Floptical drive support in Adaptec AHA-1542CF BIOS?

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Floptical drive support in Adaptec AHA-1542CF BIOS?

Postby Lennart » 2019-7-12 @ 12:25

I recently acquired an external Iomega Floptical drive with SCSI interface. I'd like to use this instead of a regular 3.5" floppy drive, so it has to be bootable and it should be assigned to drive letter A. Therefore I need a SCSI controller with a BIOS that supports Floptical drives. I have an Adaptec AHA-1542CF ISA SCSI controller, which supposedly should have BIOS support for Floptical drives according to the installation guide (http://download.adaptec.com/pdfs/instal ... 0cf_ig.pdf). It says:
SCSI Device Configuration and Advanced Configuration Options: These screens are accessed from the Configuration screen described above. The AHA-1540CF/1542CF offers a number of options for advanced applications. Fast SCSI, Floptical support, and an alternate floppy controller address are enabled here.

However, that section within its BIOS configuration utility doesn't contain any option for enabling Floptical support. I do have an option for bootable CD-ROM support, which isn't mentioned in the installation guide. That got me thinking, could it be that they axed bootable Floptical support in favor of CD-ROM in later revisions of the BIOS?

I found this post mentioning that there were 3 different BIOS revisions for the AHA-1542CF: v2.01 (1993), v2.10 (1994) and v2.11 (1995). My card has v2.10. Perhaps v2.01 does have Floptical support?

Is there anyone with an AHA-1540CF or AHA-1542CF who has an other BIOS revision and would be willing to check the BIOS configuration utility for Floptical support? I'd also like to hear from people who have an AHA-1540C or AHA-1542C (so no Fast SCSI support) or the AHA-1542CP (which should be PnP). I suspect that the 1542CP won't have support, because it's newer, but the AHA-154xC will probably have it.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Floptical drive support in Adaptec AHA-1542CF BIOS?

Postby yawetaG » 2019-7-12 @ 12:45

SCSI superfloppies are treated as removable SCSI hard disks, not regular floppy drives.
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Re: Floptical drive support in Adaptec AHA-1542CF BIOS?

Postby Cyrix200+ » 2019-7-12 @ 12:48

I have this AHA-1540/42CP that has BIOS version 1.03 according to the sticker. I don't know what the difference is between the various 154x cards, but if you think it might help I'm willing to check it out.

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Re: Floptical drive support in Adaptec AHA-1542CF BIOS?

Postby Lennart » 2019-7-12 @ 13:14

yawetaG wrote:SCSI superfloppies are treated as removable SCSI hard disks, not regular floppy drives.

Yes and no. They are recognized as removable SCSI hard disks if you don't have any special BIOS support for them. But they can be recognized as a regular floppy drive if your SCSI controller has specific BIOS support for Floptical drives. The user guide for the AHA-1520A for instance mentions:
Drives A and B are reserved for floppy drives in the DOS environment and may be assigned to either standard diskette drives or Floptical drives.

AFAIK that wouldn't be possible with a removable SCSI hard disk. The AHA-1520A has a jumper to enable or disable Floptical support in the BIOS, so it seems that it does something special. There even appears to be a version of an Adaptec card specifically targeted at Floptical drives, the AHA-1520FS or AHA-1522FS: https://storage.microsemi.com/en-us/sup ... ha-1522fs/

Cyrix200+ wrote:I have this AHA-1540/42CP that has BIOS version 1.03 according to the sticker. I don't know what the difference is between the various 154x cards, but if you think it might help I'm willing to check it out.

Thanks, that might help! :happy: I suspect it won't have support for Floptical though, as it's a later model than the AHA-1542CF. For as far as I've been able to find out, the first letter stands for the hardware revision. So either A, B or C. The C models have fewer switches or jumpers, because most of its settings can be set in the BIOS configuration utility. The F of my CF stands for Fast SCSI support (10MB/s instead of 5MB/s). The P of your CP should stand for Plug 'n Play, as you can assign IRQ and I/O addresses via PnP with that card. If it's a 1540, it won't have a separate controller and connector for regular floppy drives. If it's a 1542, it does have a regular floppy controller besides the SCSI controller.
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Re: Floptical drive support in Adaptec AHA-1542CF BIOS?

Postby Cyrix200+ » 2019-7-14 @ 10:27

Indeed, I don't think there is floptical support, not sure though. These are the screens in the BIOS.

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Re: Floptical drive support in Adaptec AHA-1542CF BIOS?

Postby Warlord » 2019-7-15 @ 04:21

what iomega drive do you have, Zip drives are not floppy drives, they are removable disks. Think like USB drive but a floppy.
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Re: Floptical drive support in Adaptec AHA-1542CF BIOS?

Postby Lennart » 2019-7-15 @ 09:38

@Cyrix200+ many thanks for checking and making those photos! :happy: It confirms what I thought, it doesn't have any specific options for Floptical drives. My AHA-1452CF has the same menu options as yours.

Warlord wrote:what iomega drive do you have, Zip drives are not floppy drives, they are removable disks. Think like USB drive but a floppy.

It's the Iomega Io20s inside an Iomega F20X external case. So it's definitely a Floptical drive rather than a Zip drive. Unfortunately I don't have any 21MB Floptical disks yet, but the drive also reads regular 720KB and 1.44MB floppies.

The Wikipedia article on Floptical specifically mentions that "to allow for a high degree of compatibility with existing SCSI host adapters, Floptical drives were designed to work as a standard floppy disk drive, and not as a removable hard disk." So now I just need to know which SCSI host adapters support it. :lol:
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