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Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

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Old 15th Oct 2018, 11:52 am   #41
AC/HL
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

As an aside, these commands work in W10 using powershell (right click the window icon)
if you want to follow this thread on a non-DOS machine.
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Old 15th Oct 2018, 12:00 pm   #42
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

I've made significant progress with this, so perhaps we could refrain from speculation until I can post a detailed update.
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Old 16th Oct 2018, 12:45 pm   #43
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

The com ports do require drivers. I think this applies regardless of the OS used.

The drivers are installed during the initialisation phase of the application software and confirmation of their installation is reported on screen. The problem was that the actual driver files weren't on the FD which had been produced from a download. The app didn't report this as a specific failure, but just aborted.

I added the driver files to the FD and they were installed correctly. Trouble is that, immediately after installing the drivers, the app still aborts with no reason given. At this point the mode command returns no useful information about the com ports and of course the echo command doesn't work.

I'll have to try a different approach like using another PC with three com ports, or perhaps trying to talk directly to the machine using say HyperTerminal.
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Old 16th Oct 2018, 1:08 pm   #44
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

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I'll have to try a different approach like using another PC with three com ports, or perhaps trying to talk directly to the machine using say HyperTerminal.
Direct to machine sounds interesting. I have tried using HyperTerminal in the past but soon gave it up. I recommend Brays Terminal 1.93b which has never let me down, can show a lot more information and has 24 macro commands that you can send with a single key.
https://sites.google.com/site/terminalbpp/

Out of interest, can you tell us anything about the machine and its software?
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Old 17th Oct 2018, 8:55 am   #45
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

Hi Graham, please see my suggestion in #33.

Without correct configuration, each end cannot handshake with each other, as both need be the same.

I suspect 6 data bits may have been used.
Possibly also XON/XOFF

If you can locate another user of the Machine, they should be able to advise on configuring etc., or if you have the original boot disk it should be possible to ascertain from there.

The correct Driver(s) are necessary whatever version of the os is being used.

Regards - Mike
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Old 17th Oct 2018, 1:55 pm   #46
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

Hi Mike
rusty on this...but does a driver need to go into high memory which you do with the 'loadhigh' command?
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Old 17th Oct 2018, 2:36 pm   #47
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LOADHIGH
It may be necessary, if the application needs a significant part of the conventional space.
Dredging the grey cells here!
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Old 17th Oct 2018, 10:46 pm   #48
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

I'm pleased to say that the problem is sorted and the machine is working.

Thanks to mike newcomb who put me on the right track.

I'll post a full report later.
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Old 18th Oct 2018, 9:27 am   #49
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

Hi Charlie, I do not think it matters.

However, in the days of Steam Computing when memory was scarce, Loadhigh was used whenever possible.

This 'released / left' more conventional memory available for use when running:-

In DOS memory management, conventional memory, also called base memory, is the first 640 kilobytes (640 1024 bytes) of the memory on IBM PC or compatible systems. It is the read-write memory directly addressable by the processor for use by the operating system and application programs.

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Old 18th Oct 2018, 10:27 am   #50
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

Thanks Mike as I didn't remember how big driver files were in those days in comparison to what mem was available.

If Station X is going to be using Dos to keep his machine running then I seem to recall a marvellous little prog called XTREE which was like a sort of Windows GUI before Windows and had some powerful features over just staring at a black screen and typing in lines of characters.
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Old 19th Oct 2018, 1:11 pm   #51
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

I said I'd post an update as to how the problem was fixed, so here it is. Please feel free to "ESCAPE" at any time if it gets boring.

My initial aim was to get the built in PC working. It has no hard disk so I produced an MS-DOS start up disk using a Windows XP PC. In order to get the built in PC to produce a DOS prompt I had to replace the CMOS battery, reconfigure the BIOS to recognise the floppy disk drive, connect a QWERTY keyboard using a PC/XT to PS2 adaptor lead and replace the floppy disk drive. Having done all this the built in PC reliably booted to a DOS prompt every time.

Next I wanted to get the PC talking to the control box which in turn talks to the machine. The built in PC to control box link is RS232. The machine is a Denford Mirac. This is a training lathe often found in schools and colleges. Denford support their legacy machines on an informal basis through a forum. Machine specific software disks aren't available, but the files can be downloaded from the Denford website.

I downloaded the files and copied them to a disk. The disk was then put into the previously booted PC, which was showing a DOS prompt. I typed in the name of the .exe file and the software ran. Unfortunately it aborted at an early stage with no specific info about the error. I eventually discovered that I needed to copy the com port driver files to the disk. These weren't included with the downloaded files.

I ran the software again from the DOS prompt. The com port drivers were installed, but the software aborted again with the same error message.

I decided to try a different approach ie loading the application files and drivers to an MS-DOS start up disc rather than running the application from a DOS prompt. This would have been how the machine was originally used. I created an MS-DOS start up disk using my Windows XP PC. Then I deleted all the files from it apart from IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS and COMAND.COM. I understand this is the minimum set of files needed and thought it would more closely resemble a disk from the DOS era rather than the Windows era. Next I copied the application files to the disk and created an AUTOEXEC.BAT file containing just the name of the .exe file.

This worked correctly. After the com port drivers were loaded the application software communicated with the control box to check that the correct firmware was present. I was then able to talk to the machine via its built in keyboard. It all works correctly apart from the tool changing turret. I'm sure I can fix that, but these forums are not the place to discuss machine tools.

So I've fixed the problem and everything works, but I've no idea why. I'm afraid life is too short for me to investigate further.
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Old 19th Oct 2018, 3:39 pm   #52
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Default Re: 486 PC. Keyboard problem.

Quote:
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So I've fixed the problem and everything works, but I've no idea why. I'm afraid life is too short for me to investigate further.
DOS is a long time ago but I suspect that it requires files from the boot disk even if the system has already booted. If you take the boot disk out then things like COMMAND.COM will be missing and it won't have any shell. You could copy COMMAND.COM (and maybe a few other things) to the other disk. But anyway, you've got it working now which is the main thing.
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