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    #61
    Originally posted by redjr View Post
    Can someone point me to a correct image of N* DOS already configured with the proper I/O patched for the Sol where I could download it? I'm having a lot of trouble writing any of the DD N* image to a disk that will then boot.
    Try sending a PM to Mike Douglas on this question. He helped me a lot with N*Dos and CP/M , in my case I had never seen these OS's before and had to buy some books and learn from scratch, but there was a lot less info about on the N* DOS, but Mike knows a lot about it and has the resources and he is very helpful.

    I would suggest buying another VSG as a spare, as they are wonderful and good value for money too and like I did, you might want to build up more sets of drives as spares too. It is useful to have another set of working drives and a drive control board, so if one day the system fails you can super quickly locate where the problem is by substitution. I have got into the habit of duplicating practically everything, it saves me a lot of time in the long run, but it might be part of my spare parts disease.

    Comment


      #62
      lol. I have the spare parts disease too! I'll contact Mike. I'm going over and over some printed out thread posts, and documentation I've collected over the past couple of months too. Maybe one question you could answer... A few weeks back, I finally created a CP/M boot disk. Now I'm trying to write(SAVE) the PC2FLOP program from memory to the disk. I calculated the number of pages as 7.3 (256 byte blocks), so rounded up to 8. Now I'm getting the infamous 'Bdos Err On A: Bad Sector'. I'm sure you've never seen that error before.
      Last edited by redjr; December 1, 2021, 04:01 PM.

      Comment


        #63
        Originally posted by redjr View Post
        lol. I have the spare parts disease too! I'll contact Mike. I'm going over and over some printed out thread posts, and documentation I've collected over the past couple of months too. Maybe one question you could answer... A few weeks back, I finally created a CP/M boot disk. Now I'm trying to write(SAVE) the PC2FLOP program from memory to the disk. I calculated the number of pages as 7.3 (256 byte blocks), so rounded up to 8. Now I'm getting the infamous 'Bdos Err On A: Bad Sector'. I'm sure you've never seen that error before.
        I hope I'm not being a prophet of doom but I think something is happening to aging magnetic media of the 5.25" floppy disks, even unused ones.

        When I set my system up, I knew if it didn't work properly I would struggle to determine if it was the drives, the media or the controller etc, so I went for new old stock disk drives. Also I went for new old stock floppies from ebay.

        Then initially I started to get the exact same sorts of Bdos errors, even when a disk successfully formatted in the new drive, on occasions I'd get that bad sector error.

        After a lot of experimenting I found it was the disk media that was definitely defective, so I started buying up good numbers of disks of different brands from ebay.

        Some types were shocking, with perhaps only 2 out of 10 disks usable. Yet, inspecting their surface under magnification I could not see any physical defects on the disks. Something has gone wrong with the media that formatting is not curing. Though in a couple of cases formatting twice did help. I didn't try bulk erasure methods, which might in some cases rehabilitate the magnetic media, I have heard.

        So I used a method I have used before to try to get the better ones of something, if it appears to be an age related problem, by going to the well reputed brand and trying to find the last ones of the manufacturing line. (I have successfully used this idea to find good CRT's too and it generally works).

        I found that the 3M brand DSDD disks, that come in the boxes, that have the Olympics logo with the rings, are late manufacture and they are always nearly perfect.

        Of course, it could be other issues in your case, but I suspect your actual floppy disks. Buy some of those 3M ones , do an experiment and see if the problem goes away.

        There should be plenty of space on your disk for PC2FLOP unless the disk is loaded with many other files.

        Disks like these from 1987, they also have a nice reinforced hub:

        https://www.ebay.com/itm/22442355289...oAAOSw5uFgdd3T
        Last edited by Hugo Holden; December 1, 2021, 07:53 PM.

        Comment


          #64
          Hugo,

          I don't think this is a particularly 'new' thing from my experience.

          Back in the dim and distant past (when everyone used 3 1/2" disks) our stores decided that they could save money by purchasing cheaper floppy disk media (from non-brand suppliers). When I booked some floppy disks out, and attempted to format the pack of 10, half of the media wouldn't format... We picked another box at random with the same outcome... We had a 'conversation' with the procurement department who decided to go back to 'branded' disks again - and they all formatted!

          I would assume (and this is a guess) that once people started to move away from 3 1/2" media that the 'branded' people would move out of the game and the 'budget' guys would move in - with similar results.

          I wonder if a similar thing happened in the 5 1/4" arena?

          Dave

          Comment


            #65
            Originally posted by Hugo Holden View Post

            I hope I'm not being a prophet of doom but I think something is happening to aging magnetic media of the 5.25" floppy disks, even unused ones.

            When I set my system up, I knew if it didn't work properly I would struggle to determine if it was the drives, the media or the controller etc, so I went for new old stock disk drives. Also I went for new old stock floppies from ebay.

            Then initially I started to get the exact same sorts of Bdos errors, even when a disk successfully formatted in the new drive, on occasions I'd get that bad sector error.

            After a lot of experimenting I found it was the disk media that was definitely defective, so I started buying up good numbers of disks of different brands from ebay.

            Some types were shocking, with perhaps only 2 out of 10 disks usable. Yet, inspecting their surface under magnification I could not see any physical defects on the disks. Something has gone wrong with the media that formatting is not curing. Though in a couple of cases formatting twice did help. I didn't try bulk erasure methods, which might in some cases rehabilitate the magnetic media, I have heard.

            So I used a method I have used before to try to get the better ones of something, if it appears to be an age related problem, by going to the well reputed brand and trying to find the last ones of the manufacturing line. (I have successfully used this idea to find good CRT's too and it generally works).

            I found that the 3M brand DSDD disks, that come in the boxes, that have the Olympics logo with the rings, are late manufacture and they are always nearly perfect.

            Of course, it could be other issues in your case, but I suspect your actual floppy disks. Buy some of those 3M ones , do an experiment and see if the problem goes away.

            There should be plenty of space on your disk for PC2FLOP unless the disk is loaded with many other files.

            Disks like these from 1987, they also have a nice reinforced hub:

            https://www.ebay.com/itm/22442355289...oAAOSw5uFgdd3T
            Interestingly enough, the one box I did buy for this project awhile back was a 3M brand, but not with the Olympic circles. They all formatted fine, but now I'm seeing issues. I just placed another order from the link you provided. I think I'll go back and reformat the ones I have to see if that helps.

            Comment


              #66
              Originally posted by daver2 View Post
              Hugo,

              I don't think this is a particularly 'new' thing from my experience.

              Back in the dim and distant past (when everyone used 3 1/2" disks) our stores decided that they could save money by purchasing cheaper floppy disk media (from non-brand suppliers). When I booked some floppy disks out, and attempted to format the pack of 10, half of the media wouldn't format... We picked another box at random with the same outcome... We had a 'conversation' with the procurement department who decided to go backYou know how when you format to 'branded' disks again - and they all formatted!

              I would assume (and this is a guess) that once people started to move away from 3 1/2" media that the 'branded' people would move out of the game and the 'budget' guys would move in - with similar results.

              I wonder if a similar thing happened in the 5 1/4" arena?

              Dave
              Towards the end of the floppy era, I purchased a "white box" of 50 no-name 3.5" diskettes from the local big box office supply store. Now they were cheap but supposedly factory formatted and tested. About half of the box had R/W errors right out of the box and the rest mostly had trouble retaining data for more than a week or so. The kicker was when I started looking at them closely. . FORMAT assigns a disk with a supposedly unique number. Yet on every one of the diskettes in that box that supposedly unique number was identical. To add insult to injury, when I attempted to reformat a few to perhaps correct the problem, Windows flagged about half of the sectors as bad.

              Factory formatted and tested my a$$.
              "It's all bits on the bus, Cowboy! It's all bits on the bus!" -- Tom Beck, #1ESS Instructor, Southern Bell Opa Locka Training Center

              Comment


                #67
                "White box" floppies, I believe, were generally rejects, reformatted and boxed. Outfits like MEI Micro (no relation to the modern sensor outfit) specialized in this--you could get a poly bag of no-name floppies that were clearly different from one another, just by the jacket weld pattern. That's not to say that all unbranded floppies are bad news--floppies made by major manufacturers for duplicator use left off branding. Still have a bunch of those, still new. I believe that duplicators also used a higher write current on DD floppies, so what looked good to them would, upon reformatting, not look very good.
                Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                Comment


                  #68
                  So the theories on the bad disks are:

                  1) the disks were bad from new.
                  2) they deteriorated with age.
                  3) combination of the the above.

                  I had assumed that probably they must have been ok from new, or they would not have got away with selling them back in the 70's & 80's. But from the remarks & stories above, maybe a lot of the no name brand types were dodgy from new and the problem has compounded over time. The concept of them not holding data over time is very worrying.

                  I have not had time yet to try it out, but I bought some amazing vintage disks and books of a software package called Grapher from the early 1980's. I'm going to try it in my IBM-5155. It produces those kinds of vintage graphs of math functions & 3D looking line graphs, but it will rely on the old 5.25" disks having intact data... fingers crossed.

                  Comment


                    #69
                    Try degaussing before formatting, Hugo. Sometimes this makes a substantial difference.
                    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                    Comment


                      #70
                      Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
                      Try degaussing before formatting, Hugo. Sometimes this makes a substantial difference.
                      I do have a powerful degaussing wand, used to degauss color TV CRT's. When I use it though, I take it out of the workshop with the VDU and use it in the living room. Also I never let those strong Neodymium magnets into the workshop either.

                      The degaussing wand, if waved near pcb's can also generate currents in the tracks and cause damage. My advice is watch out for anything that generates high B fields, static or alternating, possible damage to nearby apparatus.

                      But it could be worth using high B fields on dodgy magnetic media as a rehabilitation technique. The best move might be be to MRI scan a whole box of discs, that would be guaranteed to re-orientate their magnetic dipoles.

                      Comment


                        #71
                        For years, I used a bulk VHS tape eraser to do the work. In the last couple of years, I made a jig using the circular magnets from a discarded microwave oven magnetron. You can find a photo and details of what I did somewhere in this forum. Briefly, the magnets need to have like poles facing:



                        The good part is that it's otherwise pretty benign, unless your media passes through the gap. A little tricky to assemble as the repulsion is quite powerful. Works a treat.
                        Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                        Comment


                          #72
                          Sometime it's important to read ALL of the instructions! More on that latter.

                          Since my last post I've doing a lot of trial and error learning. As far as my drives go I've determined (or so I thought I had), that the older and well-used drive B from eBay is simply not reliable. That's another story about that seller. But suffice it to say he really misrepresented the sad, used condition it was in. I've performed many formats, transferring of files, creating disks from images, etc. All with mixed results and reliability. But hey, I know a lot more today, than I did last week. So, with all the conditions that failed, I tried to apply only ONE change in the workflow so I could better determine the cause. This kind of issue should normally be repeatable, but I didn't find it in every situation. I think it's the definition of insanity. I still got a couple of disks written properly that seem to work for now, but only in drive A. My main boot disk remains reliable has gotten the most use, and has not failed to work every time I've started CP/M up. That was until today....

                          This afternoon I sat back down where I've been working on the Sol, and opened up the section of my manual where I had put Mike's instruction and notes about the VSG. So I'm reading through everything again and I get to the top of page 3. There it was, starring at me like I had never seen it. "Do not use High-density (HD) media." Of course, the only box of new disks I had purchased were DS,HD! Now, I can't say whether Mike was just warning everyone that HD could present issues, because I have seemingly written to a few of them (using the VSG) successfully, or he was emphatic that they would not work at all. It appears to be the former. Since my N* controller is DD, I just assumed it was HD type disks that I needed.

                          This story has a good ending. Readers of this thread will note that I mentioned above in a previous post - when all of this started to go sideways - that I purchased a couple of boxes of different brands to test. One brand had been recommended by Hugo (3M w/Olympic Logo). They have not arrived yet. I quickly went to my eBay page to check and whew, no wording, or markings about either of them being of the HD variety. So now when they do arrive, I can run my tests and simple workflow to see what results I get. Both of the brands and boxes I believe are NOS, so maybe the element of time has not on their side either. I shall see.

                          However, I still suspect my B drive(eBay) may not be reliable, but having the proper kind of media to work with (the VSG) might help, if it's performance is sketchy. For now I'm satisfied that I at least have a direction to go in and certainly can't/don't blame the VSG. The warning was there for me to read, see and comprehend!

                          Moral of this story? RTFM!


                          Comment


                            #73
                            Yes, HD formatted disks on a DD drive can be “iffy” if I remember correctly.

                            See a reasonable explanation here (although the discussion is related to 3 1/2” floppies): https://retrocomputing.stackexchange...e-keep-in-mind

                            Dave

                            Comment


                              #74
                              As it turned out, while my HD media may have played a part in the resulting 'Bdos Err On...' I was receiving, it was the drive that is defective and simply not reliable. My new DS/DD diskettes arrive yesterday and the same error occurred using them in similar testing. I tested everwhich way I could, and even cleaned the head of the drive without success, or consistently good results. So, I found a NOS drive of the same brand/model to replace the bad drive. Hopefully, this fix my random error messages I was getting on that drive.

                              I'm now thinking that just because my first box of disks were HD, that shouldn't necessarily imped any writing/reading capability when used in a DS/DD drive. It's just that the formulation of the disk is more dense, whether or not it is being used as a HD disk, or just a regular DS/DD disk. All of my first batch seem to perform consistently well in my good drive (A). I should have the replacement drive in a couple weeks.

                              Comment

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