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Thread: IBM PC/AT Compact Flash Issues

  1. #1

    Question IBM PC/AT Compact Flash Issues

    Hello all, after seeing the wonders of replacing hard drives with compact flash cards, I decided to try it for myself.

    Recently, My lovely PC/AT had a hard drive crash, so this is the perfect time to try it out! I installed a brand new 16-bit IDE adapter with floppy controller and (from what I've seen) a good quality IDE-CF card adapter with a 4GB CF card. I set the BIOS hard drive type to 4, which will allow a ~62 MB partition to be formed. However, the problem I am having is getting the computer to boot with the adapter set to master. It gives a "107 System Board Failure" message with the card jumped to master, but boots normally when the card is configured as slave. In the latter configuration, I am able to partition and format the CF card, and even copy files to it, but I cannot run applications directly from the card. I can even see files that I have transferred from my modern machine on the card inside of DOS. The trouble must be originating with the slave configuration, but there is no way the computer will boot with the card set to master. I have also tried two other CF card adapters and four different CF cards, with the exact same result with any combination of adapter and drive.

    Any suggestions on how to make this thing work?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Cincinnati, Ohio USA
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    424

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    Fdisk /mbr on the drive and then set it back to master. CF cards are notorious for needing this done before they will boot.
    PCjr, DTK PC-XT Turbo, 386DX 33, 486 laptop, Pentium 120, Pentium III 500, various old laptops, Commodore Colt, all working. I also have a 286 that I need to see if I can repair.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by KenEG View Post
    Fdisk /mbr on the drive and then set it back to master. CF cards are notorious for needing this done before they will boot.
    I have read about this and can see how this would work to make the card bootable into DOS. However, the card completely freezes the system on startup which seems like more serious issue than an invalid MBR. I have a Gotek floppy emulator coming in the mail and will try the method when the drive arrives.

  4. #4

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    Is that a 5170 BIOS you're working with?

    Are you using a controller with a BIOS on it?

    If not, I don't think any standard controller can use a 4GB drive with a 5170 BIOS without some sort of outside help.

    You could try a DDO like Disk Manager or EZ-Drive and if that is successful you'll have your answer.

    FWIW, 4GB is way too big for a 5170. If you were to try a drive or card < 528 it just might work right outta' da' box, with no DDO.
    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 Stone View Post
    Is that a 5170 BIOS you're working with?

    Are you using a controller with a BIOS on it?

    If not, I don't think any standard controller can use a 4GB drive with a 5170 BIOS without some sort of outside help.

    You could try a DDO like Disk Manager or EZ-Drive and if that is successful you'll have your answer.

    FWIW, 4GB is way too big for a 5170. If you were to try a drive or card < 528 it just might work right outta' da' box, with no DDO.
    Its an original, 3rd revision BIOS Im using.

    Yeah, 4Gb is a little excessive, but the other drives were 32 and 64MB and some others like that. Ill give EZ-Drive a shot

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by RHopple View Post
    I’ll give EZ-Drive a shot
    And what about starting with a 64 or 128 MB CF card first? Choose a drive in your setup that fits inside the parameters of the CF card and things should work.
    With kind regards / met vriendelijke groet, Ruud Baltissen

    www.baltissen.org

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Sioux Falls SD
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    229

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    I have done this with somewhat newer systems. I did learn that the CF drive has to be physically less than or equal to the limits for the BIOS. I found that 512MB was the largest my oldest system could handle. With a larger card, even partitioned to be smaller, the system would lock up during boot with the CF set as master.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by lafos View Post
    I have done this with somewhat newer systems. I did learn that the CF drive has to be physically less than or equal to the limits for the BIOS. I found that 512MB was the largest my oldest system could handle. With a larger card, even partitioned to be smaller, the system would lock up during boot with the CF set as master.
    I thought that would work also, but the computer has the same problem with any size card, with ones I've tested ranging from 32MB to 128MB to the 4GBsame problem.

  9. #9

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    I don't like CF cards as they tend to be a PITA way too often. They really don't mimic HDs all that well.

    OTOH, DOMs seem to work nearly identically and reliably (software wise) to HDs which is why I use them exclusively with excellent results and virtually no issues.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  10. #10

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    For what it's worth I used an Adaptec 1542 and SCSI2SD in my 5170. The SCSI bios completely takes early IDE drive size limitations off the table.

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