First post, by xjas
V I R T U A L R E A L I T Y
A.K.A.: “Let's restore: xjas’s HOLY FREAKING GRAIL of vintage hardware!”
So today I picked up this wonderfully nondescript box at the post office. In it was:
Well, ASIDE from cushiony piles of the pinkest bubble wrap I’ve ever seen, there was also all this:
OH MY YES.
Okay, a bit of backstory. As some of you may know I’m obsessed with VR. I built myself a DIY shutter glasses interface straight out of an issue of PCVR magazine from 1992, got an Oculus Rift DK1 as soon as I could afford it, and even joined the local makerspace in large part because they have a full HTC Vive setup. But I’m especially obsessed with ’90s style of VR. The flat shaded polys, the cyberpunk aesthetic, the low resolution surreal worlds... those are so cool, but what really appeals to me about the whole thing is the unmitigated forward-looking futurism that went with it. This was going to change everything and become the future of humanity and you needed to get on board or get left behind. Blah blah blah.
Yeah, I fully realize the irony of appreciating that aspect most, while looking at this 20 years later from a retro perspective.
Regardless, when this stuff was current, I was a broke-ass teenager, but I did what I could. (I distinctly remember at one point setting up 3 CRT monitors in left-center-right orientation under a blanket fort. I forget what game supported this, the original NASCAR maybe?)
Back to the VFX-1. I did not expect to get this. I wasn’t even really looking anymore, the last few of these I’ve seen for sale went FAR out of my price range (saw one go for over a grand!) and even bare helmets without the critical ISA card were fetching mint. They're getting scarce as hell and never even pop up on Ebay anymore. Well, a couple weeks ago, this one did. It was complete. The seller posted it with a downright bargain starting bid and reasonable shipping costs, several good photos and even a friendly & humorous description. Surely it was gonna go berserk.
No one bid. I kept UTTERLY silent about it, even IRL. It was harrowing.
Well, some hours from the end, someone bid. Once. And then never countered my bid. The auction ended and it was over. It was mine, for just seventy-five bucks more than the starting price (and some n hundreds less than my insanity-sauce maximum bid, but never mind that. If you must know, n>2.)
I just quickly want to mention the seller was super quick, helpful, and packed it up very well. It got to my doorstop fast & was exactly as described. Great guy.
So let’s look at this in detail. Here’s the all important “VIP” (VFX-1 Interface Protocol) card. It’s a bit grungy but looks solid. I’ve seen a lot worse hardware than this be fully functional.
(Pics are large, so click to zoom! Sorry for the chromatic aberration.)
It’s one of the few hardware devices I know of that use video cards’ VESA feature connector, hence the ribbon cable. Incidentally that means you need a video card with a VESA feature connector. I have a fantastic one, more on this later.
Two user manuals for some reason and the original registration card.