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Jasper Restoration Thread
#1

Here is a thread to document my next computer restoration project, this time on one of my old PC towers from back in the day. It's what I named "Jasper" a frankenstein of a rig that I purchased from a friend in 2009.

The case is branded "Tangent Computer" as it was once a pre-built PC, but at one point, the former owner had to replace the motherboard with it's current Asus TUV4X one. The CPU is a Pentium III at 1ghz and the graphics card was originally an Nvidia Riva TNT2. I later replaced it with an Asus Radeon 9600XT. Exact amount of RAM is currently unknown, as with the hard drive too.

I last used this computer as a daily driver for about two years, running Windows XP Professional. For 2009 through 2011, it was still a decent computer for web browsing, but it was beginning to show it's age with sites like YouTube. Once I moved on to the mid-2011 Mac Mini, Jasper became secondary, and then unused and in storage.

Taking inspiration from Clint/LGR, I want to restore Jasper into a semi-retro computer gaming rig, with main focus on Windows 9x/ME PC games. I have many such games in my collection, such as Bejeweled, Chuzzle, various shovelware collections, you name it. Tongue The OS will either be Windows 98 SE or ME.

Here is what Jasper needs so far:
-A new PSU.
-A new rear cooing fan with a proper motherboard connector
-A preferably new-old-stock IDE hard drive at 80GB. Windows 98SE has issues with larger drives such as 120GB and up unless you use special drivers.
-A motherboard BIOS battery.
-Optionally, a new case as well. The current one is very beat up and full of stickers from your's truly. I could get some Goo Gone and remove the stickers off the front and it would look rather presentable.

Thread will be updated once parts are ordered.

I love foxes, especially the one in my avatar.
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#2

If you could afford it, a modular PSU would save you the trouble of having to do any sort of cable management. And it's prudent to do an extensive SMART check on a hard drive, though if you ask me I'd probably opt for a CompactFlash card. I know they're expensive, but since CF does use Parallel ATA/IDE, that and an adapter is more reliable than an old or new old stock drive which may or may not fail over time.

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#3

(03-19-2021, 09:28 AM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  If you could afford it, a modular PSU would save you the trouble of having to do any sort of cable management. And it's prudent to do an extensive SMART check on a hard drive, though if you ask me I'd probably opt for a CompactFlash card. I know they're expensive, but since CF does use Parallel ATA/IDE, that and an adapter is more reliable than an old or new old stock drive which may or may not fail over time.

I'll have to look at the modular PSU, but I remembered I do have a spare Corsair PSU back at my parents' old house. I think it's either 350 or 450 watt, which is a tad overkill for a Windows 98/ME PC, but that PSU hasn't seen many power on hours. All I would need are the molex adapters.

As for the CF Card suggestion, I will pass on that for now and search for a suitable IDE HDD. With new builds, I tend to avoid used drives because of the higher potential of failure. I think I found a good candidate on eBay.... an NOS WD Caviar 80GB. I will do a SMART check on it once I get it installed, and prior to installing Windows. I'll have to use a bootable Linux USB to use some kind of SMART tool.

In future years, I might consider some kind of flash based storage if it's the only viable option. The existing inventory of NOS IDE drives won't be around forever as interest in retro computing grows.

I love foxes, especially the one in my avatar.
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#4

(03-20-2021, 02:45 PM)cpd2009 Wrote:  
(03-19-2021, 09:28 AM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  If you could afford it, a modular PSU would save you the trouble of having to do any sort of cable management. And it's prudent to do an extensive SMART check on a hard drive, though if you ask me I'd probably opt for a CompactFlash card. I know they're expensive, but since CF does use Parallel ATA/IDE, that and an adapter is more reliable than an old or new old stock drive which may or may not fail over time.

I'll have to look at the modular PSU, but I remembered I do have a spare Corsair PSU back at my parents' old house. I think it's either 350 or 450 watt, which is a tad overkill for a Windows 98/ME PC, but that PSU hasn't seen many power on hours. All I would need are the molex adapters.

As for the CF Card suggestion, I will pass on that for now and search for a suitable IDE HDD. With new builds, I tend to avoid used drives because of the higher potential of failure. I think I found a good candidate on eBay.... an NOS WD Caviar 80GB. I will do a SMART check on it once I get it installed, and prior to installing Windows. I'll have to use a bootable Linux USB to use some kind of SMART tool.

In future years, I might consider some kind of flash based storage if it's the only viable option. The existing inventory of NOS IDE drives won't be around forever as interest in retro computing grows.
I get you on that. Looking forward on your retro build btw.

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#5

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Despite my life being sidelined by a sudden family emergency, I still have been placing orders for the retro PC parts when possible. These two came in the mail last week. On the left is the WD IDE 80gb hard disk and on the right is a sealed copy of OEM Windows 98 Second Edition. The Windows disc was meant for a Dell PC, but the disc itself is a vanilla installation with no Dell specific branding so it shouldn't be locked to the Dell system it was intended for. The product key is on the front, not shown.

As for the PSU, my spare Corsair CX430 is a no go. It appears a mouse was inside my old room and explored the area around where the PSU was at. And when I was trying to move it to get a better look, it slid off onto the floor. Sad

Now I need to find another PSU. I would like to get another CX430, but depending on the cost, I may have to look for lesser expensive options. I was willing to even use that old Insignia PSU I had, but I can't seem to locate it.

I guess it's time to research JonnyGuru (I think that's how you spell it) and find a PSU that won't blow up on me...

I love foxes, especially the one in my avatar.
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#6

Okay... got Jasper up and running... sort of. Taking BIG risks using the cheapo PSU at the start, but I'm hoping to swap it with the 220W PSU that is in the old Dell Dimension E510. The Radeon 9600 supposedly only has a 19watt TDP, and a 200W or greater PSU is recommended at least from what I gathered on Google.

The current no-name PSU is having severe voltage drops on the 3.3v rail, dipping down to a constant 2.8v range. This might explain why the WD 80gb drive is having issues. It has issues spinning up and being detected by the BIOS. The HDD will eventually get detected, but only after a minute or so of the drive spinning, and of course, this means that Win98 setup doesn't see any HDD and refuses to run setup.

I'm hoping the drive hasn't gone bad, but I won't know for sure until I get the Dell PSU in place and see if that fixes the issue, and testing the other IDE HDD I had installed. That drive is 160GB, so I would have to partition it to get Windows 98SE to run properly.

I love foxes, especially the one in my avatar.
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#7

Well, it appears my attempted restoration of Jasper may have hit a major roadblock. The 220W Dell PSU will not work due to a non-standard ATX connector for the motherboard. I also had to slightly modify Jasper's case to even get the Dell PSU inside properly. And even once I got it inside, the screw holes are not lining up with the case.

Given how the non-branded PSU is a ticking timebomb, and I literally have no other PSU on hand besides that odd Dell one, I will have to put the Jasper project on hold for quite some time. I will have to source a used PSU off eBay that has the standard molex connectors for the older components and the proper motherboard connector, and to also ensure the thing fits properly.

Off to scour eBay for the proper PSU....

I love foxes, especially the one in my avatar.
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#8

(04-05-2021, 10:17 AM)cpd2009 Wrote:  Well, it appears my attempted restoration of Jasper may have hit a major roadblock. The 220W Dell PSU will not work due to a non-standard ATX connector for the motherboard. I also had to slightly modify Jasper's case to even get the Dell PSU inside properly. And even once I got it inside, the screw holes are not lining up with the case.

Given how the non-branded PSU is a ticking timebomb, and I literally have no other PSU on hand besides that odd Dell one, I will have to put the Jasper project on hold for quite some time. I will have to source a used PSU off eBay that has the standard molex connectors for the older components and the proper motherboard connector, and to also ensure the thing fits properly.

Off to scour eBay for the proper PSU....
I should've thought of that the moment you mentioned Dell, as yeah they did use a non-standard connector for the ATX plug in a rather pointless act of vendor lock-in.

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#9

Well, decided to make do with the risky PSU for the moment. I have connected the power leads in a way that the 3.3v rail is no longer dipping dangerously low, but it's still risky, so I will eventually get a somewhat better PSU soon. There is a local computer store in town, and I will try to go there to see if he has any spare PSUs that would work much better than this no-name thing...

Reason why I'm living dangerously is I wanted to find out if the WD 80gb disk is bad, and sadly, it is. I reconnected the previous 160GB disk, also a WD, and the BIOS picked it up right away. The 80gb disk appears to take ages to get to the point where the BIOS can detect it during POST, as if it is having trouble spinning up.

I guess what I will do is partition the 160GB disk into two parts, and install Windows 98 on one partition, and maybe a vintage distro of Linux on the other. I recall when I got my first 160GB disk back in the mid 2000s, I had to install a special driver in the MBR in order to get Win98 to recognize the full disk size.

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#10

Roadblock #2:

Win98 won't boot up properly. Installed just fine, but I got a weird "disk write error" during install. I told it to retry, and it appeared to continue setup as normal.

System restarts, and it hangs on the Win98 splash. Tried safe mode, and other than an error message regarding safe mode, it too freezes up. Rebooted in normal mode again, and it gets past the splash screen but it now just hangs on a blue screen with a mouse cursor. The HDD LED becomes solid red whenever it freezes up.

Could the 160GB drive be on it's way out as well, or is it just some weird I/O error related to the motherboard? Can't tell for sure at this point unless I can find yet another IDE hard drive, which I only have the two of at present.

Next steps are to use an XP boot disk to low-level format the 80gb partition and then try installing Win98 again. Failing that, I will re-do the partitioning but with a smaller drive size.

EDIT: Just remembered I have two other IDE hard drives sitting around, inside my unused PowerMac G4. I'll use one of those tomorrow....

I love foxes, especially the one in my avatar.
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