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m1k3e
August 1st, 2014, 07:12 PM
Hi everyone, haven't posted here in quite a while. I figured it was time that I got myself another vintage machine since I lost both my PC/XT and my 286 clone in Hurricane Sandy. I was browsing eBay last week and I came across a PC/AT with a VGA monitor and Model F keyboard. It just got delivered today. Looks like it needs some work. I posted some images to Flicker (album here (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126469476@N06/sets/72157646101917092/)), individual pics below…


Tag on PC speaker (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126469476@N06/14803124411/in/set-72157646101917092/)
Power supply (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126469476@N06/14619702967/in/set-72157646101917092/)
Floppy drive #1 (Panasonic/Matsushita) (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126469476@N06/14619582809/in/set-72157646101917092/)
Floppy drive #2 (unknown) (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126469476@N06/14619581469/in/set-72157646101917092/)
Hard disk (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126469476@N06/14803866834/in/set-72157646101917092/)
AST Advantage card (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126469476@N06/14783241306/in/set-72157646101917092/)
Fixed disk/floppy controller card (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126469476@N06/14619702637/in/set-72157646101917092/)
Oak Technologies VGA card (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126469476@N06/14805882702/in/set-72157646101917092/)



I think the case sustained some damage in shipping, the floppy drives were banged around and popped off the rails. The case was slightly damaged too, part where the plastic front connects to the metal cover cracked and a piece of the screw hole came off. Not sure how I'm going to fix that one.

Anyways, some stats on the machine. The motherboard has 512 KB marked on it and the tag on the PC speaker indicates November 1985. It came with two floppy disk drives which I *think* are both 1.2 MB drives. Not sure how reliable they are. One is a Panasonic drive, not sure about the other one. The system posts and, after complaining about the dead battery, boots into BASIC. The computer does count to 640 KB of RAM so I'm assuming the extra 128 KB comes from the AST Advantage card that seems to have been installed. The auction came with a VGA monitor and an Oak Technology VGA card.

Just wanted to ask you guys what's the best way to go about getting this system in order. I've removed all the parts and cleaned/dusted them off as best as possible. I'm assuming I'm going to have to clean the floppy drive heads but I'm not sure where I can pick up a head cleaner. I plan on making the AA adapter in lieu of finding another lithium battery for the motherboard. Also, I was wondering if anybody knows anything about the VGA card that the system came with. I'm hoping to play some low-res CGA games like Round 42 and I'm not too sure if this card will work with VGA.EXE for full CGA compatibility. Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

krebizfan
August 1st, 2014, 08:04 PM
The JU-455 is a DSDD (360kB) drive. When you put the system back together, place some type of sticker or tape on the front to prevent using the wrong diskette in the wrong drive.

Save yourself a lot of grief. Open up the drives and make sure the heads didn't get damaged in transit. When opened, a cotton swab and pure alcohol can be used to clean out the worst of the grime. Just don't use too much force.

Looks like a good system. I think the video card is using a common chipset and can also be used with CGA monitors. It should give an okay appearance in CGA mode even connected to a CGA monitor. Though with so many minor variations on the Oak Technology with 256kB cards, it might behave differently.

modem7
August 1st, 2014, 11:26 PM
Before you get a replacement battery, you could attempt SETUP now, just to see if the hard drive is bootable.
Your drive is an IBM 0665-38 and so you would enter 20 as the hard drive type into the SETUP.
Performing SETUP can be done in different ways, with one way being simply to type certain commands into BASIC. Instructions are at http://www.minuszerodegrees.net


I'm assuming I'm going to have to clean the floppy drive heads
Yes, that is an assumption.

m1k3e
August 3rd, 2014, 11:22 AM
Thanks for the advice guys :) Have an update. I took everything apart and cleaned everything out as best as I could. I used GSETUP via BASIC like modem7 recommended. Before I did that I replaced the battery with 4 AA's using a battery holder I bought from RadioShack. Hard disk seems to be in good condition, the system booted right up. It's running MS-DOS 4.01 for some reason… I don't have any 5.25" floppy disks so I've ordered a few, going to see if I can get the system up and running using LapLink. I have an old HP 200LX with serial cable lying around, going to put LapLink 5 on the CF card I have install on the 200LX and try to get LapLink installed on the AT. Should be interesting! Going to install PC DOS when I get around to it. What version do you guy suggest for this era machine? Thanks again for the suggestions :)

modem7
August 3rd, 2014, 11:43 PM
Going to install PC DOS when I get around to it. What version do you guy suggest for this era machine?
I suggest version 3.3

Stone
August 4th, 2014, 03:11 AM
IIRC, LL3 will install itself via the serial ports without the need for a floppy.

m1k3e
August 4th, 2014, 07:10 PM
Well, have another update for you guys. This one isn't so good. I tried to boot the system today, was able to get to the DOS prompt, but then the hard disk started to fail with read errors. I restarted the computer, can't boot off the drive now. After the RAM check, the hard drive makes some noise for ~2 seconds (which repeats about 3-4 times before the system reports a disk failure). Not sure what all of my options are right now. I was considering buying an ST-225 (I've had good luck with those drives in the past with my old XT) or building an XT IDE board. My question is, would I be able to use a small CF card with the stock AT BIOS if I build the XT IDE or XT-CF-Lite (I have the IBM 11/15/1985 BIOS) or would I have to use a different BIOS to be able to use the XT IDE card? Not sure what I want to do at this point.

paul
August 4th, 2014, 07:17 PM
Rather than let the drive self-destruct it might be worth pulling the cover off and wiping off any debris on the disk surfaces with a alcohol-wetted Q-tip. At least you'll get a few more hours out of it.

SpidersWeb
August 4th, 2014, 07:36 PM
No need to open the drive just yet.

The symptoms described sounds like a standard case of needing a low level format performed. If you are able to write floppy media, I would make a boot disk and copy SpeedStor 6.5 (http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/software/speedstor.htm) to it- this is my favorite program for hard drive setup and will even do the partitions/high level format on your behalf afterwards. All you do is select your drive model from the List, then use the "Initialize" option.

If the low level format fails, then the drive is bad.

Here's just one quick example,

286 arrives with an ST225 - boots up fine, yey.
But shortly after, I start getting errors in DOS, and then I can't boot.
I reboot again and hear the sound of the heads scanning the media surface "brrrrrrrrrrrrDINK brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrDINK" x 6 and hard drive failure.
Performed a LLF, partitioned it, formatted it - has been running for 2+ years just like it was new and not a single new bad sector.

SpidersWeb
August 4th, 2014, 07:52 PM
My question is, would I be able to use a small CF card with the stock AT BIOS if I build the XT IDE or XT-CF-Lite (I have the IBM 11/15/1985 BIOS) or would I have to use a different BIOS to be able to use the XT IDE card? Not sure what I want to do at this point.
The XT-IDE cards have their own ROM which you write in - it'll take care of hard drive access. Your original AT BIOS will support the boot ROM no problem. Since you have a 16 bit ISA bus though, you could also just install the AT version of the extension ROM and a normal IDE controller. I do this with my 386 workbench machine which happily boots up off a 20Gb Seagate (it can only use 8Gb of it, but it's fast as heck).

But I wouldn't throw out the 30Mb so early - it looks like the original drive and it's quite likely it just needs a fresh low level format.

m1k3e
August 4th, 2014, 08:00 PM
Please do not open the drive.

Around half of the MFM drives I have had arrive have either already lost their factory format, or lose it shortly after. The cure for most MFM drives is simply to perform a fresh low level format. This would have been last done sometime around 1984/1985 and after nearly 30 years they do have the tendancy to lose their magnetic strength. You can rewrite them as good as new by performing the low level format.

The symptoms described sounds like a standard case of needing a low level format performed. If you are able to write floppy media, I would make a boot disk and copy SSTOR to it- this is my favorite program for hard drive setup and will even do the partitions/high level format on your behalf afterwards. All you do is select your drive model from the List, then use the "Initialize" option.

If the low level format fails, then the drive is bad.

Here's just one quick example,

286 arrives with an ST225 - boots up fine, yey.
But shortly after, I start getting errors in DOS, and then I can't boot.
I reboot again and hear the sound of the heads scanning the media surface "brrrrrrrrrrrrDINK brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrDINK" x 6 and hard drive failure.
Performed a LLF, partitioned it, formatted it - has been running for 2+ years just like it was new and not a single new bad sector.

Sounds like exactly what's going on over here. Now all I I just need to figure out a way to get this system booted :) I have an IBM PS/1 in storage with a 1.2 meg 5.25 floppy drive that I should be able to use to make a boot disk with SSTOR on it. Wish there was an easier way of booting this thing.

m1k3e
August 4th, 2014, 08:02 PM
The XT-IDE cards have their own ROM which you write in - it'll take care of hard drive access. Your original AT BIOS will support the boot ROM no problem. Since you have a 16 bit ISA bus though, you could also just install the AT version of the extension ROM and a normal IDE controller. I do this with my 386 workbench machine which happily boots up off a 20Gb Seagate (it can only use 8Gb of it, but it's fast as heck).

But I wouldn't throw out the 30Mb so early - it looks like the original drive and it's quite likely it just needs a fresh low level format.

Sounds really interesting. Thanks for the advice! I'm gunna keep working on the drive, I'll keep posting updates. Just out of curiosity, where would the extension ROM be installed? It would be another physical chip on the AT board or installed to another card?

SpidersWeb
August 4th, 2014, 09:12 PM
Sounds really interesting. Thanks for the advice! I'm gunna keep working on the drive, I'll keep posting updates. Just out of curiosity, where would the extension ROM be installed? It would be another physical chip on the AT board or installed to another card?

For 286+ machines I program the chip (usually a 27C256), and usually slap it in the "Boot ROM" socket of a network card. Another option which doesn't require a programmer (or somebody to send you a pre-programmed chip) is these cards - http://www.lo-tech.co.uk/product/isa-rom-board-kit/

modem7
August 4th, 2014, 11:47 PM
(I have the IBM 11/15/1985 BIOS)


I have an IBM PS/1 in storage with a 1.2 meg 5.25 floppy drive that I should be able to use to make a boot disk with SSTOR on it. Wish there was an easier way of booting this thing.

There is a lot of IBM 5170 information at http://www.minuszerodegrees.net

For example, the 'IBM 5170 - Support for 3.5" Diskettes' page there indicates that the 11/15/1985 BIOS has full support for 1.44M drives.
So, short term, an option is to:
1. substitute a 1.44M drive (and cable) in place of the 5.25" A: drive, then
2. change the SETUP information to reflect a 1.44M drive as A:, then
3. boot from 1.44M diskettes.

modem7
August 4th, 2014, 11:55 PM
If the low level format fails, then the drive is bad.
Perhaps that should be, "If the low level format fails, then the probability is high that the drive is bad."

SpidersWeb
August 5th, 2014, 01:01 AM
Perhaps that should be, "If the low level format fails, then the probability is high that the drive is bad."
Yeah, you're correct.
I was just going with probability (due to the cables / card working correctly earlier) but it's not definitive until everything has been tested.

m1k3e
August 6th, 2014, 05:28 PM
Have an update again! I was able to find an old internal 3.5" floppy drive lying around so I planned on making a boot disk and getting the computer to start. Turns out my USB floppy drive decided to crap out right in the middle of writing a PC DOS image. Feeling pretty dejected, I decided to turn the AT on just for kicks, and low and behold, the computer started up and booted to a DOS prompt! I didn't even want to touch it, but I threw in a blank 3.5" floppy and made a boot disk. I copied over MODE.COM and booted off the floppy. I used FastLynx on my 200 LX to transfer over SpeedStor which was able to reformat the hard drive. Everything seems to be working okay pretty well so far :) I transferred over the PC DOS disk images (converted to 1.44 MB format) and wrote them to two fresh 3.5" floppies using RaWrite and I'm just going to start install PC DOS now. Thanks you all for the help so far, I really appreciate it :)

bobba84
August 17th, 2014, 01:54 AM
Sounds good! Isn't it strange how things just decide to work sometimes? Maybe the HDD bearing was a bit sticky and it couldn't hold the right RPM? It might have come good on it's own. Who knows.

bonedaddy
August 17th, 2014, 12:17 PM
Sounds really interesting. Thanks for the advice! I'm gunna keep working on the drive, I'll keep posting updates. Just out of curiosity, where would the extension ROM be installed? It would be another physical chip on the AT board or installed to another card?

They're on the XT-CF-Lite or XT-IDE.

BTW, I have both bare boards available (just the PCB, you'd have to source the parts and build it yourself.) PM or email me at tsg at bonedaddy.net if you want information on them.

Pages at: http://www.malinov.com/Home/sergeys-projects/xt-cf-lite and http://n8vem-sbc.pbworks.com/w/browse/#view=ViewFolder&param=XT-IDE%20V2

Todd