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Thread: Compaq Deskpro XT restoration - help needed

  1. #1

    Default Compaq Deskpro XT restoration - help needed

    I am slowly trying to restore a Compaq Deskpro XT. It was in rough shape but I am slowly making progress. Itís a 640k 20MB dual 360k floppy model running a 2/27/87 BIOS. Current status: I can boot off one of the 360k floppy drives to DOS without issue. The other is not working, nor is the HDD.

    The current issue: when I start up Spinrite 5.0 in hopes of studying the HDD issue, it goes through a startup memory test and consistently freezes during the test, at test 321, buffer FF09h (on data pattern 1000 0000 0000 0001, FWIW). Not sure if this relates to a specific RAM chip.

    Iíve run CheckItís thorough RAM test multiple times as well as the Compaq diagnostics and it passes every time. I am starting to think this might be a spinrite issue. Any ideas?

    Ohó Iím booting into DOS 3.30 before starting spinrite. Iíll try 5.0 as well.

  2. #2

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    If that is the original Seagate ST-225, it's probably dead or will be. They just weren't built to last 30+ years. Get yourself an XT-IDE. With a newer IDE drive, or better yet a DOM, the Deskpro will really come alive. Although two 360K floppies are nice, they aren't really necessary as long as you have one good one. Add a 3.5 drive (will only work as 720K on the disk controller it came with) if you want to fill in the drive bay. Along with a NEC V-30 you will have a very capable super-XT for a modest investment.

  3. #3

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    If the HDD is not working you can't use SpinRite on it. SpinRite needs a valid, functional partition in order to work.
    PM me if you're looking for 3Ĺ" or 5ľ" floppy disks. EMail ď Ē For everything else, Take Another Step

  4. #4
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    Is the hard drive spinning up and sounding ok?
    If yes, you probably need to do a low level / factory format. Generally this is something you need to do every quarter century or if you move a drive between different controllers (sometimes).

    If it isn't spinning up, or sounds very sick, I'd consider it toast.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by resman View Post
    If that is the original Seagate ST-225, it's probably dead or will be. They just weren't built to last 30+ years. Get yourself an XT-IDE. With a newer IDE drive, or better yet a DOM, the Deskpro will really come alive. Although two 360K floppies are nice, they aren't really necessary as long as you have one good one. Add a 3.5 drive (will only work as 720K on the disk controller it came with) if you want to fill in the drive bay. Along with a NEC V-30 you will have a very capable super-XT for a modest investment.
    both of my ST-225s still work perfectly, one of them has the same 1 bad sector it's had for the past 25 years and the other has none

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by maxtherabbit View Post
    both of my ST-225s still work perfectly, one of them has the same 1 bad sector it's had for the past 25 years and the other has none
    Amazingly, my experience mirrors yours. I tried again, putting into MS-DOS 5.0 and running Spinrite again. This time it blew past the RAM freeze and I started rejuvenating the disk surface. Stepping back a moment, I also discovered one of the two cables to the drive (the one with fewer pins) was upside down and when fixing this plus letting Spinrite do it’s thing, the computer was able to boot to DOS and run A directory listing! It was running DOS 3.30 (Compaq) and also has Windows 1.01. Super excited.

    Spinrite seemed to be freezing or otherwise getting stuck about 85% through the drive so not out of the woods yet. But, it’s late and it’s time to rest.

    Lesson for now: Spinrite 5.0 works better with MSDOS 5.0 than 3.3.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by resman View Post
    If that is the original Seagate ST-225, it's probably dead or will be. They just weren't built to last 30+ years. Get yourself an XT-IDE. With a newer IDE drive, or better yet a DOM, the Deskpro will really come alive. Although two 360K floppies are nice, they aren't really necessary as long as you have one good one. Add a 3.5 drive (will only work as 720K on the disk controller it came with) if you want to fill in the drive bay. Along with a NEC V-30 you will have a very capable super-XT for a modest investment.
    I appreciate the advice. While I understand the value of having different drives, my first computer was a Tandy 1000SX and I have many fond memories of swapping and handling 5 1/4 inch diskettes between the two drives which were it’s only storage. I do have a Compaq Pentium 90 with both disk formats in order to experience that diversity.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by maxtherabbit View Post
    both of my ST-225s still work perfectly, one of them has the same 1 bad sector it's had for the past 25 years and the other has none
    I have two working ST-225s as well. I don't expect them to work every time I power up. They are not high quality pieces of HW. They are slow. They will fail someday; maybe not tomorrow, but eventually. So use them as a nice reminder of yesteryear, but get an XT-IDE and get a little piece of mind as well as a nice performance boost.

    My $.02

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by resman View Post
    They are not high quality pieces of HW.
    I disagree, based upon anecdotal evidence of myself and others I'd have to say they are some of the highest quality drives Seagate ever made

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by maxtherabbit View Post
    I disagree, based upon anecdotal evidence of myself and others I'd have to say they are some of the highest quality drives Seagate ever made
    Ditto... I still have several and they work reliably. That includes the ST-238R, as well.
    PM me if you're looking for 3Ĺ" or 5ľ" floppy disks. EMail ď Ē For everything else, Take Another Step

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