Preparation of new disks on real hardware

Started by acridAxid, August 20, 2014, 04:25:00 PM

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Crossposting from the Facebook group, since this didn't get any real replies there.

I'm trying to install a 1GB CF card as the primary storage device in my PC98, but it doesn't matter what I do, I'm having extreme difficulty with partitioning and formatting.

I prepped the CF card first using DISKINIT, which took about six hours.

Using FDISK, I created one big partition (which is how I would prefer it), and then rebooted.  After the reboot, I try to FORMAT the disk, but this fails at 13%.

If I create a smaller partition (240MB), FORMAT still fails, though at a much later point.  120MB seems to be the sweet spot, I can format the partition and access it reliably.  If I create additional partitions, well, FORMAT will simply roll over without even printing an error.

I looked online and found some Japanese speakers complaining about similar issues with larger disks, and the solution was to use a tool called FORMATX.  It would bypass those pesky FORMAT failures, but it was a bit goofy in operation and required a reboot when complete.  I copied it over and tried it, and after a few moments it plays a success sound.  I reboot, but the disk is still unformatted.

I banged my head against this all weekend and feel completely stumped.  How can I move forward here?

On Facebook, the only reply I got was "That's a mighty big disk for a PC98".  Hmm.



I believe the problem you are having might be caused by the type of CF card you are using. Wikipedia says that more recent CF cards with DMA might not work well with any computer, including PC-98.

To solve this problem, try finding a compatible CF card. I know that RobIvy64 uses a Transcend 2Gb CF card, so that might work for you.

The other problem you may be having is with the amount of voltage going to the CF card. Some PC-98 need voltage going to the CF-IDE adapters, some don't, and some will ruin the CF card if you connect them wrong. It all depends on the model. I don't personally know which CF card adapter is the best to use, but there are plenty of people here who can tell you what to use.

Actually, other than the CF card potentially using DMA and the CF-IDE adapter, the problem you are having could be with the model of the PC-98. Different PC-98 models support different HDD maximums; some will only work with less than 500 Mb of memory on the HDD. If you could tell us the model number of the computer, we might be able to give you more information on the problem you are having.  :)


This is an early Windows 95 machine, but 1GB disks were quite common even then (the system has a 820MB HDD installed, so surely they were around).

Swapped in a different make of 1GB CF card, same behavior.
Pulled the power lead to the CF adapter, system hung during POST hardware detection, then booted Windows 95 without the CF cards, as expected.
Swapped the CF adapter's jumper from Master/Slave to Slave/Master, system wouldn't even POST so I swapped it back immediately.

Decided to try a 512MB CF card.  I knew this would be different when FDISK didn't hang (with a solid red light on the CF adapter) for a few seconds when creating the partition.  Created a full size partition, rebooted, wrote the IPL, ran FORMATX, rebooted and found the disk was actually formatted!  Transferred the system, powered down, swapped cables to make it the first IDE channel's master and successfully booted to it.

Time to install MS-DOS!

I'm using the dual CF adapter but no CF card is ever detected in the secondary slot.  Is there a BIOS setting I need to change to get it to allow two devices on one IDE channel?