The zbox project
Since i bought a big screen TV i've been thinking about how to game with it. I don't want to add to microsoft's coffers so the xbox was out, in fact the whole idea of consoles didn't appeal at all. So i decided to build a game 'console', that is a small PC that would sit on top of the subwoofer and connect to the VGA input of the TV. I used to have a pc hooked to my 29" zenith pro with vga and i still have the remote keyboard.
First try turned up a book pc case and motherboard. This was the original small pc, about the size of a hardcover dictionary. IDE controlled, onboard vga, sound and ethernet. I found a celeron 533 which is the max for this unit and added 128mb of ram and a 20gig hd. The problem was the motherboard was flaky and kept locking up.
Moving onward i researched small pc sizes and discovered two options the barebones shuttle pc, which is somewhat expensive for a project like this but does allow you to add your own components. It is also large and ugly. Then on my fav web site for old stuff (vfxweb.com) i saw a compaq sff pc - about the size of a 3" binder with a stand. Perfect form factor and very sharp looking. 4 usb ports on back and a very reasonable price.
When it arrived it contained a P4 at 2ghz, 40 gig hd and a cd-rom. Put in the ubuntu live cd and it booted up fine - even picked up the network and the video card. Way to go! One option is to keep it as a bootable device and use the linux games project CD. Will have to download, burn and test it out to see if it will work with the 2 logitech atak3 usb joysticks i picked up for a buck at a yard sale.
Added a DDR stick to bring it up to 512mb. Then i thought of installing XP for some windows games. XP installed but did not detect anything! 4 bit color, no network, no audio...nada. Went to the hp site and after figuring out the exact model downloaded all the drivers and the windows patches to a cd and installed each one...rebooting as we went.
Now everything is running. Time to test out some windows games first and then move it upstairs. oops - just hauled out the remote keyboard and it is ps/2. I have usb to ps/2 adapters but no ps/2 to usb - can you do that? Else i need to find a remote usb keyboard which could be $$$. The usb adapter is female - if i can find a m-m usb cable i can test out the ps2 to usb idea.
and get the linux games cd - also look thru the box of old distros, i think there is a games one, goblinX? there...