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Memory Drive FAQ by NeoGutsman
Version: 1.0 | Updated: 11/08/99
The Unofficial Datel Memory Drive FAQ Official release v1.0 Written by Mark Magdamit [email@example.com] *Author's note* This FAQ was written many years ago, and I have just recently updated some errors that were contained within, regarding pricing, availability, references to old games, and general reformatting. The only reason I have updated this is so that those of you who picked this device up from a chum and didn't get any instructions wouldn't get the shaft as far as knowing how to use it properly. That and a big recommendation to keep the thing for history's sake, and just buy an InterAct Dex Drive or InterAct V-Mem instead. They are cheaper ($20) and have way more features than our old friend here. Still, if you just gotta have everything, there could be worse ways to save your games... Stay away from compressed memory cards!!! Contents: -Introduction -What _is_ the Memory Drive? -Physical description -Setup -Saving to a floppy disk -Loading from a floppy disk -Uses of the Memory Drive -Tips -Miscellaneous -Different versions of the Memory Drive -Places to purchase/order the Memory Drive -Author info -Version history -Where to find this FAQ -Thank You's =Introduction= This FAQ serves to give as much info about the Memory Drive and its use as possible. I've heard mixed information about this device on the web and newsgroups, so I made this FAQ in order to gather all the info I knew and help others if they had problems. With all the commotion about the limited storage space on the standard 15 slot memory cards for the Sony Playstation, it seemed as if the only solution for Playstation owners was to buy more $9-15 memory cards, or invest in the controversial Memory Card Plus. However, Datel (ironically the creator and manufacturer of the Memory Card Plus) created an actual disk drive which finally gave us Playstation owners the freedom of nearly unlimited storage space for our multiple game saves while being a highly reliable backup system. =What _is_ the Memory Drive?= The Datel Memory Drive (distributed here in the US by Interact) is basically a 3.5" floppy disk drive, which includes a 9v adaptor which plugs into any outlet, and is also attached to a special memory card which is inserted into either of the Playstation's memory card slots. This card is also a standard 15-slot memory card. The drive uses standard 3.5" floppy disks, with the most recent version of the drive capable of using only high density disks (more on this under =Different versions of the drive=). =Physical Description= The drive itself is slightly longer than an external PC 3.5" drive, since the drive's onboard managing hardware is set behind the drive. This only extends the drive 2-3" more. Also along the backside end, on top of the drive, are two LED's, one red on green. The green is a drive access indicator, and flashes on and off when a track of the floppy disk is being accessed or written to. The red LED is an error/retry indicator, and comes on supposedly when there is an error with reading/writing to a floppy. Next to these LED's are two buttons, which regrettably are not labeled. The left button is the Load button, and the right button is the Save button. The drive is modeled to look like a piece of Playstation hardware. While not an officially licensed product with Sony, it does retain the triangular ridges along its side (though no air vents like the Playstation), and a basic raised-dot pattern on top of the drive casing. Attached permanently to the back of the drive is a short cord which is attached to a memory card. Also next to the cord on the back of the drive is a plug for the drive's power adaptor. Finally, there are no marks on the drive which indicate any serial number with which to refer to a model make or number. There is however a smooth area underneath the drive which looks like it could be engraved with such information, or at least a place to put a sticker. =Setup= The instructions were very brief and to the point for the drive, so I have attempted in this section, and the next few following sections, to flesh-out more details on the proper installation and use of the drive. The setup of the drive was really one of the main points of Datel's single-sided photocopied instruction sheet, and if possible, please try to follow the order of installation as I've listed below. 1.) Plug the power adaptor into the back of the drive, then the other end into an outlet, preferably a power strip. 2.) THEN plug in the memory card drive into your Playstation's memory card slot. You may see a brief flash from the drive's LED's. In my experience, this is normal. *What significance this order of setup this has is beyond my own technical know-how, but my assumption is that the power current is part of this. Maybe installing it any other way would erase the contents of the memory drive, or maybe simply corrupt it. If anyone who has any knowledge of this can shed some light on this, let me know so I can include it in the FAQ. =Saving to a floppy disk= 1.) Place any 3.5" floppy disk into the drive with its write-protect tab set to off. When your game has downloaded info into the drive's memory card, press the right button on the drive to download that info onto your floppy disk. 2.) The green drive light should now show it is accessing and writing to the disk by flashing the light on and off. Once the light becomes a steady green, the contents have been copied to your floppy disk. *The format of your floppy disk differs with which versionof the memory drive you own. Please see =Different versions of the Memory Drive= below. =Loading from a floppy disk= 1.) Place the disk that has your previously saved information into the drive. At any time (preferably as the game itself is loading) press the left button on the drive to load the info into the memory card. 2.) As with saving a game, you will see the drive light flash on and off slowly. This means the drive is accessing the floppy and uploading the info onto the memory card. =Uses of the Memory Drive= Obviously, the drive offers its user with virtually unlimited storage space, since each 3.5" disk can save up to 15 slots of memory card space. Given the availability of inexpensive 3.5" disks, a person can literally have the drive pay for itself after five or so saves to disk, since standard memory cards fun from $9-15 apiece. 1.) Backup your sports game seasons - Sports games take up a large amount of space on your memory card. Saving each season not only allows you to save each season to disk, but you cansave multiple seasons, so for friends and roommates, this is an ideal way to use the drive. 2.) Save your role-playing games - These games can take up a lot of space, and for games that allow multiple-saves ala "Metal Gear Solid," keeping them all on one card can be difficult. Saving to the drive allows you to save to more slots, and you can backtrack to earlier parts of the game where you may have missed things, or where you would like to begin again. 3. Save your simulations - Games like X-Com UFO Defense, Sim City 2000, and Theme Park take up extravagant numbers of slots on your card. You can save multiple cities and campaigns to separate cards. 4. Backup "auto-save" games - some games auto save scores, race times, and game seasons. Since the game only recognizes the memory card of the drive, it only alters that, and not the contents on the floppy disk. Sports games sometimes prevent you from resetting the system when you are losing - doing so records a forfeit/lost game sometimes. If you backup your sports season, then you won't have to worry about a mark like that on your team's season record. Just save after every won game, and load when a "blemish" appears on your season record! 5. Game-wide backup - Sometimes it's best to consolidate your saves onto one disk, especially if the save isn't quite so essential, like your second level in Tomb Raider, or your controller configs in Street Fighter Alpha 3. These can just be saved on one disk, not only saving a disk, but condensing your floppy pile. =Tips= 1.) Keep your disks in order, and properly labeled. I can't stress this enough. You never know if you're going to load the wrong game save, or save the wrong game to the wrong disk. 2.) Write-protect your back-ups. When not being used, write-protect your disks, since you never know if the buttons on top of the drive might accidentally be pressed or hit. 3. Label your Load/Save buttons. Why Datel didn't do this is beyond me. 4. Use a power strip with your Playstation and disk drive. You should actually be doing this with all of your electronic equipment. Given the nature and sensitivity of memory cards and their flash memory, and the magnetic floppy drive, however, you should always have them plugged into a power strip. 5. Place your Playstation and drive on a cool, well-ventilated hard table or shelf. Never place them on the floor, especially carpet. Doing so can cause a lack of ventilation, and overheating to both units. 6. Use an official Sony controller above all others. While there are fairly reputable companies (like ASCII/AgeTec) that make quality controllers, the risk one may run into when using a third party controller with the disk drive can cause incorrect data feedback, data loss, or a broken joypad/memory card port. To be honest, this type of occurance is pretty infrequent, but it has been known to happen in some cases. (Has it happened to me? Nope.) 7. Never unplug a controller when the system is on. I've heard that this can sometimes cause a mild shock to the system, and can ruin your memory card contents. Not sure of this - can anyone give a better reason? ^_^ 8. Create a "flush" disk - Clear all the info from your Memory Drive's memory card, and save the empty slots to disk. Use this when you need to delete the contents of your memory card when you are trying to create a single slot on the memory card to save to disk. When you don't want to delete things one by one, just Load the blank info to the memory card, and you'll have "flushed" the info from it. Once you have every game saved to its own disk, you won't need to use this flush disk, but it is nice to have it just in case. It just takes too long to erase a whole card manually. Just make sure you "flush" the disk on the Memory Card manager screen; you may just erase something you hadn't backed up yet. 9. Backup your games often. It never hurts to have a backup routine, like once a week, or every other day. It all depends on your gaming habit, and how much information you need to save. 10. Load your game saves as the game itself is loading. Since games take at least a minute to load, and the newer versions of the drive take that long to load as well, it makes sence. I usually wait until after the PS logo screens go away (whit and black ones), and the game begins to load. It's usually not until then that you can begin to upload from your floppy to memory card for some reason. But the net result is having your memory card primed just as your game begins. 11. If you're playing a sports game or role-playing game, save to floppy immediately after the game saves its' info onto the memory card. That way you don't notice the save time, and you can get back to the game sooner. =Miscellaneous= As explained into further detail below, the drives themselves lack any kind of marking on them, including serial numbers. I noticed that the drive is shown as having putty grey and black buttons in different pictures. Could this be an indicator of the two know versions of this device? =Different versions of the Memory Disk Drive= When the Memory Disk Drive was first released about three years ago, it was only formatted to use low-density 3.5" disks as its' saving medium. Reportedly it also took two to three times as long as the current version to load or save from/to the memory card. The current version (which is the one I have) takes about a minute to a minute-and-a-half to load, and less than two minutes to save, if that. The current version also is only capable of using high-density disks, which may be the reason for being able to save and load quicker. According to Kjetil Homme (firstname.lastname@example.org): "Theoretically, a HD drive would save twice as fast as a DD drive. HD can store twice as much data per cylinder, and the drive rotates at the same speed. However, you would then be required to use HD floppies. The drive probably formats them as DD, no matter whether the're HD or not. "I have a DD version, and get the same times as you [meaning 1-2 minutes per operation -Mark]." Also, if you find that you have the older, DD (low density) disk using version of the drive, you are out of luck once you run out of disks of that format. Apparently putting tape over the extra hole of the high density disk will not successfully fool the older version of the drive into thinking it is a low-density disk. Below are two explanations of why taping the HD disk will not work correctly: From Kjetil Homme (kjetilho3mne.ifi.uio.no): "You're not guaranteed this will work reliably. The magnetic coating on HD is more finegrained, and requires a stronger magnetic field to record. A DD drive may not be strong enough." From Tom Plunket, Bubsy 3D development team (email@example.com): "This is less than reliable. HD diskettes really are physiacally different from LD diskettes, they typically have weaker charges associated with them, so using them in LD drives may very well entail lost data..." What does this all mean? Unless you first bought your disk drive back in late 1996/early 1997, you will have to use high density disks to save your games. Finding double density disks is rather difficult anyways. =Places to buy the Memory Drive= At the time of the original posting of this document, people were able to find this item at local game store chains. However, with the advent of InterAct's fantastic Dex Drive, the Memory Disk Drive's presence in stores is next to zero. However, if you are really a die-hard Playstation fan, and just HAVE to have one, try eBay.com, www.rocketgameproducts.com, or a good online search engine. I recommend getting the newest version possible. It has all the abilities of the first version, is quicker, and is able to use the now common 3.5" HD disks we've all been mailed by America On-Line. =Author info= This FAQ was written by Mark Magdamit (firstname.lastname@example.org). Any and all inquiries and information about the FAQ should be sent to me, please. Above is all the information I know about the device. I am in no way connected to the Datel or Interact companies, nor have I currently received any acknowledgement or information from them. Permission is granted to use this FAQ in any helpful means possible to owners, or prospective owners of the Datel Memory Disk Drive. I make no claims as to the accuracy of any and all info contained within this FAQ, although I do strive to make it as accurate as I possibly can. If you do wish to use this FAQ on your website, or to post on a newsgroup, PLEASE ask my permission first. I don't mind people using the FAQ, since that's its main purpose. It's just I'd like to know who is using it. I'd also like to have some credit given (not much, just my name and email, really). I realize that certain websites and *ahem* magazines are prone to plagiarism... =p =Version History= Ver1.0 - The Official Release Version, November 8, 1998 Uh, yeah, it's only about 2 1/2 years late... hehe. Still, I figured I'd edit a few things, namely references to the size of memory cards and their current price, references to older games, references to shielded controllers (it now just says to use an official controller if you can), and a few more corrections regarding the high disks versus double density. Oh, and the ascii pics of the disk drive? Not likely, since anyone can look up a .jpg or .gif of it after using a a good search engine! Finally, I added an author's note at the top, explaining how much I realize that this device is WOEFULLY outdated, and how much you should be using a Dex Drive instead ;) Thanks for your support! Ver0.9 - Semi-Official release version, February 11, 1997 Updated the high and low-density disk info, edited out some incorrect bits, tightened up a few parts, and credited the people who provided the info for this update. I'm still missing the addresses of InterAct, and Datel, and their websites. I'm also missing Tommo's correct email address. These will all be input into Version 1.0's full release once I get them, as well as more concrete data on the DD/HD disk drive section, and perhaps some ascii drawings of the drive and parts. Ver0.1 - Drafted loosely on January 18, 1997 Contains as much info as I can find and remember about this device, as well as some minor hints and tips on its use. Plan to revise it, and check for grammar, spelling, and format errors in a future versions. Just wanted to push this out onto some newsgroups and websites ASAP for those who needed it. ^_^ Ver0.2 should be out next week, and will contain minor fixes and corrections. Ver 1.0 won't be released until I get a ver ascii diagrams in, and more info about the technical side of this device. =Where to find this FAQ= You can download a copy of this FAQ at CJayC's Video Game FAQ Archive at [http://www.gamefaqs.com]. It is, IMHO, the best site for game FAQs anywhere. Not only is it updated very often by the maintainer, it is also extremely well-organized and well-thought out. Let us all help CJayC and start _submitting_ the FAQs that are on his request board. He also works hard, and I don't think he would mind getting a kind word sent to him every now and then! ^_^ For now that will be the best place to get this FAQ. I don't have my website set up yet since I'm always busy volunteering/working/playing, but if you have any questions, or just HAVE to get the FAQ, email me at (email@example.com) and I'll get the FAQ out to you. *The FAQ can also be found on Pete Lambie's web site, [http://www.gla.ac.uk/~gkrx11). Thanks, Pete! =Thank You's= This FAQ was largely written by me, but there are a few individuals out there that I would like to thank specifically: CJayC's GameFAQ Archive - Still in my top 5 all-time favorite sites on the web. Thanks also for hosting my first version of the FAQ! Kjetil Homme - for sending corrections and info about DD and HD drives, as well as info about the incorrect tape method. Tom Plunket - for more info about DD and HD drives as well. Pete Lambie - for hosting my FAQ as well. America Online - Not for your (heh) service, but for all the free disks over the years. You've ensured that I never run out of save space. ;) My girlfriend - for putting up with all my late-night game sessions ;) The newsgroup rec.games.video.sony - although a source of much spam, flames, and inane comments and posts, I still manage to find one or two bright spots here and there. That's it! If you have any suggestions, praise, money, or games to give me (grin), feel free to email me, Mark Magdamit (firstname.lastname@example.org). I know this thing needs work, and since it _is_ my first real FAQ, I need more good suggestions for my future FAQ projects. Thanks for all your help! And much respect for CJayC and his AWESOME website! Peace! ___________________________________________________________ -Mark Magdamit *--Powered by Gutsman NewType--* email@example.com "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast."