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strra
May 24th, 2017, 07:37 AM
I have a 286 PC AT Clone (AMD N80L286-10 CPU if that matters) with a dying 122MB MFM drive that I'd like to replace (even though my games are all booters, it's the principle!)
What do you think my cheapest/most practical option would be: replace it with another MFM drive from eBay or doing a CF upgrade?
If I did the CF upgrade, what would be my best choice of components? I don't have an IDE controller card so I'd have to factor that in.
Thanks in advance!!

glitch
May 24th, 2017, 07:43 AM
I'd go with CF, or even better, an industrial Flash module (DOM). You can use a cheap 16-bit IDE controller. If the BIOS doesn't support custom C/H/S then burn the XT-IDE Universal BIOS into a ROM and use that.

Stone
May 24th, 2017, 08:20 AM
I have a FH 120MB Maxtor XT-1140 that runs great if that's of interest.

strra
May 24th, 2017, 10:31 AM
I have a FH 120MB Maxtor XT-1140 that runs great if that's of interest.

absolutely interested

Edit: I just noticed that it's full-height. that won't work with my case, unfortunately :(

vwestlife
May 24th, 2017, 11:15 AM
Note that some AT power supplies won't turn on unless a certain amount of power is drawn from them, and a system without a spinning mechanical hard drive may not meet that minimum requirement. (That's why floppy-only IBM AT models had a resistor pack plugged into the power supply.) So if you run into that problem you could just leave the old hard drive in place and plugged into power, even if it's not actually being used anymore.

strra
May 24th, 2017, 11:27 AM
Note that some AT power supplies won't turn on unless a certain amount of power is drawn from them, and a system without a spinning mechanical hard drive may not meet that minimum requirement. (That's why floppy-only IBM AT models had a resistor pack plugged into the power supply.) So if you run into that problem you could just leave the old hard drive in place and plugged into power, even if it's not actually being used anymore.

Thanks.
I have since pulled the drive and the computer boots fine (from floppy)

It looks like i'm looking at $30+ for an ISA IDE controller on eBay. I'll have to do some research regarding the best options for cf adapter + card

Stone
May 24th, 2017, 11:35 AM
Like glitch mentioned, you'd probably be better off with a DOM. They're more compatible and plug directly in to the IDE header, like a drive does. No adapter necessary.

glitch
May 24th, 2017, 01:20 PM
It looks like i'm looking at $30+ for an ISA IDE controller on eBay. I'll have to do some research regarding the best options for cf adapter + card

$25-30 sounds about right for a 16-bit multi IO card with IDE.

6885P5H
May 24th, 2017, 08:30 PM
Sadly, as old hard drives die I fear that using flash memory (or new hard drives) will become an obligatory downgrade for everyone wanting to still have mass storage in their old PCs. Hard drives were never built to be repaired, and were not built to last so many years. The definite extinction of all old working hard drives is inevitable.

For the majority of PCs, the hard drive is the sound of the computer. Changing the hard drive is almost like changing the computer. If the replacement hard drive also sounds cool then, it's not the biggest problem in the world.... Not the biggest.... But the huge problem is, hard drives made after 2000 are almost silent because hard drive manufacturers are very very very very very very stupid. I hate changing the sound of a computer by replacing its hard drive, so making one almost silent? What a disaster. But I fear that it will become an obligatory disaster in the near future...

If I ever "restore" my HP Vectra and two old IBM PC 750s I would like to equip them with the hard drives they had in the past (won't be easy in the case of the IBMs because they had those absolutely dreadful IBM DALA drives) but I know that's kind of futile...

Old hard drives still get thrown away by the megaton... They should be preserved instead of destroyed.

archeocomp
May 24th, 2017, 09:44 PM
For the majority of PCs, the hard drive is the sound of the computer. Changing the hard drive is almost like changing the computer. If the replacement hard drive also sounds cool then, it's not the biggest problem in the world.... Not the biggest.... But the huge problem is, hard drives made after 2000 are almost silent because hard drive manufacturers are very very very very very very stupid. I hate changing the sound of a computer by replacing its hard drive, so making one almost silent? What a disaster.

I feel the same way. Therefore I have in my XT clones either MFM or at least noisy IDE drive (parallel to CF card). On the contrary I try to silence power supply fans as much as possible.

Chuck(G)
May 24th, 2017, 10:34 PM
I dragged out an old 486 box the other day that I hadn't run in years. It had a 760MB FH ESDI drive in it.

I could not believe how noisy it was compared to the systems I now use (you have to look to see if the blue LED is on to be sure).

Why on earth would anybody want that? I don't miss all of the other noisemakers either--the high-speed card punches, the train line printers, the card readers, the tape drive vacuum pumps. I've learned to love the silence--it's nice to be working and hear the sound of wind chimes in the breeze or the neighbor's peacock or some loony wild turkey....

lameboyadvance
May 25th, 2017, 12:04 AM
I do like having older HDDs in older PCs, the HDD noise was part of the experience. Sadly their age means finding one, particularly one of the appropriate age for the machine means you are unlikely to find a functioning one.

...With modern microcontrollers/sound modules, would it be possible to make a device that connects to the IDE bus, monitors the levels of data transfer, and then plays an appropriate HDD sound recording to approximate the level of HDD activity of an old platter HDD when using solid state replacements?
Another alternative might be (assuming the dead HDD is still mechanically functional) having some sort of adapter that lets you hook a new HDD up while also letting reads/writes go to the old HDD while ignoring its replies, thus letting it make its noises but not actually be used.

Stone
May 25th, 2017, 03:12 AM
I have various old MFM drives, FH and HH, that spin fine but are not functional if you want to have a go at it.

I also have some that are functional.

geoffm3
May 25th, 2017, 10:55 AM
Since people believe the sound is an important to the experience (and to a degree I agree!), perhaps a good solution for the future is to use some sort of emulator (a la SCSI2SD) but use some sort of buffer device to split and send the head movement signals to the old spinny stepper motored drive. Voila! Reliable storage, but with authentic sounds!

geoffm3
May 25th, 2017, 10:57 AM
I do like having older HDDs in older PCs, the HDD noise was part of the experience. Sadly their age means finding one, particularly one of the appropriate age for the machine means you are unlikely to find a functioning one.

...With modern microcontrollers/sound modules, would it be possible to make a device that connects to the IDE bus, monitors the levels of data transfer, and then plays an appropriate HDD sound recording to approximate the level of HDD activity of an old platter HDD when using solid state replacements?
Another alternative might be (assuming the dead HDD is still mechanically functional) having some sort of adapter that lets you hook a new HDD up while also letting reads/writes go to the old HDD while ignoring its replies, thus letting it make its noises but not actually be used.

D'oh! You beat me to it. ;)

AlexC
May 25th, 2017, 01:27 PM
I can see both sides of this. I spent much of the '90s trying to make my PCs quieter, with sound deadening material, hard drive isolation, quieter PSU fans, etc. The hard drive was always the big problem and I'd have been delighted with cheap, reliable flash storage back then.

Now most of my vintage PCs use CF cards, but I keep a couple with their original hard drives just for the reminiscence value. It's no way to get productive work done, but it's nice for nostalgia. I have a couple of spare MFM and IDE drives, but it will be rather sad if/when the last one finally dies.

vwestlife
May 25th, 2017, 01:55 PM
I like the sound of 3600 RPM hard drives, but not anything faster than that -- I hated that high-pitched whine and was very happy when almost-silent fluid bearing drives became affordable.

strra
June 6th, 2017, 05:42 AM
Wow, for some reason I didn't get the notification that there were more replies.
Thank you for the input, everyone.
I have an update on this. I got my hands on a 16-bit ISA AT IDE Card and have a DOM on the way..
One good thing is that I can drive the floppies from it as well instead of the huge MFM card I was using.
I have an issue currently that I'm not sure is solvable but I figured I'd ask the community.
Since the BIOS seems to only be able to recognize up to a 128MB drive and doesn't have custom C/H/S, I have a 20GB Seagate Barracuda with a 128MB partition while I'm waiting for the DOM. The computer sees it fine and I can install DOS to it, however, it doesn't seem to want to boot from it.
If I try to boot from the drive, I just get a black screen with a blinking cursor. If I boot from a floppy to a DOS prompt, I can browse to C with no problem.

Stone
June 6th, 2017, 08:02 AM
I have an issue currently that I'm not sure is solvable but I figured I'd ask the community.
Since the BIOS seems to only be able to recognize up to a 128MB drive and doesn't have custom C/H/S, I have a 20GB Seagate Barracuda with a 128MB partition while I'm waiting for the DOM. The computer sees it fine and I can install DOS to it, however, it doesn't seem to want to boot from it.
If I try to boot from the drive, I just get a black screen with a blinking cursor. If I boot from a floppy to a DOS prompt, I can browse to C with no problem.If all the data on this drive is expendable (or safely backed up) you're quite ok. But using that drive as it's currently configured begs the possibility of some data loss (or even worse) down the line. IOW, it's OK as a drive of convenience but it can't be considered reliable. There's too many (unresolved) issues that could crop up and bite. I'd stick with the DOM. BTW, how big is it?

strra
June 6th, 2017, 08:17 AM
If all the data on this drive is expendable (or safely backed up) you're quite ok. But using that drive as it's currently configured begs the possibility of some data loss (or even worse) down the line. IOW, it's OK as a drive of convenience but it can't be considered reliable. There's too many (unresolved) issues that could crop up and bite. I'd stick with the DOM. BTW, how big is it?

I just ordered a 128MB Transcend DOM as the MFM drive that was in it was 128MB... wanted to make sure it would work as well as stay true to the timeframe

Stone
June 6th, 2017, 09:34 AM
This sounds good (on paper). :-) Let's see if it works as good as it seems. I tend to think it will.

strra
June 6th, 2017, 12:16 PM
This sounds good (on paper). :-) Let's see if it works as good as it seems. I tend to think it will.

I'm crossing my fingers. Will update!

Flamin Joe
June 6th, 2017, 06:24 PM
I have an issue currently that I'm not sure is solvable but I figured I'd ask the community.
Since the BIOS seems to only be able to recognize up to a 128MB drive and doesn't have custom C/H/S, I have a 20GB Seagate Barracuda with a 128MB partition while I'm waiting for the DOM. The computer sees it fine and I can install DOS to it, however, it doesn't seem to want to boot from it.
If I try to boot from the drive, I just get a black screen with a blinking cursor. If I boot from a floppy to a DOS prompt, I can browse to C with no problem.

I ran into this exact issue when I was playing around with Compact Flash card in my 386. I read recommendations at the time to run "fdisk /mbr" on the drive and that was supposed to fix it but it didn't in my case. Out of curiosity even though it wasn't needed in this case, I used a drive overlay program (I think it may have been EZ-Drive, there's a thread about it here on Vogon's (https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=42113)) which ended up solving the problem.

framer
June 7th, 2017, 05:51 AM
I have 3 old MFM drives in three computers that work perfect. Normally they get turn on and run up for 20 - 30 minutes every two weeks. I have 4 other MFM drives checked out and ready to install if needed. They are checked yearly. One of the computers is a stock 5160 as it was originally sold with a 10meg HD. The software look like it was set up for a company and never used. I love those drives, it adds to the originality of the era. I also have 6 dead MFM drives that never worked after purchasing them. Don't over pay for a drive, 50% never work. All my best ones were cheap $5 - $15us dollars.

framer

strra
June 7th, 2017, 11:11 AM
I ran into this exact issue when I was playing around with Compact Flash card in my 386. I read recommendations at the time to run "fdisk /mbr" on the drive and that was supposed to fix it but it didn't in my case. Out of curiosity even though it wasn't needed in this case, I used a drive overlay program (I think it may have been EZ-Drive, there's a thread about it here on Vogon's (https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=42113)) which ended up solving the problem.

awesome. i'll check that out.
Thank you!

Casey
June 9th, 2017, 06:04 PM
Oddly enough, a similar issue was raised when fully electric cars became more common.

Apparently they make no noise, and some folks claimed this endangered sight-impaired citizens at intersections. What caught my eye was the suggestion solution: a pre-recorded sound to alert these people to the presence of the car. Imagine, ring tones for your car!!!

I wonder how hard it would be to embed a small speaker & pre-recorded sound of a classic hard drive into a small expansion card? Would it be better to have the speaker (I imagine the 2" speaker which came with the vintage systems would work well) deep inside, with the expansion cards, or mount it near the front to make it more audible?

geoffm3
June 10th, 2017, 03:10 PM
Oddly enough, a similar issue was raised when fully electric cars became more common.

Apparently they make no noise, and some folks claimed this endangered sight-impaired citizens at intersections. What caught my eye was the suggestion solution: a pre-recorded sound to alert these people to the presence of the car. Imagine, ring tones for your car!

This is true. Our 2012 Prius will emit some strange audible noise at low speeds with the gas engine off in EV mode.