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Difficult to try "imaging" an old hard disk drive with a 486 PC (on DOS 6.2) 
Thursday, June 4, 2015, 06:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Many of you will tell me, that "imaging" (or "cloning") a hard disk drive is not really a difficult task. But did you ever tried this running old hardware and just with DOS ?

The first idea was to use Norton Ghost. But that was not really a good idea, because with older Ghost Versions (before 8.0) you cannot compress the target image file. There is a "spanning" option, but I had only a ZIP drive (100MB) with parallel port interface, and for a 420 MB HDD this will be no pleasure. The later, newer Ghost Version 8.0 and above always created an error message with a lot of register and address info, it seems these newer versions are not compatible with my 486 and MS-DOS 6.20.
So I had a long "Google" session until I found "savepart", written by Damien Guibouret - download see "related link" below. This program runs on my 486 and it can create a compressed image file.
So I was quite happy to found it, believe me.
Start screen looks like this:

Choose "save element" to go on imaging your HDD, it's quite self explanated.

Edit later:
Meanwhile I was also able to convert it back to a raw hdd file (with the help of "spartw64.exe", which is savepart for 64bit Windows).
After having it back as a raw image on my modern i7-PC, I created a vdmk file (with raw2vmdk, launch it with "java -jar raw2vmdk.jar raw-image-filename newfile.vdmk").

Now I started VMPLAYER and used the already prepared vdmk file as "hard drive".
The result look like that:

P.S.: raw2vdmk.jar can be downloaded here:
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PCD2 CPU card - unknown manufacturer, unknown switch function 
Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 12:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Well, after I realized that the battery of the "CPU board" is dead, I tried to remove the CPU card. This was a small disaster, because I have to figure out how to dismantle the rest before I can pull the card itself. But I survived, so here is a picture of that 386SX ISA-Bus card, plugged in my Siemens PCD-2:

I have no clue what function that switch on right has. It is NOT a switch for CPU frequency (already test with LANDMARK Speedtest).
The card is not a typical industrial CPU card, because almost all of these cards are smaller/not full sized cards. May be someone knows the manufacturer of this card ?

Added later: I have also open questions about this Multi-I/O Floppy + IDE controller card, an Acer controller chip is visible...

I've figured out 4 of 7 jumper easily (located on the right side), enabling/disabling Parallel- and Serial interface. One of the more left located jumper is for Floppy enable/disable.
But two of them are a mystery for me. It seems the outer most left jumper disables the Game Port, but if I choose the lower position for this jumper, Floppy LED is always on, regardless of the fact, that Game Port is also disabled. Very strange...

Added again later:
It looks like this one:
That means, NO Game-Port DISABLING is possible :-(
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Another Siemens PCD-2 - but surprisingly with a Intel 386SX CPU ?! 
Saturday, May 9, 2015, 06:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Recently I found another Siemens PCD-2, but this one was totally different from the other.
The main difference - instead of a Intel 286 CPU, I found a 386SX CPU (20 MHz), but still inserted on a CPU card (no "classic" mainboard inside).

There was also no proprietary Siemens BIOS used, instead, I found an AMI BIOS:

Chipset was still from OPTI, a lot of SIMMs can be also found on the CPU card.

I had to replace the 3.5" floppy drive (this happens not often), a Seagate 3144AT (IDE) runs fine (almost fine, the drive already makes some noise, but at the moment not too loud).

But Arkanoid II is running well, so I guess I am satisfied also with a 386SX PCD2 :-)

Somebody else already replaced the 286 CPU card with a better CPU, too.
See "related Link", may be this PCD-2 here was also already modified in a similar manner.

If you're curious about the original PCD-2, look at my page >here<.
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Siemens PCD-2 monochrome monitor adapter 
Saturday, May 2, 2015, 04:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Having a bit time, I created a monitor adapter for my Siemens PCD-2.
The Siemens monochrome monitor has no own power supply, it gets its power by the DB9 connector (strange!), means +12V on pin #2.
I had to cut the connection between pin #2 from the mda/cga card and pin #2 from the monitor, and also had to get 12V from elsewhere. This is my solution:

Now I will hopefully be able to use also an EGA card (without 12V power supply) with my multifrequency monochrome monitor (this monitor model is *very* rare).

See original manual page of the Siemens PCD-2 at "related link" below.

See also my web page about the Siemens PCD-2 >here<.
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*VERY* old skool char only game - ZZT from Epic Megagames 
Friday, February 27, 2015, 11:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
For those IT oldtimers, "Nethack" is well known for several platforms, even for CP/M-80 Nethacks predecessor "Rogue" is available.
"Nethack" has still its own living community, especially for LINUX.

But there was also a more colorful variant available, "ZZT" from Epic Megagames.
It uses the special characters from IBM PCs screen font of the text mode, which is still present even today in modern 8-core i7 Personal Computers.

But take a look for yourself (Startscreen Ezanya World):

After a few steps in front of a pub (Hic!):

Talking with the barkeeper:

Using a torch (in a dungeon, only for 20 seconds!):

You can be dead very fast, so you will have hours to practice (to survive longer) ...

I tried it also on my old PC with monochrome screen, it has a mode for it:

There is also another blog entry about it:

And there is also a modern version named "DreamZZT" available (Mac OS X, Windows ....).

See related link for a download possibility.
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