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Problems Solving Part 1

These can be divided into two sections, problems installing an ideA interface and/or drive and those found after the installation has been working. Whatever the problem please read this manual carefully first , especially if it's a new installation. Only a few of the more common problems are mentioned here, there is a much more comprehensive Problems file on the Utilities disc.

5.1 Installation problems

The drive icon should appear and the drive should work as soon as you switch on, if not check and double check that everything is fitted correctly. Frequently if things don't work first time it's because something 'obvious' has been missed, like forgetting the power supply to the hard drive! Make sure the data cable(s) are the right way round and pushed right 'home'. The identifying stripe should be next to the edge of the PCB on the IDE interface. 'Address Exception' errors at startup can be caused by this. Check that the drive is running, though it may be difficult to hear.

If there is a drive icon on the icon bar but it is 'greyed out' or you can't access the drive by clicking on the icon it could be that it isn't formatted. Drives supplied by APDL are formatted ready to use, but this may not be the case if you purchased it elsewhere.

If you get strange error messages or 'Address Exception' errors when you switch on or if the computer 'hangs' it could be a clash with other hardware. Remove all other expansion cards and switch on the computer with the SHIFT key held down to stop the !Boot file from being run. If the computer starts up and the ideA hard drive works OK it is probably a clash with another expansion card. This is most likely with a RiscPC, and can happen with some SCSI interfaces. If you have an error that could be a hardware clash try to isolate the cause by removing all hardware expansions and re-fitting then one by one. Quite often just re-arranging the order of Podules in the backplane can solve the problem. With certain makes of SCSI inteface we have found that the ideAcard needs to be in the lower podule socket with the SCSI card above it.

Most modern drives and CDs have three settings, Master, Slave and Cable Select. If you get a drive from a PC supplier it may have the jumper in the Cable Select position. It will probably work like this with an ideA interface if it is the only device connected to a lead, but you will have problems if you try to connect a second drive.

Don't forget that the number of drives set by !Configure has nothing to do with IDEFS. If you transfer a drive from the built-in IDE interface to an ideA card you must set the number of IDE Hard Discs to '0' or the computer will 'hang' for a long time at startup, though it will go to the desktop eventually where you can correct the error.

With RISC OS 3.6 or later there may be a delay before the message 'Waiting for hard drive' if a CD is connected to the ideA card. If this happens then try pressing F12 and typing -

    Unplug CDFSSoftATAPI

to disable the RISC OS driver. It shouldn't be necessary but usually works.

I often get phone calls after people have fitted a new drive to a RiscPC complaining that the floppy drive no longer works. This is invariably caused by the ribbon cable to the floppy drive being replaced the wrong way round or only connected to one row of pins. Symptoms are no floppy drive icon and the drive light remaining on.

There can be difficulties if you replace a drive running under another filing system with a new ideA installation. For example, if you replace the Acorn IDE drive in a Risc PC with an ideA drive the new filing system will be IDEFS not ADFS. The section on Configuring describes how to change the filing system, but if you copy your !Boot file and programs from another drive the drive name and references in the !Boot file may be wrong. If these aren't changed then when you switch on you will get error messages like 'File abc not found' or 'Please insert disc xyz', Sometimes you may not even get as far as the desktop. The first time you switch on hold down the SHIFT key for a few seconds to stop !Boot from being run and let the computer start up so you can change it.

There are two files you will almost certainly need to change. These are 'Desktop' and 'PreDesktop' in the !Boot.Choices.Boot directory. Load these into !Edit and look for references to ADFS::<drivename> which must be changed to IDEFS::<newname> where <newname> is the name of the new drive (IDEDisc4 by default). There may be other filename problems but these will depend upon your individual setup and what applications you are using and will have to be eliminated by deduction.

5.2 CD ROM drive problems

Sometimes a CD ROM drive may either not be detected or produce an error like 'drive not found', 'drive empty' or the hourglass appearing and the machine 'hanging' when you click on the drive icon. This can be caused by an incompatibility with the Blitz ATAPI driver.

Currently there are two versions in common use. Version 0.28 is the latest and fastest, and is best for modern drives of 52x or better. However, there may be problems with older, slower, drives, especially those slower than 44x, therefore we also supply version 0.26. This is slightly slower, but is much less likely to give problems with older drives, especially 32x or less.

Many CD writers may fall into this category as although the very latest models are very fast these are not really suitable for fitting to an Acorn system which, even with the Blitz interface, can't approach the data transfer speeds of a PC fitted with a UDMA 133 interface.

To find out what version you have press F12 and type


This lists all the modules in your machine. If the screen 'freezes' pert way down the list press SHIFT to let is scroll right down to the bottom. Near the bottom of the list you should see the modules on the Blitz card, and among these will be the ATAPI driver, named CDFSSoftATAPI_BE.

Note that although the default flash image in !ProgFl32 will always contain the latest version of the modules at the time the interface was shipped the card may have been programmed with ATAPI driver 0.26 to avoid new users experiencing problems with older drives. If you do have a modern CD ROM drive you may therefore benefit from re-flashing the card, even if you have only just purchased it.

5.3 Updating the card software

To change an ATAPI driver you need to re-flash the Blitz card. The tool for this is !ProgFla32, which is in the directory 'Flash' on the Utiliies disc. To use the latest ATAPI driver just double-click on this application which will contain the latest versions of the various modules at the time the interface was shipped. Alternatively you will see a file named 'ATAPI_026'. To use this just double-click on the file and the !ProgFla32 program will be run, but this time it will program the card with the 0.26 ATAPI driver.

From time to time updates of the Blitz software may be made available on the APDL web site and these can be programmed into the card in the same way as described above.

For more details on how you can update individual modules (especially VProtect) and add others see the !Help files in the !ProgFla32 and !MakeFlash applications.

5.4 Problems after installation

If the installation has been working and then develops a problem try to think what new hardware or software you have installed. Most software works from any drive or filing system, but some older program, particularly games, don't like not being run from ADFS or if ADFS is not the configured filing system. If you are having problems running a game from a floppy disc press F12 and type -

    Mount :0

Sometimes hard drives develop defects. This shouldn't happen with a modern drive, but it can with an old or secondhand one, and may be a sign that it will soon fail. Removable media is not sealed and a speck of dust getting into a disc can cause a defect. Even if a removable disc seems OK you should check it from time to time. It's best to do this from the command line rather than the desktop if you think you may need to map out defects. Press F12 and type

    Verify :4

to verify drive :4 or whatever drive number you want to check. The drive will be verified and any defective sectors shown. Sectors which required a retry will also be shown, and it is best, especially with removable discs, to treat these as defects. The command to map out a defect is -

    Defect <drive number> <address>

The verify command returns the disc address of any defects found so you can use this to map them out. To save typing the address you can use the Copy or End key to 'split' the cursor and copy the address. If there is a file using the defective sector then it can't be mapped out, and you will be told the name of that file. If you can't move the file, and this should be possible if you are trying to map out a 'retry' but probably not if it's an actual defect, then you will have to delete it before you can map out the defect.

This is why, especially with removable media drives, it's best to verify frequently and map out any sector which reports a retry. At this stage you can just move the file, if you wait the retry will almost certainly become a defect and then it will be too late.

5.5 Drive compatibility

It is impossible to list all drives known to work, and equally impossible to list those that don't. Most modern drives work with the ideA system, but see the 'Drives' file on the Utilities disc.

Some drives won't work together as Master and Slave. This is most likely to arise if one is a modern EIDE device and the other an old model.

Although drivers are included for ATAPI CD drives and many modern drives work there can be problems with older drives. Again we do not supply a list of those that do/don't work as it could not be comprehensive and the software is continually updated. Almost any drive that works from the standard Acorn ATAPI driver in RO 3.6 or 3.7 will work.

5.6 Hardware incompatibility

Very rarely there can be a problem with Series 1 RiscPC 600 fitted with a Strong ARM upgrade. This will probably be a timing problem and it may be possible for it to be cured by Reflex, who deal with all Acorn warranty repairs and are experts at this sort of problem. Quite often the cost of this type of repair to an older machine may not be economically viable. If you do have problems of this type when you purchase a Blitz interface we will always be willing to 'downgrade' it to our standard ideA interface which is functionally identical but because of its lower speed is less likely to give these problems with older machines.

5.7 Reporting problems

First approach the dealer who supplied the drive and/or interface. If they is unable to help then contact APDL, but first note the version of the software you have. This can be obtained by pressing F12 and typing

    Help IDEFS

The amount of support we can offer for the APDL IDE interfaces is limited but we will do our best to help.

3QD Developments Ltd
29 Alma Road Newhall
DE11 0SD

Phone: 01283 522969


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