VOGONS


First post, by jasa1063

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There are those that want their retro builds to be as authentic as possible right down to the last detail. I tend to fall into the camp where having some modern upgrades makes things a whole lot easier to maintain. Compact Flash cards and LCD monitors are the two that have helped me the most. I have two MCE2VGA converters to run two of my Tandy 1000s on LCD screens. I use KVMs where I can due to the limited space I have for running all my retro projects. I use ATX motherboards whenever possible for use with modern cases and power supplies. To me it does not take away from the retro experience as it's about running the retro software. Again it's all a matter of preference, but would like to hear others thoughts on this topic.

Reply 3 of 58, by dionb

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It really is a matter of preference - and that can even vary between systems belonging to the same person. A couple of my examples:

- an Olivetti M24 I intend to repair and restore one day. I do intend to upgrade it to the max, with NEC V30 CPU, RAM expansion and a big HDD - but it's staying completely period-correct up to the weird video card and signal-cable powered monitor.
- a K6-2 in beige ATX case with period correct HDD, S3 AGP, Voodoo, GUS and AWE64 - but hooked up through KVM to my flatscreen CRT monitor
- a dual P3-933 system with U160 SCSI and other period-correct hardware including two Thermaltake Golden Orb HSFs but with a multi-card reader on the front. Oh and all of that in a 2005-era transparant acrylic case 😜

One thing I do with all systems though: Ethernet. The M24 gets a 3C503 Etherlink II, the K6-2 has a 3C509, the dual P3 has a 3Com Gigabit NIC. Also I try to get CF in everywhere (except the M24 where period-correct really is sacred), either via USB if present, otherwise via IDE.

Oh, and in case it wasn't obvious already, I'm a hardware-geek. I spend far more time tinkering with my systems than actually using them to game on or use other software. The less you care about hardware, the stronger the use-case for nice easy features to make running and installing software as painless as possible.

Reply 4 of 58, by darry

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For me, it's not necessarily about having the most "authentic" retro experience . It's more about having an "augmented" retro experience where the added newer components enhance the experience . SSDs, high quality speakers and headphones, scalers and LCD monitors (subjective, I know), high quality silent fans, ridiculously maxed out specs, etc, which more closely mirror what I wanted or dreamed about back in the day, are what I want today .

Reply 5 of 58, by SodaSuccubus

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I definitely believe in certain modern convinces. There are somethings that are just not worth all the trouble going back too like slow CD drives and original AT PSUs. Others are litterly life savers like GOTEKS to replace dying FDDs and CF cards for quick game transfers.

IMO I include using real period accurate HDDs in that "no" category because....no. No snail speeds . They make orgasmic noises, but that's about it 😜

Reply 6 of 58, by Pierre32

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I try to keep my experience as period-correct as possible, but you can pry my CF cards from my cold dead hands.

You know what though, I'd like a little sound device that makes HDD seek noises.

Reply 7 of 58, by brian105

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Pierre32 wrote on 2020-07-10, 01:21:

I try to keep my experience as period-correct as possible, but you can pry my CF cards from my cold dead hands.

You know what though, I'd like a little sound device that makes HDD seek noises.

Default sound would be an original model Bigfoot?

I cut my finger on a modem, don't judge

Reply 8 of 58, by darry

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brian105 wrote on 2020-07-10, 02:00:
Pierre32 wrote on 2020-07-10, 01:21:

I try to keep my experience as period-correct as possible, but you can pry my CF cards from my cold dead hands.

You know what though, I'd like a little sound device that makes HDD seek noises.

Default sound would be an original model Bigfoot?

Problem would be to get a sample of what an old hard drive sounded like when new . The ones with 20 or 30 years of use on them tend to have worn bearings and can sound like an angle grinder (slight exaggeration) . That said, the first hard drive I used was Quantum ProDrive LPS52AT in 1991 and it was very quiet (soft chirping while seeking) .

Reply 9 of 58, by hwh

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Pretty much all I do is use "modern" monitors. I don't have much in the way of monitors. I picked up very few monitors though. For some reason they usually weren't in the same waste stream as the computers themselves. They tend to not look good and have serious issues. Like my Sony whose case is cracking for some reason, or the other Sony whose gigantic gray plastic back is turning a shade of brown-gray. Even if I could get it off, non light colors tend to not respond well to hydrogen peroxide. I bought those, I only ever salvaged one monitor, for Macintoshes.

I've tried in the past to add USB to some systems, unsuccessfully.

I value originality more than I used to. I think twice before swapping CPUs and adding drives. That said, sometimes it's the right call. That 56K modem, well, I literally can't do anything with it. That 32MB of memory, well, here, have a few hundred more.

I should really be adding NICs to systems I go past without them, but the issue is I don't have a gigantic ethernet cable to go across the house from there to the router I guess. Maybe it's time, 🤣. I just don't spend much time doing this anymore.

On the P100 I picked up last year it had for whatever reason an unconscionably loud fan. It wasn't failing, it just made a hell of a lot of noise for the task. I added an in line resistor (not modified, it's a Zalman part) to give it a rest. Still works just fine, and about half as loud as when I got it. It's a P100 with a fan, it's not going to overheat.

Just to see if it worked, I dropped a P233 in and as you might imagine (I don't even think the board has jumpers for it, it was at 200 maybe) the system was far more responsive and generally nicer. Also it felt a lot less like its age. I already have plenty of P233s, and I didn't need it here, so after testing the chip I returned the P100 to its original home.

In retrospect, I did a lot of stupid things salvaging when I was younger.

I can foresee a time where you just don't have the parts like a hard drive or fan or whatever and go to more modern devices, but I happen to enjoy the hardware side of things, and you better believe if I had a phone line I would in fact be using the 56K modems to grab drivers and crap for systems I work with.

Reply 10 of 58, by EvieSigma

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My builds are usually period correct except for hard drives. Late 90s/early 2000s small hard drives (think stuff in the 2 to 15GB range) aren't easy to find around here while 40GB WD Caviar and Seagate Barracuda drives from P4s are everywhere, so I've got like 5 machines of that era with 40GB drives installed. The rest usually comes with the machine so I don't really need to put in the effort to be period correct...but I do get conflicted sometimes with video cards. This isn't really retro but I have a Dell XPS 720 system (Core 2 Extreme QX6850, 8GB of RAM, GeForce 8800GTX) where I keep going back and forth over whether I want to install a newer video card or not, because a newer card kinda spoils the late 2000s gaming PC vibe but a later card would expand the number of games I can play.

Reply 11 of 58, by candle_86

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I don't use period correct drives often but I still use spinners, I have my first gotek and love it, and I'm a big fan of kvm and LCD monitor

Phenom II X4 840T @ 4ghz - ASUS M3N72D-SLI - GTX 560 Ti- 4GB DDR2 1066 - 1TB HDD - Windows XP
Pentium 4 3.4C - MSI 865PE NEO2 - x850 XT PE - 2GB DDR 400 - 500GB HDD - Windows XP
Duron 1600 - ASUS A7N8X - 512MB DDR 266 - Radeon 8500 LE

Reply 12 of 58, by Pierre32

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darry wrote on 2020-07-10, 02:08:
brian105 wrote on 2020-07-10, 02:00:
Pierre32 wrote on 2020-07-10, 01:21:

I try to keep my experience as period-correct as possible, but you can pry my CF cards from my cold dead hands.

You know what though, I'd like a little sound device that makes HDD seek noises.

Default sound would be an original model Bigfoot?

Problem would be to get a sample of what an old hard drive sounded like when new . The ones with 20 or 30 years of use on them tend to have worn bearings and can sound like an angle grinder (slight exaggeration) . That said, the first hard drive I used was Quantum ProDrive LPS52AT in 1991 and it was very quiet (soft chirping while seeking) .

I'd be happy with any kind of low-pitched click sound, which you might even be able to do by simply hanging a small speaker or piezo off the LED light circuit.

In my 386 I have my CF card in a rack caddy, which has LED circuits separate from the mobo. I should experiment 😁

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Reply 13 of 58, by Oetker

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I mostly care about authenticity while using the software. What I mean with that is, I want to play DOS Doom in 320x200 stretched to 4:3 with either genuine OPL music or an SC-55. So my retro PC is just a way to facilitate that, well really, all it needs to be is a vessel to carry a sound blaster compatible ISA card. I also can't leave well enough alone, which means that getting hold of low-density ram, putting in an SSD, buying a slotket to upgrade to a Coppermine CPU are all interesting things to do.

I think that for something that's more of a coherent system, like a game console, or an original IBM PC, I'd care more about keeping it original. Originality is a very subjective thing, every PC I've ever had got upgraded multiple times throughout its lifespan, so I'd have a 2000 < 667MHz P3 with a Geforce 3 so that I had nice water in Morrowind. Then that GF3 got carried over to my Athlon XP machine, etc.

Reply 14 of 58, by babtras

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Being a bit flexible on authenticity allows me more space for a greater variety of machines. Having CRTs for everything would mean I could have no more than 3 retro machines set up. So I am content with laptops and portables, and one LCD and a KVM for the desktops. As it is, I can boot up my TRS-80, 8088, 286, 386, 486, Pentium, Pentium II, Pentium III, or Pentium 4, without having to put something else away first.

Reply 16 of 58, by chinny22

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For the PC itself
Gotek floppy drive is a must
DOS PC's get CF cards but boot drive is still a spinning disk for the correct sounds when I turn it on, usually the max size that has native bios support.
I prefer modern cases for the better airflow but if i get a system with it's original case I'll keep it as is.
Everything get's a network card even if its just a cheap realtek. But networking has been around forever as well so don't consider this "cheating"

for the KVM side of things (I have 3) plus workbench and spares
Mouse has to be optical. Excess work stock mostly. Majority are very average ones that come with new PC's but from PS2 era before they became truly terrible. Have managed to get a few good early Logitec or MS ones as well.
Keyboards same story. Saved a P3 era Dell Quietkey which is actually pretty nice and I guess technically retro and similar aged MS "Internet Keyboard" plus a few P4 era Compaq PS2 ones that arent gaming level but ok quality
Screen's are all Dell 5:4 TFT hand me downs from work including spares in storage. Not perfect but close enough. I did get a CRT recently for times outputs fall out of range of the TFT's

Used to be hooked upto Logitech Z5500 speakers (is that modern or old now?) but have had to move to headphones due to rest of the house wanting to sleep 😉

Reply 17 of 58, by synrgy87

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Unless there's a technical reason for staying "period accurate" then I'm not worried about it, for example if I'm targeting a certain era of 3d acceleration, or if it's speed sensitive etc, Totally fine with using modern alternatives for storage, file transfer, display, input, audio etc where needed or where it's more convenient, reliable or maybe more cool / fun / interesting.

The tech world is your oyster, I do like floppy disk drives and CRT monitors though, but practicality and space requirements come into play.

Reply 18 of 58, by Joseph_Joestar

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One of the retro aspects that I absolutely don't miss is using a ball mouse. Those things are imprecise and get dirty way too frequently. That's why I'll never build a retro rig without a PS2 port.

Also, having USB (even if it's just version 1.1) is a great boon. Not just for easy file transfers, but also for using modern mice and keyboards under Win98.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 19 of 58, by imi

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seeing as CRTs are a limited resource I try to limit use of them when I really want to, otherwise I use old or more modern LCD monitors.

CF cards, yes
modern power supplies, yes

basically the most important retro aspect for me is the hardware that does the actual processing, display and audio output.

I do keep a few "original" machines around as well though for "the full experience" 😀
(though modern power supplies for those too though if necessary)