Micro Solutions / CompatiCard I / (3)

My CompatiCard PC (286 AT)

<-- Back to Part 2: Testing the 8 inch floppy drive options

In part 1 I still had a configuration with the CompatiCard as 1st and only FDC in an AT system. That was not correct! Now I rebuilt the system and added a 2nd floppy disk controller. I also added two more floppy disk drives


286 VLSI
80286 AT with VLSI Chip Set, (c) AmoRetro, Fabian Gùˆnther-Borstel

Configuration, BIOS, etc.

  1. 286-BIOS (C)1989 AMI
  2. 1,024 KB RAM
  3. MS-DOS 3.20
  4. Disk drives
    • A: 1.2 MB, 5,25" / TEAC FD-55GFR
    • B: 360 KB, 5,25" / TEAC FD-55BV
    • C: 20 MB / Seagate ST-225
    • D: 1.44 MB, 3,5" / TEAC FD-235H
    • E: 8" / Mitsubishi M2896-63
    • F: UniForm (user-defined)
  5. Controller (1) / Noname HFC-MM1
    • FDC WD37C65B-PL
    • HDC WDC42C22AJU
  6. Controller (2) / CompatiCard I, Rev B
    • FDC P8272A

Drive D and E are added via the CompatiCard driver. You don't have access to them without CCDRIVER.SYS. Drive F is user-defined by UniForm and added by UNIFORM.SYS. My default type is MS-DOS Standard [DSDD:8":DOS].

CompatiCard hardware configuration

Since I operate the two 1.2 MB and 360 KB floppy disk drives via the primary controller (here: MFM controller), the CompatiCard must be configured as a secondary controller. Quote User Manual: "CompatiCard is not a replacement for the primary floppy disk controller in an AT type machine.".

CompatiCard is not a replacement for the primary floppy disk controller in an AT type machine.
(User Manual, 3rd Ed., March 1990, p. 1-1)

I have set up the CompatiCard as a so-called third controller number (J1=A, J2=B, I/O Port: 360h-367h).

address Jumper Settings
Address Jumper Settings
If you are not using CompatiCard as the primary AT controller, you may choose any of the three remaining address jumper settings. Pick one which works in your computer. The third (A, B) has been found to work in most cases.
(User Manual, 3rd Ed., March 1990, p. 2-1)

CompatiCard and UniForm software configuration

device=c:\...\ccdriver.sys /8,7,3 /9,4,10

UniForm software configuration

Uniform-PC Configuration Program
Uniform-PC Configuration Program (UINSTALL)
Uniform-PC Configuration Program
Uniform-PC Configuration Program (UNIFORM)

Use the CTRL-D keys to select the default format. Use the CTRL-I keys to format (initialize) a diskette in the selected format.

If you type the command "CCDRIVES" after the DOS prompt, you get the following message:


CCDRIVES Version 1.27

The following CompatiCard drives are avaliable:
Drive D: - 3.5 inch High Capacity
Drive E: - 8 inch

UniForm-PC Drive F set to: MS-DOS Standard [DSDD:8":DOS]
8 inch drive
8 inch drive with 77 tracks, 1024 bytes per sector and 8 sectors per track.

To my knowledge, this is the only way to operate an 8 inch drive with the original format of 77 tracks, 1024 bytes per sector and 8 sectors per track. You need both a CompatiCard and the software UNIFORM!

Norton DI-Disk Information now correctly specifies the disk parameters. Also the media decriptor is correctly specified with FEh! The "system id" indicates that this disk was initialized (formatted) with UNIFORM.

I forgot! For the operation of an 8 inch drive you need of course an appropriate cable. You have to make this yourself, it's not for sale! No plug and play! Look here: "Problem no. 2: The controller cable.

A few gimmicks

At bitsavers.org I downloaded the image of MS-DOS 2.11 for the NEC APC. On my test PC I copied the image with Dave Dunfields ImageDisk to an 8 inch floppy disk. Note: I have two 8 inch drives. While copying I noticed the floppy disk parameters: 1,024 bytes/sector, 8 sectors and 77 tracks! Then I selected the NEC APC 8" format with UniForm and ... see there ...


Notice anything? I have executed the CAT.COM file and it is actually executable! In other words: I was able to run a file for the NEC APC (MS-DOS 2.11) on my IBM compatible AT under Ms-DOS 3.20. But the program CAT.COM works only in connection with the 8 inch drive.

Another test. I copied the program CIPHER.COM to my hard disk C: and started it. This also works. I was able to encrypt a text file and then decrypt it again. You can hardly believe it!

Series about the: Micro Solutions CompatiCard I