Winchester drive parking

Dell / Mxc051
February 26, 2009 at 15:59:13
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 1.729 GHz / 2039 MB
Hey there

I'm looking for a DOS program to park a Winchester (Miniscribe 8450 RLL, exactly) hard drive. OnTrack and a couple others I found through simple googling are not doing the job properly it is supposed to be parked in cyl 810 but software will either park it in 770 or fail to do it at all.

IBM PS/2 Model 30-286 with an Adaptec RLL controller (yeah that'd be my second PS/2 in the course of a month...I learned my first static shock lesson with the first one!)


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February 26, 2009 at 17:01:01
Which meuseum did you get that out of. I was using one of them in 1988 and it was old then. It's a small miracle the hard disk still works.

Try this - about half way down the page:


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February 26, 2009 at 17:07:56
Try looking over this page to see if it has a utility that will help you out. I haven't used dos in ages and have forgotten just about everything on MFM and RLL drives.

I *think* MSDOS 2.11, 3.3, and/or 5 has a native park program.


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February 26, 2009 at 18:41:06
The landing zone should be specified as one of the drive parameters in cmos/bios setup. If you specified it there as 810 then that's where the parking program should send it.

There is a PARKHEAD.COM command on the PS/2 model 30-286 setup disk. You can download the file--MOD30286.EXE-- to create that setup disk here:

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February 27, 2009 at 08:11:44
Thanks for all the suggestions; looks like I will try dmgpark from the Goodells page and browse extensively through the other one.

DAVEINCAPS, there is no traditional "CMOS Setup" on this machine. The only configuration is done through the startup disk (which I already have and have explored; the park function only works for a drive connected to the onboard proprietary controller it seems), or I suppose through the adaptec RLL controller, but I have no clue how to do that (and plus everything is working right so I'd expect configuration is correct).

One of those apps...I think dmgpark...allows you to specify what cylinder to park in. Drive is supposed to park in 810, so we'll see if it does when I tell it to.

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February 27, 2009 at 12:30:39
Alright, this looks like a controller card issue, and thinking about it, it probably is.

The drive is 40 something MB (would have been sold as a 50mb I'm sure). The controller supports only a couple pre-set capacities, 37.5 is one of them, and that is what the drive reads as.

Accordingly, it seems that some tracks (in fact everything above 770 from software testing) are not accessible because the card doesn't understand how to get to them.

SOOO...when I run software to park the drive, it is in fact parking it on a track used for data. Which is...not good, correct?

Or...assuming I only ever use this drive with this controller, I'm thinking that perhaps there would never be an issue, since the drive will never ever end up accessing above track 770 as it is.

Can anyone point me in the right direction about that?


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February 27, 2009 at 12:39:28
Yeah, I wasn't sure about that model. Back then there were some hardware updates to bring an 8088/8086 up to a 286 but the motherboard was the same and hence, no cmos.

On 8-bit controller cards you'd set the specs with the dos DEBUG command, essentially doing a low level format to initialize the drive to the card. You'd set the landing zone there too. As such you may need to look for a parking program that's compatible with the card and not necessarily the system or drive.

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February 27, 2009 at 13:02:31
In the days before IDE hard disks the controller BIOS contained a low level format routine. This was a genuine low level format, not the low level format that is often referred to in relation to IDE disks which just writes zeros to the hard disk.

If you go to a DOS prompt and type Debug followed by g=c800:5 it will put you into the low level format routine. This has to be a genuine DOS prompt, not a DOS shell from within Windows.

Her you can set thing like sectors per track, number of tracks, sector interlace, and landing zone and a few other parameters that I cant remember.

Playing aroud with the interlace could often increase the speed of the drive by a dramatic amount. But it could also slow it down if you got it wrong. These days sector interlace is 1:1 and whole tracks are read into the buffer in one go so the interlace is no as important as it used to be.

You can try increasing the number of track but if you go to far you will start getting errors when you do a regular format. Be careful though becasue if you get it wrong you could render the disk unuable and you will have to do it all over again. Low level format can take some time and it will earase the entire contents of the disk.

In this case the designated landing zone will only work is the disk has auto parking heads. Around the time that MFM and RRL drives were current not all hard disk had auto parking heads, hence the frequency of head crashes when there was a power failure.


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February 27, 2009 at 13:13:53
The C/H/S specs for that drive are 771/4/26. That means you have 771 usable cylinders. You say the cylinders above 770 aren't being accessed. That's about right--cylinder 770 is the 771th cylinder when counting from zero to 770.

The drive can be damaged if you set the specs higher than that. When using a drive type that doesn't match exactly the drive you're using, the drive type specs need to be less than the drive specs. So you wouldn't want to use a drive type that had more than 771 cylinders, 4 cylinders or 26 sectors per track.

You've got an RLL drive with 26 sectors per track. Many of those old cards only had drive types for MFM drives that had 17 sectors per track. An RLL drive would work OK when spec'd at 17 spt but your 40 meg drive would only be about 30 meg. I don't know what your card is capable of but it sounds like it's set OK. If it was set wrong your drive would probably be ruined by now.

Another consideration is the version of dos you're using. Up to (and possibly including) 3.X versions, dos couldn't properly work with drives and/or partitions above 30 meg.

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February 27, 2009 at 13:32:50
You need Zenith dos. It has park.

"Best Practices", Event viewer, host file, perfmon, antivirus, anti-spyware, Live CD's, backups, are in my top 10

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February 27, 2009 at 21:02:20
Whoa...reading the manual (courtesy of Total Hardware 99) more in depth I see there is a jumper to enable automatically parking after 30 seconds of inactivity. Head assembly moved to shipping cylinder, current removed from stepper motor. "Should power be removed from the drive at this time, the heads will land in the shipping zone. If power is not removed, the heads will remain over the shipping cylinder until told to go (elsewhere)"

What I don't understand is why it won't park in "cylinder 810" since the same document stating 771/4/26 specs is also saying that 810 is where it should park. Am I missing something about this process?

re: low level formatting - As much as I love to mess with stuff, that process was actually done by the previous owner before he gave it to me. I trust he did it correctly, as Dave said, the drive is working which suggests the config is probably correct. Cost to replace this drive if something were to go wrong = way beyond my budget. I'd actually like to do it for the experience but I just can't justify messing with what seems to be working.

Running DOS 5 with Win3.1 available and a few old games haha (wow that hdd space disappears fast - I assume a big part of this is also the file system's fault though)

Controller is Adaptec ACB-2072. It is 8 bit ISA.

It's late and I'm tired...I'm sure I've missed something(s) here but I just wanted to throw in an acknowledgment and that extra info.

Thanks folks

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February 27, 2009 at 21:51:57
It's possible whatever utility you're using to read the head location isn't capable of reading the cylinders past the partitioned space, which ends at 771. Maybe the heads are going to 780 but it's not being reported.

Or maybe the landing zone wasn't specified right in the LLF.

I don't think you have anything to worry about since it seems to be parking in the last usable sector or beyond it.

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