Picked up a couple 386 machines

ethan at 757.org ethan at 757.org
Thu Mar 1 13:56:53 CST 2018

> That is a very standard IDE drive that you can replace with just about 
> any IDE drive you can find, at least to get things up and running. The 
> controller won't support the faster transfer speeds of later drives, and 
> may not support the full capacity of the larger drives, but the newer 
> drives should be backward compatible. Something in the 500MB range would 
> probably be a good choice. Also, looking at the information I have on 
> the motherboard the drive controller can't be disabled. You may be able 
> to add a secondary drive controller, but booting from the hard disk on 
> that controller _may_ not be possible.

On the old 386 era PCs you have to specify cyl/head/sector/lz type stuff 
in the BIOS usually? It's possible to sub in a CF card on the IDE bus with 
a cheap adapter, but I'm not sure how the cyl/head/sector stuff plays out. 
Maybe go with something fairly small like 32MB and a CF to IDE adapter 
(it's just wires, CF cards are similar to early PCMCIA which is ATA which 
I think is just buffered ISA but I could have it wrong?)

I did this recently on a 486 but it had an auto-detect feature for the 
hard drive parameters. Maybe they don't really matter when using a CF Card 
-- does anyone know?

Another option is the ISA CF/IDE card from GlitchWorks. It has it's own 
BIOS AFAIK and you don't need to worry about specifying the drive info in 
the bios. I have 3 or 4 but haven't tried them yet.

On PCI systems Promise FastTrak IDE cards take care of the BIOS drive 
specification annoyances -- I use a PATA IDE to SD card widget on a 
FastTrak 100 on my Pentium luggable -- works well.

: Ethan O'Toole

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