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Thread: XT Clone Not Reading Drives

  1. #1

    Default XT Clone Not Reading Drives

    Hey, just looking for some feedback on what the potential issues could be for my XT clone not reading disk drives.

    I put together a little video to show the setup I am working with. I covered the mic durring some of it.. but I am just essentially asking why it seems like I can't access either of the drives. Would this be a cleaning issue or would it be a hardware thing? I previously made a thread about the keyboard not working but that issue is seemingly not a problem anymore.

    VIDEO : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z8CTOjnvDA&

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by holzon View Post
    ... why it seems like I can't access either of the drives.
    Known good readable floppy and diskette ?

    Cable been proven in another system ?

    Floppy controller been proven in another system ?

    Note that unless your floppy controller provides 1.44M support via its own BIOS, your XT clone is unlikely to support 1.44M diskettes. You can probably get 720K diskettes to work in a 1.44M drive, per [here].

    Note that for some 'turbo' type XT clone motherboards, floppy operation is only possible when the motherboard is in non-turbo mode.

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    Unfortunately, "General Failure" is DOS's catchall for several conditions. For example, if the diskette boot sector is readable, but doesn't conform to what DOS thinks a boot sector should look like, you'll get a General Failure error.

    I'm assuming that you've got the stock "360K" floppy controller; that is, one that doesn't handle high-density media, so your B: drive is a 720K unit. If not and you've got a third-party floppy controller, check the configuration switches/jumpers on the FDC board.

    Since you can boot from hard disk, try formatting a floppy in the drive.

    The heads could be dirty, but there are other things to check before taking the cleaning disks to the drive.

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    You wouldn't happen to be using a 360k disk that was formatted in or written to in a 1.2mb drive? That instantly makes the disks incompatible with most genuine 360k drives. Try formatting a blank disk.

    Have you tested the 720k drive? As mentioned, if that is a 720k drive or low density controller you can not read/write 1.44mb formats, but you can cover the high density notch and usually format them OK as 720k. If it does the exact same thing, I'd doubt a head problem.

    (So who is General Failure, and why is he reading drive A? )

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    I think he's the brother of "General Protection Fault".

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by modem7 View Post
    Known good readable floppy and diskette ?

    Cable been proven in another system ?

    Floppy controller been proven in another system ?

    Note that unless your floppy controller provides 1.44M support via its own BIOS, your XT clone is unlikely to support 1.44M diskettes. You can probably get 720K diskettes to work in a 1.44M drive, per [here].

    Note that for some 'turbo' type XT clone motherboards, floppy operation is only possible when the motherboard is in non-turbo mode.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Unfortunately, "General Failure" is DOS's catchall for several conditions. For example, if the diskette boot sector is readable, but doesn't conform to what DOS thinks a boot sector should look like, you'll get a General Failure error.

    I'm assuming that you've got the stock "360K" floppy controller; that is, one that doesn't handle high-density media, so your B: drive is a 720K unit. If not and you've got a third-party floppy controller, check the configuration switches/jumpers on the FDC board.

    Since you can boot from hard disk, try formatting a floppy in the drive.

    The heads could be dirty, but there are other things to check before taking the cleaning disks to the drive.
    I have tried multiple 3.5 and 5 1/4 disks in both drives to no response. Only a moment of the light showing up with the spinning sound and it stops. So I can assume its not the disks' error.

    The cable has not been tested in another system as I do not have another to test it in at the moment. (I do have a multimeter though if that could work to test cable?)

    I do not have another system of the same sort that I could test the floppy controller in. What would be the easiest type of system to try this in if I cannot afford another XT?

    I did read up about the density and disk size compatibility issues and I'm also wondering how I am supposed to format the disk into a 720k from a 1.44mb? I did try formatting it to a 720k on my XT but it gave me similar errors. Are 720k disks able to be bought somewhere or do you just format it that way with covering the hole? (sorry I realize its a super noob question)

    How do I go into non turbo mode?

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Unfortunately, "General Failure" is DOS's catchall for several conditions. For example, if the diskette boot sector is readable, but doesn't conform to what DOS thinks a boot sector should look like, you'll get a General Failure error.

    I'm assuming that you've got the stock "360K" floppy controller; that is, one that doesn't handle high-density media, so your B: drive is a 720K unit. If not and you've got a third-party floppy controller, check the configuration switches/jumpers on the FDC board.

    Since you can boot from hard disk, try formatting a floppy in the drive.

    The heads could be dirty, but there are other things to check before taking the cleaning disks to the drive.
    I think I have the switches set right after following the guide from minuszero ( so that it is set for two drives )

    I have tried formatting and it seems like the drive does not want to do that either. =/

    I will exhaust all my options before I get into the hardware to clean the heads, but it could be that too! Thank you!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    You wouldn't happen to be using a 360k disk that was formatted in or written to in a 1.2mb drive? That instantly makes the disks incompatible with most genuine 360k drives. Try formatting a blank disk.

    Have you tested the 720k drive? As mentioned, if that is a 720k drive or low density controller you can not read/write 1.44mb formats, but you can cover the high density notch and usually format them OK as 720k. If it does the exact same thing, I'd doubt a head problem.

    (So who is General Failure, and why is he reading drive A? )
    So the thing about formatting a fresh disk I have NOT heard of thought of anywhere. I suppose I'm going to have to order some new ones. Both the failures I'm getting seem to be coming from both drives so I think you're right. It's probably something not on the heads issue. This also makes me think its not a disk compatibility thing though?? hmmm

    To answer the last part, General Failure seems to be a jerk whos ruining my life right now hahaha)

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    I forgot to ask--what are you using for a floppy controller? Does it have switches or jumpers?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by holzon View Post
    The cable has not been tested in another system as I do not have another to test it in at the moment. (I do have a multimeter though if that could work to test cable?)
    That will work although it's tedious.


    Quote Originally Posted by holzon View Post
    Are 720k disks able to be bought somewhere or do you just format it that way with covering the hole?
    720k disks are still available.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

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