VOGONS


First post, by s0ren

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2017-09-13 18.48.37.jpg
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The inside of the box. CF->IDE not yet shielded in this picture (to prevent shorts)
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Another small form factor build of mine for DOS and Windows 3.11. This time a Neoware CA2 thin client. I have tried building a SFF DOS machine before with a Neoware Eon, but the Cyrix Geode was incompatible with a lot of software, and would not boot with anything in the ISA slot.

VIA C3 Ezra 800MHz (about as fast as a 300MHz-ish PII i think)
64MB PC133 SDRAM
S3 ProSavage
16GB CF for storage
SoundBlaster Vibra with Yamaha FM chip

It required a bit of modding as you can see in the photos.

2017-09-13 18.49.01.jpg
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Had to cut away some of the steel frame to fit the Vibra inside
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The mobo has what looks like a ribbon cable socket for a floppy drive, but there is no space for installing such a drive so i havent tried it. It looks as if a laptop sized floppy was supposed to be able to go through here, as there was an opening even before i cut off the top of the frame. Maybe an alternative front panel exists?

It runs anything i have thrown at it so far, and very fast. A bit too fast actually, and my version of moslo does not seem to work on it (as the only program not working on it unfortunately).

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    Also had to grind down some of the soldering on the back side of the card in order for it to slide below the front cover (top of photo)
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    The CA2 (left) next to a HP T5720 ... with a pen for scale
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Reply 1 of 13, by gerwin

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s0ren wrote:

It runs anything i have thrown at it so far, and very fast. A bit too fast actually, and my version of moslo does not seem to work on it (as the only program not working on it unfortunately).

Interesting little system you have there. The cool thing is that you can still decide on what ISA soundcard to use.
Maybe try SetMul to slow down a system like this. There is a link in my signature.

Is the CPU soldered to the motherboard?

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 2 of 13, by s0ren

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gerwin wrote:
Interesting little system you have there. The cool thing is that you can still decide on what ISA soundcard to use. Maybe try Se […]
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s0ren wrote:

It runs anything i have thrown at it so far, and very fast. A bit too fast actually, and my version of moslo does not seem to work on it (as the only program not working on it unfortunately).

Interesting little system you have there. The cool thing is that you can still decide on what ISA soundcard to use.
Maybe try SetMul to slow down a system like this. There is a link in my signature.

Is the CPU soldered to the motherboard?

That looks like the perfect tool for this computer! Thanks a lot for the heads up. I will post back when i have had time to try it.

The CPU is socketed so it could be swapped. I havent tried removing the heat sink though, so i dont know which chipset its using. The PSU is internal and not replaceable so i suppose that sets some limitations as well.

Due to the limited amount of space, i have not been able to fit anything except a Vibra and an ESS audio drive card in it, but the Vibra sounds very good to me at least.

Reply 3 of 13, by xjas

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Nice, I've looked at those in the past. I love those tiny, forgotten ex-industral x86 boxes.

Is there ANY hope of getting an AWE64 with a SIMMConn in there? I'm guessing no, but you've got the machine & I don't so figured I'd ask. 😜

selected builds & megathreads { Quick & Clean | Like a Hipster | Only One 'T' | In a Lunchbox | IT IS THE NINETIES }

Reply 4 of 13, by s0ren

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xjas wrote:

Is there ANY hope of getting an AWE64 with a SIMMConn in there? I'm guessing no, but you've got the machine & I don't so figured I'd ask. 😜

The AWE64 could probably fit, but i dont think that there is room for a SIMMConn. I dont have either, but from google photos it looks like the memory modules makes it too tall to fit inside the case.

Reply 6 of 13, by s0ren

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gerwin wrote:

Maybe try SetMul to slow down a system like this. There is a link in my signature.

I tried SetMul now. It reports the CPU as being a Nehemiah even though the spec sheet says Ezra, but the tool works anyway. Very user-friendly little util i must say.

I was unable to make it slow down enough to play Magic Carpet unfortunately. That is unless i disable I or L1 cache but then it becomes slower than a 486sx, making the game a slide show =/ I can't seem to find a sweet spot.

Maybe i should try a newer version of MOSLO and hope that its just my version not being compatible.

Reply 7 of 13, by BinaryDemon

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My apologies for necro bumping this old thread but soren still seems active here, hopefully he will notice. I've been playing with some thin clients lately and the Neoware CA2 does seem interesting because it appears to be the 2nd most powerful thin client with native SB support (although I see you added a SB Vibra), and supports ISA/PCI expansion.

I was curious about one other thing: the S3 ProSavage IGP. Is there any benefits to DOS games with this gpu? Is it backwards compatible with the S3 Virge, for the games that features support for that? Is there OpenGL/MiniGL compatibility with Quake?

Check out DOSBox Distro:

https://sites.google.com/site/dosboxdistro/ [*]

a lightweight Linux distro (tinycore) which boots off a usb flash drive and goes straight to DOSBox.

Make your dos retrogaming experience portable!

Reply 8 of 13, by gerwin

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Long overdue reply:

s0ren wrote:

I tried SetMul now. It reports the CPU as being a Nehemiah even though the spec sheet says Ezra, but the tool works anyway. Very user-friendly little util i must say.

The util reads Family, Model and Stepping using the CPUID instruction. The value is shown in brackets like "(6.x.x)" and this is the most fail safe way to identify a processor, more thrustworthy then the datasheet I would say. Your stepping value seemingly indicates a Nehemiah.

s0ren wrote:

I was unable to make it slow down enough to play Magic Carpet unfortunately. That is unless i disable I or L1 cache but then it becomes slower than a 486sx, making the game a slide show =/ I can't seem to find a sweet spot.

Yes the Nehemiah has a gap in the selectable speed range, it is the nature of the CPU and the Setmul settings. The bottom speed range maxes out around 486DX-40 speeds. Maybe the program Throttle works with your motherboard and the game?

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 9 of 13, by idspispopd

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BinaryDemon wrote:

I was curious about one other thing: the S3 ProSavage IGP. Is there any benefits to DOS games with this gpu? Is it backwards compatible with the S3 Virge, for the games that features support for that? Is there OpenGL/MiniGL compatibility with Quake?

The GPU should be very compatible for most DOS games. It is not compatible with the S3D API.
Is does have OpenGL drivers, see https://www.anandtech.com/show/700/13 (look for the PM133 entry). Not very fast, but the VIA CPU is not that fast either.
Perhaps the drivers also support S3 MeTaL for Unreal, but I wouldn't bet on that.

Reply 10 of 13, by s0ren

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Was on vacation so I didnt see the replies before now sorry.

Like idspispod says, the S3 ProSavage has great DOS compatibility, but i havent tried OpenGL or any other accelerations. The on-board SB compatibility is mostly OK, but there is occasional clicks in the FM emulation.

Btw, the machine can boot Linux from USB (albeit in slow motion) which is handy for transferring files back and forth without taking the machine apart every time.

Reply 11 of 13, by BinaryDemon

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Thanks for the reply.

Check out DOSBox Distro:

https://sites.google.com/site/dosboxdistro/ [*]

a lightweight Linux distro (tinycore) which boots off a usb flash drive and goes straight to DOSBox.

Make your dos retrogaming experience portable!

Reply 12 of 13, by his.lordship

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Hi,

Lately I’ve been trying to get this machine working with Win98se, but unfortunately can't find the correct chipset drivers 🙁 it complains about an IDE PCI BUS Master driver, and all the Hyperion packages I have tried so far won’t install reporting regestry errors and so on 😀
Then I get random freezes during ”HD’s operations”. Also read about via latency patch but nothing seem to fix this conflict. In the device manager this via ide pci bus master is conflicting in Irq 15 with a vga device, which the only present is the onboard S3Savage Pro and installs fine with the proper drivers.
The south bridge as you know is vt82c686b.
Any help would be great. 😀

Regards.

Reply 13 of 13, by s0ren

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I haven't tried Win98 so I cannot help, sorry. Only 3.11.

You can slow linux distro on it from USB (cant remember if it was TinyCore or damnsmalllinux) and it works fine with the IDE bus. Maybe it can identify the model and in that way make it easier to find an appropriate driver?