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 Post subject: Dying disk drive
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:36 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:54 pm
Posts: 8
I received the sio2pc USB interface last week and have had a great time salvaging 20 year old floppies with great results. (This thing is better than sliced bread!) So far the sio2pc-usb on my laptop and the xf551 have turned over 40 disks into ATR files and there have been only two failed disks (both Memorex disks.)

Most of the disks have been SS/SD, but I copied several DS/DD disks a few days ago and it worked fine. Last night I had a known DS/DD disk and it would only copy the first side, and stops with an unknown error as soon as it started on the second side. This is a disk that I know was read/written in this XF551.

I did some tests and found the drive will read and format SS/SD, SS/DD, and DS/SD, but it will no longer format or read DS/DD always failing when it gets to the second side. So, sometime during the week something happened to the drive.

Is there something else I can check about the XF551? Maybe something to adjust?

Does anyone do repairs? Does anyone have a DS/DD drive for sale? I checked eBay and there's nothing currently listed that is known to be operational.

All I need to do is read disks, not write. I could come up with an internal 5 1/4 drive on a linux box, maybe MSDos, but not Windows. I found a link alleged to be an atari filesystem for linux, but the link is dead. Is there anything else simple I can do to read the DS DD disks?


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 Post subject: Re: Dying disk drive
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:04 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:02 am
Posts: 75
I also have an XF551 drive and I have found it to be erratic when reading different density disks, both single and double sided 360K ones.
I use Spartados 3.2g with the drive and that seems to work fairly well. MyDos 4.5 has an option to change the drive density for writes. And it might help to reset the drive to double density.
I built the SIO2PC serial device with parts scrounged from old modems and using the instructions at the end of the APE 118 manual. I am currently looking to build a USB to serial interface and have found instructions for that on the web as part of a data sheet for an FT232RL chip. The instructions are for a USB to serial interface, but it looks like it would not take much to convert it to work with the APE software for windows or the Qt software.
I have an INDUS drive, but it stops on power up with an H3 (drive controller) error and the drive motor does not seem to check out like it may be bad. It is the same motor (Tandon) as some 1050 drives I have so I might try swapping in a drive motor from a 1050 to see.
I was able to download the users manual for the XF551, but so far, I have not been able to find a service manual for it.
The ports on the back of that drive were never supported that well in that drive and the port connectors have been known to pop loose from the board. I know because I repaired one for someone way back.
Anyway, see if MyDos will reset the density on the drive.
That is the best I can do for you now.


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 Post subject: Re: Dying disk drive
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:42 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:54 pm
Posts: 8
This XF551 was reading DS DD just the other day. Now, when it needs to read from the second surface it fails immediately. The first (Normal) side reads fine in SD or DD. Oddly, DS SD still reads fine. It is just DS DD that fails to read.

When it formats DS DD it appears to step through the tracks on both surfaces, and then on the verify pass, it gets through the first side, and fails when it starts reading the second.

I have another XF551. While I hear the expected momentary motor motion when the power switches on, it refuses to spin the floppy the rest of the time. That drive had worked for a month after I bought it.

The current XF551 that has started to flake out has about 3 months of real use on it. More low-quality Tramiel crud. I have an old 810 (actually one of those 810-on-a-plate drives. It has endured an astonishing amount of use and abuse and keeps on working. Atari's pre-tramiel stuff were built like tanks.

The need for drives ends when I can get all these floppies turned into ATR files. Then I'll just use the SIO2PC-USB to serve ATR files to the 800XL.


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 Post subject: Re: Dying disk drive
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:15 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:02 am
Posts: 75
When you tried to format a disk in the XF551, did you use SpartaDos?
Mine will not format a disk if I select 80 tracks dual sided.
To correctly format the disk double sided double density, you run XINIT and select 40 tracks double sided and 256 byte sectors.
That will give you a 360K floppy.
Since the XF551 does not support Ultraspeed, do not select that when formatting.
Also, it seems that the drive determines the density of a disk on initial access so if you try doing a CHKDSK command from the D1: prompt, it should determine and set the correct density in the drive controller.

Also, since you have two drives, be sure to check the SIO connectors on the back of the drives to be sure they have not broken loose from the circuit board. The drives were bad for that.
Above all, take your time! You can download manuals on SpartaDos if you need to also. I know because I did from the Atarimania.com site.

Also, if you need an 800 translator to run some programs or games on your 800XL, I uploaded a disk version on this forum in the 8Mbit Flash Cartridge Images. It is an atr with MyDos 4.5, the basic program I used to make it, and the translator as an autorun.sys file.
I already tested it with my 65XE and it works fine.
If I stumble across further information on your XF551 problem, I will pass it along.


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 Post subject: Re: Dying disk drive
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 12:05 pm 

Joined: Tue May 08, 2012 11:48 am
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Ken;

I would open it up and clean the heads with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol. Magnetic media from that era is beginning to break down now, so your heads are probably gunked up as you've xfered many discs already.

I'm not sure if that drive is belt driven or direct, you may want to do a disk speed test (I use disk wizard II.) Atari drives should be running around 288 rpm. As the belts age and stretch, the drive rpm will run a little faster.

...J


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 Post subject: Re: Dying disk drive
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 3:57 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2003 9:55 am
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Location: Cleveland, Ohio
JamnJD wrote:
Ken;

I would open it up and clean the heads with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol. Magnetic media from that era is beginning to break down now, so your heads are probably gunked up as you've xfered many discs already.


Agreed, this is proably the #1 problem people run into when making images of vintage disks. After one 'killer disk' is inserted, the drive will spin but seem damaged/dead otherwise. Cleaning the r/w head and avoiding the bad disk will get things going again.

Also if you spin up an old disk and it sounds scratchy, like sand paper, this is a really bad sign that the oxide is flaking off and it will probably gunk up the read/write head.

Steve


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