The question on everyone’s lips when a new piece of hardware comes out is this: Will it run DOOM? Many pieces of modern hardware have been coaxed into playing id Software’s 1993 classic, but there have always been some older machines that just didn’t have the power to do it. One of them has now been conquered though, and it’s a doozy. [Frenkel]’s Doom8088, as its name suggests, is a port of the game for the original PC and AT.
As can be seen in this gameplay video, it’s not always the slickest of gaming experiences. But it works, so the question is, how on earth can a machine that was below the spec of the original, run this game? The answer comes in it being a port of GBADoom for the Game Boy Advance, a platform with less memory than a DOS PC. It still relies on extensive hard disk access for every frame though, which leaves it snail-like.
We set out to install it ourselves on one of the web based PC emulators, but fell over on the size of the required Watcom installation. If any of you have the real thing lying around though, we’d love to hear about how the game performed in the comments.
While many Hackaday readers will have their own pieces of classic hardware lovingly preserved, it still remains that most of us get our fix of retro goodness through emulation. And while there are emulators aplenty for almost every platform imaginable, the world of emulation is never complete. Thus we’re happy to encounter a new player in the form of MartyPC, a cycle-accurate 8088 PC emulator written in Rust.
It’s a project that started only in April 2022, but alongside such in-depth processor support it has the full range of PC and XT peripherals including CGA and VGA cards to the extent that it will run even the most hardware-demanding demos. Below the break you can see it running the fiendishly hardware-specific PC demo Area 5150 — thought to be the first time an emulator has managed this task.
If there’s a snag it’s that the releases are so far Windows-only, though it’s claimed that it should also compile on other major platforms. There’s also a WebAssembly version, though sadly the link to it doesn’t work. We look forward to this emulator maturing, because we’re sure it will become a PC standby. After all, not everyone managed to snag one of the recent batch of new hardware.
[Mr. Green] built the device to help troubleshoot an x86 based firewall appliance that was having trouble. Like many x86 systems, it featured a Low Pin Count (LPC) bus which can be used to capture POST troubleshooting codes. By hooking up a Raspberry Pi Pico to the LPC bus on the firewall’s motherboard, it was possible to get it to display the POST error codes on some LEDs. This is of great use in the absence of a conventional PC speaker to sound the error out with beeps.
It’s not likely that we’ll talk about a new PC here at Hackaday because where’s the news in yet another commodity computer? But today along comes not one but two new PCs courtesy of the ever bounteous hall of wonders at AliExpress, that are unusual enough to take a look at. If you have around $250 to spare, you can have a brand new, made in 2023, 80386sx plamtop PC capable of running Windows 95, or an 8088 laptop for DOS. Just what on earth is going on?
[Alessandro Carminati] spends the day hacking Linux kernels, and to such an end needed a decent compilation machine to chew through the builds. One day, this machine refused to boot leaving some head-scratching to do, and remembering the motherboard diagnostics procedures of old, realized that wasn’t going to work for this modern board. You see, older ISA-based systems were much simpler, with diagnostic POST codes accessible by sniffing the bus with an appropriate card inserted, but the modern motherboard doesn’t even export the same bus anymore.
Do modern machines even run a POST test at all, or are there other standards? After firing up a Linux machine and dumping the first meg of memory address space, it clearly contained some of the BIOS code. [Alessandro] looked at a disassembly of the BIOS update image and saw a similar structure, with POST code data sent to port 0x80 just like machines of old.
But instead of an ISA CPU bus, we have the Low Pin Count (LPC) bus which is used to hook up the ‘super IO’ functions, controlling things such as fans, temp sensors, and other system management functions. It also serves as the connection for the TPM feature, which usually appears as one of the motherboard connectors intended to be user-accessible. It turns out that POST codes can be accessed from this point with an appropriate POST card that can talk LPC.
Playing classic games, whether they are games from the golden age of arcades or simply games from consoles that are long out of production, tends to exist on a spectrum. At one end is grabbing a game’s ROM file, finding an emulator, and kludging together some controls on a keyboard and mouse with your average PC. At the other is meticulously restoring classic hardware for the “true” feel of what the game would have felt like when it was new. Towards the latter end is emulating the hardware with an FPGA which the open-source MiSTer project attempts to do. This build, though, adds ATX capabilities for the retrocomputing platform. Continue reading “Classic Gaming With FPGA And ATX”→
At first sight, Floppy-8 is simply a LattePanda based PC built into the shell of a external vintage floppy drive. Indeed, it’s a very nicely executed LattePanda PC in a floppy, and we’re impressed by it. What turns it from a nifty case mod into something a bit special though, is the way creator [Abraham Haskins] has used floppy-like cartridges in the original floppy slot, as a means of loading software.
The cartridges started out as PCBs in the shape of a floppy with an SD socket on their bottom, and progressed to USB drives on 3D printed cartridges and finally and simplest of all, the same 3D printed cartridges with micro SD cards embedded in their leading edges. All this was necessary to get them thin enough to fit into the existing disk slot — if dimensions weren’t a concern, you could enclose various USB devices into printed cartridges. A script on the computer looks for new card insertion, and runs the appropriate autostart.sh script on the SD card if it finds one. If you don’t need the “disks” to fit into an existing slot, you could print them larger and embed
Beyond the cartridges, the PC itself is assembled on a 3D printed frame inside the case. It’s controlled via Bluetooth, with a pair of knock-off NES controllers for games and an Amazon Fire remote for media. We particularly like the idea of weighting the controllers with ball bearings to give them a little heft.
The LattePanda gives the Raspberry Pi a run for its money in these applications. We particularly liked this portable Macintosh.