Hardware 112 – A souped HP Vectra 386




On Tweakers are many contributions of community members. Best known are of course the reactions articles and product reviews, but also the Tweak Blogs contain some real gems. More than once, those gems come from tweaker sebastius that his’ craft blog shows how your old, faulty hardware can back to life by using some common sense, patience, technical knowledge and a soldering iron.

Because the repair of posts sebastius be so well received, we asked him if he occasionally wants to write a similar post for the frontpage. This he did quite happily sit and today you can read a new edition of the Renaissance of an ancient HP Vectra 386 / 25n.
Pimp my 386

By sebastius

The speed begins to come in the 112 series. More tweakers notify cool projects which I would like to cooperate. This time we go back a bit in time.

“A slightly different kind of problem, possibly not a repair, but it is something that I could use the knowledge of sebastius: I have here a very old PC, an HP Vectra 386 / 25n 1993, then had second is literally my very first. PC, but when I learned to program Qbasic, and for that reason most dear. He is now about eighteen years, and I dare not start him. On GoT and websites on old hardware is warned to not just old stuff in too plugs and on, because the chances are that the old food damages the rest of the PC. Now I do not know enough about to look after the crucial parts and replace poorly made parts. Specialized companies are very expensive and this is still a project as much Tweakers have standing? ”

Surely it is absolutely a shame if someone his own first computer no longer in the socket dare stabbing?

Hardware 112-386

The goal is clear which PC should return to work.
Risks of retro

Retro Hardware is great fun to join in to get started. It is accessible technology, there are still normal screws used, and soldering is also often relatively straightforward. You do have to deal with risks as you do with old hardware – PCs, game consoles, etc. – goes to work.
Batteries and capacitors

At the top are for me the leaking batteries. The most frustrating is that it is often unavoidable. What is going on? Many computers of after about 1980, have a battery for various business, usually in order to keep up with the clock. The problem is that these batteries often never be removed, and because the computer fidelity flow continued to pull, was that cell at a given time empty. Once the battery is depleted, the chemical reactions to behave differently, they attack the chassis. A leakage and the gang comes out.

This results in fl inke damage to metals and components. A more serious consequence is that the battery spectacular folds apart. Especially the lithium cells in the old Macintosh are affected. Then suddenly half your machine is under corrosive acid. You understand that restoration it is an almost impossible task. Buy your retro hardware? Always pull off the hood before you purchase, or at least before the thing on.
Hardware 112-386

The capacitors in a PC have different functions. Specifically at retro you risk drying. Then they have less capacity and worse, the resistance increases. A higher resistance means more heat in the capacitor, so that the remaining electrolyte evaporates rapidly and turns into gas, making it more rapidly will explode. Spectacular it is both the vision and for your wallet.

Old power to connect you never just. This applies especially to pre-1975-hardware, tube radios, for example. When a PC is useful to even the motherboard and disconnect the drives separately and test the power supply and measuring. You can test if all voltages are still what they should be according to the sticker.

Incidentally capacitors may also subtle leaks. It is almost invisible, but now eats this crap do you traces, vias, and components. I’ve had a Mac SE30 that there was an internal ramchip affected by this stuff. Anything outwardly visible. Well, great!
Hard drives and disk drives

The third category is not so much destructive as above, but it presents a risk to watch out for. Most hard disks that stand for years will no longer work. The oil is hardened in the bearings, the drive can no longer be run on its own power, the headlines do not want to go without damage over the plate, and so on. Please note that a hard drive is basically lost, unless you are lucky. The drives have similar problems. They are not stored clean, so the read heads can / will be dirty, and the dry strings. All issues to solve than to have it replaced.
The patient on the table, Pacemaker surgery

Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386

As the creature came: old, dirty and with the disk drive off. After feeding as having given a brief inspection – the machine was not so old that I took real precautions – it was time to start everything. Logical that we see mistakes, but then again, this is all profit, there was picture. That means that many of the system just did. A rough assumption about the displayed codes clock is not set, because low battery, keyboard error, because I was messing around, hard disk error, because part. These are the most common mistakes.

First I watched the battery. What unwise fi ne, and this task has facilitated enormously is that this battery does not sit on the board, but if loose, well packed module with velcro fastened in the housing. A simple battery of eBay was the solution. I used the existing cable and things neatly soldered together. A little heat shrink to finish and we were done.

Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386

The bios appeared to be fine Y2K compatible – you know the stress / hype yet? – And the clock ran fine again, even as the machine was turned off. In principle, an operating clock battery is not essential. You can start a good machine without; in the worst case you get an error message. Mount your device on an old, cut the battery off in any case. You prevent damage where you would get otherwise sorry.
HDD dead? Upgradeable!

The old drive proved deceased. He was still running, but otherwise did not respond. Also via a USB converter pata I could not read him, unfortunately for the first QBasic-werkstukjes of the owner. There was originally a 52MB hard drive in. Repair is impossible for me and above all unnecessary. Time for something cool.

There are, mainly for industrial applications, fl ashdrives for pata. Nowadays, you have pretty SATA hard disks, when we had pata: a wide cable with lots of pins. Actually we therefore build a kind in our SSD 386.

Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386

As you can see we have chosen to 256MB. A nice number, and still big enough for DOS, Windows 3.11, and more than a bit mountain games. And he did fit in the budget. They are also getting bigger, but remember there for DOS maximum disk size is true and sometimes the hardware.

This drive was automatically detected by the BIOS and well adjusted, but for older computers is advisable on the institutions as online searching. You look for a table of sectors, heads, cylinders, and so on. Also, you should, before I forget to say, select the master / slave jumper. It is the first drive on the cable, then choose your master. You want a second drive, choose your slave. If you had one IDE bus as many as two drives. Newer computers have at any given time two buses; you could also add itself. Some sound cards have a special connection for a CD-ROM drive when it was not so standard.

Anyway, now I have a PC with a blank hard drive (okay, ssd). How could I here on earth weather data get?
Floppies? No need where we are going

What is a floppy disk? That is the picture when you save your Word-doc. How time flies.

Once, long ago – I have not seen in my 33 years – began fl oppydisks 8 inches. Later it was 5.25 inches and a bit later the firm diskette 3.5 inches. There were several different sizes and standards, but these are the best known.

The 386 was a 3.5 “drive with a capacity of 1.44MB diskette that was once a gigantic,. Now we laugh a little to our USB devices in our case it is the primary way data. to get this old thing.

Now I lie a USB disk drive for emergencies, so I would, in theory, disks can fill with DOS, then Windows 3.11 and then some games – oh and I forgot drivers – but it takes a long time and just witness a good, new, working find box diskettes. Worldwide there is only one factory that makes those things.

Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386

Fortunately, there are solutions. There are “antique” devices that are still used to a disk drive, such as industrial computers, keyboards and knitting. However, the disk is unreliable and scarce. Now there are several businesses in this market jumped with, I kid you not, fl floppy emulators with USB connector. This allows you to an ordinary USB stick with putting a piece of software or a hundred floppy image files and access them with the old hardware as if it were an ordinary disk.

Installation is super simple. Disk Drive out, emulator in it, finished. To prepare a USB stick is more work is needed. The hardware is cheap, so the software is unfortunately no example of good programming, translation and onion-work. A different supplier was found to have software that works in a relatively modern operating system.

I’m can not really compare, but the USB emulator does not get much faster than an old-fashioned floppy disk. It is much easier and quieter. A diskette change this by pressing a button. So, you can also fine to use the multiple-disk installer of MS-DOS 6.22. And pssst … you know what fits for other blast from the we have for you?

Now with lasers

To make this party complete modernization, I made a special USB stick for this PC. Tweakers itself has no usb drives with logo, because it usually misery things. USB sticks should actually be prohibited by law, but that’s just my opinion.

Now I’m quite a while participating in a hacker space: Stichting Revelation Space in The Hague and is subject to include a laser cutter. An aluminum USB stick is not so difficult to engrave. I first cut a stencil and put it into the USB stick. DOS font (perfect DOS) and a counterfeit Tweakers logo (from Death Grunt) made the coolest USB stick for this project:

Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386

I can recommend everyone to go along once in a local hacker space. You will find much comfort, kindred spirits and craft projects that you want to start right away. The nearest hackerspace you here find. If you are interested in retro gaming, then I can also still recommend Awesome Space in Utrecht, with their huge living room and their huge, enormous collection of retro games, all playable.
Pimp my 386

Tweakers remain tweakers. Obviously we do not stop after having replaced the discs. We know you want it, so we do it: we’re going to pimp your PC!

On the motherboard is an excellent VGA video card. Nevertheless, we have chosen to install a replacement. The built-in map had in fact as a drawback that not all the monitors to be connected because of an abnormal connection. Thanks to the Trident TVGA9000i chip with 512KB memory, we have a fine image.

Oh my God, that was the reaction when I got hold of the sound card. The Creative Labs SoundBlaster AWE32. AWE is actually short, but I would rather compare it with Shock and Awe. This AWE32 has 2x4MB ram on board, the most expensive option, a lot of midi instruments, or wave tables, load, so that the music is extra good.

Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386

A network was still a rarity, now especially if something is not attached to a network. Wifi did not exist in isa, so we chose a Realtek 8019AS network card with UTP connector. Realtek is supertof because the drivers for this card, from 1997, are still downloadable from their website.

A great pitfall of the past: irq and ports. After installation of the network crashed PC with any thing that made noise, even though the tests Soundblaster no problems gifts. The network and the SoundBlaster had the same irq or interrupt request, and port. You are rotten and you never get a clear hint as your PC does today. This was simply happy to solve the tool Realtek. That’s what the plug & play earlier, that you immediately know why the nickname was plug and pray.

The last thing I needed to do to hang this in my modern PC network was under Windows 3.11 Installing the tcpip stack. Which was not standard at there. After this I could cheerfully with a Windows 10 PC the data to the Windows 3.11 machine pumps. Note that all file and folder names may contain up to eight characters.

Hardware 112-386 It used to fl oating-point arithmetic difficult for processors and the cost to build this were too high (if it was technically impossible, I do not know exactly). You could purchase a coprocessor to prick on the board there. What it offered for profit for the owner? No idea, unless he was going to make fl inke Excel files under Windows 3.11, but it could be in it, so we stopped it there.

These specific chip is older than the rest of the PC; he is from 1986. You can see the second line of text; there is L 0286, which indicates the second week of 1986.

640 kilobytes in 1993 was no longer enough for everyone. Memory had to buy simm s and you put them in pairs, otherwise it was not working. Memory then cost hundred guilders per megabyte. We have 386 provided with 4×4 = 16 megabytes of memory. Then priceless, now for the mortal available. One caveat is that memory existed with and without parity. You can do a simple check by counting the number of chips on the Simms in your computer. Even without means, means with odd parity. That matter, be careful when purchasing.

Hardware 112-386
I want to play a game

We are almost at the end come to this delivery of hardware 112. Retro is fun, but there are limits shall we say. After a few weeks to have may fiddle with DOS, Windows 3.11, IRQ conflicts, isa cards and parity on simms I’m just done with it. What I really liked was reinventing “How was again?” because random crashes at that time were the order of the day. It has something, make a play on the original hardware. You can emulate what you want, but the real metal always feels better. Below are some beautiful shots of some classics.

Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386
Hardware 112-386

Do you still lie broken hardware?

Do you have something that no longer works, and that you do is very dear? Then report your problem with photos and a good story in ‘Hardware 112 – hardware stuq? Register here. Together with the editors choose sebastius every month a project to repair, with of course a repair report on the frontpage.

In: Technology & Gadgets Asked By: [18721 Red Star Level]

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