First post, by shawnhell
I recently finished a one year building trek I had originally slated as a replacement to a Atari Jaguar I no longer use and a failing DVD player that have been housed in my bedroom's TV and VCR style stand I have had for many years. I had originally intended on one build to do this, but ended up with two...the second of which I have posted here.
The concept started with the idea of something I could run Playstation 1 era games (Resident Evil, Tomb Raider...) as a focus as well as a platform I could reasonably use my collection of emulators of my favorite systems (Atari 2600 to Playstation 1). The trick to me was finding the proper system with the size restrictions on the cab as a parameter. I briefly considered one of the many decommissioned clients available on eBay, even some of the fine custom client builds by inspired builders with very clever build ideas, however I felt I was just too picky about the specs and modifiability of these. I started with what I knew... an Intel 440BX Slot 1 & Windows 98SE.
Gateway GP7 (Intel 440BX Slot 1) (BIOS Updated Direct)
Intel Pentium 3 850MHz Processor
512 MB Micron Ram
Seagate Barracuda 120GB Hard Drive
Elsa Synergy Force AGP Video Card (FELS-8436) (NVIDIA GeForce 256 SDR)
Creative Sound Blaster AWE64 CT4380 Standard Edition
Linksys WMP54G ver4.1 (Driver Vitals Driver In This Build Thank You Michael von Lehe!)
SIIG 4 +1 PCI USB Port (Inside port to SIIG front panel 4 port)
3Com 3C905B-TX Ethernet Network Adapter
Sigma Designs REALmagic NetStream 2
I had been seeking a better solution to the Fosman VGA to Composite adapter I had been using. My experience with it had been increasingly disappointing. Often when starting a DOS game, the game would continuously flip. This accompanied by unstable shutdown screens forced a reconsideration. After quite a few searches I noticed a card that had a chip I was able to purpose appropriately for this, and it works so much better...
The Sigma Designs REALmagic NetStream 2 has been released with different variations, one has an Aitech AIT2138 chip onboard. This chip was actually sold on a card dedicated to this type of video conversion (known as a scan convertor, or in this case an internal scan convertor). With this card all my video issues ceased, and the picture remains delightfully stable! The one thing I don't like about these cards is the proprietary VGA to Mini-DIN 9 cable that these absolutely need to function, primarily I hate I cannot appropriate a better length. They are about 1 foot long, and since this and the video card are very close together I had an idea to apply a CTG #09565 to the unused VGA port on the Netstream 2 card and wind the unneeded length around it like a spool, cleaning up the back of the computer space and stabilizing the cord to avoid cord wiggling. I installed the NetStream 2 drivers to eliminate the driver needed issue in Device Manager even though I didn't need it to just use this chip. To anybody interested in one it is important to note the AIT2138 chip always appears to be hidden by a passive heatsink when I have found it on the market.
This listing on eBay has a picture of this card chip covered.
The Elsa Synergy Force was a card I had originally intended to be the card for the first console build. It comes with removable DVI-D (Dual Link) connector board which I removed to adapt it to NLX form the first build needed. Instead of reapplying however I simply added a VGA conversion bracket (removed from an Elsa GLoria Synergy). The Elsa Synergy Force appears to be very similar to the Elsa Erazor X, with the one true notable difference in the card BIOS (shows Elsa Synergy Force on boot). This allowed for some options on drivers, which I'm sure we can all agree is a good thing. I optioned drivers from NVIDIA but only as a last resort feeling more comfortable with Elsa drivers, this as long as I could indeed still find them. The background on this card shows it was a DELL OEM for a period of time, this was clearly an option. I had spent a little time looking around for drivers issued through Elsa that might also be an option. This arrived at a site with a variety of card drivers from Elsa I could try. I first tried the DELL driver which worked without issue. I then tried, in skepticism, the Elsa Erazor X driver...but it didn't install. I then tried an install that seems to be a driver pack from Elsa which, to my surprise, installed the driver for the Elsa Erazor X. I decided to keep it after testing fine.
Dell tested nVIDIA version (Elsa Synergy Force, v. 1.0, A01)
I also felt this needed better airflow, one fan just wouldn't cut it. I had a fan I had previously decommissioned from a dismantled PSU still in great condition complete with wire grill which was quiet and the same size. The front of the case came with cutouts and I felt the flow was acceptable but I needed an adapter to properly mount it. I then added a processor fan I removed from a replacement heatsink kit.
This 80mm to 92mm Fan Adapter worked well to install the front case fan.
I attempted to apply a Retr0bright technique to this as well, it was towards the end of Summer last year on my vacation. The beige was so ugly from age that I felt with everything else I'm doing, I might as well give it a try. I used "Clairol Professional Pure White Creme Developer 40", chemically it seemed to fit the bill. Applied by brush (spare antistatic) although it's thin. I tried with and without zip bags, zip bags kept it from drying off. After a few tries it made a very noticeable improvement, especially on the side panels. The front panel could still be brightened, mainly an issue from its contour being extremely difficult to get proper coating and sun exposure angle. Summer was ending and the UV rays were evening out, so I decided to end it, but maybe later...
Zip bags I used.