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Thread: Cleaning RL01 and RL02 packs?

  1. #1

    Default Cleaning RL01 and RL02 packs?

    Before spinning up some RL02 and RL01 drives and thought I better check the surface of the disk packs. One of them showed some light dust. Possibly it will go away as soon as the disk spins and the blower pushes air through the pack. But I like them to be as clean as they could be. Don't like ruined heads.

    I tried to dismantle a pack similar how one can do with the RK05 packs. But I could only access the bottom surface for cleaning. It seemed impossible to free the disk it self from the top of the cartridge. Is this the design or am I missing something?

    BTW. One RL-drive had the little brush that is supposed to clean the disk surface prior to loading the heads. Two other drives were missing the brushes. Were they removed due to some ECO or similar?

  2. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MattisLind View Post
    I tried to dismantle a pack similar how one can do with the RK05 packs. But I could only access the bottom surface for cleaning. It seemed impossible to free the disk it self from the top of the cartridge. Is this the design or am I missing something?
    5440-type packs had a relatively complex interlock to keep the pack from rotating when it was out of the drive. As I recall, when the pack is seated in the drive the spindle pushes up on the hub in the pack and releases it so it is free to turn.

    "Back in the day" there were a number of disk pack cleaning systems, ranging from the fully automated down to jigs that just let the spindle turn, and you manually cleaned it with Texwipe pads that slid over a popsicle stick type wand, while rotating the media by hand.

    BTW. One RL-drive had the little brush that is supposed to clean the disk surface prior to loading the heads. Two other drives were missing the brushes. Were they removed due to some ECO or similar?
    Yes. The brushes caused more trouble than they were worth. The bristles would occasionally come loose and contaminate the pack, and if they became worn they could actually damage the media. There were enough interlocks related to the brushes that the hardware couldn't simply be removed - as I recall, the FCO involved getting rid of the brush arms but keeping the brush motor and other parts. Later drives had the hardware omitted entirely.

  3. #3

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    All of my RL02 drives are a presumably later version without the cleaning brush, and without the little access panel on the side (I think it's for access to the lid interlock?).

    My DG Nova 3 has a hard drive which uses the same style of cartridge, and also has a fixed platter. It has a cleaning brush. I wonder whether it would be wiser to leave its brush in place or to remove it? It's a lower capacity drive with an optical grating encoder on the head positioner, so I presume that it doesn't use servo information on the platters like the RL0x drives do.

    When cleaning a pack with Texwipe pads, should the pads be dry or should one use some sort of cleaning fluid?

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NF6X View Post
    My DG Nova 3 has a hard drive which uses the same style of cartridge, and also has a fixed platter. It has a cleaning brush. I wonder whether it would be wiser to leave its brush in place or to remove it? It's a lower capacity drive with an optical grating encoder on the head positioner, so I presume that it doesn't use servo information on the platters like the RL0x drives do.
    Either a DG 4234 (beveled front panel, colored square indicator lights) which was a re-badged Diablo 44, or a 6045 (flat front panel, LED indicators) which was an in-house DG product. Given the effects of heat and time on the various components inside the drive, I'd leave it unless you're regularly spinning the drive up and down. BTW, if you need to SYSGEN RDOS for that Nova, be sure you answer "Y" to "Top loaders?" or you won't get the proper support for that drive.

    When cleaning a pack with Texwipe pads, should the pads be dry or should one use some sort of cleaning fluid?
    They were special disk-cleaning pads. They were like a finger from a glove, came pre-moistened (presumably with alcohol) in individual foil pouches, and you slid the "finger" onto the popsicle-stick shaped tool. It took a bit of practice to get this right - you need to hold the stick pretty flat.

  5. #5

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    I believe mine is a 6045. I haven't succeeded in getting the drive working yet. I seem to be able to command seeks with some test code that I fumblingly wrote, but the system doesn't boot and doesn't appear to be reading. I've done my previous work from the computer end, but I think I need to start at the heads and work my way towards the computer in my next debugging session.

    Are similar cleaning pads still manufactured? I'd like to figure out how to cobble together a pack cleaning method using currently-available cleaning products.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by NF6X View Post
    Are similar cleaning pads still manufactured? I'd like to figure out how to cobble together a pack cleaning method using currently-available cleaning products.
    This would indeed be interesting to investigate more. I found various variants of tex wipe pads when searching. I have some RK07 packs as well and those are even worse. Two platters.

    Need something with a big swab that I can soak with isopropanol and then a way of slowly rotating the platters while moving the swab I guess.

  7. #7

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    I wonder if generic cleanroom swabs might be suitable? We'd also need to make something to unlock the platter and turn it, preferably without having to gut a drive for its hub parts.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Kennedy View Post
    "Back in the day" there were a number of disk pack cleaning systems, ranging from the fully automated down to jigs that just let the spindle turn, and you manually cleaned it with Texwipe pads that slid over a popsicle stick type wand, while rotating the media by hand.
    The RICM has an RL01/RL02 pack cleaner. It has Texwipe pads that clean the surface and a motor to turn the disk.
    Member of the Rhode Island Computer Museum
    http://www.ricomputermuseum.org

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Silicon Valley
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Kennedy View Post
    They were special disk-cleaning pads. They were like a finger from a glove, came pre-moistened (presumably with alcohol) in individual foil pouches, and you slid the "finger" onto the popsicle-stick shaped tool. It took a bit of practice to get this right - you need to hold the stick pretty flat.
    Texsleeves
    The ones I've seen were dry, packed 10 / bag

    There were ECOs to remove the brushes from several vendors drives.
    It turns out the brushes were great at spreading dirt between packs.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Central VA
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    RetroHacker_ (Sark) and I cleaned a bunch when we put his RL02s and my RL01s back in service. We used 99% isopropyl alcohol from McMaster-Carr, lint-free Kimwipes (sometimes called clean room wipes), and very long wooden stick cotton swabs. You take the shield off the bottom of the pack, roll a Kimwipe around the stick of the cotton swab (with the head toward the "handle" end), saturate with alcohol. Then, have one person hold the pack, and the other hold the Kimwipe/swab assembly against the platter, radial to the center, and rotate the platter. I believe we found that the locking handle had to be in the down position to rotate the platter, and you had to push in on the hub a little. After you do that on both sides of the platter, use a new Kimwipe to pick up any dust or remove stuck-on dust. Use a bright light (like a LED flashlight) to inspect the platter surface after cleaning.

    We cleaned down Sark's kitchen counter pretty good before starting the process. We vacuumed, wiped everything down with regular paper towels and Windex, and then wiped the work area down with 99% alcohol and Kimwipes. It was apparently sufficient, we did around 15-20 packs and had no problems other than one that was warped.

    You will DEFINITELY WANT GLOVES, 99% isopropyl alcohol dries your hands out much faster than 91% drugstore alcohol. Don't get it on anything you like, its solvent power is much higher. You wouldn't think 8% would make that much difference! Also, don't dip into the bottle/can that the alcohol comes in, I brought a wash bottle to dispense from.

    Clean the pack shield, cover, and outside housing while you're at it. Don't worry about any tiny particles of dust that settle down, the blower will clear them. You're really trying to remove stuck-on stuff and film type coatings. You'll most likely see a dirty line on the Kimwipe after the first pass over a pack surface!

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