I’ve had a urge lately to play many of the MS-DOS games i played as a kid (yes.. I’m old!)
Today i spotted a rather beaten up but fully functional Compaq Armada 1700 laptop on eBay for £20. This was a pretty high end laptop for it’s time and should be perfect for my purpose.
This is the machine (pictures from the eBay listing)
It has a few marks which i can hopefully clean up.
It also has both CD ROM and floppy which is ideal as i plan to order proper MS DOS games not download them like most do these days. There is something nice about having aq proper copy.
It’s specs are:
Pentium 2 processor (believed to be 266Mhz
2mb graphics card
6GB hard drive
14 inch TFT screen
Oddly, this machine also has an internal power supply! Pretty crazy stuff. All you need is a clover lead and away you go! No lost chargers! It is also running Windows ME (someone must of been playing a joke on someone installing that!) I will swiftly change that to Windows 95 or 98 when it arrives.
Ok so, the machine arrived today. Sadly in much worse shape than i expected but hey, it’s eBay it happens.
The screen actually has black spots and also a green line on the right side of the TFT. Such a shame but hey there we go…
At least it works i suppose… Anyway, i also noticed every single bolt was loose as well as the hinges. They had a lot of play in them so it was onward and upward to repair the machine.
First things first, tackling that white mark on the lid with rubbing alcohol.
Next up, the hinges… upon inspection not only were the bolts loose but the plastic supports were cracked too!
I got the screen off and began tackling it.
I’m hoping super glue will hold it but to be honest when you move the screen it puts a lot of stress on those mounts so it might not be enough… time will tell.
Getting quite involved now…
While the glue dries i went ahead and gave the machine a really deep clean.
Next up, the screen! I wanted to get a model number as i will likely look for a replacement but i also thought it may be the ribbon cable on the back causing the green lines on the right side.
Sadly, it wasn’t. It is likely the panel itself.
Although its not the best screen, i will still use it for now so i gave it a good clean up.
Once the glue was set, i put the screen back on and made sure it all booted fine.
All good! I also tested to see if i could get into the BIOS as these machines are rather silly in that the BIOS setup program is located on a partition on the hard drive!! What were Compaq thinking?! Anyway, as this machine has had an upgrade (if you want to call it that..) to Windows ME I expected the partition would likely be lost – it was!
Luckily HP still have the software for this machine so next step will be to put this setup partition back onto the drive and then i will go ahead and install Windows 95 or 98. Luckily, the machine still boots from the floppy at start up. If it didn’t i would of been screwed as you cannot change the boot order as there is no BIOS setup program present.
Good old computers!
Time to get the BIOS back in action!
I copied the file to the floppy drive via my main PC and tried to copy over to the laptop… in proper Windows ME/foppy disk style…
So, another spare floppy and tried again and this time it worked. I ran the MS-DOS program and away we go!
After that copied to the floppy drive I rebooted and…
Finally i can make changes to the BIOS and also get Windows 98 installed safely.
Getting there… Time for the Windows 98 install.
Making a Windows ME startup floppy so i can run Fdisk and also being the windows 98 SE install.
Partitioned and ready to roll! Windows install time!
All done, ready for first boot!
And… we made it!
Time to test out gaming on it!
Runs perfectly! I think I’m about done now, I will keep looking for a replacement TFT screen but overall very happy with it. perfect little retro gaming machine.
Some great news, found myself a brand new replacement screen and panels for this laptop! The chances of finding a brand new LCD for this laptop is .. well… near impossible. Yet, I pulled it off today after a quick look on eBay.
Gotta love eBay at times! Can’t wait to fit it.
New panel arrived, let’s get it fitted!
Much better! No more issues on the right side or pressure points on the screen. It’s now good to go!