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Epson Equity II Pt. 1


Veteran Member
Oct 22, 2008
Kamloops, BC, Canada

Outside of the Olivetti M24 and its OEM's I'm generally not fascinated with PC clones because well, they're clones. There's three or four varying layouts and basically the same ISA cards, all of which coming out of what was then the clone powerhouse of Taiwan. Even the 5150 is not much too oogle over besides it's IBM. You have one, you have them all.
However once and a while a clone maker designs a clone with a perk. Everex for example made a 386 machine with a front panel. Apricot had keyboards with LCD screens and programmable buttons on the keyboard. Epson is well known for their HX-20 and QX-10 computers but their XT clones started off as the Equity series. The II is actually the third machine in the series, following the I and I+. Mine landed in my hands from a trip to the landfill many years ago.


Came complete with a matching Epson FX-86e dot matrix printer. Nothing special for a parallel printer but a nice match for the computer. The machine itself is 2/3 the size of a 5160 and can be placed on its side if you want. The keyboard plugs into the front of the machine and the plug is hidden by a little cover. The power switch is also hidden by a little cover.


The first fun thing about the machine is behind the third panel on the front. Under the hard disk is two banks of dip switches, a reset button and the volume control for the internal speaker. I don't require a manual to set any of the switches as all the dip switches are indicated on a diagram hidden on the back of the door.


Looking around at the back you will see space for five expansion boards and internal serial, parallel and video ports. The dip switches indicate that alongside monochrome there is some level of CGA support through the DB9 port as well as a composite output. Note the selection of power connections. We have a switched output for powering a monitor AND we have an unswitched outlet which conveniently handles my printer. One computer, one plug.


Now lets get dirty. To open the computer there's two screws on each side and three on the back. The rear is a plastic insert that slips off and then the top half of the metal case pops off. Inside really all you can access easily is the five ISA slots. Originally I only had the 2mb AST RamPAGE board and hard disk controller, later I added a Sound Blaster 2.0, InPort mouse and a network adapter. Looking at uxwbill's Equity 1+ this is where his machine and mine begin to differentiate. His video is handled by an ISA card wereas mine is internal.


The floppy drive comes out after being unplugged and removing two screws. The drive mechanism itself is a Canon MD-5201. It has a push load/eject mechanism and a bezel specific to the machine so it can't be replaced. It's unfortunate as the BIOS supports 1.22mb drives but this is only a 360kb drive.


The hard drive uses the same mounting mechanism. The drive itself is a 40mb NEC D5146. It's an amazing hard drive compared to the ST-225. Right now a jumper divides the drive in two so to the operating system and even fdisk it's two 20mb drives. The drive itself is still nice and quiet and defect free just as indicated when it was originally certified. While stepper motor drives generally scare me because of their lack of a locking mechanism for the heads this drive used a solenoid to lock the actuator in place when power was removed. I've seen it before but it's always an EXTREMELY cool idea.



The power supply doesn't look all that special. Again, it's proprietary to the machine. I did mention that the power button was on the front. Where's the lead that runs to the switch? Hmmmm...