Ok after about 3 min it says boot failed: please change disks and press a key to continue.
What does that mean?
It means you are still NOT booting from the USB drive.
You have given me NO clues to work on....
What specifically did you change now that you think it is going further?
What motherboard are you using? What is the version of its BIOS? What USB drive are you using?
Does it have a U3 partition on it? If so, it will need to be removed.
Did you use the HP tool to format the drive? If not, why not try that? It is one of the steps listed in the wiki and it often allows your BIOS to boot a slightly different geometry on the flash drive. and be successful.
We are not mind readers.... Tell us EXACTLY what you did.
Here is an analogy... My car won't start... why not? perhaps it ran out of gas, perhaps I did not start it, perhaps the battery is dead, perhaps the engine was stolen in the night? I'll let you guess... If all I said was "my car won't start" you would never know if I even put the key in the ignition, or turned it unless I gave a bit more detail.
I have two hds in it. one has windows on it but it will reformat it anyway right?
Yes, it will reformat the data drive once you assign it on your devices page, and then check the "reformat" checkbox on the main page before you start it after the disk is assigned.
You do not need to have ANY disks installed in order to get your flash drive booting... That is an entirely different issue. Any message that says it timed out sure was not coming from the flash drive.... but probably from your bios, or your old windows hard disk.
do you still get the same message with the hard disks disconnected?