Resurrected Centris

Originally published 27 June 2000 / 05 July 2000 as a Mac Daniel column for Low End Mac.
Consolidated into one article and revised slightly 31 July 2003.

Part One

In the spirit of Manuel Mejia's "Raising the Dead" columns of a few months ago, I've decided to do one of my own. I picked up a stripped-out Centris 650 from a university surplus auction for $5 back in the fall of '99. It had a working motherboard, floppy drive, power supply, and clean case, but no hard disk and no RAM or VRAM in the appropriate slots. I knew it would make a good project machine, but I didn't have the time to do much with it then. It sat in my room under my bed until a few weeks ago.

I finally got around to ordering a brand-new Apple 600i CD-ROM for it off of eBay, which cost me about $25 with shipping, and I picked up a CD bezel for it from U of M for $1. It turned out the CD-ROM didn't have drive rails with it. No big deal, really; I just had to head back over to eBay and pick up a set of those, too. That was another $15 with shipping. (Does something not seem right here? The drive rails cost almost as much as the drive, and three times what the computer cost.)

At this point, the computer is waiting for a hard drive, which I may go back to eBay for. 1 GB SCSI hard drive are pretty cheap — maybe $15 or so with shipping. I'd also like to drop a nice fast video card in there, which will probably run another $15 or so.

Part Two: One Week Later...

After a couple short stops on eBay for more memory (64 MB — two 32-pin SIMMs from a guy in Texas for a mere $50, shipping included!) and a 1 GB hard drive, I was back in business, or so I thought. (Yes, that's foreshadowing.)

I opened up the Centris' case and was finally ready to install everything. I had my CD-ROM mounting sled, which installed in a jiffy (though I had no instructions, it was pretty intuitive). I didn't have a hard drive bracket, but I wasn't too worried, since I was planning on moving the new hard disk I had just picked up into an SE/30 anyway. I installed the two new SIMMs, slid the CD-ROM into the chassis, and realized it wasn't quite going to fit. Diagnosis: a slightly bent chassis. A quick trip to the kitchen for a pair of pliers fixed that.

Now I had the CD-ROM in, and the hard drive was just set in place very gently. I made sure all the connections were secure and carried the whole assembly down to the basement to my "test bench." I hooked up an Apple Color High-Resolution RGB monitor to the built-in video, hooked up an ADB mouse and keyboard, and plugged it all in. Here it was, the big moment! I pressed the power key.


No chime, no hard drive spinning up, no CD-ROM spinning up, just a whole lot of silence. "OK," I thought. "Try the switch in the back." Still nothing.

I started mentally running down the list of things to check out.

RAM? Nope.

PRAM battery? Tried a good one. Still nothing.

Power supply? Maybe. I didn't have a spare to swap out, so I disassembled the power supply that was in there, looking for a blown fuse. Oh, and taking it out was a real pain, too. Once I had it open, I found a disconnected cord. I reconnected it, checked the fuse (it was fine), and reassembled everything. I pressed the power button again.

Still nothing.

Motherboard? Well, maybe. Unfortunately, I don't have a spare one to test.

Remember in part one how I mentioned it had a working power supply and motherboard? Apparently not.

Right now, since I don't have a voltmeter, I'm waiting on a convenient way to test the power supply and motherboard. My guess is that the problem is in the power supply, which should be a relatively inexpensive (about $10) fix. If it's the motherboard, I don't know what I'll do for sure. There's a slight chance it could be the processor itself, but I don't think a bad processor would cause a complete lack of response from any of the components.

Until I find out more, I have another baby sitting on the shelf downstairs...

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson