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Schneider PC1640... by Amstrad ;-)

Denniske1976

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Hi all,

Went to pickup some old computers yesterday and included was a nice but blackened Schneider PC1640 (US model name was PC6400 I understand from the internet). It's complete with two sets of disks, 4 floppies in a set with DOS, tools and also GEM!!! :) The computer is also complete with the original keyboard and mouse and it's the HD20 model with EGA (ECD) display... YAY!! Commander Keen here I come!

Anyhoo, cleaned it and it looks like new now (although it's yellow hehe). The owner told me the harddisk was "kaputt" but I've put in some new AA batteries in the compartiment below the screen and it works to, no bad clusters and actually faster than the MiniScribe in my HeadStart (that still works flawlessly btw, thank you very much). Couldn't find out what harddisk it was, since everything is removed except some sticker that says "Amstrad, do not remove" or something. Nothing else that reveals a brand name. It doesn't look like a Seagate, and it's not as square-shaped as a miniscribe either. It doesn't make a sound except for sometimes when I use the disk it makes a really whispering sound (like a Cheetah harddisk makes when powered on, a it like "whiwhiwhi") and that's it, you don't even here it spin (unlike the MiniScribes and the ST412s I know of).

Anyway, really nice computer and all... BUT: There's a high squeeking sound coming from the minitor, it's not there all the time but it really seems that there is a live cricket inside. It goes like "tsjirp tsjirp tsjirp" about 4 to 5 times a minute randomly.

I sprayed the inside of the screen with "alien repellant" since that was all I had around, so no jokes about there being a real cricket inside.

But uhm... broken elco?? Or anyone know how I can fix it?

Thanx again,

Dennis
 

Denniske1976

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I have to get the harddisk out again then... damn thing is mounted inside a metal cage in the computer. Just like the mainboard, also inside a metal shielding cage. Pretty neat actually, the whole thing is plastic but alle the componentes are mounted inside metal shielding cages: mainboard, floppy, hdd. And everywhere there are metal strips to have everything properly grounded (for the expansion cards etc) :)

The disk has the power connector to the side, like MiniScribe disks have but it's more square shaped like a Rodime or Kalok disk. Plus it doesn't make the "MiniScribe-noise" ;-) It's connectoed to a WD controller hidden inside the cage as an expansion card without the metal retainer.

Will take pictures sometime, will try to get some this weekend.
 

RWallmow

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Your chirping noise could easily be failing capacitors in the display power supply circuit, not something that's uncommon in computers of this age, many of us have had to change out capacitors in our vintage rigs.
 

Denniske1976

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OK, had another look and it seems that it's the HARDDISK (??!!??) that's making that "crickett" noise :confused: Because when I only have the monitor powered on, the noise isn't there... and when I have the computer powered on without the harddisk connected the noise ain't there either (at first I was thinking it might have been a cap on the mainboard).

Anyhoo, made some pictures for you guys since I really have no clue what drive this is... obviously it's not an Amstrad disk, although I have another Compaq harddisk of 1050MB that says Compaq everywhere and is manufactured in Mainz, Germany. Didn't even know they made harddisks in Germany (too expensive?).

Piccies
 

RWallmow

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That's probably not a good sign that the drive is the culprit for noise. I don't recognize that drive design, but looks like interface is standard MFM/RLL so you should be able to stick in any MFM/RLL drive if it does end up dying on you (Or maybe even an MFM drive emulator board, chuckg is working on a MFM floppy emulator he says might eventually emulate MFM hard drives too).

I NEVER seen a compaq made hard drive, most I have seen them do is rebrand seagates in their servers (full compaq branding on all lables, more than just the spares stickers) this was around the 4-9gb drive size ranges I was seeing this, not sure how long they did this, but the drives were obviously seagate cheetah drives (still had cheetah emblem on them).
 

modem7

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The following confirms that the drive uses the standard geometry for a 20MB MFM (ST506/ST412 interface) drive.

amstrad_DRMD20A12A.jpg
 

Denniske1976

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Thanx for the replies guys, so if the drive fail then I can still pop in a Seagate ST-251 or something I still have. I'll see what the noise is, somehow it looks as if it's coming from the interupter thingie or somewhere about that area... and the weird thing is, if I apply pressure with my flat hand on the disk the noise seems to go away (???) :confused:

Cool thing is btw, that Schneider computer beeps at bootup and tells me when I last used it (date/time)... pretty neat, I thought.

That Compaq harddisk from Mainz germany is a real weird one too, can't find anything online like a picture or something. The strange thing is that there's copper shields and strands all over the disk. The controller chip is IBM btw, so it could be a rebranded IBM/Hitachi?

Well, I'll power the Amstrad drive on and leave it to spin for an hour or so, see what that does... since my HeadStart's MiniScribe disk suddenly revived itself too (and still worked, at least yesterday it did). The Amstrad disk is really quiet so would hate to put in a Seagate or something. But we'll see ;-)
 

DOS lives on!!

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Thanx for the replies guys, so if the drive fail then I can still pop in a Seagate ST-251 or something I still have. I'll see what the noise is, somehow it looks as if it's coming from the interupter thingie or somewhere about that area... and the weird thing is, if I apply pressure with my flat hand on the disk the noise seems to go away.
Something may be loose and rattling inside the drive or outside. Are all the screws that are holding that cover down tight?

Well, I'll power the Amstrad drive on and leave it to spin for an hour or so, see what that does... since my HeadStart's MiniScribe disk suddenly revived itself too (and still worked, at least yesterday it did). The Amstrad disk is really quiet so would hate to put in a Seagate or something. But we'll see
Awwww, but loud Seagates are what completes the whole "vintage computer" thing.:)
Have you tried reading/writing to the disk and see what it does or if any new noises arouse? See if those "crickets" like files being written on their heads.:)
 

Denniske1976

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OK nailed it :cool:

So I took an old ATX PSU I had around, shorted line 14 and a GND and connected the drive. Left it spinning and yup, it started squeeking again. SO, too a look between the PCB and the drive housing and saw this:

amstrad-harddisk08.jpg

The thingie in the red circle is what's making the noise!!

So, detached the PCB and THIS:

amstrad-harddisk10.jpg

Is what attaches/pushes down on THIS:

amstrad-harddisk09.jpg

So, got some bearing grease and applied it to both the bearing and that little "socket-on-a-stick" and replaced the PCB. Powered up the drive and sure enough... ALL QUIET!! YAY! :)
 

pearce_jj

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Given Amstrad's later attempts at integration with Seagate, could it be Seagate manufactured?
 

Denniske1976

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Well, I've uploaded some more pics. Also from the PCB, there isn't a single brand print or label to be found except for the warranty void and Amstrad labels. In the link to the piccies on the first page they can be seen. The PCB photo is the last one.

Sorry, posting this from my mobile phone so can't link to the pics directly.
 

RWallmow

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Given Amstrad's later attempts at integration with Seagate, could it be Seagate manufactured?
It doesn't look like any Seagate I have seen, but its sure possible, maybe was built by some company Seagate gobbled-up one of the many times its expanded.

Modem7 posted that reference book snapshot showing Amstrad had some rebadged Sony models too, but that doesn't look like any Sony hard disk I have seen either (though I have only ever seen 1 or 2 Sony drives in my life, so I'm probably not the best to comment on those).
 
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