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Luggable help: Panasonic Sr. Partner system software?

A-ko

Experienced Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2017
Messages
155
Hi all, I have a Panasonic Sr. Partner with the original embroidered carrying bag which is in lovely condition. It fires up and both disk drives appear to work. The computer is an XT-class PC compatible.

I can't, however, seem to boot it into any early version of DOS i throw at it. There is no BIOS screen or anything at startup, it just is blank for a bit until it pops up with whatever disk error it decides to show when it reads the disk. I have gotten two seperate disk error messages, either Not a valid disk, or the disk is unreadable (paraphrasing here.)

This makes me think it requires the special Sr. Partner disks to boot. Anybody happen to have copies of this software or disk image files lying around? Would be much appreciated!
 

modem7

Veteran Member
Joined
May 29, 2006
Messages
7,849
Location
Melbourne, Australia
First, I am unfamiliar with the Panasonic Sr. Partner

... both disk drives appear to work.
Based on the other content in your post, the above statement must equate to, "The light on each drive comes on at the expected times, and I can hear the spindles turning."

This makes me think it requires the special Sr. Partner disks to boot.
The web page at [here] includes, "The operating system for the Panasonic Sr. Partner was MS DOS, since this was a clone of IBM computers."

Have you cleaned the heads ?

Using 2S2D floppies ? [photo]

Over many years, the lubrication on the rails that the head carriage slides up and down on, can deteriorate to the point where the drive has trouble stepping reliably. Example photo at [here].

Can you swap the drives to see if the machine will boot from the other drive ?
 

A-ko

Experienced Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2017
Messages
155
i did take the case apart and plug in the second drive with the exact same results. I used a few different floppies, and formatted them at 180K or 360K on my 486 machine, then added DOS 3.0 files to try to make boot disks but nothing seemed to work. I didnt get too deep into the disk drives themselves as i had to do something else and hate leaving machines torn apart, but cleaning the heads and lubricating the rails was the next step i was going to take, although they are easily some of the least accessible floppy drives i've dealt with so far.

Wish there were more users of these things so i knew for sure if they are able to boot directly from DOS. I have read a few things that make it seem like it is only SOMEWHAT ibm compatible and may use some proprietary software to get running, but i haven't found any images of the OEM system disks just yet (if i do find originals i'll certainly try to preserve the data). i'll experiment farther and post back with results. This machine is pretty low on my priorities as i've had it for going on 20 years now but i do intend to get it working properly eventually!

Thanks for the tips.
 

ibmapc

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2010
Messages
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Location
Albany, OR USA
... formatted them at 180K or 360K on my 486 machine, then added DOS 3.0 files to try to make boot disks but nothing seemed to work...
First off, is the drive on your 486 a 1.2m drive? If so, disks formatted in that drive will usually not read properly in a 360k drive.
Second, if the drive in your 486 is a 360k drive did you use the /s parameter when formatting? If not you need to use the SYS command to make the disk bootable. Simply adding DOS files to the disk will not make it bootable.
 

AlexC

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2015
Messages
271
Location
Germany
I have one of these, single floppy with 10MB hard drive. It is *very* IBM compatible, partly because Panasonic 'borrowed' IBM's BIOS code and had their wrists slapped for it.

Mine boots fine from DOS 3.30 and pretty much any other DOS on 360KB floppies. As above, be sure you're doing 'sys' rather than just copying the boot files onto a formatted disk - that won't work. And as also noted above, creating 360KB boot floppies in a 1.2MB drive tends to be hit-and-miss, in fact more miss than hit.
 

SomeGuy

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2013
Messages
4,155
Location
Marietta, GA
While I have not encountered one personally, from my research I believe these were mostly IBM PC compatible, that is they should be able to boot generic MS-DOS or IBM PC-DOS. (If anyone knows otherwise, please correct me - if anyone happens to have the Panasonic/Matsushita OEM originals for this machine that would be good to archive)

Exactly what version of DOS are you trying to boot?

What you describe about boot up sounds normal up to where won't boot the disk. If you could note the exact error message that might be helpful. Specifically, if you are booting normal MS-DOS and the error message is "Non-System disk or disk error Replace and press any key when ready" then that usually means at least it is loading the boot sector.

As mentioned, you will either need to write the disk with a genuine 360k floppy drive, or you will need to degauss the disk before writing to it.
 

A-ko

Experienced Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2017
Messages
155
If not you need to use the SYS command to make the disk bootable. Simply adding DOS files to the disk will not make it bootable.

I'm a total moron and did not use the SYS command. Thanks for this! Havent tried again but i will soon.
 

A-ko

Experienced Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2017
Messages
155
revisited the Sr. Partner tonight after making a fresh boot disk on my Zenith Z-158. Booted right up instantly. Guess my old disks were duds!
 

redrumloa

New Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
5
I just bought one of these off eBay, should get it in a week or so. Do you still have yours? Are you interested in selling the carrying case? I'm looking to acquire most of the optional accessories Panasonic made for it.
 
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