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

Miroslav Skoric skoric at uns.ac.rs
Wed Aug 3 20:41:51 UTC 2011


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On 8/2/2011 12:04 PM, Gary Mitchell wrote:

> 
> 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.
> 

Hi Gary,

Actually, for a long time now, the boot sequence has been informing me
as follows: "HDD controller failure, Press <F1> to resume". After F1 it
always continued to function properly (I mean to boot from HD into MS
DOS 5.0 and the programs I had there). It was not a problem for me
because I booted that machine maybe once in a month or so. Now it does
not want to boot from HD at all.

And you are sure, FDD still works ... after a long search I managed to
find a bootable 5.25" floppy disk in the shack because this i286 used
that kind of Frisbee :-)
On the floppy I had a small program for HDD detection, which reported
that there was no drive detected at all. (I know that program used to
detect the HD properly, but it was long time ago.) Ok, then I also
activated a version of NDD (Norton Disk Doctor, dated back in 1988),
which tried to analyze partition table on "hard disk 1". During that
operation I heard a noise from the hard drive, something such as trying
to rotate the plates at first, following by slowing them down, and
started rotating again, then slowing down, etc. Finally, it reported
that the HDD "appears to have an invalid drive type number", i.e. type
was not set correctly in the system setup and asked me to reboot and
make changes in the system setup. (Whatever type of HDD I chose there,
it did not respond with proper operation.)

And yes, I forgot to tell that when the hard drive stopped functioning
for the first time last week, it also stopped giving a noise of rotating
its plates, or motor itself I suppose. I mean, the noise is now only
present while pressing the 'reset' button on the case, and it disappear
soon after releasing the button. Any idea on that symptom?

> 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.
> 

You are probably right. I think I found somewhere on the web an
information about the adapter having the input from an IDE channel on
HDD controllers and the output is the connector for regular USB sticks.
Don't have any idea if the BIOS would accept such a 'hard drive' in form
of a USB stick.

> 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.)
> 

It seems that the controller is still working because the floppies are
recognized. The catch 22 is how many FD diskettes I would need for
running an average packet node/bbs combo (BPQ+PZT), after booting the
comp :-)

Sure, I'll see about finding an old hard drive to check if it fits on
the system.

Regards,

Misko

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