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[bbssig] Help on repairing i286-based node/bbs

Gary Mitchell wb6yru at ix.netcom.com
Tue Aug 2 10:04:34 UTC 2011

Miroslav Skoric wrote:
> Hi,
> Until recently I used an old i286 comp for a BPQ node + PZT bbs. Its
> hard disk died last week, and probably its HDD controller too that is on
> an ISA card in the motherboard slot. It makes me wonder about eventual
> experience in successful reparations of such old comps, including
> replacing HDD part with more modern devices, such as USB memory sticks
> or so. But it seems that my old BIOS supports booting from only hard
> disks from 15-128 MB, so I suppose  that the new device must pretend as
> if it is a HDD. (I had an USB stick of 128 MB but do not have any idea
> on about how to connect it to such an old i286 board.) Any suggestion?
> Regards,
> Misko

Hi Misko,

The BIOS will attempt to boot from the floppy drive first, then
the hard drive.  You say the drive and controller might be bad.
That's possible, but chances are both won't go bad at the same
time.  The controller probably is still good.

To use a USB memory, the BIOS would need to have code to use a
USB port and a driver to use the memory stick.  I very much doubt
there is a BIOS for a 286 machine that knows how to use such
modern equipment.  I've never heard of a USB interface for such
an old system--you'll probably have to design and build that
yourself, if you know how.  And you'd have to program the BIOS
too.  If you can do that, you could use almost anything that can
be physically interfaced to the machine.  But that would be a lot
of work, even for an expert.

Otherwise, the only options left are to find an old hard drive
that will fit or use a floppy disk.  (Assuming the controller
is still working.)

Good luck.

73, Gary WB6YRU

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