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Old 09 March 2023, 06:36   #1
dankcomputing
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A2386 and CompactFlash

I've been smashing into this brick wall over and over again for weeks. I have a 2386 Bridgeboard that I've been trying to set up. It's floppy controller got battery fried but the rest of it works. Not that big a deal since I have to use an ISA I/O card for a hard drive anyway and those typically have floppy controllers on them.


The floppy controller on my ISA I/O card works just fine and the IDE controller works so long as you use a spinning rust hard drive of the appropriate vintage. Problem is, there's nowhere to put one as the Amiga side's CD and floppy drives take priority (the PC floppy drive I'm using is hooked up externally).



So that leaves CompactFlash, and I cannot get a single one of the dozens of cards I have on hand to work. I can make partitions in FDISK all day and they'll FORMAT OK in DOS. I can boot off of floppy and copy files over to my heart's content. However, the DOS 6.22 installer fails at the very end. If I just use FORMAT with the /s option (so it makes the drive minimally bootable) that will work. But it won't boot off the CF drive no matter what - I get the non system disk or disk error each time. This same procedure on a normal hard drive results in a perfectly bootable drive.


I have never seen a PC hate CompactFlash hard drives as much as this one. What's going on here?
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Old 09 March 2023, 06:40   #2
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P.S. - It also hates SD to IDE adapters. I have some more industrial sounding CFs and a 512MB DOM on order, but I'm not seeing much reason to be optimistic they'll work.
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Old 09 March 2023, 18:11   #3
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DOMs work ok on a GoldenGate, so i'd be reasonably optimistic one might work on a C= bridgeboard too.
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Old 09 March 2023, 18:46   #4
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I went through the same steps a few years back with my a2386, I think I solved it by deactivating the controllers on the bridgeboard (junper settings)
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Old 11 March 2023, 09:05   #5
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I found one way to get around this by using XTIDE Universal BIOS but I have to use a version baked into pc.boot from this post, and there's no way to change the settings. More importantly, it has a really bad bug where it keeps re-enabling the first hard drive in the bridgeboard's bios and setting it to type 47 on every boot. Is there a better way to use XUB with this setup? The only ISA NIC I have right now doesn't work.
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Old 11 March 2023, 10:57   #6
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Did you see my post? Are the HDD and FDD controllers on the bridgeboard disabled (by jumpers)?
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Old 11 March 2023, 20:19   #7
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The floppy controller on the 2386 is disabled, and there's no hard drive controller onboard to disable.
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Old 11 March 2023, 22:31   #8
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In my experience, the best thing to do with a Commodore bridgeboard is to use hardfiles on SFS or PFS3 partition with a lot of buffers and fastest Amiga cpu possible and you will get very fine speed for your bridgeboard harddrive.
Whatever solution you are using (IDE controller, dedicated partition, hardfile) you won't break easely the 500 MB frontier anyway so the simpler the better.
Maybe a dedicated SCSI controller with its own rom such as Adaptec 1542 could do better.

You can also ditch your dead floppy controller completely and just access your hardfile from the Amiga side with CrossDos for file transfer, just be careful to not access the hardfile from both side at the same time or it will be trashed.

If floppy is absolutely needed, use an Amiga floppy drive and PCTask which can use the same hardfiles as the A2386.
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Old 13 March 2023, 05:18   #9
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I would like floppies to work and I'm not terribly concerned with getting past the 500MB barrier.

I tried a different CompactFlash card and for some strange reason it would boot without intervention but still flip the first hard drive in the bridgeboard's bios to something odd (type 15).

Now I'm running into the problem of getting the Janus software to actually work. It looks like XUB is clobbering it but if I change the Janus setting on the Amiga to a different address or turn on shadowing it clobbers XUB instead.

There's a later version of the prebaked XUB to install on the Amiga side, but it's only available configured for an 8-bit XTIDE card, where the addresses are different and thus won't work...
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Old 16 March 2023, 06:46   #10
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Tried another ISA NIC with the latest XUB burned to a 16K EPROM and it's like nothing's there. I can map the boot ROM wherever and I get no indication it's installed on boot.
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Old 19 March 2023, 00:32   #11
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The XTIDE BIOS definitely works, I've got an A2286 bridgeboard in my A2000 with a CF card connected to the IDE port on a soundcard. Rather get the latest version of XTIDE from this site: https://www.xtideuniversalbios.org/ and create a custom version of XTIDE that only uses the one IDE port on your I/O card. You'll need a 27C64 or 27C128 EPROM for the BIOS image, depending on which size BIOS you choose. A 27C256 or bigger can be used, just remember to burn multiple images of the BIOS to fill in the space.

Very important to set the checksum byte when creating your XTIDE image, if you don't do this, the XTIDE will not work. Use the software that came with your ISA NIC (or jumpers if it has) to enable the ROM socket and to set the correct ROM size and address for the ROM. You might have to play around a bit with the address until you find one where there is no conflict and the ROM boots.

Before I discovered XTIDE, I tried an Adaptec AHA1542 SCSI card, but it would hard lock when doing DMA transfers, I had to use a different SCSI card that was PIO based to make it work. The AHA1542 might work with the A2386, but it didn't work with the A2286.
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Old 19 March 2023, 21:30   #12
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Does editing the ROM in the config program recreate the checksum byte?
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Old 21 March 2023, 04:08   #13
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From what I can remember there was an option in the XTIDE config program to automatically create the checksum when you save the file. You can check if the checksum byte was created by opening the rom file in a hex editor and checking that the very last byte has a value other than FF
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