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.
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ERS Meter

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    ERS Meter

    Anyone here have experience with this ESR Meter? I'm thinking of buying one to test for bad caps. I'd like to be able to test in circuit and this one claims that it can. Are there limitations when testing a capacitor in circuit? Any recommendations greatly appreciated. I don't want to spend more than 50 bucks.



    An ESR meter won't tell you the in-circuit capacitance of a device, just its series resistance. It can be useful if you know how to use it and know what the readings mean.

    There are some caveats--you don't use one on a powered circuit and if there are several capacitors hooked in parallel (common on computer PSUs), it can only measure the composite ESR, not that of any particular cap.

    Basically, a low-voltage (so as not to involve semiconductor bandgap) AC signal is applied and the current flow is measured. All the other stuff is refinement and window-dressing. If you're of a mind to "roll your own", here's a popular DIY ESR meter project.

    The whole theory hinges on the fact that wet electrolytics dry out with age, which causes the effective internal resistance to rise, which also (remember I2R?) causes self-heating to increase and accelerate aging.
    Last edited by Chuck(G); November 9, 2017, 07:05 AM.
    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


      For on board testing you probably need some expensive industrial equipment.
      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
      Boxed apps and games for the above systems
      Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems


        I've got this one, and it's been decent for in circuit testing. I've found it worth the money.

        Remember it only tests esr.



          In circuit testing will rarely work and it will never be clear if the ESR is accurate, so unless its 100% reliable its 100% useless.

          Save yourself cash and headaches... and get something useful that works.


            An ESR tester is useful for a 'go/no go' type of test, but if you're looking at accurately measuring the ESR of a 68,000 uF electrolytic in-circuit, forget it. Remember that in-circuit ESR testers put out only a couple hundred millivolts AC, which would make the AC drop across a big low-ESR capacitor in the microvolt range.
            Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


              I built the Altronics kit. I get good use out of it. Works well for in-circuit testing.