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Help! Weirdness and insanity!


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#1 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 11:12 AM

Quick rundown:

At the CTIUG meeting, we had an issue with a PBox or card or something.

We were able to read and write to disks just fine, and we initialized and formatted a couple of disks.

On our third initialization attempt, the system refused to format a disk. It still reads and writes just fine, but it will not initialize. We tried multiple 32k cards, multiple disks, and 3 different disk managers. We also swapped drives.

We can read previously formatted disks, AND write to them--just cannot format/initialize.


What in the good hell would cause this?


Consoles tried:

Modified console (Vic Steerup)
Unmodified console (Ron Klein)


32k tried:

32k onboard a RAMDisk
Standard TI 32k


Drives tried:

Two separate 5.25" TEAC half height double sided drives


Disk managers tried;

MENU Disk manager (on RAMDisk)
DM1000 (on FinalGROM)
TI standard Disk Manager 2 cartridge
DM1000 (on XB2.7 cart)


Floppies tried:

4 different brands, all known to work on other systems.

#2 videofx OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 11:24 AM

The only thing that I don't see listed is a different floppy controller. The floppy controller sounds like the culprit. Also just for giggles I would try the floppy controller in a different slot in the PEB



#3 fabrice montupet OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 11:50 AM

Track 0 dead? 



#4 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 11:51 AM

I was thinking floppy controller as well... Thinking though, why would it be able to read and write, but not initialize a disk?

Weird!

We will try moving the disk controller to another slot. That's a good idea.

#5 fabrice montupet OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 12:07 PM

Maybe your controller can't access to track 0, this track is accessed during the format operation. 



#6 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 12:08 PM

Interesting... wonder what would cause that, fabrice? I need to look at the schematic I suppose

#7 mr_gw454 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 12:59 PM

I just tried moving the controller.  That did not seem to help.  I am still able to read and write disks without issue, just can't initialize them.  Such a strange issue!  What part(s) in the controller could fail and still allow most functions to work? 

 

Thanks everyone for your help so far.  Really appreciate it!



#8 HOME AUTOMATION OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 1:10 PM

Sometimes drives fail in a manner that causes physical damage to the disks! Particularly the to the inner or outer tracks, this can permutate the results when diagnosing other problems, if unnoticed.



#9 Lee Stewart OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 6:37 PM

As long as you use only 90 KiB diskettes in the system, you could try FORMAT-DISK and/or DISK-HEAD with TI Forth to see whether sectors 0 – 3 can be written.  See Chapter 5 of the TI Forth Instruction Manual (2nd LES Edition) in the TI-99/4A development resources thread.

 

...lee



#10 arcadeshopper OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 6:55 PM

I've seen specific drives act this way. It is likely a cap gone bad on the drive or controller.. after this many years..  

 

people have complained they cant format the disks i sell on the pushbang drives for instance, but replacing them solves the problem

 

Greg



#11 sparkdrummer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 3, 2019 7:41 PM

If you have one of the disks you formatted before things went flakey I would VERIFY that disk to see if all sectors check ok. I then would check that same disk in another system. Possibilitys I thought of were head alignment went south or motor speed if off. Another possibility is see how free the head moves on the rails.

#12 RickyDean OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 4, 2019 7:01 AM

If this FDC card has socketed IC's, take each one out and test it on a Mini Pro or some similar device to see if there are problems there. You haven't stated a controller brand so at this time I am assuming a TI controller, so unless there has been mods done in the past, I would say that all the IC's are soldered straight to the board, which will make it much harder to diagnose. I just got two Foundation Memory cards functional again last week by testing and finding some bad IC's, due to age and storage.



#13 mr_gw454 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 4, 2019 7:08 AM

I appreciate everyone's suggestions so far.  As an FYI, this issue is being experienced with 2 identical TEAC drives.  I only have a cable that supports the use of a single floppy drive, but swapping drives (for testing) produces the same results.  Disks can be read and written to, just not formatted.  If I write to a disk in one drive, it can be read back without issue on the other drive.  I am looking for one more 5.25" drive to add to the test.

 

Thanks!



#14 FarmerPotato OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 4, 2019 9:46 AM

Quick rundown:

At the CTIUG meeting, we had an issue with a PBox or card or something.

We were able to read and write to disks just fine, and we initialized and formatted a couple of disks.

On our third initialization attempt, the system refused to format a disk. It still reads and writes just fine, but it will not initialize. We tried multiple 32k cards, multiple disks, and 3 different disk managers. We also swapped drives.

We can read previously formatted disks, AND write to them--just cannot format/initialize.


What in the good hell would cause this?
 

I looked for IO Error 43 in the TI disk DSR source code. I did not find it yet.
 
It means Illegal Operation on Seek/Rewind/Restore.
 
Some guesses:
1. I wonder what is the expected error when you enable Protect Disk (the anti-copy protection flag, letter P on sector 0)
 
2. There was an error trying to move the head to a particular track (but this should be a 6 not a 3)
Maybe it is a power supply issue. Try a different Pbox? Drives draw the most power when spinning and seeking.


#15 arcadeshopper OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 4, 2019 10:07 AM

are both drives powered up? if so try with just one powered and the other completely unplugged



#16 atrax27407 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 4, 2019 10:20 AM

Have you checked the cable for continuity?



#17 mr_gw454 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 5, 2019 5:34 AM

are both drives powered up? if so try with just one powered and the other completely unplugged

 

I need to check that tonight after work.



#18 mr_gw454 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 5, 2019 5:35 AM

Have you checked the cable for continuity?

 

No I have not.  Is there a pin specifically related to the disk initialize process?  I needed a dual floppy cable and planned to order a new one from ArcadeShopper soon.



#19 mr_gw454 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 5, 2019 5:37 AM

If this FDC card has socketed IC's, take each one out and test it on a Mini Pro or some similar device to see if there are problems there. You haven't stated a controller brand so at this time I am assuming a TI controller, so unless there has been mods done in the past, I would say that all the IC's are soldered straight to the board, which will make it much harder to diagnose. I just got two Foundation Memory cards functional again last week by testing and finding some bad IC's, due to age and storage.

 

Yes, it is a TI controller.  I'm looking for any working loaner to see if it helps with the issue.



#20 mr_gw454 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 5, 2019 5:37 AM

 

I looked for IO Error 43 in the TI disk DSR source code. I did not find it yet.
 
It means Illegal Operation on Seek/Rewind/Restore.
 
Some guesses:
1. I wonder what is the expected error when you enable Protect Disk (the anti-copy protection flag, letter P on sector 0)
 
2. There was an error trying to move the head to a particular track (but this should be a 6 not a 3)
Maybe it is a power supply issue. Try a different Pbox? Drives draw the most power when spinning and seeking.

 

 

Power supply has been mentioned twice.  I do have access to an empty (spare) PEB and will be trying that out as well. 



#21 mr_gw454 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 5, 2019 5:39 AM

As long as you use only 90 KiB diskettes in the system, you could try FORMAT-DISK and/or DISK-HEAD with TI Forth to see whether sectors 0 – 3 can be written.  See Chapter 5 of the TI Forth Instruction Manual (2nd LES Edition) in the TI-99/4A development resources thread.

 

...lee

 

Hi Lee.  I'm interested in this test.  I've never used Forth, but will look for it and see what happens.  Thank you!



#22 mr_gw454 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:08 AM

Latest updates. 

 

Replaced the Disk Controller.  Same issue.  Can READ/WRITE but not initialize/format.  Same behavior for both floppy drives.  Tried numerous disk/disk brands.

 

Waiting for new floppy drive cable from Arcade Shopper.

 

Have another 5.25" drive I will try as well. 

 

Still hard to believe 2 drives can be bad at the same time, but will continue to troubleshoot.

 

Can anything else in the PEB itself cause this issue?

 

Thanks!



#23 RickyDean OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:25 AM

Latest updates. 

 

Replaced the Disk Controller.  Same issue.  Can READ/WRITE but not initialize/format.  Same behavior for both floppy drives.  Tried numerous disk/disk brands.

 

Waiting for new floppy drive cable from Arcade Shopper.

 

Have another 5.25" drive I will try as well. 

 

Still hard to believe 2 drives can be bad at the same time, but will continue to troubleshoot.

 

Can anything else in the PEB itself cause this issue?

 

Thanks!

Have you checked the drive models to be sure they are not 1.2 mb drives, first thing, google them if you don't know for sure they are 360k drives . Then I would have to say, you may have a logic chip failure in the flex card or a DSR conflict somewhere? Not knowing your set up. Also could be a signal not processing out of the side of the TI itself, but I am not an expert. 


Edited by RickyDean, Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:27 AM.


#24 mr_gw454 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 5, 2019 9:05 AM

Hey everyone - latest update.

 

I was able to find another set of drives to borrow/test.  Mitsumi D502 (aka TRS-80 Color Computer FD-502).  I was able to obtain the correct molex power adapters (as these drives use a much smaller power plug).  I was also able to figure out the correct jumper settings to set the drive select properly.

 

I am now able to initialize disks, but these drives have there own set of problems (perhaps need cleaning, etc.).

 

In any case, hard to believe I had 2 drives go bad (in the same way) and can do everything but initialize disks.  Such a strange issue.  I'm now looking for an inexpensive pair of good drives as I still like to use "old-school" disks on occasion.

 

Thank you for everyone's feedback and help!



#25 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 5, 2019 11:31 AM

Good to see the progress!!




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