The Endless Tape

Floppy Disk Rival

After solving the mainstream mass storage problem I approached the somewhat more fancy Sinclair-specific storage solution. Having – in principal – tested both of my ZX Interface 1 as working I would like to see if my ZX Microdrives are still able to handle their storage media, the precious ZX Microdrive Cartridges. From reading different Sinclair forums I learned that especially the little felt pads at the spring mechanism of the cartridges disintegrate after nearly thirty years and their remains tend to be swallowed by the cartridge itself – leading to stucked and damaged tapes.

I must admit that despite the warnings I tried two of my cartridges and both did exactly that – bon appétite!

Felt Padding

Searching the net I found some really comprehensive descriptions and videos for the task of freshing up old Microdrive cartridges. In conclusion the most important task is to replace the old felt pads with new ones. Usually cheap felt pads you can find in every household store are adequate. The complex part is to cut them to the tiny dimensions that are needed to replace the old ones. But you can even buy pre-cutted ones from your favorite retro-dealer!

After laboriously replacing the pads of all my twelve cartridges I tested them one after another. On the positive side of things I were able to read the content catalogues of all cartridges (CAT 1, humming Microdrive and hooray!). On the other side not all data were (reliably) readable and/or loadable. The next challenge should be the backup of all data from my cartridges to tape or to some other media.

By the way: I found some Masterfile database files which were named: I-M:09.92A or A-E:08.92A – that might be the last written data I generated with my Sinclair ZX Spectrum. 25 years ago. Digital archaeology.

Related Links

Sinclair ZX Microdrive Cartridge
Sinclair ZX Interface 1
Sinclair ZX Microdrive
The Sinclair Microdrive Nightmare
Repadding ZX Microdrive tapes
How preserve long life to Sinclair ZX Microdrives
Masterfile Database Software