Archives for: February 2008

Max to the max

18/02/08 | by admin [mail] | Categories: Hardware, Mac

I managed to snap up a PowerMac G5 with fixable hardware issues and a PowerBook G4 about a year ago,

The PowerMac was a dual 2GHz early 2005 with a 9650. I maxed the RAM to 4GB, and added the PCI Airport card from the G4. I also swapped in a 9800Pro until it developed graphics issues, and chucked in 2x 320GB HDDs, later upgraded to 2x 500GB.

I ran it as my main machine for about 12 months, but sold it in Oct 07 with the expectation that new Mac Pros were imminent. No new Mac Pros arrived, and by Nov it looked like nothing was coming until Jan 08 (and later proved true). So I picked up a PowerMac g5 1.6 for about $600. I swapped the RAM and HDDs into the 1.6, and added Bluetooth ($25 kit from MacOne) and Airport Extreme (about $70 with aerial), and upgrade from the crappy 5200FX to a 9600Pro. Currently running Leopard server.

I also started hunting around for a Mac Mini to run torrents on, and experiment with Tiger Server. I picked up a Mac Mini G4 for about $300, Tiger Server PPC 10 client for about $150, and a 250GB drive ($209) and 1GB RAM ($55). At the moment it runs Vuse about 12 hours a day. The downside of the Mac Mini G4 is the single 10/100 port. It's not quite fast enough, and with only one port is able to run as a decent gateway box. I am toying with the idea of using the firewire port for networking, or adding a USB NIC.

A few weeks later I found a 'brand new in box' Mac Mini 2GHz. The current model, and still under warranty, for the bargain price of $800. Again, got it home, upgraded the RAM to 2x 2GB Transcend ($110) and a 250GB drive ($209). And installed Leopard, migrate some data from the PowerMac.

Now, the Mac Mini C2D is funny with RAM. It will take 2x 2GB, and see them as 2x 2GB (ie 4GB) but due to chipset limitations will only let you use 3GB. But, 2x 2GB will work in dual channel mode, meaning it is slightly faster. RAM is cheap, $55 for each 2GB stick and about $30 for a 1GB. So I bought the two 2GBs, because I care about the less than 5% speed boost.

Unfortunately, one of the modules was faulty. So at the moment, I am running 1x 2GB and 1x 1GB.

The Mac Mini C2D is the main workstation, with the media files and rest of the crap that takes up too much room living on the PowerMac G5. I've got a nice widescreen 24" and wireless keyboard and mouse attached.

Like I said earlier, the idea is to get rid of one or 2 of the Macs when I get a Mac Pro. When I will get a Mac Pro, I don't know. But it should be good enough that I can ditch the PC, and maybe host more files locally. The PowerMac G5 is running out of room with only 1TB and 2 drive bays. And 750GB drives are only just hitting the sweet spot.


The three Amigas

18/02/08 | by admin [mail] | Categories: Hardware, Amiga

Well, really it's only two since the A2000 went south.

I managed to get a towerised A1200 off eBay for a pretty good deal. It was one of the GSoft cases, made locally under licence from ElBox or Amiga Inc or someone. It came with the case, mainboard, 68030, and a Zorro II busboard.

First things first, I swapped in the KS3.1 ROMs from the old A1200 (which is still working, and lying around somewhere), and got a decent sized 2GB drive in there. Then I swapped out the crappy 680EC30 for the 68030@50MHz + 68882@25MHz Blizzard III. I also took the EGS Spectrum and a SCSI card from the A2000 to test them out in the Zorro slots. They worked.

But this wasn't enough. I went searching for some more kewl things. On the list was a PPC board and a PCI busboard. Freakishly, I managed to get a top of the line PPC board with a 240MHz 603e and a 50MHz 68060, but also with 64MB, SCSI and a BlizzardVision card. Pretty much the whole kit and caboodle. I also managed to track down a PCI busboard with the multimedia chipset installed.

After I got this, I needed to hunt down a few odds and ends. I got a FastATA adaptor for the mainboard, a Catweasel, an adaptor for the SCSI port to use internal SCSI ribbon cables, 2x 128MB SIMM RAM, a Voodoo 3 PCI. And a few SCSI drives and a CD burner.


The other thing I managed to acquire was a very nice A2000. It came with a 3 way ROM switcher, Flicker Fixer, Oktagon, EGS Spectrum, MegaChip, and A2630 with Rocket Launcher (speed boost to 50MHz) and DKB A2632 (allows adding up to 112MB in SIMMs to the A2630).

It just needed a couple of extras. I already had an 8X SCSI CD-R drive, 2GB SCSI drive, and 96MB in SIMMs. It just needed Network and sound. For network, you really need ethernet with RJ-45 port. There are a couple of cards that ship this way, but they are hard to come by. The A2095 is far more common, it just needs an AUI to RJ45 transceiver. The card cost about $95 and the transceiver about $10.

The sound card had to be Toccata compatible to work with OctaMED. The two choices are a Delfina and the Toccata. Again, the Toccata is easier to find, but not quite as good. I went for the Toccata.

The problem happened when I went to install the Toccata. The A2000 would hang on boot (insert disk screen). No matter which ROM was used, or even whether I stripped out all the expansion cards or not. I suspect that it is a bad floppy drive that killed something on the mainboard. But given that the A2000 is about 20-odd years old, I think that it can be forgiven.

So, I am on the look out for another big box Amiga to swap the cards into. Ideally, a working A4000T :)

The AmigaOne is still functioning. I started copying the Aminet to it (from disk), but there were issues. It would crap out and need to revalidate the volume every few hundred meg. I am thinking to just use Samba to access the Aminet from a share on the Mac. The other addition it has had is the Radeon 8500. Which is the fast V200 based Radeon, and should still be the fastest for the A1.



18/02/08 | by admin [mail] | Categories: Hardware, PC

The PC was a deal. About $1000 all up. I bought it nearly complete. I had been looking for a decent case and dual 16x PCI-e board for quite a while. This guy was selling the case, PSU, mobo, cpu, and dual 8600GTSs, with a 300GB drive and 1GB RAM thrown in. All in all I was at least a couple of hundred better off buying it all together.

So I bought it, added two DVD burners, a Pioneer 212 and an ASUS with Lightscribe, the 320GB and 80GB from the old PC (the Athlon64 939pin 4000+), 2GB RAM, and two cool blue LED 12CM case fans. I hooked up the ViewSonic 22", Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse, got Vista up and running, and left it at that.

Noticed some weird issues with it. It is very fussy with RAM and SLI. Had to bump it down to 2GB from 4GB because SLI wouldn't work with 4 sticks. Not that I am using RAM on their 'certified' list. And the network dropped off regularly until I reinstalled Vista.

About the only use it gets is playing Call of Duty. But we all know that PCs are just games machines :-)


A new post. Woopee!

18/02/08 | by admin [mail] | Categories: Hardware, Mac, Amiga, PC

It's only been what, a year and a half?

What's happened? Got rid of a bunch of stuff, and got some more stuff.

At the moment I have: AmigaOne, 2GB RAM, Radeon 8500, SoundBlaster Live, SiI based ATA and SATA cards, DVD burner etc
Amiga A1200 PPC 240MHz + 68060@50MHz, SCSI, 256MB Fast, Voodoo 16, Realtek 10/100 NIC, Soundblaster 128, OS 3.9, 2GB HDD
A2000 - dead, but has A2320 flicker fixer, A2630 with Rocket Launcher (68030+6882@50MHz) and DKB A2632 with 96MB fast, Oktagon, 8X CD-R, 2MB Chip, 1.3/2/3.1 ROM switcher, Toccata sound card, A2095 Ethernet, EGS Spectrum graphics card. Getting another A2000 to swap the cards into.

PowerMac 6100 with G4, 264MB RAM, 4GB HDD, DVD-ROM, MacOS 9.1
PowerMac G5 1.6GHz, Bluetooth, Airport, 9600Pro, 4GB RAM, 2x 500GB HDD, OSX 10.5 Server, PCI Gigabit ethernet
Mac Mini 2GHz Core 2 Duo, 3GB RAM, 250GB HDD, 24" BenQ LCD, Leopard 10.5.2
Mac Mini 1.42GHz G4, Airport/Bluetooth, CD-RW/DVD combo, 1GB RAM, 250GB HDD, OSX 10.4 Server
PowerBook G4 1.5GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB HDD, Tiger

Core 2 Duo 2.6GHz, 2GB RAM, 1x 320GB, 1x 300GB, 1x 80GB HDD, dual 8600GTS SLI, ThermalTake Aguila Case, Asus Striker Extreme, Vista Business 64bit, 22" ViewSonic LCD

All networked together on a Gigabit switch.

The idea is to get rid of 1 or 2 of the Macs, and the PC when I get a Mac Pro (2.8GHz 8core with Airport and 8800GT).

The way it is set up at the moment is the G5 is a fileserver, the Mac Mini G4 is a torrent box, and the Mac Mini Core 2 is the main workstation. The others get used far less often, but that's normal.


Current Hardware Projects

This is all about my on going fumblings with hardware. Regular entries should provide an indication of the depths of my obsession.

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