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Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller?

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  • toml_12953
    Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that s readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time
    Message 1 of 22 , Jul 3, 2013
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      Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
    • mfeberhard
      I don t think so. The Altair controller was sold before disk formats were standardized (before the Western Digital disk controller chips became available). The
      Message 2 of 22 , Jul 3, 2013
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        I don't think so. The Altair controller was sold before disk formats were standardized (before the Western Digital disk controller chips became available). The Altair format is unique, as is its software interface. I am pretty sure nobody made a clone of the Altair controller.

        I got both of my Altair disk controller board sets by buying trashed Altairs that had disk controller board sets in them...

        -Martin E.

        --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@...> wrote:
        >
        > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
        >
      • tkaragiris
        I was in the same boat. I bought an 88-DCDD drive a while back. It was cheap enough to justify buying it without the controllers. I searched for the
        Message 3 of 22 , Jul 3, 2013
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          I was in the same boat. I bought an 88-DCDD drive a while back. It was cheap enough to justify buying it without the controllers. I searched for the existence of a "compatible" controller but found nothing.

          I managed to get hold of two sets of controllers, one from an ebay purchase and one from the purchase of a parts system.


          --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@...> wrote:
          >
          > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
          >
        • deramp5113
          Ok, this has gotten me thinking. First, a few questions for Martin, Tom Sanderson, etc.: Are the required Pertec drives still reasonably available and if so,
          Message 4 of 22 , Jul 4, 2013
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            Ok, this has gotten me thinking.

            First, a few questions for Martin, Tom Sanderson, etc.: Are the required Pertec drives still reasonably available and if so, are they typically still useable and maintainable drives? Second, are the 8" hard sector floppy disks still reasonably "available" for purchase anywhere?

            If the answer to the preceding questions are "yes," then I'd like to build an S100 controller board to provide a 100% compatible Altair floppy drive system.

            If the answer is "no," then what about the same questions in regard to one of the common Shugart model drives (e.g., 800 series). I'm thinking the new controller board could make these drives look exactly like an Altair floppy from the Altair computer's and Altair software's perspective. If the floppy itself could not be read between an original Altair floppy drive and the "new" floppy drive, that is not really a show-stopper anymore because disks can easily be exchanged via the Internet as .dsk files like we now have in the Files section. You can always archive/restore your own floppy disks on your own hardware into/from .dsk files. This means everyone's drives are "compatible."

            Finally, if none of the 8 inch drives are a good solution, then the new controller could interface to the ubiquitous 3.5 inch floppy drives and make them look identical in format (from the Altair's perspective) to the original Altair floppy drives and disk layout. Each 3.5 inch floppy would be equivalent to one 8 inch Altair floppy. Ignore the 1.44MB, IBM format thoughts in your head - the new controller would only use about 330K on each disk and make the format look identical to the original Altair floppy as far as any software running on the Altair could tell. Though media would obviously not be interchangeable with an original Altair drive, the content is identical and can be exchanged without conversion via a .dsk file as mentioned previously.

            Thoughts?

            Mike

            --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@...> wrote:
            >
            > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
            >
          • mfeberhard
            I ve scavenged quite a few Pertec drives - both the FD400-type (with 24VDC spindle motor) and the FD500-type (with the 120VAC spindle motor). Most of them are
            Message 5 of 22 , Jul 4, 2013
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              I've scavenged quite a few Pertec drives - both the FD400-type (with 24VDC spindle motor) and the FD500-type (with the 120VAC spindle motor). Most of them are not in great shape.

              The plastics have grown brittle - cracked door components are common. The white ones have all aged yellow.

              The spindle motor bearings are often dry, requiring disassembly and re-lubrication.

              Most have required realignment. (Relubricating the bearings will force a realignment...)

              That said, I would prefer to have restored Pertec drives on my Altairs than anything else. For me, half the fun is getting this old gear working again.

              On the other hand, I am pretty sure that I could adapt a Shugart SA800/1 to work with the Altair controller. SA800s are readily available, and are usually in good shape. (I even found one new in box!) All but the very oldest of these drives have a jumper on them that lets you set them up for soft sector use (SA800 mode) or hard sector mode (SA801 mode). I think I should be able to set the SA800 jumpers correctly and build an adapter cable for the Altair controller.

              Also, with alignment, the diskettes ought to be interchangeable with Pertec drives... (though I agree that your FLOP2PC software makes interchangeability much less of an issue!)

              -Martin

              --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "deramp5113" <deramp5113@...> wrote:
              >
              > Ok, this has gotten me thinking.
              >
              > First, a few questions for Martin, Tom Sanderson, etc.: Are the required Pertec drives still reasonably available and if so, are they typically still useable and maintainable drives? Second, are the 8" hard sector floppy disks still reasonably "available" for purchase anywhere?
              >
              > If the answer to the preceding questions are "yes," then I'd like to build an S100 controller board to provide a 100% compatible Altair floppy drive system.
              >
              > If the answer is "no," then what about the same questions in regard to one of the common Shugart model drives (e.g., 800 series). I'm thinking the new controller board could make these drives look exactly like an Altair floppy from the Altair computer's and Altair software's perspective. If the floppy itself could not be read between an original Altair floppy drive and the "new" floppy drive, that is not really a show-stopper anymore because disks can easily be exchanged via the Internet as .dsk files like we now have in the Files section. You can always archive/restore your own floppy disks on your own hardware into/from .dsk files. This means everyone's drives are "compatible."
              >
              > Finally, if none of the 8 inch drives are a good solution, then the new controller could interface to the ubiquitous 3.5 inch floppy drives and make them look identical in format (from the Altair's perspective) to the original Altair floppy drives and disk layout. Each 3.5 inch floppy would be equivalent to one 8 inch Altair floppy. Ignore the 1.44MB, IBM format thoughts in your head - the new controller would only use about 330K on each disk and make the format look identical to the original Altair floppy as far as any software running on the Altair could tell. Though media would obviously not be interchangeable with an original Altair drive, the content is identical and can be exchanged without conversion via a .dsk file as mentioned previously.
              >
              > Thoughts?
              >
              > Mike
              >
              > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@> wrote:
              > >
              > > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
              > >
              >
            • mfeberhard
              Regarding hard sector 8 diskette availability: I have accumulated quite a few of these over the years on eBay. Some are used, some are new in box. Used ones
              Message 6 of 22 , Jul 4, 2013
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                Regarding hard sector 8" diskette availability: I have accumulated quite a few of these over the years on eBay. Some are used, some are new in box. Used ones are about 50% trashed (scratched). I had one batch of really bad "new in box" diskettes that left oxide residue all over my read/write heads. (these were unbranded, in plain white boxes) The rest have been fine.

                I am told that brand new hard sector diskettes are available online - I think Corey just bought some?

                -Martin

                --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "mfeberhard" <eberhard@...> wrote:
                >
                > I've scavenged quite a few Pertec drives - both the FD400-type (with 24VDC spindle motor) and the FD500-type (with the 120VAC spindle motor). Most of them are not in great shape.
                >
                > The plastics have grown brittle - cracked door components are common. The white ones have all aged yellow.
                >
                > The spindle motor bearings are often dry, requiring disassembly and re-lubrication.
                >
                > Most have required realignment. (Relubricating the bearings will force a realignment...)
                >
                > That said, I would prefer to have restored Pertec drives on my Altairs than anything else. For me, half the fun is getting this old gear working again.
                >
                > On the other hand, I am pretty sure that I could adapt a Shugart SA800/1 to work with the Altair controller. SA800s are readily available, and are usually in good shape. (I even found one new in box!) All but the very oldest of these drives have a jumper on them that lets you set them up for soft sector use (SA800 mode) or hard sector mode (SA801 mode). I think I should be able to set the SA800 jumpers correctly and build an adapter cable for the Altair controller.
                >
                > Also, with alignment, the diskettes ought to be interchangeable with Pertec drives... (though I agree that your FLOP2PC software makes interchangeability much less of an issue!)
                >
                > -Martin
                >
                > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "deramp5113" <deramp5113@> wrote:
                > >
                > > Ok, this has gotten me thinking.
                > >
                > > First, a few questions for Martin, Tom Sanderson, etc.: Are the required Pertec drives still reasonably available and if so, are they typically still useable and maintainable drives? Second, are the 8" hard sector floppy disks still reasonably "available" for purchase anywhere?
                > >
                > > If the answer to the preceding questions are "yes," then I'd like to build an S100 controller board to provide a 100% compatible Altair floppy drive system.
                > >
                > > If the answer is "no," then what about the same questions in regard to one of the common Shugart model drives (e.g., 800 series). I'm thinking the new controller board could make these drives look exactly like an Altair floppy from the Altair computer's and Altair software's perspective. If the floppy itself could not be read between an original Altair floppy drive and the "new" floppy drive, that is not really a show-stopper anymore because disks can easily be exchanged via the Internet as .dsk files like we now have in the Files section. You can always archive/restore your own floppy disks on your own hardware into/from .dsk files. This means everyone's drives are "compatible."
                > >
                > > Finally, if none of the 8 inch drives are a good solution, then the new controller could interface to the ubiquitous 3.5 inch floppy drives and make them look identical in format (from the Altair's perspective) to the original Altair floppy drives and disk layout. Each 3.5 inch floppy would be equivalent to one 8 inch Altair floppy. Ignore the 1.44MB, IBM format thoughts in your head - the new controller would only use about 330K on each disk and make the format look identical to the original Altair floppy as far as any software running on the Altair could tell. Though media would obviously not be interchangeable with an original Altair drive, the content is identical and can be exchanged without conversion via a .dsk file as mentioned previously.
                > >
                > > Thoughts?
                > >
                > > Mike
                > >
                > > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@> wrote:
                > > >
                > > > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
                > > >
                > >
                >
              • corey986
                I did buy NOS hard sector disks from Athana, but I got 5 1/4 for my northstar drive. Come to think about it I should contact them and see if they still have
                Message 7 of 22 , Jul 4, 2013
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                  I did buy NOS hard sector disks from Athana, but I got 5 1/4 for my northstar drive. Come to think about it I should contact them and see if they still have 8" disks and buy a couple of boxes.

                  Cheers,
                  Corey

                  --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "mfeberhard" <eberhard@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Regarding hard sector 8" diskette availability: I have accumulated quite a few of these over the years on eBay. Some are used, some are new in box. Used ones are about 50% trashed (scratched). I had one batch of really bad "new in box" diskettes that left oxide residue all over my read/write heads. (these were unbranded, in plain white boxes) The rest have been fine.
                  >
                  > I am told that brand new hard sector diskettes are available online - I think Corey just bought some?
                  >
                  > -Martin
                  >
                  > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "mfeberhard" <eberhard@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > I've scavenged quite a few Pertec drives - both the FD400-type (with 24VDC spindle motor) and the FD500-type (with the 120VAC spindle motor). Most of them are not in great shape.
                  > >
                  > > The plastics have grown brittle - cracked door components are common. The white ones have all aged yellow.
                  > >
                  > > The spindle motor bearings are often dry, requiring disassembly and re-lubrication.
                  > >
                  > > Most have required realignment. (Relubricating the bearings will force a realignment...)
                  > >
                  > > That said, I would prefer to have restored Pertec drives on my Altairs than anything else. For me, half the fun is getting this old gear working again.
                  > >
                  > > On the other hand, I am pretty sure that I could adapt a Shugart SA800/1 to work with the Altair controller. SA800s are readily available, and are usually in good shape. (I even found one new in box!) All but the very oldest of these drives have a jumper on them that lets you set them up for soft sector use (SA800 mode) or hard sector mode (SA801 mode). I think I should be able to set the SA800 jumpers correctly and build an adapter cable for the Altair controller.
                  > >
                  > > Also, with alignment, the diskettes ought to be interchangeable with Pertec drives... (though I agree that your FLOP2PC software makes interchangeability much less of an issue!)
                  > >
                  > > -Martin
                  > >
                  > > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "deramp5113" <deramp5113@> wrote:
                  > > >
                  > > > Ok, this has gotten me thinking.
                  > > >
                  > > > First, a few questions for Martin, Tom Sanderson, etc.: Are the required Pertec drives still reasonably available and if so, are they typically still useable and maintainable drives? Second, are the 8" hard sector floppy disks still reasonably "available" for purchase anywhere?
                  > > >
                  > > > If the answer to the preceding questions are "yes," then I'd like to build an S100 controller board to provide a 100% compatible Altair floppy drive system.
                  > > >
                  > > > If the answer is "no," then what about the same questions in regard to one of the common Shugart model drives (e.g., 800 series). I'm thinking the new controller board could make these drives look exactly like an Altair floppy from the Altair computer's and Altair software's perspective. If the floppy itself could not be read between an original Altair floppy drive and the "new" floppy drive, that is not really a show-stopper anymore because disks can easily be exchanged via the Internet as .dsk files like we now have in the Files section. You can always archive/restore your own floppy disks on your own hardware into/from .dsk files. This means everyone's drives are "compatible."
                  > > >
                  > > > Finally, if none of the 8 inch drives are a good solution, then the new controller could interface to the ubiquitous 3.5 inch floppy drives and make them look identical in format (from the Altair's perspective) to the original Altair floppy drives and disk layout. Each 3.5 inch floppy would be equivalent to one 8 inch Altair floppy. Ignore the 1.44MB, IBM format thoughts in your head - the new controller would only use about 330K on each disk and make the format look identical to the original Altair floppy as far as any software running on the Altair could tell. Though media would obviously not be interchangeable with an original Altair drive, the content is identical and can be exchanged without conversion via a .dsk file as mentioned previously.
                  > > >
                  > > > Thoughts?
                  > > >
                  > > > Mike
                  > > >
                  > > > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@> wrote:
                  > > > >
                  > > > > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
                  > > > >
                  > > >
                  > >
                  >
                • W Tom
                  A decade or more ago, a repair facility told me that Pertec drives were used in aircraft flight simulators. They said airlines bought up all the spare parts.
                  Message 8 of 22 , Jul 4, 2013
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                    A decade or more ago, a repair facility told me that Pertec drives were used in aircraft flight simulators. They said airlines bought up all the spare parts. The last ad I saw for a drive priced the about $1300. Any ad I followed up on, ended with learning no drives were in stock. Some repair facilities have closed or no longer repair Pertec drives.

                    The drives I see on ebay are often sold separate from the mainframe. The seller separated the controllers into a separate auction. I've seen a number of Altair single drive cabinets with drives go for under $1000. The combo was priced lower than a bare drive. Now, the price is more like $1500.

                    > I've scavenged quite a few Pertec drives - both the FD400-type (with 24VDC spindle motor) and the FD500-type (with the 120VAC spindle motor). Most of them are not in great shape.

                    I have a few drives too, Including 4 used FD-514 drives I bought from Pertec when I worked there ($250 each in 1979). These drives are a -06 configuration (Shugart compatible) and not the -03 configuration. Be aware that the FD-51x drives have six configurations. My drives were not stored properly and a couple of trim pots were broken. The good news is the drive manual is pretty good. If the drive did not come from an Altair the drive board may need modification.

                    I don't feel I have the money, skills or time to repair most of my drives. If I found the parts, I would have to find a repair man and the money to pay him. I could improve my skills, but that is big time commitment. Drives are rare, but people with skills and resources like Martin and Mike are very rare.

                    I have a number of drive cabinets too. Most all single drive cabinets have a bad power supply. Dual drive cabinets were often rack mount. The chassis is missing the outer case. I'm missing one matching MITS style rack mount slide. Note drive cooling in the single case is suspect. What is the best fan direction and vent taping? Converting to A.C. drives is easy.

                    > The plastics have grown brittle - cracked door components are common. The white ones have all aged yellow.

                    There is a third style too. An Aluminum door with a white bezel. The door won't open with a broken bezel, The black and white plastic doors and bezels are probably interchangeable. The color indicates A.C. or D.C power.

                    >> The spindle motor bearings are often dry, requiring disassembly and re-lubrication.
                    >
                    > Most have required realignment. (Relubricating the bearings will force a realignment...)
                    >

                    I hear the the stepper gear  gets dry and the motor will burn out if the gear is not lubricated. You will hear this problem because the drive make noise wile stepping. The lubricant is whale oil for clocks. What lube is available now?


                    > That said, I would prefer to have restored Pertec drives on my Altairs than anything else. For me, half the fun is getting this old gear working again

                    This has been my goal since 1979. In retrospect, getting two drives working is very hard. I just want to run the software. The clone and the emulators are almost there. I still need and Altair to connect to non-serial printers, run MTX or TimeSharing BASIC, or uses serial ports. The software interests me and floppies limit speed and capacity.

                    > On the other hand, I am pretty sure that I could adapt a Shugart SA800/1 to work with the Altair controller. SA800s are readily available, and are usually in good shape. (I even found one new in box!) All but the very oldest of these drives have a jumper on them that lets you set them up for soft sector use (SA800 mode) or hard sector mode (SA801 mode). I think I should be able to set the SA800 jumpers correctly and build an adapter cable for the Altair controller.

                    I'm not qualified to be sure, but suspect an adapter could be made. A friend thinks Pertec drives are too non-standard. Alt least a FD-514-06 is standard Shugart SSSD soft-sector. I have a new in the box Shugart too. Two things to consider are drive voltages and size. A 1/2 height drive would fit in MITS/Pertec case and leave a gap. Pertec drives are 2/3 height.

                    What is the difference between a Shugart 800 and 801? I heard hard vs. soft sector was a function of the controller, not the drive. Two Shugart configurations and six Pertec configurations to consider.

                    > > First, a few questions for Martin, Tom Sanderson, etc.: Are the required Pertec drives still reasonably available and if so, are they typically still useable and maintainable drives? Second, are the 8" hard sector floppy disks still reasonably "available" for purchase anywhere?
                     
                    No and No to reasonable. http://retrotechnology.com/ might have diskettes.

                    > > Finally, if none of the 8 inch drives are a good solution, then the new controller could interface to the ubiquitous 3.5 inch floppy drives and make them look identical in format (from the Altair's ....

                    I suggest a mode switch to allow SSSD soft-sector compatability. All I really need is software compatability with the controller. Media could be a SD card or PC connection and keep me happy.

                    >could interface to the ubiquitous 3.5 inch floppy drives

                    These drives are starting to get rare. Here are two models that can be jumpered for 300 RPM and work with some 8" soft-sectored controllers and a custom cable: Panasonic JU-475, TeacFD55-GFR

                    Two more maintenance items are head load pad and clamping force. The door pivots on a rod. Catch the door when it opens. Older dive have a pivot rod the is not knurled. The door can slip and change clamping force.  Head load pads will get dirty. I doubt replacements are available and the felt must be replaced on an old pad.


                    Tom S.




                    --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "mfeberhard" wrote:
                    >
                    > I've scavenged quite a few Pertec drives - both the FD400-type (with 24VDC spindle motor) and the FD500-type (with the 120VAC spindle motor). Most of them are not in great shape.
                    >
                    > The plastics have grown brittle - cracked door components are common. The white ones have all aged yellow.
                    >
                    > The spindle motor bearings are often dry, requiring disassembly and re-lubrication.
                    >
                    > Most have required realignment. (Relubricating the bearings will force a realignment...)
                    >
                    > That said, I would prefer to have restored Pertec drives on my Altairs than anything else. For me, half the fun is getting this old gear working again.
                    >
                    > On the other hand, I am pretty sure that I could adapt a Shugart SA800/1 to work with the Altair controller. SA800s are readily available, and are usually in good shape. (I even found one new in box!) All but the very oldest of these drives have a jumper on them that lets you set them up for soft sector use (SA800 mode) or hard sector mode (SA801 mode). I think I should be able to set the SA800 jumpers correctly and build an adapter cable for the Altair controller.
                    >
                    > Also, with alignment, the diskettes ought to be interchangeable with Pertec drives... (though I agree that your FLOP2PC software makes interchangeability much less of an issue!)
                    >
                    > -Martin
                    >
                    > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "deramp5113" deramp5113@ wrote:
                    > >
                    > > Ok, this has gotten me thinking.
                    > >
                    > > First, a few questions for Martin, Tom Sanderson, etc.: Are the required Pertec drives still reasonably available and if so, are they typically still useable and maintainable drives? Second, are the 8" hard sector floppy disks still reasonably "available" for purchase anywhere?
                    > >
                    > > If the answer to the preceding questions are "yes," then I'd like to build an S100 controller board to provide a 100% compatible Altair floppy drive system.
                    > >
                    > > If the answer is "no," then what about the same questions in regard to one of the common Shugart model drives (e.g., 800 series). I'm thinking the new controller board could make these drives look exactly like an Altair floppy from the Altair computer's and Altair software's perspective. If the floppy itself could not be read between an original Altair floppy drive and the "new" floppy drive, that is not really a show-stopper anymore because disks can easily be exchanged via the Internet as .dsk files like we now have in the Files section. You can always archive/restore your own floppy disks on your own hardware into/from .dsk files. This means everyone's drives are "compatible."
                    > >
                    > > Finally, if none of the 8 inch drives are a good solution, then the new controller could interface to the ubiquitous 3.5 inch floppy drives and make them look identical in format (from the Altair's perspective) to the original Altair floppy drives and disk layout. Each 3.5 inch floppy would be equivalent to one 8 inch Altair floppy. Ignore the 1.44MB, IBM format thoughts in your head - the new controller would only use about 330K on each disk and make the format look identical to the original Altair floppy as far as any software running on the Altair could tell. Though media would obviously not be interchangeable with an original Altair drive, the content is identical and can be exchanged without conversion via a .dsk file as mentioned previously.
                    > >
                    > > Thoughts?
                    > >
                    > > Mike
                    > >
                    > > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" wrote:
                    > > >
                    > > > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
                    > > >
                    > >
                    >
                  • deramp5113
                    Presently, I m thinking that designing a Shugart-compatible controller that duplicates the Altair controller s host interface would be the best way to go.
                    Message 9 of 22 , Jul 5, 2013
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                      Presently, I'm thinking that designing a Shugart-compatible controller that duplicates the Altair controller's host interface would be the best way to go. Sounds like the Shugart drives are more readily available and in better condition than the typical Pertec drive that might be found. A simple jumper makes a soft sectored Shugart drive (800) a hard sectored drive (801). Finally, it does sound like some 8" hard sectored media is still available.

                      The Shugart drive is full height, so if duplicating the look and feel of the original Altair floppy enclosure is a goal, the box will have to be taller - more like the height of the Altair 8800.

                      Mike



                      --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "deramp5113" <deramp5113@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Ok, this has gotten me thinking.
                      >
                      > First, a few questions for Martin, Tom Sanderson, etc.: Are the required Pertec drives still reasonably available and if so, are they typically still useable and maintainable drives? Second, are the 8" hard sector floppy disks still reasonably "available" for purchase anywhere?
                      >
                      > If the answer to the preceding questions are "yes," then I'd like to build an S100 controller board to provide a 100% compatible Altair floppy drive system.
                      >
                      > If the answer is "no," then what about the same questions in regard to one of the common Shugart model drives (e.g., 800 series). I'm thinking the new controller board could make these drives look exactly like an Altair floppy from the Altair computer's and Altair software's perspective. If the floppy itself could not be read between an original Altair floppy drive and the "new" floppy drive, that is not really a show-stopper anymore because disks can easily be exchanged via the Internet as .dsk files like we now have in the Files section. You can always archive/restore your own floppy disks on your own hardware into/from .dsk files. This means everyone's drives are "compatible."
                      >
                      > Finally, if none of the 8 inch drives are a good solution, then the new controller could interface to the ubiquitous 3.5 inch floppy drives and make them look identical in format (from the Altair's perspective) to the original Altair floppy drives and disk layout. Each 3.5 inch floppy would be equivalent to one 8 inch Altair floppy. Ignore the 1.44MB, IBM format thoughts in your head - the new controller would only use about 330K on each disk and make the format look identical to the original Altair floppy as far as any software running on the Altair could tell. Though media would obviously not be interchangeable with an original Altair drive, the content is identical and can be exchanged without conversion via a .dsk file as mentioned previously.
                      >
                      > Thoughts?
                      >
                      > Mike
                      >
                      > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@> wrote:
                      > >
                      > > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
                      > >
                      >
                    • mfeberhard
                      You could instead design around the half-height Shugart 860 drive, like this one:
                      Message 10 of 22 , Jul 5, 2013
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                        You could instead design around the half-height Shugart 860 drive, like this one:

                        http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Shugart-Associates-Model-860-1-8-FLOPPY-DRIVE-/251296406993?pt=US_Vintage_Computers_Mainframes&hash=item3a826eddd1

                        I don't have the OEM manual for the 860, but I bet it has similar jumper settings to the 850/851, the double-sided full height drive which can be set up for hard-sector disks.

                        With a half-height drive, you could fit the whole thing in the correct enclosure height...

                        -Martin E

                        --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "deramp5113" <deramp5113@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Presently, I'm thinking that designing a Shugart-compatible controller that duplicates the Altair controller's host interface would be the best way to go. Sounds like the Shugart drives are more readily available and in better condition than the typical Pertec drive that might be found. A simple jumper makes a soft sectored Shugart drive (800) a hard sectored drive (801). Finally, it does sound like some 8" hard sectored media is still available.
                        >
                        > The Shugart drive is full height, so if duplicating the look and feel of the original Altair floppy enclosure is a goal, the box will have to be taller - more like the height of the Altair 8800.
                        >
                        > Mike
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "deramp5113" <deramp5113@> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > Ok, this has gotten me thinking.
                        > >
                        > > First, a few questions for Martin, Tom Sanderson, etc.: Are the required Pertec drives still reasonably available and if so, are they typically still useable and maintainable drives? Second, are the 8" hard sector floppy disks still reasonably "available" for purchase anywhere?
                        > >
                        > > If the answer to the preceding questions are "yes," then I'd like to build an S100 controller board to provide a 100% compatible Altair floppy drive system.
                        > >
                        > > If the answer is "no," then what about the same questions in regard to one of the common Shugart model drives (e.g., 800 series). I'm thinking the new controller board could make these drives look exactly like an Altair floppy from the Altair computer's and Altair software's perspective. If the floppy itself could not be read between an original Altair floppy drive and the "new" floppy drive, that is not really a show-stopper anymore because disks can easily be exchanged via the Internet as .dsk files like we now have in the Files section. You can always archive/restore your own floppy disks on your own hardware into/from .dsk files. This means everyone's drives are "compatible."
                        > >
                        > > Finally, if none of the 8 inch drives are a good solution, then the new controller could interface to the ubiquitous 3.5 inch floppy drives and make them look identical in format (from the Altair's perspective) to the original Altair floppy drives and disk layout. Each 3.5 inch floppy would be equivalent to one 8 inch Altair floppy. Ignore the 1.44MB, IBM format thoughts in your head - the new controller would only use about 330K on each disk and make the format look identical to the original Altair floppy as far as any software running on the Altair could tell. Though media would obviously not be interchangeable with an original Altair drive, the content is identical and can be exchanged without conversion via a .dsk file as mentioned previously.
                        > >
                        > > Thoughts?
                        > >
                        > > Mike
                        > >
                        > > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@> wrote:
                        > > >
                        > > > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
                        > > >
                        > >
                        >
                      • deramp5113
                        There are three Altairs on eBay right now with what appears to be Altair floppy controller sets in each one. Also an Altair floppy drive and a floppy cabinet
                        Message 11 of 22 , Aug 7, 2013
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                          There are three Altairs on eBay right now with what appears to be Altair floppy controller sets in each one. Also an Altair floppy drive and a floppy cabinet listed.

                          Mike


                          --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
                          >
                        • toml_12953
                          I have a bid in on one of them and if I get outbid, the other two end later so I can bid on those, too. Thanks, Mike!
                          Message 12 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                            I have a bid in on one of them and if I get outbid, the other two end later so I can bid on those, too.

                            Thanks, Mike!

                            --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "deramp5113" <deramp5113@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > There are three Altairs on eBay right now with what appears to be Altair floppy controller sets in each one. Also an Altair floppy drive and a floppy cabinet listed.
                            >
                            > Mike
                            >
                            >
                            > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "toml_12953" <tlake@> wrote:
                            > >
                            > > Is there an equivalent (software/hardware compatible) to the Altair 88-DCDD floppy disk controller that's readily available? I see the drives on eBay from time to time but without a disk controller they're useless to me.
                            > >
                            >
                          • Bill Sudbrink
                            ... If you happen to bid on and win the cat piss altair, and only want the controller boards, I would like to buy the front panel. I have a B with a badly
                            Message 13 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                              toml_12953 wrote:
                              > I have a bid in on one of them and if I get outbid, the other two end
                              > later so I can bid on those, too.

                              If you happen to bid on and win the "cat piss" altair, and only want the
                              controller boards, I would like to buy the front panel. I have a 'B'
                              with a badly mangled front panel that I would like to fix up.

                              Bill S.
                            • toml_12953
                              Sure is an enticing description, isn t it? :-) I really only want the disk controller boards out of whichever one I win (IF I win) so I d be happy to sell the
                              Message 14 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                                Sure is an enticing description, isn't it? :-) I really only want the disk controller boards out of whichever one I win (IF I win) so I'd be happy to sell the rest at a cheap price.

                                Tom L

                                --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Sudbrink" <wh.sudbrink@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > toml_12953 wrote:
                                > > I have a bid in on one of them and if I get outbid, the other two end
                                > > later so I can bid on those, too.
                                >
                                > If you happen to bid on and win the "cat piss" altair, and only want the
                                > controller boards, I would like to buy the front panel. I have a 'B'
                                > with a badly mangled front panel that I would like to fix up.
                                >
                                > Bill S.
                                >
                              • Bill Sudbrink
                                ... That s part of the reason for the offer. I wouldn t normally tear up one machine to repair another, but in this case it sounds like a good donor
                                Message 15 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                                  toml_12953 wrote:
                                  > Sure is an enticing description, isn't it? :-) I really only want the
                                  > disk controller boards out of whichever one I win (IF I win) so I'd be
                                  > happy to sell the rest at a cheap price.

                                  That's part of the reason for the offer. I wouldn't normally "tear up"
                                  one machine to repair another, but in this case it sounds like a good
                                  donor candidate. I figure the price won't go too high and if you knew
                                  that you could recover part of your cost you might bid a little more.

                                  Bill S.
                                • toml_12953
                                  Here s another thought....I see full size scans of both the 8800 and 8800B front panels on eBay right now. Maybe you could buy one of those and replace the
                                  Message 16 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                                    Here's another thought....I see full size scans of both the 8800 and 8800B front panels on eBay right now. Maybe you could buy one of those and replace the damaged faceplate graphics. Then you'd have to cover it with a clear sheet, of course but it should look pretty good once done.

                                    --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Sudbrink" <wh.sudbrink@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > toml_12953 wrote:
                                    > > I have a bid in on one of them and if I get outbid, the other two end
                                    > > later so I can bid on those, too.
                                    >
                                    > If you happen to bid on and win the "cat piss" altair, and only want the
                                    > controller boards, I would like to buy the front panel. I have a 'B'
                                    > with a badly mangled front panel that I would like to fix up.
                                    >
                                    > Bill S.
                                    >
                                  • Bill Sudbrink
                                    ... No, no. You don t understand. Somebody went mad scientist on this unit. The front panel interface board and cables are gone. Traces are cut and holes
                                    Message 17 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                                      toml_12953 wrote:
                                      >
                                      > Here's another thought....I see full size scans of both the 8800 and
                                      > 8800B front panels on eBay right now. Maybe you could buy one of those
                                      > and replace the damaged faceplate graphics. Then you'd have to cover it
                                      > with a clear sheet, of course but it should look pretty good once done.

                                      No, no. You don't understand. Somebody went "mad scientist" on this unit.
                                      The front panel interface board and cables are gone. Traces are cut and
                                      holes are drilled all over the front panel pcb. Many of the LEDs and
                                      switches are gone. Looks like he/she tried to mount IMSAI sized switches
                                      in multiple places, hacking holes in the dress panel and the metal panel
                                      behind it. Oddly (fortunately), the rest of the chassis, mother board and
                                      power supply are immaculate. Not even a significant scratch in the paint.

                                      Bill S.
                                    • Chris Elmquist
                                      ... Geez. There s a special place in hell ... -- Chris Elmquist
                                      Message 18 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                                        On Friday (08/09/2013 at 02:34PM -0400), Bill Sudbrink wrote:
                                        > toml_12953 wrote:
                                        > >
                                        > > Here's another thought....I see full size scans of both the 8800 and
                                        > > 8800B front panels on eBay right now. Maybe you could buy one of those
                                        > > and replace the damaged faceplate graphics. Then you'd have to cover it
                                        > > with a clear sheet, of course but it should look pretty good once done.
                                        >
                                        > No, no. You don't understand. Somebody went "mad scientist" on this unit.
                                        > The front panel interface board and cables are gone. Traces are cut and
                                        > holes are drilled all over the front panel pcb. Many of the LEDs and
                                        > switches are gone. Looks like he/she tried to mount IMSAI sized switches
                                        > in multiple places, hacking holes in the dress panel and the metal panel
                                        > behind it. Oddly (fortunately), the rest of the chassis, mother board and
                                        > power supply are immaculate. Not even a significant scratch in the paint.

                                        Geez. There's a special place in hell ...

                                        --
                                        Chris Elmquist
                                      • Bill Sudbrink
                                        ... Well, I picked this up at a hamfest in??? 97 maybe? The older end of the classiccmp archives is gone, taking with it a good bit of my records :-( To be
                                        Message 19 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                                          Chris Elmquist wrote:
                                          > Geez. There's a special place in hell ...

                                          Well, I picked this up at a hamfest in??? 97 maybe?
                                          The older end of the classiccmp archives is gone,
                                          taking with it a good bit of my records :-(

                                          To be fair, almost no one valued vintage computers
                                          back then. I don't know whether some old ham was trying
                                          to do something or if it had just been given to some
                                          kid to "experiment" on.

                                          Bill S.
                                        • Chris Elmquist
                                          ... Fair enough. Hopefully someone had fun and learned something from the experience. I guess without these projects we d all have nothing to fix up :-) --
                                          Message 20 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                                            On Friday (08/09/2013 at 03:10PM -0400), Bill Sudbrink wrote:
                                            > Chris Elmquist wrote:
                                            > > Geez. There's a special place in hell ...
                                            >
                                            > Well, I picked this up at a hamfest in??? 97 maybe?
                                            > The older end of the classiccmp archives is gone,
                                            > taking with it a good bit of my records :-(
                                            >
                                            > To be fair, almost no one valued vintage computers
                                            > back then. I don't know whether some old ham was trying
                                            > to do something or if it had just been given to some
                                            > kid to "experiment" on.

                                            Fair enough. Hopefully someone had fun and learned something from the
                                            experience. I guess without these "projects" we'd all have nothing to
                                            fix up :-)

                                            --
                                            Chris Elmquist
                                          • toml_12953
                                            Merde! I cringe at the thought of such destruction!
                                            Message 21 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                                              Merde! I cringe at the thought of such destruction!

                                              --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Sudbrink" <wh.sudbrink@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > toml_12953 wrote:
                                              > >
                                              > > Here's another thought....I see full size scans of both the 8800 and
                                              > > 8800B front panels on eBay right now. Maybe you could buy one of those
                                              > > and replace the damaged faceplate graphics. Then you'd have to cover it
                                              > > with a clear sheet, of course but it should look pretty good once done.
                                              >
                                              > No, no. You don't understand. Somebody went "mad scientist" on this unit.
                                              > The front panel interface board and cables are gone. Traces are cut and
                                              > holes are drilled all over the front panel pcb. Many of the LEDs and
                                              > switches are gone. Looks like he/she tried to mount IMSAI sized switches
                                              > in multiple places, hacking holes in the dress panel and the metal panel
                                              > behind it. Oddly (fortunately), the rest of the chassis, mother board and
                                              > power supply are immaculate. Not even a significant scratch in the paint.
                                              >
                                              > Bill S.
                                              >
                                            • steve
                                              You have probably noticed that many of the Altair items currently being sold on ebay by mybluemalibu have MITS asset number stickers on them. For what it s
                                              Message 22 of 22 , Aug 9, 2013
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                                                You have probably noticed that many of the Altair items currently being sold on ebay by "mybluemalibu" have MITS asset number stickers on them. For what it's worth, this means that those machines were almost certainly factory assembled, which would probably make troubleshooting a little easier.

                                                Watch out for the 'cat piss' computer, though. CP can really corrode copper contacts and wiring. Mouse urine is even worse.

                                                steve
                                                ================

                                                --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Sudbrink" <wh.sudbrink@...> wrote:
                                                >
                                                > toml_12953 wrote:
                                                > > I have a bid in on one of them and if I get outbid, the other two end
                                                > > later so I can bid on those, too.
                                                >
                                                > If you happen to bid on and win the "cat piss" altair, and only want the
                                                > controller boards, I would like to buy the front panel. I have a 'B'
                                                > with a badly mangled front panel that I would like to fix up.
                                                >
                                                > Bill S.
                                                >
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