First post, by xjas
Welcome to my first build thread on Vogons!
[Edit: unfortunately all the pics in this thread were hosted on photob^ck*t & have had to be removed. Due to the way they MONUMENTALLY screwed over their hosting 'service', I shut down my account there and don't want to leave them a bunch of free advertising. Thankfully I started using the forum's attachment feature not long after this.]
^^ So a couple years ago I bought this stylish black 4U rack-mount server case, mostly because it looked vaguely like a Virtuality SU2000 control PC. For those of you who were sadly deprived in the '90s, that was a full-size arcade VR demo system that toured malls and fairgrounds where you could pay a few dollars and immerse yourself in a world of flat polygons and 8-bit stereo sound for a few minutes. It ran games like "Dactyl Nightmare" and "Zone Hunter" and looked like this:
...in other words, it was the best thing ever. The hardware within those sexy enclosures was either a 486DX or an Amiga 3000, depending on model, with a ton of custom interface boards.
Anyway I got my case from a recycling facility who advertised it as "case & working PSU, no internals." When I got it I discovered the bog-standard ATX PSU didn't work at all (who cares) and "no internals" meant a complete, working, dual-P3/1000 system with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a server in the early 2000s. Naturally I was pleased; I threw in a sound card and built a DIY 3D shutter glasses interface, added a big black CRT monitor and had my own ghetto "VR" (well... stereo 3D) rig for next to nothing.
A while passed, I moved a long distance, and things happened. I attempted to convert the black server to a Linux machine for music recording but hit a few roadblocks. A flawed Grub install left it unable to boot (I wiped out the DOS partition because it was just mirroring stuff on my *other* 4U rackmount DOS machine), and it didn't have SSE2 & I was completely unable to get it to recognize a DVD drive which meant I couldn't put my preferred distro on there anyway. Then I got a G5 tower to do the job I was intending it for, so it sat at the bottom of my rack unused. I made a couple attempts to bring it back to life and was going to replace the dual-P3 board with a dual-P4 setup I found until *that* board hosed its BIOS for no reason. Then in my last attempt to set it back up it failed to POST.
In the meantime I'd gotten my hands on a minty Oculus Rift DK1 and was toying with a few options for driving that. It went "ok" on my Macbook but I really wanted something with a dedicated graphics card for it, and an AGP-based P4 wasn't going to cut it - mostly because the Oculus runtime won't run on a 32-bit system, not because I buy into the "you need ALL OF THE HORSEPOWERS for ALL OF THE DOLLARS to run VR games" schtick.
A couple days ago I got my hands on this nice Socket AM3 setup, so I put 2 and 2 together. It's time to (re)build the VR machine up to the glory it deserves. I'm bringing black back.
Incidentally, since this board has a real COM port exposed, and it'll be on my CRT through the master KVM, I'll still be able to use my shutter glasses on it too. If I find anything that runs on a 64-bit multi-core machine and uses shutter glasses. 😉
SO... today disassembly commenced:
^^ the hardware that came out. Some of that will be going back in, like my beloved M-Audio 2496, and I'll try to find why the Asus board wasn't POSTing anymore. Maybe it was just bad RAM or video or something.
^^ it was running an ATI Rage Mobility on a desktop AGP card. WTF?
Somewhat bare-er chassis:
...and here's what's going in:
Foxconn A6GMV (Socket AM3 / Hypertransport 1.0 / ca.2009)
AMD Sempron 140 (secret bonus unlock: Athlon II X2 4400e)
Radeon 4670 1GB *or* 4850 512MB (recommendations appreciated here!)
160GB IDE HDD, for the OS and games and whatever
4x2TB SATA drives, for backing up every other machine on my network (this thing is going to have more than one job)
Incidentally, if you're looking at the tiny RAM modules in the above pic and saying "but those are DDR-twooooooooo", yes, I realized that. They went in my G5 instead and I got some proper DDR3 for this.
twitch.tv/oldskooljay - playing the obscure, forgotten & weird - most Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 6:30 PM PDT. Bonus streams elsewhen!