What retro activity did you get up to today?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby rick6 » 2019-10-13 @ 20:12

I was able to sort of fix a really sick IBM Model2 buckling spring Keyboard.

It had a few broken plastic tabs, being the most important ones those that pressed the pcb to the membrane. Not only that but it also had two bad caps (being that the reason why it was dead).
Luckily i was able to add these screws you see here to hold the pcb in place and help it make contact.
IMG_20191008_003805.jpg


Also the foam that was there to make tension between the two was rotten. I had to make a new one from a piece of rubber.
IMG_20191013_203416.jpg


I had to disassemble it two time in row until i got it right. Did i mention it is really infuriating to disassemble this keyboard?..
IMG_20191008_155746.jpg


Had to make a RJ11 to PS/2 converter since this came from a IBM 3153 terminal.
IMG_20191008_120817.jpg


It was sort of worth it. Sometimes A, B and K register twice, but for now i'm done for with this. I'm typing this with it and it kind of feels good. Also i had to retrobright the bottom cover since it was a bit yellowed. I still have another Model2 keyboard waiting for it's turn.
IMG_20191013_204532.jpg
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby FAMICOMASTER » 2019-10-13 @ 21:09

Ultrax wrote:Ran ChkCpu on my portable 95 machine (Libretto 50CT) since I couldn't get CPU-Z (tried every old version possible) to work. It reported that my system has a non-MMX, 75 MHz Pentium.

That's cool, but this thing has a Pentium MMX sticker on it! Perhaps ChkCpu is misidentifying the processor, or maybe the only stickers available when this thing was made were the MMX ones? Definitely strange. Still love this little thing though!

No, the 50CT was not an MMX machine. I believe the 70CT, 100CT, and 110CT had MMX CPUs, but not the 50CT, which was a normal Pentium.

On the bright side, it's a hugely underclocked part and can do like 200MHz safely
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby jheronimus » 2019-10-13 @ 22:20

This week I got my hands on an Intel Advanced/ATX motherboard (codename Thor):

Image

It's pretty much the first ATX motherboard ever, and I'm pretty excited because I like Intel boards, I like ATX stuff and I like mid-90s and this board has it all :). It also comes with onboard S3 Trio64V+, Crystal 4232 codec and Yamaha OPL3 chip, so it's a foundation for a fairly high-end '95 computer. I've always wanted to have a dedicated Windows 3.11 machine, but was stuck, because I don't really enjoy 486 hardware, but I would also feel weird putting WFG on a very fast machine. This board actually came out just before Windows 95, so it's kind of perfect. Also it has "turbo" capabilities (disabling L2 cache I guess) that slows down the CPU to mid-386 level.

So I've spent the weekend making a pretty "period-correct" ATX build. I got an early ATX case with another Intel board (a TC430HX) and spent almost all Saturday cleaning it, removing rust stains and also oiling all the fans.

I must say, after spending some time with this case, early generic ATX cases were kind of horrible — you can't even put it back without using some bruteforce and I hate that I can't access the motherboard without removing the front bezel. I kind of just want to get an InWin A500 now (which is also one of the original ATX cases, but has a very nice design).

Another observation: "Advanced/ATX" is a horrible name when you're trying to Google an updated BIOS. I've been browsing intel.com through archive.org for hours, but there was no mention of the board in 1996 or 1997. Finally, I've reach 1999 just to find a dead download link. However, it gave me a filename: 10006cn0.exe. This one is definitely google-able.

Windows 3.11 is a fun experience, but I can see how it could be a nightmare back in the day. Compared to Win95 it's pretty much a DIY OS. There are just loads of extensions: TCP/IP, 32-bit code support, 32 bit HDD access (don't think I've ever needed a driver for a hard drive), video, fonts, CD-ROM support, etc. All very fragile, ready to go wrong at any moment. I wonder if there is any kind of an "unofficial service pack" that combines all the popular add-ons. I also want to try some novelty stuff like After Dark.

However, it's also interesting to see WFG as a much more "useful" OS than I remember it to be. I've never really used it daily and always thought it to be just a DOS shell. However, there is really a ton of 3rd party software. I might even try to go online with the help of WebOne proxy and something like Netscape.

At the end of the day, however, I've tried downloading a bunch of games from my home FTP server. When I came back in an hour I've got a "disk full" message and the system started giving me some really obscure error messages. After a reboot I've found that my whole file system was corrupted. I figured it was just one of those examples of WFG being really fragile, but then I ran Scandisk:

Image

So, lesson learned: never install a bunch of software on a hard disk you've never used without running surface scan first.

Going to replace the Samsung disk with a 1.6GB Western Digital I know to be free of bad blocks and start over. Next week I'll receive a CT3930 SB32 (Vibra-based AWE32) to play around. I wonder if I can make soundfonts work with Win3.11 somehow because I know the Creative drivers support it.
Last edited by jheronimus on 2019-10-28 @ 14:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby Thermalwrong » 2019-10-14 @ 00:02

After some difficulty, the FIC VA-503A board that I got in the scrap box is working! :)
It's got 1MB of L2 cache, which makes it maybe better than the Asus P5A-B? Time to see which one comes out on top.
It does not want to run its memory at 100MHz, just beeps at me when I try 100MHz FSB and 100MHz Memory, even with nice Crucial PC100 CAS2 memory. I wonder if recapping it will help with that? Looking at the other thread on MVP4 poor memory performance, it seems that mine's running quite a bit below par right now.

FICVA-503A-FSB100-RAM66.png
FICVA-503A-FSB100-RAM66.png (10.61 KiB) Viewed 570 times


That Advanced/ATX Thor board is nice, I had no idea it predated Crystal integrating their own FM synth.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby bfcastello » 2019-10-14 @ 01:23

Just installed Grand Prix 4 and Grand Prix Legends for a spin. Next, I will install my favorites: F1GP and Grand Prix 2.

In the next days I will have to get back to the basics about the modding in these games. I remember in 1996/97 I was almost an expert in GP2 Modding. Now I can't barely remember how to tweak the f1graphics.cfg for GP4 to achieve a great performance.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby Windows9566 » 2019-10-14 @ 01:38

jheronimus wrote:This week I got my hands on an Intel Advanced/ATX motherboard (codename Thor):

Image

It's pretty much the first ATX motherboard ever, and I'm pretty excited because I like Intel boards, I like ATX stuff and I like mid-90s and this board has it all :). It also comes with onboard S3 Trio64V+, Crystal 4322 codec and Yamaha OPL3 chip, so it's a foundation for a fairly high-end '95 computer. I've always wanted to have a dedicated Windows 3.11 machine, but was stuck, because I don't really enjoy 486 hardware, but I would also feel weird putting WFG on a very fast machine. This board actually came out just before Windows 95, so it's kind of perfect. Also it has "turbo" capabilities (disabling L2 cache I guess) that slows down the CPU to mid-386 level.

So I've spent the weekend making a pretty "period-correct" ATX build. I got an early ATX case with another Intel board (a TC430HX) and spent almost all Saturday cleaning it, removing rust stains and also oiling all the fans.

I must say, after spending some time with this case, early generic ATX cases were kind of horrible — you can't even put it back without using some bruteforce and I hate that I can't access the motherboard without removing the front bezel. I kind of just want to get an InWin A500 now (which is also one of the original ATX cases, but has a very nice design).

Another observation: "Advanced/ATX" is a horrible name when you're trying to Google an updated BIOS. I've been browsing intel.com through archive.org for hours, but there was no mention of the board in 1996 or 1997. Finally, I've reach 1999 just to find a dead download link. However, it gave me a filename: 10006cn0.exe. This one is definitely google-able.

Windows 3.11 is a fun experience, but I can see how it could be a nightmare back in the day. Compared to Win95 it's pretty much a DIY OS. There are just loads of extensions: TCP/IP, 32-bit code support, 32 bit HDD access (don't think I've ever needed a driver for a hard drive), video, fonts, CD-ROM support, etc. All very fragile, ready to go wrong at any moment. I wonder if there is any kind of an "unofficial service pack" that combines all the popular add-ons. I also want to try some novelty stuff like After Dark.

However, it's also interesting to see WFG as a much more "useful" OS than I remember it to be. I've never really used it daily and always thought it to be just a DOS shell. However, there is really a ton of 3rd party software. I might even try to go online with the help of WebOne proxy and something like Netscape.

At the end of the day, however, I've tried downloading a bunch of games from my home FTP server. When I came back in an hour I've got a "disk full" message and the system started giving me some really obscure error messages. After a reboot I've found that my whole file system was corrupted. I figured it was just one of those examples of WFG being really fragile, but then I ran Scandisk:

Image

So, lesson learned: never install a bunch of software on a hard disk you've never used without running surface scan first.

Going to replace the Samsung disk with a 1.6GB Western Digital I know to be free of bad blocks and start over. Next week I'll receive a CT3930 SB32 (Vibra-based AWE32) to play around. I wonder if I can make soundfonts work with Win3.11 somehow because I know the Creative drivers support it.


my Advanced/ATX has a CELP slot and does not have the onboard video unlike yours. and it also has the MR BIOS on it.
1996-Advanced/ML,P100,32MB-RAM,CL-GD5446,CT1740,WFWG-3.11/DOS-6.22
1997-VX97,P133,32MB-RAM,TRIO-64V+,CT1740,Win95-OSR2.1
1998-P2B,P2-233,256MB-RAM,VIRGE-DX,VOODOO-2,CT1740,Win98-SE
2017-ROG-B450F,R5-1600,16GB-RAM,GTX-1060,Win10-Home
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby OldCat » 2019-10-14 @ 09:50

wiretap wrote:
derSammler wrote:Do I see a tower there with a built-in monitor?

Yes -- It is a Dash OPS-1000 with amber CRT in the 5.25" bays.

Image


It's beautiful and I'd love to find one, but alas, the search only return results from Vogons..
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby FAMICOMASTER » 2019-10-14 @ 16:59

Yeah, I'd really love a CRT like that, but I can only find these posts as well. The rest of the case looks tacky almost.

This is the true step up from having an LED panel for a speed display!

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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby Mister Xiado » 2019-10-15 @ 09:07

Hardly tacky. Kind of a Sega Master System kind of aesthetic.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby FuzzyLogic » 2019-10-15 @ 10:49

Not today, but last Sunday I decided to try the super capacitor mod on my 386 and also tin the badly corroded traces.

repair-1.jpg

repair-2.jpg


The keyboard would occasionally stop working on this board and apparently I made it worse when I scraped the corrosion off with a fiberglass pen: keyboard interface error at POST.

repair-3.jpg


I ohmed out the suspected trace and found the problem. Then I got a bit of ribbon cable and tacked it on. It works perfectly now. The super cap also seems to be working, but I need to test it more.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby Thermalwrong » 2019-10-15 @ 13:30

FuzzyLogic wrote:Not today, but last Sunday I decided to try the super capacitor mod on my 386 and also tin the badly corroded traces.
repair-1.jpg

repair-2.jpg

The keyboard would occasionally stop working on this board and apparently I made it worse when I scraped the corrosion off with a fiberglass pen: keyboard interface error at POST.

That's a good thing though, right? It's much easier to track down a straight up broken thing problem than an intermittent fault :)
Have you had a chance to test how well the supercap is working out? Does it store for just a few hours, or can it manage days/weeks?

FuzzyLogic wrote:
repair-3.jpg

I ohmed out the suspected trace and found the problem. Then I got a bit of ribbon cable and tacked it on. It works perfectly now. The super cap also seems to be working, but I need to test it more.


Nicely done, I've had to do the same on 2 of my 386 boards now - same thing with the keyboard just not working courtesy of the battery acid.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby FAMICOMASTER » 2019-10-15 @ 13:50

Mister Xiado wrote:Hardly tacky. Kind of a Sega Master System kind of aesthetic.

Just looks like every black plastic case to me, the only special thing about it is the CRT
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby derSammler » 2019-10-15 @ 13:54

It's dark grey, not black. :P
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby FuzzyLogic » 2019-10-15 @ 14:00

FAMICOMASTER wrote:
Mister Xiado wrote:Hardly tacky. Kind of a Sega Master System kind of aesthetic.

Just looks like every black plastic case to me, the only special thing about it is the CRT


The case is great. It has a clean retro design and it's dark gray. There's nothing tacky about it. The monitor is also sweet.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby FAMICOMASTER » 2019-10-15 @ 14:05

To each their own, I suppose. Just looks like another cheap case to me, but I guess others see it differently.

It could be dark gray or light gray or black or navy blue for all it matters.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby FuzzyLogic » 2019-10-15 @ 14:26

Thermalwrong wrote:That's a good thing though, right? It's much easier to track down a straight up broken thing problem than an intermittent fault :)
Have you had a chance to test how well the supercap is working out? Does it store for just a few hours, or can it manage days/weeks?
.


Yes you're right. It made it a lot easier to diagnose. As far as the super cap goes. I'm not sure how long it will store the CMOS data and keep the clock running. I have run the 386 for an hour tops, then had it off for an entire day and it kept the data. I'll keep it off for a week and report back.

My TG16 CD and Turbo Duo both use super caps to keep the save data, and I know my Duo can keep its data intact for a year. It has a tiny capacitor in comparison, but it has no clock. I have since upgraded it's super cap and it should last a while.

I've only seen people do this mod with .5f and 1f caps. The super cap I'm using is a 3.5f 5.5v Illinois brand. I hope it will maintain the data for at least six months.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby appiah4 » 2019-10-15 @ 14:33

bfcastello wrote:Just installed Grand Prix 4 and Grand Prix Legends for a spin. Next, I will install my favorites: F1GP and Grand Prix 2.

In the next days I will have to get back to the basics about the modding in these games. I remember in 1996/97 I was almost an expert in GP2 Modding. Now I can't barely remember how to tweak the f1graphics.cfg for GP4 to achieve a great performance.


I love me some Crammond games but GPL trumps all.

Also why no love for GP3?
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i586:P133|32M|T64+/MX2|V1|CT3980/32M
i686:K6-2/400|128M|Rage|V2|CT4520/32M
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby kalm_traveler » 2019-10-15 @ 15:20

this was last night and hopefully tonight after work... mid process of recapping and transplanting the guts from an Enermax EG701P-VE ATX 12V VER. 1.3 600W PSU into an EVGA shell (splicing on its modular PCB). This will be nice because the EVGA shell uses a larger fan which I hope means quieter operation, plus cleaner look via black braided cables.

The only real difficult part of this is desoldering the original wires from the GND plane on the Enermax PCB as there is a LOT of solder and neither of my soldering irons seems strong enough to melt it. I may need to run to Lowes and pick up a >40w iron to finish the job.
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby dkarguth » 2019-10-16 @ 06:32

I wrote a demo in MS-QuickBasic for the IBM Professional Graphics Controller.

For those that don't know, the IBM PGC is a graphics card made by IBM in 1984. It was extremely powerful, as its native resolution was 640x480, and you could use 256 colors at a time out of a palette of 4096. The coolest thing about the card is the fact that it has an entire XT class system on it: a 8088 processor, its own dedicated RAM, and its own dedicated ROM.
To use the card, you send commands into a buffer located at C6000 (hex). Today, I wrote a program that takes the commands that the PGC recognizes, then loads them into the PGC's ring buffer and tells it to execute them.

It isn't a very long program, but it took a very long time as I'm new to this type of programming, and the protocol wasn't extremely well documented. I spent several hours trying to figure out why it wouldn't execute commands before figuring out you have to put a stop byte of "0A" (hex) after every command to tell the PGC to execute it.

Here's my programming workstation: an IBM XT with 640k of RAM, a Hercules MDA card, an IBM CGA card, and the IBM PGC. With this setup, I'm able to program in QuickBasic on the center monitor, and have the IBM Professional Debug Facility open on the MDA card to monitor the memory locations for the PGC. The monitor on the right is the PGC output display.

Image

The program I wrote creates 256 circles, where each circle is a different color. It starts at color 0 in the center and works its way to color 255 on the outer circle, increasing the radius of the circle by 1 each time.

Image

Here's the source for anyone interested. It's horridly slow (mostly because it's QBASIC running on an XT class machine) but other than that it works fine.

Image
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Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby FAMICOMASTER » 2019-10-16 @ 07:23

I have to say, that triple monitor setup is absolutely beyond cool.

Since EGA/VGA don't overlap with MDA or CGA in memory, and certainly not the PGC, would it be possible to do something similar using MDA/CGA/EGA? Maybe even a four monitor XT?

Also, is it true that the PGC gets extremely hot during operation? I've always heard they get awful toasty.
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