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Thread: Diagnostics for Profile Hard drive

  1. #1
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    Default Diagnostics for Profile Hard drive

    I recently after years of waiting and searching got my first Apple Profile Hard drive (5MB). Its dead however. I was wondering what guides or info there are for repairing these and what software, and diagnostic software is out there for testing.

    I know there is a good chance the hard drive is dead but I want to test the board and connection to a computer. I can always swap the drive with an MFM SD device, I just want to make sure the device as a whole is working. I have no experience with these and would welcome any input. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    profile is very, very, very proprietary. other than the actual mechanism is manufactured by seagate, everything else (all the electronics) are of apple proprietary design.
    the drive is so extreme that the only way to even low level format the unit is through a custom drive firmware while hanging off an apple iii.
    in twenty some odd years of surfing fleabay, I think I saw that firmware chip came up for sale, once.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorkbert View Post
    the drive is so extreme that the only way to even low level format the unit is through a custom drive firmware while hanging off an apple iii.
    in twenty some odd years of surfing fleabay, I think I saw that firmware chip came up for sale, once.
    Is this what you mean? Stumbled across this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8nhAqfFQ8k
    which pointed here: says its for low level formatting: http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/p...file/firmware/


    From what I learned tonight the profile runs a seek and alignment self test at every startup. Runs a few minutes before it can be used. The drive LED will blink and then go steady RED if the drive works. Well whomever was in here before left out alot of screws and had the LED in backwards. Once I flipped it and powered it up it ran through the seek leading to a steady RED. So from what I can tell the drive says its operational and Ready. I dont own a profile card for my apple II's and I am not sure an apple IIc Plus or IIgs can just connect to it so the best bet is to try my LISA. But I need to make a cable and cannot find a pinout for the profile drive cable.
    Last edited by VERAULT; September 1st, 2020 at 06:03 PM.

  4. #4

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    The ProFile to Lisa cable is a straight-through cable. You may find that one port or another on either end (Lisa or ProFile) has Pin 7 plugged up. That's fine---you don't need it. Just yank that pin out of the cable.

    What you describe with the LED sounds like healthy behaviour for a ProFile. Hook it up to your Lisa and see! Grab the BLU tool from here: http://sigmasevensystems.com/BLU.html

    and use the Identify command in the hard drive menu to find out more about the condition of your drive, like the number of spare blocks used, etc.

    You can also use BLU to format if you replace the Z8 MCU (which has a mask ROM) with a different MCU that has the formatting firmware installed.

  5. #5

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    PS: ProFile is proprietary but much about it is known. The protocol is now completely understood and there are at least three emulators available for it that you can buy or build, including the one just linked, this one, and one I made myself.

    At least ProFile uses a Seagate mechanism. If you really want proprietary, go for Widget, the internal 10MB drive for the Lisa 2/10 that's all Apple from top to bottom.

  6. #6
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    Thanks Stepleton, Do you have more info about replacing the Z8 MCU? Does anyone sell the rom adapter? That sounds like an option that Any owner really needs. I was under the impression you could not LOW LEVEL format without it, but you are saying you cannot format at all?

  7. #7
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    As others have mentioned the HDA assembly in a ProFile is a standard Seagate ST506 or 412, but with Apple proprietary boards for motor control and head R/W amplification (with the components being off the shelf parts). The main logic board in a ProFile with the exception of several PAL chips and a mask Rom programmed Z8 microcontroller are off the shelf components and is physically identical between the 5mb and 10mb versions. A schematic for the board is freely available on the internet, as are ROM images for the Z8 running either in it's normal mode or for formatting. The routines not sharing the same ROM I believe is more a restriction of ROM sizes at the time as opposed to "for trained service personnel only".
    If you were brazen I dare say you could burn both to a larger EPROM and bank switch between ROM maps, but now I'm just getting silly.

    As also mentioned for years having to low-level format a Profile required a "piggyback" Z8 microcontroller (a Z8 but with an EPROM socket in top of it and no internal mask ROM), the LLF EPROM, an Apple III with a Profile controller and the formatting software. For the last six or seven years now however you can also run the format with a Lisa and booting the Basic Lisa Utility directly from the floppy drive. I've seen it also work on Widgets as well albeit others have reported mixed results (it is in no way built like a Profile) If you can overcome the requirement of finding a Lisa it's a much cheaper route than building up a suitable Apple III.
    Last edited by NeXT; September 2nd, 2020 at 11:33 AM.
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  8. #8
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    I can build the piggy back and burn the rom if someone can share a bill of materials needed. Id like to get every bit of functionality I can out of this thing before it fails. If possible Id like to partition it so 60% is used for LISA and 40% for my apple IIe (once I find the right controller card) Unless both formats are interchangeable? I have no idea.

    So a straight through DB25 pin is all I need? So a db25 pin serial cable (with no centronics end?)

  9. #9
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    Yeah, a passive DB25 cable is all you need.

    Now keep in mind that the Lisa and ProDOS handle the Profile differently. While later versions of LOS will let you partition for a portion as MFS/HFS for Macworks you cannot share a Profile between a Lisa and an Apple II/III no matter how you partition it.
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  10. #10

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    BOM-wise, I think that all you need for formatting is the Z8 with the new piggyback ROM. As the BLU manual puts it:

    Low level formatting of an Apple ProFile requires that special “Formatter” Z8 processor hardware is first installed inside the ProFile, which temporarily replaces the Z8 processor used for normal operation.
    If you're not interested in a low-level format, then yes, a Lisa, an Apple II, or an Apple III running a ProFile-capable OS will be able to high-level format the drive, that is, install a new filesystem. As noted, this process will claim the entire drive---while there is a way to "share" a ProFile between the Lisa Office System (or Workshop) and the MacWorks Macintosh-reproducing environment on the Lisa, there's no way to share the disk with a II/III OS.* I'm also not certain whether SOS and ProDOS could talk to the same ProFile, and I think that Apple Pascal for the II may use yet another incompatible format. Not sure about those things; I'm a Lisa guy.

    You may still want to low-level format the drive if BLU tells you that the ProFile is using more than a few of its spare blocks. This may mean that the low-level format data on the drive is starting to weaken and fade, as can happen after a few decades.

    No matter what, I'd use BLU to save an image of the disk before you format it or even try to boot your Lisa with it---who knows, something cool and unusual might be on there.

    For formatting Widgets, I might also recommend my handy dandy Widget tool for Lisas, NeoWidEx. The UsbWidEx gizmo is also really nice for servicing ProFiles and Widgets.

    you cannot share a Profile between a Lisa and an Apple II/III no matter how you partition it.
    *I think it's possible perhaps that some of the Pascal filesystems may be legible to certain versions of the Lisa Monitor operating system (an internal operating system that Apple used during Lisa development), but of course I'm being silly and this hardly counts
    Last edited by stepleton; September 2nd, 2020 at 01:17 PM.

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