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Thread: Matrox E-VDP

  1. #1
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    Default Matrox E-VDP

    About two months ago I was brought to the attention f this computer on ebay. Initially I could find no information about it either other than it was made by Matrox and it was a 286 with a laserdisc player built on top of it. They guy wanted $250 for it but I threw a blink lowball offer at it and he took it to my suprise.
    Yesterday I picked it up from my mailbox in Washington state and this morning I got to look it over.




    It's pretty beat up on the outside and when powered on it does not POST to VGA or eject the laserdisc tray but it does make quite a bit of racket from the two fans I can hear. All the rear interfaces are also interesting. Three serial ports, game port, parallel, floppy, and SCSI. Then there is the one cardwith two RCA jacks for audio. I'm assuming that because of the size of the case and the fact that everything so far was made in canada, this is going to be one hell ofa system inside.



    Nope. It's an 8mhz 286 SBC on a 16-bit dumb backplane with two specialty cards. It's got a SCSI interface though on the SBC though. Nice. I am curious though where the memory is.




    The VGA card appears to be specialty to the system and accepts a video signal from the laserdisc unit. I'm assuming it's doing overlay work right on the card.




    Then there is this card. It seems to have audio I/O but it also accepts ribbon cables from elsewhere in the unit (all the ribbon cables by the way are labled) and also connects to the VGA card.




    I then tackled the laserdisc unit and found out that it's just a regular laserdisc player that's been slightly modified to work in the unit.





    I found out that one of the belts had stretched to the point it was useless and another belt instantly liquefied whrn I touched it. I manually gave it a laserdisc and it seemed to play it fine though.

    I also found a Connor SCSI hard drive hidden behind the front plastic bezel The rubber seal seems to still be good too. With luck all the necessary software is still on the drive. I don't think I'll ever find the original disks that came with the system.



    That's also another thing I found out about the system. It appears as if only one other unit exists and this is it. There is no other information I can find about the unit. Another person seems to have just the laserdisc unit and it was apparently pulled from an arcade cabinet.
    What are the chances anyone else here knows more about it? I'll try and figure out why it isn't POSTing when I get back from my parents on monday. I'll dig out my ISA test card while I'm there and see what other goodies I can find to put in the system like a RAMpage card and a 3Com ethernet card and possibly two 1.44mb drives if the controller can support those. I'm also curious if I can upgrade the CPU from 8mhz to something else.
    = Excellent space heater

  2. #2
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    Very interesting find. I hope the laser on the Laserdisk still works, or maybe another unit will work with it. If the HD has the software then you are in luck, otherwise I have no idea if that software still exists.

    The matrox video overlay cards should work in another system. Matrox might have some drivers online for them.
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
    Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
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  3. #3

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    As a collector of LaserDisc's (and players) and Vintage Computers, I have to say this is a freaking awesome find, I would LOVE to have something like that in my collection. I would Definitely back up that drive if it still spins, Lots of LD players were PC RS232 controllable, but with that SCSI connection, I would bet NO other software would work on this beast.
    My Vintage computer/blog site
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  4. #4
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    Unfortunately the laserdisc player itself is not SCSI. Just serial. The
    SCSI controller on the SBC only chatters with the hard drive and whatever else is plugged into the 50 pin connector on the back.
    = Excellent space heater

  5. #5
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    Pretty cool find, a computer with a build in laser disk player, would've never thought of doing that.

  6. #6
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    Neat find! So you could watch movies on it and work on an OS on the same machine. Cool!

    It kind of resembles the Acorn Risc PC, with it's little expansion unit on top.
    250px-Acorn_Risc_PC_600.jpg
    ~Ian~

    Looking for a Gateway 2000 G6-333 - my first computer.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeXT View Post
    Unfortunately the laserdisc player itself is not SCSI. Just serial. The
    SCSI controller on the SBC only chatters with the hard drive and whatever else is plugged into the 50 pin connector on the back.
    Ah, I misunderstood, still a very cool find, in the case that the LD is still serial, I bet control software is pretty universal, however matrox might still have some special software for controlling the video overlay on the vga card or audio throughput from LD.

    I have to say the only LaserDisc related thing that could be any cooler than this would be one of the VERY rare industrial LaserDisc RLV burners (which I believe were SCSI controlled).

    My humble collection only includes a LD-660, a CLD-1190, and CLD-M301 (which is my main workhorse player, since its newest, I figure wear it out first).
    Last edited by RWallmow; October 15th, 2011 at 05:13 AM.
    My Vintage computer/blog site
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RWallmow View Post
    I have to say the only LaserDisc related thing that could be any cooler than this would be one of the VERY rare industrial LaserDisc RLV burners (which I believe were SCSI controlled).
    Actually, I have had to turn down offers for both the video and data versions of the recorders. They have popped up on ebay a few times but the cost of shipping makes it too expensive (and not in the usual ebay sham way, they actually are really heavy).
    In the other hand, there is a guy in seattle who sells NOS CLV cartridges for $20 each.


    The laserdisc unit also seems to share the command set with three other laserdisc units according to here.
    Last edited by NeXT; October 15th, 2011 at 09:53 AM.
    = Excellent space heater

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeXT View Post
    Actually, I have had to turn down offers for both the video and data versions of the recorders. They have popped up on ebay a few times but the cost of shipping makes it too expensive (and not in the usual ebay sham way, they actually are really heavy).
    In the other hand, there is a guy in seattle who sells NOS CLV cartridges for $20 each.


    The laserdisc unit also seems to share the command set with three other laserdisc units according to here.
    That's freaking cool lol

    Shipping really kills it on most laserdisc auctions. Those things are all pretty dang heavy, even the cheap ones are 20+lbs
    My Vintage computer/blog site
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  10. #10
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    With the sudden death of my spare mii VGA monitor I'm going to have to rely on my ISA POST test card for now. It isn't your regular ebay one either. It displays IRQ, DMA, and a two digit code and obviously looks well made.
    Anyways, I plugged in the card and it did nothing. After some poking around I found the -12v was shorting to ground so I pulled all the cards and tried again. Same result.
    I then pulled the backplane and checked to see if -12v was shorting to ground. It is.
    I tried powering the system with -12v disconnected. The POST card lit up and went as far as code 30 before stopping (which I think means it should be showing something on the VGA port)
    The ISA backplane also isn't two layers so the layers are shorting internally or one of the rail caps (they have that yellow color tantalum caps use but they are cylindrical inline with a taper on one side to indicate polarity).
    I'm not sure if I should just run the system without -12v or if my hardware does not need the -12 rail at all.
    = Excellent space heater

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