Reinstalling the System software on a HP 16500B

  • You want to upgrade the software, but don't have the 16500H or 16500L LAN adapter (or a suitable AUI transceiver for the latter).
  • You have just replaced the hard drive in your analyser (with either a HDD or a CompactFlash card) and need to reinstall the operating system.
  • You have made a huge mess of the hard drive, and want to make a clean start with new software.
  • You have gone completely mad.
  • At least one (but preferably five or six) blank floppy discs, formatted in MS-DOS (FAT12) format, 1.44MB. You could also use two discs and alternate them (while one is being copied onto the analyser, the next is being loaded with data).
  • A few cups, mugs or cans of your preferred beverage (tea, coffee, Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Mountain Dew are all acceptable). This takes a LONG time. It might also be worth bringing a book or magazine to read during the reboot-from-floppy cycles (which take about 10 minutes).

There are two ways to reinstall the OS on a 16500B. Both of them start out the same way (by making the 16500B hard drive bootable), but deviate once that has happened. Method #1 requires a full set of SYSTEM and PVTEST discs to be made; Method #2 requires a bootable SYSTEM #1 disc and a LAN adapter.

  1. Download the System 3.14 software from Agilent's website (see link above). Unzip it into a convenient directory (say, a new directory on the Desktop), preserving directory structure.
  2. Inside this directory are five further directories – DISK1 through DISK4, and PVTEST. These correspond to the five different discs in the SYSTEM and PVTEST set.
  3. Take one blank floppy disc, and copy the contents of the DISK1 directory into the root of the floppy (that is, A:\ if you're using Windows). Replace the disc with another blank, then repeat for DISK2 through DISK4 and PVTEST.
  4. Insert disc 1 into the analyser's front floppy drive, and toggle both power switches to the ON position – first the LINE switch on the rear panel, then the STANDBY switch on the front panel.
  5. When the analyser finishes the self test, the message “LOADING SYSTEM FILE” will appear. Don't worry about any hard disc errors at this stage. The analyser will continue to read the disc for about 10 minutes before displaying the main screen – you may wish to go and prepare the aforementioned “beverage of your choice”.
  6. When the analyser has booted, touch the “Configuration” button, then select “Hard Disk”. Touch “Load”, then select “Format Disk” from the pop-up menu. Press Execute. You will be asked (twice!) to confirm that you really, really want to format the hard drive. You do, so confirm both requests.
  7. Touch “Format Disk”, and select “Make Directory”. Enter “SYSTEM” in “New Directory Name”. Press Execute. Select “SYSTEM” with the spinner, then press “Change Dir.”
  8. Now touch “Hard Disk” and select “Flexible Disk”. Touch “Load”, and select “Copy”. Use the Spinner to select the first file. Press Execute. Repeat for all the files on Disk 1.
  9. Remove Disk 1 and insert Disk 2, then roll the Spinner to refresh the file list. Copy all the files onto the HDD as above. Repeat this for all the other disks, in any order you like (though it's usually easiest to do DISK2, 3, 4, then finally PVTEST).
  10. Now remove the last disk (this should be PVTEST), and flip the front-panel power switch to STANDBY. Count to ten, then flip the switch back to “ON”. The analyser should now boot from the hard drive.

This involves the use of Disk 1 to boot the analyser, then using the LAN adapter to copy the remainder of the files across. This is MUCH quicker than using floppy discs, but requires a LAN adapter and matching Ethernet transceiver.

  1. Perform steps 1 through 8 (inclusive) of Method 1, but instead of putting Disk 2 in the drive, go back to the main screen. Set up the network adapter as per the 16500B User Guide.
  2. Connect the 16500B to a PC with a cross-over cable (or plug it into a network hub with a PC on it).
  3. Start the FTP client on the PC. Connect to the analyser as user “control” with no password, binary transfer mode, and one concurrent thread (this last setting is very important – if your FTP client attempts to perform a multi-threaded upload, the 16500B will almost certainly crash).
  4. Copy the contents of the DISK2-4 and PVTEST directories into /system/disk/hard/SYSTEM. You may need to repeat this operation a few times for all the files to copy across; the 16500B's FTP server is a little slow.
  5. Wait for the blinking “*” symbol (disc access indicator) to disappear from the top-right corner of the screen.
  6. Now remove the last disc from the analyser's floppy drive, and flip the front-panel power switch to STANDBY. Count to ten, then flip the switch back to “ON”. The analyser should now boot from the hard drive.

At this point, the analyser should be fully working.

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  • Last modified: 2020/09/26 13:24
  • by philpem