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Thread: Bootstrapping a Compaq Portable

  1. #1

    Default Bootstrapping a Compaq Portable

    I've recently found a Compaq Portable with 640 KB RAM, and no expansions installed other than the default CGA and LPT. However, the original owner wouldn't let me have any of the floppies, so i'm unfortunately stuck there. As all my old x86 stuff is from the 90s, I have no 5.25" drives or media, and have no ROM BASIC to fall back upon.

    So, now I'm considering my options here, preferably picking the cheapest and quickest option.

    * Get a 5.25" drive and disks to hook up to newer (but not modern) PC for bootstrap - I'll probably need to do this regardless - from there I can work on stuff like LapLink. Unfortunately, eBay prices for drives, cables, and disks are silly.

    * Get a bridge system with 5.25 drives as well as newer interfaces. More money and more space.

    * Get an XTIDE and bootstrap from a CF card - I have a 32 MB CF card already, so I wont need to bump up to DOS 4 or whatever. My two options are get a preassembled XTIDE (and not an Optima, considering what I heard about it) card, or the kit and soldering equipment and learning to solder. (Which I /should/ have done anyways.) It is quite pricey though.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Larose, LA, USA
    Posts
    333

    Default

    I have an XT-IDE in mine, works well though I did have to get it all set up with my 386. If you get the connector, you can crimp a 3.5" drive connector and power adapter wire (ebay/amazon) and it will have a moderately good success rate reading 720kb 3.5" disks.

    --Phil

  3. #3

    Default

    I have a "half broken" 5.25 1.2mb drive that can handle 360k disks. I could let it go for $10 + shipping.

    I say half broken because while the drive works perfectly, the drive close latch cam is busted, and it needs to be manually assisted to lock from the top of the drive.

    I could toss in a 360k disk that's known good.

    I don't have any spare cables, though I do have a 5.25" Parallel Backback enclosure that I would be willing to part with for another $20, and would work best for this drive to be left "in the open" to manually open/close by the cracked cam.
    Current Vintage Equipment:
    IBM Thinkpad 390, IBM Aptiva A12, IBM PS/2 Model 25-004. Compaq Contura 4/25C.
    Asus P5A-B Socket 7 Box, Tandy 1000RLX-HD "B" & 1200-2FD, VIC20, Zenith ZFL-181-93, Packard Bell 300SX.
    Looking for: 286 Laptop, 386 Laptop, C64. Packard Bell Legend 20CD.

  4. #4

    Default

    Will that Compaq recognize a 1.2M 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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    2,070

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    Will that Compaq recognize a 1.2M drive?
    No. The Compaq Portable is low-density only. It will only work with 360k 5.25" drives or 720k 3.5" (or 1.44mb drives working as 720k only).

    And it is a bad idea to write to 360k disks, that need to be read in a 360k drive, with a 1.2mb drive. Too much headache. To reliably inter-operate with a low-density 5.25" drive, get a 360k drive. With enough patients, 360k drives come up on eBay for $20-$30.

    If the OP might post their location, perhaps someone local could provide a bootable disks with file transfer tools.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    And it is a bad idea to write to 360k disks, that need to be read in a 360k drive, with a 1.2mb drive. Too much headache.
    I haven't run across any problems (yet), and have formatted and copied files to 360k disks from my 1.2m Teac drive. What kind of problems should I be looking for?
    Current Vintage Equipment:
    IBM Thinkpad 390, IBM Aptiva A12, IBM PS/2 Model 25-004. Compaq Contura 4/25C.
    Asus P5A-B Socket 7 Box, Tandy 1000RLX-HD "B" & 1200-2FD, VIC20, Zenith ZFL-181-93, Packard Bell 300SX.
    Looking for: 286 Laptop, 386 Laptop, C64. Packard Bell Legend 20CD.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    ... With enough patients, 360k drives come up on eBay for $20-$30....
    Patients have got nothing at all to do with it! They're strictly for the doctors to deal with.

    Now, maybe a little patience is what is required.
    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

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by zombienerd View Post
    I haven't run across any problems (yet), and have formatted and copied files to 360k disks from my 1.2m Teac drive. What kind of problems should I be looking for?
    That's because you're reading them on the 1.2M Teac drive. That shouldn't be a problem in itself. The problem becomes more apparent when you try to read those disks on 360K drives. Some will fail while others won't. Bottom line is 360K disks formatted /written on 1.2M drives cannot be reliably read on 360K drives.
    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.

  9. #9

    Default

    Can the disk drive from the Compaq be temporarily removed and installed in a network connected machine for the sake of writing a boot disk with a laplink or similar solution program?

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    That's because you're reading them on the 1.2M Teac drive. That shouldn't be a problem in itself. The problem becomes more apparent when you try to read those disks on 360K drives. Some will fail while others won't. Bottom line is 360K disks formatted /written on 1.2M drives cannot be reliably read on 360K drives.
    Good to know. I guess I've just been lucky. I have been able to read them in my 360k drives (so far). I guess I should relocate one of my 360k drives to my tweener.
    Current Vintage Equipment:
    IBM Thinkpad 390, IBM Aptiva A12, IBM PS/2 Model 25-004. Compaq Contura 4/25C.
    Asus P5A-B Socket 7 Box, Tandy 1000RLX-HD "B" & 1200-2FD, VIC20, Zenith ZFL-181-93, Packard Bell 300SX.
    Looking for: 286 Laptop, 386 Laptop, C64. Packard Bell Legend 20CD.

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