VOGONS


First post, by tokyoracer

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I finally managed to find another one of these machines that actually works (a 524 CDS). Well, mostly anyway. I swapped some bits around and now I'm fairly happy with it, but I'm having a hell of a time trying to get a modern hard drive replacement as the thing arrived with the original drive which is faulty.
No big deal, or so I thought! The problem is that during this period, Compaq thought it would be a good idea to put a BIOS on the hard drive in a 'secret' partition.

So if I was to use say a 40GB drive I have spare, I can't actually use more than 5% of it's capacity. At least with DOS 6.22/Win 3.11 which I intend on using on this. Plus,
I can't get the drive overlay to work either because I'm pretty sure it needs the parameters set on the BIOS first before formatting one.

So in short, I feel like I'm in a catch-22 situation.

I tried installing DOS as a 2.1GB partition anyway, leaving the rest to gather dust (metaphorically speaking) but when I power it back on it loses it.

Am I stuck with using small drives on this machine? Is there anyone else that has one of these Compaq machines with the BIOS on the hard drive?

I did try the drivers on this site supposibly for this machine and tried to make a couple of OEM disks from the .EXE but both threw up an error and didn't attempt to write anything onto a disk. Tried various known working floppy disks too.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

P.s. If you feel this is best moved to the software section, please feel free to do so. Not entirely sure where this issue sits on this forum.

Reply 1 of 8, by Caluser2000

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Have a read of this thread. Re: Compaq cds 524 - upgrade info [help] I have one of these with a 4gig drive on it and the battery is low. All the system does on startup is stop at a rectangular green prompt bottem left detecting a replacement hdd . No need for the special bios partition on the drive at all. If I want to change bios settings I just use the prompt and by pressing F1 save settings and continue. It will reboot with the new settings as per normal. Yeah 40gig is too large and outside the wee systems range of drive detection in it's normal configuration.. You can use a nic with xt-ide bios on it in an eprom and fit it in a nics boot rom socket. Also preparing the drive in another system with Dynamic Drive overlay such as EZ-Drive might work.

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It's a misconception with these that the the bios is in a hidden partition on the hdd. The bios is not on the hidden partition and deleting will not render the system unusable. Only the bios set up utility is, but doesn't have to be as you can use the bios stup util off a bootable floppy. The bios is , like most PCs, on the mobo. I use to run Linux on mine with the hidden partition removed and did not effect anything.

Last edited by Caluser2000 on 2019-09-10, 22:08. Edited 4 times in total.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 2 of 8, by SPBHM

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I replaced the original drive on my CDS 524 around 2007, since it had failed, I just used a random 2GB drive, I don't remember anything special happening, just fdisk, format and business as usual, maybe I used a floppy for the bios at some point,
but the same drive after not using it for years I installed in my Pentium 166 and it booted just fine into the windows install I had on the 524, so I think it's fair to say it's pretty standard

Reply 3 of 8, by tokyoracer

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Thanks for the info, pity I can't use a bigger drive and just use an overlay. The closest I got to 2GB is just under 7GB and then the next smallest I have is a 500MB one.
It's possible I could just set it up on a other machine but I don't have one to spare right now.

Oh well, 500 megs will do for now, only now I'm getting alot of games crashing, usually as anything 'busy' is going on on-screen.

Might try pulling the mono out and giving it a good IPA scrub.

SPBHM wrote:

I replaced the original drive on my CDS 524 around 2007, since it had failed, I just used a random 2GB drive, I don't remember anything special happening, just fdisk, format and business as usual, maybe I used a floppy for the bios at some point,
but the same drive after not using it for years I installed in my Pentium 166 and it booted just fine into the windows install I had on the 524, so I think it's fair to say it's pretty standard

Do you by chance have the OEM software for this beast?

Reply 4 of 8, by Caluser2000

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Try using Checkit on the system to see it it picks up any up anything odd with the hardware. These systems have 4megs of ram soldered onto the mobo which can go faulty.

What OS are you running on it?

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 5 of 8, by SPBHM

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tokyoracer wrote:

Do you by chance have the OEM software for this beast?

sadly I don't, when the HD failed I looked around if I could find but no luck,
it originally came with windows 3.1 and later got a win95 upgrade, it had some cool software but not much, I mainly remember the phone and cd player software with a nice looking interface for the time...

also it came with some other CDs... king's quest VI, Crayola Art Studio, Aviation Adventure are the main ones I can remember.

Reply 6 of 8, by Caluser2000

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Didn't it come with a trial version of Tab Works? I've got the P75 version of this system as well Presario 5522 with original restore CD and disks. It came out around 12 months later than the CDS524. It shipped with MSDos 6.x/Win3.x. I suspect apart from some driver software the bundle was basicly the same as th CD524. The buyer bought my system after Win95s release so he was given a free Win95 upgrade CD to go with it.

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There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 7 of 8, by chinny22

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You may get away with that 7GB drive, from what I understand Caluser2000 is using a 4GB drive fine, the driver overlay was if you wanted the 40GB drive. Alternatively you could use the 500MB drive as a boot drive and a 2gb CF/SD card as a slave, much easier then finding a 2GB IDE drive

Reply 8 of 8, by Caluser2000

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Unfortunately there is no room in the chassis of these systems to fit an extra drive or CF/SD when there is a 3.5" drive fitted. Very compact units. IDE-CF/SD would be an option though if a spinning rust drive wasn't used.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉