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 communicating to an old pc clone View next topic
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Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

ok... a long story

my cousin got his hands on a portable pc clone with an inbuilt monitor, and 512k ram (496k available to the user) ... i told him i could give him something else than the ibm writing assistant word processor and the system disk he got with it...
recently getting my hands on an old 30 mb rll drive and controller i replace one of the 360k fdd's with the hard drive and it boots up
(now i know that this drive won't tolerate much travelling but hey.. who travels with a computer like that anymore)
i get some sort of a hard to understand database program for videos... apparently this hard drive comes from a video rental

to communicate with this thing i put the 360k drive i took out into my modern athlon peecee (phew... bioses still remember those drives) now weird problems begin...

windows xp doesn't understand the drive and won't read any of the disks

however i can boot dos 2.11 which came with the portable peecee on the fdd but no hard drives are seen... that is understandable... i hook up a 40 gig hard drive because i have no smaller drives at hand and give it a 500 megabyte fat16 partition and try to boot again... no luck
i then try to hook up the 1.44 fdd again (damn new motherboards with only one fdd controller) and put dos 5.0 system files on the fat16 partition
and boot that but... nope no 360k drive.... weird maybe i am using too new dos here ?

then as i boot win xp up again the 360k drive magically works ?!?
i use the opportunity and put an old version of "fastwire" a serial port transfer program

win xp won't give it access to the serial port but luckily i just made a bootable dos 5 partition

this thing works but not very well... at 9600 baud i get 400+ errors in transfer with the 20 megs of data not to mention it taking all night cause 9600 baud isn't all that fast. i transfer the stuff from that hard drive to my computer (want to give this video database a better look)
must be the cable... i don't know

i then discover another thing... the portable pc has laplink 5... excellent
"program to big to fit in memory" rats... must be because i only have 496k to work with or the program is plain faulty

i then find laplink 3 and that works... i start transferring the data over my old parallel cable at much faster rate and no errors anywhere and i start deleting stuff through laplink... like the video database that is started in autoexec.bat
my cousin doesn' need that

i plan to free a bunch of space to put a few games a menu program the word processor he had plus some other stuff if i find it

now as i am running laplink 3 on both computers (fastwire transferred it over) i accidentally step on the power cable for the portable pc and kill it

when i reboot i get a "bad command or file name" instead of the video database program (naturally) and i try to start ll3 but... only a blank screen... i transfer the program over again with fastwire and again from a floppy i had with it on from a failed previous attempt to put it that way on my new pc

apparently something i deleted was needed so this pc could run ll3 and i'm back down to slow and erroneous fastwire but how ? did that database program do something to the memory ? this is weird
i plan to put that database program back if all fails and hope that'll fix problem

now comes what i was planning to ask...
has anyone here messed with 360k drives in a modern pc and knows why they're so difficult ?

what version of dos would start to pick up a 500 mb ide hard drive ?

does anyone know a parallel transfer program that shouldn't take up too much ram ?

would dos 5 be a bad idea for a pc with 512 kb ram ?

any useful recommendations for a transfer software over other ?

and finally... can one increase the memory in a pc like this... there are no extra memory slots but i've seen 8 bits isa memory upgrade cards on ebay... would something like that work on a computer like that ?

thanks for reading this long story/rant and any help is very appreciated


Rv Rolling Eyes
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Anonymous Coward

Joined: 20 Nov 2004
Posts: 589
Location: Shandong, China

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Your post was kind of long and messy, but I'll try to respond to what I can remember.

It's really starting to get tricky transferring files between XTs and modern PCs these days. I don't think there are currently any methods that I would consider easy. I think the two most common ways are to use the serial/parallel cable programs, and putting 360k drives into modern systems. Unfortunately, it seems that PCs these days are not coming with serial or parallel ports, and the support for 360k drives in the BIOS and Windows is being eliminated. Most people get around this problem by buying a PII or PIII class computer which is very cheap. I think that is probably the easiest way to go if you are serious about fooling with your XT.

Other possible routes that I list in order of difficulty are:

-external SCSI hard drives
-CD-ROM drives
-1.44meg floppy drives
-ethernet adapters
-Compact Flash

Networking to modern windows systems with ethernet adapters can be a real bitch to setup, but it's probably easier to get an 8-bit compatible NIC than a SCSI or IDE card that will work in the XT.

Adding more memory to your XT shouldn't be a big problem. If there are any empty sockets on your system board, you should be able to install the extra memory chips. But if there is no extra room, you'll require the 8-bit expansion card. AST sixpack plus is probably the easiest to find for this job.

Anyway, 640k, laplink 3, and a laplink compatible parallel or serial cable should get the job done. I ran this setup for many years and it worked fairly well. I interfaced with a 486 computer at that time. I also understand that serial is usually less of a hassle than parallel.
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Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:20 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

hello and thanks for the answer...

excuse the long and messy post but i had trouble explaining my dilemma without giving the long and messy story Wink

fortunately i have parallel and a serial port on my modern system (bought this k9 class amd motherboard last month)
other things like the secondary ide controller had left for four sata controller and now the fdd controller only supports one fdd (but can be set to 360k which i find amazing)

i will look into lap link 3 again after i receive the memory upgrade i bought on ebay just now (or find another way to make it work)
i found somewhere on the www a site giving it for download claiming it's freeware need to see again if this is the same program

i have noticed that price is very steep these days for 20 year old software on the internet found ll5 for around 50 bucks...
not to mention hardware like a decent 8 bit isa ide controller i recently found to cost 250$ on ebay and to think that i used to throw stuff like that out in 2000 due to lack of space...

i do have an 8 bit scsi controller in storage at a friends house 300 kilometres away... i'll try to work that when i can be bothered to go there

now i'll stop before this reply becomes as long and messy as the original post
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Joined: 29 Mar 2008
Posts: 51
Location: czech republic

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:14 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Good (and free) software for transfering files over serial line is called ZIP. It still works between PIII computer and XT laptop (olivetti quaderno) and it is not memory hungry. It also supports "clonning itself" to a computer without floppy or other removable media.

BTW: sometime ago I wanted to upgrade my desktop PC, when I realised that the motherboard suppports only one FDD I reverted back and this "modern" motherboard is gathering dust in a drawer Sad
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Posts: 22

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:41 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

where could i find this zip ?
obviously googling "zip" won't be of much help
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Joined: 29 Mar 2008
Posts: 51
Location: czech republic

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:30 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

google following words: eric meyer

It should bring you some useful result. Look for latest version, from 2002 or newer
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:43 am Reply with quoteBack to top

ok got it thanks Smile
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