retroPC – old games anyone ?

… or how to get a bluescreen from the past

The story

Remember those dark winter evenings spent with Diablo 1? or F-29 Raptor ? or Dune 2?
Naaah ?! maybe Eye of Beholder 2 then?
Well, I do … and I kinda miss it … plus, you know …

That is exactly why I needed a retroPC – to feel it again. Emulators are great but that’s just not it 🙂

I’ve dug out an old PC-AT case from my garage abyss. I took a quick look at it and decided that it’ll be perfect for my retroPC project.

It already had quite a lot of usable meat inside. However, it required testing, refurbishing, and pimping in general.

Motherboard MB-8500TTD by Biostar was already populated with 2×128 MB DIMMs and Intel 233Mhz MMX CPU.

The graphic card was an old good PCI-based S3 Virge DX but its connector was a bit worn out as you can see below.

To my surprise, it had a super old ISA ethernet card.
RT-2203V1 based on AM79C960KC chip with AUI and BNC connectors!

It also had an 8GB HDD, 3.5″ 1.44 MB floppy, and a DVD-ROM – all in an unknown state.


I’ve launched a quick testing setup on my bench.

The machine successfully booted TinyCORE Linux through a DVD-ROM drive so I could check what exact CPU is inside and try reading stuff from a floppy drive.

I’ve put a random diskette in and … IT WORKED! YAY

Hard-drive also looked fine. I was able to format it without a problem but I didn’t do deeper checks. I decided that I’ll just give it a go with a fresh Win 98 install.


At this point, I already knew that I was missing a few parts, so I started looking at ’em online.
I’ve found a few cheap parts so I’ve ordered’em quickly:

  • Graphics card – ATI 3D Rage PRO
  • Audio card – PCI SoundBlaster compatible
  • Back-side USB connector
  • 3D accelerator – Diamond Monster 3dFX VOODOO 1

Case painting

I’ve painted a case with RAL9001 spray paint.
The front panel got a glossy cover and for the rest of the case, I used satin paint.

OS Installation

I decided I’ll go with m$ Windows 98 because it has USB support already in. I could install W95 osr2 and then add USB support but I was just too lazy.
A few google searches and a bit of CD burning later I had this screen:

… and this 😉


I was super happy that everything goes well and then suddenly …

Thanks to M$ I instantly launched full rage mode like in the old days 😀
… KK it wasn’t full rage mode but I just wanted it to be retro so I had to at least pretend that I was super pissed off 😀

After the dust settled, I started to investigate the problem.
It turned out that the Ethernet ISA card is causing BSODs.
I completely forgot that I need to set up I/O and IRQ jumpers correctly – lazy me 😉
I’ve wrestled with it for a while because the description on a card itself is quite shitty.

I’ve checked for conflicting addresses and set a card to proper IRQ and I/O addresses.

Final assembly

I started to pack everything inside a case and after a while a system booted.

I’ve also 3D printed a small “retroPC” badge and glued it on a front panel.

And there it is! My own retroPC! straight from the past 😉

retroPC – hell yeah ! from pit on Vimeo.

sooooooo …



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