Shark Update

From: Adrian Vickers <>
Date: Sat Jan 11 20:40:01 2003

Right. If you don't like tales of endurance, adventure, battle and gore,
turn away now. Same thing goes if you don't like happy endings...

A trilogy, in four parts: (orig. (c) Douglas Adams)

Part 1:

I decided that rather than wait for ICPUG to deliver a disk, I'd go ahead
and try to make my X1541 cable, which would allow me to use either the 1541
I just got, or the 1541-II I already had to transfer the Mator "discdiag"
program over to the PET. Rather than the plain old X1541 (which probably
wouldn't work with my "big" PC, I decided on the XE1541, which should work.
I'm not going the whole hog & making parallel drives, etc. I can afford the

So: 5pm, trip to Maplins to get the components. "Sorry guvnor, no diodes in
stock". OK - fall back to the plain X1541 then; at least it'll work on my
486. "Oh, and no D25 plugs either". FFS! OK, plan 'B' (made up on the spot)
- use a D25 socket (available) & a male-male genderbender (available).
Woohoo! That and some cable & a couple of 6-pin DINs (1 spare, 'cos I
usually knacker one trying to solder them).

Wait 1hr for train home. I *knew* I should have taken the car... Then
again, the traffic jam was horrendus, so glad I didn't. Arrived home, found
most of my soldering gear, except the tin of excellent tip cleaner/tinner.
Nevermind, tip's still clean enough. Apply vice to desk, start soldering
6-pin DIN. Amazingly, I didn't completely wreck it (although some of the
pins needed realigning afterwards). *Surely* there's an easier way??
Copious use of multimeter to ensure no shorts. Everything checks out, even
with the connector all sealed up. Huzzah!

OK, I took special care wiring up the D25 socket, making sure I had the
exact right pins, everything. Since the X1541 requires the GND pin
connecting across ALL of the data lines (well, that's what the diagram
says, I'm not sure if it's optional or not), I improvise a bar using a
regular staple & lots of solder. Hook everything up. Re-check all
connections with multimeter - everything AOK! All pins connected, no pins
shorting out, we're hot to rock!

Dig the 486 out of the dim & distant corner it's lurking in. Power up, copy
Star Commander across. Plug M-M genderbender into cable, plug into parallel
port. Root 1541 out of cupboard, plug in. This is where things start to go
wrong.... The power & drive lights come on, but the drive light fails to go
out. Uh-oh. Unplug everything, re-check wiring. No problems. Re-connect
everything - same behaviour. Download X1541test.exe, load it onto 486,
follow bent paperclip instructions (only with a staple). No probs, p/port
is compatible. Hmmm.... Finally, I re-test the cable with the genderbender
still in place: Doh! It's mirror-imaged all the connections! So, my
carefully soldered cable looks just like I'd made the most elementary
f**kup imaginable. Grrr. Eat dinner in moody silence. Return to soldering
iron. Getting that staple bus-bar out is a real pig. I'm probably lucky I
didn't fry the LPT port. Or the 1541 for that matter...

Anyway, finally it all works, so I format a disk, copy an image over, and
wander upstairs to try it out.

Part 2:

Things start to go wrong again.....

First, I try the disk in an 8050: No joy. So, back downstairs, pick up the
4040, back upstairs. If you know your Commodores, you will know that the
4040 should work. Well, it didn't. Getting a bit worried now, I wander back
downstairs & re-check the disk; yep, still readable. Root a 3040 out of the
cupboard, add plug. Take 3040 & disk upstairs. Plug 3040 in & switch on;
there's a small "snap" noise, and FLAMES! Pull mains plug out in a hurry,
but the fire continues; luckily, it's only small, and I can simply blow it
out: No opening the window & slinging the drive into the street - phew!.
Open 3040 up, it looks like an electrolytic cap has burned out (literally,
there is smoke damage above it in the case). Still, that explains why the
fuse didn't blow - the power side is still quite alright.

So, 3040 down, 8050 no good, 4040 no good. Despairing, I turn to the net,
to discover that the 4040 *should* be OK. Worried now that I didn't write
the disk in GCR format... However, I re-try the disk, this time in drive 1,
and after a couple of false starts it's away & working! Woohoo!

Part 3:

OK, now the drive is OK and I've got the program loaded, I start up the
hard-drive. 25 seconds it takes, from power on to availablilty. Try a diR;
get 2 chars then nothing, computer (CBM710) has crashed. Re-boot computer
with power switch, try again - same problem. Uh-oh, has the HDD died? I try
the only thing I know is different, switch off 4040 & try again (same
problem), then physically disconnect 4040 - problem solved. So, the 4040
has an IEEE problem (or maybe a DOS problem, I don't know which). With that
little dilemma solved, I re-load the diagnostics program from the 4040,
save it to HDD (that works with the 4040 plugged in, for some reason).
Unplug 4040, run diags program.

Huzzah! Finally, we made it! (wipes sweat from brow). Old computers, eh?
You just gotta love 'em.

Part 4:

I set the "bad sector report" going, then had a peek at the manual because
it looks like the 710 has crashed again - however, it turns out it's going
to take about 10mins for the HDD to locate all its duff sectors. So that's
OK, leave it 10 mins. I'm expecting it to be in bad shape, but actually
there are only about 17 reallocations. I can't remember how big a Commodore
sector is, but given that there is nearly 82250 blocks of total disk space,
that seems like a very low number (again, bear in mind this h/w is
approaching 20 years old).

I tried a few "random reads" (all reported no errors), and the machine
literally shook about the place as the head moved back & forth. Wow.... Try
doing that with a little IDE drive!

So, that's it really. It looks like the Shark is in swimmingly (sorry) good
order, and it does in fact work OK with the 8050; it's just the 4040 which
causes it grief.


If you found the above boring, then please don't read it. Thankyou.

And now, some questions:

1) Is it actually possible to copy files from one unit (i.e. diskdrive) to
another (i.e. Shark)? The COPY command can't (it even says so in the
manual), and I guess it's understandable given that most people would have
had a dual drive unit, and maybe a tape deck, but little else with their PETs.

2) Does anyone know anything about the "Interpod" IEEE-->Serial thing? I
have one of these, and during Part 2 above, I tried using it to (a) connect
the 8050 to the X1541 cable, and (b) connect the 1541 to the PET, but
neither application worked in any way shape or form. So, do I have a duff
Interpod, or does it require some s/w on the computer to operate correctly
(if so, I suspect it's a C64 specific thing). I believe it was used to
connect a C64 to the Shark hard drive.

3) Does *anyone* make DIN plugs which don't melt if you bring a soldering
iron within 5ft of them?

4) Where's my coffee?

That's all folks! Now I've verified the Shark is in pretty sound condition,
I'll try taking some decent photos of it, inside & out. And yes Jeffrey,
I'll try to make sure there's some good hi-res pictures of it :) Although I
am a bit short of extra lighting, so we'll have to see what the built-in
flash is capable of, I'm afraid.
Cheers, Ade.
Be where it's at, B-Racing!
Received on Sat Jan 11 2003 - 20:40:01 GMT

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