VOGONS


First post, by jpolo

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I picked up this system a few years ago when I got the itch to relive the days I spent as a kid playing DOS games on the PS/2 Model 60 286 my dad had brought home from work in the late 80's which was our only computer up to 1995. I went with a 386 because I remember some stuff (like wolf3d) being intolerably slow on a 286 and wanted a bit more choice in the library. I went with a Tandy just because I think it's a neat package with concessions like PS/2 ports, built in IDE/floppy/parallel/serial, a removable CR2032 battery, and volume adjustment/headphone jack for the PC speaker, which I route to line in of the sound card (this model does not have tandy graphics/sound, it's a pretty standard PC). I've been adding to this system over the years (it was completely stock) and now I feel it's pretty much done, though I'm debating adding a GUS I have saved for a 486 or early Pentium build that may or may not ever get finished.

Radioshack keeps an awesome database of Tandy computer documentation, there is tons of info about this model here: http://support.radioshack.com/support_computer/1730.htm

Here's a video of a demo I used to run on the 286 running on this machine, this was mindblowing back in the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wiKKA8jLCw

Specs
CPU: 33MHz Intel 386SX soldered on the board

RAM: 10MB total- 2MB soldered to the board and 2X 4MB SIMMs, the max this motherboard recognizes

HDD: 420MB IDE Quantum TR42A 3600RPM (upgraded from the original 100MB 3200RPM HDD)

Video: ISA Tseng ET-4000AX 1MB "Machspeed 9301" (upgraded from onboard Cirrus CL-GD5402 256kb) if anyone has the manual for this particular card I would love to see it, just want to know what the jumpers do

Sound: ISA Creative Vibra 16 CT2800, I like these cards because they have a real OPL3 and great signal:noise ratio and you can get them brand new for $15

Speakers: Altec Lansing ACS400 comically large "multimedia" speakers

CD-ROM: Reveal branded 4X Mitsumi

Monitor: Packard Bell PB8530MS Trisync VGA (it's a rebranded NEC Multisync II, I share it with my X68000 which needs a trisync monitor)

Input: Tandy Enhanced Keyboard AT with PS/2 adapter (looks like it should have nice clicky keys like a Model M but it's actually completely awful, just using it because it looks "right" for this machine), Logitech 3-button PS/2 mouse, Gravis Gamepad, Kraft Premium II, Generic Reveal joystick, Logitech Wingman 3001 (game controllers hooked to a 4-way switch)

Pictures
dlwMh92l.jpg
The complete system

4oQwE3Zl.jpg
Front

2InrlQil.jpg
Unfolding the case

NiWyedil.jpg
CT2800

kzJZHydl.jpg
ET4000AX - any info about the jumpers on this card would be appreciated!

IFCTCX9l.jpg
All cards removed to reveal the motherboard (the two empty DIP sockets are for expanding the onboard video RAM, max is 512kb)

mXuEpO6l.jpg
Wide shot to show how ludicrously small this motherboard is

rtUdW5ll.jpg
BIOS config screen

NffYTqdl.jpg
Topbench

AUTOEXEC.BAT

@ECHO OFF

REM C:\DOS\SMARTDRV.EXE
REM LH C:\DOS\MSCDEX.EXE /D:MTMIDE01 /M:10
C:\DOS\SHSUCDX /Q /D:MTMIDE01
C:\DOS\CTMOUSE.EXE /3
LH C:\DOS\DOSKEY.COM

SET SOUND=C:\APPS\VIBRA16
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P331 T6
SET MIDI=SYNTH:1 MAP:E
C:\APPS\VIBRA16\DIAGNOSE /S
C:\APPS\VIBRA16\MIXERSET /P /Q

PROMPT $p$g
PATH C:\NC;C:\QEMM;C:\APPS;C:\DOS
SET TEMP=C:\TEMP
SET DIRCMD=/o:gne

echo.

CONFIG.SYS

SWITCHES=/f

DEVICE=C:\QEMM\QEMM386.SYS RAM NW3
DOS=HIGH,UMB

DEVICE=C:\QEMM\LOADHI.SYS /R:1 C:\MTM\MTMCDAI.SYS /D:MTMIDE01

BUFFERS=15,0
FILES=40
STACKS=0,0
FCBS=4,0
LASTDRIVE=D
BREAK=ON

Output of MEM

Memory Type        Total  =   Used  +   Free
---------------- ------- ------- -------
Conventional 640K 19K 621K
Upper 132K 22K 110K
Reserved 384K 384K 0K
Extended (XMS) 9,084K 220K 8,864K
---------------- ------- ------- -------
Total memory 10,240K 645K 9,595K

Total under 1 MB 772K 41K 731K

Total Expanded (EMS) 9,504K (9,732,096 bytes)
Free Expanded (EMS) 8,864K (9,076,736 bytes)

Largest executable program size 621K (636,096 bytes)
Largest free upper memory block 83K (84,640 bytes)
MS-DOS is resident in the high memory area.

Reply 1 of 13, by keenmaster486

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Hey hey hey! That's a nice machine you've got there. How good do those speakers sound when you crank up some tracker music or a demo, for instance?

Also, QEMM rules 😈

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

Reply 2 of 13, by chinny22

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Very nice looking PC, not much room for expansion but "Pizza box" case dimensions always seemed more pleasing to the eye
386 is bit early for me but can appreciate them (Our 1st PC was a 486 in 95) which came with 8MB RAM, so that should be fine for a 386.
Funny enough it came with 420MB HDD as well

Coin battery AND ps2 ports very nice indeed!

Reply 3 of 13, by matze79

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Does the Machine support Tandy combatible 3-Voice Sound ?

https://dosreloaded.de - The German Retro DOS PC Community
https://www.retroianer.de - under constructing since ever

Co2 - for a endless Summer

Reply 4 of 13, by jpolo

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keenmaster486 wrote:

Hey hey hey! That's a nice machine you've got there. How good do those speakers sound when you crank up some tracker music or a demo, for instance?

Also, QEMM rules 😈

thanks, I haven't really messed with demos and tracker stuff on this machine because I don't have the GUS in there but they sound great with SB stuff in games

matze79 wrote:

Does the Machine support Tandy combatible 3-Voice Sound ?

Sadly it doesn't do the tandy graphics/sound

Reply 5 of 13, by Cloudschatze

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jpolo wrote:

Sadly it doesn't do the tandy graphics/sound

Actually, the 2500 SX/33 has the same "Tandy Sound" PSG and DAC functionality found in the earlier, TL/SL/RL systems. In the 2500-series (and 1000 RSX), access was moved to 16-bit port addresses though (1E0h - 1E7h), so most Tandy-supporting software doesn't know to look for it.

Through use of a specific driver, all of Sierra's SCI0 titles can produce 3-voice music and digitized sound (where applicable) on these systems, while all of their SCI1 games, as well as several titles from Broderbund, Virgin, and Disney, will natively utilize the 1E0h-addressed PSSJ chip.

Reply 7 of 13, by jpolo

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Cloudschatze wrote:
jpolo wrote:

Sadly it doesn't do the tandy graphics/sound

Actually, the 2500 SX/33 has the same "Tandy Sound" PSG and DAC functionality found in the earlier, TL/SL/RL systems. In the 2500-series (and 1000 RSX), access was moved to 16-bit port addresses though (1E0h - 1E7h), so most Tandy-supporting software doesn't know to look for it.

Through use of a specific driver, all of Sierra's SCI0 titles can produce 3-voice music and digitized sound (where applicable) on these systems, while all of their SCI1 games, as well as several titles from Broderbund, Virgin, and Disney, will natively utilize the 1E0h-addressed PSSJ chip.

Whoa, awesome, do you have a link to somewhere I can read about this in more detail?

Reply 10 of 13, by Jo22

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Miphee wrote on 2020-07-20, 19:00:

A 386 with coin battery. The world would be a better place if other manufacturers had followed this design.

Well, using a watch's battery wasn't common in the 1980s, except for exotic stuff (battery-backed RAM in NES cassettes)..
People rather used these barrel batteries or Dallas Clocks.
The latter was tricky to fix, but at least didn't leak.
And to be fair, no one assumed that a 10 year lifespan was too short for such short-lived technology.
Better equipment had external battery packs, also. But not the AA/Mignon-Type, but some special battery packs with a standard connector.

Edit: Correction. Knob cells err.. coin cells were a popular power source for spy bugs since the 1960s. Or so I heard. Ahem. 😇

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 11 of 13, by Miphee

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Jo22 wrote on 2020-07-26, 12:00:

And to be fair, no one assumed that a 10 year lifespan was too short for such short-lived technology.

It seems that manufacturers viewed the battery "problem" differently.
Designers who made disposable computers chose the barrel type. I've read somewhere that it was common knowledge back then that barrel batteries may leak but nobody cared because it was cheap. NiCd batteries were used from the 1950s so designers knew exactly what they were dealing with yet they chose to place them directly on the sensitive motherboard without any protective casing. Textbook planned obsolescence. These batteries were also unreliable and often died early due to thermal exposure so designers had to install the option for external batteries as well. They knew it was shit and still used them.
Designers who chose the Dallas-type chips wanted their products to last. It was a properly encased quality product that was immune to thermal effects. It also had a lifespan of 10 years (when the board was not powered so it was much more than 10 years) so designers didn't feel the need to make it replaceable.
AT&T workstations used easily accessible sealed external lithium battery packs. If a company has 200 of those workstations it has to be easily serviceable. Just like the IBM Wheelwriter that used 3xAA external batteries.
The point of my little rant here is the barrel battery (or the capacitor) plague could have been avoided if manufacturers didn't want to cut corners all the time to save money.

Reply 12 of 13, by Jo22

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Miphee wrote on 2020-07-26, 14:28:
It seems that manufacturers viewed the battery "problem" differently. Designers who made disposable computers chose the barrel t […]
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Jo22 wrote on 2020-07-26, 12:00:

And to be fair, no one assumed that a 10 year lifespan was too short for such short-lived technology.

It seems that manufacturers viewed the battery "problem" differently.
Designers who made disposable computers chose the barrel type. I've read somewhere that it was common knowledge back then that barrel batteries may leak but nobody cared because it was cheap. NiCd batteries were used from the 1950s so designers knew exactly what they were dealing with yet they chose to place them directly on the sensitive motherboard without any protective casing. Textbook planned obsolescence. These batteries were also unreliable and often died early due to thermal exposure so designers had to install the option for external batteries as well. They knew it was shit and still used them.
Designers who chose the Dallas-type chips wanted their products to last. It was a properly encased quality product that was immune to thermal effects. It also had a lifespan of 10 years (when the board was not powered so it was much more than 10 years) so designers didn't feel the need to make it replaceable.
AT&T workstations used easily accessible sealed external lithium battery packs. If a company has 200 of those workstations it has to be easily serviceable. Just like the IBM Wheelwriter that used 3xAA external batteries.
The point of my little rant here is the barrel battery (or the capacitor) plague could have been avoided if manufacturers didn't want to cut corners all the time to save money.

I see. You may call them "Double-A" batteries..
I call them "mainboard killers". 😉

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"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 13 of 13, by Miphee

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Jo22 wrote on 2020-08-08, 15:03:

I see. You may call them "Double-A" batteries..
I call them "mainboard killers". 😉

That's exactly what I have in my IBM 6747, 3xAA batteries. 😁 When I first saw them I thought somebody left them there accidentally.
No, turns out it's an essential part of that typewriter. The batteries were fused together with rust and alkaline solution.
I also found them in my IBM model 70, someone replaced the original batteries with an AA battery pack. It leaked too but no damage because it was far from the motherboard.
I wish these leaky old battery types would just die out already.