Strange Problems On Heavily Upgraded PCjr

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Strange Problems On Heavily Upgraded PCjr

Postby balsino » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:35 pm

Hello, it's been half a decade since I really touched any of my PCjrs. I have spent 3 days of the last 2 weekends working and mostly enjoying my PCjr. My original PCjr, which is 28 years old and resides in my home office, consists of: (1) Racore 2nd Level with additional memory and 3 1/2" 720 KB micro diskette drive, (2) PC Enterprises BIOS Cartridge and VGA Cartridge in each of the game cartridge slots, (3) PC Enterprises VGA DIsplayMaster SideCar, (4) PC Enterprises GameMaster Adlib Sound SideCar, (5) PCjr Power SideCar, (6) PCjr Speech Attachment, (7) LTP2 Modified Parallel Printer Port SideCar (modified by Mr. Brutman himself), (8) A 10 MB Xircom Ethernet Parallel Printer Network adapter attached to LPT2, (9) An Adaptec MiniSCSI Cable attached to the Racore Printer port, (10) PC Enterprises jrExcellerator Turbo Board, (11) PC Enterprises modified PCjr System Board (to Support VGA), (12) A BackPack 1.44 MB 3 1/2" diskette drive on a parallel printer port cable hanging off of the Adaptec MiniSCSI cable, (13) An external IBM 382 MB SCSI-1 Hard Drive ID 0, (14) An external Quantum Fireball 1080S 1 GB SCSI-2 HD ID 3, (15) An Apple SCSI-2 CD ROM Drive ID 5, (16) A Syquest 200 MB SCSI Tape Cartridge Drive ID 6, (17) A NEC MultiSync 3D VGA Monitor capable of both VGA and all other PCjr native video modes, and (18) An IBM PC Graphics Printer.

I am able to boot all SCSI devices without any issues, all powered on the same time. I only power on the Backpack drive when I need a 1.44 MB floppy. The goal is to boot the IBM SCSI HD as DOS 3.3 partitions, and the Quantum as a PC DOS 5.02 partition. All the work I have done recently is on the PC DOS 3.3 partitions. I usually only turn on 1 SCSI Hard Drive and the SCSI CD Drive at the same time. The first problem I encountered is that I cannot fire up the Xircom Ethernet Adapter and connect to my Novell Netware 3.12 server when the Syquest Driver is loaded. This is odd, and I confirmed that I can do a "Copy Con LPT2" succesfully on that LPT2 side car with the printer temporarily connected, and yet the Xircom will not work unless the Syquest Driver is not loaded. Not that big of an issue for me.

What is a big problem is a sudden onslaught of Mouse problems and electric noise on my VGA monitor. The PC Enterprises Adlib Sound SideCar comes with a BUS mouse. That mouse works fine, and it passes its test program. However, when I load Windows 3.0, the Mouse doesnt' work. As a work around, I have 2 sets of new custom made PCjr to serial cables, along with 2 serial Microsoft mice. I could not get them to pass their own diagnostic programs, let alone get them to work with Windows. So I added a 7th SideCar temporarily-a vintage Microsoft Mouse PCjr Side Car. The SideCar worked, but neither of my serial mice did work with that sidecar. So I removed it. I even did a clean install of Windows 3.0 with the PC Enterprises bus mouse. The mouse would work for a fraction of a second, then hang. Keep in mind that the PC Enterprises bus mouse still passes its diagnostics. I have another PC Enterprises Bus Mouse Sidecar I could try, but I don't think that would solve my problem. Keep in mind that this PCjr has used Windows 3.0 successfully with a Mouse for many years, though usually under PC DOS 5.02. This is my first try attempting to get it working under PC DOS 3.3.

Now, for the Nec MultiSync VGA Monitor problems. Here's how it works. All of a sudden over the weekend, toward the end of my autoexec.bat file, as it finishes executing, one of the last two lines are "TSOUND /E" and "SOUNDON" and both give sound compatibility if I want to play any Tandy video games on PCjr. When those last two commands are executed, I get squiggly lines on the left and right sides of the display, almost like an oscilloscope. I discovered that if I entered the "SOUNDON" command again manually, the squiggly lines stop and the monitor returns to normal.

I am not sure why the serial mouse would not work on my PCjr Serial Port. I do have the PCjr Internal 300 Baud Modem installed on the system board so that the external Serial Port is a true COM 2 (if my memory serves me correctly on PCjr architecture).

So any help would be appreciated. I need to figure out why (1) I cannot get Windows 3.0 working with a Mouse under PC DOS 3.3, (2) Why I cannot use a Serial Microsoft Mouse as a backup option on my PCjr Serial Port, and (3) Why the TSOUND and SOUNDON commands cause electrical noise disturbance on my NEC MultiSync VGA monitor. Thanks.
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Re: Strange Problems On Heavily Upgraded PCjr

Postby Vorticon » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:12 am

Very nice setup you have here!

Regarding the Xirxom adapter issue, I have a somewhat similar problem, but with the Palmzip driver. My adapter, which is also connected to an LPT2 sidecar, refuses to start up on cold boot when the Palmzip driver is loaded. However, the problem is solved by performing a warm boot using CTRL-ALT-DEL. Not sure why, but it work, although it's kind of a pain.
As for the TSOUND issue, I'm curious if you get similar issues with the primitive version I did a couple of years ago (link below). Just type in tsound at the command line to activate Tandy sound, and tsound s to reactivate the PCJr speaker.


As for the bus mouse, I'm afraid I have no suggestions here... I'm pretty happy with my simple serial mouse :)
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Re: Strange Problems On Heavily Upgraded PCjr

Postby jmetal88 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:45 am

Yeah, that mouse problem is kind of strange, especially since it worked before. I do know that on my setup, for some reason, the only serial mouse I can get to work is an old Tandy mouse that came with a 386 machine that my aunt used to own. It's entirely possible that all my other serial mice are just broken though, as all the rest were more cheaply made than the Tandy mouse (except the Dexxa mouse, but that's one I've tried with other computers, so I'm sure it's broken).
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Re: Strange Problems On Heavily Upgraded PCjr

Postby balsino » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:55 pm

Thanks for all of your help. I'll give the suggestions on the Xircom with the warm boot a shot as well as try one of my classic non-Microsoft serial mice this weekend and get back to you to let you know if it worked or not. I have a Mouse Systems Optical serial mouse for the PCjr, as well as two other non-Mircosoft 3 button vintage serial mice to try. I'll also test the serial port with one of my older external modems to see if the port is dead or not. I'll try the tsound command recommendation too. Thanks again.
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Re: Strange Problems On Heavily Upgraded PCjr

Postby Brutman » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:15 am

Hi Niel,

I'll try to parse though the problems this weekend. I've been swamped with work, so anything more than 5 lines long gets deferred. You exceeded the quota. ; - 0

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