How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

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taylod74
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How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

Postby taylod74 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:25 pm

Ive just purchased a QL having wanted one since the 80's when they looked like a spectrum on steroids. However now that its arrived I realise I don't know how to use it.

Primarily my real problem is I have 5 Microdrive cartridges , none of which appear to work, but I have no real idea if its the cartridges or the Microdrive itself.....How would I find out , short of testing with a known working Microdrive cartridge ( which I don't have). The Microdrive whirls when I try and load a cartridge but only for a short time. It does this on all of them. If I try and interrogate the cartridge with a dir command the drive / s whirl but then returns a not found message..... Any help appreciated!


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janbredenbeek
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Re: How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

Postby janbredenbeek » Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:08 pm

Have you formatted them first? Command is format mdv1_name or mdv2_name where name can be anything from 1 to 10 characters. This formats the cartridge (which should take about 30 seconds) and display the number of available sectors on the tape (1 sector = 512 bytes).

Jan.


taylod74
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Re: How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

Postby taylod74 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:25 pm

Hi , no I haven't formatted the drives as they are the original 4 pack that was bundled With the machine. I do have a copy of quill though so I could try that. Any thoughts on why it says drive not found when trying a dir ?
Thanks for the response by the way. Appreciated.


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Re: How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

Postby RWAP » Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:04 pm

If a cartridge has not been formatted, then DIR mdv1_ will always report not found (as it cannot find a cartridge in the correct format).

However, the main issue with cartridges is the small felt of pad which sits between the plastic case and the actual tape. This often splits and particles go inside the cartridge and can jam the tape.

From the drive point of view, there are five main issues (in order of seriousness):
a) The tape heads are dirty - use a cotton bud and some alcohol to gently clean the tape head (left to right) - you can just see the silver tape head if you look through the hole at the front of the drive.
b) The small rubber roller on the left hand side might have ridden up the drive shaft from the motor. There should be a gap of approx 0.25mm at the bottom of this roller - no more - if it is more it needs pushing back down (use a thin piece of card to maintain the gap at the bottom).
c) The small rubber roller is badly worn - luckily it is normally the top half which wears away, so you might be able to get away with turning it upside down. I need to chase up some more replacement rollers!
d) The tape head has been damaged
e) The microdrive ULA has failed and needs replacing. The chips are available, but this is not an easy replacement job!

If it is the cartridges, I do have some tested microdrive cartridges (freshly formatted on a QL) with replacement felt pads - see https://www.sellmyretro.com/offer/detai ... dges-21190


taylod74
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Re: How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

Postby taylod74 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 3:09 pm

Thanks Rich, I think ive just ordered a racing game from your website a few days back as a way of testing ! All the info you've provided is great btw, thanks!


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Cristian
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Re: How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

Postby Cristian » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:37 pm

And when entering DIR MDV2_ the red LED illuminates normally but the motor does't start?


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Re: How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

Postby RWAP » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:35 am

Cristian wrote:And when entering DIR MDV2_ the red LED illuminates normally but the motor does't start?


If the cartridge reads in mdv1_ then open up the QL and remove the microdrive roller. Put your finger on the metal shaft and do DIR mdv2_ to check if the motor does actually run (mdv2_ is normally much quieter than mdv1_) - it could be the roller has stuck due to a loose bit of rubber, or is too worn to try and move the tape in the cartridge.

If there is no movement at all, then you need to check that the wires for the microdrive are in place correctly - if someone has taken the microdrive unit out of the QL, it is all too easy to bend one of the thin wires when trying to reconnect it.

If the wiring is OK and there is still no life, then it could be you need a new motor or most likely the microdrive ULA has failed....


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Cristian
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Re: How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

Postby Cristian » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:53 pm

To Rich: Thank you very much for your suggestions: I'll follow them.
To all: I have a doubt. Can MDV 1 and 2 be interchanged without consequences or are they specific? In this case how can I distinguish Mdv1 from Mdv2?


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tofro
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Re: How to test if the drive or the cartridge is broken !

Postby tofro » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:31 pm

Cristian wrote:Can MDV 1 and 2 be interchanged without consequences or are they specific? In this case how can I distinguish Mdv1 from Mdv2?

Drives 1 and 2 are completely interchangeable and in no way specific (if you disregard that drive 1 has most probably suffered more wear during the life-time of the computer than drive 2). They receive their device numbers through their position in the chain of drives.

What doesn't work, however, is when the chain is broken: A drive 2 will not normally work with drive 1 missing.

Tobias



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