Technology and retro computer blog

Compaq Portable II new video and sound card

I recently received the replacement video board for my Compaq Portable II and I'm glad to say it worked perfectly.  See my previous post about the CPII here.  The board is Assy. No. 000525 which is a later board than what was in the machine, but it's an appropriate board for the Portable II.  There's much fewer components on this board and many of the components are surface mounted. It's great to have the internal CRT working again.

Working internal CRT
Working internal CRT
VDU Assy no 000525
VDU Assy no 000525

The Compaq Portable II is great for running CGA games, so I decided to get a sound card for it.  I managed to get hold of a Sound Blaster Vibra 16 CT4180.   This is the cheaper plug and play version of the Sound Blaster range, but it worked out well.  These cards also have a game port connector for connecting a 15 pin joystick, so needless to say I've got one of those coming as well.

I purchased the Vibra 16 not really knowing whether it would work on a 286 machine.  It’s a 16 bit board and I’ve got a spare 16 bit slot in the CPII, so I figured I'd work it out once it arrived.  Getting the sound card working in DOS took a bit of effort but I got it working.  The Vibra 16 is a PNP card designed for later machines than a 286.  So at first when I tried to install the drivers the card wasn't detected and running the Sound Blaster configuration manager would lock up the machine.

creative vibra 16 ct4180
SB Vibra 16 CT4180
creative vibra 16 ct4180 connectors
Vibra 16 ports
Compaq Portable II cards
Video & sound cards installed

In doing some research on the web I discovered a utility called EMU386 which is a driver that will emulate 386 opcodes on a 286.  The Vibra 16 software must use some 386 opcodes and therefore requires EMU386 to install properly. Once Emu386 was installed, I then installed the Sound Blaster basic drivers and the Sound Blaster Configuration Manager.  These two installs made all the necessary changes to the autoexec.bat and config.sys files and once I restarted the sound card worked.

Vibra16 sound card detected
Sound card detected
Compq Portable II ports
CPII card ports

While I was at it, I also installed MSDOS 6.22.  This took a bit of effort because I don’t have a 1.44 floppy connected to the machine, it only has the 360k floppy drive.  I didn’t like the prospect of creating 360k install disks for DOS 6.22, so I looked for another solution.  I’ve got a DOS 6.22 360k boot disk, so I used that to format the hard drive with the system files:

A:>format /s/q

This does a quick format of the hard drive and installs the system files required for a hard drive boot. Once that was done I simply removed the CF hard drive and connected it to my Windows pc.  I then manually created the DOS folder and copied the DOS files from my PC.

Here’s a video of the Compaq Portable II with Sound Blaster Vibra 16 running Prince of Persia, the sound is really impressive.


See below for EMU386, Sound Bster Vibra 16 DOS drivers and the DOS 6.22 CD image. (1.79 mb) (18.15 kb) (1.15 mb) (671.25 kb)

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