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marc.hull
April 29th, 2012, 10:55 AM
Thanks to you guys I got this old XT to boot off of floppy. Problem now is that either the hard drive or controller or cables or something is flaky. On occasion the hard drive is recognized and I can catalog it and run some programs out of the root. I haven't had much luck with the sub directories although some will catalog OK just nothing will run from them. More often than not the system does not recognized the HD at all.

Bearing in mind that this XT is the only XT or XT parts I own what do you guys think I should look at ?

Thanks in advance.

pearce_jj
April 29th, 2012, 10:58 AM
I'd suggest getting a DOS boot disk, then running a low-level format on the drive.

MikeS
April 29th, 2012, 11:06 AM
I'd suggest getting a DOS boot disk, then running a low-level format on the drive.Unless of course you want anything that's on that disk...

Doesn't sound like a format problem anyway if it's not even recognized at all, unless you just mean that it won't boot. Start by cleaning the HD connectors with a soft eraser and check the cables carefully, boot from floppy and run some diagnostics (hdtest, spinrite, even scandisk)

SpidersWeb
April 29th, 2012, 11:26 AM
Depends on what the OP means by 'not recognised'.
e.g. "hard drive failure" from the card or POST test versus it simply not mounting in DOS.

Connector cleaning is a good idea, also firmly pressing on the back of the connectors to make sure the crimps are perfectly in place.
But my second stop would be SpinRite for a low level format (SpinRite will retain any data it can but sounds like it could be goneburgers by now).

I had an ST225 do this - wouldn't boot, could see files/folders but only some would run and then only once or twice before disappearing with nice DOS failure messages like sector not found and general failure.
Did a low level format, reinstalled DOS, good as new.

PS: assumption made that this is an MFM drive with 34 and 20 pin connectors, not a 40pin IDE drive.

hargle
April 29th, 2012, 01:08 PM
I have perhaps the big brother to your machine: a Laser 286. It's runs at 8/12MHz. Mine came with an IDE/X interface (true 8 bit). I have a 40MB drive with cable that I just pulled out of it and was going to drop onto ebay eventually. Drive works just fine. PM me if you want/need it.

marc.hull
April 29th, 2012, 03:03 PM
To clarify.....

Sometimes DOS will see the drive and does the half hearted attempt at retrieving information. Other times it reports the device as not there. Definitely won't boot from it so I imagine DOS thinks it doesn't exist when the boot fails. Other programs can see the drive but don't get any farther on the data.

I've changed the data cable to a known working and fiddled/inspected the control one and can't see anything obvious so I am leaning towards the need to low level format. Don't care about the data as it's pretty much gone and wasn't mine to begin with. I'd like to give the LLF a shot followed by a normal format and start from there. The drive is quiet and nice so hopefully it isn't damaged. I appreciate the offer Hargle but I'll try this first. If it's toast then I may investigate the XT-IDE project. I have no love for the MFM drives. I had some on my TI for a while and they just caused me grief.

Could someone give me the low down on how to do a LLF I don't think I have any software to do it with so if there is an archive out there I'd also appreciate a point in the right direction.

Also while I'm at it. The machine does not have an 8087-1 coprocessor or expanded memory beyond 512K. I was playing MS flight sim on the machine and wondered if these two additions would speed things up.

Thanks again.

pearce_jj
April 29th, 2012, 11:44 PM
Usually there is a routine to do the LLF in the card BIOS, for example from the manual for an ST11M controller,

1. Boot the system from the DOS system diskette.

2. At the A> prompt, insert the DEBUG diskette and type:

DEBUG <enter>

3. To access the controller's format routine, at the "-" prompt
type:

G=XXXX:5 <enter> (Where XXXX is the correct address; refer to
Figure 3.)

Note: Seagate controllers will step you through the process.
Refer to the drive charts Figures 1-2 for correct drive
parameters.

Hope that helps!

marc.hull
April 30th, 2012, 02:16 PM
Thanks again. I found debug and did the afore mentioned. It appeared to be doing it's thing but at the end of the routine I got a "bad drive geometry" error. No idea what that means but since the drive is still acting about the same I am guessing that it is toast. I have been trying to figure out the exact state of the XT-IDE project. That seems the more logical way for me to proceed at this point. Thanks you for everyone's help.

Stone
April 30th, 2012, 02:54 PM
It appeared to be doing it's thing but at the end of the routine I got a "bad drive geometry" error. No idea what that means but since the drive is still acting about the same I am guessing that it is toast.Which begs the question ..... What drive are you using and what are the heads/cyllinders/sectors you are using for that drive? THAT... is the drive geometry, and if you enter that incorrectly your drive (obviously) will not function correctly, if it functions at all.

marc.hull
April 30th, 2012, 03:37 PM
Which begs the question ..... What drive are you using and what are the heads/cyllinders/sectors you are using for that drive? THAT... is the drive geometry, and if you enter that incorrectly your drive (obviously) will not function correctly, if it functions at all.

The debug routine asked me for nothing (information wise. The high level format routine on the laser disk set recognized the ST 225R and also asked for nothing except interleave (which I left at the default of 4.) This is Also the point in which the Geometry error was displayed.
The computer now regularly see's the drive. Just can't use it for anything.

Stone
April 30th, 2012, 04:13 PM
FWIW, I've been using 5 as the interleave for drives in my XT.

marc.hull
May 1st, 2012, 03:28 PM
I gave 5 a try but with the same results. I'll play taps and give it a Viking funeral this weekend. Hard to be upset with something almost 30 years old that makes it's living by spinning at the speed of death. It appears that maybe there is some life in the XT-IDE project with CF. That's an attractive long term solution.

Aside from the drive, I am still wondering about the benefits of a NPU and extended memory. Anyone have any advice ?

marcoguy
May 1st, 2012, 03:35 PM
I'd hate to see the HDD tossed. Maybe I could take it off your hands. I might be able to get it working. PM me if you're interested.

Stone
May 1st, 2012, 04:20 PM
Aside from the drive, I am still wondering about the benefits of a NPU and extended memory. Anyone have any advice ?I've got an 8087 available.

Can an XT even have extended memory?

SpidersWeb
May 1st, 2012, 04:53 PM
No extended memory on an XT.
Expanded memory with the right 8 bit card + driver I beleive is do-able?
8087 FPU will speed things up but only for applications which were written to make use of one.

Personally I just left mine alone and accepted it for the slow old beast that is is haha

TomFCS
May 1st, 2012, 06:40 PM
If your interested I could probably scan the owners manual for you. (Assuming it is indeed the same machine.) I was planning on doing that someday anyway.

HERE (http://www.welook4things.com/sub_laser_xt_docs.html) is some more info and a link to a small .zip file with the clock set/get and speed utilities inside.

My machine was upgradable to an additional 1 meg expanded memory on the motherboard itself, which I did shortly after I got it.

At the time, I had a batch file, set up at boot, to copy frequently used programs from the HD to a ramdisk for faster execution. Worked pretty well.

I think it is this board (http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/L/LASER-COMPUTER-INC-8088-LASER-TURBO-XT-2.html) at Stason for the switch settings and memory configuration. (Haven't checked it yet against my manual though..)

FWIW, this was the first store bought PC I ever owned. Still have it today along with all the promotional advertisements, sales receipts, most of the bundled software, and the original box with all of the packaging materials too.

Lot's of fond memories with this machine. Hope you enjoy yours as much as I did mine.

Tom

MikeS
May 1st, 2012, 06:46 PM
Make and model of the controller? ROM version, if any?

marc.hull
May 2nd, 2012, 02:59 PM
Thanks but I actually have the manual. This board also has on board memory EXPANSION ;-) and a NPU slot. Everything seems to work fine except the HDD of course. It's currently hooked to a multisync and has a mismatched keyboard on it. The original keyboard I have but it's one of those "sponge specials" Not sure if I'm gonna do the fix or not on it, we'll see.

Thanks for the help guys and I'll keep you posted.

Chevetteman
August 17th, 2013, 11:10 AM
Hello. I'm new to this thread but have several Laser XT's and many MFM and RLL hard drives. Most of the hd's probably don't work. From what I've seen there is a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm in this forum. Anybody need anything? I'm looking for one of those Western Digital 8-bit XT IDE drives. Please post back to reply. BTW, I'm from NE Ohio. Whatever happened w/ your hd, Marc?

knightserrand
August 18th, 2013, 07:54 PM
Do you have a Laser Turbo XT with an 8088 processor that you would be willing to sell?

Chevetteman
August 19th, 2013, 03:20 AM
Several. I believe I have a 20 Meg HD that has been overly parked by a parking program. I forget the name of the company that wrote it. This was in the day when auto-parking was not around. BTW, I also have an entire Amstrad XT. The power supply for the Amstrad PC is inside the monitor.

Chevetteman
August 19th, 2013, 08:48 PM
BTW, here's a link for all of you fellow classic computer enthusiasts to a classic computer group based in Columbus, Ohio (USA) which is having their annual swap meet this Sat., the 24th. http://www.angelfire.com/oh4/acec/acec.html Please pass it on to anyone you know who might be able to come. I'm thinking about going myself but it is about 175 miles away. I go to the Cleveland, Ohio show every June. Their site is www.ccagshow.com Please check these two sites out.

markyb86
August 22nd, 2013, 08:40 PM
Thanks for the links I am in cleveland