PDA

View Full Version : How rare or expensive does a hobby machine have to be before you get nervous using it



Unknown_K
June 20th, 2013, 10:34 PM
Was just wondering how rare or expensive a hobby machine has to be before you get nervous about using it or working on it. Quite a bit of what I get is cheap or free but over time it gets rare and pricey to replace.

commodorejohn
June 21st, 2013, 12:15 AM
If it were that rare and pricey, I wouldn't own it. I never buy museum pieces, I just get what I can that's what I want and works.

SpidersWeb
June 21st, 2013, 05:32 AM
Never nervous about using them - if I'm nervous it's because I'm waiting for a capacitor to pop.

But I avoid fiddling with - unless I HAVE to for repairs:

- IBM PC
- IBM PC XT and PC XT enhanced
- IBM PC AT
- IBM PC RT
- Toshiba T3200SX

Mainly because they're my favourites, and getting replacement parts from the US is very costly - so if something gets damaged, it could be damaged for quite a while! I've also had machines fail simply from movement/flex, not many, but it's enough to put me off popping in/out cards for fun.

DOS lives on!!
June 21st, 2013, 06:55 AM
I'm never nervous when I use any of my vintage computers, but on some I do take more caution when operating them. My 5160, and others with 10-20mb hard drives; I take more care with the HDDs and park them occasionally. Ones with auto-park I don't worry about as much.

barythrin
June 21st, 2013, 08:33 AM
Honestly? I'm nervous about the Kim-1 and any S-100 systems just because I don't have replacement parts or spare cards. The rest I'm not that nervous about especially desktop or popular home systems. As for a price, I dunno.. maybe $600+ systems? I've only recently started to try and find a duplicate of a few that I was using more often to show folks. My problem is having lots of systems but only one of each :-) Responsible collecting however a severe lack of parts or spares if anything does go wrong. I even had some simple stuff break from one year to the next (floppy drive latch on a compaq portable) which was just plain annoying.

glitch
June 21st, 2013, 09:25 AM
I play with all of my systems. My IMSAI is probably my most used vintage computer, it stays on the workbench and hardly a week goes by without it being powered on. If something breaks, I fix it. The only thing I won't use often is original media, but I don't have much of that anyway!

I can understand hesitation about systems like the KIM-1, where there are custom mask ROMs in play and there's no rapid-development equivalent replacement. Too bad there isn't, that's what makes it easier for me to play with my Intel SDK-85: even if the mask ROM dies, I can substitute an EPROM-based rapid dev replacment components that's both cheap and available.

Chuck(G)
June 21st, 2013, 09:58 AM
Well, some people like the vintage stuff for the experience of running old software on old systems. Others just want it to show that they've got more money than Croesus. Put it this way, if we were talking about dogs, one person would teach his to play fetch; the other would have the dog stuffed and mounted for display.

We have a world in which people buy horses or dogs as an investment and would never want to get near the filthy things. That's for others to do.

arrow_runner
June 21st, 2013, 10:27 AM
I get my hands into everything. Being able to say that I can repair 30+ year old hardware is something I take pride in. Same goes for cars.

glitch
June 21st, 2013, 10:29 AM
Same goes for cars.

Just rolled the odometer to 0 on our '79 diesel VW Rabbit :D

Rick Ethridge
June 21st, 2013, 05:02 PM
I'm not nervous handling expensive equipment. That is, as long as it's mine. It's the only way I learn to help others.

TX_Dj
June 21st, 2013, 06:32 PM
I don't worry too much about it. Capacitors mainly... older machines with psu's that don't have current limiters can give you some spectacular fireworks displays if there's a shorted tantalum in the circuit, or if something gets hooked up wrong by the user. But if they don't blow, you're good to go. Sometimes the EMI filter cap on the mains input will puff up and rupture the thin outer coating, let off a huge plume of nasty smoke while it burns itself out.

What irritates me is when something *does* go wrong... I have to prioritize the waiting list and see if I fix it NOW, or put it in the queue with other things that need fixing.

Compgeke
June 22nd, 2013, 02:10 AM
I really can't think of any system that I could own that I would be nervous using, only other people's computers. If something happens to my own equipment, I get to fix it when I get a chance to, with someone else's you usually work a bit faster at it.

The only thing I'm really worried about using are old slide projectors; not because they're old but because I don't want one catching fire on me.

per
June 22nd, 2013, 03:30 AM
I'm not really nervous about using old computers, but I tend to handle them a bit more carefully if the value of the bare machine is greater than $100 or if it's one of those machines you only get to see once in a lifetime.

High_Treason
June 22nd, 2013, 02:17 PM
I get a little nervous about using the Byte, but mostly because the PSU is rated 220V and I can not get a stepdown for it, I think the power is within tolerences but soviet electrics are a bit unpredictable (I remember a DVK I saw once had exposed terminals at the back!) and I dobut I'd ever find another one.

I also get mildly uneasy if I have to work on the Tera Drive, but using it is something I am fine with.

1944GPW
June 22nd, 2013, 02:46 PM
This thread has parallels to vintage car ownership. A 'trailer queen' vehicle that sits in the garage hardly ever being taken out for regular use can often have more problems compared to the vehicle that gets taken on drives and used constantly. The rationale being that by using it the owner may be more aware of the state of the vehicle and it is fixed more readlly, and that those components undergo gradual wear and tear rather than sieze up when not used frequently.

High_Treason
June 22nd, 2013, 02:53 PM
This is what I always say. Some collectors on the games console side of things have gone nuts at me for powering up some systems (Notably a Claire Redfield Dreamcast, one of 1800, that had been used only once) - chances are I'll have the last laugh because mine will be the ones working in 10, maybe 20 years.

CP/M User
June 25th, 2013, 02:56 AM
I'm more worried about the Emulator writers suddenly cease writing or improving their Emulator because there's only so many of them around and Vintage machines are so difficult to Emulate that I worry about them going. But the other thing I worry about is all these new Gadgets which I call iViruses because their popping up everywhere and everyone's got one, those kinds of devices are a threat for the keyboard based machines and worry about them things disappearing because nobody is buying them.

Oscar
June 25th, 2013, 03:37 AM
Hi,


Was just wondering how rare or expensive a hobby machine has to be before you get nervous about using it or working on it.

I never used to worry much. But as the years go by, I start to worry about those machines I really care about but not use very often.

For instance, I've got an IMSAI that, in truth, I fire up once every other year or so. Or Cromemco's I've got stored somewhere that I haven't booted up in five years. For these machines, I worry about the power supply. Before using them, I'd like to bring them up with a variac, check whether the voltages are still OK and clean. But that of course involves pulling the boards, measuring the voltages with a scope. Lot of hassle. So I end up not doing anything with them, which is also a pity.

Cheers,

Oscar.

NeXT
June 25th, 2013, 08:53 AM
I see too many systems in the $500+ range end up on a shelf in a basement doing a whole lot of nothing for the rest of their lives because the people who bought them either have no idea how to use them or because they only wanted it for the "because I want it" itch.

Chuck(G)
June 25th, 2013, 08:58 AM
The same can be said for vintage anything, including violins. One can only hope that the item is stored correctly against the time it may be but into use again.

After all, how many Strad or Guarneri owners can actually play their megabuck instruments? The better owners will lend the instrument out to be played, but that is by no means the majority of them.

Unknown_K
June 25th, 2013, 12:31 PM
Not using the machines often can be a sign of having too many of them (I fire up some machine I love only a few times a year lately because I am busy) and not a sign people are worried about blowing them up.

tezza
June 25th, 2013, 01:42 PM
I'm not worried about using my older machines. Part of the fun of the hobby is playing with the old gear now and again. In fact I check all my machines at least once a year to ascertain that they are all working and in good health. If a machine breaks, I will try to repair it.

Tez

Oscar
June 26th, 2013, 02:58 AM
I'm not worried about using my older machines. Part of the fun of the hobby is playing with the old gear now and again. In fact I check all my machines at least once a year to ascertain that they are all working and in good health. If a machine breaks, I will try to repair it.


But you never feel hesitant when switching them on that maybe, this time, when you flick the switch, something crucial has given up in the power supply that will send nasty spikes through its vintage chips?

I do have that fear, at least with these S-100 machines that have huge amperage. Certainly after once hearing from a Cromemco service specialist that most machines he had seen damaged, died in that particular manner. It's not something that bothers me with home computers, admittedly.


Cheers,

Oscar.

Oscar
June 26th, 2013, 03:16 AM
I see too many systems in the $500+ range end up on a shelf in a basement doing a whole lot of nothing for the rest of their lives because the people who bought them either have no idea how to use them or because they only wanted it for the "because I want it" itch.

Hmm... it's a valid point. I definitely have a lot of spare machines due to that particular itch... although I do know how to use them - down to the circuit diagram level actually, that's where the itch comes from.

On the other hand, the stash of S-100s that I keep in storage would have been landfill material if I had not stored them. There's always a buyer for a nice small home computer, but these 150 pound "boat anchors" had zero buyers up until only a few years ago!

Cheers,

Oscar.

alker
June 26th, 2013, 07:15 AM
funny thread ;-)

this is what I did with the $670k Apple 1 recently sold in germany
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqYJoAk7cxg

tezza
June 26th, 2013, 01:36 PM
But you never feel hesitant when switching them on that maybe, this time, when you flick the switch, something crucial has given up in the power supply that will send nasty spikes through its vintage chips?

Well, I always wonder if anything undesirable is going to happen when I switch on an older machine. However my attitude is if you can't bring yourself to turn it on it might as well BE non-functioning. In a practical sense, it's not working anyway, in the same way a fault would render it useless. It goes from a functioning machine and interesting and historical "objet d'art", to just the latter. Still nice to have of course but (at least to me) somewhat diminished.

That being said if I had an Apple 1 which was purchased working and I wanted to sell it down the track, I probably wouldn't turn it on until it was being assessed for auction purposes. But that's because I would have purchased it as an investment.

I guess it depends on a person's motivation for collecting these machines.

Tez

barythrin
June 26th, 2013, 03:58 PM
this is what I did with the $670k Apple 1 recently sold in germany

Was that still yours when it sold or one you sold years back at a lower price? I lost track of who sold what when but I know you and I think one or two other members here who used to have an Apple I back when they were in the 10-24K selling range which we all thought was ridiculous at the time (now it's a bargain apparently lol).

But you're basically calling us all out and saying it has to be more than $670,000 before you're worried about turning on a system ;-) lol

Unknown_K
June 26th, 2013, 06:07 PM
I would freak messing with somebody elses old rarity even if it was worth 10% of that $670K, if it was mine (and I didn't pay much for it) I probably would fire it up once.

alker
June 26th, 2013, 10:36 PM
sorry for my showing off ;-) this particular A1 did not belong to me and I was allowed by the seller and by the auction house to demonstrate it on friday before the auction; I was also responsible for the video shooting so I turned it on about 10-20x. And yes it is true I always had a queasy feeling when turning it on but as my experience with other similar machines tells me (KIM-1, PET 2001,..) these machines are quite relieable when they once work.

Corey986
June 27th, 2013, 05:29 AM
Well some machines are bullet proof once they are running (i.e. Apple-1) though they can have some weak areas (sockets) that can cause some trouble. To use the car analogy, like german cars (i.e. porsche, when they run they run forever as long as you keep an eye on the weak points). Some machines like an original early altair with the 100's of wires between the 4 slot motherboards and front panel are like expensive italian sports cars, you just wait for something to break so you can fix it. As a matter of fact just like high end italian cars they break if you use them and break if you don't so you might as well enjoy them.

So I try not to keep my collection too big and make sure I "start" them as often as I can, even if it's just to play a game of checkers.

Cheers,
Corey

donutty
July 5th, 2013, 03:04 AM
Well some machines are bullet proof once they are running (i.e. Apple-1) though they can have some weak areas (sockets) that can cause some trouble. To use the car analogy, like german cars (i.e. porsche, when they run they run forever as long as you keep an eye on the weak points). Some machines like an original early altair with the 100's of wires between the 4 slot motherboards and front panel are like expensive italian sports cars, you just wait for something to break so you can fix it. As a matter of fact just like high end italian cars they break if you use them and break if you don't so you might as well enjoy them.

So I try not to keep my collection too big and make sure I "start" them as often as I can, even if it's just to play a game of checkers.

Cheers,
Corey

I wonder what is the best 'exercise regime' for old gear? Ideally left running I think (as long as they don't get any spikes down the power line) but I certainly still would always fear returning from work to find my house is just a pile of ash!

I'm not worried about the digital electronics 'popping their clogs'; it's the analogue stuff that I wouldn't have much of clue about (like the video drive circuitry, some power supply stuff etc.). Actually I just had a Televideo 912 die on me after being powered up after almost a decade in storage. It'll get fixed eventually, and hopefully it isn't the transformer (I hear soft buzzing so at least the primary should still be intact)

Corey986
July 5th, 2013, 03:36 PM
Well I have had my early altair on at shows for 8-12 hours at a time with no adverse effect with 1974/75 date chips mostly soldered in. My 1978 Rev 0 Apple II gets left on a lot using a Willegal superproto board to test ram chips so it might be on for an entire day at a time. My old "museum" Apple-1 mimeo full of 1975/76 chips with the TI sockets was left on for 24 hours a couple of times just running a program and at shows typically saw 10-12 hours continually. The biggest issues on the apple machines are the keyboards. The datanetics keyswitches get "sticky" and bind of not used and if they are kept in a cold area.

My sol-20 I could happily leave on for days running a loop of stuff and have. It has no worries in the world.

Then again I never met a tantalum capacitor I didn't swap out eventually before it exploded.

Cheers,
Corey