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Week Off Work

SpidersWeb

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Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
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New Zealand
I took last week as annual leave, and made good use of the time doing a few projects on my old machines. Some succesful, some unifinished, but was an interesting week.

I recently got a new Sony HD video camera so part of my week off was dedicated to make video guides for YouTube - mostly how to guides. But I found one big flaw in my plan. Everytime I'd make a video, I'd later realise I'd made technical mistakes or used the wrong word. Even when I thought I had my finished product for one part last night, I realised this morning that I needed to do a little more research on RLL drives.

Hopefully by next weekend I should have a series of videos about RLL and MFM hard drives. Choosing the right drive, cables and drive selects, low level formatting and so on.

Throughout the week I tested and formatted all of my spare drives, one of which was an ST412 from 1983 - now booting DOS 4.01 perfectly happy (well except the bearing noise!). I do take enjoyment in the sound these drives make, the chirp from an NEC 5126 through to the angry hammer ST251-1.

Also for my week off I had decided I was going to do a software project. I wanted to write a Windows 7 compatible application that allowed file transfers... and more importantly Remote Upload... with older DOS machines using a USB serial connector. Eliminating the need for any emulation software or difficult setup.

Currently the project is able to connect to the remote machine, take control of the DOS prompt, and upload text files. Annoyingly, any bootstrap I would send to remote upload, is likely to contain codes for special DOS controls. I'd worked out that any boot strap I'd send should be written in assembly to reduce size, and if I could magically avoid using any of the codes that line up with the ASCII control characters, that would be brilliant. Failing that I'd need to use built in DOS commands to append individual characters to the COM file - although I haven't tested to see if this works. I'd love to know how the LapLink or FastLynx teams got around this little issue.

Unfortunately, learning C#, ASM (bootstrap), and TurboC (for the client) as well as having to manipulate the built in DOS commands to do my bidding, was a bit much for one week. The project is there, but I likely wont mention it again until I have my bootstrap/remote upload mechanism working - because without this it's pointless.

I did have a few highlights which made things quite enjoyable. My first success was my application transmitting "I LIKE BIG BUTTS" to my 386, and later uploading text files of various sizes with similarly inappropriate messages - (it's just my weird sense of humour I guess)

Although still my biggest recommendation for people with an IBM from the early 1980's is to get a tweener machine - a Pentium with Windows 98 - is ideal for bridging the generation gap. Even a laptop with networking AND serial ports can achieve great things.
 

RickNel

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Joined
Apr 24, 2009
Messages
640
Location
Canberra, Australia
Hi -
I'm interested in this but I don't understand why you need a special "bootstrap" program on the target DOS machine. If you can remotely execute DOS commands on the target machine, then you can already use that DOS to do most file transfer operations that I can think of. The parameter /B on the standard COPY command will transfer a binary file such as an assembled .com or .exe program.

If you find some other issue with transferring binary files, then you could use a reverse approach: send the Assembler source code to the target machine as a text file, then use DEBUG on the target machine to assemble it.

You could write a DOS batch file (another plain text file) to run the necessary sequence of commands on the target.

I looked at the solution from the guy at chrio.org. It seems what blocked him was two special circumstances. His target machine didn't have a full DOS loaded (only command.com) and his target machine had restricted BIOS options - I've found Toshiba to be one of the worst offenders at that. DOS machines with standardised BIOS are much easier to work with.

Am I missing the point of what you are aiming at?

Rick
 

SpidersWeb

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Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
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Location
New Zealand
Yes, but you have to break the file in to seperate pieces whenever you hit an EOF character (there is 13 in DOSKEY.COM alone), then combine them. There is also no real handshaking in DOS, so exceeding 2400 baud can be dangerous at times.

So it works, as per chio, but you only really want to use it for small or once off transfers. So I'm using it to do remote upload of the client program (25KB at the moment) - which I actually have written most of now - and does 115,200 with handshaking :) I really really need to update my blog with my progress!

I'm in a rush right now, but hopefully that answered your question? I'll post a newer update as soon as I get a chance.

Later edit: realised I might have mixed up Bootstrap and Client with my response. If so then you are correct, I don't need an actual Bootstrap like FastLynx uses. They use the bootstrap on remote uploads for the speed increase, but my client is only 25KB, so it would be a lot of extra work for very little gain.
 
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