Retro Challenge - 2015/01 - Day 9

Its Melting...

Found the issue with the tape drive, it was as I had read on the internet. The capstan roller that moves the tape is covered in rubber, due to the rubber not being cured correctly it has degraded into a pile of goo.

You can see the roller inside its the orange bit, it should be round but has melted and dripped into a pool of goo on the bottom of the drive.

Fixing The Drive

Well I decided to remove the roller from the old unit and replace it on the new one, the new drive works apart from the issue with the roller where the other drive was dead but had a good roller that is intact.

I opened up the casing on the unit that has the old drive and found the reason it wasn't working, the power lead had fallen out inside the casing.

Checking The Tapes

Once I had the unit working ok I powered up the MDFS and went to the tape menu.

I had a brand new tape in its packaging so I decided to try to backup the hard disk.
After formatting the tape (which took about 40 minutes) I selected the backup option and entered the first partition to backup, the drive took a while and finally started to check the backup. Once done I tried to verify the tape just to check everything was ok.

I had a bunch of opened tapes and put them through the verification, they were mostly ok but there are parts where the tape has oxidised and they are basically dead.

Going to see if I can find some new ones on ebay so that I can backup the other drives.

Retro Challenge - 2015/01 - Day 6

BBC Failure

Got out one of my nice looking and clean BBCs thinking that it would be less likely to have issues.

Plugged the machine in and connected to the monitor.

Nasty smell and the famous white smoke started pouring out of the power supply.
Guess that's another one that needs the capacitors replacing.

Tape Drive

Got the new tape drive unit from storage and plugged it in, all looks good it has the correct lights etc and tries to load the tape.

Unfortunately nothing is moving inside the tape, looking inside the unit it looks like the pinch roller inside has perished, apparently this is quite common. So now need to see if I can replace it with a suitable alternative.

Retro Challenge - 2015/01 - Day 5

MDFS Setup

Started by setting up the main MDFS unit, and attaching the floppy drive unit to it.
After some searching on the internet found the manual for it.

Now connected my serial cable (which is a standard PC 9 pin to 5 pin DIN connector on the MDFS side), luckily this is the same as the BBC and I managed to find my already wired cable so didn't require soldering a new one.

The MDFS has the coolest on button (or rather a key). To start the server in normal mode you turn it to "Secure" or to "System" if you want to be able to enable "Utility Mode" or access certain functions from a networked BBC once it is running.

To stat off I turned on the MDFS an put the key to the "System" setting.

The power light now comes on and the "Discs Free" light starts to flash.

Now I started a terminal emulator and connected it to COM3 of my PC, pressing return gets a response from a monitor program that is ready to load the main system.

Now I inserted the system boot disk and pressed the "Release Discs" button on the front of the unit.

The disk drives are now polled and the system loads the main boot code from the disc, the "Discs Free" light now goes solid and the "Utility Mode" light also comes on.

At this point if I press return on the terminal I get the following menu.

There are various options available including "Boot the fileserver" which take the system out of utility mode and starts serving files on the network. If I mounted another disk you can serve just floppy discs to the network (this is what the original Acorn fileserver did).

Next I added the hard disc unit and the tape system unit to the stack.

On rebooting I found that the system will boot from the hard disk as it already has the boot code required installed, this means I don't need the floppy disk anymore.

Checking The Discs

After booting back into utility mode I used the "L" item on the menu to check the discs on the system, it turns out that I have 3 hard discs and a tape drive (I didn't realise the tape unit had a hard disc inside).

The discs reported are...

FUJITSU  M2611S
Ver 0703

F : Name: FS1   41600K

SEAGATE  ST277N-1
Ver 040C0800

I1: Name: FS2   61360K
I2: Name: FS3   1040K

FUJITSU  M2616S
Ver 1002

J1: Name: FS4   61360K
J2: Name: FS5   36400K

So there is a 40Mb, 60Mb and a 100mb drive split into 5 partitions.

I also tried to access the tape drive but this doesn't seem to want to work, I have a spare brand new unit in storage so I will bring that over and try it.

Also ran the verify on the discs, F is fine, J has one block on partition 2 that its not happy about and drive I seems totally on is way out. (Too be honest the drive doesn't sound that good).