486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

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486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Maraakate » 2017-11-26 @ 20:09

A friend of mine had some old hardware she was getting ready to pitch and one of them was a 486 tower. It had a Tseng ET4000 but had some custom soldering jumpers here and there. When I went to turn the machine on a tantalum cap popped on the ET4000. I removed the card, and the machine does attempt to boot. There is some series of beeps. I want to try another card in there and see if it's worth spending any more time on it. I don't want to spend huge bucks here and I have never played with a lot of stuff from the Pre-Pentium 1 era. Any recommendations on something cheap I can put in this machine to verify if it works properly and can upgrade later?

The motherboard is GA-486US (unsure of brand), Rev. 3. RAM is populated and a CPU is in there. I removed the controller cards and the SB Pro 2.0. Put the SB Pro 2.0 in a P1 machine and that does work fine! :).
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Deksor » 2017-11-26 @ 20:11

Just replace all the tantalum caps of that Tseng card and see if it works. An old MFM disk did this to me and replacing the caps fixed it
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Maraakate » 2017-11-26 @ 20:12

Well the cap literally burst in flames. Something I've never seen before. I'd imagine it could possibly be a waste of time. But, I may visit that route later in the future... In the mean time, what is something cheap I can grab on fleabay and throw in it to verify the rest of the board even works? It could be possible that something is wrong with the board and it killed the card.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Koltoroc » 2017-11-26 @ 20:45

it is quite common for tantalum caps to blow up when they fail, they are known for that. Replacing the cap is definitely worthwhile.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby jesolo » 2017-11-26 @ 21:17

Your motherboard was manufactured by Gigabyte. Your particular model is a very early Local Bus (not VESA Local Bus) motherboard.
CPU support is limited to 5V pre-DX2 era 486 CPU's. However, you might be able to run a DX2-50 & DX2-66 on that motherboard by using the same jumper settings as with a DX-25 & DX-33 respectively.
Here's a link to your motherboard's schematics (take note, there was also a GA-486VS, so just make sure you have the right model number): http://arvutimuuseum.ee/th99/m/E-H/30349.htm
Here's also a link to a thread that touches more on the technology used on this motherboard: viewtopic.php?t=35707

As for the graphics card - I agree with the earlier comments. It's not uncommon for cards this old to blow a tantalum capacitor. If you replace them, you should be all ready to go and will have a nice working Local Bus graphics card again. Since this not a standard VLB graphics card and is fairly unique (and rare these days), I would try and rescue it.

However, if you just want to test the motherboard, then get the cheapest ISA 16-bit VGA graphics card you can find. However, you will notice much better performance on games like Doom, etc. if you use the Local Bus graphics card on there.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-11-26 @ 21:27

Can we get a few pictures? Especially of the Tseng Card. Some of these early local bus cards are about as rare as unicorns, would nice to somewhat document what you have.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Maraakate » 2017-11-26 @ 21:29

I can get some pictures of it yes. Regarding 16-bit ISA. I'm okay with subpar performance just need a card to test. So any 16-bit ISA Trident or whoever else is fine? I don't have to do any special settings on the mobo end for this? I'll get some additional pictures of the board as well.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Maraakate » 2017-11-26 @ 21:33

Here is the video card. Sorry for the subpar quality. Don't own a decent camera, but this should get the point across.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Maraakate » 2017-11-26 @ 21:41

Here is pictures of the computer itself. Remember, there was an FDD, HDD, and SB Pro 2.0 in here as well. I took everything out. The SB Pro 2.0 had a matching CD-ROM drive that is a mechanical eject with a caddy. The drive appears to be no good or requires the SB Pro 2.0. If I plug it into another machine into a regular IDE the machine will refuse to even POST. That's another thread for another time, however.

NOTE: Two more pics to follow.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Maraakate » 2017-11-26 @ 21:41

Pictures of the tower. Face plate is missing, so I didn't bother taking a picture of the front.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby jesolo » 2017-11-26 @ 21:49

Maraakate wrote:Here is pictures of the computer itself. Remember, there was an FDD, HDD, and SB Pro 2.0 in here as well. I took everything out. The SB Pro 2.0 had a matching CD-ROM drive that is a mechanical eject with a caddy. The drive appears to be no good or requires the SB Pro 2.0. If I plug it into another machine into a regular IDE the machine will refuse to even POST. That's another thread for another time, however
.
The CD-ROM is probably of the Panasonic type.
It's from the early days before IDE became standard on CD-ROM drives and therefore uses a proprietary interface.
It is not IDE compatible. Do not try and use it with an IDE interface. You could damage your equipment.
You can, however, use an IDE cable to connect the drive to the sound card.
More about it here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panasonic_CD_interface
Last edited by jesolo on 2017-11-26 @ 21:53, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Maraakate » 2017-11-26 @ 21:52

jesolo wrote:
Maraakate wrote:Here is pictures of the computer itself. Remember, there was an FDD, HDD, and SB Pro 2.0 in here as well. I took everything out. The SB Pro 2.0 had a matching CD-ROM drive that is a mechanical eject with a caddy. The drive appears to be no good or requires the SB Pro 2.0. If I plug it into another machine into a regular IDE the machine will refuse to even POST. That's another thread for another time, however
.
The CD-ROM is probably of the Panasonic type.
It's from the early days before IDE became standard on CD-ROM drives and therefore uses a proprietary interface.
It is not IDE compatible. Do not try and use it with an IDE interface. You could damage your equipment.


Roger that. Thanks for the advice. Never used one of the proprietary pre-IDE CD drives. I'll give the drive a shot later on on the SB Pro 2.0. When I'm ready to cross that path I'll make a separate thread on that issue.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-11-26 @ 21:54

Nice find! I'm jealous of this system.

From the pics it doesn't look like the tseng card got hurt, definitely replace that cap. At the least, between that card and the SB Pro 2.0 you could make > $100 if you decide to part the system out, so it's a win win all around. Those old creative drives are also hard to come by in working condition, I've gambled on a few from goodwill and had no luck, but it may yet be fixable. I doubt it's using IDE though, it likely is meant to connect to a proprietary header you'll find on the sound blaster card.

As for a basic ISA card, they'll work. I keep a Trident TVGA-8900D laying around for this. With a little bus overclock it handles doom quite nicely, just doesn't have the greatest output for an LCD monitor. Those cards are plentiful and should be easy to find online.

http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?t=35707

Not too much info but here's another thread I've come across before, you can see a few other pre VLB local bus cards there and mention of your board.

Also, check around that blue battery under the keyboard input for any leakage or corrosion. It's likely dead by now and will destroy the board. You can snip that right off and clean around it with alcohol, if you have a soldering iron it's an easy job to replace it or even add a CR2032 socket.

http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboard ... 486US.html

According to this link, there should be an external battery header (J17). You can get a cheap adapter with a couple of AA batteries to connect if you want.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby jesolo » 2017-11-26 @ 22:00

As per the above post, desolder that battery on the motherboard as soon as possible before it leaks out all over the motherboard. You can the rather use an external battery (non chargeable) to keep the date and time settings.
Some tips and alternatives to try: http://pc-restorer.com/replacing-cmos-b ... n-old-pcs/
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Maraakate » 2017-11-26 @ 22:28

OK. I will remove the old battery and replace it with a CR2032 socket and battery. I'll find an ISA 16-bit VGA card as well and see if this thing works at all. In addition to trying to replace the tantalum caps at a later date on the Tseng Thanks for your help everyone.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby brostenen » 2017-11-26 @ 22:42

Nice system, nice find. Get that battery out before it leaks and destroy the board. Repair that videocard asap.
As far as I know, some parts of the system is really rare. Like the ET-4000.....
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby brostenen » 2017-11-26 @ 22:46

Maraakate wrote:OK. I will remove the old battery and replace it with a CR2032 socket and battery. I'll find an ISA 16-bit VGA card as well and see if this thing works at all. In addition to trying to replace the tantalum caps at a later date on the Tseng Thanks for your help everyone.


Keep in mind, that if the board charges the battery, then you can end up with an exploding battery if you use a regulair non rechargeable 3volt coincell. I have used one of these a number of times before. Works like a charm...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Li-ion-Rechargeable-LiR2450-LIR-2450-Coin-Cell-Battery-w-VDY2/160818237533?epid=1431410632&hash=item257183905d:g:vF4AAOxyPH9RvsrS
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby feipoa » 2017-11-26 @ 23:22

+2
Replace those tantalum caps and remove that battery.


I have found that tantalum caps on some older boards short themselves out; If you run the capacitor (power on) with the short, it can explode and catch fire.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby Maraakate » 2017-11-26 @ 23:32

brostenen wrote:
Maraakate wrote:OK. I will remove the old battery and replace it with a CR2032 socket and battery. I'll find an ISA 16-bit VGA card as well and see if this thing works at all. In addition to trying to replace the tantalum caps at a later date on the Tseng Thanks for your help everyone.


Keep in mind, that if the board charges the battery, then you can end up with an exploding battery if you use a regulair non rechargeable 3volt coincell. I have used one of these a number of times before. Works like a charm...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Li-ion-Rechargeable-LiR2450-LIR-2450-Coin-Cell-Battery-w-VDY2/160818237533?epid=1431410632&hash=item257183905d:g:vF4AAOxyPH9RvsrS


Yeah, console5 has these in the US. They're used in some game cartridges as well. Thanks for that.
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Re: 486 Tower find -- VLB Card suggestions

Postby CkRtech » 2017-11-26 @ 23:41

Maraakate wrote:Yeah, console5 has these in the US.

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