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Advice on building up an HP Drive?

smp

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Hello again, all,

Now that I am fully involved with my "new" HP-86B, I am looking to add reliable mass storage (floppy disks) to it so I can then move on to plugging in my HP-82900A Auxiliary Processor, and boot up CP/M.

I also have an HP-9121D 3.5 inch floppy disk unit that I have been able to get one of the floppy drives going, but a couple of times now, when I put the shield back onto the drive and screw it down into the chassis again, it stops working, causing me to undo it all and get it going again. In short, this is not working out to be as reliable unit as I originally thought. The main electronics board seems to be perfectly solid (my usual experience with vintage HP electronics) but the disk drives are electro-mechanical mechanisms, and they seem to be much more flaky after circa 25 years of storage somewhere.

So, I came across a very interesting web site called the HP Drive Project (a subset of a larger site called the HP 9845 Project): http://www.hp9845.net/9845/projects/hpdrive/

This looks like an interesting thing to try - running a program called HP Drive in an old PC with an HP-IB interface card, that emulates an HP disk drive of one sort or another.

The one stumbling block that I have is that I am not a PC kind of guy. Yes, I have used PCs all along for the past 25 years at my places of work, but I have been a Macintosh guy since 1985, and know very little about the inner workings of the PC and all the clones.

So, does anyone out there have any experience with building up an HP Drive? I would greatly appreciate any advice that I can get on what pieces and parts to go out and hunt around for.

I found that eBay has a wide variety of available HP-IB/GP-IB interface cards available. Here is one of the more reasonably priced ones that matches up with what the HP Drive site indicates will work:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/14068757334...AX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649#ht_1092wt_744

It appears that this card needs to plug into a PC with an available ISA slot.

Now, keeping in mind that I want to do little more than get a PC configured as an HP Drive, all I think that I need is an older PC capable of running Windows 98. One or two floppy disk drives, a small hard disk, and the ability to connect to the internet in order to download the HP Drive software and drivers, and HP disk images should be all that I need - right?

Obviously, I'd love to purchase a good working PC for less than $100, and purchase a good working HP-IB interface card, fire it up, jump onto the web site, download the software and drivers, and get into the adventure of making this all work together. However, I would really like to avoid going straight down the rabbit hole of non-working PC hardware, incompatibilities, etc.

I would greatly appreciate any advice and pointers that you may be able to offer me.

Thanks very much, in advance, for your patience and attention!

smp
 

gslick

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I should build up an HP Drive machine and try it out with my HP-86B and see how it goes. I have all of the parts I need on hand.

Are there any good PC recycle places in your area? The real trick is to find a good working PC with at least one ISA slot. They are becoming more rare without looking around these days. If you don't have a PC with an ISA slot you'll pay a lot more for a PCI GPIB board.

You can look around on Craigslist for older PCs but it can be difficult to tell if a system has an ISA slot and a lot of people listing there probably have no idea and can't accurately answer your questions. There is always eBay, but then you have to pay for shipping.

I'll report back if I get one set up.

-Glen
 

smp

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Hi Glen,

Thanks very much for answering. I greatly appreciate it.

I am watching a couple of listings on eBay:

Computer:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/26103399832...AX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649#ht_2156wt_952

HP-IB Interface Card:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/14068757334...AX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649#ht_1092wt_744

Hopefully, no one will now go and snipe these away from me!

I would greatly appreciate your review and advice. I have obtained the manual for each of these, and I believe that the HP Vectra 510 will support ISA cards, and the National Instruments card is one of the suggestions made on the HP Drive site. Do you think that this computer and card combination might work? Specifically, the Hardware and BIOS Technical Manual for the Vectra 500 Series PC states that the mini-tower configuration has 3 ISA slots. Each of the slots seem to have a wide part and a more skinny part in one connector. I believe that the HP-IB card would simply plug into the wide part of the slot connector, right?

Once again, any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

smp
 

gslick

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You should be able to pick up a GPIB card for closer to $25 than $50. When I looked yesterday I saw some GPIB-TNT version cards around the $25 mark. I'll have to find some specific examples.

Edit: Here are some specific current (6/5/2012) examples of various National Instruments GPIB boards.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/160810446437
NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS GPIB-PCII/IIA
$15.99 (Buy It Now) + shipping

http://www.ebay.com/itm/290713699561
National Instruments AT-GPIB IEEE 488.2
$13.34 (Buy It Now) + shipping

http://www.ebay.com/itm/280895333044
National Instruments AT-GPIB/TNT ISA Card 181830-01D IEEE-488.2 NI
$29.95 ($39.95 Buy It Now), free shipping

http://www.ebay.com/itm/330719794390
National Instruments 183663C-01 AT-GPIB/TNT Plug And Play
$34.95 (Buy It Now) + shipping

I don't think I have a GPIB-PCII/IIA or an AT-GPIB board to try myself. I do have either an AT-GPIB/TNT, or an AT-GPIB/TNT PNP, or maybe both, to try with the HPDrive software.

-Glen
 
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smp

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WOW!

What can I say? Thanks a million for your assistance, Glen!

Hopefully, I will get that computer, and then I'll pick up one of those interface cards.

Thanks again,
smp
 

gslick

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I was going to start building up an HPDrive machine from spare parts last night but didn't get too far. I have an ASUS P2B-DS Slot 1 PII/PIII ATX motherboard with two ISA slots I was going to install in an ATX case that currently holds a different motherboard that doesn't have any ISA slots.

Before taking apart the current system I thought I should power it up to make sure all of the components still work and to make sure there wasn't anything I wanted to save on the hard drive before wiping it. Unfortunately the ATX power supply let out some vile smoke when I turned it on and now that power supply is dead.

The ASUS P2B-DS is an older (1999?) motherboard with a 20-pin ATX power supply connector and the only spare ATX power supplies I have on hand now are the newer 24-pin style.

I just ordered some of these 20F/24M ATX power supply adapters and I'll start this project again after I can get the ASUS P2B-DS motherboard going with a working ATX power supply. http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?p_id=1323

-Glen
 

gslick

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I am watching a couple of listings on eBay:

Computer:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/261033998325

I suppose $50 total shipped isn't too bad of a price if you can't find anything suitable locally. And it might be kinda cool to be running an HP drive simulator on an old HP Vectra system.

Personally I'd rather have something more recent than a P166 / 64MB system running Windows 9x. I rather have at least a PII/PIII system capable of running Windows 2000 / XP instead. If I didn't have any parts on hand and I couldn't find a cheap system locally with an ISA slot and I might look for something like an ASUS P3B-F motherboard (e.g. http://www.ebay.com/itm/330743269278) and see if I could find a free/cheap ATX case system locally to transplant it into. But if you don't have any previous PC hardware experience that might be more of a project than you want to tackle.

-Glen
 

smp

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Hello again,

Well, I did purchase the computer:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/26103399832...NX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649#ht_2100wt_988

And, I also purchased a National Instruments 183663C-01 AT-GPIB/TNT Plug And Play:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/33071979439...NX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649#ht_3370wt_880

On the HP Drive web site, it looks like the AT-GPIB/TNT PnP board will work well. Since I don't really intend to do more than setup the HP Drive, I am hoping that this computer will serve me well. Now I get to wait for things to arrive... I will post back on my progress.

smp
 
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