Multibooter

LS-120 SuperDisk drive under Win98 and DOS

118 posts in this topic

Yes! That's it. :yes:

But what I can do is move the contents of a short post to the next, especially when the posts are subsequent, then liberating an empty post that I can prepend here. This changes the thread ID number and start date, but that's not impotant in this case. I've just done that. So now you, Multibooter, have an empty 1st post to fill. I'm sure you can manage it from here. The post I've moved used to precced this one and it's contents are preserved in as the material before the second quote. Please use jaclaz's converter on the links to posts you will surely have to add, in the process, so that the links will be in a form that is more permanent.

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Thanks dencorso. I have updated the index in posting #1. It's definitely worth while looking at the index in posting #1, the LS-120 topic is huge and it's easy to loose the overview over all the info and details spread out across various postings.

VGA-Copy v5.3 works with an LS-120 drive under WinXP

After quite a bit of fiddling around, VGA-Copy v5.3 works fine with ATAPI/IDE (=internal) and parallel LS-120 drives under WinXP. VGA-Copy v5.3, however, has issues with USB LS-120 drives under WinXP.

The freeware VGA-Copy v6.25 http://www.moenk.de/pages/vgacopy.html and http://www.zdnet.de/download/30593/vga-copy.htm also recognizes LS-120 drives under WinXP, but when reading in a floppy with my 11-year old Inspiron 7500 laptop, or with my more modern dual core desktop, I eventually get the err msg: "Out of memory, aborted". Since my old v5.3 works fine now with LS-120 drives, I will not pursue v6.25 any further. Maybe others, who don't have v5.3, may attempt to get v6.25 going.

VGA-Copy v5.3 is arguably the best floppy disk copying and formatting software. VGA-Copy can be set to read bad sectors up to 99 times and LS-120 drives have a much better error correction than regular floppy drives. The combo VGA-Copy v5.3 plus LS-120 drive is probably the best tool to recover damaged floppy disks.

In subsequent postings I will explain how ancient VGA-Copy v5.3, of 1994, can be made to run fine with LS-120 drives under WinXP. I was not able to get VGA-Copy v5.3 to run with LS-120 drives under Win98, the initial hurdle being the drive letter assignment: VGA-Copy works with floppy drives A: and B:. WinXP assigns to an ATAPI/IDE or parallel LS-120 drive the drive letter B:, but Win98 assigns to LS-120 drives a drive letter following the HDDs, e.g. K:, L: etc.

Edited by Multibooter
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In subsequent postings I will explain how ancient VGACopy v5.3, of 1994, can be made to run fine with LS-120 drives under WinXP. I was not able to get VGACopy v5.3 to run with LS-120 drives under Win98, the initial hurdle being the drive letter assignment: VGACopy works with floppy drives A: and B:. WinXP assigns to an ATAPI/IDE or parallel LS-120 drive the drive letter B:, but Win98 assigns to LS-120 drives a drive letter following the HDDs, e.g. K:, L: etc. VGACopy v5.3 under WinXP has issues with USB LS-120 drives.

Would good ol' Letter Assigner do? :unsure:

Courtesy of Wayback Machine:

http://web.archive.org/web/20080703012252/http://www.v72735.f2s.com/LetAssig/index.html

jaclaz

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Would good ol' Letter Assigner do? :unsure:

Hi jaclaz,

I have test-installed Letter Assigner v1.2.0, but apparently it is not possible to assign under Win98SE the drive letter B: to the LS-120 drive K:, I got the err msg: "it is impossible to use letter B for any drive other then its current owner, because B: is one of several letters assigned to the single physical drive".

Also, when I right-click in the Letter Assigner window on any of the drives displayed, I get the err msg "Letass32. The program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down." Win98 crashes shortly afterwards and I had to reboot + fix lost clusters. Any other suggestions?

BTW, the drive letter issue is probably just the most visible layer of problems to get VGA-Copy v5.3 to work with an LS-120 drive under Win98.

A. VGA-Copy v5.3 with the left-bay module (ATAPI/IDE LS-120 drive plus CD/DVD drive, both bootable) of my 11-year-old Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop

The left-bay LS-120 module of my laptop, as perhaps also the LS-120 drives of other laptop makes, may function in a special way with the help of the laptop BIOS.

1) Under MS-DOS 7 - works fine:

- the LS-120 drive is accessible under 2 drive letters (A: via the BIOS, J: via the Matsus***a driver), both with regular floppy disks and with 120MB LS-120 diskettes

- VGA-Copy v5.3 works fine accessing the LS-120 under A:

- on the 700MHz Inspiron I have used VGACopy v5.3 with the help of SlowDown v1.01 and v3.10, using the following comand lines:

slowd310.com /mhz486=30 /Int70h vgacopy.exe [slowDown v3.10 was renamed to slowd310.com, could be a different name]

slowdown.com /2980 vgacopy.exe [this is slowdown.com v1.01,]

- both SlowDown versions work fine under MS-DOS 7

- finding working parameters for SlowDown is a matter of trial-and-error and varies with the hardware used.

2) Under Win98SE (DOS window) - doesn't work:

- the LS-120 drive is accessible under only 1 drive letter A:

- VGA-Copy v5.3 comes up in a full-screen DOS window and recognizes the LS-120 drive as A: with the same Cmd lines in the desktop shortcut:as under MS-DOS 7.1

- when trying to read a regular floppy, VGA-Copy freezes analysing track 0, the only way to exit is to pull the plug

- when trying to write to/format a regular floppy, the full-screen VGHACopy window disappears/crashes and the following err msg is displayed under Win98:

"SLOWDOWN - VGACOPY. This program has performed an illegal operation and will be terminated. If the program consistently encounters problems, click the Start button, then select Help, Troubleshooting, and 'if you are having trouble running MS-DOS programs' "

3) Under WinXP (Command prompt window) - doesn't work:

- the LS-120 drive is accessible under only 1 drive letter A:

- VGA-Copy v5.3 loads Ok with SlowDown v3.10, but not with SlowDown v1.01.

When I tried to format a regular floppy, with Verify ON, all the diagnostic/status bars etc looked fine. After the formatting process was done, I clicked on the Info button to check the floppy, and surprise: "Disk in drive A:, Size: 0 bytes, Free: 0 bytes." The MS Properties sheet displayed the file system as RAW. So something went really wrong, no idea why.

Running VGA-Copy with the left-bay LS-120 module under Win98 and WinXP does look like a can of worms. On the positive side, VGA-Copy v5.3 worked fine with the left-bay LS-120 drive under DOS 7. In subsequent postings I will describe in which hardware/software combinations VGA-Copy works Ok with LS-120 drives.

Edited by Multibooter
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Would good ol' Letter Assigner do? :unsure:

Hi jaclaz,

I have test-installed Letter Assigner v1.2.0, but apparently it is not possible to assign under Win98SE the drive letter B: to the LS-120 drive K:, I got the err msg: "it is impossible to use letter B for any drive other then its current owner, because B: is one of several letters assigned to the single physical drive".

Also, when I right-click in the Letter Assigner window on any of the drives displayed, I get the err msg "Letass32. The program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down." Win98 crashes shortly afterwards and I had to reboot + fix lost clusters. Any other suggestions?

Well, we tried. ;)

Being a "low-level" kind of utility VGA-Copy most probably accesses the drive letter in a non-standard way.

What about good ol' SUBST?

(though usually letter assigner works where SUBST doesn't)

Another idea may be that of using grub4dos to exchange/map drives at BIOS level before booting DOS.

Try booting to DOS, and run GRUB.EXE from it.

http://code.google.com/p/grub4dos-chenall/downloads/list

Type:

find (

and press [TAB] Which devices do you have listed?

(try with and without the LS-120 connected so that you can identify how it is seen)

jaclaz

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@Multibooter: I found VGACopy v5.3 here.

However, when I attempted to install, all that I get is "Runtime error 200"...

Is it corrupted? What is it I'm doing wrong?

BTW, what are the limitations of the unregisterd copy?

And one more thing... Please, Multibooter, do write a short How-To.

The program is in German, so it'd be a great help for anyone interested.

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@Multibooter: I found VGACopy v5.3 here .... BTW, what are the limitations of the unregisterd copy?

This is the unregistered shareware version 5.30 (check vgacopy.cfg in hex editor). I am using the full retail version which I bought many years ago in a computer store on a CD. According to the author (vganleit.exe, around line 1180) the shareware version is fully functional, only a 25 sec nag at the beginning and an extra page displayed when exiting. The German text displayed in vganleit.exe can be saved as VGANLEIT.ASC by pressing 'F' when vganleit is up, more info: F1. Press 'S' to search for a string

I downloaded and tested the shareware version, it seems to work fine on my 11-year-old Inspiron under WinXP, I had a parallel Imation LS-120 drive connected (Model SD 120 PPD2), and this unregistered shareware version 5.30 read, wrote and formatted Ok a 1.44MB floppy in the LS-120 drive.

The only files needed to run VGA-Copy are vgacopy.exe, vgacopy.bin, vgacopy.cfg and vgacopy.idf. The .voc files can be safely deleted/renamed to turn off the sound, I remember vaguely that this helped to resolve an issue.

However, when I attempted to install, all that I get is "Runtime error 200"...

Is it corrupted? What is it I'm doing wrong?

SlowDown v3.10

Runtime error 200 at 1289:0091? This runtime error 200 seems to occur with some old programs, e.g. DiskDupe v4.07, when the CPU is too fast for the software. Download SlowDown v3.10 http://bretjohnson.us/ and try to run VGA-Copy 5.30 via SlowDown, with the following Cmd Line in the desktop shortcut to vgacopy.exe:

D:\VGACOPY\SLOWDOWN.COM /MHz486=30 /Int70h VGACOPY.EXE

I have slowdown.com in the same folder as vgacopy.exe, e.g. D:\VGACOPY\

You may have to experiment with the value of the /MHz486 parameter, it's trial and error and varies from computer to computer, also between operating systems. With this parameter the time used to read or write a floppy can be changed. Sometimes you have to click several times on the desktop shortcut until VGA-Copy comes up.

And one more thing... Please, Multibooter, do write a short How-To.

The program is in German, so it'd be a great help for anyone interested.

The files vgacp50a.zip (older v5.0a) http://www-ftp.lip6.fr/pub/pc/garbo/pc/diskutil/vgacp50a.zip and vgacp.zip (v6.21) in my software archive contain English-language manuals (VGACOPY.DOC). There is apparently no English manual for v5.30

Miscellaneous notes about VGA-Copy v5.3:

- click on the A: or B: button to select the drive. You may, for example, select drive A:, read in a floppy in drive A:, then select B: and write to a floppy in drive B:

- there are 2 Format buttons, quite confusing: the left-most Format button makes a full format when set to ON, the Format button in the middle just selects the desired format type ( 1200KB, 1.44MB,etc)

- to format a floppy you first have to select the format type with the format button in the middle, and then click on the Write button to actually do the formatting

- error msg 0C: the controller doesn't accept the selected format

- bad sectors are displayed as yellow bars in the info window, VGA-Copy does NOT mark them as bad (as DOS FORMAT does).

- click on the Info button to check whether a write or format operation was done Ok

- use chkdsk b: to clear the drive if things go wrong after inserting different odd-formatted floppies

- use chkdsk b: /f to fix a freshly-formatted 3.5" 1200KB floppy; the 3.5" 1200KB floppy is then Ok

.VCP image files of floppy disks:

.VCP image files can be made from a floppy and written to a floppy via parameters in 2 additional desktop shortcuts:

a) Desktop shortcut "Make VCP from floppy":

Cmd Line to create image file: Properties -> Program tab

D:\VGACOPY\SLOWDOWN.COM /MHz486=30 /Int70h VGACOPY.EXE D:\VGACOPY\IMAGE.VCP /!0R

NOTE: in '!0R' 0 is floppy drive A; all characters after the ! are the underlined characters in the buttons of the VGA-Copy screen

b ) Desktop shortcut "Write VCP to floppy":

Cmd Line to write from an image file: Properties -> Program tab

D:\VGACOPY\SLOWDOWN.COM /MHz486=30 /Int70h VGACOPY.EXE D:\VGACOPY\IMAGE.VCP /!0W

Reading and writing image files is in the documentation file VGANLEIT.EXE (German), line 974, under "Transdisk-Funktion und Batch-Betrieb". Maybe the unusual term "Transdisk-Funktion" was used because there was no standard term in German yet for reading and writing floppy image files at the time, or maybe it came from the Amiga world, e.g. http://winuaehelp.back2roots.org/started/transdisk.htm , maybe VGA-Copy v5.3 can also create images of Amiga floppies http://eab.abime.net/archive/index.php/t-42332.html or http://www.bing.com/search?q=amiga+%22vga-copy%22&go=&qs=n&sk=&form=QBLH , no idea.

WinImage v8.50 under WinXP can open and mount to a virtual drive .VCP image files created by VGA-Copy v5.3.

Edited by Multibooter
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Low-level formatting of LS-120 diskettes

The following 2 quotes are from another topic and I am replying here, so that info relevant to LS-120 is found in this topic.

... would it be possible to turn BootMaker into a track-0-writer for removable media, so that it could, for example, write/re-create track 0 on a bulk-erased/de-gaussed removable media disk, e.g. a bulk-erased LS-120 diskette? Such a tool could be very useful for re-initializing the rare special removable media of dual-format drives in general (e.g. also Floptical, Sony HiFD, Caleb UHD144).

@Multibooter: Well, gdisk can do it, but it'll write an MBR there. So hexediting it subsequently would be in order, to create a floppy-like format. And WinHex template editing will let you do it relatively easily by hand. I think even when unregistered WinHex will allow you to do so, but of that I cannot be sure, since I'm a registered user for a real long time already.

Thanks, but I doubt that these programs can do it. During experimentation some time ago I had saved with MBRWizard the MBR of a good LS-120 diskette, and had then tried to write the good MBR onto a bulk-erased LS-120 diskette. It didn't work, I got an error message.

2 Read/Write heads

I would guess that the inability to low-level format bulk-erased LS-120 diskettes is caused the dual-format nature of LS-120 drives:

"There are two read/write heads with laser tracking in a SuperDisk Drive, one for SuperDisk Diskettes and one for 3.5" diskettes. If the laser tracking goes out of alignment, you will no longer be able to use SuperDisk Diskettes in your drive." http://web.archive.org/web/20060311195655/http://www.imation.com/support/products/superdisk_faq.html

I would speculate that LS-120/240 drives read the media type on track 0 of a diskette, and something else unknown to me, to decide which of the 2 read/write heads should be used for reading/writing. On bulk-erased LS-120 diskettes there is no track 0, and perhaps the formatting software then doesn't know which heads to use, and whether an LS-120 diskette or a regular floppy disk should be formatted.

But strangely enough, an LS-120 drive can low-level format bulk-erased 720KB and 1.44MB floppy disks. A 720KB floppy set to write-protected has the same hole combination open/covered as an LS-120 diskette, but the write-protected 720KB floppy is recognized as such by the SuperDisk Format Utility v2.03. The 2 square holes in LS-120 diskettes are a tiny bit smaller than those of regular floppy disks, maybe that's the explanation.

No idea how an LS-120 drive decides that the diskette inside is an LS-120 diskette, and not something else.

Edited by Multibooter
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@all As far as the problem with Formatting LS-120 Disks, there are at least Four different situations, listed here in increasing severity:

... 3. Disk low level Formatted, not accessible by BIOS or Windows.

Access: Direct Port I/O

Format: Low level Disk Utilities, SCSI Tools, My RFDISK (raw mode maybe). For SCSI devices, use Command 4 (Format).

4. Disk blank, bulk-erased, or headers corrupted.

Access: Direct Port I/O maybe or Manufacturer only Connector or Rig.

Format: Depends (see below) Same as #3 if SCSI Command 4 works (A).

Possible Solutions for SCSI:

A: SCSI Format Command (4).

B: Undocumented SCSI Formatting Command (?). Manufacturer's tool may work.

C: Manufacturer's Formatting Rig.

D: Neighborhood Recycling Center.

I do not have a LS-120 so I don't know what is required but the previous Posts are not encouraging...

rloew's comment about the recycling center for my bad and bulk-erased LS-120 diskettes, in posting #56 in another topic made me just more determined to find a way to re-initialize bulk-erased/de-gaussed LS-120 diskettes and LS-120 diskettes with a bad Track 0, without a Manufacturer's Formatting Rig :yes:

A Track Zero Writer is not going to work on a bulk-erased Disk. Even if it could low level Format the Track you would still not be able to write anything to the rest of the Disk. Low Level Formatting capability is built into the Floppy Controller so FORMAT can do the Low Level Formatting on the entire Disk before writing Track Zero. This is not generally the case with other magnetic media.

The LS-120 drive is under the control of the Hard Drive Controller, not under the control of the Floppy Drive Controller. An internal IDE/ATAPI LS-120 drive can format 720KB/1.44MB/120MB diskettes even when the Floppy Drive Controller ist disabled in BIOS.

How to re-initialize a demagnetized (= bulk-erased) LS-120 diskette - 2 Tricks:

The media preparation by SuperDisk Format Utility consists of 2 parts: the initializing and the formatting.The main problem encountered when initializing and formatting a demagnetized LS-120 diskette is that a demagnetized diskette contains no Track 0.

Trick #1 - Undocumented Setting:

In the Win98 registry, change HKLM -> Software -> Panasonic -> MKE -> LS120 -> Mkelsfmt -> NoCheck from 00 to 01

This will cause the menu of the SuperDisk Format Utility to display 4 different Capacity selections: 720KB, 1.44MB, 120MB and 240MB instead of auto-detecting the Capacity. SuperDisk Format Utility will then not check the media type on Track 0 of the LS-120 diskette before it starts initializing.

Trick #2 - Down-formatting to 720KB/1.44MB, followed by a transfer of Track 0, followed by up-formatting to 120MB:

When SuperDisk Format Utility starts the second part, the formatting, it does read, however, data from Track 0, even if NoCheck was set to 01 for the first part, initialization. During initialization apparently only tracks 1 to 962 are created, not Track 0. So here is trick #2:

1) first down-format in a regular floppy drive the bulk-erased LS-120 diskette to 720KB or 1.44MB in a Windows98 DOS window with the Format command,

2) then overwrite in a regular floppy drive this Track 0, containg data for a 720KB/1.44MB floppy, with Track 0 from an image file of a good LS-120 diskette, see Step 3 below.

3) finally put this down-formatted LS-120 diskette containing an alien Track 0 back into an LS-120/240 drive and re-format it with SuperDisk Format Utility to 120MB.

This trick #2 is required for re-initializing a bulk-erased LS-120 diskette not containing a Track 0, but is not required for LS-120 diskettes with an existing but damaged Track 0.

Preparation for Trick #2:

With WinHex v12.8-SR10 create the raw image of a good LS-120 diskette (e.g. "Floppy disk 0_Imation_blue_vrg.001", 123.264KB=126.222.336 bytes).

Hardware used:

- a Radio Shack/Realistic Bulk Tape Eraser, Cat.No 44-232, 120V 5A

- an Imation LS-120 USB M3 drive (for re-initializing + formatting the bulk-erased LS-120 diskette)

- thin electrical insolation tape, to temporarily tape a hole of the LS-120 diskette, to make it look like a regular floppy disk

- a good regular 720KB/1.44MB floppy disk drive

Software used:

- Matsus***a SuperDisk Format Utility

- Windows 98 Format (in DOS window)

- WinHex v12.8-SR10

How to re-initialize a demagnetized LS-120 diskette - Steps in Detail:

You must follow the steps EXACTLY as indicated here, and in the same sequence, otherwise it won't work. The steps to follow are not as complicated as they sound, just a couple of clicks if several diskettes are re-initialized.

Step 1: Tape the bottom left hole [the open hole without a slider] of the LS-120 diskette (otherwise you get a write-protect error in Step 2).

Step 2: Down-format the taped LS-120 diskette, in a regular floppy drive (see posting #92 ), NOT in an LS-120 drive,

a) to 720KB:

- the bottom right hole should be closed with the shutter (i.e. both the right and the left hole should be closed)

- in a Win98 DOS window: format a: /f:720 /u

For down-formatting to 720KB, you need a good regular floppy drive which can format 720KB and 1.44MB

If you get in the DOS window the error messge "Invalid media or Track 0 bad - disk unusable" you probably forgot to close the shutter of the bottom right hole.

or b ) to 1.44MB:

- the bottom right hole should be open, i.e. shift the write-protect shutter on the LS-120 diskette to "write-protect", so that the LS-120 diskette looks like a 1.44MB diskette

(otherwise you get the Windows msg: Formatting 720K. Invalid media or Track 0 bad - disk unusable.)

- in a Win98 DOS window: format a: /u

If you down-format to 1.44MB you must not forget to shift the write-protect shutter back to "write-enabled" in Step 3b.

Note: An LS-120 drive cannot down-format a demagnetized LS-120 diskette to 720KB/1.44MB, neither with the SuperDisk Format Utility nor with a Format command in a Win98 DOS window.

To re-format a demagnetized LS-120 diskette to 720KB/1.44MB you must use a regular floppy disk drive.

Step 3: Transfer with WinHex v12.8-SR10 under Win98 the first sector of the image of a good LS-120 diskette (see Preparations, above) onto this taped and down-formatted LS-120 diskette:

. WinHex -> File -> Restore Image

. in window "Restore Backup or Image File back to Disk": -> select "Floppy disk 0_Imation_blue_vrg.001" -> Open

[displayed in selector below: Files of type: Raw Image or Evidence File (.001, .img, .dd, .e01)]

. in window "Select Target Disk": -> select in section "Logical Drives": "Removable medium (A:)" -> Ok

. in window "Clone Disk (Copy Sectors)":

-> select "Simultaneous I/O (try if source and destination are different physical media for more speed)"

-> de-select "Copy entire medium"

Start sector (source): 0

Start sector (destination): 0

Number of sectors to copy: 1

-> Ok

. in msg window WinHex: "Please note that the integrity of the disk "Drive A:" may be severely damaged by this operation" -> OK

the thermometers "Copying Sectors of Drive A:" and "Transferring sectors" pop up

then WinHex msg window: "1 sector(s) successfully copied" -> Ok

. back in main WinHex window: -> File -> Exit

Step 3b: Only if the bulk-erased LS-120 diskette was down-formatted to 1.44MB:

-> You must shift the write-protect shutter to "write-enabled" NOW, before initialization starts (still leave the tape covering the bottom left hole, both holes are covered now),

otherwise you will get in Step 4 the message: "Error Message. Failed initializing. No disk is in the drive or the disk is protected, or the drive does not work well"

Step 4: Start the SuperDisk Format Utility:

Note: You must have set in the registry "NoCheck" to 01 before, see Trick #1 above

-> if you have several LS-120 drives connected: select the correct drive letter of the LS-120 drive in the "Drive" drop-down box

-> change Capacity to "3.5", 120MB, 512 byte/sec"

-> select Full Format

-> do NOT select View Result

-> only now insert the taped and down-formatted LS-120 diskette into the LS-120 drive

-> Go

Note: The SuperDisk Format Utility formats in 2 steps: first, it initializes the LS-120 diskette (this may take between 17 and 25 minutes on the M3 drive). Then it formats (this may take 5 to 10 minutes).

Step 5: When Initializing and Formatting are done, eject the LS-120 diskette, remove the tape covering the hole and re-insert the diskette

Note: The freshly-initialized LS-120 diskette will be seen correctly by Windows only after ejecting and re-inserting.

Step 6: The LS-120 diskette, re-initialized and re-formatted with SuperDisk Format Utility, may contain bad sectors, especially when bad sectors were reported during the down-formatting in Step 2. Either run ScanDisk with surface test, or make a full format with GRDuw, which indicates without issues when a bad sector is encountered. GRDuw also displays the time required by the full format, which is a rough indication of the physical quality of the LS-120 diskette.

Bad sectors:

Demagnetization followed by re-initialization may sometimes repair an LS-120 diskette with bad sectors. Sometimes, however, bad areas of a demagnetized LS-120 diskette cannot be over-written/re-initialized anymore and initialization stops with the message: "Error Message. Failed initializing. No disk is in the drive or the diskette is protected, or the drive does not work well". You also get this error message if you forgot to close the write-protect shutter on an LS-120 diskette down-formatted to 1.44 MB (see Step 3b). Diskettes with bad sectors may have been usable before demagnetization and re-initialization, except for the bad sectors. But if the demagnetized LS-120 diskette contains bad areas which cannot be re-initialized, demagnetization will in effect have killed this LS-120 diskette. Maybe this dead LS-120 diskette could still be revived by re-initializing it with another LS-120 drive with a different alignment.

About 40% of my LS-120 diskettes were bad before I started to demagnetize and re-initialize them. Up to now I have followed the above steps with 10 bad and subsequently demagnetized LS-120 diskettes, 5 of which I could re-initialize and reformat Ok :thumbup , and the other 5 were still defective and could not be re-initialized with that specific LS-120 USB M3 drive. When I repeated the demagnetization of these remaining 5 bad LS-120 diskettes and re-initialized them on a another LS-120 drive with apparently very good alignment, 3 of these 5 diskettes could be re-initialized.

Updates of this posting:

- in Step 3: only the first sector of the image of an LS-120 diskette needs to be transferred to an LS-120 diskette down-formatted to 720KB/1.44MB (1-Sep-2011)

- Step 6 was added (running ScanDisk or making a Full Format with GRDuw, 22-Sep-2011)

Edited by Multibooter
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@all As far as the problem with Formatting LS-120 Disks, there are at least Four different situations, listed here in increasing severity:

... 3. Disk low level Formatted, not accessible by BIOS or Windows.

Access: Direct Port I/O

Format: Low level Disk Utilities, SCSI Tools, My RFDISK (raw mode maybe). For SCSI devices, use Command 4 (Format).

4. Disk blank, bulk-erased, or headers corrupted.

Access: Direct Port I/O maybe or Manufacturer only Connector or Rig.

Format: Depends (see below) Same as #3 if SCSI Command 4 works (A).

Possible Solutions for SCSI:

A: SCSI Format Command (4).

B: Undocumented SCSI Formatting Command (?). Manufacturer's tool may work.

C: Manufacturer's Formatting Rig.

D: Neighborhood Recycling Center.

I do not have a LS-120 so I don't know what is required but the previous Posts are not encouraging...

rloew's comment about the recycling center for my bad and bulk-erased LS-120 diskettes, in posting #56 in another topic made me just more determined to find a way to re-initialize bulk-erased/de-gaussed LS-120 diskettes and LS-120 diskettes with a bad Track 0, without a Manufacturer's Formatting Rig :yes:

Now we know. It is 4A or 4B. 4C if you count the separate Floppy Drive needed as a Formatting Rig.

A Track Zero Writer is not going to work on a bulk-erased Disk. Even if it could low level Format the Track you would still not be able to write anything to the rest of the Disk. Low Level Formatting capability is built into the Floppy Controller so FORMAT can do the Low Level Formatting on the entire Disk before writing Track Zero. This is not generally the case with other magnetic media.

The LS-120 drive is under the control of the Hard Drive Controller, not under the control of the Floppy Drive Controller. An internal IDE/ATAPI LS-120 drive can format 720KB/1.44MB/120MB diskettes even when the Floppy Drive Controller is disabled in BIOS.

I know. If it was under control of the Floppy Drive Controller, it would have been easy to reinitialize the Sectors. A Hard Drive Controller is not so flexible.

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Way to go, Multibooter! :yes:

Great solution! :thumbup

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I have updated in posting #83

- Step 2: An LS-120 drive cannot re-format a demagnetized LS-120 diskette to 720KB/1.44MB, neither with the SuperDisk Format Utility nor with a Format command in a Win98 DOS window.

To re-format a demagnetized LS-120 diskette to 720KB/1.44MB you must use a regular floppy disk drive.

- Step 3: Only the first sector of the image of an LS-120 diskette has to be transferred to an LS-120 diskette down-formatted to 720KB/1.44MB, not 516. Tested and works fine.

Demagnetization and Video Cassette Bulk Erasers

A bulk eraser is an essential tool for repairing bad LS-120 diskettes. Maybe 40% of the LS-120 diskettes around are bad. Most bad LS-120 diskettes can be repaired by demagnetization and re-initialization, in contrast to, for example, bad Iomega zip diskettes.

No idea whether bad LS-120 diskettes can damage LS-120 drives, in analogy to the supposed "click of death" of Iomega zip disks/zip drives, which I had never experienced.

I have 2 video tape bulk erasers, each using 5A/600 Watts, 110V. Both have a duty cycle of 1 minute on, 20 minutes off, to prevent overheating. Bulk erasers for 220V may be difficult to find, so in locations with 220V a transformer 220V -> 110V may be the solution. No idea what the minimum wattage of such a transformer should be, given the intermittent usage cycle of the bulk eraser.

An LS-120 diskette becomes quite hot during re-initialization and reformatting. Also, demagnetization exerts a strong physical force on the LS-120 diskette, and maybe magnetic particles get torn off during demagnetization. The instruction pages of one of my 2 bulk erasers, dated June 1979, indicate a magnetic flux of "1400/1500 Gauss Open Field at 1/4 inch".

I don't know how often an LS-120 diskette can be demagnetized and re-initialized before it gets bad. I have demagnetized and re-initialized one LS-120 diskette maybe 15 times, and it is still working Ok.

Using demagnetized LS-120 diskettes may make it necessary to clean the LS-120 drive before 40 hours of active drive usage are up, with a special Imation LS-120 cleaning diskette.

A video cassette bulk eraser and WinHex v12.8-SR 10 have been added to the toolbox in posting #1.

Edited by Multibooter
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Review of external LS-120 drives

External USB/Parallel LS-120 drives consist of basically 2 components: the LS-120 drive itself and a USB/Parallel bridge. There are slow 1x speed drives and faster 2x drives, the 2x drives seem to have a superior error correction.

Whether a particular drive model can re-initialize and re-format a demagnetized LS-120 diskette depends mainly on the bridge. The Matsus***a SuperDisk Format Utility, when NoCheck is set to 01 in the registry, canNOT re-initialize and re-format demagnetized diskettes in M2, U2, USB-M, PPD2 and PCMCIA drives, only the M3 model and the older parallel model no.11795 can. The ability to re-initialize de-magnetized LS-120 diskettes is an essential feature for LS-120 drives, for experimentation and to repair eventually scare LS-120 diskettes.

I can recommend three external LS-120 drive models:

1) Imation Model No. SD USB M3

- as main LS-120 drive

- 2x speed

- good error correction, esp. with regular 1.44MB floppy disks

- can re-initialize and reformat bulk-erased/de-magnetized LS-120 diskettes

- contains the good second version of the LKM-F933-1 drive and a USB bridge by Imation with VID=0718 and PID=0002

There is also a U3 OEM model (e.g. SD USB U3 DELL) which seems to be identical to the Imation M3 model, except for the color of the enclosure (the U3 Dell is black, for example) and the company name on the enclosure.

2) Imation Model No. 11795 Parallel Port Drive ("old parallel, no dongle drive")

- as second LS-120 drive

- 1x speed

- substantiually inferior error correction than the M3, but still a much better reader of bad 1.44MB floppy disks than a regular floppy drive

- because of its inferior error correction, the "parallel no dongle" drive can be used to measure the quality of LS-120 diskettes:

a soso LS-120 diskette has about a 5-10 seconds longer read-time with this drive than a top quality LS-120 diskette, using GRDuw for measuring the read time.

- can re-initialize and reformat bulk-erased/de-magnetized LS-120 diskettes

- works under DOS

3) Modded Imation SD 120 PPD2 ("new parallel, with dongle")

The SD 120 PPD2 drive can be modded into a good 2x parallel drive by replacing its original LKM-F933-1 drive (April 1999) with the LKM-F933-1 drive (June thru Sep.1999) from an M3

- as 2nd or 3rd LS-120 drive, mainly as a fast LS-120 drive for DOS

- 2x speed

- good error correction, esp. with regular 1.44MB floppy disks

- can re-initialize and reformat bulk-erased/de-magnetized LS-120 diskettes

The modded PPD2 is more expensive than the M3 or the 11795 because it requires the purchase of 2 different drives. I have added the modded PPD2 drive to the Toolbox in posting #1 and may post more info about it later on.

I canNOT recommend the following drives, one may do well staying away from them:

SD-USB-M2 (translucent polyethylene-type enclosure, like the M3)

SD USB U2 (white enclosure, contains the bad first version of the LKM-F933-1 drive and an E-USB ATA Bridge by SCM Microsystems with VID=04E6, PID=0001)

unmodded SD 120 PPD2 (=2x parallel drive, white enclosure)

SD-USB-M (blue front piece)

Imation/Accurite SD-PCMCIA-A (black)

None of these 5 models can re-initialize de-magnetized LS-120 diskettes. If you have already installed with nusb 3.3 an LS-120 drive containing an LKM-F933-1 drive inside (M2, U2, PPD2, M3, U3) and then try to install a different model of these 5 (an M2, U2, PPD2, M3 or U3) Windows 98 freezes during the installation/detection of the second model at "New Hardware Found: USB Floppy Disk". The cause of the freezing seems to be that the LKM-F933-1 drives inside these 5 models have all the same VID, PID and SN.

I would warn against ever connecting an M2, U2 or an unmodded PPD2 drive to your system, unless you can restore your system. These 3 drives are connected to the PC with protruding dongle-cables. As long as the M3 and 11795 models are still available, I can see no reason why one should buy an M2 or U2 drive, unless you are a collector of old hardware.

The M2 is easily distinguishable from the M3 on a picture, e.g. at ebay: the 2 screws on the top of the M3 enclosure have a much wider distance from each other than with an M2 model.

The SD-USB-M contains an older 1x speed drive LKM-F733-1. The bridge inside is the culprit that the USB-M drive cannot re-initialize de-magnetized LS-120 diskettes. When the bridge of an M3 drive is connected to the LKM-F733-1 of a USB-M drive, the SuperDisk Format Utility can re-initialize and re-format de-magnetized LS-120 diskettes.

The SD-USB-M drive does not have the compatibility issue of the U2, M2 and PPD2 drives. The USB-M drive works Ok together with the M3 drive and the older parallel drive 11795. I have attached a screenshot of Win98 Device Manager with an M3 drive [VER5 00], an old parallel drive [COSM 03] and an M drive [VER4 07] connected at the same time.

The PCMCIA model does not have the compatibility issue of the U2, M2 and PPD2 drives. It contains a 1x speed drive, Device Manager displays "MITBISHI LS-120 SLIM 03". You should NOT use the Accurite driver, only the driver provided by Microsoft with Windows 98SE. The PCMCIA model cannot re-initialize a de-magnetized LS-120 diskette and can only be used with a notebook computer, not with a desktop computer. I have not yet found a PCMCIA to IDE adapter card which works with the PCMCIA LS-120 drive.

One of the features of the PCMCIA model is its ability to draw current from the laptop, so the LS-120 PCMCIA drive could be used on the road, away from a regular power supply, e.g. in a country with a different voltage and when you don't have a hard-to-find switchable 110/220V power supply for an LS-120 drive.

I have just packed away my M, U2 and M2 LS-120 drives. The good models (9 M3 drives, 1 U3 drive, 1 old parallel, no-dongle 11795 drive, 1 modded PPD2 drive and 2 PCMCIA drives, all in top shape) I am keeping easily accessible for further experimentation..

post-183045-0-25690100-1316120525_thumb.

Edited by Multibooter
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Great info, Multibooter, thanks! :thumbup

I do have a question, though: what are the VIP and PID of the Imation Model No. SD USB M3?

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what are the VIP and PID of the Imation Model No. SD USB M3?

VID, PID and USB Serial Number of the M3 drive

ChipGenius v3.0.0, database of 30-Nov-2010 http://www.mydigit.cn/mytool/ChipGenius.rar displays the following information for the LKM-F933-1 drive inside the M3:

Device Name: +[N:]+Imation SuperDisk USB 120MB(MATs***A LS-120 VER5 00 USB Device)

PnP Device ID: VID = 0718 PID = 0002

Serial Number: 6&&28FDDF17&&0&&1

Revision: F523

Device Type: Standard USB device - USB2.0 Full-Speed (USB1.1)

Chip Vendor: (No match record)

Chip Part-Number: (No match record)

Product Vendor: MATs***A

Product Model: LS-120 VER5 00

ChipGenius displays "No match record" for Vendor and Model. The vendor database at http://www.linux-usb.org/usb.ids lists for VID=0718 and PID=0002 "Imation Corp." and "SuperDisk 120MB".

I have checked 6 M3 drives and the U3 Dell drive with ChipGenius, they all have the same VID, PID and Serial Number. This explains why the M2, U2 and PPD2 drives, which have the same LKM-F933-1 drive inside as the M3, have issues when they are detected when an M3 drive is already installed: Windows gets confused with 2 drives which have the same VID, PID and SN. I encountered a similar problem when I was fiddling around with SDHC card readers with the same VID, PID and SN, see

"No unique USB serial number: One cannot use 2 USB card readers of the same make and model at the same time since they have the same USB serial number. I could not find a card reader model where each individual reader sold had a different unique USB serial number."

In analogy to the SDHC card readers I would guess that LS-120 drives of the same make and model have all the same USB Serial Number, even if LS-120 drives have all unique serial numbers printed on stickers on the drive inside the enclosure.

The serial number on the sticker on the LS-120 enclosure differs from the serial numbers on the 2 stickers on the drive inside. Actually the 2 stickers on the LS-120 drive inside have each a different serial number. So each LS-120 drive has stickers with 3 different serial numbers, no idea why.

ATAPI to USB bridge of the M3 drive

The VID/PID info provided by ChipGenius is actually that of the ATAPI to USB bridge inside the LS-120 USB drives, not of the bare LS-120 drive inside the enclosure.

The M3 drives comes with 2 different versions of the USB bridge:

a ) IMATION 52-0000-7364-4 REV 1, easily recognizable from the outside by the black USB connector

b ) IMATION 52-0000-7364-4 REV 6, with a white USB connector

I have not detected any differences in the performance of these 2 bridges.

Edited by Multibooter
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