VOGONS


First post, by retrofanatic

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Just picked this up a few months ago from a local recycler and wanted to post my progress on what I did to "restore" it.

It is an IBM Ambra 486 SLC system with WDC video chip onboard.

It's a nice little retro pc game box, but when I got it, I felt it was in need of some cleaning up as the front panel was chewed up somewhat and worn out.

I wanted to strip down the front panel to be more simple and decided to sand it down and give it a flat clearcoat treatment. This was by no means a proper restoration hence why I put restoration in quotes in the topic title. I just wanted to simplify it so it looked a bit more to my liking.

Surprisingly, my sanding and clearcoat job turned out really good and the finish does not scratch easy and feels (almost) factory fresh.

I added a CF to IDE adpater that worked after some tyweaking the manual IDE drive sttings in the BIOS and formatting the CF card properly. I installed DOS 6.22 on it and it runs like a dream.

I drilled a couple holes to the metal plate below what used to be the HDD caddy holder (this did not have the original HDD caddy that fit in the top back of the case) and screwed in the CF to IDE device using two motherboard standoffs.

I also had to install a new FDD as the old one did not work...I had to find just the right model so that the eject button fit through the front eject button hole.

This was a fun build. It's still a work in progress, but I tested an old 8 bit Adlib compatible soundcard in it and it worked well. I am not sure what I will use in the future, but I suspect that I may use a SB Pro 2.0 card that I tested on it as well.

Here are some photos of my progress.

Ambra-Before_1.jpg
Filename
Ambra-Before_1.jpg
File size
354.07 KiB
Views
569 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-Before_2.jpg
Filename
Ambra-Before_2.jpg
File size
668.89 KiB
Views
569 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-Before_3.jpg
Filename
Ambra-Before_3.jpg
File size
624.43 KiB
Views
569 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-Before_4.jpg
Filename
Ambra-Before_4.jpg
File size
619.75 KiB
Views
569 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-After_7.jpg
Filename
Ambra-After_7.jpg
File size
1.54 MiB
Views
569 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Reply 1 of 10, by retrofanatic

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

More photos

Ambra-Before_After.jpg
Filename
Ambra-Before_After.jpg
File size
579.57 KiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-painting.jpg
Filename
Ambra-painting.jpg
File size
639.15 KiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-sanding-rough.jpg
Filename
Ambra-sanding-rough.jpg
File size
852.83 KiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-sanding-rough 2.jpg
Filename
Ambra-sanding-rough 2.jpg
File size
1.12 MiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-Before_5.jpg
Filename
Ambra-Before_5.jpg
File size
1.35 MiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Reply 2 of 10, by retrofanatic

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

The results...

Ambra-After_2.jpg
Filename
Ambra-After_2.jpg
File size
729.56 KiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-After_3.jpg
Filename
Ambra-After_3.jpg
File size
624.54 KiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-After_4.jpg
Filename
Ambra-After_4.jpg
File size
1.06 MiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-After_6.jpg
Filename
Ambra-After_6.jpg
File size
796.85 KiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Ambra-After_1.jpg
Filename
Ambra-After_1.jpg
File size
713.18 KiB
Views
567 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Reply 4 of 10, by retrofanatic

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Thank you.

I thought about that but I decided to go as plain white as possible. I really like the ‘plain’ simple look. That said I want to change the cd rom to another one I have that matches the white color better.

One of the issues I came across was that I couldn’t find paint that had the right tone to match the power button and I didn’t want to paint the button as well. Also, I really didn’t want to paint anything. Using the flat clearcoat was enough and it works well because it hides minor imperfections and I’ve never had that kind of success with paint no matter how well I prepped the surfaces.

I used 1000 grit sandpaper and then 2000 to smooth everything out. It really did turn out nice and I may use the same process on another case I have that has yellowed twice even after retrobright treatment. It’s nice to just sand and then clear coat without painting and messing things up. Again, I was very surprised how smooth and durable this clear coat turned out to be.

The hardest part was sanding the small nooks and crannies but once I got that figured out the rest was smooth sailing.

Reply 5 of 10, by Jed118

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

I just got what I think is the same thing.

I noticed something strange - it'll run on a pair of SIMMS, like a 386SX or a 286.

This must mean it has a 16 bit data bus.

Visit my channel on Youtube - Tinkering, 386s, electric powered vehicles:

The Kombinator

Reply 7 of 10, by Jed118

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
derSammler wrote on 2020-02-05, 17:52:

Yes, because it's a 486SLC.

I didn't know that until I ran a diag on it - cachechk told me it had 16kb L1 cache (64k L2) and because it's a 1993 machine and an Ambra, I doubt I was going to find an AMD BGC type 486 in there. I just assumed it was an Intel SX/2 - 50 with some built-in RAM (it came with 10Mb and I was wondering how that configuration was attained using 4 SIMM slots - pictures from original ad show 2 different types of memory, I am assuming it is 2x4 Mb in one bank and 2x1 Mb in the other) and that I could upgrade it easily to a DX2/66. I haven't opened the machine yet, I'll leave that for the Youtube video.

Further diagnostics indicate that it is indeed an SLC, curiously with 768k of video RAM. That is a configuration I have never seen before.

At the very least, it is an interesting machine.

Visit my channel on Youtube - Tinkering, 386s, electric powered vehicles:

The Kombinator