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Offline Ampera

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Would anybody be interested
« on: November 11, 2016, 01:13:02 am »
If I were to do an 80486 Build/Setup vlog?

It's a DX4-100 based machine, the last part is slowly, but surely coming in from Russia.

It's for the most part going to be period accurate to 1994-1995, with a few exceptions being things like a slightly newer CD drive, a brand new AT power supply (Still period accurate), if I can't find an AT one, an ATX case, but the rest is mostly period accurate.

Here are the specs:

AM486-DX4-100 with WB cache (8K or 16K I don't know yet, mine may or may not be mislabeled, coming in from Russia rn) OC'd to 120 Mhz

Data Expert/Expert Board EXP4045 Socket 3 VLB compatible motherboard

128 MB (Yes, 128) of Fast Page Mode DRAM

A Diamond Stealth SE using a Trio32 chip and 2MB of FPM DRAM

The Data Technology DTC2278D VLB controller card

The Creative AWE64 budget version

3, possibly in a swap out or maybe even multiboot config, 2GB Western Digital Caviar IDE drives

Some random 44x CD drive from Germany, it's IDE, so no stupid Sony CD rubbish.

a 300 W Athena Power AT power supply (Brand New!)

I may have missed something, but these are the major components. As I said the CPU and Motherboard are currently being shipped in from the Russian Federation, so that's gonna take a while.

So yea, would anybody like to see a build video? It's even gonna have some soldering in it (Replacing battery) and it could be fun to watch (in my mind)

I was told there were a lot of retro computing enthusiasts on this forum, so I thought if I am doing this pretty cool build, might as well video it. If nobody is interested I won't bother, but I would love to hear input.

EDIT: I am filming! The video should be recorded by tonight, and will be edited in a few days, probably will be available on the weekend sometime.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2016, 09:12:09 pm by TwoOfFive »
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Offline bktemp

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2016, 10:28:34 am »
I wouldn't call that period accurate: 44x CD drive, 128MB DRAM, 300W power supply. None of that existed in a typical 486/Pentium PC of that era.

Did you verify if all components are supported by the motherboard/BIOS? There were some limits.
There was a 504MB HDD limit, and later 2GB.
Many motherboards only supported 16 or 32MB DRAM.
 

Offline Ampera

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2016, 12:38:00 pm »
I wouldn't call that period accurate: 44x CD drive, 128MB DRAM, 300W power supply. None of that existed in a typical 486/Pentium PC of that era.

Did you verify if all components are supported by the motherboard/BIOS? There were some limits.
There was a 504MB HDD limit, and later 2GB.
Many motherboards only supported 16 or 32MB DRAM.

I am talking about parts that COULD exist at that time. There wasn't 128MB because nobody could afford it, but 128MB is 20 bucks today.

44x CD drive is out of no other option, same with the power supply. It would be so ridiculously expensive for me to get a Sony CD system for it to just not work.

Hard drive limits do not matter as there are tools one can use to get around that. Plus my board is a bit later on in the 486 lifetime so it may have better hard drive support.

This board fully supports 128MB of fully 72 pin DRAM

I did my research for days, this computer SHOULD work.

EDIT: The motherboard arrived at customs, but what I mean is that this is more period accurate in that someone in 1995-1996 about could easily buy this if they had a lot of money. It would have made more sense at the time to use a Pentium, but I wanted to focus around the 80486 platform. And this is WAY more period accurate than people who use 32 GB CF cards, USB floppy readers, ATX power supplies, and put it in a modern case and call it sleeper. Anything modern is the fact that it would be more than I am willing to pay for this machine. It's already 260USD, and adding a real case would be maybe 70-100 dollars more. I am asking around on Freecycle, but nobody has offered anything yet.

The power supply is modern because modern power supplies tend to not have caps that instantly keel over and die withing five seconds of turning the bloody thing on. And it's still a regular AT power supply with the old Molex mobo connectors. The hard drives are as close as I could get to real AT class hard drives (They say AT on them so..) The coincidence that I happen to have any at all is still amazing because that would be tons extra if I could even find drives that aren't busted up.

And the CD drive was, as I said, something I had laying around, and cheaper. It's the worst CD drive I have, so that's why I chose it (Not saying it's a bad drive, it's just low spec)
« Last Edit: November 11, 2016, 12:56:00 pm by TwoOfFive »
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Offline tatus1969

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2016, 01:14:29 pm »
My 486DX4 based computer had 4MB of RAM, which I later upgraded to 8MB at a significant expense (not without having to walk back to the retailer over and over again, because the memory modules wouldn't work). I think hard disk size was like some 100 MB, no CD-ROM, only one or two 3.5'' floppy drives. Should be PS/2 keyboard and mouse to be accurate. Original Sound Blaster plus crappy VGA graphics card to complete the set.
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Offline Ampera

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2016, 01:18:41 pm »
My 486DX4 based computer had 4MB of RAM, which I later upgraded to 8MB at a significant expense (not without having to walk back to the retailer over and over again, because the memory modules wouldn't work). I think hard disk size was like some 100 MB, no CD-ROM, only one or two 3.5'' floppy drives. Should be PS/2 keyboard and mouse to be accurate. Original Sound Blaster plus crappy VGA graphics card to complete the set.

Technically, almost all the AT class machines used Serial mice and AT keyboards.

This machine probably would have been thousands in my time period, but it's the first time I can have an awesome computer, and I think it would be awesome in video form.
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Offline tatus1969

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2016, 01:28:19 pm »
Technically, almost all the AT class machines used Serial mice and AT keyboards.
You're probably right. Long time ago...
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Offline SeanB

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2016, 07:06:25 pm »
I still have at least one serial mouse, it probably still works as well. Just need to clean the ball of fluff. I used it on an old Pentium machine which ran RH6, which was installed as the machine was deemed too old to run Win98, and I wanted to see how Linux looked after ordering the CD's via post ( the old days when posting a CD or three was faster than downloading it over a 33600 link)
 

Offline imidis

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2016, 07:22:54 pm »
Yeah, do it please. :)  :-+
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Offline TinkerGDS

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2016, 07:29:26 pm »
I still have my original 80286 MB with 1024k ram (640 plus the expansion chips), 10MB hard drive, and mouse and keyboard.  The MB has the hi and low AMI bios.  The CPU doesn't even have a heatsink, because it was before heatsinks.  I also found the matching IDE 5 1/4 floppy drive and all of my backup disks.
 

Offline Ampera

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2016, 08:30:45 pm »
I still have my original 80286 MB with 1024k ram (640 plus the expansion chips), 10MB hard drive, and mouse and keyboard.  The MB has the hi and low AMI bios.  The CPU doesn't even have a heatsink, because it was before heatsinks.  I also found the matching IDE 5 1/4 floppy drive and all of my backup disks.

That sounds awesome. 1MiB on a 286 is pretty good, I guess about as much as a 16-bit (Technically 24) machine needed.
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Offline amyk

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2016, 05:19:17 am »
A 286 could address up to 16MB, although I doubt most people at the time would ever fit a 286 machine with that much.
 

Offline Ampera

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2016, 07:00:49 am »
A 286 could address up to 16MB, although I doubt most people at the time would ever fit a 286 machine with that much.

486 could do 4GB
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Offline bktemp

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2016, 09:00:24 am »
A 286 could address up to 16MB, although I doubt most people at the time would ever fit a 286 machine with that much.

486 could do 4GB
But most motherboards supported only 32MB (8x 4Mx8 30pin SIMM modules). That was sufficient at that time, because you had to pay about 15$ per 1Mbyte!
 

Offline TerraHertz

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2016, 01:03:59 pm »
Hmmm, and I still have my old DOS/286 machine, complete. I kept it because it has my early Expro EPROM/device programmer attached, and I wanted to keep that available.
Wonder if it still works?

Should we turn this into a 'show us your oldest working PC' thread?
I have an original IBM XT too.
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Offline Ampera

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2016, 03:24:38 pm »
Hmmm, and I still have my old DOS/286 machine, complete. I kept it because it has my early Expro EPROM/device programmer attached, and I wanted to keep that available.
Wonder if it still works?

Should we turn this into a 'show us your oldest working PC' thread?
I have an original IBM XT too.

I have a Commodore 64 and 128
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Offline SeanB

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2016, 03:50:18 pm »
found I have a Spectrum, still in the polystyrene case...... No idea if it works.
 

Offline TheBay

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2016, 07:00:50 pm »
found I have a Spectrum, still in the polystyrene case...... No idea if it works.

Be careful with the polystyrene. I have a few vintage micro computers and so does a friend, when we took them out the other week to have a play around on them
we noticed there has been a chemical reaction with the polystyrene and the plastic on the computers and cables, it's sort of etching in to it.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2016, 07:31:10 pm »
Oh yes, the PVC plasticiser really loves the styrene monomers, and makes a lovely plastic with it.  I know, and this one has it on the power cord, but nothing a little work with some dashboard protector will not help with, then place in some polypropylene bags ( or PVC if nothing else, to make a sacrificial layer) for storage.
 
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Offline timb

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Would anybody be interested
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2016, 08:53:12 pm »
Hmmm, and I still have my old DOS/286 machine, complete. I kept it because it has my early Expro EPROM/device programmer attached, and I wanted to keep that available.
Wonder if it still works?

Should we turn this into a 'show us your oldest working PC' thread?
I have an original IBM XT too.

My oldest is a Compaq Portable III, which I got at a thrift store in 1995 for $20. I considered it a real bargain at the time. It's been with me ever since.

I recently did some upgrade work on it:

About five years ago the Lithium KeePer battery finally died, so I replaced it with a coin cell holder and a LIR2032 (plus a hacked in trickle charge circuit).





Ultimately this proved unreliable, so I finally did away with it and the original MC146818 RTC/RAM chip. I replaced them with a brand new (direct from Maxim) Dallas 12887+ which should last another 20 years. (Note: Not some of my best rework, I'll admit. That black solder mask scratches so damn easily! I ended up having to cut the leads off the MC146818 and several passives, hence all the scuffing.)



I also upgraded the 16450 UART to a 16550D and the 80287 to a 80287XL (which is really an 80387).



Throw in a 1GB Industrial CF Drive and we're really rolling!



That was a pain in the ass to get working, let me tell you... Even though this was one of the first PC's to have an onboard IDE interface, basically I was limited to the original hard drive types by the BIOS, with no way to set anything custom. Thankfully XTide saved the day! It's this fantastic open source ROM BIOS that allows old XT and AT machines to access large hard drives. I simply flashed it to an EPROM and popped it in the empty ROM slot on the ISA Ethernet card I was installing in the machine and... Voila!



So now, the only thing I could really add to the machine would be more RAM. Unfortunately Compaq used some weird custom format for the RAM expansion (basically little expansion boards) so unless I either create my own PCBs for that *or* install an ISA RAM card, I'm stuck with 1MB.

Anyway, here's what I've got installed:

NI GPIB AT-GPIB/TNT (PnP) ISA Card
3com Etherlink III ISA Card
XTide Universal BIOS
i286 + i387
1MB RAM
1GB Industrial CF Drive
5.25" 1.2MB Floppy
3.5" 1.44MB Floppy
640x480x16 Grayscale Plasma Screen
CGA Graphics










Right now she sits on a desk and acts as a GPIB controller, running simple measurement programs written in Qbasic 4.5; the results and stored to a network share.

« Last Edit: November 13, 2016, 10:55:18 pm by timb »
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Offline rrinker

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2016, 10:12:45 pm »
 Back in the day we had one of those outfitted as a network monitor (packet capture and detect stuff).  Interesting that the one program you are using there mis-detects the math coprocessor as a 387 when it clearly is a 287 (both from the picture of the chip AND the Intel math coprocessor test).

 

Offline Ampera

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2016, 10:16:28 pm »
UPDATE: The board is currently in Nassau (I.E. very close to me) it should get here tomorrow or the day after, when I will work on the video.
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Offline timb

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2016, 10:46:39 pm »
Back in the day we had one of those outfitted as a network monitor (packet capture and detect stuff).  Interesting that the one program you are using there mis-detects the math coprocessor as a 387 when it clearly is a 287 (both from the picture of the chip AND the Intel math coprocessor test).

Actually, it didn't mis-detect it; they're both correct ways to identify this chip! Technically it *is* a 387 as it has all the 387 instructions... The Intel Math-Co Test is picking it up as an i286XL, which is also correct (and how the chip is labeled).

Basically, when the i387 came out, Intel released a version for the 286:

Quote
This chip is Intel's second-generation 287, first introduced in 1990. Since it is based on the 80387 coprocessor core, it features full IEEE 754 compatibility and faster instruction execution. Intel claims about 50% faster operation than the 80287 for typical benchmark tests. Compared with benchmark results for the AMD 80C287, which is identical to the Intel 80287, the Intel 287XL performed 66% faster than the AMD 80C287 on a fractal benchmark and 66% faster on the Whetstone benchmark.
Since the 287XL has all the additional instructions and enhancements of a 387, most software automatically identifies it as an 80387-compatible coprocessor and therefore can make use of extra 387-only features, such as the FSIN and FCOS instructions.
The 287XL is manufactured in CMOS and therefore uses much less power than the older NMOS-based 80287. At 12.5 MHz, the power consumption is rated at max. 675 mW, about 1/4 of the 80287 power consumption. The 287XL is available in either a 40-pin CERDIP (ceramic dual inline package) or a 44 pin PLCC (plastic leaded chip carrier). (This latter version is called the 287XLT and intended mainly for laptop use.) The 287XL is rated for speeds of up to 12.5 MHz.

My system originally came with a plain old 287, but I managed to find a new in box i287XL on eBay for $10, which I couldn't resist.
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Offline Ampera

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2016, 02:35:27 pm »
The last part (Board) arrives in a few hours. The video should be available by Friday.
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Offline Ampera

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2016, 06:29:29 am »
UPDATE: After wrangling with the system, and it finally working with much help from the EEVBlog and VOGONS community, I unfortunately have to put the expected date down a few days.
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Offline Ampera

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Re: Would anybody be interested
« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2016, 09:13:35 pm »
Long delays, partly caused by a fake AWE64 and the wrong memory being sent, but the video is being recorded. I will be posting updates when I have a sound card (AWE32 is in the post) and if I get a proper case. Main video should be done soon.
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