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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I hope I can get some help repairing a Dell here.

The story:

The owner got the box, keyboard, mouse and screen free.

The machine was pronounced dead because no hard drive was in it.

The box was given to me to look for problems.

I prepared an old 5G hard drive to do a simple clone job if possible.

I cracked the case and looked it over. The Dell assembly of this unit is really
nice. :)


I hooked up one of my screens and an old mouse. The non Dell keyboard I used
was giving problems being recognized so I don't know what's up with that.


The GX150 is desktop model and has a flip up case--- really slick.


There is a hard drive in it but it may be dead. Rest of the interior looks clean,
the cd rom drive fires up as does the floppy.


The problem seems to be with the hard drive. The drive is in a special
cage with Dell designed tension clips.

The cable to the motherboard looks like a normal one and on this
micro form factor board there is only one hard drive connection that
I can see.

The drive itself (without having removed it) has 2 jumpers on it.

I've never seen a drive with 2 jumpers on it especially since it is an
'only' in the system.


What kind of problems are involved with a simple drive replacement?
Are there any leads you have on Dell drive replacement for an out
of warranty computer? Are there proprietary things to worry about
as there were with Compaq in the early days (special twisted cables,
weird jumper configs etc.)

The goal is to get the box operational for simple internet use with email
and so forth on a dsl connection. There is an ethernet connection on the
motherboard which I should be able to test.

Since the OS was Win98 (and the case remarked with a WinXP sticker
for some reason) I would not feel too bent out of shape in putting on
Win OS. Is there any proprietary stuff with that?

Checking for motherboard markings.....

It just says Dell on it.




In this regard is it necessary to clear CMOS or anything to reinstall an OS?

What I found is the indicated setup keys of F2 or F12 don't do anything.
I also tried the DEL key to enter setup but the only result is an Invalid Disk, Replace Disk message.

So the BIOS must be set to A: then C: and can't get to a setup CD.

Well that's everything I can think of.
 

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you can put any standard IDE drive in that computer. However I would not go above 40 gigs as that was the prevelant size for that era, there had to be bios updates for 64gig or larger if I remember correctly ?

The tension clips you have seen are no biggie; just depress the sides of them and they slide right out, i actually like that part of Dell's

drive cable is standard but they usually use a cable with only one connector >>>> no biggie use any standard 80 wire IDE cable

entering the bios: not sure here havent played with a dell in awhile ???? try tapping F8 ?

you dont have to mess with any bios settings, just make sure there isnt a floppy disk in the drive or cd-disk thats not bootable in the rom drive.

as far as OS goes, it will struggle with win xp (xp is bloated)

win 2000 might cut the mustard you will need to change the bios most likely to start from the CD-rom drive as first boot, if it has that option ?
 

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what are the specs on the computer? if it has at 600MHZ processor, 256MB RAM, should run ok..
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I might have just used the wrong key to enter the Bios.

Yes, the drive setup and components are very nice int his build. but
all the stuff is soldered in.

Considering that they were going to chuck the thing, makes you wonder
what sort of tech support was at the company that dumped it.

The drive clips are stuck in there pretty good so I haven't used any brute force
to get them loose. I see where they pinch to pull out but may need some
persuasion.

There is a 20 Gb drive in there (don't know the manufacturer yet,) the
box is listed as a 1Gz processor.




My replacement drive that I set up on another machine has Win98 on it.
It's a 5 (five) Gb Maxtor I'm giving away to get this working. The largest
spares I'm willing to part with that work are 15Gb.


I've used my Microsoft Boot disk floppy but it still stops at the 'bad disk'
error and I can't get to setup.



I am just getting used
to using Win2k for myself for larger files and having some problems with that.


So my question still is, how can I get cd rom recognized.


I'll try F8 and report back....


Ok, I'm back. There must be some secret to getting a BIOS screen
because nothing is getting it.

The hard drive seems to be running and I am running boot nuke on it to make sure it's clean. I can do a scratch install if necessary rather than
doing a drive replacement.

Also, though I can't see what's keeping those HD clips from releasing
there is no play and they do not budge.

From there I want to put Win98se on it using my factory MicroSoft
boot disk and cdrom.


Where can I go to find out how to simply get past that setup screen?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
additional facts

After running Boot nuke a diffeent small bios menu displayed and I was
able to enter BIOS setup.

This is progress of a sort.

But what I found in setup went like this:

The order of drive recognition was not going properly.

I may have just been not understanding all the pluses and minuses to move
the drive order.

But this was a fact: no cdrom is recognized.

When I saw this I looked at the drive. It looked to be a standard Samsung CDROM. There was a jumper on cable select. I figured that whomever did this
setup wanted the CDROM disabled so only an official tech could come in and
make it work.

I moved the jumper to what I figured was 'master' on the drive-- the
pin furthest right looking at the rear of the drive rather than furthest left. I could only infer all this stuff because the Samsung has no markings for jumpers and I used a different one.


The CDROM slid out of the cage easily.

I think what is going on is a different problem area than the hard drive which
seems to be recognized ok.


I'm going to try to swap in a cdrom rom drive from my stack of used
parts.

Will look for replies and report back shortly.
 

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First, on that model of Dell, I remember it being VERY proprietary and picky about a couple of things.

It is very picky about the memory, so just buying off the shelf memory probably will not work. If this is in the cards.

It is also very picky with the jumper settings, you will be better off selecting the "cable select" jumper settting on the hard drive, I have had better luck with hard drives in those machines my doing this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
another diagnostic step completed

The motherboard has the standard primary and secondary plugs.

The CDROM was on the Secondary Master.

I next tried to get some repsonse by changing the the ribbon cable,
using the master plug and jumpering to master on my spare CDROM
drive.

Welp, the drive functions just as the installed Samsung. The power opens
mad closes the drive tray but the computer insists nothing is installed.


Now I am stumped. I'm thinking there is something shot at the drive
controller level on the motherboard.

Other option would be to see if I can get any action out of the CDROM
if plugged to primary. That means taking the Dell hard drive out.


Has anyone seen a problem like this before? The machine is absolutely clean
but it can't find the CDROM drive at all-- at least not on secondary.
 

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you have tried another drive cd-rom drive right ?????

tried another cable

then try primary IDE connector on the mobo and disconnection the ide drive from the ide port
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
First, on that model of Dell, I remember it being VERY proprietary and picky about a couple of things.

It is very picky about the memory, so just buying off the shelf memory probably will not work. If this is in the cards.

It is also very picky with the jumper settings, you will be better off selecting the "cable select" jumper settting on the hard drive, I have had better luck with hard drives in those machines my doing this.

I used a bit of hyperbole with extreme makeover. ;-)


No, I'm not going customize anything beyond getting it working.

Bootnuke ran on the hard drive and the BIOS sees the 20G had that
is in there, so I did not monkey with the jumpers or anything on that.


See the recent post that says the CDROM plugged to secondary at the
motherboard gives a 'no drive installed' error.


I swapped in a different CDRW I had and I changed the cable from an
extra one as well. I don't understand how everything on the secondary
plug can be shot. But I will give it one more go with all new parts (from my stock) on cable select instead of master... BRB (Be right back)....


Nope, even with cable select on with all new parts nothing is recognized on
secondary-- not in the boot order which says no cdrom drive is installed
or on the setup which says nothing installed on secondary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
you have tried another drive cd-rom drive right ?????

tried another cable

then try primary IDE connector on the mobo and disconnection the ide drive from the ide port


Ok, well that is a bigger job. Everything is real tight on that part of the case.

If it did work, I don't know how all the connections could reach and close up
the case. I even have some extra long drive cables but those are the old fashioned 40 wire jobbies.

Thanks for staying with this. I just don't see how this machine could have gotten so screwed up.
 

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the 40 wire cables are fine for testing


you dont have to remove the old cd-rom drive to test the new one

simply add a drive cable & power plug leave it dangling outside the case

the 40 wire cables will not just that the 80's make data transfer faster but that will answer some questions
 

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Have you tried the CD on the second connection of the cable from the Primary Ide on the motherboard.
You will have to set it as slave with the hardrive as master
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Some progress so I'll try to put everything in order.


Trying to get the CDROM to be recognized continued to fail on all
secondary connections.

I unpackaged a fresh 80 conductor ribbon cable which has the 2
connectors so I could work off the primary only.

No CDROM drive with the IBM Deskstar on Primary Master and a CDROM
Drive on Primary Slave.

Just for grins, I hooked up the sample drive I had made-- it is a 5Gb Maxtor
I got on Ebay for a buck plus shipping.


This fired up, booted, did the discovery of unfamilar parts and drivers
and also got what it needed off of my Windows factory disk.


Well something is working anyways.


Next, I wanted to take that disk image put it on the Deskstar which is a
20Gb and freshly wiped with bootnuke.


When running Ghost7 I got a "only one drive installed error."

Does this mean that I can't use Ghost to transfer the image?

Many questions remain but a lot got done.


If the Deskstar 20Gb is ok does it simply need some fiddling with the
jumpers? On this Deskstar there are 8 patterns of jumpers! I plugged in the
Deskstar to do the image on Primary Slave figuring that is the
only channel which is working.


Or does a fresh format need to be done on the Deskstar?


To review:


Nothing has worked on Secondary drive channels Primary or Secondary.

A stock 5Gb drive jumpered simply as master is booted to the Primary
Master and runs Windows 98se.

Installing a stock CDROM to the Primary Slave also works ok after I changed
to a stock ribbon cable with 2 plugs instead of the one from Dell which had
only one.


Reinstalling permanently will be problematic because of the length of the
ribbon cables. But if I can get a working unit going, cosmetics is a secondary issue.

I have not tested the Samsung original CDROM drive in this new config.


Deskstar jumper settings are way confusing.



There may be a problem finding a driver for the ethernet connection.

I'll be testing that shortly.


Finally screen resolution looks to be stuck at 640x400 but does not revert to safe mode.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Saw the thread and I think they were right about the IDE channel going
down. I cannot fathom how that can happen though.

But the Secondary on this one I have sure seems dead.

If I wanted to got the extreme makeover route, could the extra slots on the
board be used to attach a fresh -- I want to say Promise card, but it's some
other one that's cheaper--?
 

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Will you be happy with the 5Gig as master?
If so you need to get the Deskstar out so that you can play with jumper setting a lot easier.
Try setting it up with the 5gig installed and see if the cable reaches both the CD and Hardrive.
Once you get it running you can change the Hardrive
My memory is not up to remembering how the clips work on a Dell hardrive can you post a picture?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Will you be happy with the 5Gig as master?
If so you need to get the Deskstar out so that you can play with jumper setting a lot easier.
Try setting it up with the 5gig installed and see if the cable reaches both the CD and Hardrive.
Once you get it running you can change the Hardrive
My memory is not up to remembering how the clips work on a Dell hardrive can you post a picture?
Can't do a picture. The 5G is going ok but there are some issues.

I have no driver installation disk for Dell. The Device manager tells me there
are 3 problems:

PCI Audio
PCI Ethernet
PCI System Management Bus

None of these Devices can be found on the Win98se installation disk or
I am not working it right.

The screen remains at 640x400 and so there's a graphics problem as well.


Can any of these things be found as downloads or generic substitutions?
 

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should be able 2 find/download them drivers at Dell.com..
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The guide would load for me but the link to the manual stalled and
wouldn't load.

But some progress I think.

Today I'd like to just concentrate on one component and that's the
ethernet hookup.

I found the Dell page for networking drivers and downloads.

There were about 8 selections all from 3com.
I saved the link to these driver downloads.

I couldn't load the manual to get the specification on this GX150.


They are always referring to the service number but it looks like the
service number on the label is rubbed off.


I have a bootable hard drive on the box and a working cd drom drive.


These driver discovery procedures always give me a headache.

Let me add that I'm not a professional and I'm doing this on my own time
for no money. I'm not in the groove for doing it every day.

So if someone there van load the manual and relay the right Ethernet driver
for this thing, I'll check back later. Right now I'm going ot try to get the
computer's own hard disk booting after a clone job.
 
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