Flying Faders Update

It seems as if it has been almost an eternity since work started on this project, but it only has been about a month.

When trying to essentially clone the hard drive, we ran into several problems. The major problem revolved around the computer always trying to boot into the Flying Faders software when we just wanted an MS-DOS prompt as to execute the commands. The computer trying to boot into the software caused it to get hung up (most likely because of the failing drive, but it could be any other reason). So, we decided to disconnect the hard drive and put in our emulator so that we can low level format it and install the relevant operating systems.

To do so, however, for the early line of HP Vectra computers (all the way up until the Vectra 386) requires the use of the “Setup and Utilities” disk. This disk allows one to configure the bios and then saves the configuration to the computer’s CMOS ram. We have tried many times to get the computer to boot from the disk but have failed. We tried a floppy disk we made from an image of the original disk and tried running the floppy image via our emulator. Nothing would work.

Researching into this, we may have stumbled upon the reason why this was not working. You see, our CMOS battery was extremely low (~1.5V when it should be around 5.8-6V)! We are surprised that the computer even initially tried to boot from the hard disk as it should not have even known it had one. Apparently, based on the information given in one forum post which was not about our specific model but a related one, the computer resorts back to trying to boot from a 5.25” floppy drive, which our computer does not have. The website where we downloaded the images of the HP software only had the image of a 3.5” floppy.

We were able to verify that a 5.25” floppy of the “Setup and Utilities” exists via a search of a computer museum’s collection database. Unfortunately, they do not put up images of the any software that they have. Subsequently, a 5.25” floppy drive and floppies would need to be installed into the computer as it appears possible to just copy the files from the 3.5” floppy version onto the 5.25” floppy and it should, theoretically, work (if that is the problem).

Nonetheless, we sourced a new (old) HP Vectra 286/12 computer that is completely working and has a 5.25” floppy drive. We also managed to source a place to get the Flying Faders installation disks as we were unsuccessful on forums and contacting Martinsound (have not returned our phone call regarding a purchase price). So, we plan to move the system over to the 286/12 and try to fix up the ES/12 with the 5.25” drive from the 286/12.

If everything goes to plan, the system should be up and running within a couple weeks.

Update 10/10/2018:

We just received the 286/12 and it we were able to successfully install Flying Faders v3.1. Testing of the system will commence this Friday, the 12th, to ensure reliability and operation. Luckily, this computer has an ATA hard drive controller which makes the sourcing of working hard drives significantly easier.