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Thread: XTIDE tech support thread

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Default XTIDE tech support thread

    I have a hunch that we're going to have some problems come up that multiple people may stumble over, so we should try and collect up all the problems here in this thread so we can learn from each other.

    Please keep this thread clean, with only technical support issues and solutions. We don't need another runaway 100+ page thread.


    There really isn't any good documentation yet, so this thread may help with some of that too, until real docs can be added to the wiki.

    Build instructions are here:
    http://wiki.vintage-computer.com/ind...d_instructions

    Main wiki page, with links to BIOS and other info:
    http://www.wiki.vintage-computer.com.../XTIDE_project

    Jumpers:
    http://i870.photobucket.com/albums/a...le/jumpers.jpg
    You need 3 jumpers for the card to operate correctly. Place them on JP1, JP2 and on the L position of K1. At this time, there is no IRQ support, so you don't need to select any jumpers on the headers labeled "3,4,5,7,2".

    JP1 is the ROM enable jumper. If you ever get to a point where you have re-flashed your card and gotten it stuck into a state where the machine will not boot anymore, remove that jumper and it will effectively disable the card. You should then be able to boot to a floppy disk and re-run the flash program. All you need to do is replace that jumper after you have booted (with the machine running)

    JP2 is the write enable jumper. Since your card(s) should all have ATMEL BIOS chips on them, they have a software controlled write protect enabled already. You shouldn't have to ever un-write enable (I guess that would be write-protect) your card by removing this jumper. However, if you are totally happy with the BIOS you've got flashed in and don't ever feel the need to upgrade it, pull this jumper off and your ROM image will be protected forever.

    K1 (L or H) is a pullup or pulldown for the CS (cable select) signal on the IDE interface. Spec says pull it low, andrew the board design guy had good luck with some drives with it pulled high. Change it only if you are having weird drive issues with master/slave settings.



    Cables:
    Use an 80-pin IDE cable. You should have no problem finding one, unless you are truly a vintage-only computer geek.

    If your 80-pin cable is keyed by having a hole filled in, you may need to snip the corresponding pin off your IDE header, or just bend it out of the way, or perhaps unplug that hole with a pin.

    Looking at the back end of the card, the pin to snip is the 11th one in from the left side, bottom row.
    http://i870.photobucket.com/albums/a...gle/header.jpg

    80-pin cables are actually keyed for master/slave/controller connectors. Since we're not doing super high speed traffic, it is not critical that the controller end of the cable (typically blue in color) is connected to the XTIDE card. We only really want the extra grounding and noise dampening that the additional ground wires are providing.

    Dip Switches:
    The default settings are: 0111-1011.
    http://i870.photobucket.com/albums/a...argle/dips.jpg

    Switches 1-4 are the IO address of the card, 5-8 are the memory address. I suggest changing the values from their defaults only if you are having problems with conflicts with other devices in your machine and the other cards cannot be changed. You may change switches 5-8 at any time, to re-locate the card's memory address in case you have a conflict with another option rom, likely another hard drive controller card.

    The IO address (switches 1-4) require you to re-flash the BIOS chip on the card if you change the settings. It is very unlikely that you will have a conflict in IO range with other devices in your machine, unless you have an ethernet card in there too. Typically you would be using a different IO range only if you are installing 2 or more XTIDE cards in your machine.

    Master/Slave settings.
    Check your drive's jumpers and make sure you have the jumpers configured properly for master and slave. You can try using cable select settings, but don't be surprised if it doesn't work.

    Try using a fairly modern hard drive. Drives manufactured after 2000 or so tend to be a lot cooler and run quieter than drives from the early-mid 90s. There were also many specification issues that were ironed out with later hard drive models that can cause all kinds of headaches. I have had excellent success with 8-10GB hard drives. DOS 6.2 can see up to 8.4G on this card without the need for any drivers or BIOS overlays. You will be using multiple 2GB partitions to get the entire 8.4GB of storage available.


    The XTIDE card is compatible with modern computers. You should be able to take a drive, attach it to a modern computer with an IDE interface on it, and be able to access it exactly the same way as the XTIDE will. I find it very convenient to do all my bulk file copying on a modern machine and then move the drive over to the XT to save time.

    Common pitfalls
    1) the default IO address for the card may conflict with any ethernet/networking cards your machine may have installed. Remove the ethernet card first, just to make sure the XTIDE is working. In fact, remove all cards that are not required for booting (sound, game, network) just to be safe and add them back in once the XTIDE is known to work.
    2) on a 5150 machine, you *must* have a floppy controller installed. You can work around this with a configuration option in the BIOS, but your card's default settings will require a floppy to exist in the machine. Download the BIOS and idecfg.exe utility off the wiki page.
    3) If using a CF/SD to IDE adapter, and it fails to boot, the Master Boot Record must be recreated for many CF cards before they can be booted. Most likely the same thing is true for SD cards. Boot to a floppy and type: "FDISK /MBR" and that will likely fix it.
    Last edited by hargle; September 1st, 2010 at 11:42 AM. Reason: added fdisk/mbr

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by hargle View Post
    At this time, there is no IRQ support, so you don't need to select any jumpers on the headers labeled "3,4,5,7,2".
    IRQs are supported but it is not usually worth to enable them on XT. Interrupt handling requires a little bit extra processing that will increase access times a bit. Interrupts should be enabled on XT only when DMA transfers (by some other cards) with high transfer rates are known to be needed. Waiting for interrupt during drive seek will completely free the bus for DMA controller. When interrupts are disabled, the CPU constantly requires bus to poll IDE status register.

    I recommend to enable interrupts on AT and later systems.

    JP1 is the ROM enable jumper. If you ever get to a point where you have re-flashed your card and gotten it stuck into a state where the machine will not boot anymore, remove that jumper and it will effectively disable the card.
    XTIDE Universal BIOS initialization can be skipped by holding CTRL down during boot. Remove ROM Enable jumper only if holding CTRL down won't work.

  3. #3

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    This sounds like a great device for vintage computer lovers! I'm almost drawn to buying one even though I don't have an XT!

    (Note I said "almost". )

    Tez
    ------------------------------------------------
    My vintage collection: https://classic-computers.org.nz/collection/
    My vintage activities blog: https://www.classic-computers.org.nz/blog/
    Twitter: @classiccomputNZ ; YouTube Videos: (click here)


  4. #4

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    There are some known limitations and incompatibilities with large hard disks and old operating systems. Here are some of them listed to hopefully make selecting hard disk and right DOS version easier. I'll update this post when more incompatibilities are found.

    I recommend to use DOS 5 or 6. Incompatibilities are likely to be found on older DOS versions.

    DOS 5 and 6
    Accessible hard disk space: 8,4 GB (BIOS CHS limitation)
    Largest supported partition size: 2 GB, multiple partitions supported
    Known incompatibilities: None

    DOS 3.31
    Accessible hard disk space: 8,4 GB (BIOS CHS limitation)
    Largest supported partition size: 512 MB, multiple partitions supported
    Known incompatibilities: None

    DOS 3.30
    Accessible hard disk space: 768 MB (24 drive letters * 32 MB partition limit)
    Largest supported partition size: 32 MB, multiple partitions supported
    Known incompatibilities: None

    DOS 3.20
    Accessible hard disk space: 32/128 MB (partition limit)*
    Largest supported partition size: 32 MB, only one partition supported*
    Known incompatibilities:
    • Tandy DOS freezes on boot when boot partition uses 95 or more cylinders on a 256 MB CF card


    *Tandy DOS 3.20 supports up to three extra 32 MB partitions with MLPART driver.

  5. #5

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    Is there a way to skip the boot code without disabling the bios entirely?
    I have an 8bit high density floppy controller with its own bios, but XTIDE won't list the controller's drives in its boot menu.
    I tried rearranging the cards order in the XT's slots, but it didn't change anything.
    Both BIOSes are running, and both show their proper config, but XTIDE isn't picking up the floppy drives... makes bootstrapping a blank HD kinda tricky

    Thoughts? A feature for the next bios version?

    Thanks in advance.
    __
    Trevor

  6. #6

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    I have had some success with my XTIDE card but not complete success.

    My major issue is that when the XTIDE card is installed and recognized, my floppy drive is not accessible. I fdisked and formatted a drive on another system and when that drive is attached to the XTIDE it boots fine and things work OK except that when I try to access the floppy drive to use it to copy files or whatever, the system hangs. For instance, I boot to a C: prompt then enter dir a:. The light on the floppy flashes briefly, I hear the drive seek then the system becomes totally unresponsive and I have to reboot.

    During bootup, the floppy seeks briefly like normal and the boot menu shows the floppy and the hard drive but I can only boot from the hard drive, if I select the floppy from the boot menu the system hangs requiring a reboot.

    I am using a plain jane IBM XT with IBM floppy controller. I removed the MF card with extra memory to ensure there were no issues due to it. The only "odd" thing about this system is the video card which is a Heathkit EGA card that I don't know much about. I am using MS DOS 6.22 and have an 80-pin ide cable.

    I've tried just about all of the switch settings for switches 5-8, some combos allow the XTIDE to be found, others don't. When the XTIDE is found, no floppy access. If the XTIDE is not found then the floppy works fine.

    I can't run the flash utility to change the I/O setting for the card since I can't access the floppy with the card in the machine so I guess I am going to have to dig out a different video card and monitor (the video card will need to be pulled from another machine and all my machines are boxed up for storage right now) to see if that will make a difference.

    Anybody else have any other suggestions?

    Also, I think I may have found a bug. In my testing I entered Basica to bring up BASIC, then from within BASIC entered system to return to the DOS prompt. When I returned to the DOS prompt, anytime I tried to do something which required reading from the ide drive, I got a "General read error..." message. Once I rebooted, things worked fine again.

    As a side note, the first ide drive I attached was recognized fine but wouldn't boot. After a number of attempts to get it to boot, the drive was no longer recognized. After checking and rechecking things trying to get the controller to recognize the drive again, I hooked it up to another computer and found out the drive no longer worked. Not sure what happened there but switching to a different drive got me going forward again.
    Last edited by strollin; February 28th, 2010 at 11:07 AM. Reason: add more info

  7. #7

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    OK, I swapped out the Heathkit EGA card for an 8-bit Oak VGA card and things work much better. I'm able to boot from the hard drive and access the floppy. I can also select boot from the floppy on the boot menu and boot successfully.

    I also tried an IDE-CF adapter with a 256M CF card and that booted successfully.

    I'm a happy camper now.

    Time to build my 2nd card!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by aitotat View Post
    Incompatibilities are likely to be found on older DOS versions.
    I am likely to be using a vendor specific version of DOS 4.01. If I understand correctly, it will support 2 GB partitions just as well?
    Anders Carlsson

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by strollin View Post
    OK, I swapped out the Heathkit EGA card for an 8-bit Oak VGA card and things work much better. I'm able to boot from the hard drive and access the floppy. I can also select boot from the floppy on the boot menu and boot successfully.
    Glad you got it working!
    It's possible then that there is an IO conflict with EGA and our card. You can change the IO address to something else, but you will need to re-configure and re-flash your card using aitoit's BIOS and setup utility.

  10. #10

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    I attempted to reflash the bios to a different IO port. The flash util runs but at the end it reports that the verify failed due to unexpected data at several addresses. It doesn't appear to actually change anything because when I set the switches back to the default I can boot from the drive. I tried it twice with different IO ports each time with the same verify failure. Do I need to use any of the other switches for different write speeds?

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