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Three drives report "BOOT ERROR" on over 100 floppies that worked last year


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#1 Starman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:21 PM

Hi all,

  I've had a collection of about 300 Atari 800 floppies for about 30+ years. As of last year, they were fine. All of them. Today, I decided to check them all out so that I can back them up with SIO2PC. When I booted my 800XL with the disk in one of my 1050s, all I got was "BOOT ERROR". Another floppy - BOOT ERROR. Another 1050 drive - BOOT ERROR. My Spartan Archiver 810 drive - BOOT ERROR. I literally tested about 100 floppies hoping one of them would work. Heads are clean on all floppy drives.

 

  The problem I have is that I don't know how to tell if all three drives went bad or if all my floppies went bad. I realize floppies go bad, but I have a bunch of PC and ST floppies that still work after 30 years. Statistically, I'd think that some of those floppies should work. They've always been kept in a temp. controlled area, away from dust (in a container).

 

  So, here's the thing - I don't want to get an SIO2PC if the floppies are shot. There's really no point, and it's a waste of money. Is there some way to get a clean floppy with an OS on it to test? All my Atari Master Floppies don't work, both version 2 and version 3.

 

  If all this data is gone, I'll be upset because there may be things (games) that the community doesn't have. Also, my old BBS is on one of the floppies and there's some interesting personal stuff on there I'd like to back up. Also, the game I sent to the Star Wars Fan Club that won the Creativity Contest is on one of the floppies and that's giving me an error as well.

 

  EDIT: I should mention that I swapped the IO cable. Could this be a problem with the 800XL?


Edited by Starman, Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:37 PM.


#2 Stephen OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:27 PM

Where are you located?  Perhaps we can arrange a trade.  Send me a stack of your disks for me to test, and I will send you a few disks I know are working, with various DOSes on them.  Send me a PM if you are interested.  I am in north eastern part of Ohio, USA.



#3 DavidMil OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:49 PM

You haven't by any chance moved the floppies lately to some place by any electrical lines or magnetic fields?  Something is

going on.  My floppies and the 1050 drives were in the attic for 30+ years (in Houston Texas) and the majority of all the floppies

I've tested have worked in both drives (after I did some cleaning and lubricating of the drives).  I also find it hard to believe that

all three drives would conk out within a year.  That's just weird!  You're sure you don't have gremlins?

 

DavidMil  



#4 erichenneke OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:52 PM

Have you tried multiple SIO cables?  I have had some behavior like that with specific cables, changed them out and worked ok.

 

If you have two drives daisy chained at the same time, make sure they are not both set to drive #1.  That can cause issues.  

 

Also, I have had 1050's that do better after they "warm up" a bit.  Meaning they need to spin and attempt to read something for awhile... giving errors... and then they start working.  I've had at least two that have behaved this way.  I'd suggest you do this with a disk you don't mind ruining, just in case.

 

Do the drives sound ok or are they making unusual sounding noises or sound like they are stuttering (like banging against a hard stop repeatedly) ? 

 

Also, take a look at some of the disks you have tried reading multiple times.  Does the media portion ( where you can see it ) look consistent or are they darker rings/grooves?   If there are rings or grooves then it could actually mean the media is separating.  I hope that is not the case for you.

 

Finally, I suggest that you only use single sided drives while you are trying all your floppies out.  Using a double-sided drive that you are unsure about, and/or with disks you are unsure about is a recipe for problems because the double-sided drives (such as XF551's) have less tolerance/clearance between the heads and the disk media.  I found this out the hard way unfortunately.

 

-Eric


Edited by erichenneke, Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:53 PM.


#5 AtariGeezer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:52 PM

Do you have another SIO cable to test?  Also check the SIO connector on your computer for a bent pin...



#6 Starman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:51 PM

Ok, to answer some questions:

 

I tried three SIO cables. Same issue with all three.

Floppies themselves look fine.

Floppies were kept nowhere near a magnetic field.

 

Something I noticed: if I put the drive in D1, then I get the boot error. If I change it to D4 and restart the 1050 and the 800XL, the 800XL doesn't recognize the drive and doesn't try to boot off of it. To me that's normal, but that leads to my next point: putting the drive back in D1 causes the boot error again, but this time I noticed that when I boot the 800XL, the drive doesn't try and move the head. And that's the same behavior for all the drives I have. It's like the drives aren't even trying to read sector 0, or...the 800XL is not telling it to (or, does it? Does the 800XL send the drive a command to start reading?). There's something odd going on which is why I'm not convinced that it's the drives or the floppies, and after three cables, I think maybe it's the 800XL itself?

 

My recollection is that when you turn on the 800XL, the heads try to move (reset?) to start reading the floppy. I may be wrong, it's been a long time since I paid attention to the boot up process. But, when there's a boot error, the 1050 or 810 doesn't even try to do anything other than spin the floppy.

 

Quadrunner - I'm in NJ and wouldn't mind swapping floppies, I'm just trying to determine if it's the floppies themselves yet. I'll be in touch.



#7 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:18 PM

Do you have another A8 machine to test? Is your 800XL showing any other odd behaviors? Could be an issue with your SIO port or with POKEY. I had a 1200XL that wouldn't boot anything unitl I swapped the POKEY with one from another system.



#8 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:40 PM

The 1050 probably won't try to move the head if it senses it's at Track 0.

 

If you have some floppies whose coating is failing, it'll make a mess on the head and cause all other disks to fail. Clean the head with a Q-tip and alcohol and see if the Q-tip is turning brown. You may have to sort out the good disks from the failing ones.



#9 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:14 PM

Probably worth noting initial powerup behaviour of the drive.  Do it without the computer being in the boot stage.

 

Regardless of drive ID or if it's already on track 0 the drive should move the head out then in, taking about 2 seconds.  Motor on at powerup as well as busy light.  Once the head settles back the motor and light should go off after another few seconds.  Motor staying on and/or flashing light means the drive detected a problem.

 

But really, boot error on everything to me sounds like it needs a head clean - that should be first thing to try rather than sending sample floppies all over the place.



#10 kheller2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:33 PM

Assuming the floppies are good, it could be the XL. Assuming the XL is good, you could have toasted the drives.

Did you use the same power brick on all three drives?

Let's start with some basics: With power off and drive door closed, power on the drive. you should hear a small vibration as the head steps out then back and hear the drive motor and belts spinning. Then the light should go off.

When attempting to boot a DOS disk, is the boot error message slow to appear, then a beep, error, pause, beep, error.... or is it a fast roll of boot errors with a buzz/ fart noise?

#11 DavidMil OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:08 PM

Let's start with some basics: With power off and drive door closed, power on the drive. you should hear a small vibration as the head steps out then back and hear the drive motor and belts spinning. Then the light should go off.

When attempting to boot a DOS disk, is the boot error message slow to appear, then a beep, error, pause, beep, error.... or is it a fast roll of boot errors with a buzz/ fart noise?

 

If you haven't cleaned the head yet, it might be a good idea to follow kheller2's suggestion with the drive open so you can observe what actually happens.  Don't have a disk in

the drive while you do the following test.  If the head doesn't move when you power up the drive; with the power off try moving the head out and then power on the drive to see if the

head tries to find zero.  Leave the drive disconnected from the computer while you do this just to make sure there isn't something else affecting the drive.  These types of unusual

problems can drive a guy crazy! 

 

David



#12 Starman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:05 AM

Assuming the floppies are good, it could be the XL. Assuming the XL is good, you could have toasted the drives.

Did you use the same power brick on all three drives?

Let's start with some basics: With power off and drive door closed, power on the drive. you should hear a small vibration as the head steps out then back and hear the drive motor and belts spinning. Then the light should go off.

When attempting to boot a DOS disk, is the boot error message slow to appear, then a beep, error, pause, beep, error.... or is it a fast roll of boot errors with a buzz/ fart noise?

 

 

Power off and door closed, I power it on. I hear a bzz-bzz (two buzzes fast, one after another), then the motor spins for a few seconds, and the light goes off. Seems normal to me.

 

When attempting to boot a DOS disc, the boot error is slow to appear.

 

Turn on 800XL

You hear that bus-noise (or whatever it is) on the TV for a few.

BEEP SOUND

Pause

BOOT ERROR

Pause

BEEP SOUND

Pause

BOOT ERROR

 

(repeat)

 

And like I said before, the drive itself doesn't seem to want to start looking at the disc.

 

Heads on all drives are clean.

 

And no, I don't have another A8 to test with. I wish I did.


Edited by Starman, Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:05 AM.


#13 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:50 AM

Longish pause means that the drive is at least succeeding in an attempt to read a sector.  Generally a read error will also generate a seek home + seek out again but it's not performed if the drive is reading from track 0 and already positioned there.

 

There's threads and programs around (as in type-in) to do a stand-alone format of a disk, probably worth a look for one.



#14 kheller2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:29 AM

During the slow boot/beep the drive light is on and the disk is spinning, yes?

#15 Mclaneinc OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:42 AM

Do ANY disks work on these machines?

 

If you get a selection of disks that do boot the its unlikely to be the drives and seems to point at the disks themselves...

 

I know you say the heads are clean and the location of the disks has been safe but what about the drives, the likelihood that 3 drives fail to boot stuff is slim unless they were (the drives) were stored in a bad area, ie prone to high heat or moisture. Have you 100% checked the heads, some need a damn good scrub and have you put any lubricant on the bars the drive head slides along.

 

Do you have any person in a reasonably near by location that you can test these disks on?

 

If you post a rough location here you might have a handy member near by?

 

Bets of luck with these disks, I really hope you can salvage and then digitally store them if only for yourself..

 

Paul.



#16 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:54 AM

Odds of 3 drives being bad - very low

Odds of all disks being bad - low

Odds of multiple SIO cables being bad - very low

 

Usually, what happens in these threads is it turns out some of the disks are shedding like crazy and mucking up the drives, but you say that's not the case here.

 

Do you have any other SIO peripherals you can test to make sure your Pokey is working?



#17 Starman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:21 AM

During the slow boot/beep the drive light is on and the disk is spinning, yes?

 

Yes



#18 Starman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:36 AM

Well one of the drives is now working. As I said earlier, I cleaned all the heads already and they were not dirty. However, I decided to clean them again for fun. When I took apart one of the 1050s, I noticed the drive belt came off. I put the belt back on, and....it's working now.

 

I'm going to check the other two.


Edited by Starman, Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:36 AM.


#19 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:39 AM

Ah, well the belts do expire. Might be a good idea to order some from Best or B&C.



#20 brenski ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:50 AM

 

well, since i posted, you've got one drive working, so edited reply.

 

with what you've added, I'd say get some compressed air in there and blow the crap out, then re-clean the heads with rubbing alcohol and a lint-free cloth


Edited by brenski, Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:55 AM.


#21 Brentarian OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:56 AM

If the 810 belt is good then check the RPMs (should be 288). I've had to adjust mine several times.

#22 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:02 AM

People have gotten a little more life out of old belts by boiling them. It sounds weird, but the rubber absorbs moisture making it softer and more elastic than it should be. Boiling the belts makes them hot enough to drive out the moisture. But, since the rubber structure is old and somewhat oxidized, it will take on moisture again more rapidly in the future.



#23 Starman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:19 AM

Second 1050 update: the belt was lying underneath the drive mechanism. That's now fixed, too.

 

Thanks to everyone who helped with the troubleshooting, I wasn't convinced it wasn't the floppies - too many were failing. And I thought it was the drives. The behavior is what wasn't convincing me it was the 800XL itself.


Edited by Starman, Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:21 AM.


#24 kheller2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:03 PM

You have two World Storage Technology 1050 drives I'm guessing...

Belts easily fall off if you close the drive door on the floppy and the spindly is just slightly off.



#25 Starman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:10 PM

kheller2,

 If it helps you, the S/Ns on the drives are:

 

83A FF 41279 055

83A FF 44911 075

 

  And just to give a project update - I ordered an SIO2PC (USB) from Atarimax. My goal is to archive everything in .ATR images first, then go through them and remove the redundant files. For example: I have a copy of Stealth and Landscape. I consider those to be different, but I think I have five copies of the same binary of Montezuma's Revenge.






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