VOGONS


First post, by leonardo

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

I recently came upon a junker on the way to the graveyard and decided to look into what it was and if I could give it a new life as someone's retro-hobby.

The mystery rig would not POST, but the motherboard had both AT- and ATX-power cable sockets so I plugged it into a spare PSU I had lying around to discover this is in fact an ASUS TXP4 motherboard with a AMD K6-II 400 MHz CPU, and that it appears to be functioning.

The system has been looted for pretty much everything and even the port connectors for the rear are gone, meaning I can only plug in an AT-style keyboard directly. Everything else (COM-, Parallel-, PS/2, etc.) is just gone. I much prefer these things to be directly attached to the mobo, but what can you do.

Looking through the manual I've discovered the connector-types and pin-assignments (see below for outtakes), but wanted to ask if some of you other hobbyists know how common these parts are (were these shared across different motherboards of the era, or even between ASUS boards, or am I looking for some proprietary unicorn parts that cannot be substituted with replacements very easily)?

I tried looking online but came back with a bunch of connectors that seem to all have differing headers or cables that attach to the motherboard.

All my retro-gear has its ports firmly attached to the board so this is a somewhat alien scenario for me.

txp4_serial.png
Filename
txp4_serial.png
File size
42.72 KiB
Views
248 views
File comment
TXP4 manual outtake: COM-ports
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
txp4_parallel.png
Filename
txp4_parallel.png
File size
88.94 KiB
Views
248 views
File comment
TXP4 manual outtake: LPT-port
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
txp4_usb-irda-ps2.png
Filename
txp4_usb-irda-ps2.png
File size
91.79 KiB
Views
248 views
File comment
TXP4 manual outtake: PS/2, IrDA, USB
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

edit: I would just like to add that I don't need all of these, but PS/2- or a COM-port for a mouse is pretty much a must if this thing is going to be useful to anyone.

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.

Reply 1 of 8, by Repo Man11

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

On mine I never bothered to find serial or parallel port connectors since I never use either, but I used the basic PS/2 and USB adapters found on Ebay instead (some rewiring may be necessary but it is easily done). Or you could buy one of these - the price is right, but the shipping they charge is pretty steep: http://www.cablesonline.com/usbatxforcar.html

BTW, if you haven't discovered it already, that board can run a K6-2+/3+ at 500 MHz, and there's a modified BIOS at Jan Steunebrink's site. http://web.inter.nl.net/hcc/J.Steunebrink/k6plus.htm

Also, that's a great find; I paid nearly $100.00 for mine.

"Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects." - Will Rogers

Reply 2 of 8, by leonardo

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Repo Man11 wrote on 2022-04-16, 19:18:

On mine I never bothered to find serial or parallel port connectors since I never use either, but I used the basic PS/2 and USB adapters found on Ebay instead (some rewiring may be necessary but it is easily done). Or you could buy one of these - the price is right, but the shipping they charge is pretty steep: http://www.cablesonline.com/usbatxforcar.html

BTW, if you haven't discovered it already, that board can run a K6-2+/3+ at 500 MHz, and there's a modified BIOS at Jan Steunebrink's site. http://web.inter.nl.net/hcc/J.Steunebrink/k6plus.htm

Also, that's a great find; I paid nearly $100.00 for mine.

Thanks man! That part and Cables Online is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. Now if only they had one in the European region. I mean, I can order from the USA, but shipping and import charges are probably going to be horrendous.

I'm actually familiar with Jan Steunebrink's site, since my other system has a TX97-XE and I did that very upgrade (K6-III+) for it some years ago. Now of course those CPUs cost a bit more, given that they've also become mythical for some reason. Anyway, seeing as I've already got a system nearly identical to what this is going to be, I'm going to give it as much love as I can, and then sell cheaply/donate to a deserving soul. I don't like that the hobby has become as pricey as it has, but there is something magical about these early-/late 90's computers that just makes me happy to be fixing them up...

Last edited by leonardo on 2022-04-16, 21:33. Edited 1 time in total.

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.

Reply 3 of 8, by Repo Man11

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

There are lots of these on Ebay, but you'd need to add the missing components to have a PS/2 port.

Attachments

"Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects." - Will Rogers

Reply 4 of 8, by leonardo

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Repo Man11 wrote on 2022-04-16, 21:33:

There are lots of these on Ebay, but you'd need to add the missing components to have a PS/2 port.

I was going to go for the one with the PS/2 and IrDA-ports already present, since that seems to be easier.

However I ran into some unexpected trouble today. I tried swapping the EDO SIMM-modules present on the mainboard for some SD-RAM DIMMs I had lying around and after doing that the system would not post. Thinking maybe I had a bad DIMM I reinserted the SIMMs, but I'm still getting no video or beeps, just fans spinning. I unplugged the computer from the wall, disconnected the CMOS battery, swapped video cards - but all that to no avail. Maybe this was too good to be true after all. 😢

I wonder if there is still something I could try to bring the system back to life. I'll just let it sit for the night - maybe tomorrow I'll figure it out.

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.

Reply 5 of 8, by Cuttoon

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

note that the two connector options you posted are mutually exclusive.
If you find the original USB/MIR bracket, all the better - that should be rather straightforward.

If not, there's the PS2 parallel combo thats also proprietary ASUS, the other manual snippet.

But, if you'd like to use any other ps2 bracket, that is the only unconventional header there because it's combined with the infrared. (has anyone ever used that?!?)
Normal are these two, the line and the horseshoe:

ps2header.jpg
Filename
ps2header.jpg
File size
53.01 KiB
Views
157 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

And, if that does not help, by the power of a line tester or multimeter, or simply by noting the color and function of the cables based on the schematics above, you can just use a generic horseshoe, rearrange the brass in the plastic and manually make sure that the right pin reaches the right one in the connector:

ps2plug.png
Filename
ps2plug.png
File size
2.44 KiB
Views
157 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

The USB part is the normal "missing leg" type as discussed here:
Re: FIC VA-503+ USB header question
So most generic ones will do.

With all the ribbon cables for the Asus USB/MIR, serial, parallel, etc: The red cable indicates pin 1.

I had a look at my board's bracket and can confirm that it is indeed very much unconventional:

100_0643.JPG
Filename
100_0643.JPG
File size
216.14 KiB
Views
152 views
File license
Public domain

ASUS be damned. To add insult to injury here, it even uses the full size plastic part so you'll have to insert the pins of a USB bracket manually in there. After prying out the four "blind" sockets they integrated on the other end of the dupont plug to give it some more grip on the header... 😜

But seeing that the original USB/MIR seems to be rather unobtainium rich, I'd still recommend getting the next best "horseshoe" type and a needle, make a quick schematic drawing which color goes where by a the above graphics, rearrange the pins. And use that besides a generic usb one.

Anyway, fingers crossed the board just needed a nap!

I like jumpers.

Reply 6 of 8, by Cuttoon

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
Repo Man11 wrote on 2022-04-16, 19:18:

Also, that's a great find; I paid nearly $100.00 for mine.

Wow. I frequently notice in this context: With "existentially useless, hobby/luxury" items like this, with an almost ideal seller's marked due to very limited supply, the American income inequality and higher average income really shows. You do have cheaper gasoline, but there it pretty much ends.
I'd wager even firearms are cheaper here, just more red tape. 😉

No one here would pay anywhere near three figures in an auction, at least.
I paid 40 € the other month, including some loot, but only since that was the initial offer there. It would have stalled forever, else. Also, only because the seller had the really top notch tank-like case bound for the scrap and I talked her into including that for an extra ten. (the included front panel LED bracket was suspicious) Still one of the three most expensive systems I ever bought, but worth it. AT cases are really getting scarce...
https://www.ebay.com/itm/ASUS-Mainboard-ATI-G … C-/125125550882

I like jumpers.

Reply 7 of 8, by Repo Man11

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
Cuttoon wrote on 2022-04-18, 22:32:
Wow. I frequently notice in this context: With "existentially useless, hobby/luxury" items like this, with an almost ideal selle […]
Show full quote
Repo Man11 wrote on 2022-04-16, 19:18:

Also, that's a great find; I paid nearly $100.00 for mine.

Wow. I frequently notice in this context: With "existentially useless, hobby/luxury" items like this, with an almost ideal seller's marked due to very limited supply, the American income inequality and higher average income really shows. You do have cheaper gasoline, but there it pretty much ends.
I'd wager even firearms are cheaper here, just more red tape. 😉

No one here would pay anywhere near three figures in an auction, at least.
I paid 40 € the other month, including some loot, but only since that was the initial offer there. It would have stalled forever, else. Also, only because the seller had the really top notch tank-like case bound for the scrap and I talked her into including that for an extra ten. (the included front panel LED bracket was suspicious) Still one of the three most expensive systems I ever bought, but worth it. AT cases are really getting scarce...
https://www.ebay.com/itm/ASUS-Mainboard-ATI-G … C-/125125550882

I had one that I lost to the fire, and in 2019 grabbed an AT computer out of a dumpster that had an FX motherboard in it. That's a little too old to be of interest to me, and the Biostar TX motherboard I bought just didn't cut it. I spotted this one on Ebay, and it was less ridiculously priced than any I'd seen lately, so I bought it. Such projects provide welcome distraction, so it was worth the money to me.

I felt pretty lucky to get the Super 7 Soyo board I have for $60.00, the prices those go for now are too high for me.

"Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects." - Will Rogers

Reply 8 of 8, by leonardo

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Cuttoon wrote on 2022-04-18, 21:41:
note that the two connector options you posted are mutually exclusive. If you find the original USB/MIR bracket, all the better […]
Show full quote

note that the two connector options you posted are mutually exclusive.
If you find the original USB/MIR bracket, all the better - that should be rather straightforward.

If not, there's the PS2 parallel combo thats also proprietary ASUS, the other manual snippet.

But, if you'd like to use any other ps2 bracket, that is the only unconventional header there because it's combined with the infrared. (has anyone ever used that?!?)
Normal are these two, the line and the horseshoe:
ps2header.jpg
And, if that does not help, by the power of a line tester or multimeter, or simply by noting the color and function of the cables based on the schematics above, you can just use a generic horseshoe, rearrange the brass in the plastic and manually make sure that the right pin reaches the right one in the connector:
ps2plug.png

The USB part is the normal "missing leg" type as discussed here:
Re: FIC VA-503+ USB header question
So most generic ones will do.

With all the ribbon cables for the Asus USB/MIR, serial, parallel, etc: The red cable indicates pin 1.

I had a look at my board's bracket and can confirm that it is indeed very much unconventional:
100_0643.JPG
ASUS be damned. To add insult to injury here, it even uses the full size plastic part so you'll have to insert the pins of a USB bracket manually in there. After prying out the four "blind" sockets they integrated on the other end of the dupont plug to give it some more grip on the header... 😜

But seeing that the original USB/MIR seems to be rather unobtainium rich, I'd still recommend getting the next best "horseshoe" type and a needle, make a quick schematic drawing which color goes where by a the above graphics, rearrange the pins. And use that besides a generic usb one.

Thank you for that, very informative and useful - if I can just manage to bring the board back to life again.

Cuttoon wrote on 2022-04-18, 21:41:

Anyway, fingers crossed the board just needed a nap!

Well... Today I managed to really push it once again. I went from fans spinning but no video to the system being completely dead. I then noticed that I had actually set the wrong jumper by accident (wanted to clear CMOS, but for some reason had accidentally moved the FSB jumper, YIKES). What a dumb-.. errr dummy I am!

Anyway, after setting the proper FSB we're back to fans spinning and IDE devices coming to life with no video output. I already swapped the PSU, the video card and yet another stick of RAM.
I know someone might be inclined to say that not all the RAM can be bad, but technically even that's not true.

Maybe the system was getting curbed for a reason though. The original PSU was AT and wasn't working, so perhaps the board has suffered prior damage from a power surge etc.

I'm just afraid I shocked the poor thing to death... I could have well left the RAM alone since the system was booting and running fine. The agony of hardware love... 😧

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.