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Slow computers for old radio's

g4tuz

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Feb 24, 2020
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Has anyone had any success with low power thin client type PC's with cache disabled for programming Syntor vintage radio's?
 

Notarola

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Syntors are a little bit touchy. One of the parameters that needs to be right is the comport settings. RFI was recently doing some work on them. search through the forums and there may be the info your looking for. You may also want to search running DOS programs. there are some real good threads on programs and other setting that have worked for others.

One big issue seems to be trying to run DOS programs in a 64 bit OS. I recommend looking into a bootable flashstick.
 

max2770

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Feb 4, 2020
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I have not encountered one radio that can't be programmed using a modern computer when booting from DOS, although a physical RS-232 serial port is an absolute must.

I use Rufus to create a FreeDOS bootable stick, copy all DOS programs I need and boot from USB. Toughbooks and the likes have physical serial ports, my Getac B300 has 2 of them.
 

bstafford

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I have not encountered one radio that can't be programmed using a modern computer when booting from DOS, although a physical RS-232 serial port is an absolute must.

I use Rufus to create a FreeDOS bootable stick, copy all DOS programs I need and boot from USB. Toughbooks and the likes have physical serial ports, my Getac B300 has 2 of them.
I don't have any Syntors, but I too have been using FreeDOS bootable USB drives made using Rufus with a Toughbook for years. It really is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to go about programming older radios.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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G4TUZ

I cannot recommend any modern thin client computers that will run slow enough for old DOS RSS.

The Motorola RSS's are all reliant upon slow simple processors. The Syntor's were designed at a time when Motorola was not thinking too much about field programming by customers. Thus the Syntor X 9000 RSS is pretty archaic and user unfriendly. It crashes a lot.

I am still limping along with my 486SLC IBM PS/2E which is on its last power supply. The identical spare computer hard drive froze in storage so I salvaged its PS which is unobtanium. In the meantime Andy Brinkley is doing the heavy lifting making my 128 CH Syntor X9000 code plugs saving my eyesight and sanity. I dare not turn on this computer too much though I hope at least to be able to read and write from one of my Syntor X9000' s if needed. I also have several other projects relying on that computer.

I looked into retro-pc's for gaming. There is a thread here on that. You will find that Gamers are lusting after these for many of same reasons and therefore the cost of an new old stock motherboard is atrocious. But Gamers don't care about RS232 serial ports preferring USB, so some of their solutions dont solve that equation.

I will have to build something to replace the PS/2E because not only is the PS a time bomb, the actual plastic that the computer was made from is bio-degrading as planned by IBM decades ago. The past few years have been plagued with entropy for me. Everything is breaking and grinding to a halt. New stuff wears out faster. (ask my dishwasher!)

There was another thread suggesting a new modern RSS for certain old radios. The discussion got sidetracked (probably by me) into request for some sort of finely tuned DOS BOX emulator that will replicate the environment for the RSS and RIB serial port.

One thing that did save some sanity is finding an iMation USB 3.5 inch floppy drive that actually works with my WinXP computer. Don't bother with any of the ones on Amazon that come from China. They are all worthless. Buy a genuine IBM, iMation or Dell.

Maybe there is a simpler and better way to fix this problem. I am all ears.
 
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Notarola

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Not to side track this too much. I wonder if some of these old programs can be ran in memory. My idea is run them like a VM but have the memory read/write at a slower pace. This would simulate a slower clock speed. I think Moslow worked on a similar principal to run programs . Its problem was the comport settings were all wrong. With USBs it shouldnt be too hard to output compatible clock speeds. The KDFtool uses a similar concept with the interface. Note this is just a general thought with little research its not going to that simple. I dont have the free time right now to take on a new project.
 
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g4tuz

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Feb 24, 2020
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OK, just a couple of notes. been playing about with a Hewlett-Packard T5530 thin client running DOS 6.22. DOS is installed on internal flash, however the nice thing about these devices is native support for USB memory sticks under DOS. Handy for file transfer. Not had a chance to play with the X9000 yet. Using a program called setmul to disable level 1 cache. With cache enabled mtsxlab 2.00.01 takes ~1s to load from depot command to press any key message. With cache disabled to same process takes 28s. Will report back once I have tried this on my X9000. Would rather not break them, they are a bit rare over in the UK!

Not to side track this too much. I wonder if some of these old programs can be ran in memory. My idea is run them like a VM but have the memory read/write at a slower pace. This would simulate a slower clock speed. I think Moslow worked on a similar principal to run programs . Its problem was the comport settings were all wrong. With USBs it shouldnt be too hard to output compatible clock speeds. The KDFtool uses a similar concept with the interface. Note this is just a general thought with little research its not going to that simple. I dont have the free time right now to take on a new project.
I do most of my modern Moto programming under a Win7/32 VM running on a Linux machine. Never have any problems with either hardware or USB serial ports. Not tried a DOS VM yet.

G4TUZ

I cannot recommend any modern thin client computers that will run slow enough for old DOS RSS.

The Motorola RSS's are all reliant upon slow simple processors. The Syntor's were designed at a time when Motorola was not thinking too much about field programming by customers. Thus the Syntor X 9000 RSS is pretty archaic and user unfriendly. It crashes a lot.

I am still limping along with my 486SLC IBM PS/2E which is on its last power supply. The identical spare computer hard drive froze in storage so I salvaged its PS which is unobtanium. In the meantime Andy Brinkley is doing the heavy lifting making my 128 CH Syntor X9000 code plugs saving my eyesight and sanity. I dare not turn on this computer too much though I hope at least to be able to read and write from one of my Syntor X9000' s if needed. I also have several other projects relying on that computer.

I looked into retro-pc's for gaming. There is a thread here on that. You will find that Gamers are lusting after these for many of same reasons and therefore the cost of an new old stock motherboard is atrocious. But Gamers don't care about RS232 serial ports preferring USB, so some of their solutions dont solve that equation.

I will have to build something to replace the PS/2E because not only is the PS a time bomb, the actual plastic that the computer was made from is bio-degrading as planned by IBM decades ago. The past few years have been plagued with entropy for me. Everything is breaking and grinding to a halt. New stuff wears out faster. (ask my dishwasher!)

There was another thread suggesting a new modern RSS for certain old radios. The discussion got sidetracked (probably by me) into request for some sort of finely tuned DOS BOX emulator that will replicate the environment for the RSS and RIB serial port.

One thing that did save some sanity is finding an iMation USB 3.5 inch floppy drive that actually works with my WinXP computer. Don't bother with any of the ones on Amazon that come from China. They are all worthless. Buy a genuine IBM, iMation or Dell.

Maybe there is a simpler and better way to fix this problem. I am all ears.
The HP T5530 refered to in my other post on this thread is used by a lot of retro gamers, that's where I got the idea. There is a good youtube video.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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I just now found in my junk closet, a Harris Infocaster Seneca n310-b2631 thin client that I picked up at a hamfest for $25. Can seem to find a manual for it or the specs. It has a 500 G HD and Win XP loaded into it. But unfortunately it has no serial port.
 

wa6jbd

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Joined
Oct 28, 2019
Messages
53
I have not encountered one radio that can't be programmed using a modern computer when booting from DOS, although a physical RS-232 serial port is an absolute must.

I use Rufus to create a FreeDOS bootable stick, copy all DOS programs I need and boot from USB. Toughbooks and the likes have physical serial ports, my Getac B300 has 2 of them.

I can't say that I've ever had any problems, either. The touchiest RSS I've encountered was for the STX radios, and I used to use a Pentium 4 class processor with something like mo'slow or a program called Slowdown. DOS 6.22 is readily available as well. If one installs DOS on an HD first, then Windows, Win recognizes the presence of DOS and allows one to easily set up a multiboot system.
 

faultywarrior

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Feb 21, 2021
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While I don't have a Syntor, I do have a Saber IE. I've always programmed it with an IBM PC XT running DOS 6.22. It seems to work fine for Saber RSS, and hasn't ever given me any problems...although that could be because it's been fully restored and has a modern SSD in it with a recently fresh install of DOS and ONLY gets used for radio programming.

All of my other radios (ASTRO Saber and newer, plus a stack of Quantars) I use a Motorola ML900 Toughbook running Windows XP to program. All of these have WinRSS though - I've not tried anything which is DOS based on there. Perhaps I'll take a full flash dump of the Saber IE and try programming it on the ML900 booted from a DOS install. Might be a good experiment to try regardless of outcome.
 

WQNV648

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Jun 8, 2012
Messages
265
Something I just thought of, there is DOSBox for the Raspberry Pi, I haven't tried to run Maxtrac RSS on it. I'll give it a shot...