Retro on a Shoe-String Budget

I’ve talked to a fair amount of people in the retro gaming scene that would love to get into retro PC’s, but think it’s too expensive. Interestingly, one of them was a gentleman who was selling me one of his NeoGeo carts. If you’ve got NeoGeo money, you’ve got retro PC money. Heck, if you’ve got Sega Genesis money, you probably have retro PC money.

I know it can seem daunting. You’ve got people on eBay selling Pentium 100 machines “fully loaded” for $1000. You don’t want to try to build your own, though, right? I mean, the rules were different back then and who knows what goes together?

While it’s true that going back too far can get you into a world of compatibility nightmares and jumper switches, there are some retro systems that anyone who has built a modern system would have no problem cobbling together.

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Building a new (old) PC – Part 2

BOOT:

Note:  This is a continuation of Building a new (old) PC – Part 1

This process brought back a lot of memories.  Not all of them were good.  I was expecting some warm and fuzzies.  The “Getting Ready to Start Windows for the First Time!” kind of warm and fuzzies.  What I got were lots of cuts on my hands, a few hours worth of research, incompatibilities, hardware failures…and the satisfaction of a job well done.

I built the board/CPU/RAM and video on my test bench first.  To begin, I inserted the processor into the slot, tightening the retaining screws.  Then came RAM (it was exactly like modern RAM).  Finally, I plugged in the RIVA TNT and hooked up power and keyboard/mouse.  A quick short of the jumpers and everything came alive.  So far, so good?

Nope.

For whatever reason, the system didn’t like the PS/2 keyboard I had plugged in.  It didn’t throw a keyboard error, but I couldn’t use it to get into the BIOS.  It wouldn’t even light up.  I tried another and I had the same results.  I finally switched to a USB keyboard (thankfully the 440BX has USB ports) and had no further issues.  The mouse worked fine in the PS/2 port, so I guess it’s probably just a bad keyboard port.

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