Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby canthearu » 2019-3-16 @ 10:15

user33331 wrote:Ok I'm in BIOS now.
"Drive not installed"
USER TYPE=47 OK
CYLN=1001 (no dots) OK
HEADS=15 OK
WPCOM= ???
LZONE= ???
SECT= ???

SIZE= I can't input to this SIZE.


WPCOM = 0
LZONE = 0
SECT = 17

The size will be automatically calculated once you put the sector count in.

WPCOM and LZONE don't have a lot of meaning for IDE style drives, as they handle this internally. It doesn't really matter that much what you set them to. Cylinders, heads and sectors are the important values to set here.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby user33331 » 2019-3-16 @ 10:21

I have new 3xAA China holders and other variations too like 18650 holders and such...
Does that 4.5V(3x1.5V AA) work or is it too much compared to original 3.6V ?
What is the Voltage range that still works ? Min and max. ?
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby canthearu » 2019-3-16 @ 10:22

I have found 4.5V works just fine on the external battery header. If you are worried, use a 2xAA holder for 3V. That should also work fine.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby user33331 » 2019-3-16 @ 10:30

It started to speak Swedish ? How to change the language ?
- "Startar MS-DOS"=Starting MS-DOS.
- "Teckentabel utförd"=Character table executed.
So does this mean HDD does not have Windows 3.1 only MS-DOS installed ?
How to install Win3.1 and will the computer handle it ?
Or will I stick to this DOS ?

What is the best operating system OS for a 386 ?
How to find the MS-DOS version number ?

Must I also install the Floppy drives A:\ 5" and 3" manually ?
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby sf78 » 2019-3-16 @ 10:42

So it has a localized version of DOS, Sweden in this case. You might want to install either an English version with a Finnish keyboard layout or just pure Finnish version. You can check the DOS version by typing VER in the command prompt. The only version I'd use is 6.22 as it is most compatible with the old games and has Scandisk etc. and support for CD-rom drives (which you should install in the empty slot). I'd also try and find some type of Sound Blaster (or clone) to get most out of it. It's really not enjoyable to use otherwise as it can run many games from the early 90's and they would sound rubbish without one.

edit: And yes, you need to specify A: and B: drives manually in BIOS. In your case A = 1.44 Mb 3.5" and B: (most likely) 1.2 Mb 5 1/4".
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby canthearu » 2019-3-16 @ 10:48

To get A: and B: working, you just need to setup the BIOS drive times.

A: is probably the 1.44meg 3.5inch drive
B: is probably the 1.2meg 5.25inch drive (the bigger one)

Try setting the bios that way, and if it doesn't work, swap it.

Looking at the startup, it looks like you have a pretty decent board there, with onboard cache so it will be pretty fast for a 386.

Good upgrades for this computer:
* Sound card
* CD-ROM drive

You will need to reinstall the English version of DOS to get rid of the swedish text. Your computer will work fine with windows 3.1, but don't expect too much performance from the trident card.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby user33331 » 2019-3-16 @ 11:28

The MHz-LED shows wrongly "97"Mhz.
How to set it correctly to show real 33MHz ?
Will Turbo-button work ?
Will any regular CD-Rom or CD-RW drive work ? From early 2000s+Cable Select-mode ?
- I have a 2002 TDK AI-CDRW401248B CD-RW drive.

-CPU=AMD Am386 DX/DXL-33.
-Graphic card=Trident TVGA8900C.
Game results:
Doom1= unplayable lag. Horrible. :dead:
Wolfenstein 3D= excellent with *bleep**bleep* sounds. :blush:

It has a C:\Windows file but it starts to DOS how to enter Windows ?
Last edited by user33331 on 2019-3-16 @ 11:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby canthearu » 2019-3-16 @ 11:40

Yeah, 386DX will really struggle with DOOM

Typically, You will need to re-arrange the jumpers the mhz display board to change them. some level of trial and error will be needed.
The turbo button should work on this computer
Any IDE CD-ROM or DVD-ROM will work. You will probably need a sound card with IDE on it to get it to work, as your I/O card probably has only one IDE channel.

Good Sound card options that won't be too expensive:
a) Sound blaster 16. Non-PNP would be better, but you should be able to get PNP cards going too
b) Yamaha YMF-718. Nice output, but definitely PNP and can be a little more troublesome to get running.
c) ESS 688 or maybe ESS 1868.

SB 2.0 and SB Pro 2 are probably the most period correct for the 386, but they are really expensive, so I can't in good conscience recommend them.

To start windows, try using the command 'win'

EG
C:\> win
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby user33331 » 2019-3-16 @ 11:46

Yes. I/O card made in Hong Kong.
HDD ribbon data cable connects:
1pc Seagate 130Mb.
1pc free for Slave HDD.
FDD ribbon data cable connects:
5" floppy drive.
3" floppy drive.
So no 3rd cable room for CD-Rom drive. :depressed:
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby user33331 » 2019-3-16 @ 12:03

I have no need for the 5 1/4" floppy drive. I only own​ newest 3 1⁄2" 1.44MB floppy disks.
Was there something about that I can't use this combination ?:
Same IDE-data cable:
-Any CD-Rom drive.(5 1/4" floppy removed)
-3 1⁄2" floppy drive.

Do I need a seperate data cable for CD-drive and 3 1⁄2" floppy drive ?

I wonder if Command & Conquer 95 Gold works ?
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby canthearu » 2019-3-16 @ 12:18

You can likely get a sound card with an additional IDE port, since having a CD drive without having a sound card is kinda pointless.

You might be able to put a CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive on the same channel as the hard drive, but it is a real crapshot if either or both would work properly in this configuration. Early IDE was not always fantastic with Master/Slave compatibility.

Normally, you would put the CD-ROM on it's own IDE channel and use a separate cable. The floppy drive cable ONLY works for floppy drives, as the design of the floppy controller is too specific to generally use different types of devices on the floppy cable.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby user33331 » 2019-3-16 @ 15:23

What is the total memory on this by the way ? ( Like today's RAM is 8,16 and 32GB.)
Total 8pcs combs:There are 3chip(4pcs) and 9chip memory combs(4pcs).
Bios says:
Base memory size 640KB
Ext. memory size 7168KB
Is it 8MB RAM memory ?

So:
CPU=33MHz(Turbo=?), RAM=8MB.
GPU RAM=max.1MB, all slots look filled (Trident TVGA8900C ).

Warcraft 1 says minimum CPU=386-20Mhz and at least 4MB RAM.
So I might be able to play it.
Every other game that I have requires at least 486-66Mhz or Pentium 1. Like: Destruction Derby 1,C&C95, Doom1,2 and such.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby retardware » 2019-3-16 @ 19:14

Very, very nice system!
These C&T boards belonged to the best what was available at the end of the 1980s.
Yours even has an expansion slot with which it is possible to expand to 16MB RAM.
If you are lucky, your AMI BIOS even permits you to enable/configure hardware UMB RAM.

Regarding the HDD, it is new... well, with "new" I mean that it is already IDE.
You should at least give the BIOS setup "Auto Detect Hard disk drive" function a try, it might work.
Regarding write precompensation and landing zone, it is irrelevant what you enter there, as this is only used with pre-IDE drives.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby jesolo » 2019-3-16 @ 20:05

user33331 wrote:What is the total memory on this by the way ? ( Like today's RAM is 8,16 and 32GB.)
Total 8pcs combs:There are 3chip(4pcs) and 9chip memory combs(4pcs).
Bios says:
Base memory size 640KB
Ext. memory size 7168KB
Is it 8MB RAM memory ?

So:
CPU=33MHz(Turbo=?), RAM=8MB.
GPU RAM=max.1MB, all slots look filled (Trident TVGA8900C ).

Warcraft 1 says minimum CPU=386-20Mhz and at least 4MB RAM.
So I might be able to play it.
Every other game that I have requires at least 486-66Mhz or Pentium 1. Like: Destruction Derby 1,C&C95, Doom1,2 and such.

Based on what you mentioned, your total RAM on this PC is 8 MB RAM, which was quite high for a PC from around 1991.
However, my guess is that it originally came with only 4 MB RAM and was later upgraded to 8 MB RAM (hence, the two different simm modules).
The motherboard should have a turbo header. You can easily test it by installing a utility like Landmark 2.0 or Navrátil System Information (NSSI) and running the benchmark.
If you press the turbo switch, then the CPU speed should slow down, which is great for earlier speed sensitive games.
Just not sure if you still have 1.44 MB floppy disks lying around and have a PC you can transfer it from, once downloaded.

I would hang onto this computer - although your current games might require a faster PC, there are older games that will run quite well on this PC. Have a look on Mobygames for all the older games from 1980's right up to around 1992.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby Merovign » 2019-3-16 @ 21:55

1) It sounds like you got the message to replace the battery, but it's important to *remove* it ASAP because it can leak and destroy the motherboard (or at least damage it).

2) If you decide not to keep the 5.25" drive, see if you can test it to see if it's working. They're starting to get rare and someone will surely trade it for something or buy it.

It took me a surprising amount of time to find a working 5.25 for a build that wasn't too expensive.

3) 386s and 3D shooters are not really a thing. There are a lot of good adventure, RPG, simulation, and side-scroller games from those days, though.

At the very least if you clean it up and keep it in nice condition it's unlikely to go down in value and is worth a pretty penny to the right buyer (look at eBay for examples). Not being a big brand name doesn't make too much difference. If you're thinking about selling it later you might hang onto the 5.25" drive, I look for that when I look at listings.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby user33331 » 2019-3-17 @ 08:27

Hello
Can I just get a 2nd I/O-card with a CD-Rom drive IDE-slot ?
- Does it exist or does it have to be a sound card with a integrated IDE-slot ?

Some sound cards have 3-4 IDE slots for:"Panasonic,Matsushita,Sony,..."
- What does it mean should I avoid these cards ?
- No compatibility with modern CD-Rom drives mfg.2000+ ?

Does PNP mean it needs a Windows 95 and drivers ?
- So no to PNP for MS-DOS 6.22 and 386 ?
- What does these PNP cards look like ?

Quess I'm looking for:
- a cheap(=20-30usd$), common, all around sound card with a CD-drive IDE slot that I can use in as many games as possible and works with a Am386-33(mfg.1991).
- So not too powerful and modern sound card.
- The computer has a 200W PSU.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby user33331 » 2019-3-17 @ 11:34

The CMOS 3.6V battery snapped out of its place...when trying to cut it.
The terminals look a little corroded and with a multimeter there is no connection between + and - terminals ? :dead:
The used "-" minus hole is corroded and no solder sticks on it(it repels solder)...Maybe drill a through hole ?
Where to connect the minus wire of battery 3xAA(A)=4.5V holder if the original hole is corroded ?

Should there be a electrical connection between these 3 battery holes or not ?
I just can't get the multimeter to *beep*.
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Last edited by user33331 on 2019-3-17 @ 11:42, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby canthearu » 2019-3-17 @ 11:35

user33331 wrote:Hello
Can I just get a 2nd I/O-card with a CD-Rom drive IDE-slot ?
- Does it exist or does it have to be a sound card with a integrated IDE-slot ?


Might work, but you will need an I/O card that you can change the address and IRQ on.

Some sound cards have 3-4 IDE slots for:"Panasonic,Matsushita,Sony,..."
- What does it mean should I avoid these cards ?
- No compatibility with modern CD-Rom drives mfg.2000+ ?


The other interfaces are for specific early CD-ROM drives. These are hard to find, while IDE CD/DVD-ROM drives are very common. You probably should stick to IDE drives.

Does PNP mean it needs a Windows 95 and drivers ?
- So no to PNP for MS-DOS 6.22 and 386 ?
- What does these PNP cards look like ?


PNP sound cards can often work in DOS and windows 3.1. They usually supply drivers/software to program the address/irq/dma in software.

Non-PNP cards will have jumpers for setting address/IRQ and DMA channels.

Quess I'm looking for:
- a cheap(=20-30usd$), common, all around sound card with a CD-drive IDE slot that I can use in as many games as possible and works with a Am386-33(mfg.1991).
- So not too powerful and modern sound card.
- The computer has a 200W PSU.


This might be a goer. Can't say for sure, because I have not used a ES688 personally, but it should work fine with sound blaster pro compatibility.

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Vintage-Gol ... SwMCtbqg7F
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby canthearu » 2019-3-17 @ 11:43

user33331 wrote:The CMOS 3.6V battery snapped out of its place...when trying to cut it.
The terminals look a little corroded and with a multimeter there is no connection between + and - terminals ? :dead:
The used "-" minus hole is corroded and no solder sticks on it(it repels solder)...Maybe drill a through hole ?

Should there be a electrical connection between these 3 battery holes or not ?
I just can't get the multimeter to *beep*.


Your board looks to have made it fairly unscathed through the years, and the process of the battery corroding everything around it only just beginning.

Get some vinegar and clean the corrosion from off the leads of the resistors/diodes and IC chips (anywhere you see green on the metal parts, that is from the battery)

I wouldn't really expect there to be electrical shorting between any of the battery pins there. One pin is ground, and the other 2 probably go through different resistors/diodes for different batteries that could be installed.

You can connect an external battery to JP16. Use your multimeter to find out which side (pin 1 or pin 4) is ground and connect the battery as needed.
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Re: Sad looking ACT 386 DX year mfg.1991 ?

Postby user33331 » 2019-3-17 @ 11:46

So no solder needed ? I'll try to look in to that JP16...
Super thanks. I hate soldering I use a modern reusable 3M mask with P3+gas filters and it still smells bad.
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