VOGONS


Reply 20 of 44, by shadmere

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
jakethompson1 wrote on 2020-08-10, 22:55:

With XTIDE you would only be using the BIOS, not the entire XT-IDE card, and would keep using your existing IDE connectors. It also replaces your INT13H handler, but earlier in the boot process. You set all IDE drives in the BIOS to not installed, and the XTIDE BIOS gives you a different button to push to get into its own BIOS Setup to configure drives. It's like having a SCSI card.

I tried installing the XT-IDE card, and it will boot to DOS via a boot disk, but all it says as far as a hard drive is that it didn't find one at 300H.

I know that the XT-IDE card is set for an I/O address of 300, so do I need to change that for it to find the CF card attached to my I/O card? If I do, how do I find what address my I/O card is actually using for my primary hard drive?

Unfortunately tonight I tried with a brand new IDE cable and got all the same errors as before, so that's not the problem. Hrmph. Overlay software continues not to work. It did randomly boot once, actually, with the overlay software. 7 out of 8 times I've used that, the computer froze while trying to boot. The one time it didn't, I was prompted by the Overlay software to insert my setup boot disk. I did and . . . got the exact same errors that I got when trying to install it to the CF card normally.

New (well, to me) I/O card should be coming on Friday. Maybe that'll help.

Reply 22 of 44, by johnnycontrario

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
shadmere wrote on 2020-08-12, 00:15:
I tried installing the XT-IDE card, and it will boot to DOS via a boot disk, but all it says as far as a hard drive is that it d […]
Show full quote
jakethompson1 wrote on 2020-08-10, 22:55:

With XTIDE you would only be using the BIOS, not the entire XT-IDE card, and would keep using your existing IDE connectors. It also replaces your INT13H handler, but earlier in the boot process. You set all IDE drives in the BIOS to not installed, and the XTIDE BIOS gives you a different button to push to get into its own BIOS Setup to configure drives. It's like having a SCSI card.

I tried installing the XT-IDE card, and it will boot to DOS via a boot disk, but all it says as far as a hard drive is that it didn't find one at 300H.

I know that the XT-IDE card is set for an I/O address of 300, so do I need to change that for it to find the CF card attached to my I/O card? If I do, how do I find what address my I/O card is actually using for my primary hard drive?

Unfortunately tonight I tried with a brand new IDE cable and got all the same errors as before, so that's not the problem. Hrmph. Overlay software continues not to work. It did randomly boot once, actually, with the overlay software. 7 out of 8 times I've used that, the computer froze while trying to boot. The one time it didn't, I was prompted by the Overlay software to insert my setup boot disk. I did and . . . got the exact same errors that I got when trying to install it to the CF card normally.

New (well, to me) I/O card should be coming on Friday. Maybe that'll help.

I recently used XTIDE to resolve some strange disk detection issues on a 486 build of my own. Symptoms were different, but were due to the system incorrectly handling the disk geometry.

The base address for the primary drive should be 1F0h, not 300h. 3ooh is the primary disk on an XT system. There are several versions of the XTIDE ROM. In your case, I would run the smaller 386 ROM. The ROM needs to be configured for your system and then flashed to the ROM chip. The ROMs and configuration utility can be loaded from a boot disk. Make sure to disable all ROM shadowing in the BIOS before trying to flash it and do not run any memory managers (himem, emm386, etc). In my case, I was not able to flash the chip with the configuration utility. I had to save the configured ROM image to disk and flash it with the 'flash.com' that was included with older versions of XTIDE. I don't recall where I found this, but I can dig around for it if you can't find it.
EDIT: Found the flash utility: https://www.lo-tech.co.uk/wiki/Lo-tech_XT-CF_flash_utility

XTIDE documentation is scattered about in various states of updated-ness. I struggled for a long time to find the latest version. Here are links to the best info I could find.
Documentation: http://www.xtideuniversalbios.org/
Downloads: http://www.xtideuniversalbios.org/binaries/

It took me a couple of reads to understand how it all works, but it's pretty simple once you get the hang of it.

This, of course, won't cure any hardware limitations your controller may have. I may be way off base with the rest of this post, so someone please correct me.

I had a 486 that would simply hang with a CF to IDE plugged in, but that same CF to IDE booted fine in a newer machine. I banged my head against the wall for a while, but I wasn't in the mood to find a source for compatible CF cards, so I switched to a Sintechi SD to IDE adapter. It has some quirks, like not being able to operate as a slave and doing strange things if you have 2 of them in the same system, but it uses a more modern storage medium and it works reliably for me. I'm guessing your controller is an ATA-2 controller that might support DMA. CF cards are supposed to support both PIO and DMA modes, including some special DMA modes just for CF cards, but this link seems to suggest that some configurations may not negotiate the transfer speed correctly. Have you tried forcing the transfer mode in the BIOS to PIO 4 or lower? Maybe the cards that you have don't support the older modes used by the IDE controller.
These articles make me wonder if CF cards only work on newer IDE controllers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_ATA#Co … Flash_interface
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WDMA_(computer)

Reply 23 of 44, by GigAHerZ

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

EzDrive takes up less memory than OnTrack and does the same thing. (5kB vs 10kB)
On top of it, you can use EzDrive's driver to free up even that small amount of memory through config.sys. 😉 Even XTIDE bios extension consumes 1kB of conv. memory, while EzDrive can be run with 0 memory cost.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - And i intend to get every last bit out of it even after loading every damn driver!

Reply 24 of 44, by shadmere

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
GigAHerZ wrote on 2020-08-12, 06:18:

EzDrive takes up less memory than OnTrack and does the same thing. (5kB vs 10kB)
On top of it, you can use EzDrive's driver to free up even that small amount of memory through config.sys. 😉 Even XTIDE bios extension consumes 1kB of conv. memory, while EzDrive can be run with 0 memory cost.

So far I'm completely unable to make EzDrive do anything but say, "No IDE drive found."

johnnycontrario wrote on 2020-08-12, 04:24:
I had a 486 that would simply hang with a CF to IDE plugged in, but that same CF to IDE booted fine in a newer machine. I banged […]
Show full quote

I had a 486 that would simply hang with a CF to IDE plugged in, but that same CF to IDE booted fine in a newer machine. I banged my head against the wall for a while, but I wasn't in the mood to find a source for compatible CF cards, so I switched to a Sintechi SD to IDE adapter. It has some quirks, like not being able to operate as a slave and doing strange things if you have 2 of them in the same system, but it uses a more modern storage medium and it works reliably for me. I'm guessing your controller is an ATA-2 controller that might support DMA. CF cards are supposed to support both PIO and DMA modes, including some special DMA modes just for CF cards, but this link seems to suggest that some configurations may not negotiate the transfer speed correctly. Have you tried forcing the transfer mode in the BIOS to PIO 4 or lower? Maybe the cards that you have don't support the older modes used by the IDE controller.
These articles make me wonder if CF cards only work on newer IDE controllers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_ATA#Co … Flash_interface
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WDMA_(computer)

I don't see any options for PIO in my BIOS.

Reply 25 of 44, by johnnycontrario

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
shadmere wrote on 2020-08-12, 10:24:

So far I'm completely unable to make EzDrive do anything but say, "No IDE drive found."

I would give XTIDE another try. It took me a few attempts to figure out how to configure it properly. I'm planning on doing some retro PC stuff tonight; if you need help configuring the ROM, I can do some screenshots of how I configured mine.

shadmere wrote on 2020-08-12, 10:24:

I don't see any options for PIO in my BIOS.

I think older systems had jumpers on the controller card for this... Now that I think of it, didn't some controller cards have configuration software? What model controller cards are you working with?

Reply 26 of 44, by JudgeMonroe

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
johnnycontrario wrote on 2020-08-12, 14:39:
shadmere wrote on 2020-08-12, 10:24:

I don't see any options for PIO in my BIOS.

I think older systems had jumpers on the controller card for this... Now that I think of it, didn't some controller cards have configuration software? What model controller cards are you working with?

Yes, there may be jumpers on a VLB IO card for PIO mode -- actually for setting a transfer rate associated with a given PIO -- or it may be software controlled. Depends on the specific model of controller but a common method involved using flags on a real mode driver (EIDEDOS.SYS) to set the data transfer mode. Obviously a DOS driver has no bearing on the ability of the system to boot.

Reply 27 of 44, by shadmere

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Okay, this is the card I have.

I assume that the "Mode" selection options on the far left means PIO mode. It only has 0, 1, 2, and 3 though. Looks like it's currently set to 3.

I have a second I/O card, but it came out of a system that was rusty as all hell, and I can't even get it to recognize the 425 mb hard drive I've got. (That drive itself seems to be broken, as it also fails DOS installs. Not the same way the CF cards are failing, though. With the hard drive, it just gets to 45% progress of installation and stays there forever. Scandisk and Chkdsk both hang while running, as well. Though I suppose I have no way of knowing right now. Maybe both my I/O cards are busted up, or the motherboard is screwed up in a way that won't let any IDE drive work?)

Attachments

  • 2020-08-12 18.12.12.jpg
    Filename
    2020-08-12 18.12.12.jpg
    File size
    886.08 KiB
    Views
    207 views
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception

Reply 28 of 44, by pentiumspeed

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Show us your motherboard and make sure this also jumpered correctly, also at 33mhz and one wait state as well.

Cheers,

Great Northern aka Canada.

Reply 29 of 44, by johnnycontrario

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

You could try setting the mode to 0 and see if it helps, if not then it may be a red herring. The CPU speed jumpers are an odd thing to me, but I don't know a ton about VLB. I had one PC with it back in the day, and that's about all I can say about it.

It might be worth it to test the spinning disk on a modern computer to see what's causing th 45% progress freezes. I use adapters for most day-to-day retro computing, but I keep a some known-good parts to sanity check if I can't get something working.

Reply 30 of 44, by shadmere

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Here's a picture of my motherboard jumpers, along with pics of the manual to explain it.

Attachments

Reply 31 of 44, by shadmere

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
johnnycontrario wrote on 2020-08-13, 03:14:

It might be worth it to test the spinning disk on a modern computer to see what's causing th 45% progress freezes. I use adapters for most day-to-day retro computing, but I keep a some known-good parts to sanity check if I can't get something working.

That's a good idea. I'll order an adapter.

Reply 32 of 44, by shadmere

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
johnnycontrario wrote on 2020-08-13, 03:14:

It might be worth it to test the spinning disk on a modern computer to see what's causing th 45% progress freezes. I use adapters for most day-to-day retro computing, but I keep a some known-good parts to sanity check if I can't get something working.

As far as the older stuff goes, I don't have *any* known good parts. I mean it seems like the floppy drive is working alright, 🤣. But two more old IDE hard drives from eBay showed up today and neither of them will work. Neither of them are even detected by the BIOS at all, which is even worse than the other hard drive did. When I fill in the information manually, I just get "Hard drive error (80)."

The eBay seller on one of them said "Tested to work, zero-filled before shipping" but I don't know if that's true or not obviously. Definitely not going to claim it doesn't work, though, when so far I haven't gotten anything to work. (Everything seems to be failing in different ways, but still.)

Maybe when that adapter gets here I'll be able to get some answers.

So, question. If I hook one of these hard drives up to my computer with an adapter, is Windows 10 going to immediately do a bunch of nonsense to that drive? Cause that seems good to avoid if I can.

Also have a third I/O adapter showing up tomorrow. Maybe that will help.

If that doesn't work I guess I'll get another motherboard? That sounds like giving up but agggh.

I assume that getting a motherboard that doesn't have a clear model number anywhere I can see is essentially suicide by jumper.

Reply 33 of 44, by johnnycontrario

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
shadmere wrote on 2020-08-13, 23:32:

So, question. If I hook one of these hard drives up to my computer with an adapter, is Windows 10 going to immediately do a bunch of nonsense to that drive? Cause that seems good to avoid if I can.

I don't think Windows 10 will do anything to the drives. The few times I've done it in Windows, I haven't had any issues. You really just want to test the drives (surface scan, format, and copy some files around), so it shouldn't matter. Personally, I always partition and format drives in the target system. I have had problems when formatting on one computer and using on another, despite using the right settings.

shadmere wrote on 2020-08-13, 23:32:

Also have a third I/O adapter showing up tomorrow. Maybe that will help.

If that doesn't work I guess I'll get another motherboard? That sounds like giving up but agggh.

I know the feeling, but these old systems were finicky about everything. Throwing more parts at it will probably confuse things further. Don't give up.
Your best bet is to methodically divide and conquer, and take notes while you test. If you single mindedly attack a particular symptom, you'll eventually find the next puzzle piece.

These are the questions I would try to answer:

Is the original spinning disk OK?
If the disk tests OK on your modern PC, it could be a problem with the 486's hardware. >> Retest this good drive with the other controllers. If the problem continues on the other controllers, it's at the motherboard level. This could range from dirty contacts, bad power supply, all the way up to failing components on the motherboard.

If the disk tests BAD on your modern PC, then the CF card issues are probably unrelated.

Are the disk geometry problems caused by BIOS limitations/bugs?
Even if your BIOS should support a 4GB drive, it may have a bug that chokes on disk geometries that weren't available back in the day. XTIDE is a great tool to test this because it bypasses the motherboard BIOS and talks to the hardware directly.
I would configure and flash XTIDE for your system and retest the CF cards and the controllers. If this works, the problems were caused by the motherboard BIOS. There are not a ton of solutions to this apart from continuing to use XTIDE or finding a BIOS update. Practically speaking, losing 1k of conventional memory and a few kb of UMB has not caused me any actual trouble.

Are the disappearing partitions caused by CF card compatibility issues?
Not all CF cards are created equal. Some work well in CF to IDE adapters, others don't. I recently got a Pentium MMX industrial computer with an ATA-4 controller and a built-in CF card slot on the secondary IDE channel. You would think that's a best case scenario, but some cards work in it, others don't. I have also read of problems with writing the first sector (MBR and partition data) on some CF cards.
I get the sense that consumer CF cards can be hit or miss. There are CF cards made specifically for industrial computer applications, and I bet those would have a better chance of working in IDE mode.

Other folks may be more help with troubleshooting the CF cards. I have done very little with CF cards; I opted for SD cards instead because they're much more common.

As an aside: if you decide to shop for other storage mediums, check out Disk on Modules (DOM). These are SSDs that plug straight into the IDE socket. These are primarily used in industrial computers. Smaller sizes appropriate for a 486 are cheap and easy to find, and they're specifically designed to work with these older IDE controllers because industrial computers running 90's era hardware are not uncommon.

Reply 34 of 44, by shadmere

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Okay, I flashed the XT-IDE and it . . . intermittently works.

So far I've reboot the computer 7 times, and three of those times, it said something like: "Master at 1f0h: TS4GCF133", then booted from my boot disk and let me do things like run fdisk.

Four of the times it's reboot, it's said "Master at 1f0h: Not found."

It's about half and half as to whether these were CTRL-ALT-DEL reboots or power-switch reboots. Both results have happened in both situations.

Reply 35 of 44, by debs3759

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

If you use a mechanical drive on the same ports, do you get the same problem? If you do, it's the motherboard that is faulty. I suspect the chipset is failing.

See my graphics card database at www.gpuzoo.com
Constantly being worked on. Feel free to message me with any corrections or details of cards you would like me to research and add.

Reply 36 of 44, by shadmere

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
debs3759 wrote on 2020-08-14, 22:34:

If you use a mechanical drive on the same ports, do you get the same problem? If you do, it's the motherboard that is faulty. I suspect the chipset is failing.

One mechanical drive fails at 45% install of DOS. I assumed it was a bad drive, because like 30 years old. It is recognized by the BIOS, though. Scandisk hangs while scanning it, though. So does chkdsk.

Two other mechanical drives I got yesterday are not recognized by the BIOS at all.

It is possible that the motherboard is broken in a way that only affects hard drives, right? Like it lets floppy drives work correctly? (Both are connected to the same I/O card.) And I don't mean just the BIOS, because I was under the impression that the XT-IDE would do the drive-related BIOSing instead. But that just created a different problem, of a hard drive that disappears about half the time on boot.

Another issue with the XT-IDE setup is that when I decided to try to install DOS anyway on one of the boots where the CF disk showed up (I know that's not useful, I was just curious what would happen), it errored out in a NEW way. It got to 6% and then had errors reading everything on the floppy drive. When I exited install, it would only say, "Please insert disk with COMMAND.COM", and it ignored all disks that . . . did. That's a brand new issue. Haven't had any detection issues with the floppy until I tried to install DOS with the XT-IDE card installed.

Reply 37 of 44, by jakethompson1

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
shadmere wrote on 2020-08-14, 22:43:
One mechanical drive fails at 45% install of DOS. I assumed it was a bad drive, because like 30 years old. It is recognized by […]
Show full quote
debs3759 wrote on 2020-08-14, 22:34:

If you use a mechanical drive on the same ports, do you get the same problem? If you do, it's the motherboard that is faulty. I suspect the chipset is failing.

One mechanical drive fails at 45% install of DOS. I assumed it was a bad drive, because like 30 years old. It is recognized by the BIOS, though. Scandisk hangs while scanning it, though. So does chkdsk.

Two other mechanical drives I got yesterday are not recognized by the BIOS at all.

It is possible that the motherboard is broken in a way that only affects hard drives, right? Like it lets floppy drives work correctly? (Both are connected to the same I/O card.) And I don't mean just the BIOS, because I was under the impression that the XT-IDE would do the drive-related BIOSing instead. But that just created a different problem, of a hard drive that disappears about half the time on boot.

Another issue with the XT-IDE setup is that when I decided to try to install DOS anyway on one of the boots where the CF disk showed up (I know that's not useful, I was just curious what would happen), it errored out in a NEW way. It got to 6% and then had errors reading everything on the floppy drive. When I exited install, it would only say, "Please insert disk with COMMAND.COM", and it ignored all disks that . . . did. That's a brand new issue. Haven't had any detection issues with the floppy until I tried to install DOS with the XT-IDE card installed.

This is indeed getting weirder the deeper you go into it.
On your bios features setup, try disabling both CPU internal cache and external cache. See if that makes any of the issues go away.
If not, leave them disabled, and on your chipset features setup, try setting DRAM read and write wait states to the most pessimistic (highest-numbered) settings.
Have you already posted info about your RAM SIMMs? Let's make sure they are not EDO RAM.

Reply 38 of 44, by debs3759

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Definitely sounds like a faulty chipset to me.

See my graphics card database at www.gpuzoo.com
Constantly being worked on. Feel free to message me with any corrections or details of cards you would like me to research and add.

Reply 39 of 44, by debs3759

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

I would have thought it could be a corrupt BIOS if it failed at the same point each time, but from what I am reading it probably isn't that. If you can source a BIOS image, it might be worth updating it, just in case it is that.

See my graphics card database at www.gpuzoo.com
Constantly being worked on. Feel free to message me with any corrections or details of cards you would like me to research and add.