***Vintage PC Technology Mega Discussion Thread***

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g-unit1111

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I didn't realize until much later that 3DFX chips were being sold under multiple names. I was always going to computer shows and seeing Diamond, Savage, etc cards. I always had the Voodoo branded cards.

I do enjoy my ebayed Voodoo 5 5500, it keeps my dual Pentium II server company (Poweredge 4200 (not the modern one). Just realized I am going to have to move that again.
I kind of wish I had some of my old PC stuff. I think when I moved I got rid of the Gateway system that I had the Voodoo 2 installed in.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
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I kind of wish I had some of my old PC stuff. I think when I moved I got rid of the Gateway system that I had the Voodoo 2 installed in.
I literally GAVE AWAY so much hardware it would make your head spin. GPUs, sound cards, and more. Was all kinda worthless at the time, and who ever thought there would be people turning around and wanting to "Retro game"
 

g-unit1111

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I literally GAVE AWAY so much hardware it would make your head spin. GPUs, sound cards, and more. Was all kinda worthless at the time, and who ever thought there would be people turning around and wanting to "Retro game"
I recently got rid of most of my old Windows 95 / 98 games since I really didn't have much use for them anymore. I can get retro gaming on a console, like the Switch. But I don't think I would actually want to retro game on a PC. I just remember my PC spent more downtime than I did actually playing games, and by the time I got them fixed up enough to play I was just like "Ah screw it. It's not worth it.". Load times on a 2X CD-ROM - forget about it. I'd much rather have the load times on an M2 drive. Today's gamers are spoiled. Us 90s kids? We had to employ manual labor and elbow grease to get our games to work. But I will say that it's made me a better handy man and got me interested in IT as a result.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
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I recently got rid of most of my old Windows 95 / 98 games since I really didn't have much use for them anymore. I can get retro gaming on a console, like the Switch. But I don't think I would actually want to retro game on a PC. I just remember my PC spent more downtime than I did actually playing games, and by the time I got them fixed up enough to play I was just like "Ah screw it. It's not worth it.". Load times on a 2X CD-ROM - forget about it. I'd much rather have the load times on an M2 drive. Today's gamers are spoiled. Us 90s kids? We had to employ manual labor and elbow grease to get our games to work. But I will say that it's made me a better handy man and got me interested in IT as a result.
Exactly. I remember some great games from that time, but I also remember needing to spend half a day or more installing and screwing with a game just to get it to run correctly every time. I don't have any desire to go back to that.
 
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Eximo

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Emulation gets you most of the way there. What I have been meaning to pick up is a Roland MT-32 so I can experience better sound in DosBox. The emulation is okay, it just doesn't sound quite right like my old sound blaster. MT-32 can be adapted via USB and just acts as a MIDI device, so it is exactly how it should be.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
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Emulation gets you most of the way there. What I have been meaning to pick up is a Roland MT-32 so I can experience better sound in DosBox. The emulation is okay, it just doesn't sound quite right like my old sound blaster. MT-32 can be adapted via USB and just acts as a MIDI device, so it is exactly how it should be.
I remember being jealous of my friend who had both a SoundBlaster 16 and a Roland General MIDI card in his system. Games at the time all had General MIDI music and the Roland made it literally sound real. Later the SoundBlaster AWE32 was able to do the same thing. I had a SoundBlaster 32 which was almost the same hardware except without the memory on board but it had 2 memory slots for the old style 30 pin ram, so I stuck 2 1MB dimms in from my old system and set it to load the General MIDI instruments to them and it worked basically the same as the Roland. Of course that was a few years later.
 

Eximo

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Still have our original Awe32 with Midi daughter board, we played a lot of classics with that setup.

Midi devices all sound a little different, even general midi was just that, general, so while the instruments would match up, the actual sound varied wildly.

For a long while I took advantage of a Sound Blaster Live with onboard SB16 emulation. Oddly it did fail on me and only the emulation worked. I sent it in, and it worked for a few months after I got back a refurb, then the opposite happened. Emulator broke and only had functional 128bit sound.

Further had audio issues on my next motherboard, so it still has an ASUS Donar in it. Actually works quite well with some third party drivers, never could get the stock ones to work.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator
Still have our original Awe32 with Midi daughter board, we played a lot of classics with that setup.

Midi devices all sound a little different, even general midi was just that, general, so while the instruments would match up, the actual sound varied wildly.

For a long while I took advantage of a Sound Blaster Live with onboard SB16 emulation. Oddly it did fail on me and only the emulation worked. I sent it in, and it worked for a few months after I got back a refurb, then the opposite happened. Emulator broke and only had functional 128bit sound.

Further had audio issues on my next motherboard, so it still has an ASUS Donar in it. Actually works quite well with some third party drivers, never could get the stock ones to work.
Agree the Roland had the best sound clearly but the SoundBlaster could get somewhat close if you had the right instrument sets downloaded. It took a lot of messing around.
 
Exactly. I remember some great games from that time, but I also remember needing to spend half a day or more installing and screwing with a game just to get it to run correctly every time. I don't have any desire to go back to that.
Well, the difference is that nowadays you have the internet to look everything up instead of having to guess what could be wrong.
Also all the setting up can be done on your main PC, ide to SD cards have made this a breeze you set up all the games you want on an SD card , stick it into your vintage PC with such an ide to sd card and off you go.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
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Well, the difference is that nowadays you have the internet to look everything up instead of having to guess what could be wrong.
Also all the setting up can be done on your main PC, ide to SD cards have made this a breeze you set up all the games you want on an SD card , stick it into your vintage PC with such an ide to sd card and off you go.
Yeah too much effort for me. I have brand new games still in the package (or Steam queue) that I don't play, that putting together enough janky old hardware (some of which I would have given away for free in the past) to properly play old games is just not how I want to spend my spare time.
 
Yeah too much effort for me. I have brand new games still in the package (or Steam queue) that I don't play, that putting together enough janky old hardware (some of which I would have given away for free in the past) to properly play old games is just not how I want to spend my spare time.
Sure, I was just saying in general that it has gotten way easier now with all the tech available.
I do have all the parts and several old Dos and win9x PCs and I rarely do anything with them so I feel ya.
 
Oct 15, 2021
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I'll probably make a thread about this at a later date, but I have a Compaq Deskpro 4/25is. A 25mhz i486 system that was already old when I got it 15+ years ago. Taught myself programming on the thing. Gave me a real appreciation for code optimization!
Anyway; I pulled it out of the basement the other day and tried to boot it up.
Carefully
I opened it up, and checked for corrosion & sus capacitors. Then pulled the PSU out and fired that up separately with a dummy load. No sparks or pops.
Reassemble everything, found an old vga monitor, cut pin 9 out, found a ps2 keyboard, and fired it u... InstantPOPflash.
Well ----. <MOD EDIT: LANGUAGE>
One of the caps on the riser board had blown up.
Removing the riser, everything else seems to work†, well, not-explode, but it doesn't POST.

† hdd spin up, power LED, LED on Main-board, CPU warms.

Maybe someone else here is a vintage enthusiast or involved with board repair and can guide me towards identifying/fixing the problem.

My problem is that several things could be wrong, and I have neither the electrical experience nor the documentation to figure out which.
In order of suspected likelihood:
  1. The PSU is not supplying the correct voltages to the main-board/one of the power rails is on the fritz.
  2. The blowout fried something else that isn't visually obvious. (The CPU does warm up though so hopefully not that!)
  3. Something I don't know enough about to even consider.
  4. The riser board is required to POST.
  5. It is posting, but all my HIDs are too new or not being recognized or powered properly. I'd expect a beep from the speaker or a LED on the keyboard at least though. And I'm not getting even that.
  6. The BIOS or CMOS is corrupt
  7. There are other components on the mainboard that have independently died in the last 15 years, besides the popped cap.
The worst is that I can't find manuals or diagrams for anything. The ones at "hp.manualscollection" are not actually for the /i series despite their claims to the contrary.
And the beautiful specs sheet at https://www.1000bit.it/ad/bro/compaq/compaqdeskpro-ispecs.pdf while correct, is not helpful for board repair.

Thoughts, advice, or commiserations welcome.
Or 'F's for my lovely vintage i486. I really hope it's not dead for good though.
 

Eximo

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Board repair is rarely something that can be done over a forum. There are certainly people out there who repair vintage boards, but generally sought after or popular models. Not sure a Compaq 486 falls into that category.
 

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