Feb 10, 2022
6 mins read
In the past weeks I was able to put my hands in a few pieces of retro, and no necessarily so retro, hardware.
The first one in arrive, was this LG 701E, this model passed for several versions and this one is kind of in the middle between the first series that were called Studioworks and the last CRT models called Flatron, given its design looks like just before that era. Was a gift from a neighbor and in quite good shape aside of dust. Don´t mind the crude edit to erase the reflection of my ugly mug.
This monitor passed the basic tests with good notes not showing too much problems aside a bit of polarization in the left corner, specially in the red waveleghts, and some burn in marks that shows up when you put something like a pure white background. The same of the markings makes me think that the unit was working a security monitor and the layout of the software ended burned into the phosphors layer. Either of these problems are not easy to capture with my basic cellphone, but let’s try. (See the red rectangle in the white backgroud image)
Since the problems are not obvious 95% of the time, between my use of dark themed GUIs and doormats, plus the performance and colors of the screens being so good, this one is going to be working as my second monitor. Its plays much nicer along the old motherboard of my A8 5600k and its multiple screens auto detection than the Philips 107s that I was using before.
Next was something I found over FB marketplace, published as basically untested but sold for only about 5 u$d. Was in quite good shape in the pictures and my thoughts were: “well, it’s almost nothing…. worst case scenario at least I could get pieces like memories and those cards”, so I contacted the person and was living near my house so he delivered the machine to me.
I will do an in deep analysis later in another post since it’s worth it, but to my huge surprise it was a Pentium III but the 1 Ghz model! Not an easy model to find! Quite clean inside (only removed the CPU cooler for a quick check) with an Intel motherboard, a GeForce4 MX440, a working Windows XP installation and everything. The LG Studioworks 441 that came with the machine also worked perfectly, so was basically a huge win! I only removed one of the optical drives because it didn´t want to close its door once powered up.
And now the final set for this batch, let´s go back to the first picture, which was a gift from a costumer after fixing up her laptop. This machine has a previous history with me since I fixed it before, in 2015. The family who own it previously later moved a bit more far away and we lost contact. According to her, the machine was used for several years more until it ended becoming sluggish and didn´t let, for example, new files to be saved in the system. It came along this huge Philips 109Es, a rare sight since this bigger CRT were quite expensive back in the day and you also need to have space to use them given their size.
Let´s start with the computer itself, after opening it up the sight was… well, I have seen far worse, but was in dire need of a quick clean before trying to powering it up. I was also suspecting that the computer was touched by somebody since my fix since the hard drive was quite loose with only one screw (that is more than sloppy), but at least the PSU was untouched, more on that below.
With that done, the visual inspection detected three bloated caps, but if my memory serve me well, one of the things I did back on the day to this computer was to replace the PSU along adding a PCI network card because the computer was damaged during an electric storm and usually the politics here are “if the motherboard still works in stable way, no need to fix what is still working, its cheaper”, but maybe it was damaged a bit later given the next thing I found.
Time for a smoke test and…. nothing, got power but no activity. So I quickly turned to the PSU and the problem was in plain sight.
Yep, it’s a goner. That PSU is going to the e-waste pile after I take out the cooler, looks too damaged and it’s a cheap model to be worth any effort. At least it did its job since the moment I put in there back in 2015 until some point of last year, according to the previous owner.
Took another similar PSU from my stash on my workshop and voila! We have life after one power cycle! But don´t sing any victory song just yet. A Windows 7 Starter installation booted up but didn´t work properly, didn´t realize to take a picture of that but the C partition was working with only 1.03 Mb free! Erased some temp files and uninstalled things like Avast to see if that changed things.
Nope, even with 1.3 Gb free Windows was presenting the same problems, didn´t dare to put any USB sticks outside the diagnostic one just in case was a virus. Managed to boot Ubuntu and the performance of the system looked correct, until you tried to access the hard drive. Sorry for the ugly capture but was able to save this quick snapshot when the system freeze up while running an extended self-test of the hard drive in Ubuntu.
After that freeze the hard disk started to cause all kinds of hangs and slowdowns to the BIOS. So yeah, that one is bad also, will do a proper diagnostic later.
Tried with a SATA disk first, and I completely forgot that there was an old copy of a Windows 10 installation there! Was nice to see it booting and recognizing all, but Windows 10 is not exactly the best option for an old Dual Core.
So I switched to another 80 Gb IDE drive and made a fresh Windows 7 32 nits installation to go easy on the computer. It’s not 100% stable, since it requires to be power cycled every time after being powered off for more than a couple of minutes for the motherboard to properly boot, but that could be solve by replacing those bloated caps. That is going to be for another moment!
But anyways, was happy to see it working after a quick diagnosis, once properly fixed it could act as a simple workstation for light work/multimedia, file server or something like that. Even if there are limitations to the potential of this computer since it’s lacking a PCI-E slot to upgrade the graphics. Here a video of the machine happily playing YouTube videos (only up to 480p)
The Phillips 109 worked without any issues, only needs a good clean up to get rid of all grime and to find a proper place to use it since… well, it’s huge and heavy! But having a CRT that can reach 1920x1440 with a big enough tube is another huge win!
Finally, also with that set it came an old Epson CX5600, to my surprise the sensors were not stuck and not showing any errors, even tried to print! Of course the headers are completely dried up, even if it was reporting that it still has ink. But my interest was the scanner that worked perfectly! I´m currently using a wounded Epson TX125 as scanner, but its showing signs of failing, so having this replacement is wonderful.
The poor printer has some battle scars, but it will look much better after a good clean up.
So that is for this one, folks! I hope you enjoyed my quick recount of my latest hardware random loot bacth!!