These are my notes about using DOS on the QuickPAD Pro, based on the QuickPAD PRO Programmer's Reference, tips from other users, and personal observations.
These notes mention some potentially dangerous system tweaks. You will see warnings below where appropriate. Please heed the warnings. A lot of this is experimental and beyond what the QuickPAD Pro was designed to do. That said, DOS can be used safely as long as you follow some basic precautions.
In general, you should always make frequent backups of your files, and you should be very careful when editing system files.
In the notes below, I use the term "QuickPAD Manager" to refer to the main application launcher (the "shell" that you see when the machine is turned on). The program that runs it is called qmgr.exe, which stands for "QuickPAD Manager".
The QuickPAD Manager is just an application that runs on top of DOS. Below the QuickPAD Manager is a custom version of the DOS operating system.
The drives that are available in DOS are:
This is my startup screen:
Quickpad PRO booting BIOS v1.3f Locating LEX.QP3 Searching Rom Segment 01:3000 Lex signature found at 133600 When the BIOS runs, it runs a check on the system, (e.g. it checks that there is no "low battery" condition), and then it boots from the A: drive.
Next, the drivers in config.sys are loaded. This is what my A:\config.sys file looks like:
Then, command.com starts and runs A:\autoexec.bat. The A:\autoexec.bat file looks like this on my machine:
@echo off path=a:\;b:\; setio /m0 csr.exe copy calc.ini c: > nul copy po.ini c: > nul copy edit.ini c: > nul b: qprun.batIn other words, A:\autoexec.bat
Note that since B:\qprun.bat is on the B: flash drive, it is modifiable (but be VERY careful if you do change it). Here is what the B:\qprun.bat file on my machine contains:
REM Startup control: DO NOT EDIT spck.exe qmgr.exe
The 'spck.exe' program is a TSR which runs the spell checker. The 'qmgr.exe' program is the QuickPAD Manager - the "shell" that runs the other system programs.
At this point, the machine is ready.
Pressing Control-Enter ends the QuickPAD Manager program and returns you to DOS. You will be at the DOS prompt on the B: drive:
To conserve power, the flashing command-line cursor is turned off.
Your default path is "A:\;B:\", which means you can execute any programs that are in the root directory of either the A: or B: drives.
These are the environment variables that are set on my machine by default. Use the 'set' command from the command line to get this list:
COMSPEC=A:\COMMAND.COM PROMPT=[$p] PATH=a:\;b:\;
While you are in DOS, if the system is idle for 2 minutes, the screen will go blank, and the machine will be temporarily suspended. Just press any key to reactivate the screen.
Note that there is no blinking cursor on the DOS command line. To make the cursor start blinking, you can load the ce.com TSR program available here which was provided by the QuickPAD corporation. Another way to turn on the blinking cursor is to run the ced.com program which is described below.
Note that unlike regular PCs, there is no way to interrupt a running program with the Control-C or Control-BREAK keys. That means that if you inadvertently run a program that gets into an infinite loop, you will have to reboot with Control-Alt-Del.
The usual built-in DOS commands are available at the command line, as well as other commands.
Here are some of the commands you can enter:
[B:\] edit \myfiles\editor\welcome.txtPressing the Escape key from the word processor returns you to DOS. However, note that the editor has a file size limit. If you attempt to edit a file larger than 64K, it fails and displays this message on the screen:
File too large to load into the buffer!
Quickpad Pro system configuration: 22
Available command list: break cd chdir cls copy date del dir era erase exit md mkdir path prompt ren rename rd rmdir set time type ver verify vol help rem ask echo goto switch for if pause shift call delay reboot synch lh truename ctty int3
General Software Embedded DOS-ROM 4.3 (REV0)
From DOS, you can type 'qmgr' to return to the QuickPAD Manager.
Another option is to type the 'off' command, which turns the system off from DOS. When you turn the machine back on, you will return to the QuickPAD Manager.
Or you can just use Control-Alt-Delete to reboot and return to the QuickPAD Manager.
If the battery is low, you should get a warning about it from the BIOS when the system boots.
If you are running a system program, like QuickPAD Manager or the word processor, the system will automatically save any open files and turn itself off.
But if you are NOT running the QuickPAD Manager or any other system program, you may not get any other warning that the battery is low. If the battery dies while you are in DOS, the files that are on the B: flash drive should be OK, but any other open files may be lost.
To make the machine always boot directly to DOS, edit the B:\qprun.bat file and add a 'rem' before the call to 'qmgr.exe'. This will make the machine boot directly to the DOS command line.
From then on, the only way to start the QuickPAD Manager is with the 'qmgr' command.
WARNING: Always be extremely careful when editing your B:\qprun.bat file. If you make a mistake, you could render your machine unusable, and even pressing the Reset button won't recover it.
You may want to add your own DOS programs, environment variables, and TSRs to your machine for working in DOS mode. You could do this by editing B:\qprun.bat, but this is very dangerous.
Side Note: In the days of the DOS PCs, if you made an error in autoexec.bat that rendered your system unusable, you could always reboot using a boot floppy. The QuickPAD Pro has NO easy way of bypassing the autoexec.bat/qprun.bat boot sequence, which is why it's so important not to corrupt the B:\qprun.bat file.
A safer alternative is to create your own batch file like B:\start.bat which you run manually every time you enter DOS mode. If typing 'start' is too much work, you can give it a shorter name like s.bat, and then you can just type 's' to initialize your environment.
Here is what my B:\start.bat file currently looks like:
@echo off set dircmd=/o prompt $p$g PATH=B:\prg;B:\usr\bats;%PATH% cedHere is a line-by-line explanation:
If you inadvertently add something to your qprun.bat file that causes a crash at boot time, the system will always crash, even if you remove the batteries or press the Reset button, because qprun.bat is stored in Flash (nonvolatile) memory.
Here is one thing you can try:
The idea is to interrupt the execution of the qprun.bat file before it gets to the line you added. You might have to do this a few times.
If it doesn't work at first, keep trying. This method has been used successfully in the past to recover from a corrupt qprun.bat file.
WARNING: Do not put ced.com into your qprun.bat file. It has been reported to cause a crash during boot. CED should only be executed from the command line, or from your start.bat file that is executed manually.
That said, CED is a very useful public domain DOS TSR program that allows you to rerun previous command lines that you have typed in. For example, after typing in several lines, you can use the up-arrow key to recall previous command lines one at a time, and then you press the ENTER key to execute the command line.
This can be useful when you are executing the same set of command lines repeatedly. For example, if you are writing a program ("edit test.c"), running a compiler to check it ("tcc edit.c"), and then editing the same file again.
I noticed that when I run CED, after I type in the first command line, the command-line cursor will start blinking.
CED also lets you define aliases for long command lines. For example, if you find yourself often typing in a long command line like:
edit b:\myfiles\editor\notes.txtyou can assign a short one or two-letter alias for it, like 'en' which you can remember as "edit notes".
One thing that CED does NOT do is filename completion with the TAB key, unfortunately, but CED is still useful.
CED is available at this link.
By the way, 'dosed' is another DOS TSR command-line history program, but it did NOT work well on the QuickPAD Pro when I tried it. The machine didn't hang, but the screen would redraw in the middle of a long listing and the characters would get garbled. I had to hit Control-Alt-Del to reboot and clear the TSR from memory.
The QuickPAD Pro is not 100% DOS compatible. Not all DOS programs will run correctly and some will hang the system, forcing you to use the Reset button.
Note that if you do have to reset the machine, you will have to set the date and time again, and the screen contrast will return to the factory default. If you entered a user name or other information in the Setup screen, it will be stored in B:\sys_user.ini, so it will still be there after the reset.
DOS programs that are not likely to work are ones that assume an 80x24 screen size, and run in full-screen mode. DOS programs that work only in text mode will probably work fine. Also, DOS software that supports the Tandy Model 1000 PC in graphics mode might work on the QuickPAD Pro. For example, see the software page for the description of Microsoft Word 5.5.
Tip: A CompactFlash card is very useful with the QuickPAD Pro. It will allow you to run the larger DOS programs, and if you have a CompactFlash reader on your PC, you can easily transfer files to the QuickPAD Pro, without having to use the slower serial cables.
If you are experimenting with TSRs, remember that you should never add any lines to qprun.bat. Even if you find a program or TSR that works from the DOS command line and from a manually executed batch file, it may not run when it is executed from qprun.bat. It's just not worth the risk. It's better to just create a manually-executed start.bat file as described above.
The QuickPAD Pro can boot from a CompactFlash card, instead of the ROM drive. Note that the maximum size of CompactFlash card that is officially supported is 128 MB.
To create a bootable CompactFlash card, copy the files from the A: ROM drive to the D: CompactFlash card.
I also had to edit the autoexec.bat file to 'rem' out some of the files it was looking for on the old B: drive.
To boot from the CompactFlash card, press these four keys simultaneously: Function-Control-Alt-Del.
Another way to boot from a CompactFlash card is to hold down the FN (Function) key while turning on the QuickPAD Pro.
After booting the CompactFlash drive, the DOS drives were mapped as follows on my machine:
Notice that there is no mapping to the RAM drive (previously the C: drive) or to the Flash drive (previously the B: drive). This means that there is no way to recover from a corrupt qprun.bat file, and your files in the \MYFILES directory are not accessible.
However, the advantage of being able to boot from CompactFlash is that you can create a custom environment on your machine, and reduce the write cycles to the B: flash drive which will extend the life of your QuickPad Pro.
Press Control-Alt-Del to reboot normally from the ROM drive.
Summary of the special keys on the QuickPAD Pro: