New owner for retro hardware

If you are reading this and you might have bought or consider buying retro hardware.

This article is for you.


If you see a seller, using the word “rare” often capitalized. Think again. Double check that the price is right, can you find the item other places around the same price?

People who sell items as “rare” often wants to make extra cash by adding >50% to the price of the items value. There are cases where the item actually IS rare, you can check the community what they think.

A good example is when a person wants to sell a Commodore 64, and marks it as rare. The worlds most sold computer, over 15.000.000 units produced. You do the math.

Things to do before buying / picking up.

  • Check if seller has tested the equipment, if she/he has:
    • Get the equipment up running (again) when you go and check it out (*).
  • If seller hasn’t checked and you go pick up.
    • Bring a multimeter and a schematic of the power supply(ies) connectors. Measure the voltage and make sure they are the correct value.
    • If the power supply doesn’t give the correct values. i.e. 10V where it should give 5V DC. don’t plug the power supply to the computer. There’s a chance that you’ll fry it. If this is the case you should re-negotiate the price or decline.
    • If voltage levels are fine, check the equipment to see if it runs properly.

Things to do before buying / send by mail/courier.

  • Does seller have a return policy if you receive faulty equipment, this is good if you can return the item(s)
  • Is the seller rated high where you buy it? This is a good sign that seller is selling some good stuff.
  • Has the seller tested the equipment and is it working?
  • When sending, is the package insured and/or have track’n’trace (that choice is usually up to you, as you’re the one paying for shipping in most cases).
  • Make sure the seller packs the items properly. Any kind of protection on all sides.

After buying

Time to check / validate that you got what you bought, and if it’s working (if you bought it as working).

  • Measure the power supply(ies) voltage levels before plugging in the equipment. If the power supply is dodgy you can fry the equipment.
  • If there is a battery backed RTC (Real Time Clock), you should remove (replace**) the battery, and neutralize any acid leaked – Check out this article on how to do so -. If the battery is recently replaced nothing needs doing. Best ways of removing the battery in listed priority
    1. Desolder the battery.
    2. Cut the legs of the battery with pliers. (be careful not to damage the PCB wires)
  • Check the electrolytical capacitors (better known as caps in daily speech) if they are leaking the solder ares their legs are connected to are matte, dark, or even greenish. As opposed to the shining silvery colour. For the older computers, before surface mounted components. Caps could bulge out. This would reveal them being roundish “fat”, or the top would bulge out, and corrosive acid would come out there.
    • If your equipment is victim of bad caps, get them replaced. The acid corrodes the PCB and components near by rendering the equipment unstable or even non working.

(*) Equipment can work fine the first time, but not neccessarily the second.

(**) Another article of replacing the battery with a coin battery instead will come at a later time.



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