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MiniScribe 8450XT 40MB harddisk

Denniske1976

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Jan 17, 2011
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The Netherlands
Hi all,

Looking for some MiniScribe 8450XT harddisks, 40MB XT-IDE 3.5" model. Maybe some other models would be suitable as I have about 3 PCBs from this harddisk so I don't know if a SCSI or MFM model would be suitable and I could swap the controller PCB (since some models share the same physical/mechanical drive parts). Just want some spare drives for my HeadStart computer :)

Thanx in advance,

Dennis
 

vwestlife

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May 2, 2008
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central NJ
The Seagate ST-351A/X may be compatible; if you can find one cheaply, it's worth a shot. I know Seagate's and Western Digital's IDE-XT drives are compatible with each other -- the IDE-XT "SmartDrive" controller in my Tandy 1000RL works with both -- but I don't know about MiniScribe's IDE-XT drives.
 

k2x4b524[

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Tacoma, Washington, USA. Zip code 98404
The seagate 351a/x are of a higher quality i think, i have 3 of them, and work flawlessly, also they are the fastest of the steppers as well as the last ide drives to even use steppers. I have the miniscribe variant in MFM and SCSI, but work, but have bad sectors, the seagates dont.Try and find a seagate, they typically last forever..
 

Denniske1976

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Yeah I saw the Seagate 351A/X come up in Google when searching for XT IDE compatibility. So might have a go for one of those. I'll miss the ubercool sound of my MiniScribe though... my GF says it does "meep meep" when in idle mode ;-) It started making weird noises again last sunday and hung my computer twice. No reason, once during "diskcopy a: a:" (to duplicate a PS/2 Reference Disk for my Model P70) so I used the reset button and it booted normally into DOS, nothing weird... then while playing Commander Keen (I know, I know) it hung again while reverting back to "Control Panel". The disk made some strange "non-MiniScribe" noises not much, just some weird noise... not quite like grinding but more like the sound you get when you try to use an old rusty disc brake on a car/motorcycle (??).

After that I rebooted the computer again (reset button) and again, it booted normally into DOS without any issues or messages (so no "sector not found" or anything). I started PC Tools 7.1 DiskFix and did a surface scan and it found nothing (80 pattern testing, took all the way into the night), and also it didn't hang during this surface scan (and it took more than 8 hours to finish).

Weird eh?
 

SunDown79

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I just restored a system with a Seagate ST351 (it had a miniscribe before this too), and the whole system is for sale, asking 50 euro's for the system (its a Philips NMS9100). I would be willing to just sell the harddisk (and anything else you'd want from the system).
 

Denniske1976

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How's aboot we make a trade for that Intel uScope 8080 that's still waiting here? ;-) Would like the NMS9100 if it's with keyboard and screen...
 

EverythingIBM

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Aug 23, 2010
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Canada
The seagate 351a/x are of a higher quality i think, i have 3 of them, and work flawlessly, also they are the fastest of the steppers as well as the last ide drives to even use steppers. I have the miniscribe variant in MFM and SCSI, but work, but have bad sectors, the seagates dont.Try and find a seagate, they typically last forever..

I'd say the miniscribes are higher quality, primarily also due to the fact that they use a linear arm mechanism, like a floppy drive. Seagate makes their HDDs just like any other...

I have some IBM "deathstars" that work flawlessly, too (they share the same start up sound as seagate cheetahs). Determining HDD reliability from a brand name is really meaningless. I quite like my GXP deskstars, glass platters are nice.

On a side note, I am a big fan of the old WD caviar bearings. I find them pleasant.
 

SunDown79

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@Denniske1976 lol, I completely forgot about that, let me think about it :)

About the quality of drives I can only say that with most of the 8-bit IDE drives I come across nearly ALL miniscribes are busted and nearly all seagates always still seem to work but that could be a matter of luck :)
 

vwestlife

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The ST-351A/X was the last and best stepper motor hard drive ever made. It was small (1" high), quiet, fast, and reliable. In comparison, the Western Digital and Miniscribe IDE-XT drives were bigger (half height), noisy, slow, and unreliable. And these days, it is very difficult to find those, because they went out of production pretty quickly, while Seagate continued making the ST-351A/X for many years, well into the 1990s. In fact, it is said to be the last 40 MB hard drive (of any kind) ever made!

And yes, there are exceptions, but I don't think it's a coincidence that all of the old Seagate hard drives I have still work, while all of the MiniScribes and old Western Digitals (anything pre-Caviar-series) I have are all dead!
 

Denniske1976

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Sorry to revive this thread, but I finally got around to testing those two ST351A/X drives off eBay and I encountered a bit of a problem:

When I first checked both disks, I have one with and one without the 3-pin power connector, FDISK finds a non-DOS partition 41MB in size. So that's correct. I remove that, create a new DOS partition and confirm to the question of using full space. Then I reboot and format only gives me a disk of 20.37MB to format.

I looked up the jumper settings and according to stason.org I need to close 1-2 and 7-8 to get XT mode full 40MB operation. Changing Bus Reset to high, low or even no jumper makes no difference at all, always just a 20 Meg partition.

WTF? Could it be that the HeadStart doesn't see the extra space/head? The original MiniScribe 8450XT is 40 Meg.
 

SunDown79

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What OS does it run, if I am correct MS-DOS 3.x doesn't support 40 meg (you can trick it with a special driver and using two partitions).
 

RJBJR

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Feb 17, 2011
Messages
453
If I read the attached data sheets correctly, you need to close pins 1-2, 5-6, 7-8 to get 40MB.

edit: the jumper info on the 18-pin data sheet is mucked up and doesn't make sense, the 12-pin sheet is right.
These are Microhouse data sheets for 12 & 18-pin drives.
 
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RJBJR

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Feb 17, 2011
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Ok, bear with me here as I'm not familiar with the Headstart Computer. As I understand it, it has an integrated HDD controller that can't be disabled (that from your other XT-IDE thread). Does the integrated controller run any kind of setup procedure?

You may have to tell the integrated controller heads/cyl/sector info if there is no dedicated BIOS procedure for setting the drives. Or am I aiming at something that has already been done?
 

RJBJR

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Feb 17, 2011
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Also, are we talking about both a 12-pin and 18-pin jumpered version of this drive? I've attached the Seagate tec sheet for the 351A/X.

The 18-pin version should have the following pins closed: 3-4, 9-10, and either 15-16(bus reset high) or 17-18(bus reset low).
 

Denniske1976

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Both are 12-pin jumper blocks, one with and one without the 3-pin power connector. There's no setup to be done with this XT class computer. It's actually very similar to the HeadStart II but with integrated XT IDE controller... Dammit, bought these drives quite expensive on eBay, could it be that the MiniScribe 8450 is hardcoded in the BIOS? The ST351A/X has a different head count because it's only 1 platter, the MiniScribe 8450 has two platters... So that difference could explain for the Seagate being aren as a 20Meg drive. But the oartition was shown as a non-DOS with size 41MB. FDISK also won't let me choose more than 20MB.
 
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RJBJR

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Feb 17, 2011
Messages
453
Both are 12-pin jumper blocks, one with and one without the 3-pin power connector. There's no setup to be done with this XT class computer. It's actually very similar to the HeadStart II but with integrated XT IDE controller... Dammit, bought these drives quite expensive on eBay, could it be that the MiniScribe 8450 is hardcoded in the BIOS? The ST351A/X has a different head count because it's only 1 platter, the MiniScribe 8450 has two platters... So that difference could explain for the Seagate being aren as a 20Meg drive. But the oartition was shown as a non-DOS with size 41MB. FDISK also won't let me choose more than 20MB.

It could be hard-coded for a specific drive. Are there any messages from the BIOS during boot that reference a HDD?

I'm not sure if you can even run the Seagate drives at 20MB on that system?
The Miniscribe has 805 tracks, 4 heads and 26 sectors/track
The Seagate has 820 tracks, 2,6 heads and 17 sectors/track (not sure how it does either 2 or 6 heads)

If you format the Seagate drive and it tries to use 26-sectors per track is it going to actually change the sectors? Will it hurt the drive?
 

Denniske1976

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Nope, the only messages at boot are "640K RAM found" and "128K Shadow RAM found".

Formatting the disk is also surprisingly quick, the disk is formatted in about 30 seconds... Isn't that way to fast?
 
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