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Zero
November 22nd, 2013, 08:38 PM
Hi, All!
I'm trying to re-assemble my old PC and I have met following problem with MFM hard disks:

I have two MFM hard disks, one is Seagate CHS1024/5/17, 40Mb, other is Fujitsu M2243AS 72 Mb. Controller is unlabeled, but it has full WD chip set, so it is probably WDC (hdc+fdc). Last time when I used these (15 years ago) these were just fine. I disconnected them and placed on shelf. No electrical or physical damage was done, those were untouched all 15 years.
Now, when I tried to bring these to life, these refused to function. On power up, BIOS (Award 4.50PG) reported hard disk error 08, which means, as I understand, 'sector not found'. I hooked up floppies and here are observations:
1)I'm available to move to C: or D:, but DIR fails with same 'Sector not found' error
2)Norton Disk Doctor (NU6.0) indicates, that couple of first cylinders are fine, but rest 90% give same "sector not found" error.
3)Various DOS diagnostic utilities have shown, that MBRs are ok, I can see partitions etc.
4)NDD shows that FAT can be partially read.

5)I tried to run SpinRite 2 and 3, but it hangs on 'checking disk cache' stage.
6)Other similar utilties for data recovery show me, that most of sectors can't be found
As I understand, it is about low-level sector header that has sector number (plus ECC etc). Am I right?

Next, I tried to perform low-level format. Since my controllers (I tried two different, just in case) do not have optional ROM BIOS extension, and AWARD doesn't have low-level format functionality, I tried to use couple of programs: HDAT and Seagate formatter.
Both performed the format, cylinder after cylinder. After these have finished, I made these utilities to check disk, and again got 'Sector ID not found' errors.

I would really like to use these MFM drives when restoring my old PC.
What else I could do to perform LLF? Appreciate any help, I'm totally out of ideas.

fatwizard
November 25th, 2013, 05:52 PM
I would suspect the interface card or the cables you are using. Old MFM drives are notorious for going sour, but it's unlikely that two drives would just happen to have the same issue.

vwestlife
November 25th, 2013, 06:13 PM
Clean the contacts.

MikeS
November 25th, 2013, 06:24 PM
You can select C: or D: ? Does that mean that both drives are connected? If so, try one at a time. What model is the Seagate? CHS correctly specified for the Fujitsu?

SomeGuy
November 25th, 2013, 06:29 PM
It might help to know more about the specific controller. Look for any markings on the board or post a picture. Also what kind of PC is this? A quick google of "Award 4.50PG" shows that might be a 486?

If it could read the first few sectors, then it sounds like it could have the C/H/S values messed up somewhere. Make sure those are set properly in the CMOS.

Are you sure these cards don't have BIOSes? I would expect an MFM or RLL card from that vintage to have its own BIOS in order to override motherboard BIOSes that don't permit setting custom CHS configurations. It might not show anything at boot and they could usually be disabled, but if it is enabled you might have to tell its BIOS about your configuration and use it to LLF.

If these are 8-bit cards meant for an XT you might have to set jumpers to set the drive size.

And yea, don't underestimate the power of flaky cables. Try a different cable and each drive at a time.

paul
November 25th, 2013, 08:43 PM
Make sure you're clear on which drive is addressed as drive select 0 and which is on 1, by cable twist or jumpers, whichever is utilized.

Be sure the last drive on the chain is terminated and the other is not.

Understand whether it's the motherboard's BIOS or the controller BIOS that is setting the drive geometry settings and set them correctly. If it's on the controller then the motherboard BIOS is not set to anything.

Then try a LLF.

Thanks to NDD and earlier attempts at LLF it sounds like you've not likely to recover the original disk contents at the FAT level so you're starting from scratch.

Oscar
November 26th, 2013, 08:07 AM
Hi,


Now, when I tried to bring these to life, these refused to function.

Are you reading the MFM drives with the same controller they were formatted on? I may be wrong but as far as I know MFM drives are quite prone to be unreadable or poorly readable by any other controller than the one that formatted them.

Regards,

Oscar.

Zero
November 29th, 2013, 08:38 PM
I would suspect the interface card or the cables you are using. Old MFM drives are notorious for going sour, but it's unlikely that two drives would just happen to have the same issue.

I suspected controller card as well in a first place. I have tried another one with same result.


Clean the contacts.
I have cleaned contacts on the drive side with rubber eraser and alcohol; no result. Not sure if it is possible/needed to clean cables as well.


You can select C: or D: ? Does that mean that both drives are connected? If so, try one at a time. What model is the Seagate? CHS correctly specified for the Fujitsu?
Yes, at first I have tried both drives; these had correct MBRs so partition table could be read. Couple of first tracks were read just fine, even part of FAT. Other tracks were throwing 'ID not found error'.
CHS are specified manually for both drives, I'm pretty sure these are correct. I have written down CHS on drives when I were using these... Seagate is 4053 (type 33 in AMI BIOS); Fujitsu is MP2243AS. First is 1024/5/17,second is 754/11/17.
Currently I'm exprimenting with this one. After I performed LLF, no sectors could be found at all, neither 0/0/0, nor any other. Hence, it wrote something, info is removed. But still it can't read anything.
I can understand data loss, but why it doesn't LLF correctly - that's a mistery to me.


It might help to know more about the specific controller. Look for any markings on the board or post a picture. Also what kind of PC is this? A quick google of "Award 4.50PG" shows that might be a 486?

If it could read the first few sectors, then it sounds like it could have the C/H/S values messed up somewhere. Make sure those are set properly in the CMOS.

Are you sure these cards don't have BIOSes? I would expect an MFM or RLL card from that vintage to have its own BIOS in order to override motherboard BIOSes that don't permit setting custom CHS configurations. It might not show anything at boot and they could usually be disabled, but if it is enabled you might have to tell its BIOS about your configuration and use it to LLF.

If these are 8-bit cards meant for an XT you might have to set jumpers to set the drive size.

And yea, don't underestimate the power of flaky cables. Try a different cable and each drive at a time.
One controller, the one I'm mostly experimenting with, doesn't have any model number written on it. It has set of WD chips. It is combined HDC/FDC.
Second is WD1003-WAH. Both are 16 bit, no ROM chips onboard.
PC is custom built 486 machine, but I've posted to PC part, since I have no problem with motherboard, cpu, ram or BIOS. Problem is in AT are drives and cards...
CHS values are correct.
Both cards I'm experimenting with are 16 bit. I have also older 8 bit WD1002S-WX2, but it didn't work with my drives at all.

I would really need to try other cables, bu unfortunatelly, I don't have any nearby. I Will have to do it later.


Make sure you're clear on which drive is addressed as drive select 0 and which is on 1, by cable twist or jumpers, whichever is utilized.

Be sure the last drive on the chain is terminated and the other is not.

Understand whether it's the motherboard's BIOS or the controller BIOS that is setting the drive geometry settings and set them correctly. If it's on the controller then the motherboard BIOS is not set to anything.

Then try a LLF.

Thanks to NDD and earlier attempts at LLF it sounds like you've not likely to recover the original disk contents at the FAT level so you're starting from scratch.
I'm sure drive selection is right, since I see LED on proper drive is flashing when it has to.
I'm sure I have only 1 BIOS on motherboard + VGA exension. No other ROis Ms under the hood.
After LLF format I performed,information is obviously lost, but drive is still not readable.
Now, on power up, BIOS always barks Error 08 (Sector not found). All utilities also show me this error.

Since I do not have optional BIOS, and this nedwer AWARD dedicated for IDE drives doesn't have LLF, I have to use 3rd part utilities.
I tried Seagate formatter, HDAT, Everex. All these format drive 'successfully', but when these try to perform drive test, all 3 fail to find any sectors.

I'm not sure, if it is possible, that only read chain is broken (in cable or elsewhere) so LLF wrote data, but it couldn't be read afterwards.


Hi,



Are you reading the MFM drives with the same controller they were formatted on? I may be wrong but as far as I know MFM drives are quite prone to be unreadable or poorly readable by any other controller than the one that formatted them.

Regards,

Oscar.
It doesn't matter anymore, since I LLFed one drive already. But yes, this is the same controller I used 15 years ago with these drives. Same motherboard. Only chasis and power supply is different :)

Robin4
December 1st, 2013, 06:35 PM
Why should you try such old mfm drives in a 486 computer.. I think thats asking for troubles.. I recommend that you better could use those drives on older machines like 8088 or 80286..
Did you parked the drives with you stored them??? Because most people dont know to parking the drives heads when storage those computer parts for the longer run. And when they didnt, and want to use those drives in a later period the drive seems to passed away.

MikeS
December 1st, 2013, 09:22 PM
Maybe obvious, but did you disable the IDE controller(s)?

SomeGuy
December 2nd, 2013, 06:25 AM
If possible, I would try the drives and controllers on a different computer with a minimal configuration to rule out any conflicts with hardware. Glancing at the manual it sounds like that WD1002S-WX2 might be hard coded to a certain drive configuration, and might not work with that larger drive anyway due to a possible limitation in number of heads.

The WD1003-WAH aught to work, but without a BIOS, it is not clear what formatter program you would need to format it with. The only reference I see out there suggests IBMs AT Diagnostic disk. Did those other formatters let you specific cylinders/heads/sectors? There is a chance some of those might not expect a later BIOS where you can specify your own custom drive configuration.

If you post a hight-resolution picture of the other card, perhaps someone would recognize it?

You might try throwing Spinrite at the drives. Off hand i forget how it would react to unformatted disks, but it might still tell you something if it detects a configuration problem.

Stone
December 2nd, 2013, 07:30 AM
You might try throwing Spinrite at the drives. Off hand i forget how it would react to unformatted disks, but it might still tell you something if it detects a configuration problem.He did. Re-read his original post.

And, FWIW, SpinRite needs an accessable, valid partition in order to run.

Another FWIW... neglected, unused MFM drives just die from age. Ask me, I've got a stack of FH & HH drives, ten or more, that can't take a LLF after just sitting on the shelf for 15 or 20 years. Bad Track Zero problem. It's too bad, now some of my finest Maxtor tanks are now just... doorstops. :-)

paul
December 2nd, 2013, 09:10 AM
Door stops? No imagination ...

Stone
December 2nd, 2013, 09:31 AM
Very nice. Plexiglassed doorstops. :-) Did you cut and drill them yourself?

SpidersWeb
December 2nd, 2013, 10:33 AM
The WD1003-WAH aught to work, but without a BIOS, it is not clear what formatter program you would need to format it with. The only reference I see out there suggests IBMs AT Diagnostic disk. Did those other formatters let you specific cylinders/heads/sectors? There is a chance some of those might not expect a later BIOS where you can specify your own custom drive configuration.

I recommend SpeedStor. It has tools built in to take care of almost everything you'd need.

I only discovered it recently from this forum, and used it when restoring a 286 MFM based portable. It was brilliant and even had the obscure model 40Mb 3.5" drive I was using in it's listings (so I didn't need to enter the CHS) and found the best matching drive type in the BIOS and set it automatically (it's a non-standard table with 20 types). Used it to do the LLF and testing.

SpidersWeb
December 2nd, 2013, 10:48 AM
He did. Re-read his original post.

And, FWIW, SpinRite needs an accessable, valid partition in order to run.

Another FWIW... neglected, unused MFM drives just die from age. Ask me, I've got a stack of FH & HH drives, ten or more, that can't take a LLF after just sitting on the shelf for 15 or 20 years. Bad Track Zero problem. It's too bad, now some of my finest Maxtor tanks are now just... doorstops. :-)

I have a pair of big Maxtor full height ESDI's (380Mb ~1988 ), both have 90+ bad sectors when new, must've really been pushing their tech.

Sometimes you can get creative, and find ways to move track 0 to another position, if they spin up that is.
The biggest killer for me is drives that arrive with the heads, not just stuck on the platter, but where they've "become-one" with it.

Stone
December 2nd, 2013, 11:17 AM
Sometimes you can get creative, and find ways to move track 0 to another position, if they spin up that is.
They all spin up alright. And, I've gotten creative, too. I tried resetting the heads on a couple of them to another cylinder with that ‘write protect tab’ method to just get them off the real track zero but that never worked. So, I've still got a bunch of really nice doorstops. :-) Of course I'm always open to new suggestions how to get these to take a LLF.

wesleyfurr
December 2nd, 2013, 04:24 PM
I'm with the person who asked if the IDE controller was disabled. I've never tried old drives like that in a fairly modern PC...not sure how that all would work...though as long as the IDE controller isn't getting in the way, I can't think of any good reason why it shouldn't work, though someone may know more than I do...

Wesley