Great to see the board back! Huge thanks, Terry!
I've been working on this thing in my spare time (not much of it.) Haven't gotten very far but here's what I've discovered so far. At the moment I'm having mass storage issues.
The hard disk is dying. Considering I bought this thing from a scrap recycler I'm not hugely surprised or disappointed. Sometimes it shows up in CMOS, but when you mount it it usually hangs after a few operations. I can see the ghost of an installed NT4 system but because of that no way to load it. Other times it won't show in the CMOS at all.
My CF-IDE adapter doesn't work. It's brand new and the CF card is fine in a USB reader, so no idea what the problem is. Nothing I do can get the CMOS to see it has a hard disk. Maybe it only works on more modern IDE interfaces (is this thing even UDMA66? I don't know!)
I Installed a CDRW drive I had lying around. For some reason it is impossible to boot from a CD at all. The BIOS detects it every time and gives me a boot from CD option, but when I try that it says "attempting to boot from ATAPI CD-ROM" and then gives me an error about not finding media. It doesn't even seem to try to read the disc. However...
My LS120 Superdisk drive works.
Apparently some ingrate left their disk in it the last time the system was powered off. Since the drive won't eject without power they just hacked off the faceplate and pried the door open to get it out, unseating the spring that holds it shut. Luckily they seem to have restricted their ham-fisted damage to cosmetic issues. I've gotten it more or less back together but the faceplate is loose due to a broken off mounting tab. It reads the few normal floppies I have just fine. Luckily I found a bunch out by the kerb on garbage-collection-day the other week. Some of them work.
Incidentally, writing floppies is a huge pain in the butt. I installed a (non-Super) floppy drive in my office desktop, but it runs a very modern Linux distro in which the floppy support has been broken and probably always will be. I can write disks by booting a liveCD of Damn Small Linux, but it doesn't support EXT4 and so can't read the system's hard drive, nor have I managed to get it on the network. So what I have to do is put whatever I want to go on the disk onto a USB stick from Mint, boot DSL, mount the stick, and copy it to the disk. Repeat.
Anyway I wrote a few boot disks that way to try things out. Luckily starting from the IDE Superdisk drive is also
directly supported in the BIOS, and that works just fine! So far this is the only way I've managed to boot the thing. I got to a FreeDOS prompt and was able to run some floppy-sized programs with no issues.
So basically I can run this thing 1.44 MB at a time and it's a pain in the butt. Until I get another hard drive or get the CF reader or CD-ROM working I don't have many options for getting software onto the thing, which obviously limits how much I can do with it. However, in playing around I did discover...
My Soundblaster 2.0 works.
So does the SB16 I got in the grab box. I haven't bothered to test any of the others yet.
BTW I had to hack one of the mounting screws off the connector end of my VGA cable to get it to fit properly rather than be all skewed like it is in the pic at the top. Considering the (a) CPU/video board, (b) system backplane, and (c) case were all made by the same company, I find this utterly baffling. You'd think someone
would have tested it for fit...
Anyway that's it for now. More to come next week. Time to hunt down a 'period correct' (i.e. compatible size for FAT16/FAT32) HDD...