[SATLUG] A challenge for all seasoned experts :-)

Bruce Dubbs bruce.dubbs at gmail.com
Sun Jan 26 13:20:27 CST 2014

Borries Demeler wrote:
> Here is a challenge for all you seasoned experts with previous DOS experience:
> I have recently revived an old but excellent spectrophotometer that was built
> on top of a 486 motherboard. Miraculously, the motherboard still works (after
> resetting the bios with some jumper surgery), but now I am facing a second
> hurdle: The spectrophotometer has a bad 3.5" floppy drive that was used to output
> the data. All floppies I have tried fail to be recognized, although
> they work fine on some other computer which has a floppy drive.

Wow.  DOD-3.3 was released in April, 1987.  The i486 was released in 
1989.  The first thing I'd do is try to replace the floppy drive so I 
could get some sort of input or output.

  So forget
> the floppies - don't want to deal with them anyway. There is an old 3c509
> network card (isa) in this spectrophotometer that has a (presumably) 10baseT
> cat 5 ethernet connector. The whole system is running MSDOS DOS 3.3.
> The software controlling the spec needs DOS (its not a windows program).

Any possibility of running the program in a virtual system on a modern 
machine?  What's the interface to the HW?  Is it a simple serial port or 
some kind of proprietary connection?

> So, right now everything is stored on an old 40 MB (!) seagate harddrive,
> which also miraculously still works. I want to first make a backup of the
> whole system and then find some backup hardware that can be retrofitted
> onto the old motherboard in case other stuff fails - the spec is really
> high quality and I would hate to lose it. The controller boards are all
> ISA and so I cannot use a new motherboard.

You could remove the HD and put it into a modern system for copying. 
You can use an ide to sata connector: 
http://www.amazon.com/IDE-SATA-Adapter/dp/B000RK89M4 if you can't find a 
system with ide.  My 2005 Dell has an ide for the CD-ROM.

00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FR (ICH6/ICH6R) LPC 
Interface Bridge (rev 03)
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 
Family) IDE Controller (rev 03)

> For now, I would be happy to somehow just get the 3c509 network card to
> work under dos 3.3 and hook up an ethernet cable and be able to dump files
> out over the network. Now I forgot pretty much anything about DOS networking
> and wouldn't know where to get the files. I can probably find an old driver
> on the harddrive for the 3c509 card, but maybe there is something else
> available? What is the best way to network this old computer, and where
> could I find the necessary software?
> command line ftp, scp, rsync or similar would be fantastic, am I asking
> for too much? What are my options here? The machine has 4 MB of RAM, and
> is a 486. I *might* be able to find some more RAM for this if this is
> necessary.

I'd be interested in how DOS 3.3 addresses 4MB.  Standard DOS was only 
640K, but there was the ability to swap memory via the eXtended Memory 
Specification (XMS).  This was in the application of course since DOS 
was only a program loader, not an operating system.

Interesting project.  Good luck.

   -- Bruce

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