Writing 8" floppies with SuperCard Pro

Jerome H. Fine jhfinedp3k at compsys.to
Wed Aug 12 09:55:30 CDT 2015

 >Josh Dersch wrote:

>Here at the museum I'm evaluating the use of a SuperCard Pro (http://www.cbmstuff.com/proddetail.php?prod=SCP) to archive and duplicate 8" floppies from various machines.  It's not technically supported (the manual states that it *should* work but has not been tested, etc.)  The disks I'm reading are nothing exotic (They're standard double-density, double-sided disks with an IBM format -- I could use a PC and ImageDisk to do the job, but the SuperCard is very convenient, in theory...)
>Thus far I've been successful in creating images of floppies, but less successful in writing them back out.  Thus far I've tried a pair of Shugart 851s and a Qume QumeTrack 842.  I'm using a DBit FDADAP (http://www.dbit.com/fdadap.html) to deal with cabling and the TG43 signals.  (And the 851s are jumpered properly for the TG43 signal, as far as I can tell).  I've also tried a variety of media (Verbatim, Maxell) with the same results (though the position of the bad data varies from attempt to attempt).
>The issue is that upon reading back a disk that has been written via the SuperCard, data is fine up until about cylinder 60, at which point bad sectors start appearing more and more frequently (though most of the data is still OK).  I tried disabling TG43 just to see if it made a difference, and it does - with TG43 disabled sectors written past cylinder 43 read back as garbage.
>I'm running short of ideas.  Anyone else have any experience with this combo?  Any suggestions on troubleshooting tips?
I doubt that this suggestion will help, but it might be
useful for what are called RX03 compatible media.

The RX02 drive from DEC was emulated in hardware
by DSD (Data Systems Design).  DSD Produced a
drive which was named the DSD 880/30 which consisted
of 3 * RL02 internal drives and a single floppy drive which
could read IBM Single Density and DEC Double Density
floppy media.  The DEC names for those two floppy media
were RX01 and RX02.  The actual DEC  RX02 drive was
able to read in both Single Density and Double density modes.
In the case of the DEC  RX01 and DEC  RX02 drives, they
were both Single Sided.  Further DEC did at one point intend
to support a Double Sided drive which I understand was to
be called the DEC  RX03, but it was never released that I
ever heard about.  The software support was specifically
included in V04.00 of RT-11 in the file DY.MAC, but was
probably never tested since the code was incorrect.  By
V05.00 of RT-11, DY.MAC no longer contained the extra
code to support Double Sided media.

DSD extended the support and the DSD 880/30 contained
an RX03 compatible drive which could read Double Density
Double Sided media.  What I don't know is IF the physical
characteristics of the Double Density media which DEC and
DSD supported are identical to the Double Density physical
characteristics of the floppy media to which you refer as having
"an IBM format" since I have never encountered any floppy
media from IBM other than Single Sided / Single Density.

To make matters simple IF the floppy media which you have
are compatible with DEC  RX02 Double Density format, then
with the DSD  RX03 floppy drive, I extended the DY.MAC
file for RT-11 and it now supports reading a Double Sided /
Double Density floppy mounted in a DSD  RX03 drive.  If
you can manage to locate a DSD 880/30 and controller to
run on a DEC  PDP-11/73 with RT-11, then I can make the
DYX.SYS device driver available.  To first make sure that
everything will work with the DSD 880/30, you can test your
floppy to see if a DEC  RX02 can at least read the first side of
your floppy.

Please let me know if you know the answer to if your Double
Sided / Double Density floppy media are DEC  RX02 compatible
on at least the first side.  If that is true, then the DSD 880/30
drive will probably be able to read both sides very easily.

If you have any questions, please ask.

Jerome Fine

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