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Comapq Portable 386 Compact Flash support

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    Comapq Portable 386 Compact Flash support

    As part of my job to fix my portable, I got hold of another portable 386 which included the 3 1/2" floppy drive so now I have both the 5 1/4" and 3 1/2" drives. This however means I don't have any room for the IDE hard drive and no idea if I even have the power to handle a hard drive. My idea is to just replace it with a 512mb Compact Flash card but will that work? I don't remember how older BIOSes liked Compact Flash cards.
    [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
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    #2
    If it takes AT-IDE, it will take a CF - they're identical in protocol. The problem comes in wonky size support in older BIOSes as far as I'm aware. Dunno much about the Compaq Portables, so can't help ya there. If you can/want to use an ISA card to do the IDE, then it's certainly possible though.
    More commonly known as "Yushatak" - www.yushatak.com
    Focused on 486 and Pentium Machines
    I collect All-In-One PCs and Keyboard PCs, especially Compaq.

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      #3
      The ondoard drive controller takes a plain vanilla IDE drive from what I can see which seems bizarre for such an old system.
      The BIOS issues are what I'm concerned about. If I fed it a 512mb card, would it even bother to try and use that or is this one of those cases where the CHS support is required.
      [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
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      [No time for videos? Click here to visit my Twitter feed @CelGenStudios]

      = Excellent space heater

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        #4
        Originally posted by NeXT View Post
        The ondoard drive controller takes a plain vanilla IDE drive from what I can see which seems bizarre for such an old system.
        The BIOS issues are what I'm concerned about. If I fed it a 512mb card, would it even bother to try and use that or is this one of those cases where the CHS support is required.
        Good point. Don't all CF cards operate in LBA mode? It still might work, if your BIOS isn't too fussy, but you'd lose some of the capacity and write speed might be severely impaired.
        Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

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          #5
          The BIOS in the 386 portable doesn't have a user-defined setting, you can only choose from a pre-set list of drive sizes. I'd put the card in another PC, find out how it identifies itself in terms of cylinders/heads/sectors, then set the Compaq to whichever setting is closest. You'll lose a bit of capacity as iirc most of the largest options were only in the 300-400MB range.

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            #6
            400mb is still decent enough.
            Okay, I'll round up all the needed parts and give it a go.
            [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
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            [No time for videos? Click here to visit my Twitter feed @CelGenStudios]

            = Excellent space heater

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              #7
              As with other old machines, you can use a DDO (Dynamic Disk Overlay) to bypass the BIOS limitations. Since the machine is a 386, it should be easy to find one. I've got a few versions of Quantum's OnTrack DDO, which does work with CF cards (I use it with my Gateway HandBook).
              Check out The Glitch Works | My Retro Projects | Vintage Computer Services | Glitch Works Tindie Store -- Vintage Computer Kits and More

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                #8
                I hate to necro a thread but did this work for you? I've got a Compaq Portable 386 on the way and as long as it doesn't show up smashed like the first one then I'd like to do the same setup that you described.
                This space intentionally left blank [ ].

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