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Thread: IBM XT build almost finished!

  1. #41


    Got Windows Premier running on it! Surprisingly good for a pre-realese, but far from perfect.


    I've also had the beta and even earlier DR 5 running on here. DR 5 is very interesting and quite different looking than the later versions. It's very, very buggy though.

    Playing with these early versions of Windows is a lot of fun. I do still have regular Windows 1.01 running on here as well, which is the one of the main things I like to run on this XT. It's my favorite GUI for this system. I wouldn't mind having some flavor of 2.xx on here as well, but I've only go 10MB to work with at the moment.

    I think I'm going to try and find a Plus HardCard to install alongside the Miniscribe for extra storage. That would be a 100% authentic and period-correct way to get more storage on this beast.
    Compaq - “It simply works better”

  2. #42


    I have been considering building an XT for years now, but I was always more into my apple ii stuff. I think watching your build has finally helped me reach critical mass. Time to start collecting parts

  3. #43


    Quote Originally Posted by acenewman View Post
    I have been considering building an XT for years now, but I was always more into my apple ii stuff. I think watching your build has finally helped me reach critical mass. Time to start collecting parts
    Glad I helped you make your decision. You’ll have a blast with your XT when you get it done, guaranteed.
    Compaq - “It simply works better”

  4. #44


    Found an NOS AST I/O Plus II for the XT! This is better than the other I/O card I had, and has a real time clock, so she keeps time now

    Compaq - “It simply works better”

  5. #45


    Quote Originally Posted by compaqportableplus View Post
    Finally got a green-eyed mouse to go along with it!

    Attachment 59972Attachment 59973Attachment 59971

    This thing is totally awesome. Very heavy for a mouse too! It has the classic bare metal ball, so you can really hear the rollers in it when you move it.

    The one I got is the 25-pin serial version, so it's just plug and play on any machine with a serial port.

    I would totally use a mouse like this on a modern machine if I had the proper adapter for it.

    And just to add, the XT is still doing well. The Miniscribe 10MB drive is still going strong too!
    Now that I have been using this mouse on the XT for almost a month now, I would actually say it’s downright comfortable! It fits perfectly in my hand, and the way the buttons are kind of on the front of it are perfect for my long fingers. The Microsoft mice overall seem more comfortable than most other PC mice were back then. There’s no nasty edges on the Microsoft mice that dig into your hand like a lot of other mice had back then. The Microsoft mice are also taller and not so “flat” like many others, which makes them a lot more comfortable for me.
    Compaq - “It simply works better”

  6. #46


    Well, I managed to snag an untested IBM-branded Seagate ST-412, which I’ll probably be putting in here if it works. The Miniscribe still works, but I believe it’s going to need to be recapped eventually, as it spun-down on me yesterday while the machine was running, and also failed to boot another time for no reason and dropped into Basic. Ran another full surface scan which didn’t find any error, so I think the issue is electrical, not mechanical. There are quite a few electrolytic caps on the board, so I’ll start there, but for now it works 99 percent of the time, so it’s not too big of an issue yet.

    The ST-412s seem to be the most reliable out of the 4 brands they used in the XT. The 412 is a rock-solid drive. Almost as good as the ST-225 I would say. I love that peculiar sound a 412 makes when it does a long-seek too!

    I’m thinking about taking the HardCard 20 I put in my IBM 5155 back out and installing it in this XT, since I wasn’t 100% happy with the way it fit in there anyway. Something like an XT-IDE would fit better. Or an MFM drive in place of one of the floppies.
    Compaq - “It simply works better”

  7. #47


    Okay, so I installed the HardCard 20 as drive 2 and it works, although it was a little flakey today about reading the files I copied to it yesterday. Did a surface scan and it found a few bad blocks, so it might be fine now, I’ll keep using it and see.

    I also got the ST-412 today. The spindle was stiff, so I gave it a few turns by hand and it roared (literally) to life. However, after low-leveling it, I get a “track-0 bad, disk unusable” error when attempting to format with DOS. Damnit, I had decent hope for this one.

    I’m not giving up this easily though. First, I am going to swap the control board with the one from my other ST-412 just to rule out an electrical fault.

    Plan B is a little more involved and, shall I say, bold. I have a Xidex Discaddy full of very nice looking 5.25” iron oxide platters... might be attempting a platter swap here. Never done this, but it seems like it wouldn’t be too hard and I have heard of people doing this successfully. Just got to be careful not the damage the heads. No, I don’t have a clean room, but this is a 10MB drive with massive heads, so it’s not going to be much of a problem I don’t think. I’ve opened many old drives to repair them in the past, and none of them have ever failed again so far.

    The problem could be with one of the heads too, and in that case, there’s nothing I can really do, as I don’t have another set of heads.

    Will report back later!
    Last edited by compaqportableplus; May 20th, 2020 at 03:30 PM.
    Compaq - “It simply works better”

  8. #48


    Well, I swapped two “new” platters into the 412 (the originals indeed had several gouges) and it still doesn’t work. Damn. Was a fun process though, and at least I learned a little more about how the ST-412 is built.

    It is a little better, as it’ll get through a little bit more of the format process, but it still fails. Oh well.
    Compaq - “It simply works better”

  9. #49

    Default A proper ST-412 at last!

    I ended up with the result I wanted after all!


    A working, IBM-branded ST-412 that's got some of the smoothest bearings I've heard. It's almost silent.

    How? I took the ST-412 I had in this system when I first built it, and swapped the faceplate and control board from the dead ST-412 onto it. This drive worked fine, except for the fact that when the heads were parked, it would pull the a little too far back when winding them back to track-0, so I would have to power-cycle the machine a time or two to the the heads back into position. Swapping the control board has fixed the issue. Still no bad sectors too! Very pleased.

    Also, here is a pic of the HardCard 20 I installed:


    Been working better today now that I let it find the extra bad sectors. Hopefully it'll continue to work. Really like the blinking "+" in the top right of the screen when it's being accessed!

    And here is a pic of the dead ST-412 with the top off. This was after I swapped the platters. I'm guessing either these platters are junk too and/or the heads are also trashed, which is very possible, considering the original platters were gouged pretty badly.


    It looks so cool. I might find a big shadow box to mount it in. Would be a good use for it.

    Also, the Miniscribe drive I had I had in here is still going strong. The reason it spun-down on me the other day is because the molex connector I had hooked to it is a little flakey, so it wasn't the drive after all. I will keep this drive as a spare in case the 412 fails.

    This thing really is about where I want it. Only other thing I want to add is an EMS board, mostly for Windows 2.03 (which I also have on here, along with Windows 1.01 and Premier!).

    One last thing, I got bored while I was waiting for all of the files to finish copying off of the Miniscribe to transfer back to the ST-412, so I peeled the DEC part number sticker off of the ST-412, so it's truly been fully-converted to an IBM drive now! I kind of felt a little bad about doing that, but what the hell, right?
    Compaq - “It simply works better”

  10. #50
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by compaqportableplus View Post
    It looks so cool. I might find a big shadow box to mount it in. Would be a good use for it.
    A couple of other ideas are shown in posts #5 and #6 of the earlier thread at [here].


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