Multibooter

LS-120 SuperDisk drive under Win98 and DOS

118 posts in this topic

1.44MB floppy disk formatted to 32MB - Sector 0

I have attached a screenshot of WinHex v12.8-SR 10, displaying disk information and the sector 0 of a regular 1.44MB floppy disk formatted to 32MB (FD32MB).

Creating, modifying and restoring an image file of a 32MB floppy

A 32MB floppy disk may be cloned onto another regular 1.44MB floppy disk by selecting in SuperWriter32 -> Tool -> DiskCopy. SuperWriter32 does not have a menu selection for creating and restoring image files of 32MB floppies.

During DiskCopy, however, SuperWriter32 creates a temporary image file "Fd-32Img.dat" when it reads the source diskette. This temporary image file gets deleted again after having written the image to another 1.44MB floppy. It is easy to make a copy of this image file, at the prompt to insert the target diskette. This image file can be opened fine with WinImage v8.10.8100, but not with GRDuw, GRDuw produces the err msg: "The Disk Image file media type is NOT supported !".

During preliminary experimentation with this image file under WinImage I injected files into the image and then saved the image under the same filename "Fd-32Img.dat" and file type .ima. I then started over again the copying process of a 32MB floppy disk under SuperWriter32, with just any another 32MB floppy, but when SuperWriter32 asked to insert the target floppy, I replaced the file "Fd-32Img.dat" with the one modified by WinImage. And voilà, SuperWriter32 wrote the "Fd-32Img.dat" modified by WinImage to the target floppy. The 32MB floppy disk created from the image modified by WinImage worked fine.

Edited by Multibooter
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1.44MB floppy disk formatted to 32MB - Disk Information

Based on your report, it appears that you can actually fit 32MB of data on a 1.44MB floppy disk, but can LS-120 or a regular FDD then read this disk, or just the LS-240?

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Based on your report, it appears that you can actually fit 32MB of data on a 1.44MB floppy disk, but can LS-120 or a regular FDD then read this disk, or just the LS-240?

LS-240 only:

http://panasonic.jp/support/p3/st_others/download/index.html

(japanese, but clear enough to understand that it is a LS-240 only feature)

However:

http://www.itreviews.co.uk/hardware/h309.htm

Panasonic LS-240 Superdisk drive

32MB on a standard floppy disk (29/04/2002)

The original LS-120 Superdisk drive (reviewed here), which could read, write and format 120MB disks using its optical tracking technology, was a minor success, overshadowed in its heyday by Iomega's Zip. The Superdisk's main strength was its compatibility with standard 1.44MB floppies and this is carried forward to Panasonic's replacement device, the LS-240 Superdisk. Now, though, it has another trick up its slot, the ability to reformat a standard 1.44MB floppy to 32MB.

There are internal and external versions of this drive, but it's the external USB unit which is reviewed here. That USB connection is not ideal, as the cable clips around two of the sides of the 3.5-inch format drive. While this design keeps the cable out of the way when you're carrying the drive around, it also means it's very short. So short, in fact, that if the USB sockets are at the back of your computer, the LS-240 will have to be at the back, too.

jaclaz

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... However:

http://www.itreviews.co.uk/hardware/h309.htm

Panasonic LS-240 Superdisk drive

32MB on a standard floppy disk (29/04/2002)

The original LS-120 Superdisk drive (reviewed here)..

The "reviewed here" can easily be misinterpreted and contains an easily overlooked link to http://www.itreviews.co.uk/hardware/h97.htm, which is probably a review of the older M2 model of the Imation LS-120 drive (the model no. of the drive is not indicated in the review)

My LS-120 drives canNOT read or write 32MB formatted floppies, nor format 1.44MB floppies to 32MB, and I would speculate that there are no LS-120 drives which can do it. But there are many different LS-120 drive models, with different capabilities and different drivers.

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... but can LS-120 or a regular FDD then read this [32MB formatted floppy] disk, or just the LS-240?
When a 1.44MB floppy disk formatted to 32MB is inserted into a regular floppy drive or an LS-120 drive, My Computer displays 2 files, see attached screenshot.

I have opened the file README.TXT ok with TextPad in a regular 1.44MB floppy drive and in an LS-120 drive. TextPad displays the following text:

"Note for Windows user:

This disk is formatted as FD32MB. If you want to format this disk

as 1.44MB again, please select normal format option. If you select

quick format option, the disk does not work correctly.

Note for MAC user:

This disk is formatted as FD32MB. You can not format this disk

as 1.44MB again from standard formatter."

followed by strange jibberish characters.

When I tried to open the other file FD32MB.SYS with Hex Workshop 4, I just go the err msg: "Unable to Open File. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable."

These 2 files are NOT displayed by My Computer when the 32MB floppy is in an LS-240 drive. It looks like FD32MB is a format which displays different things to different folks. WinHex, for example, apparently cannot handle a 32MB formatted floppy disk in an LS-120 drive properly, it just froze my system.

post-183045-0-59513400-1310574018_thumb.

Edited by Multibooter
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My LS-120 drives canNOT read or write 32MB formatted floppies, nor format 1.44MB floppies to 32MB, and I would speculate that there are no LS-120 drives which can do it. But there are many different LS-120 drive models, with different capabilities and different drivers.

Yes, NO LS-120 can, to my knowledge.

The "FD-32" technoloigy (whatever it is) is inherent to the LS-240 and NOT to the LS-120 (another old announce):

http://www.neoseeker.com/news/994-que-ls-240-superdisk-external-drive-announced/

and from the mouth of the wolf:

An actual PDF for the QPS USB version:

http://web.archive.org/web/20011225004413/http://www.qps-inc.com/products/ls240.pdf

where the feature is present

and the actual manual of the LS-240 from Winstation SCSI version:

http://web.archive.org/web/20040401092201/http://www.winstation.com/PDF/SCSI%20SuperDisk/sls-240/SLS240_Manual.pdf

where the feature is NOT.

BUT ;)

http://web.archive.org/web/20011218095613/http://www.winstation.com/Superdisk.htm

The SuperDisk drive is moving forward with a higher capacity version (240Mb), while remaining backward compatible with the 120Mb, and 1.44Mb. The 240 has an added feature, the drive will allow you to format a 1.44 diskette as a 32Mb diskettes.

"Definite proof":

http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=339027

What's New About the SuperDisk 240?

The LS-240 drives are still read/write compatible with the original LS-120 media, and also still read and write standard 1.44MB and 720KB floppy media at their normal capacities. The LS-240 drives, however, have two big differences over their predecessors:

Support for 240MB LS-240 media.

FD32MB technology, which allows you to reformat standard 1.44MB floppy disks and store 32MB of data per disk.

If you thought that CD-R media was cheap enough to give away when you transfer data, how about floppy media? If you're like me, you probably have a lot of new or used-once floppy media that is hard to use at its normal capacity (it's just not big enough), but will work very nicely for larger data files and project files if you use the LS-240 drive's FD32 technology to reformat the media to 32MB.

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz
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http://www.itreviews.co.uk/hardware/h309.htm

... it's the external USB unit which is reviewed here. That USB connection is not ideal, as the cable clips around two of the sides of the 3.5-inch format drive. While this design keeps the cable out of the way when you're carrying the drive around, it also means it's very short. So short, in fact, that if the USB sockets are at the back of your computer, the LS-240 will have to be at the back, too.
There is a very easy workaround to the issue of the 10cm short USB connector cable: a USB extension cable, the USB LS-240 drive works fine with it.

The external USB LS-240 drive is really tiny, light and portable. They probably made this firmly-connected USB cable very short so that it can be snapped back into the tiny LS-240 enclosure, in contrast to the unwieldy and protruding USB/parallel adapter cables of some Imation LS-120 drive models. The external USB LS-240 drive is my favorite SuperDisk drive, but not easy to obtain:

"... also a (rare) version LS-240 existed..." in the link by jaclaz http://reboot.pro/12436/ in posting #20

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What you might not have suspected :unsure: is that you have much thinner tracks :w00t: (and 777 of them) apparently:

http://everything2.com/title/FD32MB

the actual width of the track seems like having been copied and pasted wrongly, this (German) source looks like more reliable

http://www.tecchannel.de/storage/komponenten/401752/test_panasonic_ls_240/index6.html

jaclaz

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Interesting link about Que! D2 Dual Drives in an announcement on 17-Apr-2001. I would speculate that they were never actually sold. In a capture by the wayback machine on 7-Aug-2001 these drives were still "Coming Soon! Que! D2 Dual Drives" http://web.archive.org/web/20010807111533/http://www.qps-inc.com/cgi-bin/display?sn=352263588164159&tm=prod_ext_fire My USB LS-240 drive has a manufacturing date of May 2001. Do you know at what date exactly the plug was pulled on the SuperDisk drives?
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@all: In case you all notice that some posts are missing, that's really a fact. I've just created the new thread:

On Bootable CD's Floppy Emulation, split from this one, as per your request. Since the earliest post of the split was RLoew's, he became the OP of the new thread. If you feel I missed some post that should be there, instead of here, please let me know.

@Multibooter: Thanks for the image! :thumbup

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When a 1.44MB floppy disk formatted to 32MB is inserted into a regular floppy drive or an LS-120 drive, My Computer displays 2 files, see attached screenshot.

[...]

When I tried to open the other file FD32MB.SYS with Hex Workshop 4, I just go the err msg: "Unable to Open File. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable."

These 2 files are NOT displayed by My Computer when the 32MB floppy is in an LS-240 drive.

My (very free) translation of an excerpt of an Imation Japanese FAQ, readly findable by googling "FD32MB.SYS":

On opening with Windows Explorer the FD32MB formatted floppy disk in an usual floppy disk drive, only "FD32MB.SYS" and “README.TXT” are displayed. And "README.TXT" can actually be opened, while the other file is just a label to indicate the FD32MB format. In addition it is not possible either to read out the actual data present or to write to the diskette, since it reports 0 bytes free.
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32MB floppy in a regular floppy drive

I have attached the disk information report generated by Norton Disk Doctor 2004 when it checks, under Win98SE and in a regular floppy drive, a 1.44MB floppy disk formatted to 32MB.

NDD displays 2 error messages during checking:

1) Error on drive A: - Error reading a sector in the FAT. The File Allocation Table (FAT) has a physical error.

2) The following entries have invalid cluster chains: \fd32mb.sys. The disk's usage table for these entries has been destroyed.

The same error messages are displayed when checking the FD32MB floppy in an LS-120 drive.

ndd_win98_fd32mb_in_regular_floppy_drive.txt

Edited by Multibooter
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It seems like the FD32 uses a ZBR (Zone Bit Recording) and PRML :

http://www.storagereview.com/guide/dataPRML.html

As always happens there are contrasting info, see this:

http://slashdot.org/story/01/02/06/1916200/Forget-SuperDisks----Try-32MB-On-A-Floppy

The actual "right" data should be this one:

http://rays-place.dyndns.org/Extras/PCTechGuide/16storage.htm

The technology works by increasing the density of each track on the HD floppy by using the SuperDisk magnetic head for reading, and using the conventional magnetic head for writing data. FD32MB takes a conventional floppy with 80 circumference-shaped tracks, increases that number to 777 and at the same time reduces the track pitch from the floppy's normal 187.5 microns to as little as 18.8 microns.

The time frame is also debatable.

See page 13 of this:

http://frpcug.org/k-byte/Kbyte03_04_01.PDF

It seems to me like the drive was available in 2nd quarter of 2001, but apparently it was initially only OEM.

This sheds some more light:

http://translate.google.it/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fpc.watch.impress.co.jp%2Fdocs%2Farticle%2F20010131%2Fpana.htm&sl=ja&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8

As it gives a link to original product pages:

http://translate.google.it/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fweb.archive.org%2Fweb%2F20010602074703%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.pcc.panasonic.co.jp%2Fp3%2Fproducts%2Fdrive%2Fsuperdisk%2Flkrf240uz%2Findex.html&sl=ja&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8

http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?ie=UTF8&rurl=translate.google.it&sl=ja&tl=en&twu=1&u=http://web.archive.org/web/20010305113345/http://www.pcc.panasonic.co.jp/p3/products/drive/superdisk/lkrf240uz/fd32_1.html&usg=ALkJrhhfSf3FWqC4g3809zcnbq1HxU9TZQ

and to this "media" page:

http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?ie=UTF8&rurl=translate.google.it&sl=ja&tl=en&twu=1&u=http://web.archive.org/web/20010418053908/http://www.pcc.panasonic.co.jp/p3/news/128/index.html&usg=ALkJrhjJmJfJ2icU0gcWfs7Jqcm7k_2EcQ

that actually contains links to the various drive models.

I guess we need a (paid :ph34r:) account to get this full text:

http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110003688595

http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/200110/000020011001A0346381.php

to learn something more.

Just a guess on my side, but probably the actual first tracks looks (very loosely) something like:

=-----------

with the first sector (or maybe whole track) of normal "width and length" (i.e. compatible with a 1.44 MB floppy one) and all the other ones thinner (and probably shorter)

jaclaz

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"Burning" a 32MB floppy disk

A regular 1.44MB floppy disk can be formatted and written to only with the SuperWriter32 software, which is part of the Matsus***a SuperDisk Utiliy. 32MB formatted floppies canNOT be written to by any other software, e.g. Windows Explorer, Beyond Compare, Norton Disk Doctor or ScanDisk. Only SuperWriter32 can write to a 32MB floppy; all other programs have only read access to a 32MB-formatted floppy. A 32MB floppy disk can be compared to a CD-RW disk, but without packet writing software. SuperWriter32 can "re-burn" a 32MB floppy disk with a new compilation..

SuperWiter32 is similar to a CD burning program: The upper part of the SuperWriter32 window is the source, the lower part is the target (see attached screenshot). Files and folders can be added to the target only by drag-and-drop from the source window of SuperWriter32, not by drag-and-drop from an open Windows Explorer window. The compilation is "burnt" to the 1.44MB floppy disk by selecting -> File -> Write.

post-183045-0-98497600-1311094985_thumb.

Edited by Multibooter
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32MB formatted floppy disks - Bad Sectors (1)

When SuperWriter32 formats a 32MB floppy disk, bad sectors are created in the free space (see the screenshot below, NDD msg: "The cluster is not used"). A binary compare with Beyond Compare of the original source and the files on the 32MB floppy is Ok however, since the bad sectors are not in the used data area. So these are apparently innocuous bad sectors.

BUT: If you have inserted a good 32MB floppy and:

1) selected in SuperWriter32 -> Settings -> Write Mode -> File At Once (FAO)

2) then add or delete files in the SuperWriter32 target window

3) then select -> File -> Write

the 32MB floppy disk will become corrupted somehow and Beyond Compare will indicate errors and eventually you will have to reboot. Maybe things go wrong when SuperWriter writes new files over bad sectors in the previously unused area.

It looks like FD32MB incremental writing was the last feature added to SuperWriter32 v2.03, and is an unfinished work-in-progress which never got fixed, typical for last builds/last versions. Never use the File At Once (FAO) write mode, only use the Disk At Once (DAO) mode.

Bad sectors in the not-used data area can be ignored if the Disk At Once (DAO) write mode is used. A freshly FD32MB-formatted, blank floppy disk causes NDD to display in the surface test always the err msg "Cluster 5 contains a bad sector (number 112)", but "burning" a compilation to this 32MB-formatted floppy disk creates a good floppy, which again has a bad sector in the not used data area.

BTW, the surface scan of the 32MB-formatted floppy disk in the LS-240 drive is fast (1:24 minutes for 31.9MB), as shown in the attached screenshot.

post-183045-0-35427200-1311099987_thumb.

Edited by Multibooter
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