View Full Version : Need help with ST-225 HDD

September 12th, 2006, 12:09 PM

Newbie in a quandary, here.

I have an old Zenith 286 machine with a Seagate ST225 hard drive. The thing hasn't been turned on in ...well a long time (though, the last time it was still working great), and now I'm hoping to be able to get some data off of it. Problem is - well..there are several:

1 - long ago got rid of the old monitor and keyboard, and I discovered this week that current ones have totally different connectors.
2 - Pretty sure the CMOS battery is totally kaputz.
3 - In a fit of stupidity, I took everything apart - thinking to remove the harddrive and "simply" connect it to another machine and ...OOPS...it's not IDE, is it? (ok - I can hear most of you laughing)
4 - when I put it all back together, I'm not entirely positive I attached all the cables to the correct places. (I honestly didn't think I'd NEED to put it back together, so didn't keep track)
5 - it's been so long now, this drive may have degraded too much and all this MIGHT be a total waste of time.

So - now...here's what I'm wondering: Is there a controller card out there I can use for this drive? One that would work in a Win95 machine (with ISA slots) so I could access data from this old drive? And, if so...what might this beastie be called so I can begin looking for it?


September 12th, 2006, 12:47 PM

I just threw away a bunch of ISA cards including an Adaptec 1542 SCSI controller. :( It might still be in the trash. I'll check when I get home. If so, I have some SCSI hard drives that will work with it. I tossed my 8-bit ISA controller cards before I moved that might have helped you.

UPDATE: Yup, the machine was gone. Computer parts that get tossed here get scavenged pretty quick. I know; I check everyday.

As a consolation prize and not exactly vintage, I can offer you a Pentium II 450Mhz chassis, processor, memory and whatever equipment you want to assemble into it. You're welcome to pick it up and take it home or if you want to assemble in place (or learn to do so if you've never done so), you're welcome to spend some time with a PC and my parts boxes. Or pick up and take home for home assembly fun or give me a list of what you want and I can meet you somewhere to drop the bits off. I have IDE and SCSI disks, controllers, IDE and SCSI CD-ROMs, video cards, network cards, ZIP drive, etc, cables, etc. It was going to join the other one in the trash but I could only carry one at a time.

Or if you want exotic, I can make the same offer on a Sun SPARCstation 10. I have disks, CPU modules, memory, framebuffers, etc. I can't offer you more than 128MB of RAM in that machine (I have plenty of 16MB sticks) but if you want to learn the in-and-outs of a vintage 90s workstation, you are likewise welcome to it. I can afford to part with one of them (I have 3).

Sorry I lost the ISA cards. I should have kept them and I thought I should do so for someone on this board but didn't think they would be useful.


September 12th, 2006, 04:56 PM
Wow. Thanks, Matt. However, I'll have to take a pass on your amazing offers of all the wonderful goodies. While I know (because I've been perusing this forum all day) that many of you literally have rooms full of computers, my husband is already mightily disgruntled by my mere FIVE machines, currently scattered through our house. Three are in various states of non-operability, and we use the other 2 regularly. He would, I think, bar the door if I tried to bring yet another one (or - possibly worse, as far as he's concerned - PARTS! of another one) home.

At this point, I truly am just looking for a controller that will support a Seagate ST225 and that will allow me to hook up the old drive to a (circa 1997) Gateway 2000 machine that's running W95 and has 3 available ISA slots - if that's even possible. Will that Adaptec SCSI controller you mentioned work for that scenario?

If I can't find something that will let me do that, I may have to try rebuilding my old 286 sooner rather than later.


September 13th, 2006, 05:11 AM
As I remember one guy, who tried to add MFM controller to pentium I machine get message, that Windows found new hardware - scanner card...

You might have some problems with accesing MFM disk under Windowz, but there should be no problem with DOS.
Do you remember manufacturer of your controller?
Often, other controllers format the disk in other way.

Hmm.... you can't use SCSI controller, you need one for MFM drives.
You can find that stuff on ebay or something like that.

September 13th, 2006, 07:16 AM
There were three different ST225 drives.
1. ST 225 interfaced ST 412/506 encoded MFM
2. ST225N interfaced SCSI encoded MFM
3.ST225R interfaced ST412/506 encodes 2.7 RLL

all 21 meg 4hd 616 cyl 17 sec
except for the RLL which was 21 meg 2 hd 667 cyl 31 sec

September 13th, 2006, 07:27 AM
Just to clarify things. There are interfaces and technologies. The interface is how the drive is connected to the machine. The technology describes how the drive is built.

All Seagate ST-225 drives are built pretty much the same way. The difference is in how they connect to the machine. As pointed out above, the same MFM drive connects to the machine in the following ways: ST506, SCSI, or RLL.

If your Zenith machine was using an ST-225 (and not one of the variants) then it wants an ST506 type controller, which people commonly call an MFM controller. These existed in 8 bit and 16 bit versions. A garden variety 16 bit ST506 controller from a 286 of the same age should work on this drive.

To make it work on a more modern machine is tricker. More modern machines have controllers on the motherboard. You would have to disable the motherboard on the controller and correctly install and cable the old drive and controller. You will also have to tell the BIOS of the machine the geometry of your drive using the CMOS setup page.

The onboard BIOS of a more modern machine might not be happy with the controller. It will take some experimentation. I think the onboard BIOS should be able to drive something that primitive, but I've not done it myself.

September 13th, 2006, 07:56 AM
Let me back up just a moment. I still have the old 286 machine intact. It has the card the ST225 is attached to via 2 cables - 1 thin, flat, 1 somewhat wider. (just found out the ex-husband installed the harddrive, since it didn't come with one when we got it years ago) Can I just pop that card out and plug it into the ISA slot in my newer machine? I'm assuming the card is this "MFM controller" you guys are talking about. Am I right? I also found and downloaded a driver for the ST225 controller. Am I on the right track here? Or am I missing something?

I have no idea how to disable the controller on the newer machine's motherboard. yikes! Driving blind, here.

Thanks for all the info and help.

September 13th, 2006, 08:19 AM
The matching controller from the original machine is a good thing.

It might work in your new machine, and if it does it won't need a driver. But you will need to disable your existing on-board IDE controller and tell the BIOS what you have this ST225 drive instead.

The modern IDE controller is a superset of the old ST506 controller .. I know that BIOSes designed to talk to ST506 controllers will work with IDE, but I don't know if the newer BIOS will talk to the older ST506 controller. But you've got to disable the new controller first and tell the BIOS about the geometry of the ST225, or nothing is going to happen ..

September 13th, 2006, 08:51 AM
Thanks, mb -
I guess I have some homework to do. Thanks for the info. I'll come back and let ya'll know how it went...or (more likely) when I run into a problem.


September 14th, 2006, 07:37 PM
So, this is what happened:

I installed the 8-bit controller card (the one that was original to my hdd) in one of the available ISA slots in the Gateway. Did NOT attach anything to it. Just put the card in. Booted the machine. It could not find ANY hard drive. Checked BIOS - and sure enough, it said the "Primary IDE Master" was "disabled."

Turned off the machine. Removed the controller card. Re-booted. Everything was fine and it booted into Windows 95. Checked BIOS and saw that the Primary IDE Master was back to "AUTO."

Shut down. Reinstalled the controller card. Attached cables to the controller and the old ST 225. Connected the 225 to one of the extra power supplies. Rebooted. Heard the OLD familiar lovely hummmmmm and whirrrr of that old drive. Of course, that's as far as it went. It again couldn't find the primary hard drive, and the ST225 drive is not being "seen" by anything. I left the power on for a little while...just to listen to the old drive a bit longer. But - now I'm stuck and don't know what to do next. Can anyone help?


September 14th, 2006, 08:13 PM
Not sure how the BIOS of your machine works. It might be too new ...

On the first screen where you tell it the date, time, and number of floppy drives (among other things) there is usually a place to tell it what type of hard drives it has. The options will be from like 'Type 1' to 'Type 47' or so.

If you don't have anything that looks like that and it just says 'Auto', or 'PIO', then your out of luck on that machine. You need an older machine.

What region are you in? It might just be easier to find somebody in your area who has old enough iron to do this. It's really easy, but not on modern machines.

September 14th, 2006, 09:32 PM
In BIOS, Primary IDE Master>IDE Device Configuration gives the following options: Auto Configured, User Definable, and disabled. Would "User definable" work, do you think? I found a copy of the specs for the old drive on the Seagate website.

region: I'm near Central Virginia.


September 14th, 2006, 09:38 PM
Try to disable all hard drives or better - all IDE devices.
Leave just FDD and St-225 and try to boot from the hard disk, if BIOS on controller is enabled, then you sould get any error or just boot to DOS.

Try also booting from floppy and try to acces the disk, if this fail BIOS on controller might be disabled.
You must enable BIOS, you can fing setting for your controller on the internet or just post model number here and someone will find it.

September 15th, 2006, 06:07 AM
Kathy - User Definable is what you are looking for. Put the specs for the ST-225 in there. It'll be things like cylinders, heads, sectors, etc.

Luke - Let's not confuse things. Her ST-225 controller doesn't have a BIOS so she needs to disable her IDE devices but define a drive type in CMOS. Which is what I've been guiding her to do.

September 15th, 2006, 06:37 AM
Here are the specs for the Seagate ST-225, you should be able to complete the BIOS table with the info there :)


September 15th, 2006, 06:22 PM
Thanks everyone. I've been gone all day. Now I'm back and am getting ready to whisper sweet specs to the BIOS. ....will let you know how it goes.


September 15th, 2006, 06:47 PM
Uh Oh.

User Definable option: allows me to specify # of cylinders, heads, and sectors, but won't let me change the "Max Capacity" from 0 MB. Skips right over that field.

Also, within the IDE configuration page, below where I would enter the cylinders, heads, etc, are some other settings I don't know if I need to touch or not.--->

IDE Translation Mode with options of "Standard CHS" and "Extended CHS" - it's set to "Standard CHS"

Multiple Sector Setting, with options of "Disabled," "4 sectors/block," 8 sectors/block," and "auto detected." - it's set to auto detected.

Fast Programmed I/O Modes, with options of "Disabled," and "Auto Detected" - it's on Auto detected.

BTW - this is a 1992 AMI BIOS, version 1.00.07 DQ0T (that's a "zero" between Q and T)


September 15th, 2006, 08:09 PM
Go ahead and specify the # of cyls, heads, etc. Don't worry about the capacity - it will figure that out from the other numbers.

IDE translation mode should be Standard CHS (cylinders, heads, sectors)

Multiple sector setting should be disabled.

Fast PIO modes should be disabled.

This BIOS might not be all bad ... 1992 was a good year for BIOS. :-)


September 15th, 2006, 08:56 PM
Well, <insert curse word of choice here> !!

Looks like I'll need to find an older machine. Or, maybe this hdd is just dead (but it sure sounds good..not clicking, clunking, pinging, coughing, or sneezing). Or maybe the controller is dead. I entered the specs, and changed the other settings like you said, mb. It got stuck and said, "invalid system disk. Replace the disk and press any key." The boot order, btw, is set to look on Hard Drive first, then floppy. I checked to make sure the cables were connected correctly to the controller and the ST225. Same message. Unfortunately, the floppy drive in this computer doesn't work..so - even if I had a bootable floppy to boot into DOS... I can't.
Any idea where I go from here?


September 15th, 2006, 09:05 PM
Refresh my memory on the ST-225 - that has two cables running to it, right? One should be wider than the other.

My bet is that the BIOS actually talked to the drive, but something was garbled. There are lots of reasons why data would be garbled. Believe it or not, what you got is better than a 'controller failure' .. I think it at least knows the drive is there.

Be sure you entered the number of cyls, heads, etc. correctly. That drive should show up as a 20MB drive.

When the machine first tried to read the hard drive, did the hard disk light blink? Did you hear the heads in the drive move? Those would be good signs ..

September 15th, 2006, 09:24 PM
No lights, no sounds of moving heads. Bummer. And, the BIOS still shows "0 MB" in the drive specs.

Yes - you're right. 2 cables. The controller cable (think that's what it's called) is the wide one, the data cable is the narrower one. I identified the "1" pin on the controller card and checked to be sure the cables are attached correctly. There's another set of pins for a 2nd narrow cable located on the card between where I have the cables connected right now. That particular set of pins is covered with dust, whereas the other sets of pins were shiny and clean...ergo, I figured the clean pins are where the connectors have been all these years.

Just wondering....why would the IDE Primary Master automatically show as disabled in BIOS whenever I insert the ST225 controller card in an ISA slot??

September 15th, 2006, 10:45 PM
Could you post good quality photo of your controller or give me model number?

September 16th, 2006, 06:36 AM
Here are some screen shots from my 1992 vintage machine. Note the two ways of entering the drive information, either by telling the BIOS that it is 'Type 2' (and letting it supply the parameters for the drive) or by using 'Type 47' and entering the parameters myself:



If the BIOS isn't telling you the correct drive size you might be entering the parameters wrong.

September 18th, 2006, 07:04 AM
Sorry for being MIA all weekend. Wound up having to shelve the project for a couple of days so I could be sociable and polite to houseguests.

mb, my AMIBios set up looks completely different from yours. I'll post some pictures, but it will take a couple of days since I seem to have misplaced my camera's USB cable. I believe I'm entering parameters correctly, but will defer to you. And Luke - same with you...I'll post a pic of the card AND how I've got it connected.

I'll be back...