VOGONS


First post, by zv45beta

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Hi everyone,

I'm having a problem which prevents me from doing crucial things while setting up my Windows 3.1 time-travel rig.

I have a Siemens computer, an industrial beast, based on the 440LX chipset and powered by a 300MHz Pentium II.
Currently running DOS 6.22 and WfW3.11 on it, got audio, video and networking running and I'm really pleased with the outcome.
However, recently, I had to take some Win3.1 screenshots for my personal projects, and I was greeted by an error that says that my disk is, apparently, write-protected.
The disks were written by my main Win10 computer without any problems, and it was weird to me that my old PC won't write to them.
DOS won't do it either; formatting the floppy will result in a Write protect error.
I've tried multiple disks, changing the floppy drive, changing the floppy cable, resetting the BIOS, together with checking that the Write to floppy security option was enabled, and finally triple-checked that the write-protect tab is in the correct position.

The computer still won't read any floppies I try formatting and/or writing.

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks

Main rig: A64 X2 5000+|4GB DDR2|HD 5450|MCP6P-M2+|1.2TB|Win10
Old dev rig: Esprimo E5905|P4 630|2GB DDR2|GMA 950|250GB|Vista SP2
Win3.1 rig: Siemens Pro C6|440LX|PII 300|128MB|Matrox G100|40GB|W3.11
XP rig: IBM S50|P4 3GHz|865G|512MB|82865G|80GB|XP SP3

Reply 2 of 13, by Jo22

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zv45beta wrote:

Any advice would be helpful.

Ok, maybe this is a bit farfetched, but I have an idea - maybe the floppy drive is defetive ?
There's either a switch or a LED/sensor (a photodiode, successor of the selenium cell) inside, which is used to detect the position of the tab.
Depending on how the sensor is defective (shorted or open), the disk *could* become write-protected.
But again, it's just an idea. It's probably something else. Also, if the sensor is failing, the disk should be unprotected normally
(because it's like the light beam was interrupted by the write-enable tap).

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Reply 3 of 13, by Tetrium

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zv45beta wrote:
I've tried multiple disks, changing the floppy drive, changing the floppy cable, resetting the BIOS, together with checking that […]
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I've tried multiple disks, changing the floppy drive, changing the floppy cable, resetting the BIOS, together with checking that the Write to floppy security option was enabled, and finally triple-checked that the write-protect tab is in the correct position.

The computer still won't read any floppies I try formatting and/or writing.

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks

I don't know your specific error. It's far fetched, but have you tried using another power connector? Perhaps the one you're using for your FDD is malfunctioning somehow (lol, really weird, but if it fixes it, who cares? 😜).

It may also be some setting of your specific board, especially since you mention it's a Siemens and it's somekind of server board? (btw it is not a Fujitsu-Siemens? Fujitsu-Siemens did have a few minor oddities back then)

Try to find the manual or look on the board as there "may" be some jumper that makes floppy drives behave this way (maybe as some anti-datatheft thingy or something). If this is the case, it may obviously also be some (hidden?) BIOS setting.

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Reply 4 of 13, by Ampera

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My suggestion is a major cleaning and de-dusting. As said there is a switch or optical sensor (Most likely optical sensor) doing the write protection. If there is a load of dust or dirt in the way of this, it could have an effect.

Here is what I think you should do.

Start by giving the drive a good shake, This "Percussive maintenance" solves some problems. It could knock some dust out or whatever.

Next, open up the drive and use compressed air to blow out any dust you see. Try to locate the optical sensor and ensure there is no dust. At this point you should clean the head and throw some lube on the rails if you haven't already.

If this fails, and you can't think of anything else to do with the drive, drop it on the floor from chest height. Seriously, this is back to the percussive maintenance thing where just giving electro-mechanical devices (Not hard drives) percussive shock can jar something back into working.

At the end of the day, if you are like the rest of us you have umpteen millions of floppy drives, and one down shouldn't be much of a loss.

Reply 7 of 13, by Baoran

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He already said that he had tried multiple floppy drives.

Ampera wrote:

I doubt it's any problem with the electronics. This just looks like dust or some mechanical failure.

Reply 8 of 13, by clueless1

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Tetrium wrote:

Try to find the manual or look on the board as there "may" be some jumper that makes floppy drives behave this way (maybe as some anti-datatheft thingy or something). If this is the case, it may obviously also be some (hidden?) BIOS setting.

I agree with this.

One thing I think we need to be clear on, I wasn't sure from your OP whether writing to floppies ever worked in the past? The answer to that could change the whole dynamic of how we troubleshoot.

Regarding the Write to Floppy security option, I assume that is a BIOS setting? Have you tried Disabled? Maybe it's one of those things where Disabled means that the security option is disabled, not that writing to the disk is disabled.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
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Reply 9 of 13, by zv45beta

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Tetrium wrote:
I don't know your specific error. It's far fetched, but have you tried using another power connector? Perhaps the one you're usi […]
Show full quote
zv45beta wrote:
I've tried multiple disks, changing the floppy drive, changing the floppy cable, resetting the BIOS, together with checking that […]
Show full quote

I've tried multiple disks, changing the floppy drive, changing the floppy cable, resetting the BIOS, together with checking that the Write to floppy security option was enabled, and finally triple-checked that the write-protect tab is in the correct position.

The computer still won't read any floppies I try formatting and/or writing.

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks

I don't know your specific error. It's far fetched, but have you tried using another power connector? Perhaps the one you're using for your FDD is malfunctioning somehow (lol, really weird, but if it fixes it, who cares? 😜).

It may also be some setting of your specific board, especially since you mention it's a Siemens and it's somekind of server board? (btw it is not a Fujitsu-Siemens? Fujitsu-Siemens did have a few minor oddities back then)

Try to find the manual or look on the board as there "may" be some jumper that makes floppy drives behave this way (maybe as some anti-datatheft thingy or something). If this is the case, it may obviously also be some (hidden?) BIOS setting.

It's actually a Siemens-Nixdorf Scenic Pro C6, no mentions of Fujitsu anywhere. The manual is also extremely hard to find...

clueless1 wrote:
I agree with this. […]
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Tetrium wrote:

Try to find the manual or look on the board as there "may" be some jumper that makes floppy drives behave this way (maybe as some anti-datatheft thingy or something). If this is the case, it may obviously also be some (hidden?) BIOS setting.

I agree with this.

One thing I think we need to be clear on, I wasn't sure from your OP whether writing to floppies ever worked in the past? The answer to that could change the whole dynamic of how we troubleshoot.

Regarding the Write to Floppy security option, I assume that is a BIOS setting? Have you tried Disabled? Maybe it's one of those things where Disabled means that the security option is disabled, not that writing to the disk is disabled.

The machine was a free pickup so I'm not sure it worked before...

The BIOS says that if option is set to disabled, no data will be allowed to be written to disk.

Main rig: A64 X2 5000+|4GB DDR2|HD 5450|MCP6P-M2+|1.2TB|Win10
Old dev rig: Esprimo E5905|P4 630|2GB DDR2|GMA 950|250GB|Vista SP2
Win3.1 rig: Siemens Pro C6|440LX|PII 300|128MB|Matrox G100|40GB|W3.11
XP rig: IBM S50|P4 3GHz|865G|512MB|82865G|80GB|XP SP3

Reply 10 of 13, by clueless1

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It won't hurt to try anyway, no? Will only take a minute. Maybe it's a bug in the BIOS. Maybe not. But no big ordeal to test it out. Have you done a visual inspection for jumpers on the motherboard? Any jumpers or such that might be worth experimenting with?

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 12 of 13, by Tetrium

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Ampera wrote:

Well I'm blind.

I'll go to bed, I am drunk.

Happens to the best of us, don't worry 😜

clueless1 wrote:

It won't hurt to try anyway, no? Will only take a minute. Maybe it's a bug in the BIOS. Maybe not. But no big ordeal to test it out. Have you done a visual inspection for jumpers on the motherboard? Any jumpers or such that might be worth experimenting with?

This.

Just give it a try and see what happens.

Chances are that if the machine was always like this, it may be some sort of damaged floppy controller?

One of my boards would not even detect a FDD and I ended up simply using a LS-120 drive in there, for the floppies (I didn't end up using the superdisks).

Whats missing in your collections?
My retro rigs (old topic)
Interesting Vogons threads (links to Vogonswiki)
Report spammers here!

Reply 13 of 13, by chinny22

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can you format the disk form the P2?

Maybe Win10 is formatting it in some strange way the P2 doesn't understand?