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Tandy 1000 TL Build / Restoration

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First post, by Shponglefan

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Acquired this Tandy 1000 TL last year.

It's going to need some restoration work to remove rust on the metal frame and a good cleaning. The volume knob is also broken so that needs repair as well. I've tested the system and everything seems to work, including the disk drive. Although the latter does struggle reading disks, so I imagine it needs a good cleaning.

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Updated: build has been completed.

Final build specs:

  • 80826-8 CPU and 80827 math coprocessor
  • 768K installed RAM
  • Paradise PVGA1A VGA video card
  • Media Vision Thunder Board sound card
  • Lo-tech 2 MB EMS card
  • Lo-tech MIF-IPC-B MPU-401 MIDI interface card
  • Blue Lava Systems XT-IDE / CF adapter card + 128MB CF card
  • HDD Clicker

I did attempt at using a PK-X486S50-3 286-to-486 processor upgrade, but didn't get the performance I expected (it actually ran far worse).

Pics of the final setup have been added.

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Last edited by Shponglefan on 2023-01-23, 22:54. Edited 8 times in total.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 1 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Started doing an initial teardown. There is a decent amount of corrosion on the frame. I'm going to try using Evapo-Rust and see how well that works in removing it.

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Last edited by Shponglefan on 2023-01-23, 22:52. Edited 2 times in total.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 2 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Continuing the teardown process. Discovered corrosion under the battery, but it fortunately seems limited to the plastic battery holder.

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 3 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Removed the rust on the metal chassis and other parts using Evapo-Rust.

Took about a full day to get everything properly soaked and cleaned.

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 4 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Disassembled and cleaned the disk drive.

It was originally quite filthy when I had originally received it (yet still worked).

Cleaned out the dust and grime, used rust remover on the metal bits, and re-lubricated the moving parts.

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 5 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Replaced the stock PSU fan with a Noctua NF-R8 redux 1800.

This included rewiring the Noctua connector to match the pin config on the PSU.

While the Noctua isn't silent, it is considerably quieter than the stock fan.

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 7 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Hezus wrote on 2023-01-19, 22:56:

Nice job so far! It's going to be a great system with all the proposed upgrades.

I've also retrofitted my old PSUs with those Noctua fans. Makes a huge difference!

Thank you!

Those Noctua fans are quite nice indeed. 😁

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 8 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Next on the repair list was the broken volume knob.

I first needed to strengthen the joint to reduce the risk of a re-break. I drilled out a couple small holes using a pin vise then added a thin piece of metal to act as reinforcement.

I added JB Weld epoxy to fill the gaps and glue in the metal piece. Finally I used acetone on the surface of the break to glue the two pieces back together.

The resulting fix seems sturdy and will hopefully stand up to typical usage.

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 9 of 22, by pentiumspeed

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Back when CRT TVs were in use when I was TV tech, we had bunch of hotel philips TVs to repair because their plastic power button flex point snapped, which was cheaply designed, just a very stiff flex plastic. Not a u bend or much flexible point (like zig-zag snake) to flex more gently.

Well, we used drill and piece of wire embedded in the break and glued. Worked a treat.

Cheers,

Great Northern aka Canada.

Reply 10 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Unfortunately my initial attempt at repairing the knob did not hold.

While the wire did what it was supposed to do and prevent bending, it did not prevent twisting. The plastic clearly didn't have enough bond strength and after repeating twisting, the bond broke.

For the second repair attempt I decided to do two things:

1) Added a second wire parallel to the middle wire to add strength when twisting.
2) Filled in the ring around the breakage with epoxy. I wanted even more strength around that joint and this seemed the best way to achieve this.

This new repair mean I can't use the cotter pin to hold it in the case. But I don't think this will be a huge deal since it's not really possible to easily pull out the knob with the case cover on anyway.

Hopefully this second attempt holds and I don't have to deal with volume knob anymore.

I also glued the plastic tab on the disk drive ejection button. This is another common failure point. I don't really expect this one to hold given how thin the joint is. But since I found the broken plastic piece, I figured I might as well.

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 11 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Now that the physical cleaning and repair work is done, I reassembled things and started installing hardware and DOS 6.22.

This included upgrading the RAM to the full 768k, plugging in the PK-X486S50 CPU, and installing the following ISA cards:

  • Blue Lava Systems XT-IDE / CF adapter
  • Lo-tech 2 MB EMS
  • Paradise PVGA1A VGA

My plan was to use the 2MB EMS card for either UMB or EMS (though the latter probably not as useful on a system like this).

I configured the XT-IDE adapter for C800 and the EMS card for D000. The VGA card seems to use C000. This all worked and everything seems to play nicely together.

Using EMS2UMB.EXE and UMB!UMBS, I then enabled using the 2MB EMS card as 64k worth of UMB. Unfortunately there isn't a way to use it for UMB and EMS at the same time.

While this also worked, I then tried DOSMAX to move DOS into UMB. Unfortunately this caused all sorts of stability issues. Without DOSMAX it seems to work, although I'm only gaining 4k of conventional memory. Better than nothing I suppose.

Did some preliminary testing with games (both TGA and VGA) and those seemed to work fine. I did run into a weird issue where Rise of the Dragon refused to use Tandy TL sound. Not sure what the issue is there. But everything else seemed to work.

Next up will be adding some sound options and further testing.

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  • Tandy TL RAM upgrade.jpg
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  • Tandy TL testing 02.jpg
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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 13 of 22, by Shponglefan

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frankmonk wrote on 2023-01-22, 11:09:

Great thread since I am about to set up a similar TL. Just waiting for the power supply to get recapped.

Recapping the PSU sounds like a good idea. Haven't done it yet on this build, but I suppose it's something I should consider doing.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 14 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Today decided to do some testing and benchmarking with the IO Data PK-X486S50-3 processor upgrade.

I received some very strange results, as follows:

808286 @ 8 MHz
Sysinfo CPU Score: 3.3
Topbench Score: 15 (system equivalent Tandy TL)
3D Bench: 3.3

PK-X486S50-3 no driver (486SX @ 16 MHz)
Sysinfo CPU Score: 2.8
Topbench Score: 14 (system equivalent NEC V30)
3D Bench: 2.8

PK-X486S50-3 with REVTO486 driver (486SX @ 24 MHz / cache enabled)
Sysinfo CPU Score: 1.8
Topbench Score: 12 (system equivalent XT clone)
3D Bench: 1.2

It appears running the processor faster is actually slowing down the system. I confirmed that this isn't just a result of synthetic benchmarks; games also run visibly slower.

Suffice to say I am confused. I've read cases of folks using the same or similar IO Data upgrades to achieve improved performance on Tandy 1000 systems. Yet here I am getting progressively worse results.

I'm going to keep tinkering with this and see what else I can try. I do have another 286 system (Packard Bell Legend I) I can test the PK-X486S50-3 upgrade with. I can at least try to rule out an issue with the device itself.

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 15 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Did more testing with the PK-X486S50-3 processor upgrade.

I tried removing all the ISA cards and running just a boot disk to test the REVTO486 driver in the Tandy TL. However, that produced the same results as previous.

I then tried the PK-X486S50-3 in another system (286 Packard Bell Legend I). Without the REVTO486 driver, I get reduced performance similar to the Tandy TL. But with the REVTO486 driver, the Packard Bell computer reports it as a 48 MHz processor and I get much faster performance. SysInfo gives a CPU score of 49.8 and TopBench gives it a score of 87 (equivalent to a 386 DX/40).

So at least I know the PK-X486S50-3 board works. It just doesn't work to spec in this Tandy TL. 😒

In the mean time, I put back the 80286 processor and added in an 80287 as well.

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 16 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Today worked on getting audio & MIDI hardware installed. This included installing:

  • Media Vision Thunderboard for Adlib, Sound Blaster and joystick support
  • Lo-tech MIF-IPC-B card for Roland MPU-401 support

Audio and MIDI support worked as expected. I do love the fact that these things work with no additional drivers or AUTOEXEC/CONFIG stuff to worry about.

For joystick support I did need to install a utility that turns off the native joystick ports on the Tandy TL.

Last I installed an HDD Clicker to simulate hard drive sounds. Since the Tandy TL doesn't have an HDD LED, having audio feedback when the CompactFlash card is active is a nice alternative. I did wrap it in some foam just to dampen the sound a bit.

With that, I think this build is effectively complete.

I'm a bit disappointed that the PK-X486S50-3 didn't work out, since I really wanted to have an overpowered Tandy. But otherwise everything else came together nicely.

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 17 of 22, by Shponglefan

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Set up the Tandy TL in its new home and started putting it through the paces with some games.

I notice that while most games run on the VGA card/monitor, Leisure Suit Larry and Mixed Up Mother Goose had graphical issues. Not sure what the incompatibility is there since other Sierra games of that generation seem to work fine. But I can always run those games using Tandy graphics on the CM-11 monitor.

I also noticed a weird quirk with the respective monitors. If the CM-11 monitor is switched on, it causes the VGA monitor to jitter slightly. Not a big deal since I can only use one monitor at a time, so I can always leave the other switched off.

It does make me curious as to what is causing that issue.

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  • Tandy TL setup 01.jpg
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    Tandy TL setup 01.jpg
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    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • Tandy TL setup 02.jpg
    Filename
    Tandy TL setup 02.jpg
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    2888 views
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • Tandy TL closeup.jpg
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    Tandy TL closeup.jpg
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    Fair use/fair dealing exception

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 19 of 22, by Shponglefan

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frankmonk wrote on 2023-01-24, 11:14:

I love it! Probably the best setup for old adventure games imo

Thank you! It definitely serves nicely for classic adventure games, especially the early Sierra games with that 3-channel Tandy sound. Best way to play those games, imho. 😁

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards