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ST-4182E Whats a good controller to get for it ESDI?

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    ST-4182E Whats a good controller to get for it ESDI?

    I thought I was getting a large MFM drive cheap but before I hooked it up I found out it was a ESDI drive. My understanding is that the two are not compatible. If that the case I need some guidance on what controller to get.

    I would like to use it in a IBM 5170 or 5162 if possible.


    With my ESDI drives, I use either a DTC 7287 or a DTC 6280 (I have them both). Do you need a controller with floppy support?


      Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
      With my ESDI drives, I use either a DTC 7287
      typo? 7287 is an RLL controller


        It could be with or without floppy support.


 is a good summary of what was available. It happens I've been documenting my card collection recently so there are some pictures of boards that he didn't review. I don't currently have a list of all of them on line.
          Unfortunately, the prices of AT disk controllers on eBay has been going through the roof lately, and there aren't any listed for a few vendors like SMS/OMTI

          You also need to be REALLY careful buying boards on eBay. I've seen a number of listings that have the wrong drive type listed for the board.
          The part numbers might be off by one letter or number from what they claim it is.

          They also get MFM vs ESDI mixed up as you found out
 is NOT an MFM drive
          People get confused because ESDI used the same 34/20 pin connector pair as ST-412(MFM/RLL) drives

          pretty much any "MFM" drive with more than 100mbytes is an ESDI drive.
          the largest MFM drive ever made was the Maxtor 2190. CDC/Seagate never made an MFM drive that big

          the manual can be found at

          I'm pretty sure it is a 10mbit/sec drive given it is a first generation ESDI drive, which should work with most controllers

          On the good side, CDC/MPI/Seagate Wren drives are very quiet and reliable. Seagate made a smart move buying them.
          Seagate's product line was junk by comparison.

          ESDI didn't last very long. Vendors moved to putting the host controller directly on the drive (IDE) or to SCSI. SCSI had the
          advantage you just accessed it as logical blocks, so they could change the number of sectors/cylinder and get more capacity.
          You couldn't do that with IDE until they went from C/H/S to logical block format, or they lied about the actual C/H/S value
          and mapped C/H/S numbers inside the drive to where it really was on the disk.
          Last edited by Al Kossow; May 25, 2021, 11:47 AM.


            Originally posted by Al Kossow View Post

            typo? 7287 is an RLL controller
            Carelessness--I just looked at my documentation files and grabbed the 7287 sheet (I do have one of those too). Okay you made me look:

            I've got the DTC 6282 and the 6280-15T. The former is a half length card, the latter is a 3/4 length. Oddly, even though the 6282 is a later card, I prefer the 6280, which seems to deliver somewhat higher performance. Both have floppy controllers (the good kind that can do FM and 128 byte/sector MFM; probably licensed clones of the DP8473).

            I don't use ESDI drives much now--in comparison to IDE and SCSI drives, they're big and noisy.

            At least for the DTC controllers, they look the same to software as an IDE adapter.


              If you have an IBM PS/2, it might be cheaper to find a Microchannel ESDI controller, due to lack of demand. (All the PS/2 guys want SCSI.)


                I have not used ESDI in a very long time, but lately I've been referencing this vintage manual that details capabilities of various controllers. There are quite a few ESDI controllers on the list. it might be worth going through and searching ebay. You might find a great deal on one listed as RLL or MFM.


                I like ultrastor controllers because they supports 3 floppy drives from a single cable; that might be nice to have.
                Last edited by bolex; May 25, 2021, 02:25 PM.


                  Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
                  Both have floppy controllers (the good kind that can do FM and 128 byte/sector MFM; probably licensed clones of the DP8473).
                  or just re-labeled national parts

                  lots of mystery ASICs on these old controllers. One of my projects has been trying to find documentation on them.


                    Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post

                    Carelessness--I just looked at my documentation files and grabbed the 7287 sheet
                    do you have much beyond installation manuals for these old controllers?
                    statson seems to cover jumper information. I suppose looking at old Linux drivers would be a way to see what the non-bios level
                    programming of them looked like.

                    I did find one fun thing yesterday. the adaptec 232x series controllers have a serial debugger in their microcontroller firmware for
                    manipulating ESDI drives and ASIC registers. I need to get it hooked up to fiddle with.

                    there also appear to be a few controllers that had bus master DMA controllers on them


                      I've got a packet of documentation that some fellow (don't recall who after all these years) from DTC sent me, but I believe that I was interested in DTC SCSI controllers at the time, so that's probably what it covers. I'll hae a look, though.

                      I do have the installation leaflets for both of the ESDI controllers, but that's basically jumper settings.


                        I like ultrastor controllers because they supports 3 floppy drives from a single cable; that might be nice to have.
                        The DTC controllers have a similar facility. Some even allow a "flat" 4-drive setup on a single cable. (i.e. each drive has a drive select and all motors run at the same time).

                        In fact, it's possible with only a single wire patch to get almost any floppy controller using the 44-pin DP8473 to address 3 drives on the same cable.

                        Al, as far as PC-side port-level compatibility, that's what I meant by "just like an IDE drive'". The things even respond to IDENTIFY command the same way. Now, in the PC-bus to drive side (i.e. internal firmware) I have no idea.

                        Doubtless Linux treats them the same way and calls them SCSI drives (i.e. /dev/sda...) the way it does IDE drives.


                          Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post

                          The DTC controllers have a similar facility. Some even allow a "flat" 4-drive setup on a single cable. (i.e. each drive has a drive select and all motors run at the same time).
                          I actually just bought a DTC SCSI card that supports the flat 4 drives on a single cable. I was planning on playing with it this weekend to test it out.


                            I'm learning a lot. I played with a link posted by Al Kossow above and found this page from there I expanded from a link and got this page

                            I plan on checking out those resources before I buy any card for that drive. I just hope it worth it in the end and the drive works.



                              Just a thought as I'm seeing this drive was use in 486 and early Pentium systems will the controller work ok in a standard IBM 5170 @ 6mhz?