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Thread: FDD Cable Twist - necessary?

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  1. #1

    Default FDD Cable Twist - necessary?

    Hello All,

    In my continuing efforts to restore the Compaq Systempro I have run into an interesting issue.

    The Systempro seems to have two separate ports for connecting FDDs:

    1. A proprietary connector that delivers both power and signal to a 3.5" 1.44MB drive
    2. A standard 34 pin connector to be used for a second drive

    My system came with the 1.44MB drive installed and that works well enough. I was able to get my hand on a 1.2MB 1/3 height Canon FDD (Compaq FRU 112566-001) which has what appears to be a standard edge connector on it (see picture here). Compaq apparently used multiple vendors and the picture is from a Mitsubishi drive. Unfortunately, the cable was missing.

    Thinking that the two ports were independent, and a twist was only needed when both drives were on the same cable for "cable select of A: vs. B:", I made a straight through 34pin to edge connector cable. Connecting the cable allows the drive to be recognized and it even does the initial seek test on POST. However, I can not access the drive. Attempting to change drives least to a drive failure error with no attempt to seek. Furthermore, even though I set the drive as a 1.2MB drive in the NVRAM it keeps being changed back to 360KB (remember this is an EISA system so no BIOS/CMOS settings).

    I am now thinking that the two ports are not truly independent even though they are physically separate. Also looking at other Compaq FDD cables such as this they exhibit the twist even though they are clearly for a single drive connection. Plus, the behavior I am seeing is reminiscent of plugging the FDD cable backwards. The EISA cfg utility also has an option to flip A:/B: drives which I would think requires a twist in the cable.

    So could it be that I need to put in a twist on the cable that goes to the second drive? Since the default/fail safe setting for the system is to have the A: drive be the 1.44MB drive then that would make any other drive B: by default. However, in the std. manner the drive after the twist is considered to be A:. If this theory is right the motherboard flips the two drives in its default setting and reverses the ports (i.e. if we were using a standard two port floppy cable the drive in the middle would be A: and the one at the end would be B: ). This is obviously not the IBM standard but was it done?
    Current Wish List: 1. IBM 7531 Industrial Series PC 2. NEC MultiSync XL (JC-2001) Monitor 3. MicroSolutions MatchPoint AND/OR UniDOS card 4. Compaq 14" VGA CRT Monitor (the one that came with the SystemPro). 5. Stacker HW CoProcessor Board MCA BUS. If you have any of the above for sale please PM me. Thank you!

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Lord View Post
    I am now thinking that the two ports are not truly independent even though they are physically separate.
    I'd start by pulling out your multimeter with both drives disconnected and buzzing out the two ports to see if they are actually sharing the DS and MOTOR lines or not

  3. #3
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    Have you checked if the HP website still has the manual for the specific Systempro? If the two floppy ports are connected, there should be a run of traces between the two.

    I thought the twist was needed for the A drive but no twist for the B drive but no telling what trickery Compaq did to connect the two. The system sounds like one done after Canion left and Compaq was doing all types of inconvenience to sell more proprietary parts.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by krebizfan View Post
    Have you checked if the HP website still has the manual for the specific Systempro? If the two floppy ports are connected, there should be a run of traces between the two.

    I thought the twist was needed for the A drive but no twist for the B drive but no telling what trickery Compaq did to connect the two. The system sounds like one done after Canion left and Compaq was doing all types of inconvenience to sell more proprietary parts.
    HP has purged most everything Compaq from its archives.

    I have a service manual for the Systempro (original). Unfortunately, on that system the MB had a std single 34pin FDD Connector.
    Current Wish List: 1. IBM 7531 Industrial Series PC 2. NEC MultiSync XL (JC-2001) Monitor 3. MicroSolutions MatchPoint AND/OR UniDOS card 4. Compaq 14" VGA CRT Monitor (the one that came with the SystemPro). 5. Stacker HW CoProcessor Board MCA BUS. If you have any of the above for sale please PM me. Thank you!

  5. #5
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    Compaq could be strange wrt the floppy cabling. For example, on my Deskpro ENP, a flat cable from the mezzanine defines the "A" drive (it comes from the factory this way). If you want a B: drive, you use a cable with a twist to get it. In other words, the cable would be <motherboard>->(flat)->Drive A->(twist)->drive B. There is no "reverse the A and B drives" in the BIOS setup that I can recall.

  6. #6
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    Firstly generally the BIOS does only minimal testing when you specify a drive. If its going back to 360k there is some issue.
    Secondly the cables are highly unlikely to be independent, there will only be one FDC. What is important is how the Drive Select and Motor Start lines are wired.

    Before the IBM PC drives often had links to set options.
    So typically they had up to four drive select links DS0, DS1, DS2 and DS3.
    Also often there was only one motor start that was common to all drives so all the motors ran when motor start was activated

    IBM wanted to ship drives that didn't need plugging.
    So 5.25" drives have terminator resistors and they must go at the end of the cable, so the first drive needs to be last on the cable.
    There is a twist so that both drives can be strapped the same. It flips DS0<->DS1 and MS0<->MS1

    So on the last drive on the cable sees what is DS0 from the motherboard on DS1.
    So all drives are shipped as DS0.

    I think I would check your 1.2 drive to see if it has links. Especially the Motor Start.
    Then get a meter out and see how pins 10,12,14 and 16 are connected

    Oh and why should swapping drives need a twist? Sp long as they work as "A" and "B" ?

    https://old.pinouts.ru/HD/InternalDisk_pinout.shtml

    may elp
    Dave
    G4UGM

    Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Compaq could be strange wrt the floppy cabling. For example, on my Deskpro ENP, a flat cable from the mezzanine defines the "A" drive (it comes from the factory this way). If you want a B: drive, you use a cable with a twist to get it. In other words, the cable would be <motherboard>->(flat)->Drive A->(twist)->drive B. There is no "reverse the A and B drives" in the BIOS setup that I can recall.
    I may beg to differ, in my experience, all FDs should be jumpered Drive 1 (respond to DS1 not 0), the twist between connectors 2 and 1 swaps the DS1 and related signals to the DS0-related positions. So connector 2 (nearest the mobo) is the B: drive and connector 1 (at the other end) the A:.

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