Raspberry Pi of Death Blog

By N. Leveck

On the OmniBook 800ct Restoration - pt. 1

Entered in vim on RPoJ via ssh


Last night I stayed up too late screwing around with my HP OmniBook 800ct. I am in the middle of my work hitch (thus the posting from vim instead of the Alphasmart), and 0340 comes awfully early...

I had ordered a 2.5" PATA to CF adaptor online and a 2gb CF card (Transcend brand). Last night I disassembled the OB800 and installed it. I booted to an OEM DOS 6.21 install floppy and fdisk'd it, followed by format /s c:. Rebooted, and nothing. I had read that people have had issues with certain CF cards, that it is the cards and not the adaptor that causes these failures. So I tried a few other cards and the one that worked is a SwissBit industrial CF.

I was happy to have it boot, and didn't feel like taking it back out to copy the Windows 95 OSR2.5 install directory over to it. So, I did a complete install of MS DOS 6.21 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 on it. My OEM disk sets of these two OS's worked great. They are my personal property, but had been sitting in my desk at work for 14 years (I still have a technician's workbench in our shop, but also now have an office). I need to pull the OB800 back apart and copy over the install files. Another option would be to copy the OB800 cardbus drivers for DOS to floppy disk and then I can use a CF card to copy the installer over (via a PCMCIA to CF adaptor). This would minimize the risk of me stripping screws. I watched on LGR's youtube that you can indeed connect a USB floppy drive to an OTG cable to an android device - this is another option... CF in a card reader on another, newer laptop sounds faster and easier though.

Once Windows 95 is installed I need to install the Palm Desktop software, and the Appple Newton Connect software. I also have copies of MS Office 97 Pro (on legit CD), Adobe PhotoShop 5 (thanks ex-employer), Winzip 7, vim 8, and other packages I want to install. I found while searching through old CF cards one that had HP OmniBook 530 and HP 200LX software on it. So I think I'll keep my 200LX serial cable warmed up because it may be cool to throw into the mix as well. I am thinking of soldering up an octopus serial able so I can plug in the Palm III cradle and an Apple 8 pin din serial cable at the same time. Only one would be usable at once, but no cable swapping would be needed. I have plenty of DB9 ends and raw cat5 cable laying around.

I need to locate the DOS version of dd and make a DOS boot disk with the OmniBook 530 PCMCIA drivers so I can backup that laptop's hard drive. It runs on a PCMCIA type 3 microdrive. I have no other device that I can plug it into to image it to a file. Maybe instead of dd, I'll use Norton Ghost (pretty sure I have an old copy laying around) to image straight to a CF card in a PCMCIA to CF adaptor. The OB 530 is going to be my Win3.11 machine, and the OB800 will be the Win95 one. I have a copy of Doom 2 on CD I bought many years ago. I want to toss it on the OB800 once this project is done and give it a spin. I am not a big gamer, but I have a soft spot for Doom.

I have been looking into kermit protocol since it was mentioned by solene on mastodon. It is old enough I should be able to use it as a go-between from the OB800 to a Raspberry Pi if I cannot get WiFi to work (I have a PCMCIA wireless adaptor that worked when I had Debian 4 installed on that computer). Contingency plan A anyways...

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