FAQ - So you just got/found/re-found a SAM - What now?
Last Update: 28/10/2020
Post on this forum, many people check in here or join SAM Coupe Users Group on Facebook which is where most people hang out, this is the fastest way to get advice and guidance from a friendly group of enthusiasts.
Never mind that, I just want to sell it and make some cash
That's fine, a 10 second trawl of eBay sold items will have already told you that SAM's are quite rare and desirable.
Yeah whatever, how much is it worth?
As much as someone will pay for it - ignore the crazy prices on offer from scalpers on eBay.
Ask on the groups, posting photos of the computer from all sides, boot screen, peripherals and games/manuals with it as what is in the bundle can dramatically effect the value.
As a base guide please use the Valuation Calculator.
Before you power on
Chances are you have already done this as it's in the nature of human beings, but if not here are some things to check for:
1. Check the mains plug has no loose wires and a 3A fuse (if applicable)
2. Plug in the External PSU on its own first, it should hum when operating and not exude any magic smoke :-)
3. If you have a SCART lead check that it is correct one for use with the SAM, the RGB Scart lead is non standard and has voltages exposed on certain pins which can be dangerous to your equipment.
4. Read the Sam User Manual :-)
Making things visible
Get an proper RGB Scart cable.
Regardless of what you had back in the day trying to get analogue RF working on a modern TV is not only painful but the end result is a substandard and frankly horrific picture quality.
Even if you have one, some of the older SCART cables were not SCART complaint with regards to voltage levels and 75Ohm impedance so can leave you with a degraded picture or no picture at all on modern equipment.
I don't have a TV with a SCART socket
This is becoming more common, there are a number of units that can convert RGB SCART to HDMI but tend fall into two categories:
1. Cheap and laggy (can be up to 6-10 frames behind)
2. Expensive and zero/less laggy
However, if you are happy to build your own DIY equipment then you can get excellent performance (0-1 frames of lag) from the GBS-8xxx boards using GBS Control custom firmware.
Mandatory checks & modifications
There are not many things that are mandatory to make things work per se but in order for your SAM to be useful you should have the following at the very least:
1. 512Kb of RAM i.e. the extra 256Kb module is installed.
It will say on the boot screen what is installed and almost all software apart from the very earliest will need 512Kb.
You can make your own with schematics from Velesoft https://velesoft.speccy.cz/samcoupe_schematics-cz.htm or buy from Quazar.
2. ROM Version 3
ROM version can be ascertained by typing PRINT PEEK 15 and dividing by 10, so a value of '30' is ROM 3.0. If you have an earlier ROM then you may struggle with compatibility or even booting a disk.
You can burn yours onto a 27C256 32Kb PROM with any capable burner from the ROM images on this site or buy from Quazar.
3. Video Reflection fix
Even on an old CRT you can see the interference so this quick fix is essential on modern displays.
4. The External PSU may require modification.
If not already done then it is recommended to replace the 12V diodes and resistor, see the section on the External PSU Modification page.
How do I get inside?
See Disassembly and reassembly page.
What about capacitors?
A lot of older hardware was built at a cost and uses cheap/cheaper components, often electrolytic capacitors fall into this category and they can dry out/leak/bulge over time.
Anecdotally most SAM's seem to have fairly decent motherboard caps in them and do not require wholesale replacement, obviously if they are bulged, leaking or smelly then they should be replaced.
The External PSU has large smoothing caps and should be checked too.
The keyboard is a membrane type and can fail as the plastic degrades leaving sections of keys not working, replacements are available from RWAP at https://www.sellmyretro.com/offer/details/new-sam-coupe-keyboard-membrane-2093
If you are missing keys or key posts then Quazar hold stock of these.
If you want to get the disk drives working and you have one of the original blue-button Citizen drives then it is almost certain that the rubber belt has perished with age.
Check out the Sam Drive section here on belt replacement.
You will also need the clean the heads regardless of drive type, again see the Sam Drive section here guidance.
Other faults such as the inability to boot (Error 53 No DOS) or read may be down to leaky capacitors on them that will thwart you - Quazar or Mutant Caterpillar http://www.mutant-caterpillar.co.uk/shop/ can help with that if you're not keen on soldering surface mount components.
Once disassembled you can remove the keyboard and clean the plastic case with just soap and water, leaving it to dry completely.
If you want to use 'Retrobrite' techniques to whiten the case then you do so at your own risk.
The base should just need a wipe with a damp cloth, any areas that are rusting should be treated/sprayed if you wish.
The keyboard will most likely be dusty, hairy and full of bits you'd rather not think about how they got there but it can be disassembled and cleaned easily.
Remove the back plate screws and make a note of how the plungers sit (a photo will help here) as they are going to drop out when the keys are removed.
The larger keys will have metal support bars, these will need to be un-hooked from the keyboard base with fine pliers to push them out of the plastic lugs.
Remove the keys by pulling upwards gently with a key puller or prying with a plastic (not metal) 'spluger' and wash them and the keyboard base in hot soapy water before allowing to dry completely.
Wipe the membrane with a damp cloth if mucky but do not use any cleaners/alcohol as this may damage the plastic.
As mentioned above the membrane will be fragile after 30 years so take care.
3. Disk Drives
As above, see the Sam Drive section for guidance.
If the PCB has muck on it then you can use a PCB brush (to avoid static) to clean it and then using isopropyl alcohol with a toothbrush for any stubborn areas, blotting with kitchen roll to remove the muck and repeating until the area is clean.
Make sure all the alcohol has evaporated completely before reassembly, be especially careful of socketed chips which may retain the liquid longer than the open board.
5. Ports and connectors
These wouldn't usually need attention unless they have become very dirty - a toothbrush and isopropyl alcohol is good here with a wooden toothpick/cocktail stick to work the metal connectors very gently.
If the connectors are actually damaged or corroded then replacement is the only feasible option.
You can download titles that are available from this site as EDSK files on the relevant pages, or visit the NVG FTP Site.
Mass Storage Solutions
For the gamer/casual user seriously consider getting a Gotek installed as your primary drive - Quazar sells a suitable interface to make it plug-and-play.
In production today is the modern SD unit the Trinity Ethernet Interface.
How can I make images of my old disks?
If you have old disks then be aware before you start that the failure rate after 30 years will be high, there are lots of resources on the internet with tips and tricks for making images suitable for use in emulators or on a Gotek.
If you are lucky enough to still have a PC or Linux box with a standard floppy drive (not USB) then you can use the SAMDisk Utility to create EDSK files.
USB floppy drives will not work due to them not having an addressable controller that can cope with the 10 sector MGT format, the same is true when working with other non-MSDOS formats such as the Amiga, Archimedes etc.
If you have no working box but do have a standard PC/Shugart 3.5" drive then you can use a KryoFlux or GreaseWeazel to attach it via USB and take images using their tools. These raw images can then be converted using the SAMDisk Utility to EDSK/MGT Search: “Media Formats”.
Update the Serial Numbers page and add a person page for yourself on this site :-)