VOGONS


First post, by Shponglefan

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This build is a recreation of the first family computer we had growing up. While it's not the original hardware, I was able to cobble together the same basic make and model, even including the off-color 3.5" floppy drive. Then I added some quality-of-life upgrades and enhancements for late 80s / early 90s gaming.

Specs:

CPU: 80286-12 (AMD)
Math co-processor: 80287-8
RAM: 640KB conventional
Removable storage: 5.25" and 3.5" floppy drives
Fixed Storage: 128 MB Compact Flash via 16-bit ISA adapter, plus lo-tech ISA card w/ XTIDE BIOS extension
Video: Aamazing (Acumos AVGA1) 16-bit ISA VGA graphics adapter
Audio: Adlib and Roland LAPC-I sound cards
Speakers: Harman Kardon 2.0 multimedia speaker system
Keyboard: Epson Q203A mechanical keyboard
Mouse: 2- button Microsoft Mouse
Monitor: Samsung 15" SyncMaster 550b

A few notes about the system:

The Epson features a couple hinged doors on the front for the keyboard connector and switches. The keyboard hinged door is usually missing on most used units. I ended up buying a pair of old Epsons, one in good cosmetic condition, and another for scavenging parts from. I even got an original box with one of the units.

The Epson features a selector switch for 12 MHz and 8 MHz speeds. The power LED toggles between green (12 MHz) and amber (8 MHz).

The monitor, keyboard and mouse were all purchased as new-old-stock. I'm not 100% sure if the keyboard wasn't previously used, but it is is really good condition and even has the original plastic wrap still on the cord. The connector on the case is designed for a 90 degree DIN plug, which makes me especially glad I was able to find an original Epson keyboard for this build.

Both units came with hard drives (IDE and MFM drives respectively). I haven't tested them yet, as I plan to stick with CF for each of file transfer and general reliability compared to using 30+ year old drives. The 5.25" drive is not currently hooked up. I still need to test it and will do so in the future.

For audio, the Adlib and Roland LAPC-I combo works well for the era this machine is from. I did test a Sound Blaster 1.5 w/ CMS upgrade, but found it noisier than I would have liked. So I stuck with the Adlib. Also, the case fortunately the case fits full-length ISA cards, which meant the Roland could just fit.

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Last edited by Shponglefan on 2022-10-02, 13:31. Edited 5 times in total.

Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 1 of 9, by Shponglefan

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Some photos of the build progress and the two systems I put together this unit from.

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Last edited by Shponglefan on 2022-10-01, 23:50. Edited 1 time in total.

Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 2 of 9, by Shponglefan

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Pictures of some of the hardware and the original box.

Unfortunately I don't have the original system disks (originally would have included MS-DOS 3.3) or manuals, except for a GW-BASIC manual. I might try to reacquire these if I can find them.

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Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 3 of 9, by Anonymous Coward

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I bought one of these used in the 90s (with the missing front panel of course). I remember it being surprisingly fast for what it was. I think at one point I had it up to 10 or 11MB of RAM (4 or 5 onboard)+ 6MB on a pair of EV-159s). I remember using Windows 3.1 and Wintune 2.0, and it was only marginally slower than a 386SX-40 I had.

I'm kind of curious about that Amaazing VGA card. I knew a whole bunch of people who had their monitors, but they were almost always paired with a Trident Microsystem's card. I wonder if it's actually the same company. It appears to be just a generic Acumos card that somebody slapped a sticker on.

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 4 of 9, by Shponglefan

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Anonymous Coward wrote on 2022-10-02, 03:30:

I bought one of these used in the 90s (with the missing front panel of course). I remember it being surprisingly fast for what it was. I think at one point I had it up to 10 or 11MB of RAM (4 or 5 onboard)+ 6MB on a pair of EV-159s). I remember using Windows 3.1 and Wintune 2.0, and it was only marginally slower than a 386SX-40 I had.

I'm kind of curious about that Amaazing VGA card. I knew a whole bunch of people who had their monitors, but they were almost always paired with a Trident Microsystem's card. I wonder if it's actually the same company. It appears to be just a generic Acumos card that somebody slapped a sticker on.

I was curious about the VGA card myself. It does appear to be an Acumos AVGA1 card with an Aamazing sticker slapped on.

Looking up Aamazing VGA cards, it looks like they had a similar practice with other manufacturers' cards as well (e.g. Trident).

Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 5 of 9, by Anonymous Coward

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Ha, I can never remember where to put the extra 'A' in Aamazing. No wonder why I couldn't find their stuff when I searched.
So their monitors were probably just some rebadged Korean stuff, right?

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 6 of 9, by chinny22

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286's predate our first PC therefore don't really do much for me nostalgically but I do appreciate their technical limitations and how now we can build what would have been considered amazingly rigs back in the day.
What games you planning or is it mostly just for tinkering around with?

Do you have enough working parts to have a 2nd "ugly twin" up and running?

Reply 7 of 9, by Shponglefan

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chinny22 wrote on 2022-10-02, 15:19:

286's predate our first PC therefore don't really do much for me nostalgically but I do appreciate their technical limitations and how now we can build what would have been considered amazingly rigs back in the day.
What games you planning or is it mostly just for tinkering around with?

Do you have enough working parts to have a 2nd "ugly twin" up and running?

This is definitely for gaming. That's the reason I opted for non-era appropriate monitor, mouse and speakers. While I wanted to retro nostalgia of the Epson system, I am aiming for functional usability.

For games, I'm using it for playing early SCI-era Sierra games, early LucasArts adventure games, and SSI games. Really anything from the late 80s and early 90s especially that supports LAPC-I/MT-32 music shines in this system.

I do have enough other parts to get a second unit up and running. I've debated putting together a slightly more vintage version (e.g. CGA/EGA graphics, MFM hard disk, 5.25" drives only).

Alternatively, I'm also thinking of cannibalizing the 12 MHz processor from it and using it to upgrade a Tandy TL system.

Last edited by Shponglefan on 2022-10-02, 15:48. Edited 1 time in total.

Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 8 of 9, by Shponglefan

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Anonymous Coward wrote on 2022-10-02, 14:01:

Ha, I can never remember where to put the extra 'A' in Aamazing. No wonder why I couldn't find their stuff when I searched.
So their monitors were probably just some rebadged Korean stuff, right?

I don't think I've ever had one of their monitors, so I honestly don't know.

Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 9 of 9, by Anonymous Coward

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I think Aamazing must have been one of the first relatively affordable VGA monitors. I want to go back and have a look at some magazines from 88-91 to see if I can find anything.
I tried to look into this, and all I could find was some documentation referring to a lawsuit between Aamazing Tecnologies and KDS.
It wouldn't surprise me if they were rebadging KDS monitors. I wonder what they did to tick them off.

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium