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HP 4145B on life support...organ donor urgenlty needed

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Phil Hobbs, Sep 12, 2006.

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  1. Phil Hobbs

    Phil Hobbs Guest

    Well, it finally happened: the floppy disc drive on my HP 4145B
    Semiconductor Parameter Analyzer ate itself for lunch. I'd left it
    running for months, because I wasn't sure how long it would last after
    the previous repair, and with the Labor Day shutdown at the lab, it
    indeed came up very, very sick.

    Those floppy drives are tough to find, because they're what always
    break. Does anybody know of a place to get one?

    Alternatively, given that I've already spent my capital budget for the
    year, any suggestions on a simple way of making nice accurate I-V curves
    without using Labview?


    Phil Hobbs

  2. What is so special about the drive?

    Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
    prove it.
    Member of DAV #85.

    Michael A. Terrell
    Central Florida
  3. Most likely a proprietery format known only to HP. Other than labview
    you are left to using a real plotter?

  4. qrk

    qrk Guest

    Can you do a GPIB dump and run the data into GnuPlot? National
    Instruments has a GPIB package, combined with a ethernet to GPIB
    converto box, that allows you to do GPIB calls via command line. We
    use this technique to do data dumps or screen grabs from various
    instruments. A batch file to grab data and run gnuplot makes this task
  5. Robert

    Robert Guest

    Also there are several people around with programs that emulate HPGL
    Plotters that can take the data from a GPIB dump.

    Here is one but he doesn't list your instrument. It may still work. And I've
    seen others around.

  6. Fred Bartoli

    Fred Bartoli Guest

    Adam Stouffer a écrit :

    The disk format is not dictated by the drive unit but by the FDC
    controller and software. And it'd be surprising that HP used something
    else than a common disk drive.

    I'd simply try any ordinary 3.5" drive and it should work.
    Guess this won't break your budget too much :)
  7. mc

    mc Guest

    Well said. There should be a newsgroup in the comp.periphs hierarchy where
    people really know about diskette drives. If a plain PC drive doesn't work,
    it's probably a very minor matter of jumper settings or something. BTW, is
    it 360K, 720K, or 1.4MB?
  8. Phil Hobbs

    Phil Hobbs Guest

    Nah, the electrical interface is completely nonstandard. It's a pre-PS/2,
    pre-Macintosh drive. The disc format is weird--single density, for a start,
    because of the drive limitations.


    Phil Hobbs
  9. Phil Hobbs

    Phil Hobbs Guest

    I'd be perfectly happy with a scope camera, for that matter. This gizmo
    _boots_ off the floppy, so without it, it's completely flatline.


    Phil Hobbs
  10. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Phil,
    Can't help you with a spare but I'd go out on EBay and look for a few
    dilapidated units that are cheap. Busted CRT, whatever. These drives
    were used in lots of HP gear. There is also a "bone yard" vendor that
    sells parted out HP and Tek spares but I don't remember the name. Pretty
    much like finding an alternator for an old Studebaker.

  11. Even if the interface is different, some proprietary drives are built
    on common drive chassis and you might be able to transplant the PC
    board. I have revived a number of oddball 3.5" drives by carefully
    cleaning the old lubricant and replacing it with the molly grease for
    VCRs or Lubriplate for the thinner lubes.

    Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
    prove it.
    Member of DAV #85.

    Michael A. Terrell
    Central Florida
  12. Guest

    I always heard the floppy is essential. However, you can't get one from
  13. Fred Bartoli

    Fred Bartoli Guest

    Phil Hobbs a écrit :
    Do you have the 4145B schematics?
    I don't know how much it's different but it probably shares a lot with
    modern drives' interface.
    Even the 4145A of which Win did send me the FDC board drawing could be
    easily made to work with a modern 5.25" HD drive. And I guess with a
    3.5" drive too.

    Or maybe, if you have one at hand, you could try some of the 9121-9122
    floppy drives.
  14. The disk format is called LIF. There are flakey conversion tools for
    reading the LIF floppies such as LIF2DOS and LIFUTIL. I've only used
    it once. However, I couldn't find any info on whatever hardware HP
    used to create the LIF floppy. I'm fairly sure it's NOT a proprietary
    interface, but might be wrong. The LIF format is used on a
    substantial number of HP boxes and not just on the HP 4145B. If you
    can't find a replacement drive for the HP 4145B, try one of the other
    models that supports LIF.
  15. I didn't see the entire thread but how sure are you that the drive is
    toast? Maybe it just didn't like its diet. :)

    --- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ:
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    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header above is
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  16. colin

    colin Guest

    Ive heard this tale a few times here now, I'm surprised no one has emulated
    one with a micro and 1.44mb flash chip.

    Colin =^.^=
  17. Phil Hobbs wrote...
    Sounds like you're describing the 4145A drive; the 4145B drive
    looks much more advanced to me, and will format today's ordinary
    high-density floppies. I can't say, not having the 4145B manual
    service section (know where to get a copy?), just for the 4145A.

    Anyway, this may be a good time to encourage you to join the
    growing effort to eliminate the 4145A and 4145B disk drives
    entirely. In the case of the 4145A, which goes to the floppy
    for every little thing (ker-chunk... wait...), not to mention
    the dead drives, it's a very big deal, but even for the 4145B,
    where you can't startup without the floppy, it's still a deal.

    My idea is to replace the floppy and the controller, using the
    simple 8-bit interface to the floppy-controller IC, where one
    could program a uC to simulate the controller and its responses
    "from the floppy drive"...

    Why not contact Fred and enlist him in this,

    F. Bartoli Consultant
    98, rue du Charrat
    F38960 St Etienne de Crossey
    Tel : (33)
  18. Fred Bartoli

    Fred Bartoli Guest

    colin a écrit :
    Currently working on one for the 4145A.
    If Phil (or others) has some info I don't have about the 4145B, I'll
    look at how to make it working with both units. I just have the
    operating manual found on agilent's site so any schematics scan is welcomed.
  19. Bob Scott

    Bob Scott Guest

    Were automotive alternators used in Studebakers? Weren't they using
    generators with commutators?

  20. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Somebody should do a nice little USB curve tracer, with optional
    capacitance and junction temp measurement.

    Ditto RLC bridge, spectrum analyzer.

    Somebody makes a really cool RF power meter like that, just a bump in
    the end of a USB cable.

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