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Kalok Cartridge System

famicomaster2

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Hello again, this will be my third post about my little hard disk collection. This group is not nearly as large as the Kalok Octagon collection or the Computer Memories collection, but I feel it is still worthy of it's own little post, as these drives in working condition are rather uncommon, and it's even less likely to find them all in one place side-by-side like this.

From left to right:
Kalok P3-250AR
TEAC SD-3360N
JTS Palladium P1000
JTS Champion C2500
JTS Champion C4300

IMG_20230119_230050427.jpg


The design for the Kalok P3/P5 cartridge system shows up around 1992 or 1993 and continues through to the end of Kalok's business in 1994. During that time, the cartridge system was called P3, P5, K-STOR, and was licensed to TEAC who sold it under their brand as "TEAC-STOR." In 1994, Kalok shut their doors and most of their assets were purchased by the JT Storage company, who immediately ditched Kalok's Octagon II line of bottom-dollar stepper actuated hard disks, but kept the cartridge system alive. The drives were given a slightly different controller to break out the regular Molex power and IDE connectors, as well as the configuration jumpers. To make the drives the correct height, as the cartridges are "Ultra Slim" at 0.25" tall, JTS used spindly little metal angle brackets on the bottom, affixed with torx screws. It looks as bad as you're imagining. These drives were sold as the CHAMP and Palladium drives, of which you can see the P1000 here. These drive are essentially unchanged from the Kalok units. The later Champion drives, like the C2500 and C4300 on the right have a different bottom half of the chassis, with a structural reinforcements, real cast mounts, and room for a deeper spindle to facilitate the addition of extra platters.

Kalok and by proxy TEAC sold their cartridges in sizes of 250MB, 360MB, and 540MB (P3-250AR, P3-360AR, P3-540AR, SD-3250N, SD-3360N, SD-3540N). It's clear that Kalok was working on drives of at least 1GB as within months of the JTS buyout, the CHAMP C1000 and Palladium P1000 become available.

I've heard rumors both that these Kalok cartridges were intended to replace the Octagon II later on as their own standalone drives, and that they were simply meant to become a higher option to Octagon II drives, and that Kalok was working on further stretching that age-old design. I think that would have been an interesting future - If Kalok could have kept their doors open another year or two, or if JTS hadn't shelved the Octagon II immediately, would we have 240MB, 360MB, 500MB stepper drives? The much more modern but more expensive and worse performing Daeyoung DX-3120A adds an interesting page to this story - The density was obviously continuing to go up, using this technology, it would have been totally plausible to get a 240MB drive in the 3.5x1" form factor, even in 1994.

Anyways, that's just my tinfoil hat theory on old hard drives.

Hope you learned something or at least enjoyed. Questions, comments, concerns are all welcomed and encouraged. Thanks for reading!
 

Chuck(G)

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I picked out the JTS drives immediately--they stick out a lot more than a regular 3.5" drive. I discovered that when I tried to install one in one of those 3.5" drive "drawers". My 1GB unit didn't last more than about a year anyway. Typical Juggi Tandon quality, IMOHO.
 

krebizfan

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The Tandon line of hard drives became the Western Digital hard drives in the late 80s. Much better quality than anything proffered by Kalok, even after the bankruptcy changes that resulted in JTS.

In 1992, Xebec bought the rights and factory for Kalok's stepper motor designs and continued production for about another year but switched to voice coils in 1993.
 

famicomaster2

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The Tandon line of hard drives became the Western Digital hard drives in the late 80s. Much better quality than anything proffered by Kalok, even after the bankruptcy changes that resulted in JTS.
I would personally dispute that, the biggest issue with the Kalok drives was lack of parking + unlubricated media. The last Tandon drives, the TM-262/TM-362 etc have lubricated metallic media instead of the older style ferrous oxide media the KL-320, KL-330, KL-34x used.
In 1992, Xebec bought the rights and factory for Kalok's stepper motor designs and continued production for about another year but switched to voice coils in 1993.
Xebec licensed the design, they did not buy it outright. Kalok was still producing the Octagon II right up until they closed doors. Both of my Kalok branded KL-3120s have date codes in mid 94, and my Xebec XE-3120 has a date code in late 93.
 

3lectr1c

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First time I've seen that Kalok logo, looks way better than the one seen on the Octagon drives. Also would be interesting to hear what these sound like, as well as the insides. I'd completely understand not wanting to open one of these though if it worked!
 

famicomaster2

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First time I've seen that Kalok logo, looks way better than the one seen on the Octagon drives. Also would be interesting to hear what these sound like, as well as the insides. I'd completely understand not wanting to open one of these though if it worked!
I like the older logo better myself, but that's because I'm partial to the color blue. This one also seems nice and bland to me, it's just italic text in gray.

They don't sound like anything, they're just regular ol' voice coil drives. Once you've heard one, you've heard them all.

TEAC's manual actually does have a technical drawing of the insides, I could post that up if you like. It just looks like a regular 3.5" voice coil drive, though.
 

krebizfan

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I would personally dispute that, the biggest issue with the Kalok drives was lack of parking + unlubricated media. The last Tandon drives, the TM-262/TM-362 etc have lubricated metallic media instead of the older style ferrous oxide media the KL-320, KL-330, KL-34x used.

Xebec licensed the design, they did not buy it outright. Kalok was still producing the Octagon II right up until they closed doors. Both of my Kalok branded KL-3120s have date codes in mid 94, and my Xebec XE-3120 has a date code in late 93.
Xebec buying the factory from Kaloc but agreeing to continue manufacture. https://www.storagenewsletter.com/2...ok-to-sell-philippines-hdd-facility-to-xebec/
Transfer of technology to Xebec (referred to as manufacturing subcontractor) https://www.storagenewsletter.com/2020/09/08/history-1993-innovative-plans-of-hdd-maker-kalok/
 

famicomaster2

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Nighthawk450

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Famicomaster2, I read one of your early posts about your kalok collection. I'm new to this so please indulge me, but how are you guys running these drives, as in what type of setup? I've got a kalok octagon kl330 drive I'm playing with at the moment. I've gotten it powered up but I'm unable to access it. I'm thinking my setups not compatible.16828420468241951496465130993735.jpg
 

famicomaster2

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Famicomaster2, I read one of your early posts about your kalok collection. I'm new to this so please indulge me, but how are you guys running these drives, as in what type of setup? I've got a kalok octagon kl330 drive I'm playing with at the moment. I've gotten it powered up but I'm unable to access it. I'm thinking my setups not compatible.
The KL-330 is the RLL certified version of the KL-320. This drive will operate with either, however. If you're attempting to access data that was originally stored on the drive 30 years ago, you will need the exact original controller that was used with the drive and a lot of luck.
Otherwise, just about any MFM/RLL controller will do. If you're using a more modern machine, disable your primary IDE channel and enter the geometry manually in the CMOS setup. From there you can attempt to low level format it. All things going well, you can then partition and DOS format it, which will make the drive accessible.

If you wish to know the controller I use personally, it is a DTC 7287 16-bit cached RLL controller.
 

Hak Foo

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I just wanted to share my anecdote with the JTS drives that apparently inherited the Kalok legacy.

Around here, the local Fry's Electronics was selling the C3200-2AS as a loss-leader special at one point. I put one in my 486 because I believed my 120Mb Conner was shot (astonishingly, it was actually the IDE part of the multi-I/O card that blew up; what is there even IN that to fail?) and it seemed like a better deal than equally cheap and sketchy Samsung drives that the local white-box sellers were flogging at the time. It worked well enough, as pairing a 1997-era 3GB drive with even an overclocked-to-80MHz 486 was not really a disc-bound system.

Then I finally traded up to a K6/233, with a PCChips M560TG mainboard (notice a trend in my bottom-feeder choices?) Boot failures all over the show. Swap mainboards, no go, ask the store that sold the board, no go. It ended up that I had to get an updated drive firmware from JTS to make the drive handle UDMA/33 correctly, which of course, the 486 didn't use. A year or so later, the drive gave out entirely, bad sectors all over the show, and JTS had been released from the mortal coil. Ended up taking it back to the store and making a huge scene over the fact the reciept said "3 years warranty" and it was like 32 months in, so they gave me a fairly boring 4Gb Maxtor to get rid of me.

One day I got a scrap machine at jumble sale with another C3200-2AS-- the side "do not remove" label was already ripped off so I assumed there was no point even powering it on.
 

famicomaster2

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astonishingly, it was actually the IDE part of the multi-I/O card that blew up; what is there even IN that to fail?
Haha, wow. I think there's only like 4 logic gates involved in that. Incredible!
and it seemed like a better deal than equally cheap and sketchy Samsung drives that the local white-box sellers were flogging at the time.
The Samsung Apollo drives of the time were very, very poor. You made a very sensible decision at that time!
It ended up that I had to get an updated drive firmware from JTS to make the drive handle UDMA/33 correctly, which of course, the 486 didn't use.
Very interesting! I wonder if this was done as a full board replacement or if they actually can take a flash over IDE from some special software, like many modern optical drives can.
A year or so later, the drive gave out entirely, bad sectors all over the show, and JTS had been released from the mortal coil. Ended up taking it back to the store and making a huge scene over the fact the receipt said "3 years warranty" and it was like 32 months in, so they gave me a fairly boring 4Gb Maxtor to get rid of me.
Well, at least the store honored the warranty. That unfortunately seems to be the fate of many such drives, though. Being returned under warranty and RMA'd or destroyed. The only ones left are the few survivors and the dead ones people got stuck with when they couldn't return them!

Either way, thank you very much for sharing your story with these drives. Even anecdotal, the human experience with these drives is an important part of the history, just as much as the timeline or the parts themselves.
 

Hak Foo

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I'm pretty sure it was a flash over IDE. I don't recall having to mail it away and those are drives you can't easily release the PCB for a swap after all.
 

famicomaster2

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I'm pretty sure it was a flash over IDE. I don't recall having to mail it away and those are drives you can't easily release the PCB for a swap after all.
Of course, yes the PCBs are not easy to access on these units. I wasn't sure if they would have mailed you a new PCB to install or have it sent back for this is all.

I wonder if there are any surviving records of other firmware versions or the utility which flashes them.
 

DPS

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I just recently found out that the Ultraslim line includes there was a third member - JTS. And they are all made in Japan. However, the reliability is not high. These HDDs could be installed in a 3" compartment. Then they had a short adapter and mounting strips. By the way, the strap blocks the view of the shock sensor. And the second option is like a cartridge in Docking bay (TEAC RH-314B) for two pieces. Photo from the internet and I don’t have Docking bay.
 

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DPS

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My Blue Kalok. Workers. Unfortunately, I don't have a Docking bay for them.
 

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famicomaster2

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Hi, they are not 3", they are 3.5". I have two boxed examples of the TEAC-STOR system you are showing there, including the hard case and the docks. Sadly, my dock is only a single bay, not the very cool dual drive setup you show there! Never seen that before.

Very cool blue Kaloks, I've been unable to find anything from the Point5 series, but they are the exact same mechanism as the P3s I have here, just with an IDE adapter on the end. I've seen some TEACs on eBay which include this adapter, though for exorbitant prices.
 

DPS

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I have two boxed examples of the TEAC-STOR system you are showing there, including the hard case and the docks. Sadly, my dock is only a single bay, not the very cool dual drive setup you show there! Never seen that before.
In the photo, this colleague is selling two TEAC-STOR disks and two TEAC RH-314B. Everything is NEW, in boxes. The price is not very good. About $500 for everything.
 
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