Need help starting up old Sodick A280
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  1. #1
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    Default Need help starting up old Sodick A280

    Howdy,
    I need some help with a late 80's Sodick A280 I'm trying to get running for a friend. We got the operation manuals and a bunch of diskettes but no electrical diagram.

    I can't get the PC to boot up. The manuals say to put the system disk and a user disk into the drives and on power up it should load the operating system.
    The previous owner left a note that says: must do Qstartup () or errors will occur. Didn't say where to enter that, but I've tried at the initial prompt and with the load function key.

    When I hit the source button the control power comes on, one of the floppy drives flashes briefly and there's two long beeps and a short beep from the PC.

    The screen shows "how many files (0-15)?" at the top and function key arrangement at the bottom that say load, print save run etc... (I didn't note exactly what they say)

    If I hit run, (F5 I think) it displays NEC N-88 BASIC Version 2.0 and some other text (copyright statement), the last line is "641688 bytes free" and that's all it does. No floppy activity, no command prompt, just hangs and I have to cycle the power.

    If I enter Qstartup () after the "how many files" prompt it will occasionally clear the screen and look like its going into a startup routine but the floppy drives don't come on.

    I've tried the system disk in either drive to no avail.

    I looked at the files on the system disk on a PC, the largest one is "N88BASIC.LIB" there's two batch files, APT and Ramdisk as well as a bunch of EXE files.

    If I type in any of the exe file names or the .bat files either at the initial prompt or using the LOAD function key and hit enter it just displays the "6xxxxx bytes free" as the last line and hangs.


    Anyway, either I'm missing something simple or there's a PC issue, faulty floppy drive maybe?

    From Old computers.com it appears the PC had BASIC as part of the BIOS to run the floppy drives.

    It was purchased from a company a few blocks away so It didn't see a rough trip or sit around and it was running shortly before we got it.

    Sodick wants $500 to register the machine with them before they will sell you parts or allow you the privilege of talking to them...

    Any guidance would be appreciated. Help me PM, you're my only hope.....

    Thanks, Chris

  2. #2
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    Hi Chris,

    Did you get the A280 going ? I just bought one and im having the same issue.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Not Chris, but your machine has a NEC PC98 inside it, not a "pc". A PC9801UV I would guess to be specific.
    Its a proprietory japanese standard machine with no relation to what everyone else calls a pc, the name is a bit of a misnomer and should be ignored, it uses CBUS standard cards inside, doesnt support isa/pcia etc. Doesnt use memory modules etc, the basic variant it runs is a special adapted one for nec and japanese use so not standard basic as most know it. A glimmer of hope is they are still quite popular with retro gamers in japan as the range was basically the japanese answer to the pc and a home/small office computer in general so its still possible to find the odd part, although hardly known outside of it.

    The floppy drives are 720k single sided units but they spin at a different speed to a standard pc floppy, and its probably a disk issue or the drives themselves (theyre common to have issues with).
    I have the same with a BF275 with the ix controls on it which I bought as a non runner, the NEC PC98 is sat next to me in the office right now, and I'm waiting for a $10 pc98->vga adapter to arrive from japan before I can push on with diagnosing it as my monitor is dead and of course its not a standard unit (it uses a old rgb monitor capable of 14 hz I think) and I didn't fancy paying the $1000 for the flat screen pc98 screen that the ebay seller is selling. I have a 100v adaptor already to run it outside the cabinet for diagnosis.

    I have been looking at HxC2001 sd card to floppy adaptors because I anticipate the same issues (and I'd like to put files on a sd card or potentially network it via their other project) and again theres a issue. The model my edm uses has no VFO signal for the board to sync the floppy drive signal up. This means virtually all the floppy drive sd adapter conversions wont work in it, however I'm in contact with someone who has a add in vfo board that gets around this, so when my monitor arrives I will be progressing.
    It sounds like your machine wont boot because of floppy drive reading issues, I don't know where to get new copies of the disks but if you need a floppy drive you have to get the right unit for your machine which is a FD1137D if you take the case off and have a look. They are pretty hard to find, and go for a premium as a result.

    If you search here Milicron posted some images of the sodick bios settings you will also need later on. He has a wire edm which has had pc98 issues too.

    The pc98 is not the main control computer, it sits between the sodick main unit inside which has the main chassis backplane with the ram and cpu cards in it and the user/screen/keyboard.

    All the above to be taken in the context that I am one of the fiddle farting wacko homeshop machinist types on here, who are responsible for ruining the board and should therefore not offer any advice at all.

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    Mr Fluffy
    I have a sodick bf 275 and I would like to know if you solved the problem about replacing the floppy drives ... use to get them serviced by a business that called it self " Mr Floppy " does not operate these days.
    Batt


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