View Full Version : Compaq Portable 2 bad hard disk?

September 18th, 2013, 09:20 PM
Hello again everyone. I have recently come across a pretty nice Compaq Portable 2 (an IBM 286 clone) with an apparently bad hard disc. The funny part is that the drive appears to be a standard 3.5" hard disc. The drive connects to what appears to be an IDE adapter/ or bus which connects to the mother board, and then the hard disc connects to this board that looks like an IDE connection. :computer:

I need your help in determining what it is that I have, and how to either repair, and/or replace the bad part or parts in order to get the computer up and running.

So, do any of you out there in vintage computer world know what it is that I'm getting myself into? I am attaching the only 2 photos I have of the drive, so I hope these help you.

Thanks much.

September 18th, 2013, 10:29 PM
Yes, Compaq included a very early version of what became IDE/ATA. The drive shown is a 20MB version but 40MB, 80MB, and 100MB drives were also available depending on which variation of the motherboard you have. Compaq's IDE back then only worked with a very limited selection of hard drives so finding a matching replacement seems unlikely. Double checking the cables won't hurt. Edit: I think that drive model sometimes had a problem with the power connector breaking so you might get lucky and repair that.

The easiest way to get that system back in service is with a replacement controller card which can handle more conventional and easier to obtain hard drive options.

September 20th, 2013, 05:00 AM
...Compaq's IDE back then only worked with a very limited selection of hard drives so finding a matching replacement seems unlikely...

Not true at all, I am running a 20GB hard drive on the stock IDE controller on my Portable II. Now it is true the BIOS only supports certain hard drive geometries, but that has nothing to do with the controller. The BIOS limitations can be overcome with the use of such software as ANYDRIVE (http://acrpc.net/utils/ANYDRIVE.ZIP)(if you only need sub 520MB support) or ONTRACK (http://www.acrpc.net/utils/)if you need large drive support. There is also the option of installing a supplementary IDE BIOS such as the XT-IDE BIOS (https://code.google.com/p/xtideuniversalbios/) to handle larger drives, you would install this BIOS into an option ROM socket, such as the "BOOT ROM" socket of a Network Card or unused ROM socket on motherboard (if one is available).

My Portable II with a 20GB drive (http://www.acrpc.net/compaq-portable-ii/)
My Portable III with a 40GB drive (http://www.acrpc.net/compaq-portable-iii/)

September 20th, 2013, 05:09 AM
Well, Thomas, according to RWallmow, there's hope. I've got several smaller IDE drives that might work if it turns out that you actually need a drive. The best way to determine that is to put the iffy drive in another machine to test it out. Since it's IDE it should be rather straightforeward.

September 20th, 2013, 06:25 AM
The drive pictured is a notorious Miniscribe, they are supposedly some of the highest instances of "sticktion" (the heads stick to platter, preventing it from spinning up). I would give up on that drive and stick whatever IDE drive you have lying around in there.