I recently saw someone posting PC’s for sale in Milton Keynes and thought it was high time the Classicade had an upgrade as it’s old PC was a bit wheezy at 1Ghz. So armed with a little cash I picked up a 3Ghz 2nd hand bargain to slot in place. Weekend is here so now’s the time for a quick swap over, or so I thought.

I pulled the Classicade out from its corner hideaway and removed the old beige box from inside. This meant disconnecting the extended wiring to the external power button I installed to save needing access to the inside of the machine to turn it on or off with no keyboard etc. fitted. So there is problem number one, the “new” PC needs the wire putting on the power switch pins. On opening the PC (A Dell Opti something) I discover there is just a little daughterboard which is attached to the power button with a multi ribbon cable to a plug on the mainboard with no markings.

After scouring the motherboard I found a spot where two pins would have been marked “POWER” and nearby one marked “RESET” but there were no pins and just two little metal pads for each switch. Out came the soldering iron and with a little careful soldering I had two wires attached and sticking out of the back of the PC ready to connect to my external switch. When plugged in where the old tower unit came out, I pressed the button and something had gone terribly right and it worked and the PC booted up, unfortunately with a very garbled display, a restart and F8 into VGA mode to set the screen resolution for the aging monitor and we have visual.

So next was a quick check over of the PC’s Windows XP install which was done by the seller. No drivers were installed for the display, so I hooked up a USB wireless network stick and put on the USB networking drivers using a USB drive. It connected first time to my network and so I started downloading drivers for the Intel video chipset. With those installed, it was time for DirectX and another download. While that installed, I setup some network shares to send some emulation stuff to the Classicade, and added a program called Mala as a frontend for the emulator side of things.

By now a few hours have passed and I’m not as far forward as I’d have liked with the upgrading but on the plus side there hasn’t been too much swearing – yet. So with Mame installed and a couple of Emulators I start configuring Mala which just doesn’t want to play ball, and after the primary configuration I can’t get back into the config menus. It seems the configuration menu is brought up with a right mouse click, and the only USB mouse I have just lost the right button function.

Back on with the testing and emulators all work OK so it’s not all wasted effort and I just need to setup the front end software, or so I thought. Playing on Mame for a while and the display suddenly goes fuzzy as for some reason the resolution has changed. So I reset the resolution from a reboot into VGA mode again and try again. I found that some combination of buttons on the arcade controls is causing the resolution to change, probably because the buttons are wired for the Mame configuration as Alt’s and Ctrl’s and some combination of those and the joystick or buttons 1 and 2 are causing the resolution change.

Now I’m going to get a cheap USB mouse from a well known online auction site and try again once I have some more time.

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