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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:32 am 
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My latest acquisition of a PowerMac 6500/250 running Mac OS 9.0.4 has a puzzling problem: it doesn't recognize DSDD or DSHD floppies with files on them; it claims every disk is unformatted and cheerfully offers to 'Initialize' it for me. That's exactly what I don't want, since I need the files on those floppies.

As expected, testing them on Mac OS X with an external floppy drive shows me they are formatted and do contain the software noted on the label.

Ideas? Solutions?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:47 pm 
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hmm floppies are flaky :badteeth:

you could try burning a CD in OS X with all the files if the powermac has a CD drive
are you sure the powermac floppy drive is good? dust it out?
AFP network share
maybe it doesn't like the filesystem on the floppies-- format a floppy on the 9.0.4 system, put that in OS X, put a file on it see if it recongizes
USB PCI card


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:52 pm 
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Have you tried taking the floppy drive apart and blowing the dust out then cleaning the heads with a Q-Tip and alcohol? While disconnected from power, of course.

Floppy drives have always been magnets for dust.

Its possible that the drive is just out of alignment, in which case the only fix I know of is to get a new floppy drive... people more clever than myself may be able to re-align it.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:17 pm 
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mc68k wrote:
hmm floppies are flaky :badteeth:

you could try burning a CD in OS X with all the files if the powermac has a CD drive
are you sure the powermac floppy drive is good? dust it out?

I can't burn a CD, because I only have CD-RW discs, and the PowerMac only reads CD-R discs. The floppy should be good, because it worked when the prior owner bought it, and it cheerfully offers to format any floppy I put in, so it recognizes the floppy is there and can apparently format it, too.

Can't dust it out, because from what I see, it would be very difficult and time-consuming to take this beast apart to get at the floppy, assuming you can.

I was hoping for a diagnosis of a known cause with Mac OS 9.x.x and certain Mac models that might be easily fixed without taking things apart.

MonkeyBoy wrote:
Have you tried taking the floppy drive apart and blowing the dust out then cleaning the heads with a Q-Tip and alcohol? While disconnected from power, of course.

Its possible that the drive is just out of alignment, in which case the only fix I know of is to get a new floppy drive... people more clever than myself may be able to re-align it.

Can't dust it out, because from what I see, it would be very difficult and time-consuming to take this beast apart to get at the floppy, assuming you can.

I was hoping for a diagnosis of a known cause with Mac OS 9.x.x and certain Mac models that might be easily fixed without taking things apart. And if I needed to replace it, I tend to think it would be difficult finding one at a reasonable price for this model. Unless you know of a good source. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:13 pm 
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Nah, you can take 6500s apart. They're an annoying case design though, as I recall it's even more annoying than the 800/840/8500/9500 case. Which is saying something.

Worst case you could spray compressed gas into the front slot, then get a long q-tip and clean the heads through the "dust door." It could be way more annoying than tearing it open, since you basically need 3 hands... one to hold a light to shine in there, another to keep the door kicked open wide, and a third to actually dust/clean.

Edit: Found a service manual for 6400/6500 systems, which would assist in tearing it down. Looks like you can get to it by removing the front bezel, which is held on by two tabs.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:24 pm 
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MonkeyBoy wrote:
Nah, you can take 6500s apart. They're an annoying case design though, as I recall it's even more annoying than the 800/840/8500/9500 case. Which is saying something.

Worst case you could spray compressed gas into the front slot, then get a long q-tip and clean the heads through the "dust door." It could be way more annoying than tearing it open, since you basically need 3 hands... one to hold a light to shine in there, another to keep the door kicked open wide, and a third to actually dust/clean.

Holy crap! Where are those large doses of cancer-causing chemicals that also cause more appendages to materialize when you need them?

Quote:
Edit: Found a service manual for 6400/6500 systems, which would assist in tearing it down. Looks like you can get to it by removing the front bezel, which is held on by two tabs.

May have to make a run to Tarzhay for some compressed air and hope that works. If not, then I'm screwed.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:38 pm 
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Kurt188 wrote:
Holy crap! Where are those large doses of cancer-causing chemicals that also cause more appendages to materialize when you need them?
I believe that particular flavor of compressed gas is sold at Wal-Mart.

Actually if you have sufficiently stout lungs and you open the thing up, you can get in at least one blow before the room is filled with sneeze-inducing dust.

If you happen to have an air compressor (for automotive work or the like) then the output from that would likely work fine. Floppy drives are hardy beasts.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:27 pm 
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The drive is almost certainly dead. Mac floppy drives, unlike PC floppy drives, sense when a disk is inserted. This has nothing to do with being able to read or write to the disk successfully; it's just the position of a sensor in the drive that's actuated when a disk pushes the mechanism just the right way.

Those machines are annoying to take apart, but I don't think it's too hard to remove the floppy drive. That said, I don't remember how to do so, despite probably having done so many, many times. I'll glance at an old "Service Source" CD as soon as I find a computer that will run it.

- Anonymous


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:35 pm 
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Based on his initial post I think its detecting the floppies are inserted, and is simply not recognizing their contents - hence the request to initialize them.

As I recall the floppy & CD drive were far less annoying to gain access to than the HD.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:39 pm 
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MonkeyBoy wrote:
Based on his initial post I think its detecting the floppies are inserted, and is simply not recognizing their contents - hence the request to initialize them.

That was my interpretation as well. I also took his post to imply some degree of questioning that the floppy drive is broken on the basis of it detecting the presence of disks, which is not a fair conclusion given the way Mac floppy drives are designed.

And yeah, floppies suck. No way around it. I remember when Apple killed the floppy drive with the first iMacs. I didn't miss the little blighters for even a second and was a bit confused by people who didn't like that they were gone. Had these people ever used floppies? Ugh. Worst technology ever*, a sort of trifecta of misery in terms of reliability, performance, and capacity. Not to mention the drives were never really cheap, and the disks themselves weren't cheap until after they were solidly obsolete and AOL started sending them to you for free in the mail every other week.

- Anonymous

* Actually there are several contenders, but I'm not sure that "worst" can be meaningfully reduced from many varied technologies that each sucked in their own peculiar and inscrutable ways.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:43 pm 
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True. I just remember a lot of very dusty drives doing this exact same thing.

Given the age it could have been wanged out of alignment by rough handling, in which case its basically dead.

Not to imply my guess is better than yours, no matter what its a bit of a crapshoot...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:48 pm 
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I've successfully cleaned a couple of floppy drives, but I've tried with a lot more. It certainly won't hurt anything.

If he just bought the computer, the drive might have filled up with cruft that got dislodged on the way home, after sitting peacefully on other parts of the drive for 15 years.

- Anonymous


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:51 pm 
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Oh, and if you get the drive out of the system, write down its make & model, then search eBay for it... or reply here so we (/I) can do some sleuthing.

I found some drives but I don't know which, or if any, would fit in the 6500:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/200798654255
http://www.ebay.com/itm/150861713008
http://www.ebay.com/itm/260674251745
http://www.ebay.com/itm/200800609898


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:56 pm 
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There were two 1.4 MB floppy drives used in Macs.

One in older Macs had an "auto insert" mechanism that pulled the disk the rest of the way in to the drive once it was pushed far enough. These were used in older models, basically up to but not including the Performas and PowerMacs. The Apple service part number for these drives was 661-0474.

The more recent (in a relative sense) drives didn't have an auto insert mechanism, were slightly shorter, mechanically simpler, and cheaper to make. This is the model that was used in the PowerMac 6500. The part number for it was 661-0121.

I remember these part numbers very distinctly because I've replaced hundreds of each. You can still search on these part numbers to find drives.

In monkeyboy's eBay links, the second from the bottom is a 661-0121 type drive. I think the bottom one is as well. You can see these are very different and much shorter than the drive in the first link which shows a 661-0474 type drive.

Apple used many different drive sleds for these two drives, so the machine-specific part is the sled. It's usually held on to the drive by one to four screws, and may be reused from the current drive.

- Anonymous


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:34 pm 
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I know lots of people despise floppy drives, but for anyone with a vintage Mac, they are a necessity because lots of older software is only available on floppy disk and is not archived anywhere online. Compared to the newer technologies, floppies may suck but that's what everybody says when a newer (better?) technology comes along. But there are disadvantages to every storage method, no matter how great people may feel about it at the time it's in use.

I'll first have to try cleaning out the detritus using some compressed air and see if that makes it recognize the contents of the floppy, although I have severe doubts about that. So I may just have to buy a new floppy drive no matter what.

I like the auto inject drives; it's too bad I can't install one of those in the 6500, but even if I can, eBay sellers want way too much for them. That auto inject capability can't be that expensive to add to a drive, so I think there's some price gouging going on with those.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:14 pm 
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Have you looked for a USB Floppy Drive to maybe read them at least?

What size are these Floppies?

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sabrent-USB-E ... ck/9871217


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:16 pm 
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He'd need a USB PCI card that works with OS 9, and even then I don't think most of the drives work with Mac 800K floppies.

- Anonymous


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:22 pm 
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Right, 400K/800K Floppies wouldn't work, & I do have a USB card for PM6500 somewhere, but IIwas thinking another Mac for the USB drive & copying to the 6500. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:45 am 
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The 6500 isn't USB-compatible unless you have a USB PCI card, are running OS 9 by default and have the proper drivers installed. While I could use my USB drive attached to my iMac G4 if the 6500 had a USB PCI card, that would be inconvenient, and if I were to sell the 6500 it wouldn't do them any good unless they had a functioning built-in floppy drive that would read both 800k and 1.4 MB floppies.


Last edited by Kurt188 on Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:03 am 
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Except for software that absolutely needed a floppy in the drive, shouldn't it be possible to image those floppies from a machine that can read them? SMI's? Disk Copy 4.2?

If you have an old OSX (10.2) capable machine this might help you along the way. 10.6 and later won't create disk images compatible with OS9.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:43 am 
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Most people despise floppies because it's trendy to despise floppies. If Apple has their way soon it'll be trendy to despise optical drives.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:23 am 
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the AFP share method may be the best option: connect both computers to the same network. on the OS 9 machine clear out old settings in TCP/IP, turn on DHCP. enable file sharing in OS X. on the OS 9 machine go to chooser look for the OS X share


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:22 am 
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Ah, one of the reasons I hold onto my upgraded Beige G3 Desktop (500 Mhz, USB/Firewire Card, CD-RW, 256 MB RAM and, of course, the internal floppy drive). I haven't tried using the Floppy in, oh... at least 4 years, so don't know. Actually I keep this one in my office at work with an old UMax 1200S Scanner so that I can scan documents, OCR, etc. The scanner still works like a champ!

Ah well, sorry for the mini-hijack. But I likes them old machines, I don't likes (misspelling for fun) losing capabilities. I think somewhere at home I have an external USB Floppy drive.

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:59 am 
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ESprung wrote:
...Beige G3...Actually I keep this one in my office at work with an old UMax 1200S Scanner...

Interestingly, I have a beige G3 in my office at this very moment sitting on top of, you guessed it, a Umax 1200S scanner. :)

The big difference is that I never use mine. The scanner probably needs to be recycled at this point. The G3 I need to keep for accessing old backups.

- Anonymous


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:23 pm 
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Get a blank or unneeded floppy. Inset it into the drive. Format it about a dozen times, and don't worry if it fails the first few. This will exercise the stepper motor worm drive that usually gets a good coating of dust on it and causes the drive to go out of alignment. This should clean the mechanism well enough that is should work again, unless it is particularly dirty.

Eric


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