ADA MB-1 tube bass preamp

About 5 years ago or so, I purchased a bass preamp from my bass instructor/mentor/friend, Rusty Springfield. The ADA MB-1 was a real masterpiece of engineering, and had both a tube portion as well as a solid state portion that could be mixed together for that “perfect sound”. This unit had seen a lot of use, as Rusty used it in his travels with the Big Apple Circus, and it survived roadies, tent dust, and endless use. So, when I decided I wanted to do a little home recording, he was willing to sell it to me for a good price.

All was well until about a year and a half ago. For some reason, the little guy would just stop working and dump its programming. If I could get it to work, bumping it would upset it again. I searched for a place to repair it, and after much procrastination, took it in. The guy said it would cost around $60 bucks just to bench it, and then he still didn’t know if it could be fixed. And, since ADA had been out of business for some time, he didn’t know if it’d be worth looking at.

So, I went online. There were places that could repair and service it, but it was still going to be pretty expensive. So, for the time, I gave up, and chalked it up to “well, I got good use out of it while I had it”.

Fast forward to last week. As you know, I’ve started a new job, and in the course of 5 months, I’ve learned a lot about hardware, and much has been demystified. So, armed with these new learnings, I decided I had nothing to lose by at least taking a look at the preamp and see if it could be fixed. Worst case, I’d need to replace some parts. The guys at work could probably figure out what I didn’t know, so the prospect was good in my mind. So, I opened up the case and looked around. Lots of chips and lots of other electronics that I have no clue about. So, I decide that maybe a chip is loose. I start poking around with my fingers on all the chips that are mounted on sockets. There was a lot of creaking and flexing of the mainboard, until finally, one of the chips I pushed on gave a little. Hmmm, it seems it was loose after all. So, I plugged it in, and, “voila!”, the preamp ran through its normal POST, then warmed up the tubes, and displayed its normal screen. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I immediately plugged in my bass, and there was nothing but sweet, sweet music 🙂

WooHoo!

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sometimes it’s too easy

So I took the Quadra 700 home yesterday. I got NetBSD running pretty quickly. I even installed MacOS 8. Kudos to the NetBSD/mac68k port maintainers. The install was really, really easy. So easy, in fact, it’s not worthy of its own project page 🙁 Oh well. There are other platforms out there.

I also installed a bigger hard drive. I happened to have a 9GB SCSI disk lying around (actually, it was in the recycle pile). Anyway, I replaced the meager 90MB drive. The biggest downfall is that the 9GB drive is about 10X louder than the 90MB one.

Getting the drive in there was really simple, too. I removed the cover, the power supply and the drive cage with 2 screws. Mind you, this thing was made in 1991-1992, so if any of you remember PC cases back then(think 486), it often took 4-6 screws to get the cover off. The other nice thing about the 700 is the size of the case. It’s a tiny mini-tower design. The floppy mounts vertically.

So now what? Well, I’m thinking of getting an ethernet tranceiver for it. Small Dog Electronics has the Asante transceiver for $4 USD. Once this puppy’s on the ‘net, then it’ll be infinitely more useful. I’ve been looking for an old machine to use as a serial terminal for my other *nix boxes. However, I wanted a machine with no hard drive, boots up in a matter of seconds, and has a minimal GUI. Unfortunately, the Mac Plus that fit this role perfectly died. I’m still looking for a solution to that problem. The Q700 doesn’t fit the spec. For now, I just plug in my PowerBook to the serial switch via a USB->Serial adapter.

Another thing I was thinking was that the case for the Q700 screams to be turned into a mini-itx project. I’d just need to lengthen the floppy slot and mount a slot-loading DVD-ROM/CD-RW.

Anyway, just pipe dreaming for now. Lots of other things to tend to at the moment 🙂

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it’s like deja vu all over again

So my co-worker says to me, “Hey, you like Apple, right? Got any use for some older ones? I have one or two.”

“Sure”, I say. He shows up at the office with a Quadra 900 and a Quadra 700. The 900 is a honkin’ beast, so I probably won’t take it, especially since the specs are the same as the more petite 700. This thing is really cool!

So, what am I going to do with it? Run NetBSD, of course! It’s supported by the mac68k port. I’ll be sure to post something on my projects page when I get around to it. This little guy has 20MB RAM, a 90MB SCSI HDD, an external SCSI CDROM drive, and is really quiet. I may use this for my terminal server. If that’s the case, I may just run an old version of MacOS on it and use zTerm.

what a long, strange trip it’s been…

Whew! I finally got a bootable OpenBSD image on the Soekris Net4801. After many hours of looking at several how-to’s and adapting them to my specific setup, I finally got something working. The next step is to configure the services I need as well as properly configure all the onboard hardware.

The little Soekris boxes are really nicely made, and are made specifically for Open Source operating systems. I’ve ditched my old Pentium-166MHz box and am currently just using a cheap-o (i paid $10 after MIR) residential “router” that has really basic functionality.

The new box has 3 NICs, so I’ll be able to segregate my network traffic and filter out traffic to my internal network pretty nicely.

Omanomanoman, can’t wait to get this thing up! Of course, I’ll detail my steps once I get the thing finished.

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low-level fun…

Man, this is great! I’ve started writing some programs for an embedded microcontroller at work. It has a row of 8 LEDs, so of course, I had to make them light up in the fashion of KITT from Knight Rider. Proving once again that Germans love David Hasselhoff. Man, this is so cool! Haha! A coworker just reminded me: it looks like a Cylon‘s eye, too!
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waiting in vain

D’oh! Due to a minor error on the part of the sender, my Soekris box has not arrived yet. The flach card and PCMCIA – CF adapter arrived today, but they’re useless without the box. Well, actually, I can create my OpenBSD distribution so it’s ready when the box does arrive. Well, it’s home I go, then!

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maximum suckage

That’s the last time I buy a Canon scanner. Doesn’t even have TWAIN drivers. I mean, HELLO! Canon? yeah, the early nineties called and they want you to start using their technology.

I was working on a slideshow for a wedding, and I needed to scan handwriting for the title screen. So, I plugged in my old Canon N1220U to my WinXP box. didn’t work. Well, served me right. I had turned my old WinXP box into a linux box, and turned my Win98 box into my main WinXP box (follow that?). Anyway, silly me thought that a plug-N-Play USB scanner that worked on my other Windows system should work just fine on the new Windows system: I mean, a driver’s a driver, right? Hmmmm, apparently not.
So then I decided to give the scanner a try on my Powerbook. No go. None of the built-in apps recongnize it. Hmm, okay, so I direct my trusty browser over to the Canon site to get the latest drivers. They claim to support it under OSX, but get this, it ONLY WORKS WITH PHOTOSHOP. Device driver??? Sounds like a PS plugin to me. Anyway, so I even tried a few other things like VueScan. no go. It recognized the scanner, but couldn’t open it, and when it did, the app froze. Grrr…

By this time, it was getting late, and I needed to finish this thing rather quickly. So, I go to Best Buy and grab the Canon LiDE-30, thinking, well, I like the quality of the images from the Canon, maybe the newer ones have better support (a quick check on their site reveals that it’s designed to work with OSX). So, I get this scanner back home and install the software. Um, worst. software. ever. It’s some god-awful ugly app that looks like a bad imitation of OSX 10.0, complete with gaudy pinstripes and everything. And, guess what? It STILL doesn’t work with the built-in capture software in OSX. Yeesh.

Okay, whatever, at least now I can scan the photos. Get the project done, but now I have 2 scanners, neither of which I’m completely happy with. Well, at least I’m getting a $30 rebate on the new one.
So, a few months later, and I’m messing around on my Powerbook, and I happen to look at the system profiler. It has a function that lists log entries. for some reason, the console log is taking FOREVER to load up. Once it’s done, it reveals that the log file is 29.5 MB That’s MEGABYTES. What the hey? So I look at the file, and it’s line after line of

Looking for devices matching vendor ID=1193 and product ID=8717
Looking for devices matching vendor ID=1193 and product ID=8718

So, I do a quick google on this log message, and lo and behold, I’m not the only one! Apparently, the scanner starts 2 processes that continuously poll for the scanner. When they don’t find it, they log a message to the console log. Oy Vey.

That’s the last time I buy a Canon scanner.
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contrast

It’s not always apparent the differences between LCDs and CRTs. In the development of the therac25.net web site, I came upon the big one: contrast. If you’re viewing this on an LCD, you’ll note the bright green grid and the light green images behind the text on this page. However, on a CRT, you’ll barely see either. I can’t find a good medium, and both are almost equally unacceptable 🙁

new toys

I just ordered my new firewall. It’s a Soekris Engineering net4801. It’s got 3 10/100 ethernet ports, and runs a 266-MHz Pentium ® class CPU. It has 128MB of SDRAM, and a compact flash reader. I got a 512MB CF card from Buy.com for $50! The best part is that it runs OpenBSD. Once I get this puppy up and running, I’ll post more about it.
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