How to Setup a CD Drive on a 486

Zenith data systems / 150-0824-p2
October 7, 2010 at 12:48:09
Specs: DOS 6.22, 486DX2 66MHz/ 8MB EDO
I need to install a CD Drive on my Z-Station 510 motherboard. It has an onboard IDE controller with two connectors. I'm not sure if I can hook up a drive to one of those, or if I'll need to use a proprietary sound card model of some sort. None of the CD Drives I have work, and I don't know the "top speed" for such an old board. Ideas?
(cue DAVE)

See More: How to Setup a CD Drive on a 486

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#1
October 7, 2010 at 21:01:23
Hey. If it's got on-board IDE then you should be able to connect a cdrom. If you're connecting it on the same cable as the hard drive make sure jumpers on both drives are correct.

Also, it's unlikey the bios will report it as a cdrom. Just make sure the IDE port it's connected to is enabled in cmos/bios setup. Then assuming you're booting with dos, you need config.sys to load a cdrom driver and you need mscdex.exe in autoexec.bat

Are the cdroms you've tried known to be good? If they are older ones, there were some proprietary 40-wire drives that looked to be regular atapi but weren't.

As far as the speed, the rated speed of drives of about 24X and higher were based on the cdrom being connected to an Enhanced IDE (EIDE) port. If it wasn't one of those ports I think the actual speed was about half the rated speed.

Real men don't use AntiVirus; they just reformat


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#2
October 8, 2010 at 20:26:20
I'm happy to say I played the original Mechwarrior tonight, right off the Powerhits CD, on authentic hardware. The music and sound effects through the system speaker are awesome... in their own way.

You were right about the BIOS not recognizing the CD drive; it wants everything to be a hard drive. I set the "type" value to user, which set the geometry values: "Cylinders: 0, Heads: 1, Sectors/Track:0" and so on.

I used a DOS-6.22 boot floppy from bootdisk.com to start up because it has an automatically configured CD driver, and would recognize the CD drive if possible. Unsurprisingly, my DVD Combo drive didn't work. Several tries later, a JustLink 40x12x48x was recognized by the driver, and a simple "DIR" test listed the files on the cd with plenty of spinup noise.

I used the oakcdrom.sys generic driver from this page: http://www.computerhope.com/cdromd.htm
and configured the two system files with the necessary modifications for driver name and location. I managed to find the drivers for the Cirrus Logic video chip and got them installed as well.

I wonder what made this particular drive detectable, but no the other 48x, 52x, and combo drives I tried. Maybe a combination of speed and type?


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#3
October 8, 2010 at 21:48:07
I'd think oakcdrom shouild have seen them all. As far as its drive type in cmos/bios setup, I think you can just set it to NONE. As long as the bios isn't booting from the cdrom (which 486's didn't) the bios doesn't need to see it. It's the OS drivers that recognize and set it up. You might want to check that the cables are tightly connected and the drive is jumpered right.

As I said, oakcdrom.sys should work OK but there are newer drivers. I use SSCDROM.SYS. You can probably find a download for it or I can send it to you.

You might want to post back the contents of your config.sys and autoexec.bat so we can take a look at them.

Oh, and do you have a dos mouse driver loading in autoexec.bat so you can get dos mouse support?

Real men don't use AntiVirus; they just reformat


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#4
October 9, 2010 at 21:51:27
Setting the drive type to NONE worked and got rid of the nasty double beep and "FAILURE FIXED DISK 1" at bootup.

Jumper settings and connections were all good. I tested the rest of the drives I have; the only two that didn't work are an Acer 20x10x40 that I presume dead and my brand new (known good) LG DVD combo drive. The drives that were recognized range from 8x4x32 to 50x to 52x24x52, with several in between. You win again; drive speed does not seem to matter! Maybe the driver just can't interface with the DVD drive - the Oak driver on the Windows 95 bootup disk recognizes it without a problem.

There are loads of SSCDROM.SYS on driverguide. Any version in particular? I don't have a driver for a mouse installed yet. Do you know a good driver for generic PS/2 mice?

My config.sys:
DEVICE=C:\DOS\SETVER.EXE
DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS
DOS=HIGH
FILES=30
DEVICEHIGH=C:\DOS\OAKCDROM.SYS /D:BANANA

The last line is the only I added.

My autoexec.bat:
C:\DOS\SMARTDRV.EXE /X
@ECHO OFF
PROMPT$p$g
PATH C:\DOS
LOADHIGH=C:\DOS\MSCDEX.EXE /D:BANANA
C:\VGAUTIL\CLMODE T640=75 T800=75 T1024=75 T1280=60

I added the second to last line, the last was added when I installed the Cirrus Logic VGA drivers/utilities.

Nothing wild and crazy there, I'm sure. I've seen the switch "/L:R" used to modify MSCDEX.EXE, I believe it changes the drive letter to R, correct? I didn't see the need to use it.


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#5
October 9, 2010 at 22:43:55
I think there were different versions of oakcdrom. Maybe an older version wouldn't see a DVD drive. I'm not sure if there is more than one version of sscdrom. The one I have calls itself a cd and DVD driver so I assume it will see a DVD drive OK.

Any dos mouse driver should auto-detect a serial or PS/2 mouse. Some will have installation programs that may add some bells and whistles to the mouse control but all you really need is to add the line calling it to autoexec.bat. If you have any problem finding one I can send mine.

After you add a mouse driver you should probably run MEMMAKER. That will optimize memory allocation by configuring the upper memory for the items loading in config.sys and autoexec.bat.

Edit Yeah, the /L changes the drive letter. Some bootdisks give it a higher letter so it doesn't alter the hard drive letters. The person that originated the 'banana' bootdisks chose R: and it seems like every bootdisk download is a banana disk. It's like a virus (OK not really). But you can edit the cdrom driver line in config.sys and the mscdex line in autoexec.bat and change 'banana' to something less stupid. The only requirement is whatever you call it in the config.sys driver line has to be the same as in the mscdex line in autoexec.

Real men don't use AntiVirus; they just reformat


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#6
October 10, 2010 at 19:02:18
I found a few setup disks with CD drivers and Mouse drivers, from Samsung and Mitsumi, respectively. Both installed and took care of the system file business themselves, and both worked well. The SSCDROM.SYS in the Samsung disk was version 2.4, and stated it was also good for CD and DVD drives.

I still had no luck getting my LG combo drive to be recognized. I tried 6 different drivers, and no dice with each. I'll be testing that drive in a modern linux box soon, and I'll try an identical one to see if it is just that particular drive.

The ancient hard drive I've been using started doing stunts with its actuator arm after the CD driver install, but it went back to normal after a few reboots. The disk may be dying. I have others to use should it fail, and I'm going to do an experiment with Compact Flash when the parts come in.


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#7
October 10, 2010 at 21:38:59
Sounds good. Keep us updated.

Real men don't use AntiVirus; they just reformat


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#8
October 25, 2010 at 14:36:28
Back!

I got a Transcend 2GB 266x Compact Flash card and a generic adapter - rated only at ATA-33 :( - off Amazon. I stuck this in a modern-ish Epox motherboard, EP-8KDA3J. The mobo didn't recognize the card at first, so I enabled LBA access mode and rebooted. The mobo autotyped the card at bootup, and listed "TRANSCEND" on Channel 0 Master. These are the values it gave the card:

Capacity: 2037
Cylinder: 987
Head: 64
Precomp:
Landing Zone: 3948
Sector: 63

Booted DOS from a floppy, and went through the format/install process. I was quite happy to watch the format take ~3 seconds, as opposed to the hours my 1.77 GB drive took. I rebooted and ensured dos was working properly. It was.

I then stuck the card/reader on the Zenith. It didnt recognize the card at first either, then on reboot it called it 800-something MB. An autotype yielded these results:

Type: User 2038 MB
Cylinders: 3949
Heads: 16
Sectors/Track: 63
Landing Zone: 3949
Write Precomp: None

LBA Mode Control: Enabled
32 Bit I/O: Enabled

The board boots normally until it comes time to load DOS. Then it beeps, prints a mysterious "j" onscreen, and goes no further.

I suppose the big problem here is that the Zenith can't count higher than 16 when it comes to Heads. What do you make of this?

(perhaps this should be in it's own thread?)


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#9
October 25, 2010 at 16:17:47
There may be a drive translation involved that the zenith can't handle. The epox translated it as 64 heads. The zenith sees it as 1/4 of that (16) and then multiplies the cylinders by 4 to compensate. Can you manually set it in the zenith to what the epox partitioned it as?

Real men don't use AntiVirus; they just reformat


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#10
October 25, 2010 at 16:36:05
That's what I tried doing earlier, but the BIOS doesn't go higher than 16 Heads. I can match the other values.

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#11
October 25, 2010 at 17:20:53
Try reducing the cylinders by 1 to 3948

Real men don't use AntiVirus; they just reformat


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#12
October 25, 2010 at 18:55:01
the previous values would be the key here. imho.

There is a way to do everything


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#13
October 25, 2010 at 20:21:51
I did so earlier to no effect. I matched each of the epox's values except the Heads, which isn't possible.

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#14
October 26, 2010 at 00:08:41
The bios of most 486's and a few P-I's couldn't see a hard drive larger than about 504 meg. That was a Cylinders/Heads/Sectors of 1024/16/63. Yours appears to see beyond that but still, I'm thinking the bios is not adequate to properly use the device.

Real men don't use AntiVirus; they just reformat


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#15
October 26, 2010 at 10:25:14
Yea, that figures. At bootup I see that the Zenith has Phoenix BIOS 4.04, and then Firehawk BIOS x1.28. I don't suppose there's any way to give the BIOS a boost... I found this site, which claims to have the ROM for my board, not sure if it would actually be a BIOS update from my current version:

http://www.zdsparts.com/zenith-roms...

Do you think a smaller CF card would work? If these cards need to be addressed with 64 heads, then I think I'm out of luck no matter what size I use.


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#16
October 26, 2010 at 13:12:03
I'm not sure what's included with those chips. Is it just the chip or is the bios programmed onto the chips also? You might see if there's a regular bios update but it might be kind of hard to find with something that old.

I don't think I can help with the CF card. I'm suprised something like that would even work with a 486.

Real men don't use AntiVirus; they just reformat


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