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Pro tip for a Q-tip.. reading a ratbaggy floppy.


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#1 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:40 AM

For whatever it's worth.. More and more floppies are really ratbaggy these days. I just had a box that was totally not reading. It would read the first 4 or 5 tracks then start giving errors. I cleaned the drive head with a floppy cleaner, and it proceed to go a little further. I'd repeat the process 5 or more times to grab a whole disk! This was untenable.

 

I took a damp Q-tip and brushed it vertically up and down the cutout slot where the head reads. Rotated the disk a bit and did it again. And again. After about 2 minutes the disk was swabbed. And it read flawlessly on the first attempt.

 

It appears some of the oxide's lubricant dried on the surface over time. And it came off when reading the disk in the drive - thus clogging the head. Pre-buffing with the Q-tip seems to have prevented the clogging. And the Q-tip wasn't picking up much oxide, it was barely tanned. I used about 5 AA Batteries' weight worth of pressure. And you work on a flat paper surface, 20 sheets is fine.

 

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It wouldn't be hard to build a machine to pre-buff the disk automatically. Though it must be noted a vertical motion worked and not a linear rotational motion. So running it in the drive with a big-ass pressure pad won't fix the problem.

 

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Don't know the longevity of a disk after such treatment. But they do last long enough to read them at least several days later. That may be irrelevant because once you got the data off, it's throw-away material.

 



#2 MarkO OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:14 AM

Thanks for the Report...


I will keep this in Mind when Backing Up Older media...



MarkO

#3 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:42 AM

Any time one is working with old disks of about 40 years of age, you'll need to keep a head cleaner nearby. Or keep the drive open and be prepared to swipe the head with a Q-Tip after every read.

 

I was reading a disk, it got half-way through and no other disk would read either. So much "film & mold" shed that it bunched up on the head thus lifting the disk off the read gap and into the air. Oh it was fractions of a mil, but quite obvious. It was essentially a jump-ramp for the speeding disk surface.

 

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I can't begin to guess how many disks and drives are deemed non-working after encountering this state of affairs.

 

You'll also want to be aware of older disks which have dried-up lubricant, like the above situation. the dried-up lube is likely to be harsh on the head. 2 things I've observed, the lube bunches up like I described. Yes. But the second thing is if that clump of particles breaks free it'll act like sand and grind the whole track away. Also likely roughen up the head a bit too.

 

The easy solution I'm thinking of is to reduce the pressure-pad pressure. And slowly increase it till a read takes place.

 

I had a disk where the actual plastic disk was fine, but the binder material was almost gooey and the oxide just rubbed right off. It's like the binder material didn't bite into the disk substrate, but was merely held in place by surface tension. 40 years ago, these disks were absolutely just fine.


Edited by Keatah, Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:51 AM.


#4 david__schmidt OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:46 AM

I had a disk where the actual plastic disk was fine, but the binder material was almost gooey and the oxide just rubbed right off. It's like the binder material didn't bite into the disk substrate, but was merely held in place by surface tension. 40 years ago, these disks were absolutely just fine.

The solution in these cases is to "bake" the cookie a little bit - one of those toaster ovens does wonders.  I find most Control Data 5-1/4" disks I run across are in this camp... gooey binder that rubs right off of you're not careful.



#5 bpatte02 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:00 AM

I have had issues with disks lately, which caused me to invest in a Floppy Emulator. I have a copy of Star Trek: The Kobeyashi Alternative that runs fine to a point, but once it reaches the point it freezes. My first copy of Alien Downpour played once and then the next time I tried booting it up it failed to boot. Thankfully, I was able to get another copy that works great. I had issues with a modern copy of Oregon Trail that was put on a floopy. It like ST:TKA failed at a specific point. I am going to pick up a head cleaning disk to see if that might help. Any suggestions as to where to procure one would be greatly appreciated.

#6 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

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Posted Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:24 AM

Reminder to self: get more head cleaners. I only have a few left and 2 are showing signs of usage. Best bet is a freebie from a member or go on ebay, but you might overpay at $15 per disk.

 

Other option is to manually clean the drive head with a cloth and Q-Tip. The old Disk II drives were easy to take apart. 4 screws and you could get in there super-easy. The newer ones, with the round grey cable, are more involved because of RF shielding.





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