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Thread: Magnavox HeadStart 386sx

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Larose, LA, USA
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    Default Magnavox HeadStart 386sx

    Recently picked this beast up.

    Cleaned out the dirt (large volume) and powered it up after cleaning up all the contacts.



    Hard drive checks out good, surprisingly. 85Mb Seagate.

    I've ordered a new cable for the CDROM, which should be here Friday.
    Had a bit of fun playing Wolfenstein 3D, sound blaster in the back (not sure if that was standard fit).

    Phil

  2. #2

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    Very Nice. I had the 286 version that had the caddy based CD-ROM drive in it, until the BIOS went wonky.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2017
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    California (92548)
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    Looks a lot like the Vectra QS/20 I'm working on now. I definitely dont need to do any lifting at the gym the days I lug that thing around, thats for sure.

  4. #4
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    Larose, LA, USA
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    It's surprisingly lightweight. Also, 90% tool-less case, which is remarkable for 1993.

    Fairly well thought out and assembled. Fit and finish is pretty good- been tidying up the configuration to free up some memory. Had a rummage and Google turned up a post from 13 years ago that said ctrl-alt-insert at the end of the RAM test to get into the BIOS. Surprisingly, the BIOS has a lot of configurable options, though the limitation on hard drive types is even worse than on my Compaq 386. The largest drive int he list is 200-ish Mb.

    Stuck a music CD into the drive, it spun up and started to play flawlessly, so hopefully once the serial cable comes in I can pull some data off it and see how it works. If so, that'll be a good way to rapidly (hah) move data from more modern machines until I can find the Ethernet cards I have tucked away somewhere.

    --Phil

  5. #5
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    Jan 2017
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    Wow, even the CD still works? Impressive. Doesnt seem to take much to toast those.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2013
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    Larose, LA, USA
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    Having a go at the hard drive. I'm trying to recall, and for the life of me I canot- how I went ahead and did a low level format on a modern drive and altered the C/H/S parameters of the drive.

    The BIOS on this allows you to set Type 31 (custom) with up to 1024 cylinders, 255 heads and a bunch of sectors/track

    I should be able to set 1024/16/63 for 504Mb, but I need to low-level the drive in order to be able to do that... does the XTIDE have that functionality built into its BIOS?


    *edit - I'm thinking I did it with GPartEd on another computer last time.

    --Phil
    Last edited by PhilipA; February 10th, 2017 at 07:58 AM.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipA View Post
    Having a go at the hard drive. I'm trying to recall, and for the life of me I canot- how I went ahead and did a low level format on a modern drive and altered the C/H/S parameters of the drive.

    The BIOS on this allows you to set Type 31 (custom) with up to 1024 cylinders, 255 heads and a bunch of sectors/track

    I should be able to set 1024/16/63 for 504Mb, but I need to low-level the drive in order to be able to do that... does the XTIDE have that functionality built into its BIOS?


    *edit - I'm thinking I did it with GPartEd on another computer last time.

    --Phil
    I doubt that you ever did a LLF on a 'modern drive'.
    If you're looking for DS/DD or DS/HD 3" or 5" floppy disks, PM me. I've got some new, used, and factory over-labeled disks for sale.

    There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen
    ☞ Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Larose, LA, USA
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    That's true, didn't LLF it, I just rewrote the information for the partitions.. some work, some don't like the characteristics being not what they actually are.


    --Phil

  9. #9
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    Aug 2013
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    Larose, LA, USA
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    Alright, a non-optimal 3600RPM IBM IDE drive with 2Gb cap set and partitioned down to the maximum the BIOS can natively handle (limited by 16 heads on the device), 540Mb.

    Boots up, but not as fast as it can be. Significantly better with a 7200RPM drive (tested this in the past and the difference is striking), as that generally will outperform the controller...

    Needs a full reinstall but eh, it's all good. Boots, works for now. CD cable due to be delivered this evening, shall collect that from mother in law's house tomorrow.


    --Phil

  10. #10

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    You could also use a DDO if you wanted to use the whole (within reason) HD.
    If you're looking for DS/DD or DS/HD 3" or 5" floppy disks, PM me. I've got some new, used, and factory over-labeled disks for sale.

    There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen
    ☞ Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

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