"Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

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"Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-11-21 @ 21:08

Hello everybody!

I've wanted to get a 486 Battlestation up and running for quite some time now. They are however quite rare around here so it took me a long time to find something suitable.
A week ago I picked up a 486 System in my area. The previous owner had it set up for some old games and sold it to me for a good price.

When I got it home I immediately went to cleaning everything up.
I also changed the frontpanel, soundcard, hard drive, and I added a 5 1/4' floppy drive.

Then I installed MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.11 on it.
I originally tried to get MS-DOS 7.10 to work (Because FAT32) but the sound driver would not work on Win 3.11 under that version of DOS.

Here's the full hardware spec sheet:

Motherboard: Aopen/Acer VI15G
CPU: AMD AM486DX4 100Mhz
L2 Cache: 256KB
RAM: One 32MB Stick of 72Pin 60ns EDO RAM
I/O Controller: Goldstar VLB I/O Controller, Serial 1&2, Parallel, Gameport (Disabled), IDE, Floppy
Graphics Card: Cirrus Logic CL-GD5428 VLB Card with 1MB VRAM
Soundcard: Terratec Maestro 32/96 (SB Pro compatibility and built in High Quality Midi)
CD Drive: LiteOn CD/RW Drive
Floppy Drive A: Alps 3,5' 1,44MB Drive
Floppy Drive B: Mitsumi 5 1/4' 1,2MB Drive
Hard Drive: 4GB Western Digital (Two 2GB Partitions)

Peripherals:

Monitor: Fujitsu Siemens C775
Keyboard: Cherry G80-1100 With Cherry MX Black switches. (I replaced it with an IBM Model M after I took the Pics.)
Mouse: Microsoft Serial Mouse 2.0A
Speakers: NEC Stereo Speakers

In the future I want to add a NIC to make file transfer easier. Now it's either a truckload of floppies, burning CDs or plugging the HDD into another system.
I have my main retro rig, which has USB 2.0. I'm going to use that as a "File server" of sorts to be the middle man between my modern PC and my older USB-less machines.

Now, Here's some Pictures! A full album with the high resolution versions can be found here: http://imgur.com/a/WTTxC

Finished Product first:

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This is it running Ultima 6 - The False Prophet. To run this game I needed to disable the internal cache. Otherwise the game runs too fast and the music becomes garbled garbage.




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Here's a full inside view.




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Closeup of the expansion cards. I ordered them by size to make it look neat. I really like the look of that Terratec Maestro 32/96.
You can see the CPU cooler under the IDE cable.




Image

Rear I/O. From Left to Right and Top to Bottom: Din Keyboard Port, 25 Pin Serial Port, DE-9 Serial Port, Parallel Port, Cirrus Logic SVGA Port, Terratec Maestro 32/96 with Speaker out, Line in 1, Line in 2, Microphone, and Gameport.




Image

The Turbo Button works! With the Turbo on it runs at the full 100MHz speed. Setting the display correctly was a lot of trial and error. I couldn't find a schematic anywhere.




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With the Turbo off it runs somewhere between a 40MHz 386 and a 33MHz 486 so I picked 35 cause it looks neat.





NOW ONTO SOME GAMES!

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Jazz Jackrabbit! A DOS gaming classic.



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Tyrian 2000. I love this game especially because of the kickass soundtrack



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One Must Fall 2097. Great fighting game with a great soundtrack.



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Master of Magic. I only have this on here because the previous owner couldn't get it to work and I wanted to figure out how he can get it running on his other PCs. Looks Fun though.



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DOOM, enough said!



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Last but not least, Windows 3.11
I don't really have much use for it now but I figured, why not? It's useful for file managing.

I welcome any suggestions for games and useful software for both DOS and Windows 3.11. Right now I still have 1.6GB free on the C: Partition and the D: Partition is still untouched. I need to fill that!


For you curious people on here the computer that the monitor is sitting on is an IBM 300Pl.
It's running a 550MHz "Katmai" Pentium 3, with 256MB PC100 RAM, a Diamond Voodoo Banshee 16MB, Onboard Cirrus Logic CS 4235 soundchip, 13GB HDD, 1.44MB 3 1/2' floppy drive and a CD Drive.
I'm planning on making a post like this for it soon.

The guitar amp in the background is a Hughes and Kettner Coreblade with Groove Tubes USA 6l6GC tubes and a Harley Benton 212 cabinet with Vintage 30s.


So this is it, my newest toy.
I hope you like it!

UPDATES:

Since I put up this thread I have added a Roland MT-32, a Roland SC-33 and a Quickshot Squadron Commander.
I have also switched out the keyboard for an IBM Model M. I also had to switch out the speakers, since they were slightly defective.

You can find the updates on page 2 and 3.
Last edited by Hellistor on 2017-1-08 @ 21:16, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby clueless1 » 2016-11-21 @ 21:46

Game suggestions:
Are you into RPGs? You have Ultima 6, so I'm guessing maybe. :)

I recently completed Ultima Underworld 2 on my DX2-66 and it ran great. I'm now in the middle of Ultima 7: Serpent Isle, and it's running great too. Serpent Isle has a speed limiter built in, but if you play The Black Gate, you will need to turn off turbo.

In general, I find RPGs run great on the 486, they usually are not that demanding compared to more twitchy games that demand high framerate all the time.

Others that are a good match include Betrayal at Krondor, Lands of Lore 1, and Might and Magic 3-5.

I'm an RPG nut, but others will probably have other great suggestions for you.

Oh, some games that don't play that great on my DX2-66 include:
Descent 1, Doom, and Tie Fighter. Your DX4-100 will probably do a much better job on these than mine could.

I have found that different combinations of disabling L1, L2, and turbo offer many performance levels, all the way down to 286 speeds. So games like the early Ultimas, Might and Magic 1 and 2, and Lode Runner play great too. Very flexible system.

Great looking system, love the pics! Thanks for sharing man.
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Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby keropi » 2016-11-21 @ 21:49

really nice system! kudos!
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-11-21 @ 21:56

I quite like RPGs but I mostly have Ultima 6 on there because of the kickass soundtrack. I'm a sucker for good music.
I'm more of an FPS, sidescroller, SHMUP, Point and Click kind of guy. But If the game is good I'm open to anything. I'm gonna check those out.

I tried Descent 1, it doesn't run that well, I'd say it's more of a Pentium 1 game than a 486. Doom 1 and 2 are running well but more demanding games like Duke 3D are not really playable.

I was running Topbench to check the different chache and turbo combinations. It runs in several stages all the way down to 286 speeds like you said. Very flexible indeed!

I took the pics with my Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II in case you're curious.

I'm glad you like it, thanks for the suggestions!
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby yawetaG » 2016-11-21 @ 22:56

Hellistor wrote:Image

Rear I/O. From Left to Right and Top to Bottom: Din Keyboard Port, 25 Pin Serial Port, DE-9 Serial Port, Parallel Port, Cirrus Logic SVGA Port, Terratec Maestro 32/96 with Speaker out, Line in 1, Line in 2, Microphone, and Gameport.


If the 25 pin serial port cable is long enough, you could remove the slot cover from the connector and attach the connector directly to the case next to the DIN keyboard port...

Image

Last but not least, Windows 3.11
I don't really have much use for it now but I figured, why not? It's useful for file managing.

I welcome any suggestions for games and useful software for both DOS and Windows 3.11. Right now I still have 1.6GB free on the C: Partition and the D: Partition is still untouched. I need to fill that!


What do you consider useful software? Benchmarking tools, or actual office software and utilities?
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-11-21 @ 23:02

I know I could route the cable up there but it wouldn't look as neat in my opinion. I'm gonna see if I can find some metal covers for the port holes there to make it look better. But thank you for telling me!

Well "Useful". I'd love some benchmarking tools, office and utility software. I already have the DOS benchmark tools pack from here and I'm installing Norton Utilities right now. Some Windows 3.11 games would be nice.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby yawetaG » 2016-11-21 @ 23:11

Okay, then I guess you could install Win32s (includes FreeCell), WinG, Video for Windows, WinZip, MS Office 4.3 (should cover your office needs and still have enough compatibility with later versions of Office), maybe a graphics editing program such as CorelDraw or PaintShop Pro as Paint is very limited. For pure Windows games it's a bit harder, as most games were still DOS-based (and I'm not very well versed in them). SimTower?
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby skitters » 2016-11-22 @ 03:14

Hellistor wrote:The Turbo Button works! With the Turbo on it runs at the full 100MHz speed. Setting the display correctly was a lot of trial and error. I couldn't find a schematic anywhere.

That is impressive.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-11-22 @ 03:20

Thanks!

It was quite fiddly with the jumpers but I just sat down with a pair of tweezers and watched some Star Trek TNG. That made it bearable.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby filipetolhuizen » 2016-11-22 @ 14:19

Epic games's MOD-based soundtrack simply blows others away for its time.
For Windows 3.11 games there is also SimEarth, Simcity Classic, Simcity 2000, Nitemare 3D (this version can take advantage of wavetable MIDI, rather than the DOS version), MS Arcade package 1 and 2, not to metion the WEPs, the WGDs and the Symantec games pack. All should run fine on your system as long as you install the required libraries.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby tayyare » 2016-11-22 @ 14:25

What kind of a controller do you have? If it have two IDE channels (like most VLB controllers do) you can connect a backside IDE to CF adapter and this will solve your file transfer issues better than a NIC.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-11-22 @ 14:26

Thank you for the recommendations, I'll check them out. I think I actually got a copy of Simcity 2000 somewhere.

tayyare wrote:What kind of a controller do you have? If it have two IDE channels (like most VLB controllers do) you can connect a backside IDE to CF adapter and this will solve your file transfer issues better than a NIC.


It has one IDE connector. So I can have two IDE devices on it. I have the CD Drive as slave and the HDD as Master.
I could get a CF adapter but I honestly prefer to keep it period correct.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby TheMobRules » 2016-11-22 @ 18:44

Great build! 486s are awesome!

That case is identical to the one that housed my first PC in the early 90s (except for the badge), it brings a lot of memories! :happy:

Since I'm also working on a build based on the VI15G motherboard I was wondering: what jumper settings did you use for the DX4? I've only seen settings for DX/DX2 on the info I found online about it, but nothing about DX4. I may get a DX4 overdrive soon and it's not clear to me what settings I should use, usually the DX/DX2 settings work fine but some boards require different jumpers for DX4.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-11-22 @ 20:32

TheMobRules wrote:Great build! 486s are awesome!

That case is identical to the one that housed my first PC in the early 90s (except for the badge), it brings a lot of memories! :happy:


I really like that case, the front panel especially, I think it looks great.

TheMobRules wrote:Since I'm also working on a build based on the VI15G motherboard I was wondering: what jumper settings did you use for the DX4? I've only seen settings for DX/DX2 on the info I found online about it, but nothing about DX4. I may get a DX4 overdrive soon and it's not clear to me what settings I should use, usually the DX/DX2 settings work fine but some boards require different jumpers for DX4.


I found this jumper manual online. It was actually one of the first to pop up when I googled for it.

ftp://ftp.aopen.com/pub/tech/jumper/vi15g/default.htm
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby MMaximus » 2016-11-22 @ 21:02

Great system and cool pictures. I really love this model of case, they were quite common in the early to mid '90s.

I notice your speaker cabinet is quite close to the system - be careful as these have large magnets and it could be detrimental to the PC and the monitor.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-11-22 @ 21:11

MMaximus wrote:Great system and cool pictures. I really love this model of case, they were quite common in the early to mid '90s.

I notice your speaker cabinet is quite close to the system - be careful as these have large magnets and it could be detrimental to the PC and the monitor.


I've had several PCs next to that cabinet, nothing happened yet, not even any picture distortion of the CRTs. The weird part is that the power supply of the small NEC speakers causes the picture to jiggle slightly, but the massive 100 Watt Tube Amp does absolutely nothing. :lol:
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby candle_86 » 2016-11-22 @ 22:34

Hellistor wrote:
MMaximus wrote:Great system and cool pictures. I really love this model of case, they were quite common in the early to mid '90s.

I notice your speaker cabinet is quite close to the system - be careful as these have large magnets and it could be detrimental to the PC and the monitor.


I've had several PCs next to that cabinet, nothing happened yet, not even any picture distortion of the CRTs. The weird part is that the power supply of the small NEC speakers causes the picture to jiggle slightly, but the massive 100 Watt Tube Amp does absolutely nothing. :lol:


Just remember the older it is the more vulnerable it is, shielding wasn't so great in the 80's and 90's lol
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-11-22 @ 23:34

candle_86 wrote:Just remember the older it is the more vulnerable it is, shielding wasn't so great in the 80's and 90's lol


Weirdly I found that old hardware seems to be more resilient than the newer stuff. I'll keep it in mind though. Might put some shielding or something next to the amp.
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Re: "Dexter", My freshly assembled 486 VLB based System.

Postby yawetaG » 2016-11-23 @ 12:01

filipetolhuizen wrote:Epic games's MOD-based soundtrack simply blows others away for its time.
For Windows 3.11 games there is also SimEarth, Simcity Classic, Simcity 2000, Nitemare 3D (this version can take advantage of wavetable MIDI, rather than the DOS version), MS Arcade package 1 and 2, not to metion the WEPs, the WGDs and the Symantec games pack. All should run fine on your system as long as you install the required libraries.


And actually get the Windows versions for the Maxis games, as most of them also have DOS versions. I vaguely remember SimIsle was supposed to be able to run both from DOS or Windows with no problems, but IIRC I never got it to work in Windows without crashing on start-up.

If you like flight sims, Flight Simulator 5.1 is a great DOS simulator, with several add-ons such as BAO Flightshop that worked from Windows.
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