386 Buildlog

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by Phido, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. OP
    OP
    Phido

    Phido Member

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    Yay
    Arrivals:
    * My mouse turned up today. $4 +$9 PH. NOS. At least I have a mouse now for the RS232 port. I will play around with a 9pin to ps/2 adapter and see which mice i have that work.
    * My SD2IDE adapter turned up today. I will need to find my IDE cables

    I am tempted, i may make an offer on the card, but an SD2SCSI adapter is like $70 where my SD2IDE was like $10. I really do believe SD cards are the future for builds like this. You can transfer a huge amount of information to them very easily, very quickly, then stick it back into the machine. After you have formatted and set up the OS, you can copy across all the programs and software at 80mb/s. They are quiet, fast, have no moving parts, and are easily upgradable and replaceable.

    That case looks pretty horrid. No, I think I will quite like my Aywun.
    I think I am going to continue the blue power switch theme, have a blue Mhz display (controlled via something else). Of course blue LED's didn't become cheap and popular until the late 90's early 2000. Depending on who you believe, they weren't really viable/invented until 1993, well after the 386 prime.
     
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  2. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    Well looks like I got carried away on ebay.
    I now have 3 CPU's.
    am386DX 33Mhz that was in the mobo
    Ti486DLC/e 33Mhz that was pretty cheap 486 instructions and 1kb cache
    Ti486 SXL2-50Mhz which as an idiot, I thought was the 386pga 132 version but is in fact the 168 486 version. Making an adapter board so I can use this and regular 5v 486's (DX33 and DX66).

    So while I specifically was trying to avoid the temptation of building the fastest 386, effectively that is where I have gone. Dag nam it, its hard to stay focused on a single aim with retro computing.

    But it will be interesting to see how much rendering performance is impacted by faster ALU and INT performance while FPU remains the same.

    This is still a 386 build.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
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  3. DeChief

    DeChief New Member

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    I know the feeling, I've definitely gotten carried away on PC builds before (both retro and modern). You're welcome for the 386 board by the way ;) I'll be following your build!
     
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  4. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    So I got access to some of my old gear.

    I have a great black lenovo 19" LCD 1280x1024 4:3 which I will be using. Has a chunky aesthetic. Should be ideal for 640x480, 320x200, 320x240 as I am pretty sure it will map those 1:1. Not sure what it will do with 1024x768 or 1152x864. I used to run 1152 back in the day because of 1mb ram.

    All my CD/DVD are IDE, for the 386 it will be paired with a black CD reader of decent speed.
    My 5 1/4 inch is found, but its beige. Not sure if I will keep it beige, or vinyl black it. Given that it is likely this drive will stay in this box forever, I am tempted to black it.
    Picked up IDE cables, cd audio cables, etc.
    Keyboards I am coming up short, I was hoping I had a nice (Original IBM) PS/2 but I have no idea where my kb collection is currently as I could only find my newer usb ones. Hopefully my kb will work with the PS2 adapter. Which will be plugged into a ps/2 to AT keyboard adapter. I now have a r232 mouse, but its not black, may vinyl dye this one.

    I think I have worked out a way to hook up 3 Floppy drives. Only two will be operational at any one time, but this will allow 5.25, 3.5 and floppy emulation to all sit in the one machine without hardware modification each time you want to use any combination. I have found my 3.5 floppy disk collection, my cd/dvd collection, but have not yet got me 5.25 disk collection.

    I tried fitting the mobo into another spare ATX midi tower I have. But the 3.5" bays and the 5.25 bays get in the way, probably something I can snip away pretty easily and get a working solution with most of the expansion slots. But something I will wait until I check out the Aywun case which I think will be more compact and a nicer fit.

    I also have an adaptec scsi card on its way! I think this will be a good setup to explore Scsi/IDE performance. 486's particularly faster ones, ide tends to be a a strong argument, and as CPU's got faster the need for scsi on a desktop/workstation disappeared. I have no scsi HD, so this is a future project.

    I will also attempt at building an Arduino controlled Mhz display.

    I also have a vga to svideo converter, which will run into my Win98/XP box which is likely to be either a celeron 1000 or Pentium 4 2.4Ghz. I have a Geforce4 Ti200 Vivo as well as a PCI capture card. Will see how the quality comes out.
     
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  5. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    My Cirrus Logic GD5429 card arrived today.
    Its a late 1993 build, so I assume it is a 1mb. The 29 is one of the faster Cirrus ISA cards in windows (3.x and 95), because it support memory mapped bitblting. While Cirrus did go on to make true windows accelerators, very few if any made it onto ISA. IMO this is the minium acceleration feature to run 800x600 or higher res's in windows.

    So really I am just waiting on my ATX to AT adapter so I can power up and do a bench test.
     
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  6. okclock123

    okclock123 Member

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    Good stuff. Looking forward to seeing the results. Especially the 3D Studio thing. I always wanted one, but couldn't find it anywhere. I coded up a 2-player 3D stick figure basketball game in Pascal back in 1997 and I had to enter all vertices coordinates by hand in an array for both my stick figures and the field. It was very primitive. Wish I had 3D studio :).
     
  7. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    Wifi bridge arrives - this little device will plug into the ethernet card and make it able to access the wifi network. I am not running cat5 around my house. The network will allow it to access files, perform some internet functions, while everyone goes for web browsing I won't be doing that on this machine. Think Telnet, FTP, terminal windows etc. I really am after one of those Wifi232 modems so I can use dos com programs like I used to back in the BBS days.

    Ethernet card arrives. - 3com ethernet III, which is apparently one of the faster Ethernet cards for ISA.

    Adaptec SCSI ISA card arrives - for use with SCSI2SD adapter

    Cleaned the 19" LCD, image quality isn't as great as you would hope, but it is very much like a late 90's LCD.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
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  8. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    I now have a PS/2 to AT keyboard adapter. I also have a USB to PS/2 adapter. My keyboard situation currently is not clear. I swear I had about 5 PS/2 keyboards, but I can't find any of them, only my USB ones. Hopefully one of my USB ones work with the AT-PS2-USB adapter orgy connector. I still thought keyboards came with PS/2 converters, apparently not, but PS2 is still very popular on even very recent high end mobos.

    I also purchased two Serial ATA to IDE adapters. I was thinking I was going to have to use these for the CD drive, but apparently not as mine are all IDE. Oh well, I have a slot one build where I think I might be tempted to put in a cheaper SSD and use the SATA converter.

    I also purchased a Sound Blaster 16 value ISA because it was cheap, and came with original packaging, and I fear my AWE32 as a full length card, will not fit into an smaller ATX case (also it will use up a fair bit of real memory). As it is, I have tried to fit the baby AT motherboard into 3 (fullsize) ATX mid tower cases, it doesn't fit in 2, as the 3.5" floppy and drive bays hit the ram and CPU on the 386 board. I think it can fit into one with a bit of surgery. The main difference between Baby AT towers and Mid atx towers is the 3.5" drives are often located into the middle of the case instead of offset like in the old at cases.

    The AWE won't be wasted, as it will fit into the slot 1 build, and I hope to work our a way for it to fit into the 386 build.

    I have built a PC that I can use to grab S-video out of the 386.

    Still waiting on AT power adaptor, case, 486DLC, mathcopro, More ram, etc etc.. AT power connector is really holding things up now.

    I also ordered a 80Mhz crystal so I can do some 40Mhz overclocking. Plus heatsinks and fans and thermal pads.
     
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  9. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    Success!

    My Awyun 202 mini-ATX case arrived today. So it was a great time to see if I had wasted another $60 on something that won't quite work out.

    To my surprise the Baby AT motherboard easily slid in, clearing the 5.25 and 3.5 drives, even when fully occupied, there is even room for a heatsink and fan on the CPU next to the 3.5" bays. While none of the ATX holes lined up the board fits nicely and the isa expansion cards (all four of them line up nicely) when resting on a backing of corrigated cardboard. I think I am going to use a backing of MDF or simular and screw into that and screw that onto the case, thus enabling easy removal and installation. Plus its easy to bench test. I am really happy with the way this board fits in, its not too squished, but efficiently uses the space it has.

    Obviously I am limited to using only 4 ISA cards, but in this case I think it will be doable. The only thing that doesn't have a nice place to go are the two com ports, which I will mount directly to the case. Much like what happened with real traditional ATX cases. But otherwise, I think this will work out very nicely.

    Due to space I've had to drop the SB AWE32, this instead will go into my Slot 1 box Late DOS/Win98SE/XP, where it is probably more appropriate. It might squeeze in, but I want to get everything else sorted.
    So currently I have it fitted with:

    * Super I/o with IDE, 2 com and 1 lpt
    * ET4000 (I still have the cirrus logic, I intend to explore using both of these cards)
    * SB vibra 16
    * 3Com Ethernet III
    * 4Mb ram (although I have 2 x 4MB + a bunch of 1mb simms on the way, I expect to fill it to 12Mb ram, I only have 64kb cache so not desperate to go over 16Mb)
    * am386DX33 (mathco's, crystals, 486 DLC haven't arrived yet anyway).
    * CD/CDRW ~32 speed
    * 5.25 drive circa oct 1991
    * 3.5 " Floppy circa 2010
    * Gotek floppy emmulator


    The end result is a nice, clean, compact, mini-atx case, very reminiscent of late 90's baby AT minitower cases. If it was in beige, and didn't have USB, it would fit right into a 80's-90's computer fair. Black baby AT minitowers did exist in the 1980's-1990's, so while unusual, they did exist. I have a beige 5.25 drive, which I think I will vinyl dye black to match the black Goteck, black CD and black 3.5".

    Pictures!

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  10. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    What an ace machine! Once you have that 5.25 drive dyed then it will be 100%.

    Any plans for filling the IO hole? Blank covers pop up from time-to-time but are harder to find that they should be - just a cosmetic thing anyway I guess (but the kind of thing that I lose sleep over :weirdo:)
     
  11. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    I do want to do something, I have young kids, and well, the metal on this case is extremely sharp, inside, so I don't even want my thick calloused hands going in there. Also I've noticed with computers, if you don't seal them up, things start living inside them.
    The IO hole I think I will fill with smoked perspex or maybe just some silver painted MDF. The IO sheilds I have seen are like ~20 USD plus shipping, plus I'm not convinced an AT mobo would hold them in place, plus IO sheilds are know to be extremely flimsy, and mounting my com ports (and maybe my LPT as well) would free up an expansion slot, so I can install a SCSI adapter and SD2SCSI.

    I also want to mount some USB power ports (from molex connectors) for things like speakers, the wifi bridge etc. USB power is just super handy these days.

    I will have some MDF off cut for my mobo mounting, which I also intend to paint silver to neaten it up a bit.

    Keyboard arrived today, black Wyse chunky and square, PS/2 thing, brand new. Its one of those heavy duty things designed for sales consoles and commercial environments. I love it, it has that very classic keyboard layout and feel, even though its not mechanical. It weighs about twice as much as my Microsoft 600 keyboard, which is heavier than most cheapo keyb these days. I don't know if anyone has seen Gattaca, but this keyboard feels strong, heavy enough to kill someone. Picking up by the ends and twisting results in no flex at all. No media keys, just windows keys are the only compromise, but that is okay for the time period (it would be wrong on a 286).

    [​IMG]
    Microsoft keyboard top, Wyse keyboard bottom.

    It's really getting a NEXT workstation vibe thing going on now which fits with the 386/486 period and the Chips and Technology motherboard (they made the next workstation motherboards). That is the sort of machine I am aiming for, a 386 workstation, with cyrix math co, decent amount of ram, scsi storage, cd drive, networking, chunky black minitower case and peripherals.

    Instead of cutting out the front USB ports, I might convert them to power ports or put switches there instead and just put a badge over the firewire cutout.

    The Mhz read out I think will go behind the mesh front area as I think this will be much neater, less molestation of the case, looks a bit more traditional nixie tube. Plus if I want to turn it off, it doesn't ruin the clean lines. There is plenty of room to mount it in the ~5 unused internal 3.5" bay area.

    My wife said she likes the case, its small, functional and stylish. It is now allowed inside the house, she had many apprehensions about a "Retro computer build".

    I will vinyl dye the 5.25. While I don't really want to hide beige things, I think in this circumstance it will work nicely. I will also dye the ps/2 to AT adaptor and a PS/2 to USB mouse adaptor.

    I am now just waiting on the ATX to AT adapter.. I am so keen to get this baby fired up.
     
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  12. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    Also the vinyl spray supercheap sells is not suitable. Despite assurances it was.
    Autobahn apparently sells the correct stuff.
    Also got a dodgy item from a hong kong seller, arranging ebay refund.

    So not as much fun as yesterday.
     
  13. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    2x4Mb simms arrived so I've dropped that into the machine. Making a total of 12Mb currently. I'm hoping to put another 2x1Mb in making 14Mb ram. Given I only have 64kb of cache, doesn't seem much point going past 16Mb. While I could easily fit 8x4mb making 32Mb, not sure if that amount of memory is really reflective of what this period of computing would have, most of the time it would go unused and I would feel the need to grab more cache.

    Vinyl dying the 5.25 drive was easy, just use gloves. I felt better doing this when I realised it wasn't even going to match the beige ATX slot 1 machine I also have. The 386 machine is a much more relevant place for a 5.25" drive anyway.
    Waiting for it to dry then I will post pics/
    [​IMG]
    5.25 is now wonderfully black.

    Should look sweet with an all black look with wyse kb and Lenovo 19" 4:3 screen.

    Will be cutting out the mounting board for the mobo this weekend out of 3mm MDF as well as the IO shield. These will be painted silver to blend in with the inside of the case.
    The IO shield will also mount RS-232 ports 9 pin and 25 pin. I will also fit 2x USB power connections here as well. One will be used by the Wifi bridge, the other can be used for speakers. This way I haven't had to cut/modify the case for anything.
    Thinking about mounting the VGA 2 svideo converter inside as well, so I can then just mount a VGA port and a Svideo port on the IO sheild.

    Still waiting for AT to ATX converter..
    Have a intel 387 copro comming so I can compare the Cyrix verse the Intel.

    Once she is up and running I will be creating a bunch of youtube videos.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
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  14. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    Attempting to make the IO sheild out of MDF was not really successful.

    Tracing over a regular Atx sheild didn't really come up with a great result. I also butchered the keyboard hole, having to drill it three times (measurement by eye = fail). But with the thin mdf I wasn't able to get neat corners either. I also cut it not exactly the right size as the atx shield isn't the right template for what I want.

    I am happy with the mobo mounting on the MDF, its easy and supportive.
     
  15. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    [​IMG]

    Box plus monitor and keyboard.
     
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  16. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    Looking at the IO shield. I think I will just make one out of 3mm x 50mm aluminium bar.
    This will make it rigid, I can file it smooth and screw or rivet it to the case. If the case ever needs to be returned to an atx case, just unscrew.

    I will need something strong to mount the comports on so MDF and Plastic are out, I forgot how much force is required to put a 25 pin connector in.
    IO shield will mount:
    1 x 25 Pin Com Port
    1 x 9 Pin com port
    2 x USB power ports (one for wifi bridge and one for speakers)
    1 x ~23mm AT keyboard hole

    I was thinking of using my Microsoft intellipoint USB mouse with a USB-PS/2 and a PS/2 to RS232 converter, but it makes it a long thing poking out of the case. Also with laser tracking, multi button, its a freaking futuristic spaceship controller. I started to have doubts if dos mouse drivers etc would support it, even if windows did.

    Instead I have decided to vinyl dye my A4 Fast mouse with RS232 interface. This is a traditional PC RS232 two button mouse with a ball. No frills, although the RS232 connection has kind of a PS/2 green about it. But is just a simple traditional mouse. Given the all black aesthetic, it gets dyed. I didn't disassemble it, I just masked up the ball area, rs232, and sprayed.

    As has the AT 2 PS/2 keyboard converter. Okay, I am getting carried away with my vinyl dye.

    Where has vinyl dye been all my life.

    I would like to mount the VGA to S-video internally but I think it will just get messy.

    I have also purchased an AT power supply, so I can choose if I want real AT power or converted ATX power. I have doubts of the ATX 2 AT converter getting here soon, so at least with a real AT power supply, I can boot up and get everything sorted and hopefully start installing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  17. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    [​IMG]
    Keyboard adaptor and RS232 mouse, now black.

    I purchased 1 m of 50mm x3mm aluminium for the back IO plate. $13. I will cut and drill it today, hopefully have a functional back-plate for the Keyboard, and two (9 + 25 pin) com ports.

    Need to work out a nice place to mount the IDE2SD adapter.
     
  18. OP
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    Phido

    Phido Member

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    IO shield is harder than I thought.

    I made cutouts for 9 pin and 25 pin connectors. But 3mm is too thick for the little bolts to attach through. So maybe get some longer bolts?
     
  19. BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Really cool build. :thumbup:

    Not sure I'd bother with the I/O shield, unless a blank one comes up. I've never had much success adapting something to fit.

    If you get desperate... https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/282161635803
     
  20. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Nice find! Not a bad price I'd say given how hard they've been to find in the past - 62 of them sold apparently!
     

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