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eHam Forums => Digital => Topic started by: KD8HMO on April 18, 2013, 04:43:41 PM



Title: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: KD8HMO on April 18, 2013, 04:43:41 PM
You never know what you will find at garage sales, LOL. I just picked up a working Compaq Presario, 128mb of ram (soon to be upgraded with more ram and windows XP) and 1.1 GB Athlon CPU for $6.00. Also got the matching monitor too. If I fill up the ram slots with 768mb of sd100 ram, will I be able to run most of the digital software for HF?  Thanks


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: VA7CPC on April 18, 2013, 05:06:32 PM
For PSK31, estimate 100 million ops/second for each PSK31 channel decoded.   [That's what I remember from  old Digipan documentation.]   So your 1 giga-ops/second CPU should be able to decode 10 signals simultaneously.

Other modes might be a little worse, but not a whole lot worse.  Your throw-away PC should get you on the air, if it has a sound card. 

.               Charles


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 18, 2013, 05:35:54 PM
You never know what you will find at garage sales, LOL. I just picked up a working Compaq Presario, 128mb of ram (soon to be upgraded with more ram and windows XP) and 1.1 GB Athlon CPU for $6.00. Also got the matching monitor too. If I fill up the ram slots with 768mb of sd100 ram, will I be able to run most of the digital software for HF?  Thanks

I would throw away your throw away PC. Not worth effort, hardware is too primitive and HD could go south tomorrow and old small IDE drives are not available new anymore and the MB BIOS would have problem with a drive bigger than 120gig if you could even find a used IDE HD that small today. HD's started going to Serial ATA in 2005 and IDE is dead today.  There is no point in throwing good money after bad here. Sorry. You really want a newer old system that at least supports serial ATA so you can keep it alive. Those systems would have better chipset and faster CPU's too but still pretty cheap and dated too.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: N0IU on April 18, 2013, 07:00:30 PM
I would throw away your throw away PC. Not worth effort...
He paid $6.00 for it, not $600.00!


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 18, 2013, 09:18:24 PM
I would throw away your throw away PC. Not worth effort...
He paid $6.00 for it, not $600.00!

No matter as it will take more good money after a bad cause that can die tomorrow. And as I said if HD goes south your are SOL. Wasted time and money. Sorry to rain on parade but only one that made out was guy that got 6 bucks for it.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: KB9UMT on April 18, 2013, 09:56:50 PM
Yes you can use this even as is to work some digital modes....sounds like fun and you spent less than you would spend for a cheap burger and a fast food joint. 

Heck I use an old IBM 560E portable and works fine for what I want - most active and most popular digital mode is PSK31 and then RTTY (my old pc I use digital like the one below - very old and win98-no issues working many in digital modes)
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ibm-Thinpad-560E-/200915328215?pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item2ec77c9cd7
You will be limited on software that you can use due to age but again using PSK31 or RTTY you will have fun with lots of station to work...use older software like:
http://www.digipan.net/
http://www.qsl.net/hamscope/
http://www.mixw.net/?j=downloads
(older versions)
Have fun and hope to work you on the HF band in digital modes (PSK31 for sure) on that old garage sale PC.

Don KB9UMT
www.30mdg.net


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: VA7CPC on April 18, 2013, 10:12:28 PM
You never know what you will find at garage sales, LOL. I just picked up a working Compaq Presario, 128mb of ram (soon to be upgraded with more ram and windows XP) and 1.1 GB Athlon CPU for $6.00. Also got the matching monitor too. If I fill up the ram slots with 768mb of sd100 ram, will I be able to run most of the digital software for HF?  Thanks

Digipan (version 2) will work.  "fldigi" will probably work.  Those two cover all the common digimodes.  If you want to run RTTY contests, I'd bet that N1MM Logger and MMTTY would work.

Ham Radio Deluxe / DM780 will be marginal, IMHO.  I found that they require a lot more memory and CPU capacity than the programs above.  They're written using a "framework", and (IMHO) that imposes high overheads.

.               Charles

PS -- take this prediction for what it's worth, from somebody who last wrote a computer program about 15 years ago, and has been "just a user" since then.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 18, 2013, 10:38:42 PM
Look I use old PC's for ham radio but not stone age ones. I recycled a few 6 year old laptops a few years ago but I maxed out ram at 2 gig, put in fastest possible CPU's and new hard drives too. When I use them they are not running on 6 to 10 year old hard drives that can go south any minute and leave you with a door stop. Heck I used to use a 286 with a RLL hard drive until later 90's for packet with DOS but it went to trash too.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: AC4RD on April 19, 2013, 09:14:44 AM

Digipan (version 2) will work.  "fldigi" will probably work.  Those two cover all the common digimodes.  If you want to run RTTY contests, I'd bet that N1MM Logger and MMTTY would work.

FLDIGI does RTTY just fine!  And it ought to run on that old box.  And CONGRATULATIONS to the original poster for recycling electronics in the best possible way--keeping it out of the landfill by USING it!   And thanks to VA7CPC for being rational about it instead of picking at the OP.   I've got several old PCs that still work just fine for the various applications I've got them on, and you may safely ignore the naysayers!


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: AA4PB on April 19, 2013, 09:25:14 AM
Amazon has a number of 120GB IDE hard drives listed.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 19, 2013, 11:23:48 AM
Amazon has a number of 120GB IDE hard drives listed.


Used/refurbed, they have not been made for some time. Also given that you get a new SATA drive of 500gig for around 50 bucks or less new and will plug right in a 2006 system or newer and it is MANY times faster and more reliable than old ATA drives. Why bother? New saddle on a dying horse does not breath new life into it but can actually hasten its demise.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: AG6WT on April 19, 2013, 01:00:12 PM
Richard,

I wouldn't put any money into upgrading it but if you have old ram and HDs laying about go ahead.

I suggest that instead of XP you put on one of the lightweight Linux distros like Xubuntu and give Fldigi a try. If you find that it doesn't have the horse power you need, you could always use it as a web browsing computer to show one of the spotting websites like pskreporter.info or hamspots.net while you use a more powerful computer for your digital decoding software.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: AC4RD on April 19, 2013, 02:16:24 PM
given that you get a new SATA drive of 500gig for around 50 bucks or less new

Yeah, but the OP has a whole working PC for $6.  And he's keeping that PC out of the landfill by using it.   He's saved a bunch of money and done something "green" at the same time.

You're welcome to your opinion.  But a WHOLE bunch of us would disagree.

BTW, KJ6AMF has a good point about linux; you can also get older versions of most distributions, that will run on older hardware.  Linux is FREE, and it's better than Windows in a lot of ways, besides.  :-)   It's a win-win IMO! 



Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: WB0FDJ on April 19, 2013, 03:01:57 PM
In the "for what its worth" department:

Puppy linux, easily available for download, loads in your RAM  at boot up using about 100 MB. No hard drive is needed. While it's small, it will have a web browser and some other useful software already to go. The wrinkle is whether or not the old laptop will allow booting from a USB port. If so, it's easy to load Puppy (or one of the small linux flavors) onto a thumbdrive. I'm a caveman but still figured it out and have several with Puppy, MacPup, etc. It can also be booted from a CD and there are some other methods.

I found a website especially useful for amateur radio:

http://www.w1hkj.com/flpuppy.html

This shows how you get Puppy, then add the needed software, such as fldigi. I ran across a blog where a guy bought a very basic motherboard, added some RAM but no HD, and used a small linux distro to make a dedicated digital station. Same principal. Good luck.

73 WB0FDJ




Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 19, 2013, 05:07:42 PM
given that you get a new SATA drive of 500gig for around 50 bucks or less new

Yeah, but the OP has a whole working PC for $6.  And he's keeping that PC out of the landfill by using it.   He's saved a bunch of money and done something "green" at the same time.

You're welcome to your opinion.  But a WHOLE bunch of us would disagree.

As far as green, not really those old Athlons and chip sets for them were coffee warmers and wasted a lot of energy for little work they did. As far as a whole working PC for 6 buck not really. It might be whole but not a PC by todays standards. YOu might do MS DOS or WIN9x or Linux on it but with XP it would be a pig and with a new XP install the updates would take so long it will likely kill HD.

I know you think I am being narrow minded but that thing belongs in recycle bin, even a 6 or 7 year old laptop would be well ahead of it.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: KE4DRN on April 19, 2013, 07:56:47 PM
hi

I too used an older IBM 600E for psk at home and club field day,
sure you can use a newer box but the contacts will still come
in loud and clear.

IBM has lots of off lease laptops, desk and monitors,
business class not consumer grade.

http://www-304.ibm.com/shop/americas/content/home/store_IBMPublicUSA/en_US/laptops.html

73 james


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: N0IU on April 20, 2013, 04:17:01 AM
I know you think I am being narrow minded...
I just don't understand why some people get so bent out of shape over how other people spend their money... especially when it is such an insignificant amount to begin with. Can't you just let the guy be happy with his purchase?


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: WG8Z on April 20, 2013, 05:35:17 AM
Have fun with it. Buy in was cheap enough. Finding drivers for some of the old boxs can somtimes be a challenge but hey no pain no gain. I still have an old p100 running 96 megs of ram, win 95.   Comes in real handy when I need to program old moto's.
Enjoy the hobby


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: VE5EIS on April 20, 2013, 06:50:59 AM
I don't think this machine was a bad deal at all.  It's surprising what you can do with an older machine, especially if you put an efficient operating system like Linux on it.  (Goodness, my file server/mail server in the basement is a pretty old Pentium III system but it's an industrial-quality server machine that probably has another decade left in it.)

As for the disk issue, new-old-stock IDE drives are fine - it's runtime that kills hard disks - and you can buy a $10 SATA controller and run modern SATA disks if you prefer.  You could also get an IDE-to-CF adapter and run CF cards as your disk - CF cards are cheap.  Use the "noatime" option in Linux to avoid unnecessary write cycles and you'll get years out of them, and they're silent.

A system like this - if it has a parallel port, which it likely does - would make a great IRLP node.  :)


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 20, 2013, 11:44:54 AM
I know you think I am being narrow minded...
I just don't understand why some people get so bent out of shape over how other people spend their money... especially when it is such an insignificant amount to begin with. Can't you just let the guy be happy with his purchase?

Not bent out of shape just hate to see people was money and effort on trash. Computer technology has come so far since one gig ahlon days it is not even funny. Given for very little more you can get a used system about half that age that supports modern parts and is way faster it is kinda silly. My ham PC is a old Laptop that daughter started college with nearly 7 years ago. I updated with new faster HD max ram and a faster CPU. Still slow by today's standards is is fast enough to play a video stream smoothly with good quality too and easily handles modern programs too and virus software too. Hibernates and sleeps will too. You give up a lot for the appearance of saving a few bucks up front.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: K8OEX on April 20, 2013, 12:01:02 PM
I would say go ahead with the old computer but don't spend any more money (or at least very little) on it. Try to find some PC100 memory for free, it is too expensive to buy new...about $25 for a 256 Mb stick-the same as for 1 gb of modern memory. Remember that you can get a dual core CPU, 2 gb memory and 64 bit Win 7 refurbished computer for about $125 (even then I would recommend another 2 gb of memory)


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: KD8HMO on April 20, 2013, 05:42:28 PM
This old PC isn't going to be my primary machine. I have a new 4-core Toshiba laptop and a big desktop machine too. I was just wondering what software for HF digital would work on it. I was thinking about making it a dedicated MMTTY machine if it would run the software. I figure it was worth 6 bucks for that. I could always put Linux on it and use it for an IRC server lol.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: KQ6EA on April 20, 2013, 07:43:57 PM
Newegg has tons of IDE drives.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 21, 2013, 07:47:50 AM
Newegg has tons of IDE drives.

Not exactly tons and none of them are new and they only have them from time to time and the one they have are too big for that old motherboard to properly use too. See most have forgot about having to set HD size in BIOS and then it auto detecting but then they were limited to 120 gig or less too. IDE size limits went away well after that Athlon was built. Later is 2005 SATA was born. IDE is dead like AGP. 


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: K0YQ on April 21, 2013, 08:17:07 AM
This old PC isn't going to be my primary machine. I have a new 4-core Toshiba laptop and a big desktop machine too. I was just wondering what software for HF digital would work on it. I was thinking about making it a dedicated MMTTY machine if it would run the software. I figure it was worth 6 bucks for that. I could always put Linux on it and use it for an IRC server lol.

My old Pentium3 1G processor with half a gig of RAM and XP laptop still does great in the shack.  It was a neighbor's throw-away and actually is quite useful in the shack.  I plunked a new hard drive in it and it's been great.  No problems at all running digipan or mmtty, and I keep VE7CC running on it all day.  The only problem with mmtty you may have is with running some of the other profiles, like the AA6YQ profile.  Those can be processor hogs.  Should breeze right along with the standard profile though.  You could also use N1MM or Writelog on it and run mmtty and 2-tone together to give you multiple decoders.

For JT65 I use the i7 with 32G RAM.  That goes a little quicker.  :)


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: SWL2002 on April 22, 2013, 05:21:02 AM
I know you think I am being narrow minded...
I just don't understand why some people get so bent out of shape over how other people spend their money... especially when it is such an insignificant amount to begin with. Can't you just let the guy be happy with his purchase?

Weren't you over in the sdr forum bragging about your super duper i7 machine and telling people an i3 was not good enough?


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: NQ2N on April 22, 2013, 07:29:16 AM
Why don't "boat anchor" computers get the same respect that "boat anchor" rigs get?  Amateurs wax eloquent about how the glow of tubes in vintage rigs excite them but no respect for the vintage computers?  Its all a matter of what a particular person likes and what they want to experiment with.  De gustibus non est disputandum.     ;)


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 22, 2013, 09:03:52 AM
I know you think I am being narrow minded...
I just don't understand why some people get so bent out of shape over how other people spend their money... especially when it is such an insignificant amount to begin with. Can't you just let the guy be happy with his purchase?

Weren't you over in the sdr forum bragging about your super duper i7 machine and telling people an i3 was not good enough?


Not me, someone else


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 22, 2013, 09:47:39 AM
Why don't "boat anchor" computers get the same respect that "boat anchor" rigs get?  Amateurs wax eloquent about how the glow of tubes in vintage rigs excite them but no respect for the vintage computers?  Its all a matter of what a particular person likes and what they want to experiment with.  De gustibus non est disputandum.     ;)

The reason is while radio signals have not changed computers have. Operating systems and software has evolved in last 15 years and memory and CPU requirements have increased a lot. HD technology has changed a lot and is faster and more reliable too.  Even since XP was released 13 years ago it has grown very fat with updates and service packs and will not run well on very old hardware if at all. Even software has grown fatter too. The system that this post started with would make a good DOS or Linux terminal but I would not waste time trying to use it with XP.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: N4CR on April 22, 2013, 02:49:45 PM
Linux ignores the BIOS after it bootstraps. This is why you'll generally see a /boot volume at the front of the disk that BIOS does cover. Windows requires the BIOS to handle the geometry all the time. Once booted in Linux from that tiny boot partition, you can support any partition size that the address bus can signal. Often this is much larger than the BIOS limitations.

Your $6 computer will likely run Linux much better than any version of Windows.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8NF on April 22, 2013, 03:17:05 PM
You'll have a lot of fun with that PC.  My man ham computer is a 2004 Vintage Dell Dimension 4600.  Pentium IV at 2.2GHz, I think, 256Meg RAM.  In Windows XP Home, I run FLDIGI, a browser for looking at spots, and a DX logging program all at the same time.  Not zippy fast, but my fast machine is in the office (Core i5, bla bla).  I wouldn't run SPICE simulations on the P4 machine but it does my other ham apps well enough.

73,

Dave W8NF


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: KE5GAE on April 22, 2013, 03:28:17 PM
Quote
Not bent out of shape just hate to see people was money and effort on trash.
Well, not much money was spent.  And a lot of ham radio activity is spending little money and lots of effort on turning trash into something useful.  Or so it used to be.

IAC, I have a Compaq Presario, with a 2 Ghz Processor, 1 GB of RAM, and XP that I salvaged from where I used to work which I use with JT65-HF and a Kenwood TS-480SAT and just the internal sound card.  It is a dedicated CPU, used for nothing but that application.  I have a newer, more powerful computer that I use with HRD and a YAESU FT857D for other digital work (plus Internet access to QRZ, LOTW, eQSL, email and everything else 'net related).  With separate PC's and transceivers, I can monitor the JT65A bands on one, and PSK31 bands on the other.  The main computer also has dual monitors, so I can watch two waterfalls, while surfing the Internet and responding to interesting eHam threads.  :)



Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 22, 2013, 04:07:19 PM
You'll have a lot of fun with that PC.  My man ham computer is a 2004 Vintage Dell Dimension 4600.  Pentium IV at 2.2GHz, I think, 256Meg RAM.  In Windows XP Home, I run FLDIGI, a browser for looking at spots, and a DX logging program all at the same time.  Not zippy fast, but my fast machine is in the office (Core i5, bla bla).  I wouldn't run SPICE simulations on the P4 machine but it does my other ham apps well enough.

73,

Dave W8NF

The P4 2.2ghz is a socket 478 CPU and that also means that it has a much newer chipset than a 1ghz athlon. I used a P4 "prescott" 3.2 ghz overclocked to 3.5ghz with 2 gig of ram and XP pro for many years It did a decent job for some time and that family of CPU did support hyper threading which boosted efficiency and speed. It was not very green though and required serious cooling. System still runs but do not use it anymore.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: KU4UV on April 22, 2013, 07:05:27 PM
I use an old Toshiba Satellite 110CS laptop from 1995 to run my logging and psk31/rtty/sstv programs, especially for events like Field Day.  The laptop does the job quite nicely, running Windows 98SE, and a lot of these old laptops can still be found on eBay for less than $20.

73,
KU4UV


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: KE4DRN on April 23, 2013, 03:39:01 PM
hi

I used the old ibm thinkpad 600e with NT Workstation, rock solid.

I turn off the antivirus since it is never on the internet,
runs digipan, mmsstv and airlink express just fine.

CF card as backup for the log file and no problems.

As for old bios, I got at least two or more cards that don't need
the system bios to run larger drive if I needed to use an old desktop.

Refuse to UPSIZE!

73 james


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: KE8EC on April 27, 2013, 06:27:33 AM
Enjoy the bargain PC. Sometimes it is a bit of fun to see what you can get these older machines to do.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W6RMK on April 28, 2013, 05:35:49 AM


Yeah, but the OP has a whole working PC for $6.  And he's keeping that PC out of the landfill by using it.   He's saved a bunch of money and done something "green" at the same time.



Not particularly green, at least in the long run.  He's running a CRT monitor, most likely, and a pretty inefficient power supply/mobo in a "computations per joule" standpoint.

Saved money, it's true, assuming his time is free. Or if you're using it to heat your garage as well as do computation.  Or, just for the thrill of resurrecting a computer boat anchor.

But what about something like a Raspberry Pi (w/o ethernet), an old LCD TV and a keyboard.  I don't know if the rPi has a suitable audio interface.  You're still in the <$50 range, and you've got something that consumes orders of magnitude less power.



Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: K4RKY on April 28, 2013, 08:41:52 PM
Some operators still use Windows 95! If it'll run HRD it'll run most any thing you can throw at it. For 6 bucks....How can you possibly lose.


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: W8JX on April 28, 2013, 09:30:31 PM
Some operators still use Windows 95! If it'll run HRD it'll run most any thing you can throw at it. For 6 bucks....How can you possibly lose.

You loose when you paid for it. It would of went in trash otherwise. Sad but true. 


Title: RE: Garage-Sale Special PC
Post by: AG6WT on April 30, 2013, 10:46:41 AM
But what about something like a Raspberry Pi (w/o ethernet), an old LCD TV and a keyboard.  I don't know if the rPi has a suitable audio interface.  You're still in the <$50 range, and you've got something that consumes orders of magnitude less power.

The rPi doesn't have an audio input, only stereo output, but it should work ok with a Signalink USB and Fldigi. I just got one for free (from work  ;D) so trying this is on my todo list.

Ray KJ6AMF