VOGONS


First post, by Mattyice1994

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Hey Vogons,

I want to protect my pride and joy: my recently completed 486!

I would hate for power surges, fluctuations, brownouts, etc. to harm these vintage components!

Right now, I'm using a small Tripp-Lite surge protector, but I've been reading a lot about other surge protectors and UPS setups.

Do you guys use anything special as far as surge protectors go? What about UPS's?

I read that having a UPS can be important for protecting against undervoltage conditions / dirty power. I live in a hot climate, so the AC comes on close to every hour. Should I consider going all the way and just get a UPS?

Thanks for any recommendations!

Reply 1 of 17, by Jo22

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Hi, I had a cheap UPS (or "USV" as it's called in German) once. It came in a plastic case and worked fine for a long time.
Until it went crazy and didn't charge anymore. It continued beeping until the battery was drained. However, it never damaged my stuff.

Personally, I think that an UPS is a fine piece of equipment, if it's a quality model.
A good one in a big metalcase with screws can house high-capacity lead-gel batteries that are long-lived but also can be replaced if necessary..

If you use vintage gear, also make sure the UPS has a serial port.
It can be used to automatically shut down the PC, but also used for diagnostics (battery status, inverter status etc).

From what I remember, Windows NT 3.51/4.00 had UPS support built-in..

Anyway, I would consider keeping the existing filters and protective circuits in place. They shouldn't harm and may help to reduce stress for UPS/PC..

PS: Sorry for my poor English.
Some sentences went out badly,
but I don't know how else to properly express what I want say. 😅

Exit: Lead-gel batteries are more user-friendly than lead-acid batteries, from what I know.
The gel type doesn't "gas out" (right English term?) , doesn't leak and is less sensitive to wrong orientation.
Edit: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sealed_lead_acid_battery

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 2 of 17, by red-ray

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I have an APC Smart-UPS 2200 for my main system mainly so when there is a power outage the system can do a controlled shutdown and the RAID volumes don't need to be rebuilt. In general the power here is pretty reliable, but I get the odd brownout and with the UPS the system just keeps running. The UPS is at least 10 years old and every few years I need to get new batteries.

If the system supports USB then a UPS with a USB connection will be a better option than a serial one, most UPC 1500/2200/3000 can have both.

Reply 3 of 17, by Standard Def Steve

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The power only goes out once or twice a year where I live, so I've never bothered with UPSs. With their beeping and their batteries that need to be replaced periodically, they're more of an annoyance to me, so I just use decent surge protectors and hit ctrl+s every 10 minutes (unpopular opinion, I know 😜)

And yeah, we also have an AC unit--it's such a power hog that it runs on 240 and has like a 50A disconnect. The inrush on that thing is probably insane, but it's never seemed to bother any electronics in the house.

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Super P3: PIII-S @ 1.63 GHz/FSB155 | 2GB DDR-310 | 6800GT AGP | 500GB 7200 RPM
Super G4: 2x PowerPC 7455 @ 1.5 GHz | 2GB DDR-333 | 7800GS AGP | 300GB 10k RPM
Super G5: 4x PowerPC 970 @ 2.5 GHz | 16GB DDR2-533 | x1950XT PCIe | 512GB SSD

Reply 4 of 17, by Miphee

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I wouldn't bother but it doesn't mean that it's not useful.
I have B+C and D class lightning arrestors installed in the house and I might never need them once.
I wanted it though because I already lost a TV, a sound system and a computer due to lightning strikes (covered by insurance) and I just feel better this way.
So if you feel safer with a UPS installed then definitely go for it.

Reply 5 of 17, by Errius

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Apparently rolling blackouts are thing now in California? How is Silicon Valley handling this? What happens when all Google servers suddenly lose power?

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Reply 6 of 17, by PTherapist

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If you decide to get one, make sure it's a decent one with good reviews. Don't be tempted by a cheap model, they can be dangerous.

I had a cheap UPS once, that I ran a Pentium 4 PC on for about a year. Then 1 day after an hour or so of some gaming the computer's PSU exploded (exaggerating here, but it was THAT loud), killing the motherboard & damaging the HDD. The UPS switched itself off at this point, as well as tripping the electric. Upon disconnecting everything from the UPS and attempting to turn it back on - smoke billowed out followed by multiple mini bangs, before I turned it off permanently!

Reply 7 of 17, by Horun

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PTherapist wrote on 2020-08-30, 17:46:

If you decide to get one, make sure it's a decent one with good reviews. Don't be tempted by a cheap model, they can be dangerous.

I had a cheap UPS once, that I ran a Pentium 4 PC on for about a year. Then 1 day after an hour or so of some gaming the computer's PSU exploded (exaggerating here, but it was THAT loud), killing the motherboard & damaging the HDD. The UPS switched itself off at this point, as well as tripping the electric. Upon disconnecting everything from the UPS and attempting to turn it back on - smoke billowed out followed by multiple mini bangs, before I turned it off permanently!

Agree ! Do not buy a cheap one. I usually only buy APC brand here in USA because they are good quality and the batteries last about 5-7 years, by that time I just buy a new one. Have a 1200 and 1500 protecting diff systems as we get ice storms and drunk drivers that cause power poles to magically fall and the voltage spikes and brown outs can ruin a good computer.

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 9 of 17, by Horun

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I almost lost a good computer, monitor and printer that were on to a bad power outage, luckily it took out the UPS instead. It was under warranty so was a free replacement. The $120 APC Pro UPS protected about $1500 worth of gear. My TV was also on but not so lucky as it just plugged into a fairly good surge protector. Yes it took out the Surge and the TV too, the 400v spike protection in the surge was not quite good enough/fast enough to stop the V spike but the UPS did stop it.
I guess it all depends on where you live whether a Surge or more expensive UPS is worth the money. Just my opinion because have had the bad luck to see what can happen without one.

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 10 of 17, by wiretap

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Errius wrote on 2020-08-30, 08:52:

Apparently rolling blackouts are thing now in California? How is Silicon Valley handling this? What happens when all Google servers suddenly lose power?

Datacenters all have properly sized emergency diesel generators or CTG's - the auto-transfer switch senses the grid disturbance and starts generators.

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Reply 11 of 17, by Horun

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wiretap wrote on 2020-08-31, 01:09:
Errius wrote on 2020-08-30, 08:52:

Apparently rolling blackouts are thing now in California? How is Silicon Valley handling this? What happens when all Google servers suddenly lose power?

Datacenters all have properly sized emergency diesel generators or CTG's - the auto-transfer switch senses the grid disturbance and starts generators.

Yes they do and so do all the important medical places I do maintenance on. Most have diesels, a few have direct Natural Gas run generators. Really would like a 20Kwatt NG one for the home but they are not cheap when you include permits and wiring 😀

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 12 of 17, by Hoping

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I have everything I care about connected to a UPS. After what I saw in the workshop, I prefer to buy used UPS from recognized brands that are often found at very affordable prices taking into account the relationship between the quality of these used and new ones of similar price, and add the batteries. I know the batteries are not cheap but it still pays off.
In my case, where I live there are many fluctuations and cuts in the electricity supply, which is why a certain obsession with the subject.

Reply 13 of 17, by TheMobRules

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I used to have a small APC UPS for my NAS until a blackout at around 4-5AM triggered it and started beeping so loud it almost gave me a heart attack as I suddenly woke up to the noise. Half-asleep, I then tried to gracefully shut down the NAS using a switch on its back but it was so dark I couldn't find it, and to make matters worse I hit some furniture and my knee started to bleed profusely, all this while the UPS kept beeping. Finally, after a few more minutes of cursing, I found the switch but the NAS still wouldn't shut down, so I disconnected the UPS and turned it off, cleaned my knee and went back to sleep.

After that incident, no more UPS for me. I understand their usefulness for critical systems but decided it really wasn't worth it in my case. My NAS is not accessed very often and it is set up to turn the hard drives off after a certain period of inactivity, so the chance of them already being off during a blackout is very high. If it somehow becomes corrupted, I still have the information backed up somewhere else.

I have pretty clean power where I live, most blackouts are programmed and I can't remember the last time we've had a brownout (that I could tell). So I don't even bother with additional protections for my equipment (retro or modern), I just check that the power supplies used have decent protection (varistors and such). And if something dies, it dies.

Reply 14 of 17, by Intel486dx33

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At least get a good surge protector.

As for UPS that’s up to you.
If your just playing games and have no crucial data on your PC then It really is not needed.
But is you do other things with your computer like make music or write code you may want one.
If your area has allot of power outages and power surges then you want some protection.

Reply 15 of 17, by shamino

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If you do decide to get a UPS, check thrift stores. APC SmartUPS units are good quality sinewave producing units, and they show up occasionally for a few bucks. They'll need batteries replaced but at least you can save money on the unit that way.
A lot of people get rid of them because the batteries are bad. Many people might not even realize that's what's wrong with them, because SmartUPSes like to act 100% dead to the world when the batteries fail.

Whether it's worth it is debatable. I have a SmartUPS 1250 and 1400. I used the 1400 (SU1400NET) for several years but stopped recently because I didn't want to shell out for another set of batteries.
Under seemingly normal conditions, I *did* notice it switching to battery occasionally when wall voltage went out of spec, so it was doing something, I just don't know how much it actually mattered.

In this location we've sometimes had serious brownouts and oscillating light bulbs. So yeah maybe I should be using a UPS, but I'm being cheap and we're probably leaving CA soon.

I don't think I'm in a situation where I'm at high risk of losing data if the power goes out, so that isn't a big motivator.

I wonder what's a good way to find out if a surge protector is good. About 10 minutes after a spilled-drink incident, I got sparks and smoke out of one that never tripped. Instead the upstream surge protector that it was plugged into tripped instead. I threw it out.

Reply 16 of 17, by chinny22

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Been thinking the same thing, more so it acts as a big filter giving me nice clean power then uptime
it's a good time to find them 2nd hand as well with more and more companies clearing out server rooms and moving into the "cloud" (stupid term)
If you know anyone in the business you may be able to get it for free as they are big heavy things cost a bit to dispose of so your doing them the favour.

Thats how I got mine, only reason I'm not using it is because it has a fan and currently my PC's are right next to my bed.

I wouldn't say its a necessity but definitely a nice thing to have

Reply 17 of 17, by Mattyice1994

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Thank you everyone for the awesome replies! I went with a Triplitte surge protector for now, but I think I'm going to take some of the advice regarding checking thrift stores and businesses that get rid of old ones - try getting replacement batteries instead.

Or maybe there will be a solid deal.

I want to aim for APC ideally, so I guess I'll just start keeping my eyes out!