A quick guide to fitting a new RiscPC hard discBy Martin Hansen. Published: 27th Feb 2008, 22:44:30 | Permalink | Printable
Martin Hansen talks us through his back up and upgrade processPlease read your RiscPC's manual as well as this article. Follow this gentle guide at your own risk.
As a software developer, when I bought my Iyonix, I felt that I ought to hold on to my StrongARM RiscPC. Saddled with a forked OS, it seemed wise to keep a finger in each pie, and thus ensure that my software remained 100 percent reliable whatever flavour of RISC OS it was run on.
The years have rolled by, and both machines have proved to be tough and reliable.
To begin with, I used each machine to backup the other via a network cable. On the Iyonix, I had a 120GB hard disc but on the RiscPC only 2GB. As a large collection of MPEG videos, vast quantities of photographs and many high-quality MP3s steadily began to accumulate on the Iyonix, the RiscPC's drive soon did not have the capacity to back up the Iyonix's.
I suppose a part of me has been expecting the RiscPC to pack in first, but as my Iyonix aged and the RiscPC continues to live on, I began to worry. If I was honest, quite a bit of material would be lost that I'd rather not lose if the hard disc in my Iyonix were to fail. Memories of warnings from Paul Middleton at various RISC OS show theatre presentations about the importance of backing up programs and data added to my anxiety. Last summer, here at drobe.co.uk, our editor's RiscPC hard disc failed and it was this that I took to be a final warning. I had to sort out some backup arrangements.
The most straightforward solution seemed to be to replace the 2GB drive in the RiscPC with, say, an 80GB one. I gave Dave Holden at APDL, in London, a call. He quickly quizzed me on how the existing drive was connected to the motherboard. I assured him that there were no fancy hard disc interfaces in my machine and he, in turn, assured me that a RISC OS-compatible 80GB drive would be on its way to me by first class post that very day. And for less than £50. A modest price, I thought, for some piece of mind.
The new drive arrived the next day in an extremely well padded box.
I enthusiastically set about using my Iyonix to back up what was on the RiscPC's old 2GB drive. Then all of the connections were pulled from the back of the RiscPC and off came its lid. The RiscPC's hard disc was buried deep within the machine, but I found that by disconnecting the push on-pull off power lead to the floppy drive, I could lift the layer off that held the CD drive, floppy drive, and podule-style network card and turn it 90 degrees to lie it on its side. This without having to disconnect any further cables. The two-slot backplane happily came out of its socket on the motherboard as I did this and remained firmly attached to the large (podule) network card - this, itself, still being firmly screwed into the back of the slice that had lifted away.
A cross-headed screwdriver was now needed to undo the single screw holding the old drive in place. The new one, as Dave had promised, was an exact size replacement and swapping over the power lead and the ribbon cable from the old to the new was child's play.
Carefully, I reassembled the machine, inserting a second hand 128MB RAM SIM that I'd recently acquired off eBay as I did so. I pressed in the power switch. The traditional start-up message reported 128MB + 64MB + 2MB VRAM, a total of 194MB of RAM. But my pleasure was short lived. It was then that I had a "duh" moment.
The new hard disc, although pre-formatted for me with a RISC OS file system, had no Boot installed on it. So the machine was running entirely from what was in its RISC OS 4.03 ROMs. This did not seem to include a networking configuration option. I had thought that I'd be easily able to set up the networking link to the Iyonix and through this pull the RiscPC's !Boot application across via ShareFS. I suppose I could have burned my !Boot onto a blank CD for transferring back to the RiscPC, but as I had my original RISC OS 4 install disc to hand, I used that.
Then, using the vanilla RISC OS 4 !Boot from the CD, I set up the networking to my Iyonix. I was back on track and could now drag my old RiscPC's !Boot file back across to replace the vanilla one. My old machine, with Select 3i3, was back in town.
The old 2GB hard disc had been formatted using the pre-RISC OS 4 file system that only permitted filenames of upto ten characters even although the RISC OS 4 ROMs support long file names. As a RISC OS Select subscriber, I've had RISC OS 6 for a while, but had been unable to install it as, for the first time, release of 4i2 of Select requires a hard disc that can cope with long file names. As I now had this, I immediately installed the RISC OS 6 upgrade.
And so there you have it: the whole process was reasonably straightforward and a most cost effective way of backing up the programs and data on my Iyonix whilst also giving my RiscPC a new lease of life.
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