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Thread: Setting up SCSI for boot

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Default Setting up SCSI for boot

    I have an old VLB board with a Cyrix DX2 processor that I bought from PC Importers way back when. The Dallas clock chip battery finally died and the board sat for a while as I figured out how to replace it.

    With that solved I decided I would use an Adaptec 1522A SCSI adapter as the HD and FD controller. I read in Dave Dunfield's ImageDisk documentation that the controller chip was one of the most flexible so I figured it would make a good machine to use for archiving and duplicating floppies. For one thing, the Award BIOS recognizes two floppy drives.

    The 1522A is attached to an IBM 50-pin SCSI drive and on its floppy chain to a 1.4 Mb 3.5-inch drive (A) and a 1.2 5.25-inch drive. The board lights up and I can enter the BIOS to set date and drive parameters and boot priority. On startup the Adaptec BIOS loads and displays its presence and probes the FD and HD, then boot begins. Since I have nothing on the HD boot has to proceed from a 3.5 floppy.

    The problem is that boot gets as far as displaying "Starting MS-DOS" and then goes to visit relatives in Peoria. I have verified that the floppy is bootable by booting other machines with it. I made sure I added the Adaptec ASPI .SYS files to the disk and in the config.sys file, and in the proper order (ASPI2DOS first, ASPIDISK second), and that nothing else was attempting to load. I removed any other cards that were on the board (except for the VLB video card, an old DEC VGA card). I removed the 5.25 from the system. And yes, I made sure everything was properly seated.

    I even swapped out the 3.5-inch drive: I tried two Panasonics and a TEAC. So far no soap, and I'm wondering if I have a bad controller or the wrong configuration somewhere.

    Any suggestions welcome, thanks.

    -CH-

  2. #2
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    Seeing "Starting MS-DOS" followed by a hang usually indicates a configuration problem. The fact that you see that message at all means it has read the boot sector and part of the DOS files.

    Does this motherboard have an on-board floppy controller? If so, you will need to disable the motherboard FDC - This could be a BIOS setting or a jumper somewhere. However sometimes motherboards to not permit you to disable or fully disable the floppy controller.

    Note that the floppy portion of a SCSI card operates independently from the SCSI portion. You do not normally need to add any drivers to make the floppy operate. Also, the hard drive should be recognizable by BIOS, so again the SCSI drivers should not be needed just to set up DOS. (SCSI CD-ROMs and Zip drives, however are another story)

  3. #3
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    Try booting from floppy after disconnecting the hard drive. There is a category of strange hangs that derives from bad partition table or boot sector data on the hard drive even if you're booting from floppy. I know it doesn't make sense, but I've run into it myself.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by clh333 View Post
    The board lights up and I can enter the BIOS to set date and drive parameters and boot priority. On startup the Adaptec BIOS loads and displays its presence and probes the FD and HD, then boot begins.
    I assume there is no IDE HD connected to the on-board IDE controller so you are leaving the HD parameters on the motherboard BIOS set to "no drive installed"? The Adaptec alone deals with the SCSI HD.

  5. #5
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    I substituted three more controllers today, all with the same results. First I tried Chuck's suggestion of leaving the HD off and trying to boot with only a floppy. That looked promising for a while but in the end froze as well. Then I substituted an Adaptec 1542CF and then a DTC VLB SCSI controller; more of the same. I swapped cables and changed the BIOS to the SAFE defaults and the ORIGINIAL defaults.

    I tried the floppy drive and SCSI controller with NO drives enabled in BIOS (didn't get far with that one) and even tried the FD, solo, with an IDE controller card. (There is no on-board controller. There is no on-board anything except for a keyboard port.)

    Same result in all tests; board POSTs and starts to load MS DOS but does not finish. It is looking like the board is at fault, perhaps a timing issue, possibly a faulty capacitor. Maybe its just a matter of lifting and reseating everything, but this thing has dozens of jumpers everywhere.

    I can test the controllers in other boards; I have a '386 and a '586 that are from the same era. If I succeed with one of them that will serve as evidence of a board malfunction here.

    Thank you all for your responses. We'll see what comes of this.

    -CH-

  6. #6
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    Well, I also see this a lot with density mis-match problems. In fact one setup was doing that earlier to me, although I didn't bother getting to the bottom of it since I was switching things around.

    Anyway, try booting a 720k disk instead and see if that makes any difference. Also perhaps try a DR-DOS 7 boot disk (that bypasses some BIOS stuff).

    Also, is the drive head actually moving? Sometimes a stuck head or related failure can cause that behavior.

    Meh, set up the SCSI drive somewhere else, load some diagnostics, and then see what it make of the drive.

  7. #7
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    Not sure what happened to yesterday's post, but just to wrap up: The problem with booting was caused by a faulty FD. With the top off I could see the carriage would retract to track 0 but not advance. Replaced the floppy and booted from a 1.4 disk, then proceeded to install on HD.

    Machine boots from C: and has a SCSI Yamaha R/W CD and a Bernoulli Beta 150 on the chain as ID 3 and 5 as well. Adaptec controller also drives the 1.4 Mb 3-inch FDD as A: and a 1.2 Mb 5.25-inch drive as B:. SIIG ISA IO card adds parallel and two serial ports.

    Thank you all for your help and advice.

    -CH-

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