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The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:59 am
by Cristian
After years of neglect and criticism (both right and unfair), the arrival of Vdrive seems to have turn the tables somehow. Perhaps the interest in microdrive media wasn't as dead as it seemed.
People talk about the Vdrive, they look for it, make videos, buy it… I honestly didn't expect it, but it seems that there is still a remarkable desire for microdrives.

Re: The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 7:51 pm
by bwinkel67
I think with the interest in retro computing, esp during the pandemic, microdrives are this pretty unique device. You can only get so excited about 3 and 3.5 inch floppy media since the latter was so prevelant and the former wasn't that much different, but I find that people look at this tiny endless loop tape with a bit of wonder since it has that same miniaturization charm as HO (or even better, N scale) model railroading. People like working miniaturizations of larger things I suppose.

As far a vDrive, it's a pretty simple medium substitute that just plugs in, works, doesn't take up extra memory if you have a 128K model...in fact, the QL doesn't even know about it other than it's a few extra MDV's...so pretty cool implementation. Has its limits and when the ROM version of the SD card reader is out I'll likely get that too.

Re: The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:56 am
by Derek_Stewart
HI,

The QL is a good computer, but let down by the Microdrive reliability, when I moved to a disk based QL system, the QL was so good it was unbelievable. I have never used the Microdrives as main storage since 1987.

The vDriveQL gives the BBQL the ability to use SD Card, with no memory usage on 128K of ram.

Also if a disk system is used, a Gotek floppy emulator can be used, so many floppy disks can be stored on a USB drive.

It has also been said, there is no floppy disk software, I wonder why I have many disk with commerical QL software, many now freeware and downloadable.

Re: The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:18 pm
by Cristian
bwinkel67 wrote: microdrives are this pretty unique device. [...] vDrive, it's a pretty simple medium substitute that just plugs in, works, doesn't take up extra memory

Yes, this is perfectly true.

Re: The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:50 pm
by Cristian
Derek_Stewart wrote: I have never used the Microdrives as main storage since 1987.

Well, I knew you're not a great microdrive enthusiast :)

Derek_Stewart wrote:It has also been said, there is no floppy disk software, I wonder why

In my opinion there is some confusion: people see many zipped archives and don't think they may contain floppy disk software. Probably they are used to find floppy images (even compressed).

Re: The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 11:26 pm
by Chr$
There's something very satisfying about microdrives when they work. The whirr, those wonderful staccato spins, the different 'rub' as the join of the tape whizzes past the head, the slow comforting dimming of the LED. I especially enjoy seeing the sectors represented on screen when using mdump_task, even more so when they all or mostly go green after the first couple of cycles!

A relic now. Superseded by better alternatives, but a medium integral to original QLs and QLing that will never be forgotten.

Re: The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:32 am
by bwinkel67
My favorite is when you are accessing a large file and the tape moves forward, stops, then moves forward again, stops, and so on with little pause between stops. Like when you copy a long program to console it does that. It partly reinforces that it's a good microdrive and it's so satisfying.

Re: The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:50 am
by Chr$
That's what I mean by the staccato spins.

Re: The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 11:52 am
by tofro
That might be a "nice" observation today. Back then, when your work was relying on the reliability (sic) of the mdvs, following the different sounds that came from the drives was mostly nerve-wracking. ;) For me, this unfortunately never changed. The sound of the drives whirring simply makes me nervous ;)

Re: The little revenge of the microdrive?

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:26 pm
by Chr$
There may well be some rose-tinted glasses in play here ;)