S3200XL backlight replacement joy

Akai S3200XL original backlight for replacement

This is Lee’s old Akai S3200XL, the man who ran off to Canada to escape drum and bass. (Maybe not strictly true, but it’ll do.)

We used it in our daft hiphop band at the end of the 90s (along with the standard issue Atari ST), but it was always a bit of a mystery to me, never having much of a chance to play with it. I half-wonder now if we could got away with using my A1200 and Octamed, which I was using for my own dodgy big beat and drum and bass. Loading times would have been a drag off floppy discs, admittedly.

Unsurprisingly Lee didn’t take it with him, so it’s bounced around a bit before it ended up with me, still wrapped in the plastic it came in and looking generally pretty clean, but just with a dark screen. The photo above was taken in a super-bright room, which doesn’t help, but it was practically invisible in low-light as well.

Let’s have a look inside:

S3200XL overview of the inside

Nowhere near as stacked up inside as the packed-out S950. Nice how it’s separated by internal walls, presumably to shield each part (power supply and floppy/motherboard/digital to analogue audio out).

Here’s the power supply – says here it’s a Cosel PMC50E-1:

S3200XL power supply

…and it looks alright? It’s not been the most heavily used box, not like my S1000, so I’m hoping that there’s plenty of life left in those caps. I’m sure I could slot in a modern 50W PSU with +5V and +/-12V outputs in if I needed to.

Here’s a closer look at the analogue out section:

S3200XL audio out

Loads of PCM61 DACs, and a couple of unused spots on the board – one for another SM5840EP digital filter, and another for an 18CV8 (?): on searching around it seems like this would be a programmable electrically erasable logic chip, which has the pleasing acronym of PEEL.

Here’s the inverter for the screen! This might actually be the culprit as to why the screen is so dull.

S3200XL inverter

Alright, enough blurry photos of the innards, we’re here to replace the backlight. I’d seen this article on replacing the backlight on a S1100 with one from iPhone 6 Plus and wondered if I could do the same for this S3200XL.

This is what we’re faced with.

S3200 taps orffffff

Love that space next to the floppy, originally meant for a magneto-optical drive. Lee just used an external Zip drive, which actually still works, although he did always take care of his stuff. Maybe we could shove a bluescsi or SCSI2SD in there.

Once the power connections on the right have been desoldered, the backlight slides out from behind the display

S3200XL power connection

Here’s the backlight, which measures 13.6cm x 4.2cm.

S3200XL backlight

The power supply connects to this distribution board – I think this connector with the red and black wires was going to the floppy drive:

S3200XL power supply connectors

Somewhere in the blur there is the connector P410 – the lower two pins have ground and +5V on them, which is perfect for powering our replacement power supply for the backlight.

I didn’t have quite the right kind of connector but this one fits anyway:

S3200XL backlight power supply connector

And here’s the XL6009 DC-DC step-up board – 5V to about 17V. In retrospect this probably should have gone on the other side of the (grounded) wall, but anyway.

S3200XL XL6009 step-up voltage converter

When it came to wiring up the connector, I killed a fair few of the backlights.

Dead iPhone 6+ connector

The connector itself is really small, and it’s extremely easy to tear it off from the rest of backlight, and equally easy to tear the wires off and pull a part of the connector with it. The wires I was adding were heavy enough by themselves to twist the connector around. It’s worth testing the backlight as working, and putting some glue on the connector; also on this one I put some of the extra protective plastic from the backlight as a backing for the connector to make it a bit stronger. I didn’t take any photos of the resulting mess.

I decided to run the +17V through a resistor and a pot to set the brightness – and here it is in the same (very) bright room as earlier – way more readable, if not amazingly bright.

S3200XL new backlight installed

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