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snuci
September 29th, 2014, 05:37 PM
I think I found a Helios II drive and it will be shipped quite a ways. I'm almost positive that the original owner doesn't have the transport inserts. As such, is it better to ship with floppy disks in it (that will get destroyed) or without? I figure it's better with a floppy so the heads can rest against something rather than flopping around but I'd love some advise.

This is probably a general question with any drive but as I've heard, this is a very sensitive drive so I'd like to try to keep it in it's current condition (not sure if it works now but it did a long time ago).

I can't believe it's 60 lbs? Is it a Persci 277 drive internally?

krebizfan
September 29th, 2014, 09:23 PM
In many cases, a floppy disk (inserted backwards) can be used instead of a cardboard insert. Placing the diskette backwards means the heads will ram into a thicker cushion and be less likely to be damaged. I know there are templates for creating the proper insert; I just can't find a link right now. You might prefer that to the sacrificial disk.

Persci 270 according the documentation I have. 270 stores 384k; 277 stores 1.2 MB.

Corey986
October 3rd, 2014, 03:04 AM
You cannot simply use a floppy disk with a Helios. You must use the shipping cardboard or manually tie back the head from moving using a string or wire. There is a glass voice coil in the Helios and a lot of sensitive components which is why the number of working units can be counted on your fingers.

If you are unsure how to ship it, please contact me and I will try to send picture of what I mean. Even with all the precaution it might be too late to make the unit operational without a complete mechanical rebuild and some parts are not available anymore used or otherwise. Or the drives might just be good for parts and another drive will need to be located.

Most of these Helios units don't have original drives because of how fragile they are. Later Persci and other more reliable drives are used. Even the unit that the computer history museum has, does not have the original persci drives, it has a different brand.

Make sure who ever gets your drive joins the Altair group on yahoo. There are people there who can help if the drive is salvageable.

Cheers,
Corey

snuci
October 3rd, 2014, 03:38 AM
In many cases, a floppy disk (inserted backwards) can be used instead of a cardboard insert. Placing the diskette backwards means the heads will ram into a thicker cushion and be less likely to be damaged.

Thanks for the reply krebizfan. I had a look at the Helios II manual and under "DISK NO NOs" it states: "Do not attempt to insert a diskette with the power to the drive turned OFF. Acceptance of the diskette by the drive is motorized." Because of this, I didn't think that would work and I'd rather not have the seller turn it on and insert a disk backwards. If this drive didn't have a motorized disk injestion, your idea would have worked.


You cannot simply use a floppy disk with a Helios. You must use the shipping cardboard or manually tie back the head from moving using a string or wire. There is a glass voice coil in the Helios and a lot of sensitive components which is why the number of working units can be counted on your fingers.

Thanks for the reply Corey. Unfortunately, it left the seller yesterday evening and is on it's way to me through UPS. Should be here Tuesday. I'll inspect and let you know what happens. With your experience, is there anything I should carefully inspect before turning it on other than the usual visual inspection?

The drive is coming with the Sol-20 it was used with (so I know I have the matching cards) along with some disks. I don't know what's on them but I may need your help a little later on. I am very excited even if it's just a big blue box.

Corey986
October 3rd, 2014, 05:07 AM
I sent you a PM.


BTW: The reason a floppy won't work is the way the heads work in the persci drive. You need to keep them from sliding back and forth not up and down.

Also never, ever power on a Helios without the correct supply checks and replacing a whole bunch of tantalums, you could literally blow a hole in the PCBs. Also the drive bearings need to be checked, cleaned and repacked. Then there is the whole alignment and calibration. On a scale of restoration difficult of 1 to 5, the Helios is a 6. Not as bad as rebuilding a hard disk in a clean room down the the platters, but not easy.

Cheers,
Corey

snuci
October 3rd, 2014, 05:54 AM
Since you mention other drives, I did see a portion of manual in one of the pictures. Could this possibly be for an alternative drive? The style of the cover of the manual looks familiar but I'm not sure what it's for and haven't been able to figure out what it's for.

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