Forum Rules and Etiquette

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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.

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HM Systems Minstrel 286 Workstation password locked, help!

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    HM Systems Minstrel 286 Workstation password locked, help!

    First post so let me say hello to everyone. I've got a modest collection of vintage computers and just now I really could use some help with one of them!

    This is my HM Systems 286 Workstation which I believe is from 1990 (going by the date on the post screen).

    Its a bit of an oddity in that its a very small form factor, the entire system board is one a full size ISA card plugged into an ISA riser providing 3 additional 16bit slots. The floppy controller is also on the riser, must have run out of space on the main board!

    close up images

    The machine powers up fine, I've fixed the extremely noisy HDD with a drop of oil into the spindle but I have a bigger problem. Its looking for a password at boot!

    Ignore the floppy disk error, I've pulled the cable as this is the only way to get into the bios.

    There is no battery in this system, I removed it a year ago, and when first powered on at the weekend past I got a battery dead error but to get this up again I need to leave the power disconnected for about a day. BIOS settings are held for at least 24 hours so there must be another battery somewhere but I can't see it on the main board or riser so possibly within the PSU?

    There are no options within the bios to disable the password. I suspect one of the various jumpers on the board may disable it but I'm reluctant to start removing to placing jumpers randomly without a manual for the risk of shorting something the wrong way. I've tried all the dip switches on the left hand side. These seem to be more to do with the video output.

    When I first got this machine a year ago I did manage to get it booted once by pressing escape to change the password but this no longer works. The password is 8 characters and no its not password

    So... does anyone know anything about this machine? Can anyone point me in the direction of a manual for this board? Most importantly can anyone give me some idea how to disable this password or at least reset it?

    Those Quadtel BIOS chips look nice and removable. Why not just replace them with some fresh ones without the password protection? It'd be easy enough with with an EPROM programmer, or by harvesting BIOS chips from something else.


      Welcome to these forums.

      I have placed the 'BIOS passwords' information that I have at [here].
      In that, I cannot see Quadtel or HM Systems.


        Thanks for the replies. I've managed to get the password reset after letting the system sit without a battery for a couple of days to clear the CMOS. I've since added a new battery to store my new password so should be good for a while.

        I've found a folder on the drive containing a few utilities for the system. Lowspeed, hispeed, trsetup (takes me to the bios), then a few others including one for a memory expansion. From the txt file with it I think the pin header adjacent to the ram (top right on first close up picture) is for this memory expansion.

        The system is running DR DOS 6 with Windows 3 on top of that. The 40mb HDD has been compressed and its slow, so slow. Once I get it backed up I think I'll wipe it all and stick MS-DOS on there.

        Speaking of the slow HDD, I'm not sure I have it set up properly in the BIOS. I first got the system to boot by means of trial and error going through the various preset options in the bios. I've also since found a datasheet for the drive here - http://computermuseum.informatik.uni...h/1000/825.htm but I don't think this is entirely correct. For 1 the HDD is 40mb so must have 8 heads not 4. Cylinders are noted as 615 but I think its more likely to be 614. I can run FDISK from DR DOS that shows the drive as 40.7mb with 614 cylinders. LZ and WP are not mentioned on that weblink so I have set LZ to 1 higher than the cylinder total i.e. 615. WP I'm not sure what it should be set to. Looking through the preset options the maximum seems to be 512 so I've went with half that at 256. Is there any way to know what the WP should be or is it perhaps not as critical?


          Originally posted by Glen M View Post
          LZ and WP are not mentioned on that weblink
          Maybe because, in an IDE drive (which technically is both controller and drive), they are taken care of automatically.


            That's fair enough but the BIOS needs something in these fields. Are you saying it doesn't matter what I put in there the drive will sort itself out?