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Products => Computers => Vintage Computing => Topic started by: ebastler on January 22, 2022, 08:31:25 am

Title: USB adapter for old cylinder/head/sector hard disks?
Post by: ebastler on January 22, 2022, 08:31:25 am
I have an old harddisk which I would like to read out and back up. It is from the early 90s, hence does not yet understand addressing via LBA (logical block numbers), but needs cylinder/head/sector numbers. The physical interface is parallel ATA.

I understand that the common USB-to-ATA adapters, while physically compatible, all rely on LBA to address harddisk sectors -- hence won't work with this disk. Is there an adapter which supports cylinder/head/sector addressing? Commercial product or hobby project would both be fine.

Thanks!
Title: Re: USB adapter for old cylinder/track/sector hard disks?
Post by: SeanB on January 22, 2022, 10:00:09 am
You would need an old computer, with the right IDE interface, and set up the IDE to work with the drive. OS likely will have to be something able to run on the hardware, and able to use USB if present on the board, so likely something like RH4.0 will work.
Title: Re: USB adapter for old cylinder/head/sector hard disks?
Post by: ebastler on January 22, 2022, 04:55:35 pm
Yes, that's what I used to do 15 years ago or so. But I have not kept any "big box" DOS/Windows computers around, only a few notebooks of different vintages. And the notebooks which are old enough to address this hard disk via cyclinder/head/sector do not let me connect anything to back up larger files to.

Hence I was wondering about a modern interface which still talks cylinder/head/sector. Sounds quite feasible, but I have not come across such an thing. Have been searching for "USB CHS adapter" and similar terms. Any other ideas what I should be looking for, or is this in fact a non-existent gadget?
Title: Re: USB adapter for old cylinder/head/sector hard disks?
Post by: mariush on January 22, 2022, 05:27:07 pm
You could just hit eBay for a cpu/mobo/ram combo.

For example, this one's 13$ with free shipping, if you're in US : https://www.ebay.com/itm/294650717063 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/294650717063)

You get cpu with cooler and motherboard and ram for that... so just add a shitty video card and a power supply and you're done.

Or 18$ for a pentium 4 system with integrated graphics, saves you searching for video card: https://www.ebay.com/itm/133959340855? (https://www.ebay.com/itm/133959340855?)

ps. Saw the country flag... Look on ebay.de , ebay.co.uk  etc , you'll find equivalent closer to Germany
Title: Re: USB adapter for old cylinder/head/sector hard disks?
Post by: ebastler on January 22, 2022, 07:21:43 pm
For example, this one's 13$ with free shipping, if you're in US : https://www.ebay.com/itm/294650717063 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/294650717063)
Or 18$ for a pentium 4 system with integrated graphics, saves you searching for video card: https://www.ebay.com/itm/133959340855? (https://www.ebay.com/itm/133959340855?)

Hmm, PCI slots, clock frequency in the GHz range -- are you sure these can still address disks via cylinder/head/sector? My notebooks from that era don't let me set any hard disk access details, and I believe they strictly speak LBA. (Which this old disk drive does not support.)

I realize that I could buy, build, or borrow a PC from the 386 or 486 era which would certainly do the job. I will do that if I can't find a more elegant solution.
Title: Re: USB adapter for old cylinder/head/sector hard disks?
Post by: wraper on January 22, 2022, 07:32:19 pm
For example, this one's 13$ with free shipping, if you're in US : https://www.ebay.com/itm/294650717063 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/294650717063)
Or 18$ for a pentium 4 system with integrated graphics, saves you searching for video card: https://www.ebay.com/itm/133959340855? (https://www.ebay.com/itm/133959340855?)

Hmm, PCI slots, clock frequency in the GHz range -- are you sure these can still address disks via cylinder/head/sector? My notebooks from that era don't let me set any hard disk access details, and I believe they strictly speak LBA. (Which this old disk drive does not support.)

I realize that I could buy, build, or borrow a PC from the 386 or 486 era which would certainly do the job. I will do that if I can't find a more elegant solution.
A7N8X certainly has CHS settings, A7N8X-LA not so sure because only short manual is available which does not show bios features.
Title: Re: USB adapter for old cylinder/head/sector hard disks?
Post by: c64 on April 05, 2022, 01:21:41 am
I realize that I could buy, build, or borrow a PC from the 386 or 486 era which would certainly do the job. I will do that if I can't find a more elegant solution.
More elegant solution would me to connect it to microcontroller / fpga, read data and dump it to anything modern (i.e. SD card).

ATA protocol is nothing complicated.