1. OCAU Merchandise is available! Check out our 20th Anniversary Mugs, Classic Logo Shirts and much more! Discussion in this thread.
    Dismiss Notice

The Cono Box: Socket 7 from the streets

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by Pierre32, Mar 27, 2021.

  1. Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    On the southern fringe of Wollongong lies the hamlet of Coniston, overlooking the Port Kembla Steelworks. All of Coniston's highlights fit into one photo.

    upload_2021-3-27_19-4-4.png

    On the same morning I'd posted on OCAU that I didn't need any more projects, I popped out to Cono for a healthy lunch. As I departed the bakery and headed up the hill, I spotted a sorry sight in the long grass. I stopped for a look, and it was immediately clear that greasy carbs weren't the only thing coming back with me. Or as badmofo put it:

    It wasn't pretty. No case cover. CPU hanging out of the socket. Rain, mud, grass, spiders, and some actual rubbish. (Mintie wrappers? Definitely period correct.) It appeared to be a lost cause, but I hoped to salvage a couple of bits, like the turbo display.

    IMG_20210316_175632.jpg IMG_20210316_175706.jpg
    IMG_20210316_175728.jpg IMG_20210316_175802.jpg

    I guess I had a project now, and summoning all of my imagination I called it the Cono Box.
     
    MUTMAN, Vanne, TaXy DriVar and 4 others like this.
  2. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    Given the state of things I was pretty comfortable just going HAM on the cleaning job. On recommendation here I grabbed a bottle of Simple Green cleaner, and some WD40 Contact Cleaner. Also engaged high pressure tap water, stiff brushes and a hair dryer.

    IMG_20210316_181204.jpg IMG_20210316_181301.jpg IMG_20210316_181351.jpg IMG_20210316_182956.jpg IMG_20210316_210605.jpg IMG_20210317_174628.jpg IMG_20210317_175805.jpg IMG_20210317_180847.jpg

    The parts:

    - PCPartner MB500N https://www.ultimateretro.net/en/motherboards/5956
    - Pentium Overdrive 166mhz SU125
    - S3 Trio64
    - Crystal CS4235
    - Quantum Fireball 1280MB
    - Seagate Decathlon ST5851A 851MB
    - 16MB in 4x mixed RAM sticks, plus a COASt module

    I hadn't even looked at the PSU yet, but didn't think powering it on would even be an option. I left that inspection for the next day.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
    TaXy DriVar, rugger and adz like this.
  3. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    The next day, it turned out the PSU was in much better shape than assumed. I gave it a once-over, and set up in the garage for a pyrotechnics test. It passed without incident, giving me the confidence to take it inside and start plugging more bits in.

    IMG_20210317_203035.jpg IMG_20210318_184604.jpg IMG_20210318_185531.jpg

    After a few false starts and some final cleaning and reseating of all the jumpers, I had a booting system. The state of things:

    • Mobo: Operational
    • RAM: Operational.
    • Video card: Operational
    • Sound card: May be dead. I don't have experience with Crystal driver setup, although it's not exactly complicated, just slightly different to other cards. So maybe I'm doing something wrong - but I think it's just dead.
    • HDDs: Dead, Dave. All dead.
    • Mobo IDE controller: Secondary ok, Primary TBC
    • Mobo FDD controller: Ok
    • Mobo I/O: Parallel working. Serial TBC. Can't get a mouse working yet, but that was using a PS/2-serial adapter. Need to try with a true serial mouse.

    I haven't even touched the original FDD or CD drives yet. But bringing in some clean spares, I've got a DOS install up and running, and have done some game tests. I'm finding that Prince of Persia will hang after a few minutes gameplay. Duke3D sound will glitch out after a few minutes gameplay, but the system doesn't hang.

    To do:
    • Find the source of system instability
    • Clean and test the original disk drives
    • Sand & respray the case
    • Get a case cover made
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
    mAJORD, TaXy DriVar, rugger and 3 others like this.
  4. Grant

    Grant Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Messages:
    1,878
    Location:
    Wollongong
    Perspex sheet?
     
    adz likes this.
  5. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    That's one option I've put some thought into, and it could pair well with the painted chassis. The other idea is to have one of the nearby sheet metal shops bend something up for me.
     
  6. Mistikal

    Mistikal Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2002
    Messages:
    2,683
    Location:
    The Forgotten West
    Been many-a year since I've seen a Seagate Decathlon! Looks like an interesting score, usually the hard-rubbish finds here have already been raided by scrappers looking for copper, and all that is left are bent and smashed cases.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    Yeah the Seagate is such a cute little unit, and it's a shame both drives were cactus. Nothing but clicks and clunks.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    IDE controller update: No luck getting the primary to detect a drive. The secondary works fine, so I'm not worried about that for now.

    IO update: Both COM ports are good.

    Stability update: The news is good, but confusing.

    First I swapped out the AT PSU for a new ATX unit with adapter. This didn't solve the issue, which I took as good news for the AT unit.

    Then I swapped the Overdrive 166 for a Pentium 90. This stopped the Prince of Persia crashes, but introduced a new issue with Duke3D; no SB sound (FM only), and crashing at the menu when you start a game. It seemed my ESS card was playing up - maybe this was the spanner in the works? I've never had an issue with it, but it does run very hot for some reason. You can see the scorched chip (this is how it was when I got it):

    upload_2021-3-29_21-33-29.png


    So I went back to the dead Crystal card. With RogerWiIco's vinegar bath fresh in my mind, I decided to try the same. My eyes aren't too hot, but it still looked pretty cruddy around the chipset. With an antistatic brush and a little dish of vinegar to dip it in, I went silly on the pins.

    This is the after shot. Still pretty cruddy, and needs more attention... but it worked! :leet: The Crystal card lives.

    upload_2021-3-29_21-44-34.png


    Now, with the P90 installed, sound was working properly and games were stable. So I threw the OD166 back in, and everything is still behaving so far. Righto!
     
    rugger, Vanne, RogerWiIco and 2 others like this.
  9. Vanne

    Vanne Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Messages:
    3,301
    Location:
    DXB.. mostly.
    Amazing find.. lol looked like shit, but cleaned up great. Excellent find on the Cono. Standing by for more Cono goodness. ;)
     
    Pierre32 likes this.
  10. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    Drive time!

    I think I'll save the floppy job for a Saturday, with the rest of the rust removal job :Paranoid:

    upload_2021-3-30_19-46-3.png

    The CD ROM looks a lot better, and it's very clean inside. An external spray and wipe will suffice for now.

    upload_2021-3-30_19-47-34.png upload_2021-3-30_19-47-48.png upload_2021-3-30_19-48-31.png

    And then I noticed it had a CD in it. Interesting... was installing the sound card one of the last activities of this computer? Run of the mill mix of drivers, but I'll get it uploaded to archive.org anyway.

    upload_2021-3-30_19-52-12.png upload_2021-3-30_19-53-57.png

    I hooked up the drive for a real world test by installing Screamer. All went well, so that's one more original part that stays in the system. Nice!

    upload_2021-3-30_19-56-51.png
     
  11. Vanne

    Vanne Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Messages:
    3,301
    Location:
    DXB.. mostly.
    YAY!!!for the CONO!!!! :D
    (yeah i'am about 15 beers in, retiring for the night)
     
    Pierre32 likes this.
  12. rugger

    rugger Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Messages:
    793
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    Definitely going to younk those drivers down.

    Getting the drivers right is important if you want trouble free MPU-401 functionality.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    rugger and Vanne like this.
  14. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    Clean and spray day! Laid out ready for attack:

    00.jpg 01.jpg 02.jpg 03.jpg 04.jpg

    If there are any 'after' details I don't show up close, that's because they still look crap :leet: Particularly the bare metal and chrome stuff, which I was too lazy to bring back like new. But it was all sanded and sealed with clear coat, so any remaining "patina" is a glossy feature now.

    05.jpg 06.jpg

    I think this bad boy is ready for a jacket now. I've already spoken to a sheet metal joint that can help me out.

    07.jpg
     
    adz, Phido, Vanne and 4 others like this.
  15. Vanne

    Vanne Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Messages:
    3,301
    Location:
    DXB.. mostly.
    Exellent progress Pierre :)
     
    Pierre32 likes this.
  16. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    Really scraping the barrel for 3.5 drives now. The rust bucket that came with it is not reading, I've got two others behaving the same, but thankfully one last one that seems good. Final dress rehearsal with everything connected:

    upload_2021-5-8_17-14-37.png

    Rejects bagged for future attention:

    upload_2021-5-8_17-15-33.png

    And here's the mobo mounted up on its plate, ready for assembly <3

    upload_2021-5-8_17-16-31.png

    All I want to do is put it together now. But I can't yet, because on Monday morning I'm taking the chassis into the sheet metal joint so they can bend up a cover for me. Once I get that back and sprayed, I can finish the build.

    Which reminds me, I need to do a Bunnings run for the paint. I won't be using the Dulux Dune I used on the chassis; I'll need something that's a better match for the plastics.
     
    adz, Vanne and rugger like this.
  17. rugger

    rugger Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Messages:
    793
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    great restoration project!
     
    Pierre32 likes this.
  18. Vanne

    Vanne Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Messages:
    3,301
    Location:
    DXB.. mostly.
    Speaking of plastics? Are you going to retrobright that front panel? Or leaving it bromited?

    Nice job so far Pierre.
     
    Pierre32 likes this.
  19. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,850
    Location:
    Sydney
    Cheers gents! It will retain the nicotine aesthetic for now. Mostly because I haven't gone down the path of retrobrighting anything yet. I'm sure when I do, it will turn into a production line.

    As an aside, I've just realised I haven't done a full dress rehearsal yet. I haven't tried the turbo switch & display! That'll keep me off the streets this evening.
     
  20. badmofo

    badmofo Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,825
    Location:
    Australia
    I'm looking forward to seeing what the metal bending lads can do for your case cover, and then how the paint-job goes - I've never had much luck painting cases, try as I might. I took an AT desktop cover to a professional spray joint once to see what they could do for me but they told me to hit the road, not worth the time and effort. Probably fair enough and powder coating would probably be the go anyway.
     

Share This Page

Advertisement: