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HeadStart Explorer and XT-IDE v1.0

Denniske1976

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Well, here's what I get when I flash in that BIOS:

hdd01.jpg

So the first byte is indeed 00, that relates back to FDISK saying "No hard disks present" :-(

Here's the boot screen, I do get this after the HeadStart Explorer logo... so it displays this, quite unreadable and weird (so it CAN display a menu after the Explorer Logo). The screen is quite fuzzy because somehow my camera doesn't like this (after I'm in DOS, the screen refresh seems better and I can get normal pics as the above one):

hdd02.jpg

It displays something like "PCT E ntil BS .1"
"Err!Th dves o d spo L aes"
"Dre Noinald."

And half a http:// address with "Dre" on the right side.

Weird.... or what? :p
 

hargle

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wow that is insane!

We should probably be thankful that it is displaying SOME text. Why it is boned up like that I cannot understand. This BIOS uses int 10h, Fn 0eh to display text to the screen. (Bh=0) and to set the screen up, it first calls int 10h, ax=3 and then int 10h, ax=1104h. Perhaps your video is not quite compatible with others. This can be changed easily enough.



the text should be left justified, and should say:
http://www.vintage-computer.com
PC/XT IDE controller BIOS v0.11
Drive 0:[model number]
Error! This drive is too old to support LBA access.
Drive 1:Not installed.


In your case it is complaining that your drive does not support LBA addressing, thus it rejected it, which explains why 40:75 is 0.
Was this the same drive you were using when you ran the IDdump.exe program? I could have sworn the data from the drive you posted before showed that the device supported LBA addressing.

This check could also be bypassed for the time being, although I'd like to see if you have any other drives to test with; even a CF device in an ide adapter should work (they work for me)

here's a BIOS with the LBA checking removed. I don't think We will get too far with this BIOS, but it should be enough to get you booted into DOS (off floppy!) and 40:75 should now be a 1, and we can start investigating more from there. Text will still be messed up.

http://www.waste.org/~winkles/V11HS.ZIP
 

Denniske1976

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Yep, I still had the IBM 540MB DALA drive attached. I also tried a CF adapter with 2GB card and got the same message at boot.

I'll try the other BIOS tonight and update here...
 

Denniske1976

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Well just a quick update as I'm at work:

Tried the V11 BIOS this morning quickly before going to work. FLashing went fine, computer displays the same garbled message except for the "LBA not supported" line... only problem is now the computer won't continue after that. So I get the Explorer logo, the garbled message and after that "PRESS F1 TO CONTINUE".

Pressing F1 doesn't do anything however, no floppy read no nuttin' :-( BTW: The other BIOS did that too, just once. Power cycling the computer made it boot to floppy again. This time no such thing, switched it off and on again 3 or 4 times and always the same.
 

Denniske1976

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OK I tried the IBM in stead of the CF adapter and wierdly I see a garbled "IBLA" string at the right when booting, so I guess it does see the IBM DALA. Only problem is I can't boot, and it's not always there... one boot it's there, the next it's empty. And of course now I can't boot to my floppy and I can't flash another BIOS in (does the BIOS ENABLED jumper have to be on?). Tried replacing the jumper while the computer is on but I can't boot to my floppy anymore, I just get that "PRESS F1 TO CONTINUE" that does nothing :-(
 

Denniske1976

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This is weird...

I just flashed the BIOS again, managed to get to the floppy boot. All OK. After a reboot I can get to the floppy again. So I turn off the power, connect the CF adapter, turn on the power -> "PRESS F1 TO CONTINUE" and nothing happens. So I turn off the computer, connect the IBM DALA drive, turn on the computer, I so no drive recognized and again "PRESS F1 TO CONTINUE". I turn off the computer again, disconnect the IBM drive, connect nothing, turn on the computer, no problemo and I boot from floppy (as in no "PRESS F1 TO CONTINUE" message).
 

Denniske1976

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OK, another update:

I found an old Kalok harddisk (from a Compaq Portable III) and connected that... now the garbled message shows a "KL3" drive where it first showed the "IBLA" at the right of the screen, second line so to say. So it does see the Kalok drive, debug show 00 as the first byte though :-(

hdd03.jpg
 

hargle

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OK, another update:
I found an old Kalok harddisk (from a Compaq Portable III) and connected that... now the garbled message shows a "KL3" drive where it first showed the "IBLA" at the right of the screen, second line so to say. So it does see the Kalok drive, debug show 00 as the first byte though :-(
So far, this makes sense. with the v11 BIOS, it will reject any drive that does not allow LBA addressing. that kalok drive doesn't, so it gets hucked out of the system, and thus 40:75 is 0.

The display also makes sense (well, not really) the "KL3" is some part of the model number that the BIOS is attempting to print to the screen. "IBLA" is different because of the different model number of the other device you tried. What doesn't make sense is the CF device, which is new, not supporting LBA addressing. I suppose there must be some out there, but that seems weird to me. I have 3 CF devices, ranging from 256mb through 2Gb and all of them support LBA.

If you can possibly buy or borrow a drive made between 1995 and 2004 that is PATA, even if the drive is 250Gb in size, just for testing this out, that can take us through this LBA headache, we can move onto our next failure point. ;)

Any time you get into a situation where you cannot boot the device (like to reflash the BIOS) you should be able to remove the eeprom enable jumper (jp1 i think) boot the machine to floppy, install jp1 again and then flash.
 

Denniske1976

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Well, just connected a Seagate ST340015A (jumpered as master) and same story again: either it shows the drive at boot and I get that unresponsive PRESS F1 again, or it won't show a drive at boot and I can boot to floppy and get 00 with debug (d 40:75).
 

Denniske1976

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Flashing in BIOS 1.1.5 or 2.0 doesn't make a difference either. No harddisks found by FDISK.

I think I'll put the card into another XT (I can dig out a HeadStart II somewhere), had the ST11 and 238R controller/disk out of that machine and they worked without a problem in the Explorer. So maybe the card isn't good or I think there is no way this will work in an Explorer (if the XT IDE works in the HeadStart II, that is).
 

hargle

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Well, just connected a Seagate ST340015A (jumpered as master) and same story again: either it shows the drive at boot and I get that unresponsive PRESS F1 again, or it won't show a drive at boot and I can boot to floppy and get 00 with debug (d 40:75).
When my BIOS does detect a drive, and the F1 message is shown:
1) are you also seeing the scrambled "Error! This drive is too old to support LBA access." message? I would think that an ST3540015A would *not* display this message anymore. that would be a step forward at least.
2) is the keyboard working when it is locked up? does your keyboard have a numlock LED, and when it is locked up will it toggle on and off? I'm trying to judge exactly how badly the machine is hung at this point. Does unplugging the keyboard and plugging it back in again in this condition help?


The press F1 is not in the XTIDE BIOS, so this is something the HS BIOS is throwing at you. Why it's locked up at this point I cannot begin to tell you, but I can speculate wildly: It may be that the memory the XTIDE is using as its own storage buffer (the very top of your 640k base memory, assuming you have 640k) and the HS machine is also trying to use that same memory; the XTIDE has overwritten something there. When the XTIDE does not detect a hard drive, no memory is stolen.

The XTIDE universal BIOS has 2 options for where to store values; at the top of base memory, or to steal a few interrupt vectors that are normally reserved for BASIC. Have you tried playing with that option in the universal BIOS? the "kiB to steal from RAM" option in xtidecfg
 

Denniske1976

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Weird, I had posted two other posts here but can't see them... also last post here should be by hargle but mine is the last one. Is anything missing?

Anyhoo, tried the card in a HeadStart II computer and it also won't show anything at boot. It just hangs after counting the memory. So it boots up, says "640K memory found", then starts testing it it 64K chunks, says "640K memory OK", does BEEP and then the cursor just keeps blinking on screen.
 

Denniske1976

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OK I finally see the post by hargle... after my last post above it showed up (and page 10 as well, mine kept at page 9 on every computer and my phone too).

I've seen that "KiB to steal from RAM" but didn't change it. I'll try that one. When I connect that ST3540015A drive and it does detect it, I don't see the "Err!" bit, just something that looks like/resembles "Drive 0" and then the "ST0015" (on the left side of the screen) and a line below that (on the right side) that looks like it says "Drive initialized"... could this be right? Anyway, when I see those lines the computer hangs, including CAPS and NUM LOCK. When it looks like the message says "No drives found" it boots. Weird thing is also that it's not consistant, like when I reboot the computer let's say 10 times, approx. 3 times it won't find the drive and boot to floppy and the other 7 times it show at least a message about the drive being "ST0015" (scrambled0 and it will hang after the XTIDE BIOS message is gone (with the PRESS F1 message).
 

Denniske1976

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Oh and uhm, would it be OK to use the "Boot A then C" in the XT IDE BIOS? Because the "Menu" option won't work I have it set to "A then C". Wouldn't have any effect on either the drive being found/used or not, right? I should still be able to get to the drive with FDISK?
 

hargle

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ok, here's another test.
http://www.waste.org/~winkles/HSTEST1.ZIP

this is a stock version 11 of my BIOS but I have removed the hooking of INT 19h, which eliminates the boot menu. this might allow the machine to actually boot.

Use your new ST3450015A hard drive with this BIOS.
Boot to floppy (if you can)

The main functions of this BIOS are:
1) detect a drive, which we know works already
2) hook INT 13h, moving floppy INT 13h to int 40h
3) store HDD parameters at the top 1k of system memory. This uses the top of memory pointers in the BIOS data area to know where that is.
4) reduce top of memory pointer by 1k
5) increase the byte to 40:75 by 1.

There are still multiple places to fail along the way here, but maybe, just maybe, you can actually boot with the card in and a detected drive.
good luck!
 

Denniske1976

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Nope... same story, it shows the drive as ST005A and then the "PRESS F1 TO CONTINUE" message. Or when I connect the CF adapter with the 2GB card I get a scrambled "Error! This drive doesn't support LBA mode!" (that's what seems to be the message) and the computer will boot to floppy disk. Tried the "KiB to steal from RAM" in Full Operation mode but to no avail :-(

Although with the PRESS F1 message, I do still get the CAPS LOCK and NUMLOCK LEDs on and off when I press those keys. So it's not a complete freeze.
 

hargle

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the setting for "KiB to steal from" that in xtidecfg.com is only for the universal BIOS, not for the BIOS I'm providing for you. Sorry I've mislead you.
THAT could be interesting to experiment with though. if you have not tried the universal BIOS AND flipped the steal memory setting away from top of memory stealing, there may be a lead.

otherwise, now there is a different behavior with the F1 message? You said earlier that it was a hard lockup and it did not change the LEDs when it was locked up, but now the LEDs do work? that is an important piece of information.
 

Denniske1976

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No no, no misleading done ;-) I meant I tried the Universal BIOS with this setting and it didn't make any difference (I guess using 8 as a value for that ould be OK since the BIOS is 8KB in size?).

Yep, seems so... I can now see the LEDs go on and off as oposed to them not doing anything before. I was actually hoping for some more progress, weird thing is that the BIOS boot messages keep being messed up. And the weird thing was that the 2GB CF card was rejected as not "supporting LBA Mode".

BTW: I've also tried some controller modes before and that didn't help either. Tried both the 1x8 and 2x8 mode and both won't see a harddisk either.

BTW2: Could the "PRESS F1 TO CONTINUE" message be an effect of me taking out those two EPROMs with DOS 3.31 in it? I haven't placed them back in yet.
 

hargle

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I was actually hoping for some more progress, weird thing is that the BIOS boot messages keep being messed up. And the weird thing was that the 2GB CF card was rejected as not "supporting LBA Mode".
One thing at a time... we have a drive that does support LBA, so let's continue using it. Once we can get your %!@%$ machine booted, we can fix the display issue and then maybe figure out how to get the universal BIOS back in the picture which will get you non-LBA addressing and all will be good again.
BTW2: Could the "PRESS F1 TO CONTINUE" message be an effect of me taking out those two EPROMs with DOS 3.31 in it? I haven't placed them back in yet.
Might as well, just for another data point anyway. I'll keep thinking about where to go with the next BIOS change while you do that.
 
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