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This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

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Formatting MFM drives

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    Formatting MFM drives

    I have a literal pile of 30 MFM drives and I have had success with about half of them. I'm having some issues with a few and I'd love some help/info please.

    I'm currently using a 286/12 with a Seagate ST22M MFM controller. some drives give me error codes when I goto format and subsequently test them.

    Errors like this:



    Is there any sort of manual to these errors? I'd wager some of the drives I can't format are in fact okay, but misconfigured. And if the error code is telling me the head is dead, (or similar) that would save me time faffing about with the drive.

    thanks!
    It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

    #2
    The best I've found for errors was the classic "consult your dealer", but I assume you have seen the manual for the card? ftp://ftp.seagate.com/techsuppt/controllers/st21-22.txt
    [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [No time for videos? Click here to visit my Twitter feed @CelGenStudios]

    = Excellent space heater

    Comment


      #3
      yep. I know the information is out there somewhere.
      It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

      Comment


        #4
        What a friendly error message.

        I'd suggest trying SpeedStor instead of the BIOS formatter: http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/software/speedstor.htm

        First, make sure it works ok with a known good drive. Then see what it has to say about bad ones. It also supports a few tests that might give you an idea of the actual problem.

        Typically, BIOS formatters are quite dumb. They don't detect surface errors, so errors they do report are probably more serious. Such as drive not reporting ready, failing to seek track zero, general seek failure, and so on.

        Comment


          #5
          Some drives are probably dead.

          But some common booboos that can lead to obscure messages can be:

          - oxidised connectors (fixed by a clean/rub is isopropyl or contact cleaner)
          - cables with oxidised or bent bins that don't quite make good contact
          - drive select is set wrong
          Twitter / YouTube

          Comment


            #6
            As far as drive select and termination goes, I've been able to do that properly. Lucky for me, most of these drives are well documented. A few aren't, such as IMI, Atasi, CDC and Paraim. You never realize just how spoiled you are with new hardware. Silk screening jumper settings on the PCB was a real game changer!

            For example I have 2 miniscribe 3012's, and one seems the logic board is gone. But the jumpers are the same, so when #2 worked fine, it was relatively easy to eliminate the cable, and controller as the issue.

            My goal here is to weed out drive beyond repair. if that 7.74 error code translates to "head write error" it would be simple to mark the drive as defective and use it as parts. If the error code is something with the logic board, then I have a better chance of fixing it. I have a few drives that have some road rash, so a broken trace or severed connection is not out of the realm of possibilities.


            @SpidersWeb: also nice 286 love the green screen! You've had as much fun with old drives as I am!
            It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by luckybob View Post
              Lucky for me, most of these drives are well documented. A few aren't, such as IMI, Atasi, CDC and Paraim.
              That's most likely because Paraim is a river in Brazil and the drives are made by Priam.
              PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

              Comment


                #8
                thanks google spell check!
                It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

                Comment


                  #9
                  1 drive is fine, then the next one is like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wht7p0bsXxY

                  :P
                  It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If the drive spins down by itself, there's either a problem with initial recalibration of the seek mechanism, or the spindle isn't getting up to speed. Usually the drive activity LED (hook one up if you don't have one on the drive) will give you a clue with short and long flashes, repeated.
                    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      oh that just started. Also, the volume got adjusted down by youtube quite a bit. I can hear this thing through my garage wall. It is grinding so loud I don't think it can get to speed anymore.
                      It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Sort of makes me think that the heads have crashed and are now making nice circles in the oxide coating the platters.
                        Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Don't give up on the bad ones luckybob. I almost did with a drive of mine, an ST251-1, but came up with a "solution" you won't believe.

                          The drive was bad, and I had labeled it so. It would low-level format okay, and then format with many bad sectors. But then when I went to use it, it was 2 or 3 accesses before a got a hard drive error. She just would not perform.

                          I tried low-level, FDISK, and reformat thru several cycles. It was toast.

                          But before casting it off completely, I thought I'd try "desperation measures." First the cover came off, revealing a 1/8" thick band of silver at the rim where the topmost head had tried to dig an irrigation ditch. There was another lesser gouge further in. That explains the bad sectors all right.

                          Finding no other obvious squirrels, I did a bad thing. I reassembled the drive, flipped it over and put just the tiniest drop of 3-In-1 oil on all three pivot points--the platter bearing, the stepper motor bearing, and the arm pivot. I dabbed the oil up almost immediately with a tissue.

                          Yes, I said oil. "Blasphemy!" you say. I agree. But what the heck, I was playing with certified garbage anyway, what more could I lose?

                          Tried one last time to format-FDISK-format, and it worked as before. Loaded up a couple of floppies worth of data. Still working. Loaded up a multi-floppy set I use to initialize a new machine. Ran out of room on the drive.

                          So I started debugging my .BAT facilities to account for the reduced space, spending about half an hour at it before it dawned on me, "Hey, this is the 'bad' drive!" She's working brilliantly.

                          You might argue that it's just a matter of time, and I agree, but the tiny amount of oil seems to have fixed up what I assume were timing issues due to inconsistent platter spin.

                          The sound of the drive has not changed perceptibly. But I have changed the "Bad" sticker to read "Many Bad Sectors" instead. The drive is back from the dead.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Oh I completely agree! Nothing is going to be trashed. At this point it is just a go/no-go for sale. People on ebay don't want to dick around with a failing drive. I can keep the ones that "don't sell" for myself, and then hopefully fix them to a useable state. Out of all the drives I have, the Miniscribe 6053 really stands out for me. images: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Min...-/253290648188 (that seller is nucking futs, btw) I just really like the asthetics of the drive.
                            It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Taking advantage of the thread: I have 2 drives: a ST-225 and HH612-C they were working 2 weeks ago (I even installed Xenix on it) but all of sudden both stopped working at the very same time. I suspected the cable, but it has continuity on all lines. The ST-225 turns on, spins, but the green light does not activate. (turning off the computer - IBM5150 the green light flashes once. The HH612-C, turns ons and does activate the green light but I get the 1701 error no matter what with both drives.

                              The controller is a WD1002-WSX. Could it be the controller ? Is there any test I could perform on it ? My PSU is 130W.

                              Comment

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