VOGONS


First post, by dada

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Hi all. I thought it would be a fun idea to install a CF to IDE card in my computer, to see if I could run CompactFlash as my main hard drive. Resilient, easy to backup and quiet.

So I installed it, but it doesn't seem to work. When booting up, it detects the 32GB card but then it just freezes. If I eject the card, it will continue the boot, but of course I can't reinsert the card so the hard disk won't appear. Here's a screenshot of my system configuration when I don't have the card inserted.

Anyone have experience with this? Is this something I can fix?

Reply 1 of 16, by konc

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Does this PC recognize normal/mechanical 32GB HDDs? I doubt it. The symptom you're having is typical for a HDD larger than what the BIOS can recognize.
Now about fixing it, assuming that's the case: try updating the BIOS or get a smaller CF -of a capacity that you're certain the BIOS does work with.

Reply 2 of 16, by root42

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I have a similar problem... 1GB CF card in a 286 PC. Can write to it, but not read from it. Always drive not ready errors. So one option I read is drive overlay software. I saw the links on phils computer lab, but there is only a windows setup program to write to a floppy. I have a mac and no floppy drive, so this is a bit tiresome. I probably could setup win98 or something in Virtualbox and write to an image, but isn't there a ready floppy image for this?

Alternative would be some card with the XT IDE BIOS I guess? What's the best way to do that?

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Reply 3 of 16, by Malvineous

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Drive overlay software is good, but it won't fix problems like the OP's where it's a BIOS issue. It also takes up valuable memory which can limit what you can do on the PC, especially if it's a 286 or earlier with no available UMBs. The XT-IDE BIOS is the best bet, as sitting in a ROM it's equivalent to a UMB even on a 286 or XT, so it doesn't use up any conventional memory.

The easiest way is to get a network card with a boot ROM socket, buy a cheap compatible flash chip for it, and flash the XT-IDE BIOS onto that. If you don't have a way of flashing the ROM, see if you've got a network card (perhaps for a more modern PC) that supports flashing. Then you can use that to get the data into the chip. See FlashROM for possibilities. Make sure the NIC for the final PC has a config utility (or jumpers) to enable the boot ROM and that it can be set to an address that won't conflict with anything else in the system.

Reply 4 of 16, by BLockOUT

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i have one, it gave me lots of problems to be honest at first.
then it worked with a NEW 80pin ide cable, i had to make a hole in it with a hot nail.

it did NOT work with 40pin ide cable. and i read NOT all cf to ide adapters work.

then i cant remember if you had to auto detect HDD in bios, i used a small CF card 256megs, Fdisk in dos, etc.

Reply 5 of 16, by root42

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Malvineous wrote:

The easiest way is to get a network card with a boot ROM socket, buy a cheap compatible flash chip for it, and flash the XT-IDE BIOS onto that. If you don't have a way of flashing the ROM, see if you've got a network card (perhaps for a more modern PC) that supports flashing. Then you can use that to get the data into the chip. See FlashROM for possibilities. Make sure the NIC for the final PC has a config utility (or jumpers) to enable the boot ROM and that it can be set to an address that won't conflict with anything else in the system.

That is a really good idea. I have no NIC, but I'll see if I can get one for little money.

Alternatively, texelec sells a dedicated XT IDE ROM card: https://texelec.com/product/lo-tech-isa-rom/

However, for that price I can almost start making my own CF XT IDE card. Sadly, lotech does not provide PCB gerber/kicad files. Or I could make the ROM only adapter myself.

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Reply 6 of 16, by Malvineous

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The Lotech stuff is nice, but because it's only small runs it's often the more expensive option. There are plenty of ISA NICs available and surprisingly the drivers and utilities are generally still quite easy to obtain (even the DOS drivers). Plus it saves you an ISA slot if you planned to have the machine networked anyway. You can readily get 10Mbps ISA NICs with 8P8C/RJ45 sockets so you can hook them up to a modern gigabit switch without any issues, converters or other weird hardware needed.

The only trick in my case was that I couldn't find a flash chip small enough to fit in the NIC, so I had to use an oversized one (physically larger than the socket) and tie the extra address lines together. But it worked just fine. I used an IC socket as an adapter so that I could program the chip normally then use the socket adapter to make it appear electrically as a 128 kB chip.

Reply 7 of 16, by root42

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Yes, I have found a bundle of three NICs on eBay. Let's see if I get them...
A colleague of mine has a pretty good EPROM programmer. So that shouldn't be a problem.
One of the eBay cards even has jumper settings silkscreened on the back. Allows you to set size and address of the Boot ROM. That should be ideal.

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Reply 8 of 16, by dada

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konc wrote:

Does this PC recognize normal/mechanical 32GB HDDs? I doubt it. The symptom you're having is typical for a HDD larger than what the BIOS can recognize.
Now about fixing it, assuming that's the case: try updating the BIOS or get a smaller CF -of a capacity that you're certain the BIOS does work with.

Thanks, I'll have to see if I can update the BIOS. It's an AP53 motherboard. If not, I guess I'll get a lower capacity CF card, but I'm not entirely sure how low I should go for it to work.

Is it at all possible that I could circumvent this problem by partitioning it into smaller segments?

Reply 9 of 16, by konc

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dada wrote:

Is it at all possible that I could circumvent this problem by partitioning it into smaller segments?

No, absolutely not. You could try some DDO software though as mentioned earlier in the thread.

Reply 10 of 16, by root42

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konc wrote:
dada wrote:

Is it at all possible that I could circumvent this problem by partitioning it into smaller segments?

No, absolutely not. You could try some DDO software though as mentioned earlier in the thread.

I can confirm that partitioning does NOT help. Already tried that... I am going the NIC + XT IDE ROM route now.

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Reply 11 of 16, by twilliamc

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dada wrote:
konc wrote:

Does this PC recognize normal/mechanical 32GB HDDs? I doubt it. The symptom you're having is typical for a HDD larger than what the BIOS can recognize.
Now about fixing it, assuming that's the case: try updating the BIOS or get a smaller CF -of a capacity that you're certain the BIOS does work with.

Thanks, I'll have to see if I can update the BIOS. It's an AP53 motherboard. If not, I guess I'll get a lower capacity CF card, but I'm not entirely sure how low I should go for it to work.

Is it at all possible that I could circumvent this problem by partitioning it into smaller segments?

I had a similar issue with a CF to IDE and SD to IDE, both were using 16GB cards. My system was hanging at boot, but after POST. Eventually I tried a 2GB SD card in the SD to IDE and it worked fine. That might be the case with your CF adapter.

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Reply 12 of 16, by root42

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I now have a 256 MB Compact Flash card here. IDEINFO.EXE says the geometry is 997 cyl / 16 heads / 32 sectors.

I have entered these values in the BIOS of my 286. I can partition using fdisk, I can format c: /s with no problem and copy dos files over from floppy. However: when I try to read a file or execute a program, I get disk not ready errors.

Any ideas why? I have had the same problems with the 1 GB CF I have, but I thought that was because the card is too big.

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Reply 13 of 16, by Jo22

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root42 wrote:

I now have a 256 MB Compact Flash card here. IDEINFO.EXE says the geometry is 997 cyl / 16 heads / 32 sectors.

root42 wrote:

I have entered these values in the BIOS of my 286.

root42 wrote:

Any ideas why?

It's just a guess, but maybe it works if you try 997 cyl / 15 heads / 32 sectors.
Old BIOSes started from 0 (0-15 heads) from what I remember.

Edit: https://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/Large-Disk-4.html

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Reply 14 of 16, by root42

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Jo22 wrote:

It's just a guess, but maybe it works if you try 997 cyl / 15 heads / 32 sectors.
Old BIOSes started from 0 (0-15 heads) from what I remember.

Edit: https://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/Large-Disk-4.html

I will try, but I think my BIOS works differently. When I enter as I noted, I see 254 MB, which is the card's size. If were to enter 15 heads, I think I will see less. But nevertheless I can try it out.

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Reply 15 of 16, by LunarG

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AP53... Your link says Acer, but I have a board that looks exactly the same, an AOpen AP53. A surprisingly nice little Pentium board imho. I've only ever tried it with 4GB CF cards, but that worked fine for me. The user manual doesn't list any drive size limits, only that it supports "more than 528-MB capacity". I would imagine that the limit is 8.4GB for the PIO Mode 4 Enhanced IDE controller on this board though.

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Reply 16 of 16, by amijim

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Hello, i have the very same problem on a sun cobalt qube3 ali aladdin V super socket 7 NAS.I have tried sandisk extreme 3 2gb , extreme iv 4gb and a kingston and a lexar 32mb using 3 different types of cheapo adapters.All of them recognised the cf but could not complete a linux installation on them.A friend of mine had a similar problem and told me about true ide adapter which worked okey yet it is very hard to find it.I was told that there are come cf adapters that gives better compatibility with motherboards which go by the name SYBA.I forgot to tell you that i have successfully used the above cheapo cd adapters successfully on an asus p5a ali aladdin v motherboard so hardware capabilities are not to blame but the specific vendor hardware implementation.

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