EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

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HideawayStudio
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EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by HideawayStudio » Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:35 am

Having owned an EII+ for some time now and restored it to full health one it's become obivous to me that, rather ironically, most of EII's realiability issues are due to the very design feature that was supposed to make this beast serviceable...

If you have a look inside EII you will notice that -EVERY- chip (and there are over 300 of them!) is socketed. Where this might have seemed like a good idea at the time it was a disaster as, with time, these low grade sockets oxidise and develop poor connections. It's one thing having a few dry solder joints to deal with - it's another having over 5000 potentially poor connections. This is why, if your EII starts to play up, it's by far most likely that one of the chips needs to be reseated in it's socket.

The problem is made worse by the fact that the two main pcbs in EII are huge and cover 75% of the large metal base plate. These pcbs are rigidly mounted to this plate and thus when EII flexes so do the pcbs. This is why EII can often fail after being moved.

My EII recently developed a fault - after moving it the sample input signal failed (which -really- upset me!). I tracked the problem down to an IC in the ADC stages which needed to be removed, sprayed with contact cleaner and reseated in it's socket.

With lord knows how many hundred chips in this beast it's no wonder they have a reputation for being a bit flakey.

If E-mu had chosen turned pin sockets - it would have been a very different story.... it also would have been several hundred dollars more expensive! (as if $10,000 wasn't enough)

Our EII's are now well over 20 years old - in damp climates the pins on these sockets will look like they've been residing on the bottom of the sea - so get your contact cleaner at the ready and pray :)

EII's SEA OF IC SOCKETS:
EII_ChipSocketsGalore.jpg

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by JMP » Sun Jul 12, 2009 8:04 pm

Interesting stuff Dan, would be worthwhile posting on the EII forums too if you get chance. I also had to resurrect mine from the dead last year and I now keep my fingers crossed it keeps working fine.... :? The Mac was the last thing to die on me....cost three times as much as what I paid for it to get that repaired !!

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by rokuez » Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:41 pm

JMP wrote:Interesting stuff Dan, would be worthwhile posting on the EII forums too if you get chance.
yes please do this if you get a chance :)
E-mu Emulator Forum

http://www.eiiiforum.com

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by HideawayStudio » Mon Jul 13, 2009 12:06 am

JMP wrote:Interesting stuff Dan, would be worthwhile posting on the EII forums too if you get chance. I also had to resurrect mine from the dead last year and I now keep my fingers crossed it keeps working fine.... :? The Mac was the last thing to die on me....cost three times as much as what I paid for it to get that repaired !!
Tis done - it's now on EIIIforum too....

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by Sir Ruff » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:01 am

OMG... so many chips!

so what connection cleaner do you recommend? something like de-oxit? I have a non-working OB-1, and I see at least one corroded socket base that most likely needs to be replaced (or just cleaned). Would be nice if I could at least do that before the tech sees it.
Do you even post on vse bro?

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by HideawayStudio » Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:24 pm

Sir Ruff wrote:OMG... so many chips!

so what connection cleaner do you recommend? something like de-oxit? I have a non-working OB-1, and I see at least one corroded socket base that most likely needs to be replaced (or just cleaned). Would be nice if I could at least do that before the tech sees it.
Yes - de-oxit should be fine - just try not to get it on anything but the socket. Its worth leaving the cleaner on the contacts for a while before very gently scrubbing it with a toothbrush or similar brush.

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by stalla » Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:21 pm

Interesting article, thanks... :D
can't get mine working with my "new" apple SE/30 and sound designer. (serial port issue ?)
By now I'm limited with the 40 internal sounds of the HD...
I really love the sound & feel of the EII !

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by JMP » Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:27 pm

stalla wrote:can't get mine working with my "new" apple SE/30 and sound designer. (serial port issue ?)
Strange, I've had an SE30 working fine with mine. Look out for a cheap Powerbook 165c, I've had one of those working OK with mine too not long ago.

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by HideawayStudio » Mon Aug 10, 2009 12:45 am

JMP wrote:
stalla wrote:can't get mine working with my "new" apple SE/30 and sound designer. (serial port issue ?)
Strange, I've had an SE30 working fine with mine. Look out for a cheap Powerbook 165c, I've had one of those working OK with mine too not long ago.
This is not likely to be a fault but due to a build revision issue. The earlier EIIs didn't have serial ports capable of working at 500Kbaud in synchronous mode. This requires a later version of the OS and a full RS422 interface. It is possible to mod an early EII to gain this functionality though.

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by stalla » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:40 am

I don't think mine is an earlier version, since it's a II+HD model, but I can be wrong.
Next step is to change my SE/30 internal battery (wich is dead and could be an issue for the serial port ?) + check the serial cable + check the chips and sockets as explained by hideawaystudio...
(my EII was shipped from USA to Europe) I keep you in touch ! I appreciate your help.
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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by HideawayStudio » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:28 am

stalla wrote:I don't think mine is an earlier version, since it's a II+HD model, but I can be wrong.
Next step is to change my SE/30 internal battery (wich is dead and could be an issue for the serial port ?) + check the serial cable + check the chips and sockets as explained by hideawaystudio...
(my EII was shipped from USA to Europe) I keep you in touch ! I appreciate your help.
If it's an original + model and not an upgrade (like mine) then it should already have the later pcb set and ROMs. What version of software are you running on your EII? My EII was also imported from the US, earlier this year in fact :)

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by stalla » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:39 pm

I can't check the version software right now (some health problem, my emu is not at home...) I was in L.A earlier that year and bought it there (it's the original, not an upgrade). Shiping to europe was as expensive as the beast itself... I love it. I'm curious to hear you about the differences/opportunity to own it with an EIII XP.
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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by JMP » Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:55 pm

Stalla, make sure you're using the correct serial port (modem), it still doesn't communicate until you switch to panel mode in Sound Designer BTW (in case you didn't know). Also try toggling Apple talk on and off.

If still not working (and not a dodgy cable) it's more likely the Mac SE OS rather than the EII OS from my past experience. The EII OS (2.3 and 3.1) hasn't made any difference to my connection with the Mac SE, Classic and Powerbook 165c.

You should change the battery in the SE if only to avoid future booting problems, mine still connected to the EII OK whilst flat (once booted up).

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by HideawayStudio » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:06 pm

JMP wrote:Stalla, make sure you're using the correct serial port (modem), it still doesn't communicate until you switch to panel mode in Sound Designer BTW (in case you didn't know). Also try toggling Apple talk on and off.

If still not working (and not a dodgy cable) it's more likely the Mac SE OS rather than the EII OS from my past experience. The EII OS (2.3 and 3.1) hasn't made any difference to my connection with the Mac SE, Classic and Powerbook 165c.

You should change the battery in the SE if only to avoid future booting problems, mine still connected to the EII OK whilst flat (once booted up).
Hi JMP - Tis a shame you're all the way up north as I'd love to know if the RS422 interface on my EII is ok for use with SD. I've been tempted to get an old Mac on numerous occasions now but I'd like to test the interface before I fill my house with yet more junk. :)

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Re: EII Owners: Reliability issues - The Horrible Truth

Post by JMP » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:48 pm

Aye it is, I'd be tempted to lend you my backup Powerbook 165c to try but think posting it down to you would tempt fate. The 180c I just bought (as working) has died on me upon receipt (hard disk failure)... didn't like the journey to me apparently and finding another hard drive will be impossible. External via SCSI may be the only way on that one.

Anyway, keep an eye out on Ebay, I've picked up three working/compatible Macs so far that have worked with the EII, all for relatively cheap. It's just maintaining them that costs and takes up your time but sounds like you may be OK on the tinkering side of things. You seen the list of compatible Macs on the Yahoo Users site?

Having an EII+ you should be fine with your interface. Mine is an earlier EII (not plus) but with the extra memory slots available and a Rev 1 board that includes the interface. Not had to tinker with the EII at all to get the connection, just getting the Mac & SD bit right was key.

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