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

Olivetti M203 motherboard (from M290-S computer) will not load anything

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Olivetti M203 motherboard (from M290-S computer) will not load anything

    I managed to get this old board powered up but for the life of me I cannot get it to boot a floppy.

    This board was given to me in unknown condition. After hacking up an ATX power supply I got the board to post but when I connect a floppy drive it won't read anything. The drive is detected and you get the normal seek. After the bios checks the drive lights up, tries to read, but then fails with "non-system disk or disk error replace disk and strike and key". The drive and disk are both fine, both verified working on other systems. I have also tried other drives, disks and cables all with the same result.

    Someone suggest to me that you need the riser card fitted to the board or it will not work. I don't have the riser but I didn't think this would matter as its just an extension of the ISA bus, surely leaving it off is no different than having empty ISA slots and shouldn't effect the operation of the machine.

    There are 2nr 34pin headers on the board. The drive is only detected when connected to the top header and only when using a straight through cable. Using a twisted cable I still get the seek but the drive isn't detected in the bios.

    Any idea whats going on here, why this board won't boot from floppy?

    Also what is the second 34 pin header for?

    Picture of the board for reference, note the battery has since been replaced.

    Try putting two drives on the same cable. A: and B:


      Have you chercked out what the Pocket Service Guide tells about that board/computer?


        I'll try 2 drives on the one cable but I don't see how that could effect it, worth a shot though.

        As for the pocket guide, I've looked through all of it and don't see my board on there. It seems to be pretty much undocumented online.

        It was also suggested to me to try chenging the drive to DS0. As DS0 the drive isn't detected on a straight through cable but on a twisted cable it sees 2 drives. The one drive connected does the seek test twice.

        I'm starting to lean towards a hardware failure, possibly the floppy controller but could be anything. Next thing I want to try is to take the 40mb hdd out of my olivetti 386 and see if this board will try and boot it.


          It should be early systems,

          cap22.pdf:M290-30 BA 278

          cap32.pdf:M290-25 BA-08
          Not sure, I have such a M290S but not tested/opened yet.


            I don't know a lot about the M290S. It's a 286 PC from 1989 that was released either in late '89 or early 1990, 1990 seems more likely. It was the first PC to use the BU chassis.

            The second header is another disk drive header, used for a two-drive configuration. I don't know which one is for the first drive, maybe the one closest to the chipset? Or maybe it doesn't matter? I think the cables Olivetti supplied with the system were simple one end, no twists cables.

            Make sure you configure the BIOS properly. From memory, you use the function keys to select the setting you want to change, space to select the parameter, enter to confirm it and enter again to save the BIOS settings and exit. Do not exit the settings by pressing the escape key as that will not save anything.

            I have fragments from an M290S document. I doubt it could be of use to anyone, but if you want it anyway here it is:
            Last edited by 6885P5H; June 2, 2020, 04:10 PM.
            • Computers I'm looking for: Olivetti M380-40 • Olivetti M486 • Olivetti M6 620 suprema • HP Vectra VL 6/400


              Well I figured it out in the end. It wasn't anything to do with settings after all but rather cracked solder joints on the motherboard.

              Must have taken me 5 hours before I noticed the damage on what looks like a factory bodge board. Its installed on pins above the RAM slots with 4 wires running off to various points around the board. It was the joints at the pins that had cracked. Repaired that and it booted no problem.

              The PDF document is fantastic. It will certainly come in handy, thank you.


                Originally posted by 6885P5H View Post
                I have fragments from an M290S document. I doubt it could be of use to anyone, but if you want it anyway here it is:
                After OCR'ing the document, I added it to [here].