Re: IMSAI 8" floppy disk system manual/schematics?

On May 1, 2:07 am, bobar <boba...@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
I got an IMSAI (turnkey system - no front panel) with a dual 8" floppy
drive system, also from IMSAI.
I have been able to fix the computer, but unable to get the drives to
work. The system came with CP/M
and quite a bit of other software so it would be great to get it

Does anyone have a manual or schematics for the disk system? I have a
basic description of the DIO
controller card, but no schematics. Also, I have nothing on the boards
in the disk chassis. The drives
are from Calcomp, model 142M.

Any simple way to verify the disk components are working?

Photos of the system can be seen on my web site at:



I have a number of IMSAI manuals available as listed on my Web site at
the link below. Good photocopies are available for a modest per page

...and my home page to ALL my S-100 manuals is at this link:

I also have manuals for many floppy drives, same deal.

Just as a general caution, to everyone who gets an S-100 computer and
asks for documentation. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take time to identify
every board by BRAND AND MODEL. Same with floppy drives.

For instance, this person apparently requests docs for the "DIO"
floppy controller card set. But the apparent photo of the system (hard
to say, the Web page has several IMSAI and other systems on it) shows
what I think is a PIO-II controller - hard to read the board's text.
Any given S-100 system one buys, can have almost any kind of boards in
it, wherever the chasis was "from" 20 or 30 years ago.

Another question was about a "simple way to verify the disk
components". The early floppy disk controllers for S-100, designed
before the single-chip Western Digital controller IC's were available,
are very DIFFICULT to restore. They often used passive components
(resistors and capacitors) to control critical timing: thirty years
later those components are way off-value and should be replaced.
Processor timing is critical too, these boards run the processor flat-
out and use wait states, etc. Or, they will run on their own
processor. Often there is a seperate manual, just on tests and
adjustments of these boards. Also, some of the floppy disk formatting
schemes are not "standard" to those available from the WD chip sets
(or any other floppy controller), so you can't read "their" disks
anywhere else. Oh, and they may only support HARD SECTORED disks for
that matter, depending on vintage.

I can't imagine repairing these without an oscilloscope, and some
carefully prepared diskettes. Of course you need the full manuals and
tech notes.

Good luck!

Herb Johnson

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey USA web site domain mirror
my email address: hjohnson AAT retrotechnology DOTT com
if no reply, try in a few days: herbjohnson ATT comcast DOTT net
"Herb's Stuff": old Mac, SGI, 8-inch floppy drives
S-100 IMSAI Altair computers, docs, by "Dr. S-100"


Relevant Pages

  • Re: 3B2 Disks
    ... being able to read the disk in its present format. ... 2 MFM drives on a custom controller. ... SCSI came much later as an add on card. ...
  • Re: 3B2 Disks
    ... 2 MFM drives on a custom controller. ... what it came out of) but the only SCSI I heard about on the 3B's used ... any software out and would more likely have recycled the floppy disks. ...
  • PC8477 Demo Program
    ... The PC8477 Demo Program is designed to allow access to all software commands and registers of National Semiconductor's PC8477 Advanced Floppy Disk Controller. ... The left center indicates the number of bytes transferred during the last command issued. ...
  • Re: [opensuse] Recover Linux Raid 0 with 2x2port 3Ware Raid 1 cards
    ... HP server with the onboard RAID controller. ... Meaning lucky the special spare drive wasn't lost or damaged in all the time it was sitting around, and the thing that broke was a thing you had a spare of. ... you could even go down to the 24 hour grocery store and buy 10 16G usb thumb drives to replace a dead 146G scsi disk. ...
  • Re: Filesystem, RAID Question
    ... The card bios found the drives and allowed me to setup in RAID 5. ... However a 3 disk RAID5 is the worst performing RAID5 setup you can create. ... Just take the default stripe size the array controller presents you with -- it will be appropriate for this sort of mixed file sizes. ... The first thing to consider is what sort of IO caching strategy your ...