View Full Version : Value of Sun4 deskside computers...?

April 2nd, 2015, 05:58 AM
I'm not going to bore anyone with details of how it originally came to be that I was getting these things, but I recently acquired some old Sun gear and am going back for some more very soon.
Things I picked up from my last trip were a SPARCstation IPC, an SPARCstation 10, three external SCSI drives, a Sun Type 4 keyboard with optical mouse (the kind that needs the funky printable grid), and two Sun4 desksides: a Sun-4/260 and a SPARCstation 370 (AKA Sun-4/370).

I tried booting up the 260 over serial console and I get an EEPROM error which makes me think there's a problem related to the NVRAM being bad, possibly... or maybe something more serious.
I have yet to power up the SPARCstation 370, since it's been cold/rainy the past couple weeks and I just haven't had the time to get out and power it on-- it's so heavy that I just wheeled it to the garage and that's where it's sitting. the 260's inside at room temperature though! Also recently found out I can swap the 260's board for the 370's. that's a pretty interesting.

So my main question is, what are the desksides worth? I'm not looking to play with them (at least not all too much), more to get them to a loving home where they'll be safe from the landfill. The only problem being that I do have to make back the money I paid for these fine systems of a forgotten age of computing... and I know I'm going to need to sell at least one to have this entire trip (and the next) pay for itself. it may also be worthy to note (probably not) that one of the external hard drives is lunchbox-type like the IPC (and houses a full-height 10.8GB SCSI hard drive! WOW!)... and probably goes with it if not one of the IPX's I'm picking up later on. the other two externals are sun branded, but turn out to just be an ESDI Micropolis 170MB drive with an ESDI to SCSI converter board inside, and I can't for the life of me find the right cable to go with it.... so I'll be getting that straightened out next time I go for the IPXs. the goal is to power up, get them readable by a modern-enough sun machine (in this case my SS5 running Debian Etch) and dd the entire drives to image files. then, include a CD of the two image files with them when they go to another owner.

I'd love to hear any thoughts on the value of either of these machines, and what a good selling price would be to put one up at either here or somewhere else. it'd only be one, the other may be going to someone in the vcforum IRC channel that's willing to make a very tempting trade (one that I want to so badly say shut up and take my sun! to since it's newer SPARC64 gear which I do desperately so desire) and it'll probably be the one of the two he doesn't want which will go up, possibly along with the Sun external drives in as-is condition, due to age and branding since they're of the same era (and probably belong to it!)




April 2nd, 2015, 07:55 AM
What is it worth? The answer is always: whatever someone is willing to pay (if anything) that can pick it up from you.

A couple of years back I picked up a complete Sun 4/280 system rack (the 4/280 is the rack mount version of the 4/260) with the CPU, Fujitsu M2444AC 9-track tape drive, and a couple of 900MB Hitachi DK815-10 8-inch SMD-E hard drives, plus a working spare 4/280 chassis. The whole thing was free, but I did have to spend several hours and a couple of tanks of gas to drive north of the border to go pick it up. Getting an 800+ pound rack out of a basement and into my van and then back out of my van again wasn't easy.

After a year or two of barely ever turning it on I ended up giving the system and spares away for free to the next person that could come pick it up, who also had to spend a few hours for his round trip drive. I suppose I could have tried selling if off as bits and pieces on eBay and maybe gotten some money out of it, but that would have likely been a lot more hassle than it would have been worth.

I did keep the Sun 4/110 pedestal since that one doesn't take up a huge amount of space.

April 2nd, 2015, 08:37 AM
Honestly... I think I second the idea that the most you're going to get out of those is some utility as swap fodder for other broke computer hobbyists while their cash value is close to nil. A scrapper might pay you a few bucks for them (metals are expensive these days and there might be scraps of gold in old high-end systems like those) or if you were *really* patient you might be able to eBay them by taking the "list it at a random BIN price and wait for the guy who *really needs it*" strategy.

(There's often that golden moment in the lifecycle of a given old computer where most of them have been scrapped, so spare parts and replacements are really hard to find, but there's still somebody out there using one in some mission-critical capacity for their business and that person will be willing to pay through the nose for parts to get their concern running again after said mission critical system blows up. Something tells me it's too late to cash in on that phenomenon with these systems but you could try playing the eBay lottery anyway.)

April 2nd, 2015, 09:37 AM
The value of SPARCstations 10's is approximately $1 less the price of a battery for the NVRAM so about $4 to get it taken away. Not sure about the SUN towers, perhaps $2 EACH.

Seriously some SPARCstations have sold recently on E-Bay for between $10 and $50. Go check the "sold listings" and see what things have one for..

Al Kossow
April 2nd, 2015, 09:49 AM
Not sure about the SUN towers, perhaps $2 EACH.

The 260 tower is useful to retrofit Sun 3 boards into. It has a better power supply than the one
that came with the 3/100 series. You can also stuff a bunch of 3/60's into them.

April 2nd, 2015, 10:42 AM
The 260 tower is useful to retrofit Sun 3 boards into. It has a better power supply than the one
that came with the 3/100 series. You can also stuff a bunch of 3/60's into them.

Something in the power supply of the spare 4/280 chassis I had blew shortly after I turned it on the first time. Fortunately there was also a spare power supply that I swapped in at the time. They guy that picked up the systems from me was short on space and didn't bother taking the blown supply for parts or repair. I have never gotten around to opening it up and taking a quick look to see if the blown component if obvious and if repair may be easy.

Don't suppose there is anyone interested enough in a blown 4/280 power supply for parts or repair that they would be willing to pay for shipping to their location?

April 3rd, 2015, 12:16 PM

Where are you located? I like the 4/260. I've got a SunBlade 1000 for trade bait. I'm near Minneapolis.