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Make Something with an Old CPU

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Nov 24, 2012
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I have an old intel CPU , and I am very interested in creating an electronic device with it . is it possible or not ?

Please Share your ideas , what would you make with an old CPU ? it doesn't matter if it is hard to make or not .
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I have used my VIC-20 computer to do things that would be overkill to use my Mac or PC. Or things that require letting it run for a long time unattended.

The VIC-20 has a game port which makes it easy to attach a simple detector circuit.

* I had it detect when a refrigerator turned on and off, and calculate its duty cycle. This involved letting it run all day.

* Same as above for a well pump.

* I made a program for it to detect morse code beeps from a shortwave radio, and translate into words onscreen.

* I have thought about making a contraption to test the capacities of my collection of rechargeable batteries. (Many have deteriorated over the years.) I would program the VIC-20 to put a battery through a few charge/discharge cycles. It would time how long it can power a load.
The answer depend on exactly which old Intel CPU you have.

If it's something like an 8080 then yes, it's perfectly feasible to do something with it. It won't break any speed records but it can be put to good use.
On the other hand, if it's an old Pentium or the likes, it can still be used but needs considerably more backup circuitry and probably isn't economical to put back in operation. The exception to that is if it is still on a motherboard in which case you could turn it into a router, NAS server or use it for a less demanding job like home automation.

thank you for your reply and ideas .
yes it is with an old motherboard.

I post a picture of CPU :

if picture has bad quality CPU ID-numbers are :
Intel DX4
iComp index =435
&EW 3volt SK096
INTEL (M) (C) '89'94

I have searched the web for This CPU's datasheet but found nothing . it seems I have to use it in the motherboard .

I asked my university Professor , he said "you cannot do anything with it , put it in trash " !!! .

I don't know but I think it is good to have a try .
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As Keith states, it's a 100MHz 80486 processor with built-in maths FPU. This is the last of the Intel processors before the Pentium was released. If you have a motherboard it can still be used to run some current versions of Linux and it can run versions if Windows up to 'ME' but not beyond. On it's own, it isn't much use because it needs additional support circuits which make it impractical to utilize. Older processors had a "maximum/minimum" mode pin which allowed them to be used like a microcontroller but the 486 doesn't have that facility.

I confess to still using 386 and 486 processors, mostly because they run cool enough that they do not need fans to circulate air around them. Some of my applications are in hostile environments where cooling fans only last a few days before their bearings wear out so low power processors are essential.


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