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cwilbar

SuperCard Pro check media failures

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I had not been aware that there was a utility to check media.  I've had a difficult time getting a working Encounter copy created from images I made of my genuine Encounter disk.  The atx from reading it runs in Altirra.  However I've yet to get a written out disk to work on real hardware (I've written the .scp, I've written the .atx with -p91, etc... to no avail so far.

 

However, that isn't what the post is about.  I have checked several disks now using the media check capability.  Not a single disk passes with clicking retry.  Not one.  Even with freshly cleaned heads and new old stock (3M) diskettes.

 

I do plan on trying another drive just to be sure it isn't something to do with the drive....  but I'm wondering what experience others have had with the media check feature.  I'm running the latest software.

 

My SCP is using a standard PC twist floppy cable with only one drive currently attached.  There is a terminator present on the 5.25" drive.

 

How does the SCP handle testing 5.25" media (I do have to turn the slider down from 80 tracks to 40 tracks as my drive is a 48tpi drive) ?  Could it be testing with improper write currents (i.e. for the higher coercivity media of HD 5.25" disks) ?

 

 

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As a follow up here... on the Encounter issue, I did finally write a successful copy using a8rawconv and write the .scp image to a different floppy.  Seems that the first floppy (new 3M out of the box) was the issue.

 

I still am unable to get a successful media check on any blank 5.25" floppy I've tried (which has only been about a half dozen so far).  I have successfully written (and boot tested) 30 of my originals so far with the drive (unlike the prior Toshiba drive I was using that turned out to not be reading well and ~29 out of 30 disks written with that one wouldn't boot).  This current drive has faired much better (and is only one of 3 drives I have that can write a flippy w/o an index hole detected).

 

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when you say 'blank' do you mean not formatted at all? if so, that makes perfect sense... there's nothing there to check...

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2 hours ago, cwilbar said:

I have successfully written (and boot tested) 30 of my originals so far with the drive (unlike the prior Toshiba drive I was using that turned out to not be reading well and ~29 out of 30 disks written with that one wouldn't boot).  This current drive has faired much better (and is only one of 3 drives I have that can write a flippy w/o an index hole detected).

 

What is "the drive", which is so good?

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11 hours ago, _The Doctor__ said:

when you say 'blank' do you mean not formatted at all? if so, that makes perfect sense... there's nothing there to check...

AFAIK the test is a media test to qualify the media.  It writes then reads some flux pattern(s).  I get the same results on any disk, formatted or bulk erased.

 

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10 hours ago, TheMontezuma said:

What is "the drive", which is so good?

48TPI drives I have that will do a flippy w/o a second index hole:

 

Toshiba FDD 5445A0N 01 REV A

Toshiba FDD 6471L0K 01 REV A (this one gave me mixed reliability reads and non reliable writes (almost every written disk fails; I think the drive is out of alignment or something)

TEAC FD-54B-02-U

 

I have a Panasonic model I have to test still.

 

I have not tested any of my 1.2M 5.25" drives for flippy compatability.

 

I believe that at least some TEAC models with an EX jumper when used (vs I think JX ?) will do this as well, if I'm remembering what I've read correctly.

 

I'm currently using the TEAC FD-54B-02-U for imaging my original Atari disks and writing out the backups.

 

 

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For Atari disks I find the 1.2m drives are not as good at reading problematic Atari media... I suspect you'll find the same

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With the head at half the width, I'd imagine for problematic disks it would not be as good... especially depending on how the disk was scratched/worn/etc in that narrower region vs having the full width head where you might get more of the good signal.

 

Does anyone have any experience with the SuperCard Pros media check function ?  Do others have this same issue with the media check ?

 

-- Curt

 

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I tried some various drives I had (not all).

 

TEAC FD54-B will randomly throw errors

Shugart SA455-3AA will throw the occasional random error

Panasonic JU-455-5AAB works flawlessly

Alps DFC222B05A works flawlessly

Toshiba FDD5445A0N works flawlessly

 

When track errors are detected, looking at the track with the explorer will find one spot in the track with random dots in a vertical column.

 

I did find someone else on cbmstuff.com's forums who was experiencing the same thing.

 

All drives were tested using the same exact floppy disk, in the same enclosure with the same power supply.  Only variable was the drive.

 

I was writing disks fine with the FD54-B, but I can't use it to test media.

 

For now I've switched to the Panasoinc as I can test media and read/write disks, including flippies (no need for an index hole).

 

 

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Updated drive list for index free flippy support on Supercard Pro

 

Toshiba FDD 5445A0N 01 REV A

Toshiba FDD 6471L0K 01 REV A

TEAC FD-54B-02-U

Shugart SA455-3AA

Panasonic JU-455-5AAB (runs media test fine as well)

 

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I swear trying too archive my originals with the SuperCard Pro is going to drive me nuts.

 

I did a splice 4 scp image of Axis Assassin and Hard Hat Mack.  Neither would boot in Altirra (using accurate disk timings).

 

I did a splice 5 scp image (and checked index sensor on even though it was grayed out), and re-imaged them, made atx's, and they worked.

(I don't know if it is luck, splice   vs 4, or index sensor on vs off (even though grayed out when set to splice mode it lets you check it).

 

The hardware is great, the software still has some issues (like, a grayed out option usually can't be checked, so when I check it on, is it turning on when it is grayed out, or not ?).

I guess I can try to verify that by checking index on while using splice mode and try to read a flippy (since it can't read the index hole).  If it errors, then I know that clicking the grayed out option turns it on despite it being gray.

 

Maybe I should be using a8rawconv to take the original scp images ?

 

This product has been around for some time now, I though it would be fully 'cooked'... but I've had sensitivy to drive issues (with media test), and odd issues like this (where these titles use scewing protection).

 

What do others use for setting s?

 

I tried index on these two titles, and it didn't work and just about every track had a missing sector when there shouldn't be any missing).

 

 

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With Index enabled in splice mode it is indeed reading the index, and imaging a flippy will not work.

 

The UI deciding when to gray something and not, made it very confusing what can/can't be enabled, and what should/shouldn't be used....

 

Still learning about this thing I guess 🙂

 

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I recently went with the SuperCard Pro option since the Kryoflux continues to be blocked for shipping to the USA, and I'd been using a TEAC FD-55GFR with a previous floppy capture device-- but I didn't see it mentioned in the list here. Should I expect any problems, and are there any specifics I need to be made aware of before I return to disk archiving, this time with the SCP? So far, someone noted to read to 41 for extra information, but is there anything else?

 

Thanks, in advance,

--Tim

 

 

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I know some use the FD-55GFR, and if you are going to archive any old 8 bit era software that uses half tracks (Apple, C64), you'll need the narrow head and 'half' step capability (in reality to read 40 track disks it double steps, so to read half tracks it only steps once 🙂 ).

 

I'm archiving my Atari software now, which never used half tracks.  So I'm using a 48tpi Panasonic JU-455 drive currently.  But I do have a lot of C64 software to archive.  I prefer using a 48tpi drive, especially for writing (if you are going to write disks at all with the FD-55GFR, you want to make sure you fully bulk erase the floppies first with a bulk eraser, otherwise when you write a track it is half the width, and if any of an old track that was full width remains, when used on a 'full width' head its going to pick up new signal and old signal.

 

It has taken me a bit to get use to the nuances of the different options/software UI.  I'd really like to have an 'advanced' UI which has a lot of checkboxes/pull downs on one page that lets me define the format.  When I have to read the backside of a flippy I get tired of having to go up to the menus to navigate to not requiring the index signal.

 

 

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On 7/9/2020 at 10:58 AM, Timothy Kline said:

I recently went with the SuperCard Pro option since the Kryoflux continues to be blocked for shipping to the USA, and I'd been using a TEAC FD-55GFR with a previous floppy capture device-- but I didn't see it mentioned in the list here. Should I expect any problems, and are there any specifics I need to be made aware of before I return to disk archiving, this time with the SCP? So far, someone noted to read to 41 for extra information, but is there anything else?

As noted, the main limitations are around reading the flippy side, or writing back. Otherwise, almost any drive will work.

 

Btw, note that there is also now a free DIY alternative to Kryoflux and SCP:

 

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On 7/9/2020 at 10:58 AM, Timothy Kline said:

So far, someone noted to read to 41 for extra information, but is there anything else?

 

Sorry, forgot to comment about that .. Yes, please dump at least one extra full track at 48 tpi, or two at 96. That would mean tracks 0-40 and 0-81 respectively. Sometimes, but not always, those extra tracks have useful information

 

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Extra tracks depends on your platform.  No data being the 40th track is readable on an Atari 8 bit, so there would be no point in attempting to dump extra tracks for Atari 8 bit software.

 

However, many other platforms can exceed the normal # of tracks,  I believe PC, Apple II, Atari ST, C64/128 can.  Not sure about TRS-80. 

 

There is a handy feature in the Supercard Pro software that can figure out how many tracks your drive can read.  Back in my early PC days, I used a custom formatter for floppies to throw in 1 or 2 extra tracks, and IIRC an extra sector per track to get more data on a floppy.  The limiting factor is the usually the floppy mechanism.

 

 

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1 hour ago, cwilbar said:

Extra tracks depends on your platform.  No data being the 40th track is readable on an Atari 8 bit, so there would be no point in attempting to dump extra tracks for Atari 8 bit software.

 

Sorry but you are wrong. Just because a standard Atari drive can't access those tracks, that doesn't mean that there is no useful information there. I explained this several times already. Search for duplicator signatures. You should find some posts of mine about the subject ... an "interesting" example is here:

 

 

Please do not disseminate false information, especially for something sensitive as preservation. Thanks.

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8 minutes ago, ijor said:

 

Sorry but you are wrong. Just because a standard Atari drive can't access those tracks, that doesn't mean that there is no useful information there. I explained this several times already. Search for duplicator signatures. You should find some posts of mine about the subject ... an "interesting" example is here:

 

 

Please do not disseminate false information, especially for something sensitive as preservation. Thanks.

I think wrong is a bit strong.  OK, hard core archivists may find interesting bits there.... but for functionality/duplication on Atair 8 bits, 0-39 or 1-40 depending on how you like to count is all that is required.

If you want to duplicate stuff that the Atari never could reach or use that has been stuffed above the 40 tracks, then sure.... but it will not make any difference in terms of software use/duplication (for 8 bit Ataris).

 

So, apologies to archivists who may have read my response regarding Atari 8 bits and 40 tracks.  Please do preserve these bits beyond the last track if that is your thing.  If your not an archivist and you only care about making usable ATR, ATX, SCP files for use with emulators, Sdrive Max, writing back to blank media, then you don't need to worry about extra tracks.

 

I'm now off to read @ijor's post, as while I may not be interested in archiving beyond the 40 tracks (for Atari 8bits), I am curious as to what has been found there 🙂

 

 

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1 hour ago, cwilbar said:

If your not an archivist and you only care about making usable ATR, ATX, SCP files for use with emulators, Sdrive Max, writing back to blank media, then you don't need to worry about extra tracks

But then, while you are at it, why not invest in a few kB more and make the archivists happy too? ;)

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I suppose if that is your goal...  though at that point, you ARE an archivist 🙂

 

I have to go through all of my titles, as I think I have some things that may not have been preserved yet.  As I've already done my imaging, maybe I can use the explorer tool to go back and look at any disks I'm contributing to see if there is any data on the 41st track.

 

Does .ATX support more than 40 tracks ?

I do keep .SCPs in addition to the .ATX and .ATR files I create from the .SCP files, but I've never looked to see if ATX supports something the Atari could never see/access.

 

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5 hours ago, cwilbar said:

I think wrong is a bit strong.  OK, hard core archivists may find interesting bits there.... but for functionality/duplication on Atair 8 bits, 0-39 or 1-40 depending on how you like to count is all that is required.

Sorry if I was a bit too harsh. But I do think you were definitely wrong. You said "there would be no point in attempting to dump extra tracks for Atari 8 bit software", and that is certainly not correct, there is a point. And I did wanted to stress the importance because otherwise people would forget to include the extra tracks when preserving disks.

Quote

If you want to duplicate stuff that the Atari never could reach or use that has been stuffed above the 40 tracks, then sure.... but it will not make any difference in terms of software use/duplication (for 8 bit Ataris).

I should add that is not 100% accurate to say that the Atari can't never reach and read data on track 40. A stock drive can't, but an enhanced drive like a Happy or SuperArchiver certainly can. Conceivable, data on track 40 might have been used as a special copy protection method for a disk that was designed to run only on an enhanced drive. As a matter of fact, we have seen some special protections on some european titles for enhanced drives. I don't recall a case on track 40, but I wouldn't rule it out it exists.

 

Quote

Does .ATX support more than 40 tracks ?

 

In theory yes, although most software will ignore it. But in this case it won't help. The duplication signature is usually not part of a regular sector. Sometimes it is even not on track 40 but on a "regular" outer track. This is because usually it is recorded on the first unused track. So if the specific title uses, say, only tracks 0-29, the signature might be on track 30. But even then you still won't be able to read it with a standard drive because, again, it is (usually) not inside a normal sector.

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Very interesting that they put that stuff on the disks.  Never knew that they put stuff beyond the data area like that.  Learn something new all the time.  I could see it being useful if they standardized its location so they could easily identify runs, duplication system, lines, dates, times, etc....  For something like that a standard location would make the most sense (so they wouldn't need to scan a disk to find it).

 

As for the possible existence of an Atari 8bit protection scheme that requires an enhanced drive that could then access track 40.... I can see this could be possible.... but other than protection that is for software for use with specific enhanced drives (i.e. duplication software), I can't see the point (as you'd eliminate everyone who didn't have the specific drive enhancement).  For ordinary games, applications, they generally program to the lowest common denominator for broadest compatability.

 

For myself, I'm looking to minimize use of my originals, preserve other disks, etc.  For my use, I'm not concerned with if I write out a copy that it contain these markers that are unrelated to the execution of the software. 

 

I conceded for pure archiving, wanting to capture every thing as accurately as possible that there is an interest in doing so.  But they just as well could have done a track 40.5, or 40.75.  As presumably duplication machines could do anything they want.  They probably could have done the precursor to Sony PS1 and written data on a wobbly track beyond track 39 (why, who knows, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were machines that could do it 🙂 ).

 

So, there could be markers/etc that even with Supercard Pro, Kryoflux, etc that we can not get to/duplicate.  We may never know if we've truly archived any given title including these markers (that doesn't diminish the effort for those that want to do so however).

 

With my original answer I was speaking more of a practical use point, and not an archivists point of view.  I probably should have thought that out and been clear about that.

 

AFAIK, there are protections for some platforms that do use extra tracks.  Just not Atari 8 bit (except a remote possibility in that previously mentioned 'corner case').

 

 

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Posted (edited)

@cwilbar,

 

Run the media test on a disk (you can select IGNORE to do the entire disk if you want to) and then make an image of that disk using INDEX mode and send it to me (data @ cbmstuff.com) and I can tell you exactly why the media test is failing. 

 

The media test writes a single frequency to the disk, reads it back, and analyzes it to determine if there are spurious emissions that are typical for bad media.  Usually when someone reports this, there is an issue with the drive not outputting data correctly or within a timely manner.  If you use the editor/analyzer to read the track and then click on the FLUX DISPLAY button you can graphically see what is going on.  If you see *any* amount of red in that flux display then there is an issue with the drive sending data.  This could be a problem with drive electronics delaying the read data.  Typically if that is the case then the drive is not a good candidate for archiving disks because the data start vs. the index mark would be off a lot when a read is attempted.

 

Edited by JimDrew

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Thanks @JimDrew !

 

Over the next couple of days I'll hook that mechanism back up and do this.

 

As I recall looking in the analyzer, there is a 'spike' of out of position 'bits' on the graph.  Sort of like the start of track, end of track, or something with an overlap.

 

The errors are random in occurrence .... never happening on the same tracks during repeat testing.  When I switched to my Panasonic 360K mechanism, I had no issues media testing.  I did read and write floppies with the TEAC drive that would not run a successful media test.  That doesn't mean every read or write would be dependable however. 

 

Thanks Jim.... I'll do that test and send you an index read of the disk for you to confirm.

 

 

 

 

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