Xebec
Winchester
Controller




There are three ways around this unfortunate drive parameter problem.

The first is to write a bit of BBC code to programme the controller with the correct settings and get it to run whenever needed. The code could be put in a ROM which lives inside the host BBC computer, or it could be put in a !Boot file on the Winchester disc and the disc set to auto-boot. This is probably the easiest solution, although it's unsatisfactory as it's either a waste of a ROM slot in your Beeb or there is no guarantee that the hard drive will be autobooted every time BREAK is pressed: this could be easily overridden.

The second option is to hack into the ROM on the Xebec board and change the default settings in the code. This would involve reading the ROM code into a file, making the appropriate edits and programming the new code into an EPROM to go into the controller board. That's not as difficult as it might sound as details are available on the internet of the values inside the Xebec ROM which need to be changed. The problem is that doing this limits the controller's use to one particular drive shape, and these old Winchesters come in quite a few shapes and sizes!

The final solution is in fact provided by Xebec themselves, according to the instruction manual. On a later release of the controller ROM code, they introduced the ability for the Controller to store the drive parameters at the very beginning of the disc, just like the Adaptec one does. I've checked the version number as printed on the ROM shown in the previous picture and unfortunately, this board has the older code without this facility.

So for the moment, I'm stuck! I have had the Xebec board working, however, with my own little bit of code to set the drive parameters after a reset. It's a cumbersome way of having to do things, though, and quite risky too, because if the code fails to run for any reason after you have pressed BREAK or CTRL-BREAK, and then you start writing to the disc, you could end up ruining the whole lot. So I'm certainly not letting the NEC "OS9" drive anywhere near it!