New addition: The Acorn Archimedes

Back in my old school, we had a mixture of Acorn BBCs, RM Nimbus PCs, Amstrad PCW Word Processors and even an Amiga. But down in our Design and Technology department, there was also another curious device sitting in the corner that seemed to have no purpose other than to play a 3D spaceship game titled “Lander”.

This device was an Acorn Archimedes A3000. I have always been curious about these devices as I didn’t get much time to play with it back then and have never come across one in person since.

It’s been on my list of computers to add to my collection for a while, but they have one pretty big issue, A little battery sat inside them on the main PCB. The years have not been kind to these batteries and they have pretty much all leaked, destroying various components and PCB traces along the way. If ever you see one of these devices for sale on eBay sold as “Untested”, you can be pretty sure that it has been tested and it’s very much broken. The price difference between a fully tested unit and a broken one is pretty substantial so of course, the seller has spent a few minutes plugging it in to see if he can make a few hundred extra pounds!

The only question left is how badly the board is destroyed and how much work will be needed to repair them.

Well, luckily I came across a sale on a Facebook group for an Archimedes A3020 (Which was the version normally sold to schools). This unit tested as far as it booting up to the desktop so there was a pretty good chance the damage wasn’t too bad.

After collecting the computer, the first thing I did was removed the old battery and neutralised the alkaline gunk on the board using lemon juice (No white vinegar in stock at our local supermarket and I was too impatient to wait!). Once this was done, I then wiped down the area with IPA and finally gave it all a good wash with distilled water.

One component was damaged next to the battery but it was just a resistor so I replaced that one. Also, I later found the floppy drive was intermittent and found a trace on the bottom of the board that was broken, so I replaced this with a thin wire. Apart from that the computer all boots up, the floppy drive works and it all seems happy!

So my plans moving forwards? I have already given it a good clean and retro-brighted the keys as they had yellowed a bit. I have also put a Gotek drive in it so I can use disk images from a USB pen. I am now currently designing a mount to hold an OLED display and buttons to navigate the disk images. This is being designed to also conveniently hide the security markings etched into the top of the case. I also want to look at an internal hard drive solution since this version has the onboard IDE port.

So, here it is! Ladies and Gentlemen, the Acorn Archimedes A3020!

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