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The zero-budget Windows 98 build

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by Pierre32, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    Not long ago I lucked into this old Windows 98 system in a work cleanout.

    In that post I said I wasn't really interested in doing a build. But since then I've basically completed the original project, and started to think about that box of bits in the cupboard. I could play some Half-Life, or Grand Prix Legends.

    I laid down one rule for this build though. I know there's a working system in here already, so I am not to spend one dollar on it.

    The bits:

    [​IMG]

    The mobo is from an Acer Aspire, which in the other thread Flamin Joe identified as a 55.35G01.102AA (not actually a 100% match to the part number on the board, but close enough for me to say "neat" and get on with things.)

    There are some mismatched sticks of Apacer RAM (64MB and 128MB). Pretty sure only one works.

    The CPUs (I'm going to guess only one of these is in working condition):
    • Pentium II 233 MHz (SL28K)
    • Pentium II 333 MHz (SL2WY)
    • Pentium III 550 MHz (SL3FJ)

    The video cards (same guess as above):
    • ATI 3D RAGE IIC 4MB
    • GeForce 2 GTS 32MB
    • GeForce 4 MX4000 64MB

    The HDD is a 422MB Maxtor 7420AV, which I'll either replace or pair up with an old 160GB unit I have in a drawer.

    That dainty little PSU is a 150W ATX-68A, by Mean Well I think?

    Drives and other peripherals will all come from the pile.

    What I don't have is a case, creating the first challenge in this no-spend project. But patience pays off, and I'll be watching the streets...
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  2. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    24 whole hours of it.

    I drove home through Kogarah today, and noticed it was hard rubbish week in the area. I peeled into the nearest side street, and this was the first thing I spotted.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I have no nostalgia for these bubbly Pavilion cases. But it's compact which is exactly what I wanted, and I really dig the grey drives. Onward!
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
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  3. /invariance\

    /invariance\ Member

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    Fortune smiled on you to come across the case so quickly.
     
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  4. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    Sure did! I'm just hoping I don't hit any snags with mounting a new mobo in there (I'm not sure how wild HP got with the proprietary stuff).
     
  5. Phido

    Phido Member

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    I dig these manufactured boxes if they have appeal. That is a quirky, neat, compact (compaq? haha) model. They should be fine for everything except mobo. Wow looks a million bucks all cleaned up. Case looks semi transparent/translucent?
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    Yep, bit of translucent body work on the front there.

    Tonight I pulled the Acer mobo and other bits out of the cupboard to run some tests and determine what the transplant system would be. The persistent error (which I fought through last time before finding a hardware combo that worked) was a repeated long beep and no display; apparently indicating a RAM issue. But running through the tests, I noticed it was more of an intermittent problem than directly tied to any hardware config.

    So I unplugged everything, dumped a blast of contact cleaner into it and gave all the slots a good rogering. And that was the end of that problem. It's now happily running the best CPU of the bunch (PIII 550), the bigger RAM (128MB) and the second best video card (GeForce 2 GTS 32MB). The GeForce 4 MX appears to be cooked, but not to worry, I think this is still looking like a pretty good system.



    Next session: I break into the new case.
     
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  7. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    The Acer donor system getting a Win98 install on its 'new' 160GB HDD, replacing the old 400MB beastie which didn't even have enough space to install Nvidia drivers. The speed difference between these drives was remarkable.

    [​IMG]

    Fresh!

    [​IMG]

    And now it's time to crack open that case. Here's what it looks like opened:

    [​IMG]

    And here's the first test fit of the new mobo.

    [​IMG]

    No shenanigans here from HP thankfully - all standard, perfectly matched mounting. Not a perfect fit yet though. HP's I/O plate is built for the tight tolerances of the case, while the Acer has its elbows out a little more. These tabs along the bottom prevent the mobo from sitting flat:

    [​IMG]

    I carefully bent them in towards the mobo at 90 degrees, which got us over that hurdle. I could also see that this lip on the case was going to be in the way of the top of the I/O plate:

    [​IMG]

    So a little more bending to solve that:

    [​IMG]

    After this, there was one last problem.

    [​IMG]

    The RAM clips are hitting the CD bay, preventing the mobo tray from seating properly. There are only a couple of millimetres in it, so the plan is to chop out the marked area, and cross my fingers that it will all fit in there with the CD drive.

    The PSU is painfully close to fitting too, by a few millimetres. To make that work I'll need to cut out the marked area here:

    [​IMG]

    But then I realised that the HP PSU is standard like everything else (as well as higher quality, at a glance) and I can probably just stick with that. As long as HP haven't done anything funky with the pinout. I'll put the multimeter on it, and then dive in and hope I don't let the smoke out.
     
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  8. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    A quick bench test this afternoon revealed that the HP PSU would do the job. So that's one big chunk of metal I don't have to chop out, but there is still the smaller job to do.

    Before that I replaced the front control gear with some other stuff with correct headers. HP's little plastic moulding made it easy to just snap the replacements in.

    [​IMG]

    Then it was down to the garage. The following images are pretty horrific, and should not be on the public record.

    [​IMG]

    That allowed the case to be closed up as planned. But the RAM clips were now encroaching too far into the CD bay, along with the CPU fan connector. I carefully bent those pins out of the way, and then clipped the "wings" of the RAM clips. All parts still fully functional. Just a little desecrated.

    [​IMG]

    With that done, here's what the CD bay looks like. It was enough.

    [​IMG]

    And here's the CD drive just clearing the big Slot 1 that isn't supposed to be in here. With a little tough love I was then able to get the case secured shut, and powered it up.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    No boot, no beep, no signal. I dismantled it again, and it powered up fine on the benchtop once it was removed from the tray. Which pointed to a short somewhere.

    I forgot to take a photo of this part, but I took a look at the mobo standoffs again. These ones aren't little screw-in jobbies, they're shaped into the case at manufacture and each one rises up like a little mole hill. As a result, the contact area with the mobo is a lot bigger, and one of these must have been touching something. I covered each one with electrical tape before putting the mobo back down on them, and that did the trick.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    On that game - I'm not a big RTS guy, but I picked it up for a buck at a garage sale years ago, and I've never actually had a machine to run it on. The minimum spec listed on the case, if running Win98, is a PIII 500 with 128MB RAM. Nice.
     
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  9. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    Laws have been broken. The zero budget has been blown. I was never going to feel right about this build until it had a Sound Blaster. Phil convinced me I needed a Live! SB0100, so the search began. Not on ebay though - yikes. Finally, this fella appeared on FB Marketplace for $25!

    [​IMG]

    It's now installed and running, and I'm about to start my first 'original hardware' run of Half-Life. I've already forgiven myself.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    Things haven't gone too smoothly. Everything seemed great until I started a new Half-Life campaign, and I was getting CD audio but no game sounds. (The intro/logo themes and menu sounds worked fine, strangely).

    I ran through the usual troubleshooting for these cards - ensure my speakers (stereo pair only) are in the right jack, correct device & speaker type selected, digital output disabled, etc. Everything tested fine in Control Panel and the Creative software, but no dice in game. Then I realised I hadn't disabled the onboard audio. I did that in device manager and then BIOS, and the problem was resolved. In Half-Life.

    I took two other games for a test run, and they were dead silent. I spent an hour chasing my tail, until an error message pointed me to DirectSound. I ran dxdiag, checked the sound tab, and yep... no device detected. Not sure what my next move is. Perhaps look for a BIOS update for starters.

    This may be what Phil meant by "some chipsets can have issues with this Sound Card, so my advice here is to go with an Intel chipset." #VIA
     
  11. power

    power Member

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  12. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    God he's a great resource. Thanks for pointing me to the page.
     
  13. power

    power Member

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    you used to have to install all this shit in order too

    like 98SE, then something then via chipset, then vga or sound last or something like that

    just be aware that 98SE if you don't remember is very easy to completely break and have to reinstall.

    i do not miss that.
     
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  14. WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    oh man, dxdiag... flashbacks
     
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  15. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Someone convince him to come back here. I miss Phil.
     
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  16. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    I ended up installing the chipset drivers, but the lazy way - no fresh OS install, I just scrubbed any drivers I'd installed first, and reinstalled afterwards. No improvement.

    So I asked myself how much more hair I wanted to pull out fighting this VIA mobo, and the answer was none. The SB Live can go into storage and await another build. Onboard audio will suffice for this one.

    During all this testing, the video card (which was the least worst of the three in this pile of parts) started to show signs of imminent death, which is no great surprise. I'll give it a cleanup and new thermal paste and see how that goes. I already have a couple of replacement options on the radar though. If this little project is going to lead to a proper Intel-based build, I might as well have nice bits!
     
  17. power

    power Member

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    98SE every install was a science experiment and VIA was an unstable element.
     
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  18. Comrade VPZ

    Comrade VPZ Member

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    Are we allowed to donate stuff to the cause? I have a weird video card somewhere, some agp MX440 or something. I just found it... 64MB card, agp, with small fan on it. Was used in a Pentium MMX, my first computer (circa 1998).
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
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  19. OP
    OP
    Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    Really appreciate the offer man! However it would just end up going to waste, as I'm definitely going to go with something beefy. But thanks anyway :thumbup:
     
  20. Comrade VPZ

    Comrade VPZ Member

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    No worries. I always find windows 98 interesting, so i kept it for emergencies. Still can't work out how to install the graphics drivers on a vmware version of windows 98, do I need to check out phils webpage also?
     

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