Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

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Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby xjas on Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:54 am

I'll start this off. I just rescued my new monitor from the skip. :mrgreen:

I was getting fed up running my DOS rig on an LCD - they generally hate VGA tweakmodes because the designers can't be bothered to implement them and even the common modes they do support (320x200, 320x240) don't always look very good. I've browsed Trademe a few times for CRTs but didn't find anything I liked. All too big, filthy looking, price out to lunch, etc.

So the other night I was bringing some recyclables down to the disposal area at my building and I find this in the 'large waste' locker:

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It's fantastic! Honestly this is probably one of the best consumer-grade CRTs I've used. The colour reproduction is broad and vibrant, the blacks are deep, the dot pitch is crisp and it's worked brilliantly on everything I threw at it with no sign of an "out of range" error.

(Also, it was CLEAN! I just dusted it with a damp cloth and it looks great.)

^^ The program in the above shot uses all sorts of bizarre scanline-level hackery and tweaked refresh rates. (The scrolling text at the bottom is technically in a different VGA mode than the video up top.) I've never seen an LCD that can run it natively. This thing can ostensibly display anything from 50 Hz up to 140(!) Hz and does a great job.

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^^ 360x240(?) 18-bit "fakemode". Looks utterly terrible on LCDs that stretch scanlines (i.e. all of them) and the illusion is spoiled. Perfect here.

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^^ Real-time raytracing in 'moderately-high res' (512x384) @ 16-bit colour, albeit at 8~9 FPS. Still cool on a 17-year-old CPU with no 3D accelleration. :mrgreen:

Yeah, I'm pretty pleased with this thing. I know CRTs are pretty much worthless these days but I'm still astounded by what people will just toss. I can't be the only one who goes dumpster diving - what have you guys managed to grab?
Last edited by xjas on Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:36 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: My new monitor...

Postby tezza on Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:31 am

Good find!
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby xjas on Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:58 pm

Edited the title - I figure this thread can be for all our useful/rare/oddball hardware 'finds' we luck into in unexpected places.

Here's another one I grabbed from an op shop - I spotted it in a disorganized basket of RCA cables and mobile chargers under the counter:
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That would be an optical serial mouse. Not what I was expecting to see in a shop that mainly caters to dingy used clothing! Walked away with it for a dollar.

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I am aware of some early optical mice for e.g. Sun workstations but never seen a 9-pin serial one for humble PCs before. (There were PC optical 'bus mice' around that came with their own interface cards though?) It has the standard MS/PC interface switch and this 3-way 'S'/middle/'T' switch, which seems to control motion sensitivity.

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Unfortunately it doesn't work very well, the ball mouse I have (a Genius Newscroll, also a bit of an oddball with a little 1-axis joystick in place of a scroll wheel!) is better in absolutely every way. It'll do for a backup in case my Genius dies though. Who said the bleeding edge of mid '90s technology was easy?

I loaded up Deluxe Paint and tried to draw some straight lines with it - this was the result:
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...Yeah.

I also got this neat small-format keyboard recently. Saved me a precious few inches of desk room. Some key positions are a little awkward but it ticked all the vital boxes - PS/2, black, full 102-key layout including real arrow keys in a sensible configuration and a proper numeric keypad. Usually they omit one or the other, or are USB. Can't argue with the $3 price tag either.
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I am not a stickler for (or even a fan of!) IBM Model Ms if it isn't obvious.
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby SpidersWeb on Sat Jan 11, 2014 7:58 pm

I got this in Waikanae for a solid ten bucks:

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FM,AM,VHF,UHF, and the tape deck works! It's not 1080p but when we plugged it in and it powered up we couldn't believe it.

Guessing early 1980's. Using a VCR to watch some X-Files VHS tapes I got for $3 on the same day :)
Also on that same day, trash palace, 140 sealed 1.2Mb 5.25" disks - $5 and some unused 720KB and 1.44Mb too.

(In background of that pic, is the IBM RT, which I got working on my network but still yet to find a future proof solution for hard drives)
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby SpidersWeb on Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:04 pm

xjas wrote:I am not a stickler for (or even a fan of!) IBM Model Ms if it isn't obvious.

Yeah same here, I only use my Model M's on my actual IBM PS/2's - prefer the feel of a lot of the clone keyboards from that time or the sharp click of the Model F.

p.s. good idea on the thread :D
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby xjas on Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:57 pm

Nice find! I would have snagged that too; I'm a big sucker for miniaturized CRTs. They remind me of those old sci-fi shows where they got all the ideas right, but everything is implimented with '80s technology - mobile phones built into digital watches, the internet running on green screen terminals, tube displays everywhere...

On the subject of AV gear, I forgot about the Panasonic VHS-C camera I liberated from the same waste locker as post #1 a few weeks ago. It works fine! Came with four tapes too. Not sure what I'm going to do with it.
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby Gibsaw on Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:05 pm

Oh... My... God!!!!.. A colour version of the "Telerasse"!!! My mum used to sell those. (TESA electronics was the distributor)

I could run the TV on some ridiculous amount of D-Cells but it would empty them in a real short period.

I have the black and white version somewhere over at my dad's house still.. (He was STILL using it as a recording monitor right up to about 2007 when he had too many VCR's recording too many programmes for my mum. (Since then, he's gotten some perspective on watching too much television. :) )
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby xjas on Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:23 pm

Got a couple of 'new' laptops recently. I have these in mind for a project:

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On the left is 'Triton', a Dell Inspiron 4150 (see my Linux thread.) Early P4/512 MB/40 GB HDD, not really "vintage" but old enough to be unloved. My work was going to bin it before I stepped in! The extra floppy was a $2 trademe score and I hacked in the DVD drive from a different model Dell to replace the faulty one. Set it up with a lightweight Debian distro called Antix, which is great - I've been using it for all sorts of things. Also dual boots DOS but it's just a bit too modern to be fully DOS compatible (no sound - well, PC speaker works but no useful sound.)

On the right is now 'Orcus', a classic tank-like Thinkpad 760EL that I've just grabbed off Trademe. It wouldn't boot at first due to RAM issues until I went to look at the SIMM expansion board, which was so loose it literally fell out when I opened the cover. Now it's fine.

Came with Windows 98 (which is leaving), some apps, and some various entertainment software :wink: that I might save. (Doom 2, as shown, Day of the Tentacle, Riven, Darkseed, and maybe more games, I haven't poked through it that much yet.) It's supposed to be a standard P133 - I was hoping to upgrade it to an MMX based chip but it looks like somebody already has! Not sure what clock speed it's running at now, BIOS/W98 show no info. Everything seems to work, even the CMOS battery. Came with all kinds of accessories including an extra floppy drive, power supply, hard drive, various PCMCIA cards (networking), extra batteries, extra RAM module... It also has this cute little LCD to display various hardware info (drive use, caps lock status, etc.):

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The important bit for me is the 100% standard DOS compatible ISA ESS Audiodrive onboard. Digital sound (in stereo, SB Pro spec) & OPL3-compatible FM; works completely painlessly. A rare thing in a W95-era laptop. Unfortunately there's no 15-pin MIDI port but theoretically the sound card can output MIDI (I believe the docking station has one) so I'm going to see if I can put something together to get MIDI out of it somehow. (Parallel port via TSR bridge?) The seller even threw in an extra MIDI cable when he asked what I was going to do with it. :)

Unfortunately it's kind of grubby and covered in this factory rubberized coating that is turning to tack. If anyone has ideas about how to get that off and leave unmarred plastic underneath I'd love to hear them.

And then there's this, which I got a while ago but forgot about:
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I found this same disk in a shop as a kid... it was like a prize at the time. Contains a bunch of cheesy FLI-format looping animations and a player. So naturally when it popped up for $1 I had to bite. It's gloriously terrible. But how in the hell did a forgotten piece of shovelware from a 2-bit Toronto distributor wind up all the way down here only to be flogged brand-new-still-in-the-shrink-wrap on Trademe 20 years later?! I couldn't stop laughing at the absurdity of it.

You better believe I'll be putting the disk contents online for you all to enjoy.
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby tezza on Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:24 am

I used to have an IBM thinkpad, maybe a slightly later model to the one pictures.

It was an ugly old beast but I did like the mini joystick thing in the keyboard to control the mouse (after i got used to it).

Thanks for documenting the finds and projects. It's good to see what forum ppl are up to.
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby SpidersWeb on Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:37 pm

Ok, so this isn't exactly from a garage sale, it's from trademe - but this thread still feels appropriate.

Spotted by my partner under $1 reserves, I got this badboy, case, manual, software, original + extra accessories for two bucks:

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(Sorry about photo quality, iPhone, dim lighting)
I'm looking forward to my next serial port issue :P
It's in mint condition, and the only fault I've found is the 3.5" DSDD floppy can't read disks. Manual is dated 1988. Came with about 30 various RS232 serial adaptors/gender changes as well. There is a big breakout module with LEDs and switches that succesfully powers up and passes diagnostics too.
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby xjas on Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:31 pm

Hey guys, check this out! From the $1 value menu on Trademe. It was posted in the wrong section, with a $1 reserve, and to my great surprise, no one else bid...

Presenting the Diamond Monster 3D II - a.k.a. a genuine 3DFX Voodoo2:
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Yeah it's only the 8MB version, but that's enough for anything I'm ever likely to try to run on it. It even has the 34-pin header so I could run two of them in scan-line-interlace mode if I wanted. That's right, that whole idea started here, in 1998!

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All-analog signal path - requires a VGA pass-through cable to interface with the regular video card. These used to ship with a SHORT cable - like six inches! and heavily shielded - to minimize signal degradation. It sort of worked.

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The triumvirate of ASICs that gave this card its near-mystical power! Two texture processors and a mighty geometry engine. Enough to crunch all the polygons your Pentium or AMD K6 could throw at it.

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So yeah, I don't actually know if it works. But it's clean and tidy and seems to have been stored properly, so I have high hopes. Next time I open my totally-not-a-games-machine DOS rig (where the heck did all these games on the HDD come from?!) I'll throw it in and report back. Lucky I have a PCI slot left.

BTW if you were wondering, there's all kinds of stuff you can do with a Voodoo card from pure DOS. This was long before OpenGL became standard. No GUI OS required!

Probably the best dollar I've spent this week. Well, that samosa I had for lunch was pretty good too.
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby Clym5 on Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:52 pm

In my recent travels, I've come across 3 interesting tidbits. I found two Radio Shack 64k Rolodex units, and one still makes a beep noise! They both need new batteries.

The other thing was a mid to early 1970's calculator. Caltronic 606. It uses those tiny LED 7 segment displays I love, and chews through 9v batteries like there's no tomorrow.

I've been doing all my NCEA math on it, apart from when I need a function that it doesn't have.

I'll edit in some pictures tomorrow.
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby xjas on Fri May 29, 2015 9:22 pm

So I work in a science faculty of a big uni. We're having a massive clean-out which means a LOT of stuff is getting tossed out of the labs & offices. As much in dismay as I am at the sheer amount of stuff that will probably end in a landfill, that does mean free gear for me!

Most of the computer stuff hasn't been that interesting, lots of P4s with DDR memory, etc. I did build a couple of extra gruntwork machines for my office & home and harvest some nice Antec ATX cases - call me weird, but I really do believe a P4@3GHz with 4GB RAM and a nice video card can still do useful work! Hell that's practically a modern machine by my standards.

Managed to nab a few gems too - and took loads of photos as always. Here are a few highlights of what I saved from the skip over the last couple weeks:

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Check this guy out - big AT tower case, quad floppy drives - you better believe I'm gonna take that!

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Okay, no, it doesn't have four floppies, it has two blank faceplates that they made *look* like floppies. But the two real ones are nice, especially the 5.25".

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It even came with a 720k DD disk full of old survey data. If it still works I'll reformat it for my MSX.

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Lots of expansion cards, let's open it up...

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Hmm, eight 30-pin SIMMs and FDD/IDE & serial+parallel controllers on ISA cards.
(BTW what is that *long* ISA slot on the bottom? I don't recognize that slot type!)

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HOLY crap, a 386DX/25 with a Cyrix Fastmath copro.

I haven't seen a 386 system "in the wild" in years. Most of them are either long gone or in the hands of enthusiasts. This one was probably sitting in the corner of someone's lab forever and they finally tossed it to save space. Luckily, I was there.

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Here are the cards I removed already when I snapped the mobo. ISA network card and a Trident VGA card (shame it's not a Tseng.) The long one with the DB9 port I had my hopes up was going to be an MDA card but on closer examination it's some kind of data logger. Still cool though.

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UMC chipset, AMI bios... quality stuff for the time.

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Ewww... to clarify, that is dust, not exposed leakage on the battery terminal. But yeah, that thing's going away as soon as I can find my long-nose side cutters.

UNFORTUNATELY... I did test it and it didn't work. However it seems to be just a faulty PSU for now, hopefully there are no deeper problems. The HDD was removed for destruction as per university disposal policy which is kind of a shame - I would have loved to get my hands on whatever 40 or 80MB clunker was in there, but who knows if it even worked. Maybe this would be a decent use for the 128MB CF card I have lying around.

Anyway, onward to...
Last edited by xjas on Fri May 29, 2015 10:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby xjas on Fri May 29, 2015 9:37 pm

...this tidy little AT minitower. Seems to be a pentium 1 with a zip drive. Get!

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Well, it's a socket 7 board anyway. Asus mobo, Intel 430VX chipset. Not bad...

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At first I was annoyed with how stripped it was; the CPU was gone, the RAM was gone, the cache was gone... I did find the RAM stuffed in behind the CD drive bays though. Probably the most useful (to me) of the missing components.

I haven't tested this at all yet, except the zip drive which went in my dedicated recording machine. If the PSU works I can try the 386 with it too.

Next interesting thing I grabbed was this:

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Nice CRT multisync monitor, Sony Trinitron tube. Mid '90s.

But turn it around and:
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Yeah that's right, 5 BNC inputs *only*, no VGA! Component RGB + Vsync + Hsync. I have no idea what this can do yet, nor what it's from (old workstation? I had an SGI monitor once with 5 BNC inputs.) Could it be my holy grail of monitors - a true multisync CRT that can sync to both NTSC 15kHz and VGA 31kHz? Maybe?

It seems to power on and the tube magnet makes a satisfying clunk so I'm guessing it works fine. I need to build a VGA->BNC cable to test though.
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Re: Thrift store / garage sale / side-of-road find thread

Postby xjas on Fri May 29, 2015 9:58 pm

There's more stuff too... Still going through everything. I've been hitting the 'disposal piles' daily. I also nabbed a SERIOUS BUSINESS HP rack-mount oscilloscope/spec analyzer, a PowerMac (603e) in tough shape (and I *think* I convinced the former owner not to destroy the SCSI HDD for that one, I might get my hands on it after all) complete with ADB keyboard and thoroughly useless Apple LaserWriter printer (RS422 serial port, pretty much System 6-9 only), a ton of PCI SCSI cards, a SCSI CD burner (rare!) and external tape drive, some rather nice AGP video cards, lots of floppies, a few *nice* Apple USB keyboards, a couple of complete P3 mobos with ISA slots, all kinds of stuff really. I don't even want most of it, I'm just trying to see it go to some local gearheads rather than the dumpster.

Here's another one - was told this cute little 4:3 15" LCD *didn't work*. What that actually meant was "the switch is sometimes finicky and you have to press it twice." Works fine.
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And also,
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...it displays an *astonishing* amount of VGA hackmodes and tweakmodes. Modern LCDs just throw their hands up in the air and quit at anything that's not an 'official' BIOS VGA mode. Not this! I tried throwing all kinds of stuff at it and the only time I got an 'out of range' error was when I set the VGA clock to generate *PAL*. It's showing Tran's 'Luminati' demo in the above pic which uses an absurd refresh rate hack and displays "21-bit" fakecolour in two frames (and yes, it looks that squashed on most CRTs too) - go ahead, try that on any other LCD and see if it works! I'm impressed.
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