View Full Version : Computer Requirements and Upgrades

10-08-2003, 08:48 AM
I've aquired an old computer to connect to my shopbot, when it comes. Its a 266mhz, with 40mg of RAM. I'm planning on upgrading the memory to 256mg. But what about the 266mhz?! Does anyone know of a good place to find Processor chip upgrades and I don't know if the motherboard can handle a larger processor chip. Or where would be a good place to find a decent used computer?

10-08-2003, 09:56 AM
Problem I found is not the old computer and speed, but is the operating system. Windows 98 is no longer supproted and you can not purchase a new copy to load. Shopbot is just releasing the windows supported version (old one was DOS based) and I went to XP. That old computer was just too slow and I ran into run time errors. I upgraded to one of the new Dell's and this thing runs like a scared rabbit. While I am running the Shopbot, I can also be doing other stuff on my computer. Cost for upgrade chip and windows XP was almost an even trade off in price.

10-08-2003, 10:15 AM
Win 98 is still supported by MS - as recently as yesterday they released a downloadable upgrade.

10-08-2003, 10:30 AM
I'm buying a Dell, should be coming in the next week or so. I am going to use it in the house as a drawing and hub. Planning on networking to the garage with another less costly machine. I've got a eone, it was a version of the imac that Emachines produced. (got in a legal trouble with it, so had to quit making it) I have thought about using it out there... It has a celeron 433 with 64 mg, going to see if I can add more to it. It has 98 on it.

10-08-2003, 11:37 AM
For those with Windows, updates are available from

Particularly those people with Win98 should visit there - before the plug gets pulled out sometime soon. . . . . . .

10-08-2003, 02:30 PM
Has anyone had any experience using a laptop computer to run their bot? You can install what ever OS you want to be compatible. I was just thinking a laptop might be better than a PC (Space & Dust)...

10-08-2003, 02:34 PM
Why would a laptop be better for dust? They also have fans, and they just seem a lot less "robust" overall. Plus, they are more difficult to maintain with leftover scrap parts from other old PC's . . . . . .

10-08-2003, 02:53 PM
www.surpluscomputers.com have a Dell 700mhz for $99.

10-08-2003, 03:36 PM
Changing the OS on a laptop may not be as easy as it sounds. Due to the proprietary integrated design of laptops, finding suitable drivers for OS's different from that which the computer was designed for can be difficult -if not impossible. This is especially true when backing down from a newer NT based OS's (2K,XP) to a 9X OS (95,98,ME). One the other hand, upgrading an OS might be a piece of cake. Just keep your system restore disc handy -just in case!

10-08-2003, 05:35 PM
I have been running my Bot on a 120 Pentium I laptop for the past year. I just replaced it with a home-built 1.7GHz with 512M of RAM. I wanted to upgrade it for two reasons: One, it was too slow to run PartWizard and I am tired of running in and out of the office and Two, I wanted to push the speed of the Bot to the max. I found that even with no load on the cutter, the max usable speed without losing steps is about 3.5 IPS. I need the machine to move about 6 IPS for the polished stainless sheet that I need to cut...No dice on that. I build my own machines because anytime I want I can spend about $400 or so and replace the motherboard and processor and have a state of the art machine again. It costs more initially to build your own, but it saves you more in the long run.

There are pros and cons to laptops and desktops. I'd use whatever is cheaper and more convenient for you. The laptop is compact, but you'll want to get an external keyboard, mouse and monitor. Plus, as Gerald mentioned...everything is proprietary ~ You can't just jack another video card into the laptop from a desktop in the parts bin. The desktop takes up more space, but for me that is the only realistic solution for the shop. You can easily blow out a desktop case...Cleaning the laptop inside is a Saturday morning project that I don't want to do anymore.


10-08-2003, 10:07 PM
I've been using a laptop on my machine for over 3 years, no problems. I've mounted a stand on the Y-carriage that the laptop rides on, so no matter where it goes, there I am. this also eliminates the need for a remote control since the keyboard is always nearby. as for dust, this is an older laptop so it doesn't have a fan and I can blow air through the keyboard to flush it out. I'm running windows '98 with a RF network card. my design work is done inside on a different machine. I can transfer the files to the laptop as needed then delete them after they're cut. there's only 2GB on the hard drive, 128K RAM, and it's a slow processor (266 MHz?), but I'm still able to cut as fast at the bit warrants.

it cost me $200 when I bought it and I've seen similar for under $100 in the last few months. at those prices, the only thing I worry about is routine backups.

10-08-2003, 11:25 PM

Tigerdirect.com will have the upgrade processor for you.


10-09-2003, 11:28 AM
I sent an e-mail out to my family and friends, looking for old machines... wrong thing to do...

here is what I am going to do... I'm going to take all these machines, duct tape them together.. run 220 volts to them, jumper cable them all together, run a few solar panels and hampster wheels to the 12 volt car batteries sitting on my garage floor, with a garden hose to the control box... That should run just fine

10-09-2003, 12:33 PM
tigerdirect has good refurbished PCs also

10-10-2003, 04:48 AM
I just got my PRT96, two weeks earlier than I expected (order went in the day after Isabel hit- so I was expecting at least a 3-4 week turn around),... anyway the shop is still being painted & rubber base moulding going down.

I'm going to use my Win2K Laptop & install Acronis OS Selector for the shop side. The SB website says they're still using DOS, Windows NinetyHate & MangledEdition. Rather than gum the system up with the latter 2 sorry excuses, I'm going with DOS... simple & compact, & I miss the command line sometimes. OS Selector allows you to select which OS you want to run at boot time. The only drawback is you have to partition your hard drive.

As for the laptop, I've been amazed at the punishment this old beast has taken. It's a Gateway Solo 9300 CX PIII 700 with 18GB hard drive that's been dropped, kicked, thrown, spilled on... heck, one time I caught my 3 year old son standing on the keyboard & another time he was standing on the LCD (when it was closed).

The only thing I had to do was push the hardware reset button that time I caught him standing on the keyboard... oh, & I just replaced the CD-R, DVD combo drive. I suspect it will hold upto sawdust just fine if I give it a blast of compressed air every couple weeks.

Plus, it can output to television (composite out) as well as S-VGA. The other nice thing about it is that for long trips, my wife & I can put on a DVD for the kids & output the audio to the van's sound system- & the 15.7 inch screen makes those built-ins they sell in the minivans look tiny. If you find one used, I'd highly recommend it if you need a multi-purpose system.