Smith Corona Acer joint venture 286 (PC220) boot problems

By buzzard9696 ·
When I try booting it fails, the bios info is empty and the keyboard will start beeping on any keypress after about a dozen, no input possible. Suggestions? I don't see a battery on the mobo and with a 9 month production time documentation has been impossible to find so far. The system has been upgraded with 16 MB of memory and it looks like Windows 3.1 is now on the hard drive. Acer 80286 BIOS V1.1R1 Just something I bought to play with thinking it still was running MS Dos 4.01 if I could get it to work. Errors are CMOS Battery Bad, CMOS Checksum Error, 80X87 Coprocessor Mismatch, Display Card Mismatch, Equipment Configuration Error, Memory Size Mismatch, Real Time Clock error, then a space and RAM BIOS Disable, Video ROM BIOS. When I enter setup I get Warning: The following POST errors have been automatically configured:
CMOS Battery Lost or Checksum Error, Memory Size Mismatch, Equipment Configuration Error for Primary Display, Equipment Configuration Error for Coprocessor.

Reboot leaves me with CMOS Battery Bad, Equip. config error, real time clock, RAM BIOS Disable and Video ROM BIOS.
I've tried a couple of monitors, a couple of keyboards, different memory configs, though I have no idea on that, 4 slots, 4 matching simms. Only 5120 detected on boot, no extended shows. Looks like 4 x 4 MB sticks, with and without mouse connected.
Been a long time since I played with anything this old, and suggestions welcome.

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All Answers

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At a guess the BIOS Battery is actually a Capacitor soldered to the M'Board

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Smith Corona Acer joint v ...

These die and leak destroying the M'Board int he process.

If there are no leaks on the M'Board try leaving it plugged in and Turned on for a day or so and see if the capacitor charges. If it does then enter the BIOS and make the settings that are required but with a lot of 286 systems you needed to manually enter the HDD parameters like Cylinder, Head, Sectors not a size.

As for the OS if you have Win 3 anything it is still running DOS in some form as Windows 3 was not a OS it was a Shell that ran on top of DOS and you had to somehow start Windows just like you did other DOS Programs. That could involve entering the required DOS Prompt or there could be some form of a Menu System involved which lists all off the different installed Applications and Utilities or maybe the Autoexe File has been edited to load Windows when the system starts. Though the last option wasn't common it is still possible. Windows up to 3 was basically just a Menu System to show what was available on the computer and was not as good as other DOS Menu's that where available at the time.

If you have a Menu System it's just a matter of following the prompts to open what you want but if you have to Enter a DOS Prompt you need to first know what's on the HDD and then Change Directory to the program and then type in the run command for that program.

To change Directories you type in the CD / [x] where x is the name of the directory you want to open.

To run the application you type in X where X is the Name of the EXE that runs the program.

To see the contents of the HDD you need to type in at the DOS prompt list and the contents of the HDD will be displayed though depending on how much is on the HDD and how many lines the screen displays the list may scroll off the top of the screen and then you need to use a Switch to only display one page at a time. The Switch depends on which version of DOS you are running and may not even exist if it is MS DOS as it wasn't overly user friendly compared to things like DR Dos which is what MS DOS was nicked from.

Of course as it's been a very long time since I have used any DOS and I never really used MS DOS to begin with I may be wrong with the above as it's not something I have needed to remember unlike the Unix Commands I needed to know.


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Reponse To Answer

by buzzard9696 In reply to At a guess the BIOS Batte ...

I was thinking it would probably be a capacitor, but it wasn't obvious so I'll have to clear off the board and take a closer look. I didn't see any sign of leakage so that should be OK. The hard drive appears to be ok so once I get the BIOS info fixed I think I'll be ok. Thanks.

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On many of these old systems,

the battery was not what you would expect. Instead of the "button battery" you find now,
typically CR2032, the batteries used were more like what was in "cordless phones", looked like a couple of short AA batteries in plastic wrap, with a wired connector that connected to the motherboard. If it is gone or bad, the BIOS loses its information. So, you'll need to find what type of battery it used. As for BIOS setup, again, some of these old systems did not use a keypress such as F2 or ESC to enter setup, though some did. Many used a "reference disk" floppy or 3.5 in diskette. (IBM PS2 systems used diskettes, I recently found mine for my old IBM PS2 Model 5500SX!) Anyway, you might do some searching on the internet for information. First priority is determine the battery, find replacement, and install.
As for Windows 3.1, if it was installed in default mode, setup adds a line to AUTOEXEC.BAT labeled "WIN", which starts Windows. But you'll need to get a battery before worrying with anything else, then determine method to enter BIOS setup and enter your system configuration.
A mailing list I belong to may have a member or two that can help, SurvPC (Survivor PC),
if interested I can post how you can join.

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Reponse To Answer

by buzzard9696 In reply to On many of these old syst ...

I didn`t see an external battery but I didn`t take the board completely out yet. I had it down to the ISA riser card left and didn`t see one. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to find it on the back side of the board. It`s a pretty easy system to work on, tool free except a screwdriver to move the clips I can`t quite reach. Please post the info for SurvPC. I get F1 to continue, F2 for setup, so that won`t be a problem. I don`t think the OS will be a problem once I get there. Thanks.

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Reponse To Answer

OK, hope I can remember this, it's been YEARS since I subscribed to SurvPC, hehe!
From whatever email address you wish to subscribe to the list, send a blank email with the subject being Subscribe to
That should get a response from the listserv and send a confirmation message as well as tips on managing your membership. We're a jovial bunch, not a lot of traffic anymore, but I can think of a couple of members that have 286s they still use, even on the internet! I haven't fired up my PS2 in some time, but wrote a "how to" web page for getting older DOS PCs connected via modem, along with software recommendations. If interested in that, I can post my old web site address.
Again, send an email with the subject Subscribe to SurvPC@tmonroe.com

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I agree with wizard.

by gdburton In reply to Smith Corona Acer joint v ...

Many systems of that era had significant batteries off board, sometimes up to 3 * AA ni-cads. (These may have been removed because they were leaking or generally obviously failing.) I remember them being "velcroed" onto the back panels or PSUs, all over the place. The good news is that you should be able to identify the RTC / BIOS RAM chip (typically a Motorola MC14681 then somewhere close will be a 2 or 3 pin header. The following may help to identify it. As these batteries were often constantly trickle charged, you should find on of the pins at 0V (chassis) the other at between 5V & 3.8V. Good luck!

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Reponse To Answer

by buzzard9696 In reply to I agree with wizard.

Turns out the battery is sealed inside the Dallas DS1287 RealTime chip. There is a mod to cut out around the battery pins and solder on leads for a remote battery. Looks like a trip to The Source on the weekend to pick up a 2032 battery holder.

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Another "Hidden" Battery

by TheChas In reply to Smith Corona Acer joint v ...

Another old technology hidden battery was for the battery to be part of the real-time-clock / CMOS IC itself.

These look like an extra tall standard through-hole style dip IC.

The last time I looked for one was several years ago. The problem we had is that the "new" versions did not support the chip we had.

For the Ni-Cad style batteries, the most common that I recall had a diameter between that of a AA and a C but were less than half as long as an A. Most were 3 cells in a metal or shrink wrap pack. Many motherboards had terminals for an external CMOS battery. However, as the old battery is apt to be shorted out, it must be removed from the board before the external battery will work.


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