VOGONS


Compaq Deskpro 386/20e

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First post, by foey

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Well I've got the retro urge back after lurking for a considerable time on here!

You may remember my Compaq 386/25 which actually turned out to be a Compaq-M which I transformed into a 486/50 thanks to a very lucky ebay find. My new - Compaq DeskPro 386s/20

I've been looking around for another machine to play with and wanted to demo something old at work. I managed to find a Compaq Deskpro 386/20e complete with original monitor.

Specs

Intel 386 @ 20mhz
5mb RAM (1mb + 4mb Expansion board)
120mb Connor Hard Drive
O/B
3Com ISA Network Card
3.5 / 5.4 Drives
Orignal Compaq CRT Screen - does have minor screen burn.

All Complete, just needed a good clean!

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After a decent clean it's looking much sharper, but needs some RetroBrite!

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The 5.4 drive does not appear to be working, I can't really hear it spinning - assuming a belt? I can hear the head moving. As a result, I've swapped the drives around meaning that the 3.5 drive is the primary boot device allowing me to use my 720k Compaq setup disk.

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Compaq Setup, SP308.

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The machine has a basic onboard sound controller connected to an internal speaker. I've kept hold of a CT1600 for a while, I've almost gone to bin it a couple of times as I could never get it working. I popped it in and configured the jumpers to 240, i7 and dma3 and works like a dream! Crystal clear!

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Cleaning all of the internals

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Running Hocus Pocus!

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Problems

- I can't find the internal battery. I suspect it has been removed by the previous owner as there is a piece of sticky material connected to the case where I'm assuming the battery stuck to. I was expecting to find a Dallas RTC? Where is the battery connection? I have to run the Compaq setup each time I turn the machine off.

- 5.4 drive does not work, assuming a belt as I can't hear the disk spin? I need to take it apart. The previous owner gave me some disks with it as well but unable to read all of them.

It's currently running Windows 3.1. Looking to get it retro Brite'd over the weekend!

Hope you have enjoyed!

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 1 of 28, by henryVK

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Nice machine! My friend had one when we were in elementary school, so many fond memories surround these Compaqs.

I would guess that the battery is integrated in a socketed RTC chip. Those longish ones behind that raised board look like they might be BIOS-related!

Reply 2 of 28, by dr.ido

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The battery is off board. The only connector I can see in the photos that is not connected to anything is behind the slot the sound card is in. A lot of Compaq machines has board layout diagrams on the case lid, but this one may predate that.

Reply 4 of 28, by Jo22

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Looks very nice! I love these yellow Molex connectors, too. :)

120mb Connor Hard Drive

It's currently running Windows 3.1. Looking to get it retro Brite'd over the weekend!

Sounds good, I also had got a Conner drive in my 286.
If you're lucky, you can even activate 3.1's original FastDisk driver on this drive! :D

To do so, open system.ini and add this line to [386Enh] section: 32BitDiskAccess=On
To disable, just either remove the line, the statement (=On), change it to 32BitDiskAccess=Off.

Even if it doesn't work, you can install the MicroHouse FastDisk driver from here: http://win31.de/edrivers.htm
Of course, you can also ignore FastDisk alltogether and use Smartdrive or no disk cache at all.

FastDisk is just handy, because it lowers CPU load (no fallback to DOS/Real-Mode ..) and improves support for windowed DOS sessions.
Windows for Workgroups 3.11 is even better, because it has a built-in disk cache on top of that.

Edit: You even can install Win32s on that PC. XNView v1.50 run on that, too.
If you need other things to demo, have a look at WinG SDK. It has a DirectX-like spinning cube.
Oh, and also try the usual fractal programs I've attached a neat one (shareware).

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"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 5 of 28, by 386_junkie

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Nice system!

I prefer the original Compaq logo on hardware rather than the redesigned logo on more modern systems... and the Monitor to match too! Definitely look after that monitor, if anything were to happen to it, it would be a repair job rather than scrap.

Regards to the battery, I agree with another poster, it is likely to be off-board. Are there any loose pins around... say 4 in a row similar to the speaker connector?

Thanks for sharing.

Compaq Systempro; EISA Dual 386 ¦ Compaq Junkiepro; EISA Dual 386 ¦ ALR Powerpro; EISA Dual 386

EISA Graphic Cards ¦ EISA Graphic Card Benchmarks

Reply 6 of 28, by foey

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** 18/03/19 Update **

So today I stripped down the machine and decided to Retr0bright the case. I've never done this before so tested on a very aged and coloured keyboard beforehand - I was very impressed with the result so decided to crack on with the case.

Full clean beforehand. I used Truzone Cream Peroxide 12% 40 Volume and just used a paint brush to apply to the front of the case. I applied a couple of coats and then wrapped up in cling film and left outside in the... overcast UK British weather!

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I reapplied a couple of times throughout the afternoon, I was going to leave overnight but worried about streaks so decided to remove it all and could apply another coat in the next couple of days. I had left it for around 5 hours outside then brought inside for an hour or so. I cleaned with water then used a Microfibre cloth to remove the water. Considering it had only been on there for 5 hours, I was really surprised by the results. It does need another application but very happy.

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5.4 and Monitor are next on the list!

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** Battery **

Regarding the battery, if you look in this photo - at the rear of the SB Pro card, you can see a little white connector. It's 3 pin, but width for 4. Is this the battery connector? You can see the velcro on the left-hand side of the case.

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Close up.

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I've managed to get a packet driver for the card and playing around with mTCP. It seems to only obtain a DHCP every now and then, pings anything then drops the connection - despite staying connected to the switch. If I can get it working without any issues I will use the mTCP FTP Server program to transfer files back and forth.

It does need a full re-install of Dos 6.22 and WFW but really enjoying it currently.

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 7 of 28, by 386_junkie

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Retrobright working a treat... it is taking years off the system, looking good! Something I may have to try.

Yes, the Velcro there would have been to attach the plastic battery case... there would have been the other Velcro part on the battery case and a cable leading to the pins.

Compaq Systempro; EISA Dual 386 ¦ Compaq Junkiepro; EISA Dual 386 ¦ ALR Powerpro; EISA Dual 386

EISA Graphic Cards ¦ EISA Graphic Card Benchmarks

Reply 8 of 28, by eisapc

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Very nice, especially with the matching monitor. If you are looking for some memory upgrade PM me. I have some spare modules for sure.
I have a 386/20e and a 386/25e myself, a 386/16s ,a 486/L and countless /M and /XL, but never got my hands on such a monitor.
eisapc

Reply 9 of 28, by foey

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eisapc wrote:

Very nice, especially with the matching monitor. If you are looking for some memory upgrade PM me. I have some spare modules for sure.
I have a 386/20e and a 386/25e myself, a 386/16s ,a 486/L and countless /M and /XL, but never got my hands on such a monitor.
eisapc

Thanks, have you replaced your battery? If so, can you please confirm the location + what I need to replace it with.

Thanks!

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 10 of 28, by eisapc

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I will try to locate my system, but I am afraid it is buried somewhere in my cellar, so it might take hours to get direct access.
Will reply if I can locate it somewhere with easy access.
eisapc

Reply 11 of 28, by foey

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eisapc wrote:

I will try to locate my system, but I am afraid it is buried somewhere in my cellar, so it might take hours to get direct access.
Will reply if I can locate it somewhere with easy access.
eisapc

Thanks!

I managed to drop the previous owner a e-mail as I found a thread of his on another forum asking for a replacement battery - the post dates back to 2004. I believe he has removed the battery but never replaced it.

He managed to dig a photo out from his g-mail - This apparently is the battery. Any ideas where I can seek a replacement? or make my own?

20140813_164727_resized_zpsshp0wvec.jpg

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 12 of 28, by henryVK

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You should be able to just make your own with a 3.6V battery. People even use those triple AAA battery holders which deliver a higher combined voltage and it still seems to work.

Here's some general information:

http://pc-restorer.com/replacing-cmos-batteries-in-old-pcs/

I'm guessing the two adjacent pins on the header are +/-, but you can use a multimeter to find out the polarity if you can't find the mainboard manual. Once you know, you should be able to solder a 4-pin (or 2-pin, since that's all you need) female connector to the respective cables on your battery holder (or single battery) and connect it to the header. If the header is funny and you can't find a connector to fit it, you could also solder the wires directly to the pins, which would be just as well if you're using a battery holder.

Reply 13 of 28, by Klimanski

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Hi everybody, my name is Serge, first of all I sorry for my English and not so deep knowledge about PC.
I own same PC - Compaq DeskPro 386/20e, model 2540 , it is connected to Masspectrometer ( I am chemist 😀 ) and everything was working fine, but now Dallas DS1287 RTC clock is dead, an PC returns 162 and 163 error.

I have repaired chip adding 3 V CR2032, as it was described in internet ( many thanks to guy who shared this method https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdlSfqto_0o&t=179s ).

And what is sad - I do not have diagnostics diskette to reach BIOS ( or CMOS settings ).
I have purchased on e-Bay one 720 kb diskette, but it doesn't work - just PC starts to read it after I press F1, screen becomes white and PC stops without any feedback. Content of this DD shows no SP0308.exe file, and no any .img files ( what I see there - arstat.com, inspect.exe, mdmi.exe, readme, setup.exe, test.com )

Help me please to get this really nice and very reliable ( almost 30 years old ! ) PC back to work.

Many thanks !

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Reply 14 of 28, by chinny22

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Sounds like the disk may be bad.

Your other PC with a floppy drive should be able to boot off that same disk to check if the disk or drive is at fault.
You can also run a scandisk and see if the disk comes up with any errors.

The disk contents sound right.
Setup.exe is what you would type to enter BIOS after the PC boots off the disk
test is a small hardware test program

Reply 15 of 28, by Klimanski

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chinny22 wrote on 2021-02-11, 09:59:
Sounds like the disk may be bad. […]
Show full quote

Sounds like the disk may be bad.

Your other PC with a floppy drive should be able to boot off that same disk to check if the disk or drive is at fault.
You can also run a scandisk and see if the disk comes up with any errors.

The disk contents sound right.
Setup.exe is what you would type to enter BIOS after the PC boots off the disk
test is a small hardware test program

Thanks for reply with good idea ! Really, I have tried it on another PC and finally got where is my mistake - to launch .exe files MS DOS is necessary. Will try to add DOS setup.

Reply 16 of 28, by Klimanski

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Yes, it worked !!! So, time was set and BIOS reset to it's defaults and PC boots almost normal way already from hard drive. That is good.

But not everything is perfect, and there is some unpleasant moments.

1. When booting each time appears warning, that "Unable to open ASPI Manager, ASPIDISK.SYS is NOT installed." - screen I have attached. Is it something serious or can be skipped ?

2. Sometimes ( I tried to boot 5 times ) , when my device ( ITS40 ) service programm is launched in DOS , PC returns various mistakes, most unpleasant for me seems this one - "Can't read disc C" - does it mean that my HDD is close to it's end ? Never happened to see such C disc mistakes before.

3. Win 3.1 don't start.

May be some BIOS/CMOS settings still need to be adjusted ? Have no idea which ones.... an how to get to these settings.

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Reply 17 of 28, by Klimanski

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I have added some more information to my last post and bigger screen picture.
Please take a look and let me know your idea about how to solve. Thank you for reading and help !

Reply 18 of 28, by chinny22

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what hard drive do you have installed?
If we are lucky it's gone back to default settings when the battery died.
If we are unlucky the drive is dying, but we can check that once we know its set up correctly

Reply 19 of 28, by Klimanski

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chinny22 wrote on 2021-02-12, 11:59:

what hard drive do you have installed?
If we are lucky it's gone back to default settings when the battery died.
If we are unlucky the drive is dying, but we can check that once we know its set up correctly

Still believe, that should be lucky option 😀
Hard drive is on the pictures- Conner CP3111. What do you think - what destroys Hard Drive faster - high amount of hours when PC is ON, or long idling ? Last two - three years due to various reasons I have not switched this PC on.

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