On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

General discussions related to the Altair 8800 Clone

Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby steve_a » November 17th, 2019, 2:33 pm

managed_mischief wrote:thanks, just grabbed one. did you say somewhere you had the cad files as well? if you had the altair drawn up id love to grab that from you


Yessir, it was shipped Friday. I didn't get to update eBay until today. Busy weekend working on my ATX power switch.

The files for the backplate are here:
https://ufile.io/dbtci4g9
(expires after 30 days, on or about 12/17/19)

I think the designs are all in SolidWorks. Protocase is the fab shop I've been using and they handled the CAD work. I used their free tool to get the original plate in the ballpark, their engineers took it from there (VERY helpful, they were). I don't have any files for the Altair itslef, maybe Mr. Douglas could help you out?

A note: If anyone thinks they can get these made for less than $80 apiece, I'll stop providing them. The $80 + 10% eBay markup is how I landed on $90. If such is the case, could you wait until I'm able to offload the rest I have?
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Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby steve_a » December 15th, 2019, 5:46 pm

I finally finished putting together my micro-ATX PC a few weeks ago.

This weekend I doctored up a web page to show how the whole thing came together.

It's not a short read, but there are lots of pretty pictures.

If you're interested:
https://sacton.neocities.org/altair.html
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Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby AltairClone » December 15th, 2019, 9:58 pm

Great looking work and an interesting write-up. Thanks for sharing!

Mike
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Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby steve_a » December 15th, 2019, 10:26 pm

AltairClone wrote:Great looking work and an interesting write-up. Thanks for sharing!

Mike


Many thanks good sir. It was a lot of fun! Biggest downside I see is now my Altair sits under the TV and I have to sit on the floor to play with it.
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Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby managed_mischief » January 26th, 2020, 10:25 pm

heyo, cool to see your finished build, still slowly putting together my build. was curious how your gpu was fairing for temps in the case? i picked up a 645lt for the cpu but im not sure just a exhaust fan will be enough for something like a 2080. im thinking might have to to get a blower style gpu minimum or or worst case add a grill and fan to the side of the case :/
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Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby steve_a » January 29th, 2020, 1:20 am

managed_mischief wrote:heyo, cool to see your finished build, still slowly putting together my build. was curious how your gpu was fairing for temps in the case? i picked up a 645lt for the cpu but im not sure just a exhaust fan will be enough for something like a 2080. im thinking might have to to get a blower style gpu minimum or or worst case add a grill and fan to the side of the case :/


So far I've had no problems with my (quite old) GPU, but I haven't really run it very hard. The worst I've done is the occasional 4k/60hz video playback. When I was looking at parts, I also had my eyeballs on a blower-style 2080 for the same cooling concern. But I'm still rocking the old GPU since blower-style coolers are so loud and I haven't run any GPU intensive stuff yet.

I would think that because the case vents are right next to where traditional GPU fans are spinning, that a non-blower GPU should stay relatively cool - depending on workload, of course.

If there's a GPU burnin program floating around (like prime95 for CPU) I'll gladly run one for a few hours and see how it stands up. Know of anything like that?
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Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby TomXP411 » February 13th, 2020, 12:28 am

Another satisified customer here.

Thanks, Steve!

final 556x680.jpg

open top down 894x744.jpg
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Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby steve_a » February 13th, 2020, 10:21 pm

TomXP411 wrote:Another satisified customer here.

Thanks, Steve!

final 556x680.jpg

open top down 894x744.jpg


Slick!
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Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby TomXP411 » February 27th, 2020, 7:04 pm

So after finishing the computer, there are a couple of things I should comment on.

Overall, this conversion is pretty painless. Get 20mm standoffs. I bought a pack for about $10 on Amazon that had several lengths; the "Raspberyy Pi" ones are too small in diameter - you should be looking for 6mm screws. (PC screws are 6-32).

The hiccups: the cassette board below the mainboard is a known issue, so I knew to deal with that ahead of time. I chose not to install the board, but just to bring out the serial port. I'm going to write a program that runs on the PC and looks like a cassette or paper tape reader, which just dumps files out to the serial port at 300 baud.

I also had a little trouble attaching the DB25 jacks in the space above the slot covers; I didn't have "the claw", so I was not able to hold the nuts while re-attaching the screws to hold the sockets in place. My advice there is to definitely have a pair of needle nose pliers on hand before attempting the move.

Also, I don't remember how you got the power switch to work on your system... did you attach to one of the AUX switches? I was pondering using the right AUX switch for power and reset, but I'm not sure if that's tied in to the PIC or just there for looks. So my solution was a wireless power switch. The package comes with a keychain fob that looks exactly like car alarm fob... I can click that to turn the computer on, even if I'm not sitting in front of it.

Finally, there's not enough room for a large graphics card in this enclosure - so users folks want to use this to turn their Altair 8800 into a high end gaming PC. Since my intent was to use this as my daily driver, I was actually a little disappointed on that score. But that's hardly Steve's fault - the chassis was about 45 years before the GTX 2080 Super came out!

Finally - there's a cool program out there called TCPSER. With that, I can use the PC as a terminal server, allowing me to connect to this computer from the LAN and remote-control the Altair from anywhere in the world. Of course, I could just use Remote Desktop, but where's the fun in that??
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Re: On eBay: Clone Micro-ATX Backplates

Postby steve_a » February 29th, 2020, 2:52 am

TomXP411 wrote:So after finishing the computer, there are a couple of things I should comment on.


Awesome!

TomXP411 wrote:Overall, this conversion is pretty painless. Get 20mm standoffs. I bought a pack for about $10 on Amazon that had several lengths; the "Raspberyy Pi" ones are too small in diameter - you should be looking for 6mm screws. (PC screws are 6-32).


Glad it was pretty painless. I decided to use female-on-both-end standoffs for as much wiggle room as possible when getting everything to fit. Eases the pain a bit (I'm sure it was still somewhat of a pain :-D)

TomXP411 wrote:The hiccups: the cassette board below the mainboard is a known issue, so I knew to deal with that ahead of time. I chose not to install the board, but just to bring out the serial port. I'm going to write a program that runs on the PC and looks like a cassette or paper tape reader, which just dumps files out to the serial port at 300 baud.


Seems like a good enough fix. I had one corner of the cassette interface that was in the way, and my revision of the interface board didn't have any circuitry there so I hacked it off with a dremel tool. Still works, but it could have easily gone south.

TomXP411 wrote:I also had a little trouble attaching the DB25 jacks in the space above the slot covers; I didn't have "the claw", so I was not able to hold the nuts while re-attaching the screws to hold the sockets in place. My advice there is to definitely have a pair of needle nose pliers on hand before attempting the move.


Same here. Everything in that area is kind of cramped and tight. Many curses uttered getting those DB-25s in.

TomXP411 wrote:Also, I don't remember how you got the power switch to work on your system... did you attach to one of the AUX switches? I was pondering using the right AUX switch for power and reset, but I'm not sure if that's tied in to the PIC or just there for looks. So my solution was a wireless power switch. The package comes with a keychain fob that looks exactly like car alarm fob... I can click that to turn the computer on, even if I'm not sitting in front of it.


I did use the right AUX switch, but went a little overboard. Stock from Mike, the clone has a 3-pin header (I had to solder in the pins) that connects to the right AUX switch that work well for on/off/reset action. I had originally had it so up was power and down was reset. I don't *think* the right Aux switch goes to anything else but Mr. Douglas would have to confirm. It worked great for that though.

For mine, I didn't like not having direct feedback of the on/off status of the ATX machine so I installed a submicro toggle switch with an LED in the center and wired the whole thing to an adafruit microcontroller to pulse relays on and off. WAY overboard.

I also wanted to experiment with these illuminated buttons. They were just a *hair* too big though (8mm vs 0.25in), I would have had to drill out the front panel and didn't want to.

I like the wireless power switch idea. Nice and clean, no modification, and its a simple solution. My power switch is anything but simple. As an added bonus of having an adafruit microcontroller handling the pulsing, I also installed a remote control because... why not?

TomXP411 wrote:Finally, there's not enough room for a large graphics card in this enclosure - so users folks want to use this to turn their Altair 8800 into a high end gaming PC. Since my intent was to use this as my daily driver, I was actually a little disappointed on that score. But that's hardly Steve's fault - the chassis was about 45 years before the GTX 2080 Super came out!


Whew, you just made my day. I had originally installed a GTX 780 that I had laying around to get it running. It was tight, especially when putting the lid on the machine -- I had to fold the PCI power cabling 90 degrees to get the lid on.
When I was shopping for a more modern replacement, I passed on the 2080 series (I don't really need ray tracing yet), and went with a Radeon 5700 XT (blower-style) that suits my needs just fine. It was tight, but it did fit with the power cables bent 90 degrees. Glad I didn't drop the pennies on the bigger card!

Image

TomXP411 wrote:Finally - there's a cool program out there called TCPSER. With that, I can use the PC as a terminal server, allowing me to connect to this computer from the LAN and remote-control the Altair from anywhere in the world. Of course, I could just use Remote Desktop, but where's the fun in that??
I like the cut of your jib. RDP wouldn't be any fun at all.

I'm glad it seems to be working out for you good sir. And thanks for the feedbacks! If there's anything that you'd change dimension-wise of the plate, I'd love to hear it.
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