VOGONS


Reply 20 of 26, by creepingnet

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Okay, here's the one Versa I have not gone into yet - the NEC Versa P/75

The last Versa I bought, which was back in September, was a 1995 NEC Versa P/75 HD - meaning the 800x600 model. It was bought off E-bay BIN for around $30 AS/IS, untested, and well, it works. This was the last version of the NEC Versa PC-4xx series laptops, and was the only Pentium version of this laptop (the rest were all 486 based). This is also the only one I'm aware of to have full SoundBlaster audio.

CURRENT SPECS
CASE: NEC Verrsa P/75 PC-490 Series Chassis
PSU: 1 or 2 NEC OP-570-4701 7.2V 3800MAh "Smart Batteries", NIMH, or NEC Power Supply
CPU: Intel Pentium 75, really weird version
RAM: 40MB of RAM, 32MB on Card, 8MB on Board
FDD: 1.44MB 3.5" NEC M/P/V75 Floppy
HDD: Seagate Momentous 80GB w/ Seagate DDO
GFX: C&T 1MB SVGA, NEC NL8060 800x600 9.4" LCD
SND: ESS688 AudioDrive SoundBlaster compatible Audio, OPL3
NET: Docking Station Ethernet, or Cisco Aironet LMC-352, or Lucent WaveLan Silver (Orinoco Silver) PCMCIA Type-II Cards

Currently It's running my install of FreeDOS 2.1 from the M/75 as the M/75's case crumbled away so badly I had to stop using it. I'm seriously thinking about doing one of three things for the M/75....

1.) Build my own enclosure for it - like a clear smoke gray plastic case based on the original Versa design
2.) Find a dead M/75 or the case of an M/75 and transfer the guts into a new case (I kept the original label)
3.) Save the guts for spares and use as needed (also possible)

Also as such, the 16MB card was put back into the 40EC, so the 40EC is maxxed out again.

PERFORMANCE

The P/75 was the least laborous machine to work with because it has SoundBlaster audio already, and because the only things wrong off the bat were the CMOS Battery and later I found out the original Versa Trak Trackball was having issues, in particular, it was failing to track properly on the frequent due to a jammed/goofey mechanism, so I swapped it with the one from the M/75 (direct parts swap). The battery and floppy from the M/75 also went back in. I found the best tape for holding the cracked bottom chassis together was Manco packing tape as it is almost invisible. Also, the hinge, top cover, bezel, and other plastics are ALL in 100% perfect condition on this Versa - unlike the other two. The bottom case is the problem,. but there's so much support structure it holds together despite crumbling/cracking all across the bottom.

Performance Wise, it's obviously the best. This is less obvious under Windows 95, it behaves a lot like the M/75 under 95, but under FreeDOS is where this machine REALLY blows the M/75 out of the water. FLMAIL runs at full speed, and the 800x600 screen is nice for using Links, making it a comfortable potential vintage daily driver. It also has SoundBlaster compatible audio so no now more silence or messing around with WSS in DOS or hoping the game supports it - which allows the machine to behave as intended. Also MPXPlay runs MP3s at full speed, and SNES Emulation is comfortable if a hair slow. Now I need to mess with HX Dos Extender a bit so I can see about running Win16 and Win32 apps from the command line (if I can get that working). Battery life is almost 2 hours and seems a little longer than the M/75 (must have made some APM improvements, meaning maybe PC MAG just lost some freebies from NEC when they reviewed the P/75, 🤣), and this thing gets surprisingly loud off OPL. It also appears there were 2 versions of the P/75 - an earlier version where the power and standby buttons were in the same spot as the M/75 (the one seen in the ad for the P/75), and another version where they are in the moved location closer to the edge of the board - which means the monitor-off button is no longer a separate circuit board like the other models.

So currently, this has taken over as my main machine. Very likely I'll buy up some more Versa laptops in the future as time/space/money allows. Would be cool to nab an older Ultralite Versa 486 model, and possibly an M/100 to see if the WSS on that has OPL on it (the DX4-100 is still my favorite PC Processor).

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Reply 21 of 26, by creepingnet

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Today's post, plans for 2021......ie, what to expect in this thread, my youtube channel, and whatnot this year - with regards to my hardware.

First off - Repair Projects
- Repair the PC Chips M919 board I have, I may even put this in the 486 Desktop with a 3D card setup and USB added if I get it working
- Repair the second NEC Versa 40EC planar and Power Board when I get a CPU card for it
- Either buy a dead Versa M/75 or make an ACrylic Case for my M/75's 100% functional guts...the second might lead to some neato experiments

Next Up - Planning a PC Purge possibly, I have too many bloody computers...here's the list of EVERYTHING, new and old I have ATM
1985 Tandy 1000A
1989 GEM 286
1989 Apple Macintosh SE FDHD
1994 NEC Versa 40EC Laptop
1994 NEC Versa M/75 Laptop w/o Case
1995 NEC Versa P/75 Laptop
1995 486 DX4-100 in an XT clone Case (looks like Dave Just Dave's 486 actually, I think we got our cases from the same place)
1995 NEC Ready 9522 Pentium 100
2012 IBM Thinkpad T61 (Linux)
2014 Dell Inspiron 15 (Win10)
2014 Dell 7010 (Linux)
2014 Dell PowerEdge Server (my Plex Media Server and future File/Print SErver)
2015 iMac (Mac OS)

My plan would be this....

On the retro side - just keep the Versas, 286, and 486 Desktop. Here's the reasoning...

- GEM 286 is a beast of a 286. When Turbo is Off, it emulates an XT class machine almost perfectly, and when Turbo is on it can run games into the 386 era really well. I just want to put a TNDY sound card in it to route through the SoundBlaster 16. It's got CD-ROM (SCSI), 3GB HDD (also SCSI), and it boots like my 486 DX4 does as a result. It's also sentimental because at this point I've had that vintage computer the longest. I bought it in the summer of 2005 off E-bay. Might be fun to do a "Build POst" around it when I add the TNDY.

- My 486 Desktop is also sentimental, and it too is a beast in it's own right. The thing runs stuff that's supposed to run on a Pentium 100 almost perfectly due to gobs of memory in both the video card and the motherboard, and my careful tuning/tweaking of the O/S. Also, with the hard drive swap options I can run anything on it - it has setups for Windows 3.11 For Workgroups, FreeDOS, Windows 95 OSR 2.1, Windows 98 Se, Windows 2000 - and I can change the O/S it uses at will. I'm planning a future XP load on it as well to see if it can do it.

- The NEC Versas are my favorite vintage laptop now. AFter using them for 1.5 Years now, a 40EC, M/75, and P/75, I have got to say they are the second best thing to an IBM ThinkPad with a working battery. Having three of those plus the 486 Desktop means I could literally LAN game Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Wolfenstein 3D, and anything else, between all four machines.....just need more PCMCIA LAN cards. I plan to get a battery for the 40EC as I just fixed the battery board on it and it charges again (was just a burned jumper wire from over-charging the battery during the "rejuvination" proecess). If I do get any new "vintage" stuff in 2021, it's going to only be these because I could fill one shelf of a bookshelf with every version they ever made due to all the swappable parts (screens, hard disks, memory, etc).

My goal is by the end of 2021 or early 2022, be able to put my vintage 286 and 486 and the Versas on Display full time. I may try and get one more CRT to fill that bill too.....maybe another NEC MultiSync (Keep the Micron on the desktop, put the newer VGA Multisync on the Versa dock, and the older Multisync on the 286). Another idea is the Multisync on the Versas and then get a Zenith Data Systems 1490 VGA to put on the GEM....that's my FAVORITE VGA monitor. Heavy, Loud, small, but the experience of using a non-sony Trinitron CRT from the 80's is something very unique.

So that's kind of where I am now.

~The Creeping Network~
My Website - https://sites.google.com/site/thecreepingnetwork/home
My Youtube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/creepingnet

Reply 22 of 26, by chinny22

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Selling off computers is always a hard call. Of course you don't really need that many of them but you don't want to regret getting rid of something down the track.
My rule is if I haven't used it for over a year its up for consideration. Although I'd probably just keep the laptops as they take so little space. Maybe just sell the docking stations though?

although full disclaimer I've never sold any of my retro machines after I did a big clear out around 2008. 2 years later I started into this hobby and had to buy back a lot of what I'd only recently sent to landfill.
Not in a hurry to repeat that

Reply 23 of 26, by Caluser2000

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Now is the time for selling 1995 and below items as the market seems to be getting quite high prices for them. I'm keep any good old systems, mainly desktops style and not portables/laptops. We've got a ton of room here. I'm not bothered using LCDs monitors. I'm old, CRTs are damn heavy and I can pick up a damn nice 17" or 19" 4:3 LCD monitor , one with a vga out put, for $nz10. The last two I got were that much. I'll definitely keep the EGA TVM monitor for my XT Turbo or VGA in any All-in-one systems I aquire.

There's a glitch in the matrix.

Reply 24 of 26, by creepingnet

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chinny22 wrote on 2021-01-05, 09:30:
Selling off computers is always a hard call. Of course you don't really need that many of them but you don't want to regret gett […]
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Selling off computers is always a hard call. Of course you don't really need that many of them but you don't want to regret getting rid of something down the track.
My rule is if I haven't used it for over a year its up for consideration. Although I'd probably just keep the laptops as they take so little space. Maybe just sell the docking stations though?

although full disclaimer I've never sold any of my retro machines after I did a big clear out around 2008. 2 years later I started into this hobby and had to buy back a lot of what I'd only recently sent to landfill.
Not in a hurry to repeat that

Yeah, I still have some inner conflict of my own on it because I did do not one but two or three massive purges of vintage gear - 2005, and 2011, and some of those systems I really miss as I've had over 50 different PC's (now there would be a fun post here - every old PC I've had, something I was going to slow do in this thread actually) - I had some nice stuff like a Compaq Deskpro 286 and COmpaq Deskpro 386, many IBM PS/2s, and a flip-top XT clone. I miss a lot of those, but only when I really think about it. Sometimes wanting is more fun that having.

But in the past year, I spend most of my time with my NEC versa Laptops both used as actual portables as I have a working battery and have a docking station that's smaller than every desktop PC I have, even my Tandy 1000. Plus I seem to be running into them a lot and nobody wants them due to the cracking plastic problem (something I have just about whipped). I was thinking in the end I'd have the 286 that doubles as an XT, my 486 Desktop which is more sentimental than anything, and then collect 5 Versas - one of each type (Ultralite/E/V/M/P) - and maybe do a Youtube video on the series and the pros and cons of each model - all five fit on half my shelf.

That said I've thought heavily about buying broken, like the SERIOUSLY messed up stuff from the 80's and 90's - all the cracked apart laptops, desktops with serious corrosion, damage, were talking silicone molds for new parts and metalwork type work - then keep those in this thread to show the stuff I like doing today along with my retro-posts of machines I already had or have worked on.

~The Creeping Network~
My Website - https://sites.google.com/site/thecreepingnetwork/home
My Youtube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/creepingnet

Reply 25 of 26, by chinny22

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This is the problem isn't it.
The project is more fun then the end result but its a nice feeling knowing you own a xyz even if you never use it. It's a waste but at the same is it if it gives you pleasure knowing you have it.
It's lucky I don't restore cars. they take up much more room!

Reply 26 of 26, by creepingnet

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chinny22 wrote on 2021-01-06, 11:21:

This is the problem isn't it.
The project is more fun then the end result but its a nice feeling knowing you own a xyz even if you never use it. It's a waste but at the same is it if it gives you pleasure knowing you have it.
It's lucky I don't restore cars. they take up much more room!

Yes, totally the problem, I'm also a man of too many interests (cars, computers, guitars, vintage electronics, mechanical stuff...etc..) I do have some ideas on this though.........

For the last 2 months I've been stalking e-bay auctions for the most messed up Pentium and older laptops on e-bay. I find stuff under $50 with serious chassis damage, or untested due to a weird power supply (which I can usually find through research), or a damaged screen, might be a untapped source and I could rebuild those and flip them to new owners who will get a 100% working machines.

The other problem is if I purge too much stuff, then I need some part to fix my other machines. That's one reason despite wanting to downsize I keep accumulating PC-4xx Versa models. They take up little space, lots of parts are the same across the entire product line, and I can still find parts for them because NEC Made industrial equipment that still uses some of those parts. Also, it seems they are extremely hard laptops to kill. I've done so many stupid things and made so many mistakes with these units and they all still work 100% perfectly, even if one does not have a case. I also plan to do a historical video on these going over each submodel and it's benchmarks, pros, cons, common issues, and such, as well as a bunch more repair videos on using various methods to fix and prevent future cracking of the plastic, and reinforcing the structure without hindering factory functionality or shorting something out.

~The Creeping Network~
My Website - https://sites.google.com/site/thecreepingnetwork/home
My Youtube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/creepingnet