Forum Rules and Etiquette

Our mission ...

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.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.

Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.

Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.

Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
  • Do not "necro-post" unless you are following up to a specific person on a specific thread. And even then, that person may have moved on. Just start a new thread for your related topic.
  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.

Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
  • "PM Sent!": Do not tell the rest of us that you sent a PM ... the forum software will tell the other person that they have a PM waiting.
  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.

Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.

Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.

New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.

Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
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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.

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

    The best I've found for errors was the classic "consult your dealer", but I assume you have seen the manual for the card?
    [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


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


        What a friendly error message.

        I'd suggest trying SpeedStor instead of the BIOS formatter:

        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.


          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


            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.


              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


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


                  1 drive is fine, then the next one is like this:

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


                    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.


                      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.


                        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.


                          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.


                            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: (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.


                              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.