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Author Topic: Garage-Sale Special PC  (Read 11938 times)
KD8HMO
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Posts: 228




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« 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
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #1 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
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W8JX
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« Reply #2 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.
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N0IU
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« Reply #3 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!
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W8JX
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« Reply #4 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.
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KB9UMT
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« Reply #5 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
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #6 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.
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W8JX
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« Reply #7 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.
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AC4RD
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« Reply #8 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!
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AA4PB
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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 09:25:14 AM »

Amazon has a number of 120GB IDE hard drives listed.
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W8JX
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« Reply #10 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.
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AG6WT
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« Reply #11 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.
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AC4RD
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« Reply #12 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! 

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WB0FDJ
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Posts: 147




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« Reply #13 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


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W8JX
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« Reply #14 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.
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