Solved Packard Bell 286 will not boot from the Hard drive

February 28, 2013 at 19:20:48
Specs: DOS, 286/ 1MB
Ok here is my issue. I have a Packard Bell 286 that I bought a couple of years ago to play my old games on. I bought a Dos 3.3 OS which I use to boot to so I can play. The hard drive would not work so I essentially removed it and went on my merry way. I decided recently to put a working HD in the computer so I picked up a working 40 MB Quantam. My issue is this. As there is no OS on the hd, it will not boot. The computer reads the drive (it had some old programs on it when I bought it and they worked fine, but I formatted the drive in hopes of putting DOS or Windows on it) but says there is a non-system disk and will not boot until I put the DOS 3.3 disk in my 5.25 drive. The issue there is, once DOS boots, it will not acknowledge I have a HD, drive C:.

I took the HD back out, hooked it up to an old Pentium with a HD and installed Windows 3.1 hoping the computer would boot from Wndows. Nope. No such luck. The computer has a 3.5 drive, but it will not boot from that drive which means I cannot use a boot disk (and if I could, I don't know if it would do like the 5.25 and act like the HD isn't there). I've tried everything from disconnecting the 5.25 to disconnecting both in hopes the HD would work. I simply cannot get it to work.

Any advice?


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✔ Best Answer
March 1, 2013 at 22:28:01
Yeah. Config.sys on the hard drive won't run unless you boot from the hard drive. So that's why himem.sys isn't loading.


#1
February 28, 2013 at 19:32:58
Is the hard disk identical to the one you replaced? If not, have you set the right disk type in the BIOS? Get it wrong and you will have all sorts of problems.

I'm a bit puzzled as to how you managed to partition and format the hard disk if DOS doesn't see it. Have you used fdisk and format to do this on the 286, not another computer? It's not going to see it until you partition and format the drive, and doing this on another computer may well not work.

In the end it may just be that the hard disk and/or drive controller are less than perfect. Your equipment is a little old and you need to play a little to get these antiques working.


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#2
February 28, 2013 at 19:37:43
The hard drive I bought was 3 mb smaller than the one that I took out. However, when I installed it for the first time, I ran setup and it booted into the old business program that was on the drive. I disconnected the drive and hooked it up to my newer pentium computer and formatted it with that system, not the 286.

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#3
February 28, 2013 at 19:42:20
A smaller hard drive will be a different type in the BIOS. You might want to reread my previous post as I have made a few changes.

Basically, you need to get the type right and you need to partition and format the disk on the computer you are using it with. Otherwise you will have problems. These old computers didn't detect things like the number of heads, tracks, and sectors per track automatically; you had to tell them.


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Related Solutions

#4
February 28, 2013 at 20:09:48
"The issue there is, once DOS boots, it will not acknowledge I have a HD, drive C:...I took the HD back out, hooked it up to an old Pentium with a HD and installed Windows 3.1 hoping the computer would boot from Wndows"

So did you attempt to install DOS 3.3 before Windows on the Pentium machine? If you added the 40MB as a secondary drive, then it likely couldn't have been made bootable (the existing drive would have conflicted).

It's also difficult to swap hard-drives between modern machines and older ones where you had to define the hard-disk geometry manually. If the Pentium has an "auto-detect" feature for the drive (I'm assuming it's IDE), it may not quite see the exact parameters that it would need to be for inputting manually in the 286.

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."


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#5
February 28, 2013 at 21:20:32
older op.sys can't deal with hard drives' capacity over a given limit, because they didn't exist at the time. There's a way to partition the drive into virtual drives under that limit. (C:, D:, E: etc) Dos 3.3 probably had a max of 500 meg to 1 gig, but I'm guessing here. Fat16 vs Fat32...

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#6
February 28, 2013 at 21:21:02
I'm guessing that would be an ST-506 MFM drive. I don't think Quantum ever made IDE drives that small. It could even be a disk on an ISA card. They were very popular back then.

One other thing to note is that you could low-level format those drives. That may be necessary.


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#7
February 28, 2013 at 21:32:08
That's a good point. DOS 3.3 only supported partitions up to 32MB, so a 40MB partition might cause problems. Using DOS 5 or 6, or a modern version such as FreeDOS ought to handle larger disks. All comes back to the fact that, on these vintage machines, you need to partition and format the drive on the computer you are going to use it with.

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#8
February 28, 2013 at 23:32:39
If the drive originally worked when you first installed it then it must be ID'd right in cmos/bios setup.

If the 286 has both 3.5 and 5.25 floppy drives then to change their A:/B: configuration first check to see if their data cable has the 7-wire twist. If it does then just swap their positions on the data cable to swap their drive letters. If it doesn't have the twist then that selection is made with Drive Select jumpers on the drives. Jumper the one you want as the A: drive to the lowest DS setting and jumper the one you want as B: to the next higher DS. For drive select configuration their position on the cable doesn't matter.

Once you've physically configured the floppy drives you need to go into cmos and correctly ID them there.

Then, as already mentioned, either partition (FDISK) the hard drive so no partition is larger than about 30 meg or get a newer dos version.


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#9
March 1, 2013 at 00:23:26
If the new disk is a different size to the old one the ID cannot possibly be correct (unless it has been altered). The exact effect of that is unpredictable.

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#10
March 1, 2013 at 04:51:34
I'll work on this tonight when I get home. The hard disk worked when I set it up initially as I had to select it from the list (4 head, sec 17 I believe) so the HD works. I know it does. It sounds like I need to partition it with a later version of DOS then? I created a boot disk for 6.22 and when the disk is hooked up to my Pentium, I use that to boot.

I guess I won't know until I switch the boot order, but won't booting from the 3.5 result in the same issue: the hard drive won't be recognized?

As far as Freedos goes, I thought it only worked with 386 and up?


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#11
March 1, 2013 at 04:56:56
As you changed the ID that should be OK. I suspect you will have more luck with fdisk and format from the 6.22 disk. It doesn't matter which floppy drive you boot from - if it boots, it boots. But you need to see the C: drive before you can make the hard drive bootable. If fdisk doesn't see it then you have other problems.

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#12
March 1, 2013 at 05:23:16
Well, that's the problem. When I boot the computer from the 5.25 drive, it does NOT see C:. It boots directly from the a: drive. That is why I hooked the drive up to my Pentium and put Windows on it in the first place. I was hoping that would solve my problem, but alas, it has not.

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#13
March 1, 2013 at 07:08:24
That's why you need to partition the drive with fdisk and format it. But if fdisk can't see it then that is a problem.

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#14
March 1, 2013 at 08:24:49
Ok, so I should boot my pentium with Dos 6.22, fdisk and format the drive, correct? The partition needs to be 32 mb or less?

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#15
March 1, 2013 at 09:38:18
Yes, except with 6.22 you will be able to make the whole disk one partition. It allows partitions much bigger than 40MB.

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#16
March 1, 2013 at 15:16:51
The benefit of booting from a 1.44 ( I assume it's a 1.44 and not a 720) floppy drive is that it's easier to find compatible disks and to make new disks if the older ones get corrupted. There's not many 5.25 drives around anymore--either 360 K or 1.2 Meg--and you'd need a second computer with one in order to copy or create dos bootdisks for the 286.

When using cmos drive types it's rare to find one that exactly matches the hard drive you're using. For MFM/RLL drives you just need to make sure the type you select doesn't exceed the C/H/S specs of the drive. IDE drives usually have a drive translation you can use to configure it as an MFM or RLL.

You might want to post back the drive model number and the C/H/S of the drive type you plan on using.

As already mentioned, it's best to partitioin and format the drive in the computer in which it is to be used. If you do it in another computer you must use the same C/H/S specs as you plan on using in the 286. Don't use a different drive type or a hard drive auto detect feature in cmos in the other computer.


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#17
March 1, 2013 at 16:33:11
I had limited time after work but I think I'm on to something. I hooked the hd up to my pentium, booted with 6.22 and used FDISK to partition the drive to 32 mob and then format. I was able to hook it up to the 286, boot into 3.3 with the 5.25 drive and it recognized c. I then used FDISK with 3.3 and repartitioned it using the max size it would recognize which is the full 40 mb. When I left for dinner, it was installing windows 3.1. While I'm not guaranteed it will install and work, at least I know I can use it now. What can I expect with 3.1 if it installs? I had 3.1 on my 486/33 back in 1990 so I'm not sure what to expect with a 286.

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#18
March 1, 2013 at 18:16:23
Using 3.3 you won't have access to any ram above 640K but if win 3.1 installs it should run OK.

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#19
March 1, 2013 at 18:25:39
I'm using 3.3 because 1. I own a complete copy of 3.3 and 2. I cannot get the computer to boot from the 3.5. I moved the jumpers around and no matter what, I have been unable to get it to boot from the 3.5. It works, as evidenced by my installation of 3.1, but it won't work as a bootable drive. Were it to, I could use my 6.22 boot disk and be fine.

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#20
March 1, 2013 at 18:37:44
So close yet so far... I was able to install Windows and it worked...until I rebooted. It's telling me now that it is missing himem.sys. At least I can put the computer back together now so I can fiddle with it some more.

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#21
March 1, 2013 at 19:21:26
3.3 doesn't have himem.sys and wouldn't load that command in config.sys. Start it up from the hard drive and at the c:\> prompt type VER and enter. Does it say 3.3 or 6.22? You either copied or created an incorrect config.sys or have a partial 6.22 and 3.3 install.

Edit Or is the 'missing himem.sys' coming up when try to start win 3.1? It could be win 3.1 needs a dos version that has himem.sys. I'm not sure offhand what 3.1 requires.

The 3.5 should boot if it's configured correctly but you can't just move jumpers around and hope for the best. Post back which floppy cable you have and floppy drive model numbers.


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#22
March 1, 2013 at 19:24:50
It's 3.3. I have the twisted cable...both of my floppies are packard bell. I would have to remove them to see the actual model numbers. I'll do that shortly.


EDIT: Ok...the 5.25 drive is a Panasonic JU-475-4AKJ. The 3.5 is just Packard Bell, model number JU-257-243P.

EDIT2- I'm looking at this 7 wire twist and there is no way to swap the drives as the connectors are completely different.


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#23
March 1, 2013 at 19:33:50
The missing himem.sys comes up when I try to start 3.1.

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#24
March 1, 2013 at 20:03:02
OK, it appears 3.1 needs at least 1 meg of ram. But you can't access ram above 640 K without himem.sys or a 3rd party memory manager. For earlier dos versions without himem.sys, 3.1 would load and run its own version. Since that appears to not have happened it's possible your packard bell only has 640 K. What does the ram count show when you boot up the computer.

In order to swap the drives you'll need a pin-to-slide-on adapter or a different cable.


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#25
March 1, 2013 at 20:07:50
I have a full 1 MB of ram...it shows when I fire it up and I see 4 256k sticks on the board.

Where in the world would I get an adapter or another cable? I'll look on ebay but I can't imagine that stuff would be readily available?


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#26
March 1, 2013 at 20:47:48
At the c:\> prompt type type config.sys and enter. Does it show a line something like device=c:\dos\himem.sys or device=c:\windows\himem.sys?

Then at the c:\> prompt type dir c:\windows\himem.sys and enter. Also do
dir c:\dos\himem.sys and enter. What do those commands say after you hit 'enter'?

That will tell us if himem.sys is attempting to load and where it's located (if it's there at all).

I have dozens of floppy cables.


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#27
March 1, 2013 at 20:56:46
Ok, himem.sys is there and it is in windows. Type config.sys got me device=c:\windows\himem.sys

dir c:\windows showed up but c:\dos said invalid directory...


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#28
March 1, 2013 at 21:12:59
I tell you what IS fun...I've been installing Ultima IV and V. Nothing like an old rpg with the speaker banging away and slow gameplay.

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#29
March 1, 2013 at 21:22:28
Himem.sys should be loading then. I don't know why win 3.1 isn't seeing it. You might want to reboot and try running 3.1 a few times.

Dos usually defaults to installing in C:\DOS. Do you know where you installed it?

I'm going to send you a private message. Respond to it with your mailing address and I'll send a floppy cable. Are you in the US?


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#30
March 1, 2013 at 21:31:16
I did not install dos. I have been using the startup floppy the entire time. I assume I should install it then, no?

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#31
March 1, 2013 at 22:28:01
✔ Best Answer
Yeah. Config.sys on the hard drive won't run unless you boot from the hard drive. So that's why himem.sys isn't loading.

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#32
March 1, 2013 at 22:41:41
SUCCESS. Once I installed 3.3 (correctly), I installed 3.1 and it booted right up for me. I can say this has been solved.

Thank you all for your help and expertise. You are deeply appreciated.


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#33
March 1, 2013 at 23:18:40
You're welcome. I'll send the cable in the next few days so you can swap the drives.

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#34
March 2, 2013 at 13:14:48
Good deal. I gave my only working 286/1Mb machine away to an enthusiast about 3 years ago and couldn't remember sh!t about how I got it working with Win 3.1.

Good job guys...

Skip
Audares Juvo


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#35
March 2, 2013 at 19:06:43
The system is working flawlessly now. I'm installing all the old games I had from the late 80's, early 90's that would never run on my 486. As I install, a lot of my lost DOS knowledge is returning and using Windows 3.1 is so nostalgic. I have Ultima 1 through 6, JRR Tolkein's Middle Earth, Hero's Quest 1 and 2 and scorched earth installed on the system now. The "huge" hard drive still has 16 mbs of space. I'll probably use the extra partition of 9 MB's to install a few other games once I put DOS on it as well. I need to find a sound card too...the mouse support is not working with several of the games so I have to work through that now too.

Very happy. Thanks again guys.


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