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Thread: Can't boot OmniBook 800CT from CF card in IDE bay

  1. #1

    Default Can't boot OmniBook 800CT from CF card in IDE bay

    I'm working on restoring an OmniBook 800CT. I intend for this to be my DOS/Windows 3.1/Windows 95 gaming machine.

    One of the first things I need to do is replace the hard drive (which is failing), with something solid state. The two options I'm aware of is either a CF card with an CF to IDE adapter, or an actual IDE SSD.

    My first choice is the CF card due to reasons I'll leave out to shorten this post.

    I'm having trouble getting this laptop to boot with a CF card.

    With no partitions present on the card, the computer boots to a Windows 95 dos boot floppy with no problem.

    After creating a partition (I've tried 1.9GB, 4GB, and 32GB), the computer will not boot. It will not boot from the floppy. The computer begins reading from the floppy drive to boot DOS, and then just sits there crashed. It will also not boot from the CF even if I've formatted it and put DOS on it (by using another PC).

    So far I've been trying to use a 32GB CF, because I read a forum post where someone had installed a 32GB IDE SSD successfully in this model of laptop, and figured if it could recognize and boot that, then the size should be compatible.

    I also have a 2GB CF from an old Cisco router. Results are slightly different with this card. As long as I install DOS 6.22 it works and boots fine. As soon as I upgrade the dos to "win95 dos", it can no longer boot. Either by doing a "SYS A: C:" with a 95 boot diskette, or by windows doing it by itself during the Windows 95 install process. I'm using version B which is what the laptop originally came with.

    I've tried a standard Windows 95 boot disk, and the OmniBook 800CT recovery boot disk, with same results.

    I've tried several other CF cards, including a SanDisk Extreme 32GB (UDMA7), a regular SanDisk 32gb, and two SanDisk 8GB cards, and a Transcend "133x" 32GB card.

    I had a dual-slot adapter, but found out the laptop will not support the secondary drive, so just for compatibility I even swapped it out with a single-slot only CF-IDE adapter.

    It may also be helpful to mention that with the original hard drive booted up to windows 95, the laptop recognizes the CF card perfectly, and reads and writes from it installed in a CF to PCMCIA adapter. No, I can't get it to boot from the PCMCIA slot. That might be an alternative, as I hear the PCMCIA slot might actually be faster than the IDE interface, if it could be made to boot from it. I'd prefer to leave the slot free though.

    I'm out of ideas! Maybe it's a simple mistake, or maybe there's some CF card incompatibility issue I just don't know about. Has anybody put a CF card in an OmniBook 800CT?

    Thanks,

    -Stu

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu View Post
    With no partitions present on the card, the computer boots to a Windows 95 dos boot floppy with no problem.

    After creating a partition (I've tried 1.9GB, 4GB, and 32GB), the computer will not boot. It will not boot from the floppy. The computer begins reading from the floppy drive to boot DOS, and then just sits there crashed. It will also not boot from the CF even if I've formatted it and put DOS on it (by using another PC)

    [...]

    I'm out of ideas! Maybe it's a simple mistake, or maybe there's some CF card incompatibility issue I just don't know about. Has anybody put a CF card in an OmniBook 800CT?
    Hi Stu!

    I'm late with my answer, but I encountered the same problem.
    Does DOS hang after "Starting MS-DOS..."?
    Then it's related to the CF card's disk geometry (cylinders, heads, sectors).
    You can workaround that, by installing a Disk Drive Overlay (DDO). Either Ontrack Disk Manager or EZ-Drive. See my thread at https://www.bttr-software.de/forum/b...y.php?id=16538.
    I was also successful by formatting the CF card with Rufus. This will make the card FAT32 and install a basic FreeDOS kernel.
    +++ BTTR Software +++
    Home page: https://www.bttr-software.de/
    DOS ain't dead: https://www.bttr-software.de/forum/

  3. #3
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    I've had little to no luck using the dual CF adapters. Get a single CF adapter and try that with your CF's. I've also used M.2 to IDE adapters for larger HDD replacements. Don't forget to use the BIOS to define the proper settings for your CF card.
    Crazy old guy with a basement full of Pentium 1 laptops and parts

  4. #4

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    ... or ditch all that CF nonsense and get a DOM -- it's headache free hardware.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaDon View Post
    I've had little to no luck using the dual CF adapters. Get a single CF adapter and try that with your CF's. I've also used M.2 to IDE adapters for larger HDD replacements.
    These adapters don't have any "intelligence" AFAIK, so problems can only be "electrical".

    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaDon View Post
    Don't forget to use the BIOS to define the proper settings for your CF card.
    You can't for the 800CT. It just does autodetect or nothing.
    +++ BTTR Software +++
    Home page: https://www.bttr-software.de/
    DOS ain't dead: https://www.bttr-software.de/forum/

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    ... or ditch all that CF nonsense and get a DOM -- it's headache free hardware.
    How do I put a DOM to a laptop? I only found modules for Thin Clients/PCs.
    +++ BTTR Software +++
    Home page: https://www.bttr-software.de/
    DOS ain't dead: https://www.bttr-software.de/forum/

  7. #7
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    44 pin DOMs are *not* the same animals as desktop IDE DOMs, they are not the droids you’re looking for. The most common style doesn’t fit a standard laptop.

    Look for a laptop PATA-SD adapter if you want a less cranky alternative to CF. I’ve had great luck with them and they cost under $10.
    My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eudimorphodon View Post
    Look for a laptop PATA-SD adapter if you want a less cranky alternative to CF. I’ve had great luck with them and they cost under $10.
    Could you post a link, some pics, or a description of your adapter and your SD card(s), please?
    I've already read a lot about shabby non-working China-stuff.
    +++ BTTR Software +++
    Home page: https://www.bttr-software.de/
    DOS ain't dead: https://www.bttr-software.de/forum/

  9. #9
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    This is the exact Amazon link for the adapter I've bought twice. Visually identical adapters are as cheap as $8 BIN on eBay, my guess is they're all churned out of the same factory, I just used Prime because, you know, easy.

    As to SD cards, I've tried both SanDisk and Samsung 64GB cards and some old "Generic" store-brand 2GB cards. On machines fast enough for it to make a difference the newer cards have significantly better write speed but they all work fine.
    My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs

  10. #10
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    I can't speak for your laptop of course, but I used a CF card at one time or another in all of my old time boxes. The last one was a 2 GB CF in a 486DX/66, and the BIOS was able to find it. One thing that I've learned about the CF cards is that sometimes the manufacturer leaves something or another on the drive. Before you run your install routine try 'FDISK /MBR'. Good luck.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

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