Forum Rules and Etiquette

Our mission ...

This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.

Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.

Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.

Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
  • Do not "necro-post" unless you are following up to a specific person on a specific thread. And even then, that person may have moved on. Just start a new thread for your related topic.
  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.

Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
  • "PM Sent!": Do not tell the rest of us that you sent a PM ... the forum software will tell the other person that they have a PM waiting.
  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.

Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.

Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.

New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.

Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
See more
See less

Compaq Portable 386 - Hard Disk (oh dear)

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Compaq Portable 386 - Hard Disk (oh dear)


    Figure this is a better place to put this thread, rather than in the 3/486 area.

    Seeing as I have my Compaq Portable 386 in pieces on the living room floor:

    20130804_230835 by renault9gta, on Flickr
    (Sorry for the shockingly bad picture)

    I had been reading up a few other threads on the Portable III and 386, and had seen that a few people had tried to add large volume (>528Mb) drives to the machines, but none of the threads seemed to have much of a conclusion.
    Decided to give it a try myself. Found an IDE drive (Hitachi DeskStar 30Gb) which worked nicely in my old P75 before it went pop. 7200 RPM drive, with a blazing 53Mb/sec transfer speed, low seek time... sounded like a nice recipe. The P75 used to boot into W3.11 in 14 seconds flat from being switched off. Figured I didn't mind losing 29.5Gb of space, the drive used to come back as 7.8Gb under W95, so no real point to begin with trying a dynamic overlay.

    Took a look on the Compaq settings utility diskette for options. Found that the bios supports "Type 42" drives, which is 1024/16/63 in C/H/S, resulting in the theoretical largest BIOS-supported drive (though it did say there was a ~630Mb option, it doesn't provide C/H/S values). Set the BIOS to Type 42 and booted up a floppy with SpeedStor on.

    SpeedStor found the drive, initialized and scanned it thoroughly, finding no issues. It even marked it as formatted for DOS.

    Rebooted the computer, feeling jubilant.

    A:\> c:
    Invalid Drive Specification

    A:\> _

    Aw, poop. Okay, all isn't lost. Let's reconnect the old hard drive, grab FDISK and FORMAT off of it and give that a try. Cue five minutes for the config utility to boot off floppy, find the old hard drive, set it as TYPE 17 (42Mb), save the files to floppy, power down, reconnect the new drive, boot the utility again, set to TYPE 42 (528Mb), then save, swap floppies and boot DOS.

    Run FDISK. It finds the drive, asks me if I'd like to make all the space available on the disk. I select Y, and the computer reboots.

    Try again, selecting N this time. "MAX SIZE 503Mb". Sure, what the heck. Partition written and activated. Hit Esc. Reboot to floppy.

    A:\> c:
    Invalid Drive Specification

    A:\> _

    .....really? Start up FDISK again. No partitions defined. Odd. Re-run SpeedStor. Reformat, reboot, re-run... there's nothing on the disk, despite it reporting back 100% good.

    Have I hit a BIOS snag, you think? Or maybe the hard disk reallllllly doesn't like having 1023 cylinders instead of the 16383 it actually has available? Or an incompatibility between the drive reporting 16,000 sectors from firmware and logically only having 1023? The drive has 16383/16/63 C/H/S so I figured with that it should just get to 1023 and stop, with the H/S being what the BIOS is expecting.

    I'm a bit stuck. I think I might have another hard drive here that I can try it out on. Anyone had any luck with this machine and a particular type/brand of drive?


    Last edited by PhilipA; August 6, 2013, 05:32 AM.

    You didn't say what DOS version you're using.

    Anyway, try running FDISK/MBR and then rebooting. See if that makes any difference.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step


      That would have been helpful, yes. It's running MS-DOS 6.22

      Rebooting once FDISK states it's done and still running in memory, or at the point where it says "System will now restart, insert boot floppy"?



        Originally posted by PhilipA View Post
        Rebooting once FDISK states it's done and still running in memory, or at the point where it says "System will now restart, insert boot floppy"?
        1) Boot from the DOS floppy.

        2) Run FDISK/MBR

        3) Reboot and check for HD availability.
        PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step


          Oh, okay. I had done that several times last night.
          Each time I reboot, DOS doesn't have a drive letter mounted, and FDISK tells me there are no partitions defined.

          It's like it's doing the work but not actually writing anything to the disk.

          I have a couple other hard drives here I can give it a try on, just to see it's not the hard drive gone bad.



            You might still have a FAT32 partition on that HD. Try accessing it with an FDISK that can do 'large partitions'. OSR2, WIN98, WinME, XP, etc., will do this. If you find a partition there then you should remove it and then go back to 6.22 FDISK and start over.
            PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step


              Okay, fairly simple answer: the bios didn't like that hard drive.

              It now has a Maxtor in, resized to 528Mb (2Gb to begin with so meh) which the bios appears to tolerate.

              Thanks for the help though!