First post, by Hezus
A while ago I picked up two of these 90's thin clients:
This is a Equiinet Netpilot, which was used as a Linux based network firewall back in the late 90's. To this day, NetPilot is still a company and this was their first machine. However, they did not design the machine itself. It's a repurposed Viewpoint TC-100 from Boundless Technologies and was originally used as a text terminal.
Inside is a AM5x86 running at 133 Mhz, no L2 cache, ALI 1487 chipset, 2 ram slots, onboard VGA by Cirrus Logic, onboard network card. It has a header for IDE and FDD, although no possible spot for a floppy disk drive. There is a slot for a HDD in a bracket you can install. Mine came installed with a ISA riser card which will give you 1 expansion slot, but a PCI riser card is also a possibility.
All in all a pretty unsual and fun form factor to turn into a 90's MSDOS gaming pc! Or so I thought. The PC gave me all kinds of trouble and whatever disk images I tried, jumper settings I changed, it simply would not boot from the HDD or CF card I hooked it on to. I gave the other PC to my younger brother to test, but he was also greeted by a pitch black screen. After a long long time we somehow figured out that the system was actually booting but something was preventing the screen from showing any information. It seemed that the PC had a 4mb flash drive installed on the motherboard and loaded a program called SILENT.COM right on POST to black out the screen. This was probably a safety measure. Luckely the drive also contained the UNSILENT.COM program that gives you back the screen and there it was: a proper dos prompt! I've installed a CF card on a bracket in the PCI slot and a SB 16 CT2770 in the ISA slot and it was ready run some cool dos games! Performance is pretty alright with most early to mid 90's games, although the lack of L2 cache is a bit of a bummer.
However, it's still a bit of a boring yellowed box. I could restore it with some retrobrite but I knew I wanted to try something creative for this case and so I went with an AMD theme to highlight the CPU that makes it tick. I've handpainted the case and the AMD logo with a brush. The plastic front bezel was done with a spray can and I've designed and printed my own case badge for it.
It turned into a pretty unique little machine and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. Painting the case was quite time consuming and tricky. Would probably have been easier to spray paint it and then put a sticker on top but you got to stick to your choices, right? 😉
I'm still looking for a more advanced BIOS for this system. Apparently, there is a very similar motherboard made by (American) DigiCom that also features the Cirrus Logic VGA Bios but I was not able to find any info on such a machine.
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