Jump to content

Indus GT problems-not reading DD maybe more


Recommended Posts

Hello all,

New member who is trying to resurrect his original Atari 800XL and accessories. Here's the short version but pls read as I explain what I have done so far or ideas I pulled out of my little ole brain!


1) Random read/boot fails

2) Indus power supply issues as they aged?

3) Recap the Indus?

4) Why can't I read DD?

5) Translator program?


Fired up the Indus and have been able to use one my floppies to boot up DOS ok. Which comes to problem number 1. It will sometimes read the directory when I ask it too and sometimes it will error. I have cleaned the rails and first tried white lithium grease and then cleaned against and put some silicone spray pointed into a cup and used Q tips to apply the liquid. Neither made any difference. Cleaned the head also but it looked clean. All has been stored in a closet and in a closed box.

Note: I did read in my indus manual about sliding the disc in and closing the lever like its one move and that did cut down on the number of boot/read fails I have.

Watching it it looks like it always errors when it is looking for track 0 then it goes to 20 (which I sort of remember is where the directory index is but would not bet the Ferrari on it (if I had one:) Thinking this may indicate the sensor for that track zero point but looking at it the flag does completely cover the sensor when it goes to that position. I see in the manual there is a diagnostic program that can specifically look at this and I thought I had all the original discs but no go on finding it.

1) so problem one is the random fails. Usually no more than 3 tries and Dos will boot. Sometimes when checking the Dir of other discs it will work and sometimes I have to try 3 or so times so I do not think its the disc(s). When it fails on any one disc it seems like it will likely fail on the next random disc but a pwoer down power up seems random on if it will work or not. It will also give a G5 or G4 error on a dir read but sometimes it will keep trying and eventually get the read and display the directory contents.

I have run a speed check and its solid at 290 which I think is ok. No variation.

I am somewhat suspicious of the DC power supply. Without it plugged into the Indus it is at 15.3 v stable and plugged in and the drive on, motor not moving its 13.8 VDC and with the drive and the head moving it varied quite a lot with the lowest I see is around 12.2 VDC. Unfortunately I do not have an oscilloscope at this time. Anyone have the experience to tell me if that voltage should be rock solid or is this variation typical?

2) Any history with the Indus original power supply having problems with age?

3) Should I recap the Indus? I see a 4600 micro F cap c26 that is on the supply + to ground per schematic and some smaller ones on the analog board and from my experience with old short wave and ham stuff and audio stuff the rule of thumb is test and/or replace old electrolytic but I have not seen anything about that with old computer stuff like this. I did not want to get into disassembly to test these caps if its not a likely issue but if its a potential problem of course I will.

Now my next problem is I have upwards of 70 to 80 floppies mostly copies utilities and games. Some would allow me to see the directory and some would not. I realized that it was what I think are only SD ones and that it was not reading the DD ones. I have some DOS copies that I labeled DD (about 35 years ago!) so I know for sure they are DD and I have about 30 discs with games on them- not one game per disc either- thinking each disc had maybe 2 to 8 games each??? (from my memory I filled them up one day at work with my boss at the time who was an Atari hound and would get games from some of our customers when he went on the road- how cool was that?:) and I am 90% sure I would have done that in DD and I cannot read any of them so again I doubt all of those discs are bad and believe its the drive not reading DD. I have the dip switch on the rear panel set for DD and reading the manual it should be able to read each type of disc and switch itself as needed. I have also manually switched it to both 1B and 1C density and put in a known DD disc and nada. I also believe that I need to load a DD version of DOS _ I have a disc with Smart DOS and its labeled SD for side 1 and DD for side 2. I cannot get it to read DD side two with any version of DOS I have (I have SMartdos, 2.5 Atari and the Indus disc that came with it but when I use smart dos its saying its SD.

4) So any ideas on what I can do next or am doing wrong with reading and or booting a DD disc? That answer will set my heart afire seeing all those old games again:)

5) Final question... I seem to remember there was a program called Translator that was needed on some games that were written for the pre XL machines. I can't find it. I also can't remember if that was something that I might have used when burning those discs and could it be I need translator now to use them? Did Translator have anything to do with the buring of a disc or was is simply something that ran in the background?

Well sorry for writing a small book here- I am known to be verbose :) from time to time....So the short version of the 5 questions..

Thanks much fellow Atari friends....




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum, just the guy we were looking for

too. A new one.


Translator was a disk program that put the 800 OS

under the rom OS on the XL/XE and then flipped

ram for rom which in essence meant you were running

an 800 OS that could not do joystick 3 and 4 duties

anymore. Don't recall any that required a translator

load first that was an automatic kind of deal so

probably not going to be related here then.


I would clean the head for 5 minutes by the clock

with WD-40 on Q-tip, then a rinse with 95% isopropanol

which can be had right beside the weak sauce 50% stuff

of the same name in 'better' stores. No rhyme or

reason for it actually, but when enough people want

the hyperactive cleaner instead of the 50% so-so stuff,

they ask for it and usually it just shows up. Supply

clerk failure in other words, all stores can get the

good stuff, only smart ones do.


Would suggest that power supply has always been weak

sauce and nothing to brag about new. You must have 14

volts in if you want the internal 7812 to output clean

12 volts. You don't have it. You probably don't need it



DOS 2.5 for certain doesn't do DD, so you can expect

that one to not work for DD disks. The flag on the track

zero sensor is not supposed to enter the slot fully,

it's supposed to stop halfway in. VTOC and directory

sectors are on track 20 for DOS 2.0 type disks so

there will be some back and forth between that position

and track zero with other areas of interest too. 288 is

the RPM to have and use, 290 is not that.


No to recapping good capacitors, I see nothing here

to indicate a bad one anywhere, do you? Please replace

it if so, you don't need my permission.


What I can see is a possible dirty head, but 5 minutes

with WD-40 takes care of that issue for at least a

little while. If that doesn't make a night and day

difference then you know it wasn't a dirty head. And

that alone is good info to have. I would set it to

288 with no variation to give it the best shot possible

since it seems to be on the fence as to whether it

wants to play or not. We can't really know why until

it snaps out of that behavior with something concrete

we can blame. Often this part is the important part.


Don't have an Indus nor the diagnostic program for

track zero issues, but will agree that it seems to

have issues here and getting that program would be


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reiterating some words already mentioned here, but I'm curious of your DD reading results after cleaning the read head with QTip & 70+% Isopropyl Alcohol.


Ideal RPM speed I've settled on is 287.5. 290 should be OK, but too fast could potentially affect readability of tracks written on a drive with a too slow RPM. Worth a try.


Atari Translator Disks: http://www.atarimania.com/utility-atari-400-800-xl-xe-translator-_29943.html

Most of the software that required translator/800 compatible OS's to work in XL/XE have been patched, and are probably available somewhere. Post the names of the titles you're concerned about, and somoene here probably knows where to download a XL/XE patched & unprotected version :)

Another more involved option is to physically install a compatible 2nd OS chip in the machine to provide a switchable compatible OS.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks a ton guys. Been sick with this stinkin flu...but I used one of my extra lives and I'm back!

I'm going to do the WD 40 head cleaning tomorrow and will let all know how it works.

I got some good advice on another thread on making a SIO2USB cable and software so hopefully I can get the diagnostic software usable.

Also thanks for the tip on the flag only supposed to be entering about half way as my eyeballing it has been trying to get it fully in.

And thanks for all the other helpful tips- printed them out and have them on my workbench.

Much appreciated


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Well the WD40 did make a big difference! Who would have thunk...except for rusty bolts never been a big WD40 fan but now........???

I had previously reseated the chips but will do that again and look closer for any oxidation etc this time.

So that and using the info on the typical position for the zero flag have got me to the point by trial and error where I can reliably boot the original Indus DOS disk and the other dos disks that I have. Looking closely at some of the floppies I have I can see some have some kind of "mung" on the surface, probably a mold of some kind from what I read. So I know now I need to be careful about getting the head dirty again. I've separated the dirty looking floppies off to a pile of their own.

Any tips on cleaning a disk? I have read some stuff on actually cutting the floppie open .....Not sure about that.

So now my next problem, which may just be my needing to get an sio2 cable working and doing the zero adjust with the diag software. I am able to get it to complete a format on a new disk but while formatting it will give some F9 errors but it will eventually complete. Does this software keep trying until it gets it done successfully or does it error and then move along?

I have been able to take the formatted disk and using Disc Copy get it to successfully copy my original Indus dos disk but the new copy will not boot yet doing a search shows all files are on it in the directory. It seems to again get hung up on its first try with the zero flag so I'm wondering if I just need to do some more adjusting of the zero flag with the new disc? Reluctant to touch it with the progress I made.

So thanks again folks...major progress. I look forward to your continued guidance.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi folks- I somehow have myself with two threads on the forum with similar topics so I'll link here for everyone to see my progress as noted in the other thread. Sorry about that-I know its bad form to have two posts with the same subjects...I think I lost track of the other thread when I posted this one. Still all great help but sucks to get old:)



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...