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Revive a 386

Posted on 2000-03-10
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
Hi,
   I have an old 386-33 PC based on the G386K motherboard. Recently took this out of storage, where it had been sitting idle for about 2 months, and upon restart was greeted with the following error messages:
    Two beeps from the speaker, then the screen says:

     fdd controller failure
     hdd controller failure
     press <F1> to resume

    So I press F1 and get the usual system configuration display (main processer is a 386, you have so much memory, etc.) that the AMI bios gives.  Then I get:

     drive not ready error
     insert boot disk in A:
     press any key when ready

    So I put a DOS 6.22 boot floppy into
drive A: then hit enter and get the same
"drive not ready" error message.

    Anyways, this PC should boot off the
hard disk. I assumed that the  CMOS
battery had drained during the period of storage, so I ran the PC for some time then tried re-starting with no luck. I thought that maybe the IDE card had died so I tried it in a 486 16-bit ISA slot and it worked ok.
    I'm assumming that Y2K is not involved here but I'd appreciate any theorys as to whats going on. In the past when the CMOS battery drained low due to non-use I'd get a "CMOS low" or some other warning message. Running the computer for awhile then re-starting usually solved the problem.
    The G386K motherboard uses a Varta
3.6v 60mAh nicad for the CMOS thats soldered to the board. Also on the board are 4 header pins associated with the battery which are positioned close to it. They're labeled:

  Pin 1   External battery input
      2   On board rechargeable battery
      3   Discharge pin
      4   Ground

     Theres a jumper connecting Pins 1 and 2 (External battery input/On board rechargeable battery).
     So thats the story, I'd appreciate any ideas as to whats going on. Like I said, I don't get a "Low CMOS" warning and the IDE card tests ok.
       
         
       
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Question by:thunder44
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10 Comments
 
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Otta
ID: 2606963
If the battery is "weak", then the BIOS-settings were "lost", and so you have to enter BIOS-setup, and tell the computer that you have one (only) 3.5" (not 5.25") high-density (not double-density) floppy-drive.

You also have to tell the BIOS the number of CYLINDERS and HEADS and SECTORS which the hard-drive has.

Once these settings have been "recovered", then a boot from the hard-drive should succeed.
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Expert Comment

by:bratan
ID: 2607096
the BIOS-settings lost
see to cmos setup main screen
set floppy drive a: 1,44 mb 3,5"
drive hdd1(maybe primary master): numbers of CYLINDERS and HEADS and SECTORS and size its all you can see on your HDD
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Otta
ID: 2607121
BRATAN, within E-E, it's considered very inappropriate to rephrase/repeat other people's comments (made at 6:49 PM) and then (at 8:17 PM) to claim those plagiarized comments as an "answer".

Please withdraw your "answer".
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Expert Comment

by:bratan
ID: 2607134
bratan changed the proposed answer to a comment
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LVL 50

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 2608118
As per Otta

Battery probably dead. You can buy replacement battery packs that will plug into MB in socket you have found.  The socket - the 4 pins - was a standard feature on old MBs.

For Hard drive specifications find the model number on the HD and look up manufacturer's website and get the cylinders, heads and sector information there and plug these numbers into the BIOS.

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Accepted Solution

by:
rspar earned 510 total points
ID: 2608484
Are the cables hooked properly?
0
 

Author Comment

by:thunder44
ID: 2608722
Thanks to rspar for finding the
correct answer. In this case both HD and FDD cables were backwards! Let the internet call me an idiot, I have my 386 back!, (and it's so slow!)
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Author Comment

by:thunder44
ID: 2608726
Yeah, I should've thought of it myself...
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Otta
ID: 2610747
> it's so slow.

Push the "turbo" button. Some 386/33 processors have a "non-turbo" mode, namely 8MHz, and a "turbo" mode, namely 33MHz.
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Author Comment

by:thunder44
ID: 2614703
Thanks Otta, but that was a general comment on my part, after running on a Pentium it's kind of a letdown to see that directory listing crawl up the screen (herc graphics card). This particular 386 is a clone built from upgrade leftovers. As far as the cables problem, it turns out I had them both backwards initially, and when checking them, would flip over the HD conn. then test, then say "ok, thats not it". then flip it back to it's orig. position. I did the same for the FD cables conn. What I needed to do was flip both of them over. Duh! As far as the Turbo option, now that you mention it...
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