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Wanted: Altos 586/886 Documentation

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    Wanted: Altos 586/886 Documentation

    Just got an Altos 886. Supposedly has Xenix on it's HD, but I can't get anything out of its console port when I fire it up.

    Need info like default baud rate, parity, etc, and if it's a straight-thru or null modem serial cable.

    If anyone has a user guide or troubleshooting manual, please post it or a link.

    Many thanks!
    Latest Acquisitions: ADDS Envoy, Sun 3/50, Teletype BLIT, DECMate II
    Still Wanted: Ithaca Intersystems DPS-1, SSB Chieftain, Altos 2086, TRS-80 Model 16, Victory FACTOR
    Always looking for: AT&T 3B2's and UnixPC/3B1's.
    http://www.securix.net/retrotekvintagecomputers

    #2
    Originally posted by Securix View Post
    Just got an Altos 886. Supposedly has Xenix on it's HD, but I can't get anything out of its console port when I fire it up.

    Need info like default baud rate, parity, etc, and if it's a straight-thru or null modem serial cable.

    If it's like other Altos systems, console pin 2 is TxD and ping 3 is RxD.
    Minimal cable is probably 2, 3, 7 and 20.
    Try 9600 8n1.

    Let us know how you make out.
    Andy

    "It's a me-too, 8-bit machine with good graphics and a disk system nobody will support."
    -- Bill Gates, about the Sony SMC-70 with the new 3.5" floppy drives (InfoWorld; June 7, 1982)

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by ahm View Post
      If it's like other Altos systems, console pin 2 is TxD and ping 3 is RxD.
      Minimal cable is probably 2, 3, 7 and 20.
      Try 9600 8n1.

      Let us know how you make out.
      Andy
      Thanks. Actually found a working cable and the console port came up. As I was testing, I tried every port, and interestingly, port 8 is some kind of debug console.

      In any case, it looks like the HD is dead. Doesn't spin up. Tried an external power supply too. It's a Miniscribe 3425 MFM. I see a few on ebay, but wondering - since I'm going to have to replace it - will this take a larger drive, such as a 40 or 80 MB unit?

      When the self-test finishes, there's an error that pops up on the console, which I'm assuming is due to the HD not coming up. I'll post the exact error later since I've already powered everything down for now.

      Once all the self-tests are done, the console asks if I want to boot up from HD or Floppy, which is promising. I need to rig up an old floppy drive and see if I can get those xenix images from www.classiccmp.com to work.
      Latest Acquisitions: ADDS Envoy, Sun 3/50, Teletype BLIT, DECMate II
      Still Wanted: Ithaca Intersystems DPS-1, SSB Chieftain, Altos 2086, TRS-80 Model 16, Victory FACTOR
      Always looking for: AT&T 3B2's and UnixPC/3B1's.
      http://www.securix.net/retrotekvintagecomputers

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Securix View Post
        In any case, it looks like the HD is dead. Doesn't spin up. Tried an external power supply too. It's a Miniscribe 3425 MFM.
        Could be stiction.

        If you're already resigned to getting a replacement drive, you could try getting the old drive to spin up.
        It might be easier than trying to find an appropriate drive, operating system and reloading.
        But you could also wreck the drive.

        In the past, I've had limited success getting stuck drives restarted so they could be backed up.
        One method involves holding the drive and giving it a twist in the direction of rotation just as power is applied.
        Another involves giving the drive a slap with your hand at power up.
        Sometimes it takes a few slaps, each one progressively harder.
        As I say, this can potentially wreck the old drive, so use your judgement.

        Andy

        "It's a me-too, 8-bit machine with good graphics and a disk system nobody will support."
        -- Bill Gates, about the Sony SMC-70 with the new 3.5" floppy drives (InfoWorld; June 7, 1982)

        Comment


          #5
          If the drive's dead, then nothing to lose by killing it a bit more.
          I'd try a rapid 180 degree turn with power applied too!
          "Don't it always seem to go
          That you don't know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone" (BANG )

          Comment


            #6
            When you first boot, what message appears on the screen...something like this:

            @ BillDeg:
            Web: vintagecomputer.net
            Twitter: @billdeg
            Youtube: @billdeg
            Unauthorized Bio

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by billdeg View Post
              When you first boot, what message appears on the screen...something like this:

              This is the power-on output:

              886 MONITOR f1.0


              > CPU Power-up tests ... failed:
              No response from SMTU controller.

              > System configuration:
              Memory size (KB)= 1024
              188 Communications Interface Card.
              > Select [1] to boot from Hard Disk
              [2] to boot from Floppy Disk
              [3] to enter Debugger

              > Enter option:
              Latest Acquisitions: ADDS Envoy, Sun 3/50, Teletype BLIT, DECMate II
              Still Wanted: Ithaca Intersystems DPS-1, SSB Chieftain, Altos 2086, TRS-80 Model 16, Victory FACTOR
              Always looking for: AT&T 3B2's and UnixPC/3B1's.
              http://www.securix.net/retrotekvintagecomputers

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks. A few weeks ago I found my manual for your system in my docs, but I was not able to re-locate it, I need to copy and post on the web. I don't think there is a copy available now.
                Anyway, I only have a 5-5AD system, I wish I could be more help.
                bd
                @ BillDeg:
                Web: vintagecomputer.net
                Twitter: @billdeg
                Youtube: @billdeg
                Unauthorized Bio

                Comment


                  #9
                  Well, after some poking and prodding, I got the Altos running...

                  886 MONITOR f1.0


                  > CPU Power-up tests ... passed

                  > System configuration:
                  Memory size (KB)= 1024
                  188 Communications Interface Card.
                  Hard Disks - (1)
                  > PRESS ANY KEY TO INTERRUPT AUTO-BOOT
                  > Booting from hard disk ...

                  Xenix v3.2e

                  Kernel memory = 184k
                  Buffers = 104k
                  User memory = 736k

                  The system was not shut down properly.
                  The root file system will be cleaned.

                  Type Ctrl-d to proceed with normal startup,
                  (or give root password for system maintenance):
                  Entering System Maintenance Mode
                  #
                  # fsck

                  /dev/root
                  ** Phase 1 - Check Blocks and Sizes
                  ** Phase 2 - Check Pathnames
                  ** Phase 3 - Check Connectivity
                  ** Phase 4 - Check Reference Counts
                  ** Phase 5 - Check Free List

                  868 files 6867 blocks 10483 free
                  # exit

                  Current System Time is: Thu Jan 1 00:04:00 PST 1970

                  Altos login: root
                  Welcome to Altos Computer Systems' XENIX 3.2e!

                  # uname -a
                  XENIX (empty) (empty) v3.2e / (empty) (empty) (empty) 8
                  #


                  I decided to try plugging in a working IDE drive into the Altos power connector, but it refused to power up. So with my DMM I checked the output voltage on the connector. +5v is good but the +12v rail is only outputting +9v, not enough to get the clunky MFM drive jumpstarted. So I disassembled my external IDE drive again and use its power supply connector. It did not spin up the first time, but after a second jolt, it fired right up. The SMTU controller error naturally went away too.

                  Booted up the machine and voilà, I'm back in 1986. Thankfully, the root password was easy to guess: null.

                  Now I need to probe around the power supply and see what needs replacing.

                  Could still use the docs (especially field service for the power supply) if you can find them.

                  Also, Bill, that was you at VCF playing the Theremin, right? I kinda just made that connection...
                  Last edited by Securix; October 13, 2009, 07:13 AM. Reason: Added VCF
                  Latest Acquisitions: ADDS Envoy, Sun 3/50, Teletype BLIT, DECMate II
                  Still Wanted: Ithaca Intersystems DPS-1, SSB Chieftain, Altos 2086, TRS-80 Model 16, Victory FACTOR
                  Always looking for: AT&T 3B2's and UnixPC/3B1's.
                  http://www.securix.net/retrotekvintagecomputers

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Hey Securix I've got an 886 that I just fired up today... Can't get it up though.. Will have to poke around with it.. At any rate.. When I was about 16 I was completely into the Altos.. I had a 586 which is still at my dad's in the basement I think.. with an external qic tape drive. I upgraded this 886 to the max ram and added another board to it but I cannot remember what it is.. some sort of math coprocessor I think. I love my 886 but I need to get it working.. I have all the Altos disks you can think of.. and manuals... 3 boxes worth.. I have Altos menu system, Altos Mail, Informix, and tons more.. I was lucky I still have this stuff..What makes me angry is my dad threw away my 2086 and I loved that machine too... its too bad... I had like 8 terminals but he threw alot of that way too.. I only have two Altos III's left.. and only 1 keyboard... I used to use Hyperterminal through a comm port to connect... So I figured I'd post to this since your an Altos fan although that was back in 2009.. who knows if you will respond..

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I got my 5-5AD running, but I only have one software package, a Safeguard System FIS (accounting, etc)...It's R/O and I can't copy the files from the diskettes to the hard drive, there must be an install disk that I am missing or there is some sort of special command line install.

                      The OS is MP/M II - anyone have 5 1/4" disks or images that run on a 5-5AD running MP/M II?
                      @ BillDeg:
                      Web: vintagecomputer.net
                      Twitter: @billdeg
                      Youtube: @billdeg
                      Unauthorized Bio

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I know these are old posts but anyone interesting in selling their Altos Systems??? I sort of collect them and am interested if anyone wants to unload them...

                        Thanks,
                        Matt

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by aplmak View Post
                          Hey Securix I've got an 886 that I just fired up today... Can't get it up though.. Will have to poke around with it.. At any rate.. When I was about 16 I was completely into the Altos.. I had a 586 which is still at my dad's in the basement I think.. with an external qic tape drive. I upgraded this 886 to the max ram and added another board to it but I cannot remember what it is.. some sort of math coprocessor I think. I love my 886 but I need to get it working.. I have all the Altos disks you can think of.. and manuals... 3 boxes worth.. I have Altos menu system, Altos Mail, Informix, and tons more.. I was lucky I still have this stuff..What makes me angry is my dad threw away my 2086 and I loved that machine too... its too bad... I had like 8 terminals but he threw alot of that way too.. I only have two Altos III's left.. and only 1 keyboard... I used to use Hyperterminal through a comm port to connect... So I figured I'd post to this since your an Altos fan although that was back in 2009.. who knows if you will respond..
                          aplmak, if you are still around, I'm restoring a 686 and 886 and really could use scans of the docs and images of the floppies.

                          Comment

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