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First post, by retro games 100

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Newbie question! 😊

On an old 486 mobo, you are generously given a keyboard socket. But where do the other devices go, such as serial mouse, HDD, floppy disk and CD-ROM drive?

Presumably I need cards to plug in to either the ISA or VLB or PCI slots. Can someone please tell me which cards I need?

Thanks a lot! 😀

Reply 1 of 16, by valnar

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I assume by this question you never had a 386/486 before?

Yah, you need cards for all of those if they didn't come with/on the motherboard.

Mouse - use a serial mouse or buy a PS/2 mouse card (uh... use serial)

Floppy/HDD - You need an ISA card for that. IDE preferred (not anything older of course)

CDROM - Back "in the day", this could have been a proprietary interface like Sony, Mitsumi or Panasonic - directly on your sound card of choice. Nowadays we use IDE (SATA need not apply), but finding an IDE ISA card that understands a CDROM may be a problem. 'Dunno. You may also want to buy a SCSI card and use a SCSI CDROM. Be prepared for some fun there.

If you truly want to be retro, you'd buy the matching 2x or 4x CDROM that went with the SB16.

Reply 2 of 16, by Amigaz

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If you get one of those later socket 3 motherboards with PCI slots they often have a built in I/O section with IDE, Floppy and COM port headers
From my own experiences I recommend using SCSI instrad of IDE, if you don't use a drive overlay program you're limited to old, smal, slowl and noisy harddrives and ATAPI support is often very buggy
You want to use an older IDE drive with a max speed of around 12x since a new 50x + cd-rom wll be noisy as hell.
Probem is that most early IDE cd-rom drives often fail and have troubles reading some cd's...(most pc hardware was crap up to around 1997-98)
So imho SCSI is the way to go, the undestructable Plextor SCSI drives rocks!

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Reply 3 of 16, by valnar

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Yep, that's the problem with recreating a truly retro PC. Some of the original hardware back then is not worth buying, even in the name of authenticity (like old hard drives that are half-dead). But to upgrade them to modern technology requires some compromises. An old ISA SCSI/SCSI-2 board with a modern SCSI hard drive and Plextor SCSI CDROM would be the way to go, but unless you were intimately familiar with that technology, it can be a pain to setup.

Using Ontrack Disk Manager to get above the 528MB limit on old IDE controllers/BIOS's was never safe. Just like we would never implement Stacker/SuperStor/Diskspace/Drivespace/Xtradrive even in the name of retro because of how stupid (though necessary at the time) those technologies were.

I agree with Amigaz though. Buy the Adaptec ISA card that had a floppy connector on it (1542?) and use a SCSI hard drive + SCSI CDROM. No IDE at all. Just get a seperate ISA I/O card for your serial & parallel. You want fun building a tweaking a 486 while learning a lot about old technology? That's the way to go.

Reply 4 of 16, by retro games 100

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Thanks very much for your help guys!!!

So, to recap I need:

A card that allows me to use 1 SCSI HDD + 1 SCSI CD-ROM + 1 floppy disk drive. An example is an Adaptec ISA card. (What happens if I can't find one that has a floppy connector?)

(Also, I guess I could use a VLB card if I managed to find one.)

I will also need a second card that allows me to use a serial mouse. This will probably be an ISA card.

I need to buy a Plextor SCSI CD-ROM, and also a SCSI HDD. These can be new and modern devices. I'll also need a floppy disk drive, and these can be 1.44mb devices I guess.

Serial mice are all over the place, so that isn't a problem.

Finally, I'll need cables!

THANKS! 😀

Reply 5 of 16, by Amigaz

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valnar wrote:

Yep, that's the problem with recreating a truly retro PC. Some of the original hardware back then is not worth buying, even in the name of authenticity (like old hard drives that are half-dead). But to upgrade them to modern technology requires some compromises. An old ISA SCSI/SCSI-2 board with a modern SCSI hard drive and Plextor SCSI CDROM would be the way to go, but unless you were intimately familiar with that technology, it can be a pain to setup.

Using Ontrack Disk Manager to get above the 528MB limit on old IDE controllers/BIOS's was never safe. Just like we would never implement Stacker/SuperStor/Diskspace/Drivespace/Xtradrive even in the name of retro because of how stupid (though necessary at the time) those technologies were.

I agree with Amigaz though. Buy the Adaptec ISA card that had a floppy connector on it (1542?) and use a SCSI hard drive + SCSI CDROM. No IDE at all. Just get a seperate ISA I/O card for your serial & parallel. You want fun building a tweaking a 486 while learning a lot about old technology? That's the way to go.

Agree.
It can be tricky with SCSI if you never fiddled with it but in the end it's quite easy...just set every SCSI device as HD, CD-rom etc to it's own SCSI ID by jumpers and terminate the device at the end of the SCSI chain...much simpler on PC's than on Amiga computers 😉

If you plan to use SCSI on a VLB system you can always use this
http://cgi.ebay.de/Adaptec-AHA-2842VL-SCSI-Co … idZp1638Q2em122

And this on a pure ISA system:
http://cgi.ebay.de/Adaptec-AHA-1542-CF-ISA-SC … 1QQcmdZViewItem

And this on a PCI system:
http://cgi.ebay.de/Adaptec-AHA-2940-Ultra-SCS … 1QQcmdZViewItem

Or this:
http://cgi.ebay.de/ADAPTEC-AHA-2940-UW-SCSI-P … 1QQcmdZViewItem

Easier to find 68pin harddrives but you'll need a 68pin-->50pin adapter for the cd-rom since 68pin SCSI cd-rom drives are very rare

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Reply 6 of 16, by valnar

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I've got a lot of that stuff, but I think only the oldest SCSI cards have floppy connectors. I know my AHA-2940 does not. The OP may still need a cheap ISA card to get a floppy connector.

Yah, 68-50pin converters and SCSI terminators. Fun times.

Reply 8 of 16, by leileilol

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dealing with serial ports is the worst part imo (especially if you lost them, or lose track of them). I've still yet to get mine to work.

If you have to ask this question though, wait until you have to play with the CPU jumpers 😀 this 486 stuff makes dealing with new modern hardware seem...dumbed down (with just a focus on the fans and maintenance of cooling instead, and rice it up with useless LEDs)

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Reply 9 of 16, by WolverineDK

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retro games 100 wrote:

I'll also need a floppy disk drive, and these can be 1.44mb devices I guess.

I don´t know if my idea to far out, but you could get your hands on either an LS120 or an LS240 where both drives are compatible with 1.44 MB normal floppy disks, the only hatch I can see is. That they are rare to get your hands on, but well maybe as I said, my idea is too far out. And maybe your dos pc won´t like the LS drive. Anyway here is a little wiki article about the drive(s) I am talking about

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SuperDisk

Reply 10 of 16, by prophase_j

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I'll second that SCSI is the way to go. A lot of multi-IO cards will have floppy and serial, and even parallel. You can keep that in mind if you can't find one located on a scsi card. Modern SCSI drives use a mode of SCSI called LVD, chances are your controller won't. There should be a jumper on the drive to disable it though. The disk sub-system has also been one of the slowest parts a computer, and you will appreciate the speed you see in access and transfers.

"Retro Rocket"
Athlon XP-M 2200+ // Epox 8KTA3
Radeon 9800xt // Voodoo2 SLI
Diamond MX300 // SB AWE64 Gold

Reply 11 of 16, by swaaye

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You can often get by with newer IDE drives. Just use as much space as the BIOS can see. But some BIOSes freak out and won't boot with new drives. In such cases, I've managed to get PCI IDE cards working (like a Promise Ultra66) but that can be a headache too.

It's often just a lot of work to get the old junk up and running.

I have a 486 using a 20GB drive that's not too noisy. I actually had a SATA controller and a notebook 60gig SATA drive in there at one point. 😉 I've been considering getting a CF card and adapter for the 486, too.

Honestly though I usually just use DOSBOX these days. Getting sick of wasting entire evenings fighting 486-esque hardware. The random issues that pop up cuz of one reason or another (including dieing, crap-even-when-they-were-new boards/mobos)....

Reply 12 of 16, by retro games 100

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Very helpful responses everybody, thanks very much.

Please can someone take a look at this ebay item =

170265094938

The blurb says it will support HDD, floppy, serial ... but I can't see where the HDD and floppy plug in to.

Am I being really stupid?

Thanks for any help!!!

Reply 13 of 16, by retro games 100

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PS - I really want to go down the SCSI route, but having a cheap ISA IDE card wouldn't hurt, just in case - for backup purposes and experiments, etc, etc.

EDIT: Thanks Qbix, sorry about that.

Last edited by retro games 100 on 2008-11-23, 14:23. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 15 of 16, by Amigaz

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retro games 100 wrote:
Very helpful responses everybody, thanks very much. […]
Show full quote

Very helpful responses everybody, thanks very much.

Please can someone take a look at this ebay item =

170265094938

The blurb says it will support HDD, floppy, serial ... but I can't see where the HDD and floppy plug in to.

Am I being really stupid?

Thanks for any help!!!

Looks pretty IDE free to me 😐

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