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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VSG Virtual Sector Generator

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    VSG Virtual Sector Generator

    Last week, I purchased a Virtual Sector Generator from Mike Douglas. Since I only have a dozen or so 10 sector hard sector floppy disks for my newly revived SOL-20 and no one seems to be making them, I thought I'd give this a try. The unit arrived yesterday. First thing I had to do was find a 34 pin ribbon cable. This unit plugs in between the floppy controller and the drive units. As luck would have it, I didn't have a cable like that. So, I made one from a couple of spare floppy cables I had. But to make it work, I had to grind off the header tab, because the old header plug doesn't have this index tab. AND, there were plugs in two of the socket holes. These had to be removed. Fortunately, the pin connectors are still in the header. I just drilled the plug and then pried the plug out as well as I could. Next the cables were installed, the 9 volt battery connected and the SOL-20 powered up. I had hard sectored floppies in drives A: and B: and an unformatted soft sectored floppy in C:. The SOL booted up and I could start CP/M on A:. Then I formatted the floppy in C: and copied B: to C:. Everything worked well. The entire process is transparent and I don't have to worry about turning anything on or off, or where, or what kind of floppies are used. Well worth the money.

    The next project will be to install the VSG into my drive enclosure. There is a small spot in the back where the ribbon connector is. I'll devise some kind of CB holder and some connectors. Then the battery will be removed and I'll power the CB with +12 volts from the drive unit. Hopefully, all will work and there will not be anything more hanging off the back of my SOL-20. Thanks Mike for a really neat part. Mike

    Hi Mike_z,

    I also mounted Mike's VSG inside the disk drive housing, the pictures in the article here show how I did the mechanical mounting of the VSG board. I built two of these units (I like to have spares):

    I also made up a ribbon cable joiner, so I can unplug the unit from the Sol without taking the top off the Sol or removing the connector from the N* card.

    It is great that the VSG is "transparent". It is a wonderful device, I don't know how I would have managed without it.

    In my case I'm using the N* double density controller. I used old stock Japanese made IBM YD-580 drives and have has little trouble at all. Except that these particular drives detect hard sector disks and disable the pulses. But it has never been a concern for me because I have only used soft sectored DSDD disks with my SOL. I have found the 3M brand of disks, of late manufacture, to be the better type.


      When Mike's VSG was used outside a housing and battery operated it provided a very convenient and safe way to separate the ribbon cable and the drive unit from the SOL. Of course if the VSG is put inside the drive housing, unless its connector was exposed in some way that function is lost. Also I think its better not to plug the cable on and off the N* card, as it can be plugged in both ways, that worried me.

      I was also wondering about putting some sort of multi-way connector on the rear of the drive housing, but it would have been a little crowded. So I let the ribbon cable from the VSG simply exit the drive housing and used the joiner (photo attached) so I can separate the drive unit and the computer to easily move them around. I put it in the middle of the cable, so that keeps the dangling lengths of ribbon as short as possible from each unit when they are separated but maximizes the total length of cable too as I have the drive unit typically beside the SOL, not on top if it.
      Attached Files
      Last edited by Hugo Holden; November 29, 2020, 01:26 PM.


        I have another solution for a quick disconnect for drive cables...I'll try to get some photos of my home made solution this evening.

        retro computing at: dead


          Hugo, my Omega triple disk has a 34 pin connector on the back of the case. The VSG was placed between the disk ribbon cable and this external connector. From an external view point the system is exactly the same. And even a guy with a slow leak, like me can connect things just fine. Mike


            Here is my solution for a floppy quick connect/disconnect
            retro computing at: dead