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Compaq Presario 9538

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Reply 20 of 33, by khyypio

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Surrat wrote on 2021-03-04, 05:48:
These files are for a 9536, but I think will be useful on your 9538: […]
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These files are for a 9536, but I think will be useful on your 9538:

https://drivers.eu/PC/Compaq/Presario%209536

If your still unable to get the system to boot, could the floppy drive be bad, or perhaps the cmos battery is dead.
You might need to unsolder the battery and replace it, I have had to do that on a few of my other 90's compaq's.

I still haven´t figure out how to boot it. From what I´ve read, I could create a small partition for the all the SoftPaqs so I can boot to BIOS straight from the hard-disk. I want to use a 8 Gb (2Gb + 6Gb partitions) CF card with an adapter. The battery is surely dead at this point, so it´s coming out nevertheless, but I doubt it would prevent from booting. Good luck with your project, let me know how it goes!

Reply 21 of 33, by chrismeyer6

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I'd start with replacing the battery. I have had many a motherboard in the past refuse to post with a dead battery. I also have a Compaq presarrio 4402 aio that will not post if it's battery is dead.

Reply 22 of 33, by khyypio

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chrismeyer6 wrote on 2021-03-11, 18:36:

I'd start with replacing the battery. I have had many a motherboard in the past refuse to post with a dead battery. I also have a Compaq presarrio 4402 aio that will not post if it's battery is dead.

Really? I thought a dead CMOS battery just won´t save BIOS settings. If this is true, I could´ve finished this headache of project a long time ago 😁

Reply 23 of 33, by chrismeyer6

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That's what I always thought myself untill it happened to me quite a few times. And just about every Compaq I've owned in the 386-pentium time frame has been that way dead or missing battery no post

Reply 24 of 33, by khyypio

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chrismeyer6 wrote on 2021-03-12, 13:16:

That's what I always thought myself untill it happened to me quite a few times. And just about every Compaq I've owned in the 386-pentium time frame has been that way dead or missing battery no post

Okay, this is good to know. Thanks!

Reply 26 of 33, by Surrat

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Well, I got mine put back together so I can experiment with it.

The onboard IDE is limited to max disk size of 8040MB, so a bit less than 8gig.
Anything larger causes problems on mine, and I cannot make the bios partition.
I did find a bios update for 1998 for it, no problems there.

I'm waiting for a IDE to CF adapter to arrive and I'll try booting off that.
I did test a Promise SATA card, it seems to work, but crashes in win95.
Not sure if thats due to Win95, or the card not working right in such an old system.

Reply 27 of 33, by Surrat

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Incoming wall of text...

Well, I now have two Presario 9548, which are almost exactly the same as Khyypio's 9538, so I'm posting here.
I think anything I learn, will apply to his computer as well.

Both have dead cmos batteries, which are soldered in 3 point CR1632 type.
I dont have any external batteries, so have to order some.
I was able to get one of the boards going, by setting up the bios every time I needed to turn it off.
I think when the battery is stone dead, the bios resources all show as conflicts, and cannot resolve.
Using IDE to Compact Flash adapters, I was able to try 8GB, and 4GB CF cards, and a hitachi microdrive 4GB:
8GB seems ok in bios, but after partitioning with dos, it locks up the system on loading dos again.
4GB works fine, no problems including loading Windows 95c, but enabling DMA mode caused windows to lock up while loading.
Microdrive turned out to be dead, and just softly clicked.
I have two NOS quantum bigfoot TS 6.4gig 4th gen hard disks, they are UDMA-66 native.
The 6.4gig show up fine to the bios, and I can even create a bios partition with its utilities.
However, hitting F10 to actually boot into the bios partition, locks up the system.
I think the bios partition cant use larger than a 4gig or maybe 4.3gig drive.

Its like this computer is laughing at my every attempt to get it going.
Khyypio I feel your pain...

But, its like they said in Apollo 13, just need to work the problems one at a time.

Reply 28 of 33, by khyypio

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Surrat wrote on 2021-03-30, 04:28:
Incoming wall of text... […]
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Incoming wall of text...

Well, I now have two Presario 9548, which are almost exactly the same as Khyypio's 9538, so I'm posting here.
I think anything I learn, will apply to his computer as well.

Both have dead cmos batteries, which are soldered in 3 point CR1632 type.
I dont have any external batteries, so have to order some.
I was able to get one of the boards going, by setting up the bios every time I needed to turn it off.
I think when the battery is stone dead, the bios resources all show as conflicts, and cannot resolve.
Using IDE to Compact Flash adapters, I was able to try 8GB, and 4GB CF cards, and a hitachi microdrive 4GB:
8GB seems ok in bios, but after partitioning with dos, it locks up the system on loading dos again.
4GB works fine, no problems including loading Windows 95c, but enabling DMA mode caused windows to lock up while loading.
Microdrive turned out to be dead, and just softly clicked.
I have two NOS quantum bigfoot TS 6.4gig 4th gen hard disks, they are UDMA-66 native.
The 6.4gig show up fine to the bios, and I can even create a bios partition with its utilities.
However, hitting F10 to actually boot into the bios partition, locks up the system.
I think the bios partition cant use larger than a 4gig or maybe 4.3gig drive.

Its like this computer is laughing at my every attempt to get it going.
Khyypio I feel your pain...

But, its like they said in Apollo 13, just need to work the problems one at a time.

Someone suggested to create a dedicated partition (5-10 Mb) for SoftPaqs. Here´s my CMOS battery solution:

IMG-20210316-WA0002.jpg
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IMG-20210316-WA0002.jpg
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177.29 KiB
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155 views
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Fair use/fair dealing exception

It´s not very beautiful but this way it´s easier to change a new button. Anyway, I still can´t boot, it just gives me the 1790 - Disk 0 Error...

Reply 29 of 33, by Surrat

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On mine, when I got the 1790 error, it seems to be caused by not having a bios partition on the hard drive.

After I created the bios partition, using the setup and diagnostic floppy disks, the 1790 error stopped.

Reply 30 of 33, by khyypio

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Surrat wrote on 2021-03-30, 15:19:

On mine, when I got the 1790 error, it seems to be caused by not having a bios partition on the hard drive.

After I created the bios partition, using the setup and diagnostic floppy disks, the 1790 error stopped.

How do you create the partition? I mean step-by-step?

Reply 31 of 33, by Surrat

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You need an unformatted hard disk, use another computer to do it if you have to.
Make sure the hard drive is not larger than 4gig.
Use FDISK in dos to remove ALL partitions.

Put that disk in the compaq, and start the computer, it MUST be on the PRIMARY IDE connector.
The bios should detect the drive as type 65 and tell you to restart.
Start it off the bios setup floppy disk, it should say it detected that there is no bios utility partition and create it, then tell you to restart.
Start into the bios setup floppy again, it will prompt you to insert the compaq diagnostic floppy and will create the partition data, once its done restart again.
Remove the floppy in the drive.
After the memory count, see if you can press F10 when you see a flashing white block in the upper right corner of the screen.
If it works, and you can get into the bios properly, then thats done.

Reboot the computer off something like a windows 98 startup floppy to add the msdos partition and format the hard disk.
You will see a very small 'non dos' partition, ignore that, its the bios partition and wont effect dos or windows.

Just random info, this computer is too old to boot off a cdrom, you have to fully setup the hard drive using floppy disks.
Then use a win98 startup floppy to get the cdrom working. Dont forget to run Smartdrv.exe from the win95/98 folder to speed things up.
Finally, run setup from the win95/98 folder.

If you get stuck on any of these steps, let me know.

(edited this post to try and make it clearer)

Reply 32 of 33, by Surrat

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After much hair pulling, and extreme frustration, I have solved most of the problems that happened when I installed Windows 95c on the Presario 9548.

Missing MPEG accelerator drivers found.
Win95 wrongly IDing the sound card as a 1688, when its really a 1788, fixed.

Final problem, is the Opti Viper IDE controller...
Win95 has incomplete support for it, and its stuck in msdos compatibility mode.
Opti legacy drivers online, say they do not provide drivers for their IDE controllers, and use OEM.
Opti also says that win98 IDE drivers dont work correctly on it either.
I havent been able to find a softpaq that contains IDE drivers for win95 on this machine.
Without proper IDE drivers, the computer is crashy, and unstable, locking up during any heavy I/O like installing directx 6.

I know there is an ISO of the system restore cd for the 9548, but havent gone that far, as that will have windows 95 original version, with no FAT32 support.

This has been one of the most frustrating vintage pc's I ever worked on.

Reply 33 of 33, by Surrat

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Well, I decided to try Win98se on this computer after finding a small tutorial from OPTi on how to fix the IDE controller problem it has.
Fix is here: http://www.opti-inc.com/html/drivers.html#ide

This worked perfectly, and win98se is up and running.
Win98se does not have drivers for the onboard MPEG accelerator by S3, but I found version 0.1 win95 drivers from S3 for it in a softpaq and they at least loaded without errors, and show up in device manager. Without them, you will get two unknown items in device manager.
For some reason the oem modem, which uses com2, had its com port detected as unknown, I just manually assigned it the com port driver for com2, and it worked fine. Could detect the 28.8 compaq modem after that, but again, no specific driver for it, I'm using a generic.
Win98se also correctly identifies the onboard ESS 1788 and its waveblaster daughterboard for midi.
Other notes, are the Viper-M chipset has only a 64mb cache address range for its L2 cache, so I have 2x 16mb, and 2x 4mb simms in it, giving 48mb.
For a speed boost, I'm testing an intel overdrive 200mmx cpu, seems fine so far.

I still dont have a battery for this computer, the one I purchased on ebay, was misleading, and they sent me the correct type, but one made in 1996! its stone dead.
For the bios setup partition on the hard drive, I'm using the 1.51C setup, and the 10.32 diagnostics, they work fine.