View Full Version : Miniscribe 3650 video

March 16th, 2010, 02:42 PM
I figure some folks on here may get a kick out of this. I made a short video of my Miniscribe 3650 MFM hard drive during a random access test. These drives make such a unique sound, I figured I'd capture it on video.



March 17th, 2010, 02:04 AM
Yeah, I remember that distinctive sound. My Dad bought a 40MB Miniscribe RLL hard card for his Olivetti M24 at a computer fair once. I remember being so happy with finally having a hard disk in that machine. :D

But that darn thing was so terribly unreliable. As it got fuller (and thus more fragmented), it would become noisier and slower, eventually crashing, losing all the data on it. The strange thing is that after a low level format, it would run fine again for a while, after which the same cycle would repeat itself. I ended up hating that thing like the plague.

Also, once I had assembled my first computer (A 486DLC system), I was short on money for a hard drive, and many games would require it, so I ended up borrowing the Miniscribe from the M24. To my surprise and disappointment, my sound card (an SB 2.0 clone) would refuse to work while the Miniscribe was in that system! It wasn't just an IRQ conflict, but the card would simply not be recognized (either that, or the Miniscribe couldn't boot with the sound card in the system, I don't quite remember, but either way, they would not work simultaneously on the same system). Anyway, I was stuck with this awful dilemma between temporarily using the Miniscribe so I could play larger games that would not run from floppy, but with internal speaker sound, or play only games on diskettes (often having to change disks with many games not fitting on a single disk), but at least with Sound Blaster or Adlib sound.

I was so happy when I finally bought a 250MB Conner IDE drive a while later. It worked fine with my sound card, and it was a lot faster (not to mention much more quiet and more reliable) too! :D

Unfortunately, my first motherboard turned out to crash with many games when digital sound was played through the sound card. That issue really drove me crazy at times. Much later I read somewhere on the Internet that the OPTi chipset in that motherboard had a notoriously buggy DMA controller that was most likely the culprit.

I remember all of that tinkering with fondness. Well, for the most part, anyway... ;)

March 17th, 2010, 06:11 AM
The problem you describe sounds like the drive just couldn't handle an RLL format.

March 21st, 2010, 11:54 PM
The problem you describe sounds like the drive just couldn't handle an RLL format.

You mean an MFM drive attached to an RLL controller and used out-of-spec? In a similar way as how people used to bore holes in cheaper 720KB 3.5" disks so they could format them as 1.44 disks?

Yeah, I believe I recall hearing or reading about that trick, and that would indeed explain a lot. The drive was sold to us as a 40MB disk. We've been had! :crazy:

(I wonder if we can claim our money back after two decades... ;-))