John Benfield, who worked on this computer reports :
I redesigned the video card for Canada Computer when the SKS was imported into Canada. (there was a pretty nasty bunch of design flaws in the original card that would cause the driver transistors in the HV section to vaporize if you switched video modes too often). I also wrote lot of utilities for it and ported most of the BBS type software of the time (Modem7, Xmodem, RBBS, etc.).
I think that SKS means "Steinmetz Kunstliche Systemtechnik" or something like that.
The available co-processors included a Motorola 68000 and an 80186. Neither were really marketed. I assume that they were all "prototypes" since the MSDOS was a bit dodgy. I never did see any OS that booted on the 68000, but it did make a nice little co-pro that you could use with your own code under CP/M or Oasis (you had to link in a set of "beta" libraries to use it.). It was rumoured that the co-pro would support Xenix, but I never saw a running copy of it anywhere.
The text modes went from 40x12 up to 132x43 (though if you knew the architecture, you could essentially program the video controller to just about any geometry that you wanted to.)
All of the machines shipped with CP/M and the PerfectOffice suite (PerfectCalc, Perfect Writer, Perfect Filer, etc.). Microsoft Basic only shipped with the 80186 co-pro and MSDOS package. It was an option with CP/M.
The floppy controller was fully programmable and there were utilities to run it at 800K, 720K, 400K, 360K, 320K and 160K. With a bit of bit-tweaking, you could make it read just about any 5.25" disk of the time.
There was an internal card cage that accepted a number of add-on cards (including the co-pros discussed earlier). There were also expansion slots on the motherboard for additional RS-232, parallel, RS-422 and IEEE-488 interfaces (though the IEEE-488 was a very specialized item that had to be ordered directly from SKS)
There was also a desktop version of this machine.
We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system,
please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
Sorry this response took so long, I was just browsing around and saw the question today
There''s no easy way to test the screen. If the floppy drive light is coming on, then it''s a pretty safe bet that the power supply and other electronics are OK. If that''s the case, then you need to check the anode cap on the monitor for high voltage. THIS CAN BE HIGHLY DANGEROUS AND SHOULDN''T BE DONE BY THE UNTRAINED OR WITHOUT THE PROPER TOOLS.
Chances are that you have no high voltage to the monitor. If you''re familiar with and comfortable working around high voltage, turn everything off, discharge the anode cap (just in case) and remove the video driver card (you can''t miss the card, it''s mounted on the monitor cage and not in the rack with the other electronics.
There''s a transistor next to the flyback coil mounted on a large heatsink. There are different versions of the board, so I can''t provide a component number or exact position. You may have to follow the traces from the flyback to ensure that you''re getting the right transistor. It should be fairly obvious which one I''m talking about. If you just put your nose to the board (disconnected board), you can probably smell for it. Just replace that guy and you''ll probably be back in business. (buy a few of them. It''s a common failure point) If you''re refurbing the machine, I''d recommend checking all of the electrolytic caps as well. (check for swelling or leakage. You can be proactive and replace them, but it''s likely not necessary. SKS used decent parts).
Wednesday 10th November 2010
ive got a problem with this machine. the powersuply works, but the screen stays black. how can i test the screen?
Wednesday 2nd February 2005
I am (Germany)
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
Full stroke keyboard with numeric keypad, editing keypad and function keys
Zilog Z80 A
Optional Motorola 68000 and Intel 80186
64 KB (up to 256 KB)
from 40 x 12 to 132 x 43
Block graphics mode (eacjh character was a 2x3 or 2x4 block, depending the video mode, with bits turned on or off based on the character code used)