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Troubleshooting VLB #2

Rickajho

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I didn't want to hijack the other recent VLB thread so here I is. This is all sounding familiar:

I had a BEK-V429S VLB motherboard that died - no clock signal on the bus. I was lucky(?) enough to replace it with an MV035 Rev. F VLB board. And things have been kind of quirky moving hardware over to this board.

I configured it with the same settings I had on the old board for an Evergreen 586 upgrade processor. Boot up and the first thing I notice is: The manual for this board references an Award BIOS but what's in there is an AMI BIOS. Should I be worried about that?

Ok, I have video with a Paradise Bahamas VLB board. The problem is the DTC2278E VLB multi board:

No matter what, I keeping getting "FDC failure" on boot. This is an auto detect board as far as floppy goes. If you connect a drive and a cable the FDC on the board is activated. If I remove the floppy in BIOS the error goes away. But I don't have floppy access either.

I really didn't even want to connect hard drives to the card until I got the floppy problem sorted. But not much choice here. Connect two drives to the primary IDE connector and:

Most of the time the BIOS doesn't auto detect any drives. After a couple reseats of the card it is auto detecting the drives now.

But still no floppy drives. If I enter a setting in the BIOS for a drive the "FDC failure" message is back.

Ok, disable the floppy in BIOS again and let it boot. After the memory test you get the BIOS status boot screen (don't know what else to call it.) It shows the both hard drives but...

Neither of the serial ports or the parallel port on the DTC card are detected. All say "none" on the BIOS boot screen.

Noodles to say I'm getting frustrated here. This DTC card was working fine on the old motherboard. The new mobo looks pristine. Unused or hardly used at all. My point there is it doesn't look like it had the typical exposure that could result in dirty contacts. And yes - cleaned the contacts on the DCT card and am about to do that again.

Any ideas what's going on here? Is the mobo too fast for this DTC card? I did note that the BEK mobo had 3 jumpers 37, 35, 33 labeled CPU speed, Write wait state & LRDY of which the manual says "The identifier jumpers allow VL-BUS slave to identfy the speed of the host CPU" The MV035 mobo does not have these three jumpers.

Open for any and all suggestions. I actually need this system to work!
 

Rickajho

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The saga continues and gets a little more weird, if not more frustrating:

Going down the 'rule it in/rule it out' path I took out the DCV VLB I/O card are replaced it with the most basic Boca 16 bit ISA hard drive/floppy controller card. (BOCA IDE002) The only options on that card are to set the hard drive or floppy drive to a primary or secondary address.

Put it in set to primary addresses, connect a single 3.5" working floppy drive, boot and...

FDC CONTROLLER FAILURE
Press F1 to Resume

I really don't get it. What could be so wrong either about this MV035 motherboard or how I jumpered it that might be the source of the problem?
 

Agent Orange

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Is your MV035 Rev. F an OPTI? Check you cabling and make sure the red stripe is aligned with pin-1.
 

Rickajho

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Yup, it's an OPTI. I'm kinda afraid to ask why you are asking about that? I've had no trouble with OPTI chipsets before. But that was with Award - not AMI - BIOS. And I've had experience with the Rev. D board and that had a completely different BIOS going on there.

I can go boot to get the BIOS date and revision if that helps.

Pin 1, of course.

The only other thing that's occurring to me right now is why can't/won't this mother board "see" those hardware addresses for floppy, LPT1, COM1 & COM2? (Just thinkin' out loud here...) Need to go look up those addresses to see if any light bulb goes off.
 

Agent Orange

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Yup, it's an OPTI. I'm kinda afraid to ask why you are asking about that? I've had no trouble with OPTI chipsets before. But that was with Award - not AMI - BIOS. And I've had experience with the Rev. D board and that had a completely different BIOS going on there.

I can go boot to get the BIOS date and revision if that helps.

Pin 1, of course.

The only other thing that's occurring to me right now is why can't/won't this mother board "see" those hardware addresses for floppy, LPT1, COM1 & COM2? (Just thinkin' out loud here...) Need to go look up those addresses to see if any light bulb goes off.

The reason I asked was that the STASON did not show your board. However, a quick Google returned this: http://www.elhvb.com/mboards/edom/mv035/manual35.htm. Does your board have an onboard controller?
 

Rickajho

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The reason I asked was that the STASON did not show your board. However, a quick Google returned this: http://www.elhvb.com/mboards/edom/mv035/manual35.htm. Does your board have an onboard controller?

Hi again

I have the documentation for both the Rev. D and Rev. F boards. What is showing at stason.org, comparing it to my docs, is the rev F. board. Note that the diagram shows all jumpers, but the stason.org descriptors are missing for a couple. (JP 39 is CRT power down - on diagram but not described at stason.org) http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/D/DASH-COMPUTER-INC-486-GREEN-FUNCTION-VL-BUS-MV035.html

The documentation at elhvb.com looks right, but it's a little kludgy combining several models.

No on board controllers for anything - video, IDE, floppy, SCSI - nuttin.

Discharging the CMOS right now - less strange things have caused problems. Was wondering if there was any garbage stuck in the CMOS settings. This mobo had not been used, if at all, in over seven years and had a dead CMOS battery (of course) when I started working with it.
 

Agent Orange

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Hi again

I have the documentation for both the Rev. D and Rev. F boards. What is showing at stason.org, comparing it to my docs, is the rev F. board. Note that the diagram shows all jumpers, but the stason.org descriptors are missing for a couple. (JP 39 is CRT power down - on diagram but not described at stason.org) http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/D/DASH-COMPUTER-INC-486-GREEN-FUNCTION-VL-BUS-MV035.html

The documentation at elhvb.com looks right, but it's a little kludgy combining several models.

No on board controllers for anything - video, IDE, floppy, SCSI - nuttin.

Discharging the CMOS right now - less strange things have caused problems. Was wondering if there was any garbage stuck in the CMOS settings. This mobo had not been used, if at all, in over seven years and had a dead CMOS battery (of course) when I started working with it.

Rick: How about an inventory of the hardware that you want to use, as well as your OS of choice. Why not leave the VLB problem aside for the moment, and see if you can get the board to boot from an ISA slot, with a garden variety ISA controller. Let's just start with the floppy and video card and see what happens. I have a VLB controller similar to your DTC2278E VLB and it can be 'quirky' at times.
 

Rickajho

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Thinking along the same line - thanks. I started poking around, looking for ISA stuff last night. We already know it still isn't happy with the Paradise Bahamas VLB video and the Boca ISA IDE/floppy board. And right now those are the only two type boards in play: a video card and either a multi i/o board or the plain Boca IDE/floppy. Haven't even considered putting anything else in there yet.

I have a Paradise Accelerator 24 ISA video card. Will try that with the Boca IDE/floppy tonight.

Hardware that's supposed to be in there? Oh lord... What I'm trying to move over from the dead 486 VLB system:

Paradise Bahamas 64 VLB video
DTC 2278E VLB 2 channel IDE, floppy, 2 serial, parallel, game multi board
DTC ISA SCSI II card (connected to 2 Fuji MO drives and a Sharp JX-330 scanner)
clone 16 bit sound card
Conner 2MB HSC floppy tape controller card

Hard drives are a Seagate Medalist 1.2G and a Champ (anyone remember them?) 1.0G

Runing DRDOS 7, Windows for Workgroups with Dashboard 4.0

All was playing happily with the BEK VLB motherboard
 

Rickajho

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Alrighty then. Just a quick thing I was able to do:

Booted up after clearing CMOS and got the usual "...not set" errors. (That I'll take as a good sign.) The only thing I set in the BIOS was floppy type A. Right now I have the Paradise VLB video card in there and the Boca ISA card with one floppy drive connected and that's it.

Still got "FDC controller failure..." on boot.

Went back into the BIOS and changed the "Enable Mouse Support" setting to "no". Reboot - and no error message about the floppy drive.

Yay? Sorta.

I tried booting memtest86 and it starts loading and... I don't know what, It's like the floppy drive is hung and doesn't finish loading the program. The activity light stays on until reboot.

Reboot, and the "FDC Controller Failure" error message is back.

It's something and I'll take it.

Two thoughts: I'm not sure what I/O address the BIOS is looking for with that "Enable Mouse Support" option turned on. (This is that stupid 'GUI' BIOS release that provided mouse support.) But I could see that BIOS option 'seizing' up the I/O bus. And I think it's time to pull and reseat the BIOS. When I put the board in it was firmly seated so I didn't think much about it. But maybe it's having an issue with poor contact with one (or more) pins in the socket.
 

Rickajho

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Ok, I have now dumbed it down to only the Paradise Accelerator 24 ISA video and the Boca IDE 002 ISA card. Even dropped the system down to 16MB RAM (four 4MB 30 pin SIMM's) Got video. No boot errors regarding the floppy controller. But it's still not working. Activity light comes on, the system complains there is no disk in the drive, activity light goes out. With a disk in drive hit<ENTER> and... repeat. It's not 'seeing' confirmed boot diskettes.

Could this be something screwed up with jumpering the mobo? I'm running out of things to try here. It seems like something regarding bus activity just isn't working right.

Running an Evegreen AMD 5x86 upgrade processor 133 mHz. Evergreen docs say to jumper the mobo for anything Intel, 33 mHz clock. P24D if you have that option and this mobo has jumper settings for a P24D. When I have got this to boot and ran the Evergreen diagnostics it did confirm the processor speed at 133 mHz and the clock at 33 mHz.
 

Agent Orange

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Ok, I have now dumbed it down to only the Paradise Accelerator 24 ISA video and the Boca IDE 002 ISA card. Even dropped the system down to 16MB RAM (four 4MB 30 pin SIMM's) Got video. No boot errors regarding the floppy controller. But it's still not working. Activity light comes on, the system complains there is no disk in the drive, activity light goes out. With a disk in drive hit<ENTER> and... repeat. It's not 'seeing' confirmed boot diskettes.

Could this be something screwed up with jumpering the mobo? I'm running out of things to try here. It seems like something regarding bus activity just isn't working right.

Running an Evegreen AMD 5x86 upgrade processor 133 mHz. Evergreen docs say to jumper the mobo for anything Intel, 33 mHz clock. P24D if you have that option and this mobo has jumper settings for a P24D. When I have got this to boot and ran the Evergreen diagnostics it did confirm the processor speed at 133 mHz and the clock at 33 mHz.

Evergreen settings look okay. Do you have another CPU that you could plug-in? Might eliminate some compatibility problems if they do in fact exist. Is that Boca controller the same one you had on your previous board? If so, see if you beg or borrow another controller. Also make sure your CPU voltage is set for 5 volts http://www.ewisdom.org/Tech/CPU/socket.htm
 

Rickajho

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I have a Cyrix DX2-66 I can try. And the board is set for 5v but it's one of the many things I will be re-re-rechecking.

Not sure what you mean about the Boca. Compared to the controller on the DTC board?

What I don't get, in the broad sense of what's going on here, is all this seems to be sort sort of bus I/O problem. DTC card: BIOS only sees the IDE controller and doesn't even see the floppy, parallel port or either serial port. Boca card: BIOS sees the floppy controller, but can't make it function properly. It sounds like it's spinning up the floppy, but isn't moving the head actuator.

All these missing or problematic pieces of hardware all have I/O addresses between 278h and 378h. IDE hardware address is way out of this range. (lower)

Pulling the board out tonight so I can thoroughly check the jumpers.

Wild and desperate thinking department:

I have an MV Rev. D board with a dead clock signal. Would the BIOS from a Rev. D board function in this Rev. F board? Is that largely dependent on if both boards used the same Opti chipset? I trust, at the very worst, if wouldn't work. But would it damage anything?
 

Agent Orange

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I have a Cyrix DX2-66 I can try. And the board is set for 5v but it's one of the many things I will be re-re-rechecking.

Not sure what you mean about the Boca. Compared to the controller on the DTC board?

What I don't get, in the broad sense of what's going on here, is all this seems to be sort sort of bus I/O problem. DTC card: BIOS only sees the IDE controller and doesn't even see the floppy, parallel port or either serial port. Boca card: BIOS sees the floppy controller, but can't make it function properly. It sounds like it's spinning up the floppy, but isn't moving the head actuator.

All these missing or problematic pieces of hardware all have I/O addresses between 278h and 378h. IDE hardware address is way out of this range. (lower)

Pulling the board out tonight so I can thoroughly check the jumpers.

Wild and desperate thinking department:

I have an MV Rev. D board with a dead clock signal. Would the BIOS from a Rev. D board function in this Rev. F board? Is that largely dependent on if both boards used the same Opti chipset? I trust, at the very worst, if wouldn't work. But would it damage anything?

I see where you changed the DTC for the ISA BOCA - missed that. Swapping with another or different BIOS is usually a recipe for disaster. However, it's close enough in this case to see if will at least POST - it's not going to catch on fire or blow up. If your board is jumpered for the default scheme, I would leave it that way for now. I think the least of your worries at this time is addressing. What would happen if you pull the floppy controller out and try to boot from a HD? Running out of options on this end.
 

Rickajho

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Grrr...

After much more screwing around I got the Boca floppy working. I have been cleaning all this stuff with DeOxit. I had at the Boca board with a pink eraser, installed it, and the floppy (finally) worked! Tried attaching the IDE drives and it works - but that isn't an option. That kind of board is limited to 528MB drives and the two I need to use are both over 1.0G. Forgot all about that until I saw what the BIOS auto-detected for the drive settings.

Went back to the DTC VL multi board, cleaned it with the eraser but it didn't help. Still not seeing the floppy drive or any of the serial/parallel ports when the board is installed.

The cleaning thing: After the experience with cleaning the Boca board it's making me wonder if I'm having additional issues with the contacts on the slots in the motherboard itself. Any tips or suggestions on how to clean ISA and VL card slots? Despite this mobo looking very new and very clean my entire problem may be coming down to dirty contacts in the card slots.
 

Agent Orange

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Grrr...

After much more screwing around I got the Boca floppy working. I have been cleaning all this stuff with DeOxit. I had at the Boca board with a pink eraser, installed it, and the floppy (finally) worked! Tried attaching the IDE drives and it works - but that isn't an option. That kind of board is limited to 528MB drives and the two I need to use are both over 1.0G. Forgot all about that until I saw what the BIOS auto-detected for the drive settings.



Went back to the DTC VL multi board, cleaned it with the eraser but it didn't help. Still not seeing the floppy drive or any of the serial/parallel ports when the board is installed.

The cleaning thing: After the experience with cleaning the Boca board it's making me wonder if I'm having additional issues with the contacts on the slots in the motherboard itself. Any tips or suggestions on how to clean ISA and VL card slots? Despite this mobo looking very new and very clean my entire problem may be coming down to dirty contacts in the card slots.

Progress! Be gentle with the ISA/VLB slots. I wouldn't stick anything in those slots other than the card itself. Buy a can of compressed air and give it a shot. If you have access to a compressor, be careful that you're not shooting moisture on to the board and into those slots. As a rule, when I clean electrical contacts, I don't use anything that would leave an oily or greasy film. If you apply a small amount your product to the back of your hand, you'll want to see white spot where the oil used to be. See if you can find some documentation on the DTC VLB controller and double check the jumpers.

Late edit: Here's a link for your DTC: http://artofhacking.com/th99/c/C-D/20779.htm
 
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Rickajho

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Thanks. I should mention that I do have the original docs for all of this stuff. Sorry I didn't mention it before you went wandering off like that.

The thing is about the DTC card there is nothing "weird" regarding the jumper settings. There are no jumper settings at all regarding floppy or IDE. The jumpers are restricted to port settings & IRQ for the serial and parallel port. And additionally setting the default operating mode for the parallel port. Weird that the only thing this mobo 'sees' from that card is the IDE.

I can get to another DTC2278E board I have on hand this weekend. At least that will rule in/rule out if the DTC board I have been trying crapped out or not. OF course if they both produce the same errors I'm really screwed. I just don't have another IDE card that can handle drives > 528 MB.
 

RJBJR

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You might want to try a different power supply if one is available. Try different slots with the cards you have.

FWIW, I've had controller cards taken out by hard drive failures, mother board failures and bad luck.

Sometimes hanging a chicken-bone necklace helps.
 

Rickajho

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You might want to try a different power supply if one is available. Try different slots with the cards you have.

FWIW, I've had controller cards taken out by hard drive failures, mother board failures and bad luck.

Sometimes hanging a chicken-bone necklace helps.

Or... or... Put the card in a paper bag, swing it around over your head, hop on one leg & cluck like a chicken. :mrgreen:

But seriously: Ok, it can "see" floppy and IDE on a 16 bit card, but it can't "see" floppy, serial x2 or parallel on a VLB card. The difference being the VLB connector. I'm thinking either the VLB card is stuffed, or the VLB connectors in the slots are so mucked that it just won't work. Will try the other VLB card as soon as I can get to it - not before Tuesday though.

Don't know what killed the first mobo either. It was working, came back to it and it looked like it was in DPMS sleep mode. But it was dead. One of those 4 digit diagnostic cards shows no clock signal present on the dead mobo. On the new mobo the diagnostic card isn't showing anything relevant. The last code it displays before "FDC controller failure" is hex A2, which means nothing more than "display the next soft error."

Right now I'm eyeing a HP6535C (440 mHz Celeron) I have in mothballs and wondering what it will take to get DRDOS & WFWG to play nicely on that hardware. I spotted what should be Win 3.1 video drivers for it. But I would really rather have this 486 VLB system back and running again.
 
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