HP 16500A memory upgrade part 6

In part 5, upgrading the software on my 16500A’s CPU board to version 00.02 resulted in a self-test failure, which wasn’t fixed by downgrading back to 00.00. I’ve just had a look to see why that was happening.

The front panel is connected to the backplane by a 10-way connector. I traced out the pinout of the connector:

  1. +5V power
  2. +12V power
  3. +5V power
  4. +12V power
  5. Ground
  6. Data
  7. Ground
  8. Data
  9. Ground
  10. On/off switch, ground to switch system off

There was no activity at all on pins 6 and 8, the data pins, even during self-test. I traced them through to the CPU board via pins 59 and 60 of the CPU board’s backplane connector, and thence to U90 pins 18 and 19. This is an HP custom chip. There seemed to be activity on many of its pins, but nothing on those two. Poking around, I found that two of its pins are connected to a nearby ceramic resonator which clearly wasn’t resonating. Aha! Got it. One of the pins of the resonator had broken. I soldered it back together and now the self-tests pass!

But there’s a fly in the ointment. V00.02 software doesn’t seem to be able to access the floppy disc drives, simply reporting ‘No Disc’ for both of them even when they’ve got discs in.

Looking at the floppy disc connector with a scope, the ‘drive select’ pins are definitely active. It seems that the pinout of Sony 3.5″ floppy disc drives changed at some point. The details are here:


Pin#  Signal (Old Sony)  Signal (New Sony)  Pin#  Signal (Old Sony)        Signal (New Sony)
1     Disc Change Reset   NC                2     Disc Change Indicator    NC
3     +5V                 Key               4     Density Bit              NC
5     +5V                 Ground            6     Drive Select             NC
7     +5V                 Ground            8     Index Pulse              Index
9     +5V                 Ground            10    Drive Select 0           NC
11    +5V                 Ground            12    Drive Select 1           Drive Select 1
13    Ground              Ground            14    Drive Select 2           NC
15    Ground              Ground            16    Motor On                 Motor On
17    Ground              Ground            18    Direction Select         Direction
19    Ground              Ground            20    Step                     Step
21    Ground              Ground            22    Write Data               Write Data
23    Ground              Ground            24    Write Gate               Write Gate
25    Ground              Ground            26    Track 0 Indicator        Track 00
27    Ground              Ground            28    Write Protect Indicator  Write Protect
29    +12V                Ground            30    Read Data                Read Data
31    +12V                Ground            32    Head Select              Head 1 Select
33    +12V                Ground            34    Ready                    Disc Change

It seems that the ‘disc change indicator’ has moved at some point in the history of Sony disc drives. Maybe the new software is expecting to see the ‘disc change’ indicator before it tries to switch the drive motors on? Grounding pin 34 doesn’t seem to make any difference. The disc controller is an FDC9793. Looking up the data sheet on it, it doesn’t have any means of indicating whether a disc is in or not. Without a schematic, it’s going to be very hard to figure out how the software determines it.

2 thoughts on “HP 16500A memory upgrade part 6

  1. Pingback: HP 16500A CPU board versions | martinjonestechnology

  2. Pingback: HP 16500A memory upgrade part 7 | martinjonestechnology

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