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Thread: [build] DooM

  1. Default [build] DooM

    Here is my latest build: DooM

    This is a try to build the beefiest 386 ever, along having other perks, such as many sound systems or doing live overclock to the CPU.

    That's it, in this computer you can change the CPU speed in real time with the push of a button:

    At boot the system starts at its stock speed, 40mhz, but we can change it on the fly to 50, 55 and 60mhz. Apart from that, using the turbo switch we can select also 20, 25, 28 and 30mhz.

    DooM power is flowing through its veins...

    Without further ado, here is the build running:

    Those are its specs:

    - CPU 80386 DX (20 - 60 mhz)
    - 8 mb de ram 60ns
    - 128 kb cache 12ns
    - Storage via a CF (using XT-ide bios)
    - 3 1/2 1.44mb floppy
    - SVGA Tseng Labs ET4000 1mb.
    - Sound blaster 2.0 with CMS chips
    - General Midi and Roland MT-32 support via S2P
    - TI SN76496 support via TNDLPT (prototype unit)

    (continues on the next post)

  2. Default

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  3. Default

    The system is compatible with these sound standards:

    - pc speaker
    - tandy / pcjr
    - game blaster
    - adlib
    - sound blaster
    - Roland MT-32
    - General Midi

    The origins of this build come from my overclock experiments. Yes, that's one of my hobbies, trying to overclock old PCs.

    This of course needs many xtal or osc changes, but many times I can't find the correct one. I need a 37.5mhz one and only can find a 35mhz or a 40mhz...

    I thought of building my own programabble oscillator and found this clock generator:

    The Adafruit Si5351A clock generator. This and an Arduino can generate square waves from 8khz to 160mhz with a compatible logic for 3v or 5v, perfect for my TTL system.

    Here is my custom oscillator adapted to a dip 14 socket.

    It's alive!

    With that I tried several motherboards and found one, an AMD 386-40 one that surprised me...

    60mhz! Incredible!

    I never thought of a 386 running at 60mhz, even it is not entirely stable. We can blame the cache memory for it, even upgaded from 20ns chips to 12ns, the cache tag chip is the same, and can't find a replacement that keeps the system stable at 60mhz. Maybe one day

    In any case, at 55mhz the system is perfectly stable and we are talking a huge overclock here, +37.5%. The CPU overheats, but this is no problem...

    My initial tests were with that big-ass cooler, but after 30 minutes or so the system went unstable. We needed more juice, so, here enters the peltier:

    A 60w peltier keeps the CPU at stable temperatures, so that's it.

    I used thermal glue to attach the cpu to the peltier, and more to join the peltier with the cooler, but the result was not as robust as I needed, because the cooler I'm using, one designed for Athlons XP, is somewhat heavy.

    As these motherboards doesn't have any means to attach coolers I needed to attach it to the case, using a steel rod from side to side:

    For controlling the logic, the clock generation circuit, the select buttons, the system start button, and the skull eyes there is an Arduino UNO doing all the work...

    And for decoration I attached a lcd screen playing 'doom videos' with a raspberry pi...

    ... and a Doom sticker:

    And that's all, I hope you like it!

    DooM is watching you...

  4. #4


    Nothing short of amazing. Great work here!

  5. #5


    Nifty I was able to get a basically playable framerate on my 386DX-40 in half-resolution mode, IIRC - bumping the cache up from 128KB to 256KB made a very noticeable difference. Having a fast video card is of course important as well.
    Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
    Synthesizers: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, E-mu Proteus/2, Moog Satellite, Oberheim SEM
    "'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling." - Bjarne Stroustrup

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chicagoland, Illinois, USA
    Blog Entries


    +1 for hitting F5 to get a perfectly playable Doom on a 386DX-40. With a framerate that good, you don't care that it's half-res.

    So, that build is... can't think of the right words. Excessive? Overkill? It's quite technically impressive; way more work I'd ever put into anything. I guess I have trouble resolving modern case+embellishments with 25-yr-old CPU? You did a great job with the fit and finish though. And your write-up with sample pictures and video is the best part; hardly anyone takes time to post the details. Thanks for taking the time to do that.

    Despite my mixed feelings, I'll say this: You've built the perfect system to run Wing Commander 1/2 and Test Drive 3. Those games are speed sensitive in the worst way (TD3's game clock is tied to the framerate!) so having buttons where you can dial the speed to somewhere between 20 and 33Mhz to immediately correct a goofy-running game is great.
    Offering a bounty for:
    - A working Sanyo MBC-775 or Logabax 1600
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Montevideo, Uruguay
    Blog Entries


    super cool ! overclocking madness

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Austin, Texas


    Really cool build.

    I've been looking for something like that clock generator for years, I've had the same trouble as you where I needed weird crystal speeds or varying clock speeds for overclocking purposes.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Blog Entries


    Peltiers go bad and then you will fry the chip, water cooling would be a better idea since you have a modern case anyway.
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
    Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
    Boxed apps and games for the above systems
    Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Marietta, GA


    Doom? Well, then, those blue LEDs might just be appropriate since they come directly from hell. :P

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