Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

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jms2
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Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby jms2 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:09 pm

I know there's already this thread covering formatting of SD and CF cards for use on RO3.1, but I'm looking for some advice regarding 'real' hard discs.

My A3000 has an HCCS IDE interface, which I've tried with both an SD adaptor and a CF adaptor. Both worked up to a point, but neither proved to be stable over the longer term (or the shorter term, to be honest). I've therefore come to the conclusion that I'm stuck with mechanical harddiscs. Actually this isn't really a big deal because it's possible to buy old laptop harddiscs quite cheaply - I've obtained a 2GB IBM drive, with a view to partitioning it into 4x 512MB drives using the HCCS partition utility.

The partition utility recognises the drive and seems happy enough to partition it. However, would I be right in thinking that it needs putting into FileCore format first? I've found an old post in which the author of the utility states that it only rewrites the partition table, and doesn't actually format the disc.

If I do need to format it, I'm not sure if it can be done on the A3000 - because as I understand it !HForm only works with motherboard-based IDE interfaces, and there seems to be no such thing as an HCCS formatter (their drives must have come pre-formatted?) I've seen an IDE formatter (!IDEform) on the forum somewhere... but I can't find it, and I don't know if it would work with the HCCS board.

Does anyone know of a reliable way to format a 2GB drive under RO3.1 (assuming that it will then be partitioned using the utility I've already got to <512MB partitions)?

I could possibly plug the drive into my RiscPC and use !Hform.

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martinw
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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby martinw » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:51 pm

I've got an HCCS mini podule IDE interface on my A3000.

I can't remember exactly what's on this disk but it may be of use ...

IMG_3832.JPG


Martin

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jms2
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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby jms2 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:03 pm

That does look interesting! I've got the official HCCS disc, but it only contains !IDEMgr.

I suspect that the formatter might not go above 512MB... but on second thoughts perhaps it does, because the HCCS software does permit partitioning. It'd be really useful if you could upload it.

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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby flaxcottage » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:03 pm

On my A3000, which has a Castle IDE interface !HForm formatted the real hard disc with no problem.
- John

Currently running Level 4 Econet with BBC B, BBC B+ 128K, Master 128K, 4Mb A3000, 4Mb A3020, 4Mb A4000, 4Mb A5000 dual FDD; UK101; HP41CX setup; Psion 3a, 3mx and 5mx; Z88; TI-59 and printer

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jms2
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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby jms2 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:59 pm

flaxcottage wrote:On my A3000, which has a Castle IDE interface !HForm formatted the real hard disc with no problem.

That's interesting... Searching previous posts on here and elsewhere suggests that it doesn't work with third party interfaces, but maybe some are more compatible than others.

steve3000
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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby steve3000 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:17 am

jms2 wrote:
flaxcottage wrote:On my A3000, which has a Castle IDE interface !HForm formatted the real hard disc with no problem.

That's interesting... Searching previous posts on here and elsewhere suggests that it doesn't work with third party interfaces, but maybe some are more compatible than others.

Castle IDE interface is quite different to all other IDE podules in that it implements the same hardware as the Acorn IDE hardware, just over the podule bus.

So Acorn's !HForm will work with the Castle interface, but you'll also have the same restrictions as the Acorn interface (limited CF card and SD converter compatibility). You might also notice that the Castle interface works through ADFS, rather than IDEFS. :)

The Acorn !HForm won't work with other interfaces that I'm aware of. Most third party interfaces came with their own !IDEForm application (or similar), based on HForm, except patched to the interface. A few (possibly HCCS?) had much nicer desktop applications to format and manage the HDDs.

All that said, and going back to the original post... unless you are mapping out defects or using a suspected faulty drive, HForm etc. only needs to set up the partition table to make a drive usable with RISC OS. Low level formatting isn't required on IDE HDDs in the way it used to be needed with ST506 etc.

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jms2
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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby jms2 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:59 am

steve3000 wrote:All that said, and going back to the original post... unless you are mapping out defects or using a suspected faulty drive, HForm etc. only needs to set up the partition table to make a drive usable with RISC OS. Low level formatting isn't required on IDE HDDs in the way it used to be needed with ST506 etc.


Aha! That's exactly what I was looking for... thanks! :D I kind of suspected this might be the case, but I couldn't find it explicitly stated anywhere. I take it this doesn't apply for SD cards etc (hence all the debate about formatting them).

So in theory my partitioning utility should be sufficient, I'll give it a try.

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jms2
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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby jms2 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:19 pm

I tried just typing *co. Idefsdiscs 4, and hey presto, four drives of the correct sizes appear! :D So thanks, you're right, it didn't need formatting at all.

Now to try to salvage what I can from the CF card. My plan is to leave the partitions as they are but tell the disc to only use the first one. Then I should be able to attach the cf card as a slave drive hopefully.

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jms2
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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby jms2 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:10 pm

... and that worked fine, after some faffing about getting both IDE devices to share the same interface. The CF card insisted on being the Master no matter what I did to its jumpers, so I had to make the real HDD into the slave for the purposes of transfer.

The strange thing was, the corruption present on the CF card wasn't apparent when I copied the files over, and everything transferred fine. I guess it must be an intermittent fault. That's the trouble with these solid state devices, once you've had the experience of them going wrong (repeatedly), it's hard to trust them again.

So I've come to the conclusion that older technology is better. Not really a surprise...

Also the machine now makes a nice "spin down" noise when I turn it off. =D>

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jms2
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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby jms2 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:47 pm

It had to happen... no sooner had I decided that real HDDs are the future, then signs of the previous issues that I had start to reappear. :twisted: Specifically, on boot the third partition has disappeared, ie there's no icon on the icon bar, just a gap. This is exactly the kind of weird stuff that happened previously when I had 4 partitions active.

On the positive side, this proves one thing - there probably wasn't any problem with the CF card (or maybe the SD card), it must be my IDE interface which has some kind of problem.

There's one thing that I've noticed, which is that on the short ribbon cable (which was supplied with with the original 80MB drive and which I use as the "permanent" arrangement once I've transferred all the data), the part of the cable which goes to pin 1 has been deliberately cut and a short section removed. This is the /RESET signal. I have no idea why this might have been done (googling for it hasn't helped), but could it be interfering with the operation of the drive when partitioned?

It might explain why there are no problems during the data transfer phase, but only later when I've boxed everything up for normal use.

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jms2
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Re: Formatting real harddiscs >512MB on RO3.1

Postby jms2 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:32 pm

I tried out a different cable, and all seemed well... But only for a day, and now I am seeing Broken Directory errors. There is certainly a fault with the IDE interface, but it is an intermittent one.

I'm going to look for dirty contacts and dry joints.


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