QuickPAD Pro DOS Notes


CONTENTS


GENERAL INFORMATION


Introduction

These are my notes about using DOS on the QuickPAD Pro, based on the QuickPAD PRO Programmer's Reference and based on information that I found by exploring QuickPAD PRO's DOS on my own.

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.


The QuickPAD Manager (qmgr.exe)

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 I'm guessing stands for "QuickPAD Manager".

The QuickPAD Manager is just an application that runs on top of DOS. Below the QuickPAD Manager is a DOS environment, with DOS drive letters, environment variables, etc.


The DOS Drives

The drives that are available in DOS are:


The Boot Sequence

This is my startup screen:

	Quickpad PRO booting
	BIOS v1.3f
	Locating LEX.QP3

	Searching Rom Segment 01:3000
	Lex signature found at 133600 [3360]
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:

	device=power.sys

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.bat
In other words, A:\autoexec.bat sets the DOS path variable, calls 'setio' to initialize the serial I/O lines (as described in the QuickPAD Pro Programmer's Reference), runs 'csr' (a TSR that emulates the cursor), copies some *.ini files to the C: RAM drive, switches to the B: drive, and runs B:\qprun.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' program is a TSR which runs the spell checker. The 'qmgr' program is the QuickPAD Manager - the "shell" that runs the other system programs.

At this point, the machine is ready.


USING DOS


Accessing DOS mode

Pressing Control-Enter ends the QuickPAD Manager program and returns you to DOS. You will be at the DOS prompt on the B: drive:

	[B:\]

To conserve power, the flashing command-line cursor is turned off.


The DOS Environment

Your default path is "A:\;B:\", which means you can execute any programs that are in the root directory of the A: or B: drives.

These are the environment variables that are set on my machine by default. I used 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 it.

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 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.


Available DOS Commands

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:


Returning to the QuickPAD Manager from DOS

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.


Low Battery While in DOS

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.


CUSTOMIZING YOUR DOS ENVIRONMENT


Booting Directly to DOS

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 DOS when you power it on.

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.


Creating Your Own Startup Batch file

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'.

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%
	ced
Here is a line-by-line explanation:


If Your qprun.bat File Crashes at Boot Time

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.


Using CED for Command Line Editing

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.txt
you 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 here (see file ced10da.zip).

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.


Trying Out Other DOS Programs

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 quickly 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 not worth the risk. It's better to just create a manually-executed start.bat file as described elsewhere on this page.


Booting from a CompactFlash Card

The QuickPAD Pro can boot from a CompactFlash card, instead of the ROM drive.

All you need to do is to copy the files from the A: ROM drive to the D: CompactFlash drive, and 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.

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.

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 aren't accessible.

However, the advantage of being able to boot from CompactFlash is that you can create a custom environment on your machine.

Press Control-Alt-Del to reboot normally from the ROM drive.


Function keys and other special keys

Here is a summary of the special keys on the QuickPAD Pro:


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