There are a few things that can go wrong when making and setting up a retro computer. Here is a short guide, extensive information is available elsewere. I will focus on point 5 and 6.
1.Soldering: solder bridges, weak solder joints, missing solder, and contact.
- a visual inspection of all joints and maybe give the joint an extra soldering may do the trick.
- a bad connection could occur due to stress
A tip: wash the pcb after assembling and soldering. The flux in the solder may cause short circuiting. Use iso-propyl alcohol (2-propanol, IPA) and a toothbrush to wash away flux residues. IPA can be bought cheaply at petrol-/gas-stations, and is used as condensation remover in petrol.
2. Bad components: Sometimes; but not very often the parts may fail to work.
- use a good source for components
- replace with identical component
- look at any visual damage and wear/tear
3. Wrong orientation/values of the electric components
- integrated circuits, transistors, electrolytic capacitors, diodes
- using wrong component values
4. System setup
- wrong software/ROM code
- incompatible modules
- jumpers and switches are set wrongly
5. Communication cable and adaptor (e.g., FTDI to USB) are failing.
6. PC side software
- weak communication software
- communication protocol not correctly set up
5. Serial to USB Adaptor
If you are not able to communicate with your retro computer, you have no way find out if it is working as expected.
Use a good serial adapter FTDI <—-> USB.
There are many on the marked, they come in many shapes, and they are relatively cheap but the quality varies.
Above are some examples of serial to USB adaptors. In my experience, only the two small red adaptors work reliable.
Buy an adaptor from a reputable source.
6. Communication Software
There are many communication software available.
- some are difficult to install
- some have missing or failing drivers / system incompability
- some are difficult to set up and use
- some don't work very reliable
I recommend initially to use the following programs. (I am not endorsed by either)
Windows users: TeraTerm by Tera Term Project
Mac users: Serial by Decisive Tactics available on Apple App Store
These software are very easy to use and work reliable.