Forum Rules and Etiquette

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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.

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
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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.
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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:
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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
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Best way to test a bunch of floppy drives

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    Best way to test a bunch of floppy drives

    I have a large cache of 5 1/4" and 3.5" drives that I need to test. I do have a variety of older PCs that I can use, and also a Kyroflux.

    The Kyroflux looks like low hanging fruit to test, but has anyone used it in the manner to test floppy drives? I want to make sure they're reading and writing. What have others done in this type of situation?

    I use the checkit floppy drive test with a known good disk.

    Should go without saying but clean the heads first on all of them


      If it were me, I'd use a real PC to test. When something goes wrong, a PC can be more flexible.

      Off the top of my head, the first thing I would do is visually inspect a drive, make sure everything seems to move and latch before hooking it up.

      If these are drives that have not been tested in a long time, or ever, the first thing though should be a cleaning disk.

      Once attached, make sure the drive activates at the right time, the drive spins, and the head moves.

      After attaching and cleaning, I'd use a known good disk filled with data (like some random zip file), and run a disk tester. I like Norton Disk Test 4.5.

      Then I would test formatting and writing. Using a known good blank disk, run a floppy formatter (Ideally something besides the DOS formatter, that gives you more details such as head and sector when there are bad sectors - it is useful to know when one head is bad). If it looks like it formats OK, then sanity test the disk by reading it back on a different known, good drive.

      I've found ImageDisk to be very handy when troubleshooting drives. It bypasses DOS/BIOS, can check rotational speed, allows manual head stepping in alignment mode, and when there are alignment issues alignment mode can show you in real time what track the head is really sitting over.

      There may also be times when you want to exercise a drive. It is easy to make a simple DOS batch file that runs Norton Disk Test 4.5 or a disk formatter in a loop over and over.


        Originally posted by SomeGuy View Post
        If it were me, I'd use a real PC to test. When something goes wrong, a PC can be more flexible.

        Off the top of my head, the first thing I would do is visually inspect a drive, make sure everything seems to move and latch before hooking it up.

        If these are drives that have not been tested in a long time, or ever, the first thing though should be a cleaning disk.

        Once attached, make sure the drive activates at the right time, the drive spins, and the head moves....
        BEFORE the cleaning disk, I recommend cleaning and lubing the head carriage rails. This often requires removing the circuit board. Also, check for proper RPM. If the lube in the spindle and/or drive motor has dried up the RPM will fluctuate and cause errors.


          If you're seeking to be thorough, I would imagine using something like Kryoflux against a reference capture of reference media would be the most robust approach. What that would look like, however, I cannot tell you It seems unfortunate that in contrast to audio tape where a rich ecosystem of calibration tapes has evolved, there appears to be no calibration media for floppy drives. Seems like an interesting topic to me; I have about 15 drives and it's easy enough to perform the clean/lube->rpm test->capture image test to capture a binary pass/fail on them, but wouldn't it be nice to know which ones perform best!