (with an surface mount chip).  Whomever installed that also knew what they were doing.

The I/O board seems to be causing major faults for the Hero.  Initially, the robot spouted nothing but gibberish and garbled text on its display, along with jerky unchoreographed movements.  The backside of the board is covered in wirewrap, apparently to fix some traces and vias that are not in great shape.  An accompanying page of correspondence with Robert Doerr (the premier Hero robot expert) and the last owner confirms that the I/O board has issues, and any flexing there are intermittent connections on that board.  

I also swapped in the spare I/O board that the last owner had bought, however it yielded only a silent and unresponsive robot.  I swapped the first I/O board back in, and it started showing me useful information on the hexadecimal keypad and display, and showing a glimmer of hope.  It tries to speak when prompted to, but it fails to say anything other than AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH.  At best, I was able to enter a few things on the keypad, and get back some correct results according to the diagnostic booklet.  However, many critical tests are failing.
But hey, Dean and Drew cleaned up the plastic panels, so the robot looks nice!
tl;dr: the Hero 1 is not going to be functional for HOPE.  
-Alexander 'Z' Pierson

    On Sunday, July 17, 2016 1:28 AM, Jeffrey Brace via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:

 Alex and I were the first to arrive today. He helped me setup the tables in
the room. I started him working on the Hero 1 Robot. Alex can provide
deals, but he was unable to get the Hero 1 working. :(

Later Bill Dromgoole came and worked on the generator for the Univac. He
can provide you his progress report.

Dean and Drew worked on and fixed their three Vic-20 keyboards. They also
helped out myself with setting up the wi-fi network better as well as did a
food run to Taco Bell.

Jeff Jonas and Bill I. helped bring over and do a cursory check of the EAI
analog machine. Bill I. will be working on this tomorrow.

I worked on helping get everyone setup and settled and was docent at the
museum. There were about a dozen visitors.

I started sorting out the parts for the C64 robot, and picked out all the
parts for a project to build. I will work build it tomorrow.

Everyone shared knowledge and helped it each other out. It was great fun!

We ended the night rather early for a workshop at around 9pm.

We start again tomorrow at 10am.


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