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Joined: 2012 Jun 11
My Power Macintosh cannot initialize floppies

Hoping one of the guru's here can help...

I am currently experiencing a floppy issue with my Power Mac 7300/200 running system 8.5. Every floppy I have tried (2S2D, 2SHD mac formatted, 2SHD IBM formatted) fails to initialize. I have purchased brand new Mac formatted 1.4 floppies as well as unformateed 2SDD floppies. It goes through the entire formatting process then at the very end when it is checking the volume information or calculating free space, it throws the old 'Disk initialization Failed" and spits out the disk.
Every once in a great while, it will decide to read an IBM formatted disk that was already formatted on another computer. But very, very rarely. And when it does, it warns me that there could be errors on the disk.

I have tried 3 different floppy drives and 3 different floppy cables, all have the same result. Yes, I went through all the steps of properly cleaning each drives mechanism (removing old grease) and cleaned the heads with rubbing alcohol.

Fyi, my super floppy drive models are all Panasonic JU-268A026C.

I am starting to think this is a software issue and ran across the following:

http://www.mug.jhmi.edu/mirrors/infoalley/0896/29/power.html

Summary:
You likely need to reinstall the Power Mac Format Patch, which corrects the problems that you are experiencing with floppy disks. The Power Mac Format Patch is required on any Power Macintosh with a 604x process and with a 180 MHz or faster PowerPC processor.

This is exactly my system. The article exactly describes my situation, so the shoe fits.

1) I can't find this mentioned patch, "Power Mac Format Patch", for the life of me. Anyone ever seen or heard of it?
2) Reinstalling an OS is my next step if nothing else works. I will either try 8.5 again, or go down to 7.6.1. Either one I try, I will attempt with the CD images from this site.

My goal is to be able to read/write 1.4mb and 800k floppies.

Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

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Joined: 2009 Nov 14

800k floppies? No can do...I think the software compatibility stops at 8.1, and the drive compatibility stops at that point as well.

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

Then let's just stick with 1.4mb floppies for now. Really, I'm just curious why my system can't read/write any floppy.

If need be, I will install 7.6.1 to get the 800k support. Just hoping someone has a thought. Thanks for your reply.

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

800k floppies? No can do...I think the software compatibility stops at 8.1, and the drive compatibility stops at that point as well.

Not for Macs with built-in floppy-disk drives. Its 400k Single Density disks that you're thinking of. I'm still able to read/write to 800k media in Mac OS 9.x on suitable hardware.

For the OP, that floppy patch was on several of the Mac System software from around the time of those Mac models, 75xx - 95xx, also on System recovery disk too I think. I will have a dig around if you don't have this.

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

I do not have the system recovery disk. I'm Googling around right now to see if there a download somewhere. Let me know if you have it for either 8.5 or 7.6.1

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

As it turns out, the "Power Mac Format Patch" mentioned in that article was a patch that shipped with the original System Disks for your Mac. In the sevice manual for 7300 series Mac, under the troubleshooting section it also mentions:

Errors occur when initializing or erasing floppy disks and/or 1.4 MB disks show only 1 MB available after initialization

This problem only occurs on systems using a 180 MHz or faster processor card. Upgrade to system software version 7.5.4 or later to resolve this problem (the Apple recommended solution) or, alternatively, install the Power Mac Format Patch, which can be found on the original system disks that shipped with the computer.

And this article from Apple Support:

The Power Mac Format Patch is included with computers that include a 180 MHz or faster processor card. This patch is also included in Mac OS 7.5.5 Update. If you have Mac OS 7.5.5 Update installed on your computer, you do NOT need to install the Power Mac Format Patch.

This "Power Mac Format Patch" looks like it shipped pre Mac OS 7.5.5 and is likely not required after that. How it would go on your 8.5 system or even install I don't know. Are you willing to risk it? The issue might be elsewhere, such as failing hardware.

Edit: Replaced 'xxx 7' by 'Mac OS 7' - IIGS User

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Joined: 2010 Oct 3

my powermac 8600 reads 800k floppies fine in 9.1, and my powerbook 1400 reads them fine in 8.6 (although it won't format as the drive is screwed)

Protocol 7's picture
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Joined: 2010 Aug 7

I found it in my disc catalogue along with a note saying to use Mac OS 7.5.5 Update instead. So I'm assuming that means it isn't required in 8.x. Could be that your drive is just worn out.

Edit: Replaced 'xxx 7' by 'Mac OS 7' - IIGS User

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

3 different floppy drives and 3 different cables all bad? Well that sucks for me. I will try reinstalling 8.5 to see if that changes anything. Thank you for looking, I do appreciate it.

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

Do the floppy controllers go bad in these things? Perhaps my main board has the problem? Any one with this type of experience?

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

Do the floppy controllers go bad in these things? Perhaps my main board has the problem?

Testing any of your floppy drives in another Mac (if possible) and find that they work 100% would pretty much point to the mobo on the 7300 having the issues.

Protocol 7's picture
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Joined: 2010 Aug 7

I missed the bit about you trying three different drives. The only other thing I can think of is if the hard disk is using a disk driver newer than the running system. I had a situation once where the floppy drive in my 5400 stopped mounting disks. The disk was visible in Disk First Aid but couldn't be mounted.

I'd downgraded it from 8.6 back to the original 7.5.3 but the hard disk was still using the driver from 8.6. When I "updated" the disk driver with the copy of Drive Setup on the 7.5.3 disk, the floppy worked fine again.

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

Update from my attempts last night:
Did a clean install of 7.6.1 last night. 7.6.1 runs incredibly fast on this system, compared to 8.5. I was able to find one 2SDD disk that the system can now properly initialize, and read/write to. Any other disk I throw at it fails (I tried about 20 different disks of all sizes and formats). For some odd reason it likes this one disk.

I'm contemplating whether I should spend $40 on a fully tested floppy drive from a guy online. Or whether I should just throw in the towel with this system.

I have a IIci that needs a power supply, but has a super floppy drive in it. Maybe I should just go down the path of getting that one up and running. Not really sure which is my best option to pursue at this point.

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

I have a IIci that needs a power supply, but has a super floppy drive in it. Maybe I should just go down the path of getting that one up and running. Not really sure which is my best option to pursue at this point.

Did you ever have the IIci running (and read/writing to floppy media) OK at some time before the PSU went? If so, are you able to borrow the floppy drive from it and test it in the 7300. Not all floppy super drives from earlier 68k Macs are compatible with later PPC Macs, e.g. any in the Sony MP-F75W family will likely not work. Do you have any other working Mac which supports a floppy drive that you can test those Panasonic drives in?

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

Yes I had the IIci running. I remember messing with the power supply and hearing a deathly "pop" and it died. I'm pretty sure the sony 2mb floppy in it will not work on Power Macs. I did quite a bit of Googling today, trying to verify that.

In my eBay trolling today, I found this Sony drive that they claim is for any beige Power Mac and has been fully tested to read/write floppies. It looks nearly identical in to my Panasonic drives:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/140759338880?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3...

For $25 bucks, I pulled the trigger. I do have a beige Power Mac G3, but it too has a bad power supply. When the new one arrives later this week, my 1st goal is to test all 3 of my "bad" Panasonic floppy drives in it.

Here's to hoping the new Sony from eBay will fix my problems... cheers mate!
Will post an update after I receive all my new parts and test things out.

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

I think I would've waited for the beige G3 to come available to test the "bad" panasonic drives 1st, but if the Sony MPF 52A is compatible, it should help sort the issue out one way or another.

Are you doing the straight ATX PSU swap with the beige G3, or have you sourced a Mac replacement for it?

Anyway, good luck with the Sony, I hope it solves the floppy disk issue for you.

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

Mike, I agree with you that I "should" have waited for beige G3 power supply to come so I could test my 3 Panasonic drives. But for only $25 for a fully tested unit, I decided what the heck and went for it. I found a mac replacement on eBay for the G3 power supply, verified and matching Apple part numbers. Plus a 14 day "Dead on Arrival" warranty. $24.99 shipped. Can't beat that.
I was going to look into an ATX swap (because I have one sitting on my shelf) but after I found the unit on eBay for $24.99 I decided to just "pay the man" and get the proper unit.

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Joined: 2009 Apr 18

A little bit of info on this page: http://www.siber-sonic.com/mac/superfloppy.html
It *might* make a change cleaning the reading head [sp?] of the floppy mechanism, but the simplest way is to change the whole unit. HTH and Good luck! Smile

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

SwedeBear, thanks for the link. I definitely read that page multiple times in my research. I thoroughly cleaned all 3 floppy drives with qTips and alcohol. The heads on all 3 units look fantastic, nice and shiny. Even did the grease cleaning and relube of the worm drive and eject mechanisms, while I had them apart. But still they don't work, except the one drive, that works perfectly with the one disk (out of 20+ disks tried). I made sure to purchase all new disks for my testing.

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

Regarding my bad parts... I hate to just throw them in the trash when this is all said and done. Does anyone know of an electronics wizard that rehabs these things, to keep them in circulation for the vintage community? I won't want any money for them, just want to keep these old parts around if they can be given another life to live.

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Joined: 2012 Jun 11

Update:

My new $25 refurbished floppy drive arrived from eBay, and it works perfectly. I am able to initialize any disk, regardless of format: 1.44 Mac or IBM, 2SDD as 800k and 400k, and am even writing 400k System boot up floppies for my Mac 512k now. It appears I had 3 bad Panasonic drives. Also received the eBay power supply for my beige Power Mac G3 and it works like a champ. Thanks all, for your replies in this thread.

Protocol 7's picture
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Joined: 2010 Aug 7

Glad to hear it's working fine now. It just goes to show that when troubleshooting, the chance of all the drives checked being bad is still a possibility.