Announcement

Collapse

Forum Rules and Etiquette

Our mission ...

This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.


Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.


Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.



Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
  • Do not "necro-post" unless you are following up to a specific person on a specific thread. And even then, that person may have moved on. Just start a new thread for your related topic.
  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.


Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
  • "PM Sent!": Do not tell the rest of us that you sent a PM ... the forum software will tell the other person that they have a PM waiting.
  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.


Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.


Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.


New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.


Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
See more
See less

Altair 8800 clone - cost to build?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Altair 8800 clone - cost to build?

    Iív always wanted an Altair 8800, but they are quite expensive these days.

    What would the final cost be to build a proper clone? I saw a video of one on YouTube, and it looked spot-on.

    Iím talking about building a full-sized clone with real S-100 boards, as anything else seems pointless to me. I want to be able to use expansion boards with it just like you would on a real Altair.

    This is just something Iím considering. If the final cost is reasonable, Iíll most certainly build one though.
    Compaq - It simply works better

    #2
    I'm just speaking from memory, but when I was looking at it, it was around 1K for the things I was planning on putting into it. I still love to put one together as projects allow at some point.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by alank2 View Post
      I'm just speaking from memory, but when I was looking at it, it was around 1K for the things I was planning on putting into it. I still love to put one together as projects allow at some point.
      Wow, that much, huh? I get that it’s less than a real one, but I was hoping it’d be well under $1,000.
      Compaq - It simply works better

      Comment


        #4
        I recently did exactly what I think you are asking about. I started with my existing Altair Clone, taking out the insides to obtain the cabinet.

        Then:

        Altair replica Front Panel bare boards, 16 address switches, 8 momentary switches, 1 power switch from Mike Douglas = $171.00 (including shipping)

        Parts for FP boards from Digikey, Jameco, & Mouser = $40.44, $26.25, $12.25, $20.00 (including shipping)

        Power supplies from Digikey = $67.60 (including shipping)

        88-2SIOJP board from Martin Eberhard = $135.00 (including shipping)

        N8VEM 9 slot Backplane board & 9 S-100 connectors from Todd Goodman = $111.93 (including shipping)

        Altair replica CPU board eBay purchase = $155.00 (including shipping)

        Altair FDC+ board from Mike Douglas = $166.00 (including shipping)

        That all adds up to $905.47.

        Since I already had the cabinet, there was "no cost" for that. If you have to purchase it, I believe it goes for $300.00 plus shipping from Mike Douglas.

        And, of course, there were some more odds & ends, like a couple of serial I/O cables for $15.96 (including shipping). And, I already had the 8 inch dual floppy disk system to debug and attach - found that one of the drives has a problem, but I'm currently operating my system with one 8 inch floppy. And, I had to buy a box of 10 32 sector hard sector floppy disks for $49.95 (free shipping).

        So, to get an operating Altair 8800c, as some folks call it, it's going to cost probably more than $1000 if you are starting from scratch.

        Good luck!

        smp

        PS: I still have the good working insides from the Altair Clone - available for $150 plus shipping. All you need to get is the cabinet for it.
        Last edited by smp; May 23, 2019, 08:00 AM. Reason: additions...

        Comment


          #5
          BTW, I'm thinking of selling my IMSAI chassis that I've had for nearly 20 years. It's been a good working system for me over the years, but now with my Altair 8800c, as well as my Northstar Horizon, I'm not using it very much. I guess I'll have to get some photos, and build up a reasonable description for it.

          smp

          Comment


            #6
            In any case, it's far less than the cost of a real Altair back in the day. I paid $1,000 for my 8800 kit, with CPU, 2 4K DRAM boards and SIO--that was in 1975. Taking into account inflation, that would be $4,400 today. So $1K would be a real bargain.
            Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

            Comment


              #7
              Wow, you bought an Altair new? That’s awesome.

              Well, I’ll still think about it. I suppose you could acquire the parts over time.
              Compaq - It simply works better

              Comment


                #8
                It was a special deal--it was "only" 1K for all of that. Consider that, at the time, the price of the 8080 CPU alone was running something like $300 Q1. Peripherals, such as a TTY were expensive.

                Fortunately SWTPC came out with the TV Typewriter, which was affordable--you could cobble up an audio cassette interface (which I did) for not a whole bunch of money.

                I wasn't sure if the Altair was the best deal for the money. After all, I could get a PDP-8/E system capable of running FOCAL for 'only" $5K. By the time you added peripherals for the MITS box, it was a horse race.
                Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by compaqportableplus View Post
                  Wow, that much, huh? I get that it’s less than a real one, but I was hoping it’d be well under $1,000.
                  I would love to build one of them - I think the quality is fantastic and the detail that Mike has put into it is outstanding. I can picture myself putting that bad boy together - just need to come up with the funds and time!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by alank2 View Post
                    I would love to build one of them - I think the quality is fantastic and the detail that Mike has put into it is outstanding. I can picture myself putting that bad boy together - just need to come up with the funds and time!
                    I agree! They look absolutely perfect. Putting it together would be lots of fun, and you’d have a cool toy in the end!

                    I love all of the LEDs and toggle switches. I also very much like the fact that they can run CP/M (with appropriate upgrades of course).

                    Considering the low numbers this stuff is made in, the price really isn’t that bad. It is a little more than I thought it’d be, but for a whole replica computer it’s really not so bad.

                    I’m definitely still wanting to build one.
                    Compaq - It simply works better

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by compaqportableplus View Post
                      They look absolutely perfect. Putting it together would be lots of fun, and you’d have a cool toy in the end!
                      Yes, yes, and yes!

                      smp

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I was also thinking about building an Altair 8800 - I got a little confused over each of the two (main) versions that are available - Mike Douglas cleared that up for me.

                        There is a 'clone' which looks cosmetically like the original 8800 and functions like one but appears really to be a fairly impressive emulator.

                        Then there is the 8800c which again is impressively cosmetically similar to the original AND has the benefit of full S100 compatibility but making use of modern power supplies and a 'cleaned up' or simplified front panel interface connection arrangement.

                        It would appear that the parts are sourced from 5 or 6 different locations (most in the US as per SMC's note) . So while not terribly complex to procure and build it will take some planning and time to put together.

                        I'm leaning towards the 8800c myself and may just take the plunge soon.
                        Last edited by zippysticks; May 28, 2019, 12:18 PM.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          As I understand it, however, none of the clones has interchangeable case hardware with the original. I'd like to replace my front panel, which shows some wear from toggling those switches, but I've been told that the clones do not have the same front panel.
                          Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Just been totting up the project cost for a UK build and its closer to £1500 - and thats after sourcing some of the fundamental parts such as power supplies, switches, backplane and misc build components locally - circa $1900 at todays exchange rate.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by smp View Post
                              BTW, I'm thinking of selling my IMSAI chassis that I've had for nearly 20 years. It's been a good working system for me over the years, but now with my Altair 8800c, as well as my Northstar Horizon, I'm not using it very much. I guess I'll have to get some photos, and build up a reasonable description for it.

                              smp
                              I think it'd be fun to put an S-100 system in an IMSAI case. It's probably because I watched War Games, but I think that enclosure and front panel looks so cool.

                              Full systems seem like they can go for $2-5k though! How much were you thinking for your chassis? Is that with a front panel?

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X