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Thread: Wang PC 321/16S project

  1. #1

    Default Wang PC 321/16S project

    Hi all,

    Just thought I would share this one with everyone as it's a little bit unique.

    Many years ago I picked up a Wang PC 321/16s (386 SX). I think it came from a charity store of some kind; or possibly was being thrown out at the school I attended at the time. Anyway back in the 90's I played around with connecting it to a Novell Netware server. After I had my fun I put it aside and used it as a bit of a 'floor table' to hold my network switches above the carpet in my spare room. It served this purpose from the year 2000 until a week ago when I was doing some tidying up. I figured it deserved better so I dusted it off and put it on the work bench.

    First thing I noticed removing the case is that it uses a dallas DS1287 based RTC/CMOS. I really caught a break as there was no battery on the motherboard to leak! The rest of the internals looked fine so I powered it up. Surprisingly it powered up to the memory test first go. It counted to 8MB of extended memory which was correct; then complained that the RTC/CMOS battery was flat. Not surprised by this at all (I've reworked many DS style chips) I pressed F2 to enter the setup. I then entered the date/time/config etc and pressed F10 to reboot.

    This is where it got weird. Even though the power was not interrupted it immediately forgot the CMOS settings. This doesn't usually happen; however I figured I should rework the DS1287 before coming to any conclusion. I performed the external battery mod on the 1287 and then tried again. This time it remembered the settings perfectly and it booted from the HDD! As I suspected there was not much on it; just some random Novell Netware stuff and Windows 3.11. The HDD is only a 40MB Connor; so there isn't much to work with.

    Just when it started to get interesting (i.e. formatting the HDD for a new DOS install) I get the familiar 'bang crackle crackle' along with a distinct drop in ambient air quality. The line filter cap decided to eat the big one so I stuck it in the shed for the night to air out.

    The next day I ripped the PSU cover off and got two surprises. The first was this machine uses the main case frame as the base of the PSU. The top cover literally bolts to the frame and prevents you from sticking your fingers into it. Interesting design as it is no doubt cheaper; however it makes PSU replacement a lot harder. The second surprise was that it didn't use an on-board line filter cap; it used one that was built into the IEC plug. This design is quite familiar to me as a lot of equipment I repair uses this style of filter, but it's first time I have seen one in a PC. A quick trip to the local electronics place and I picked up a new one.

    With all that rectified I did the usual Windows 3.11 install etc. I then realised I had something like 4MB of disk space left.... this 40MB drive wasn't going to cut it. Decided to have a dig in my parts bin and found an old Seagate 250MB drive which still worked.

    I then hit a new roadblock. Obviously I had to change the CMOS settings to accommodate the new HDD.... but how do you get into the BIOS? Turns out you need some proprietary Wang software to do that and despite a quick internet search I couldn't locate it (also no it wasn't on the old 40MB connor before I formatted - I checked!). So I did the next best thing - ripped the external battery out the DS1287, counted to 10, replaced it and powered up. Sure enough it complained and went into the BIOS! If your stuck in the same situation I suggest this method; it's quick and dirty but it works!

    Finally I got everything installed and working. Added a ESS1868 audiodrive and now I can happily play some old DOS games.

    I also noticed a kinda unique thing (or maybe not). One of the WD chips on the motherboard is marked 'PROTO'. I'm guessing that Wang got these IC's in before they were released to the public?

    Given the rarity of this machine (well at least I have never seen another one, plus an internet search turns up almost zero) I also decided to download the BIOS PROM's (it has two) and save them on my modern PC. The machine uses 2x 27C512 EPROMS, one for high and one for low, so reading them using my TL866 wasn't difficult at all. If someone would like a copy send me a PM. I might also see if Modem7 wants to host them on minuszerodegrees.

    I only really have one question at this point - did these machines come with a Wang branded keyboard/mouse? If so I would love to obtain them to finish the machine; at the moment I'm using some random PS2 keyboard/mouse.

    Any questions / comments let me know.

    Here are some pics of the progress:















    System 80 Expansion Interface located! Thanks to all who helped out and the good people in the NZ vintage computer forums!

  2. #2

    Default

    Local electronics store? Very jealous.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KC9UDX View Post
    Local electronics store? Very jealous.
    Yeah here in Australia we still have one semi-comprehensive bricks and mortar electronics chain. $9 AUD for the filter wasn't too expensive either ($7 USD).
    System 80 Expansion Interface located! Thanks to all who helped out and the good people in the NZ vintage computer forums!

  4. #4
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    Wang used IBM Model Ms with rebadging. Got rid of one (traded) several years ago. The only thing different was the part number and little badge on the upper left side of the keyboard. Instead of "IBM" it said "Wang". I used the keyboard on a modern PC without issues; i.e. there's nothing special inside.

  5. #5
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    I don't have the drivers for this specific machine, but did upload a set for the PC200 and PC300 series. It doesn't specifically list the 321, but you may find one of the SETUP files gets you in to the settings.
    Worth a try if you didn't already. Hosted by another user here: http://ibm-pc.org/utilities/system/system.htm (bottom link).
    WTB: IBM RT Parts and Accessories, and AOS.
    Twitter / Discord / YouTube / Twitch

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