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 2x128 MB DIMMs and Intel 233Mhz MMX CPU.

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 a 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.

Machine successfully booted TinyCORE Linux through 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 fresh Win 98 install.


At this point, I already knew that I was missing few parts, so I started looking for'em online.
I've found 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 a RAL9001 spray paint.
The front panel got a glossy cover and for a rest of a 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.
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 old days :D
... 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 :D

After dust settled, I started to investigate the problem.
It turned out that Ethernet ISA card is causing BSODs.
I've completely forgot that I need to setup 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've 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 ...



Chaos is your redemption .... better run .... better hide

I come from Internetz :>