MGT Lifetime/Universal Disc Drive FAQ

Contents

The Drive itself

Using the Lifetime/Universal with

The Lifetime Drive itself

Introduction

The Lifetime Drive, later renamed the Universal Drive after issues regarding implied warranties, was produced by Miles Gordon Technology (MGT) in April 1989 as a floppy drive capable of connecting to most popular machines at the time.

MGT was run by Alan Miles and Bruce Gordon who had previously made the PLUS D disc interface for the Spectrum and later went on to make the Sam Coupe, an incredible 8-bit machine that arrived at the end of 1989. The Sam Coupe was not particularly popular often being compared to the 16-bit Amiga and Atari’s and led to the demise of MGT in 1990 when they went into liquidation.

They then setup another company called SamCo, buying the rights to the Sam Coupe and produced it and further hardware upgrades until September 1992 when they once again went into liquidation.

Models

There are four models of drive being either 3.5″ or 5.25″ with or without an internal power supply. These are;

Documentation

There is very little information on the net about this drive, most likely due to the low numbers that shipped. Here’s what we have.

Settings

There are a set of 6 small switches on the back of the drive used to configure the unit for drive 0 or 1 operation and compatibility with the machine you wish to use. See the individual section for the machine you wish to use for recommended settings.

Switch Meaning
1 Drive select 0
2 Drive select 1
3 ?
4 ?
5 ?
6 ?

Connector

The Lifetime Drive has a Centronics 36 pin socket at the back with pins numbered:

Lifetime drive connector

These pins are wired for the following signals:

Pin Signal   Pin Signal
1 +5V (no PSU), Unused (PSU)   19 Unused
2 Ready   20 Ground
3 Side select   21 Ground
4 Read data   22 Ground
5 Write protect   23 Ground
6 Track 0   24 Ground
7 Read/write select   25 Ground
8 Write data   26 Ground
9 Step head pulse   27 Ground
10 Direction select   28 Ground
11 Motor   29 Ground
12 Unused   30 Ground
13 Drive 0 select   31 Ground
14 Drive 1 select   32 Ground
15 Index pulse   33 Ground
16 Unused   34 Ground
17 To floppy pin 4   35 Ground
18 Disk changed   36 Ground to drive

Circuit diagram

Preliminary unverified schematic quite likely to not work, may cause damage to equipment.

Using the Lifetime with

Acorn BBC Micro

Compatibility

Official with BBC B, Master and Compact computers fitted with a disc interface and DFS/ADFS ROM.

Settings
  • As drive A
    updowndowndowndowndown
  • As drive B
    downupdowndowndowndown
Links
Connector

The BBC has a 34 pin IDC pin connector with pins numbered:

BBC drive connector

Cable diagram

This diagram is untested has been extrapolated from pin diagrams.

BBC pin Signal Lifetime pin   BBC pin Signal Lifetime pin
 

Amiga

Compatibility

Official, as drive DF1 only.

Settings
  • As drive DF1
    updownupdownupdown
Links
    Connector

    The Amiga has a 23 pin D-type female connector with pins numbered as:

    Amiga drive connector

    Cable diagram

    Created from official MGT cable.

    Amiga pin Signal Lifetime pin   Amiga pin Signal Lifetime pin
    1 Ready 2   2 Read data 4
    3 Ground 20, 35   4 Ground -
    5 Ground -   6 Ground -
    7 Ground 20, 35   8 Motor 11
    9 Drive select 2 13   10 Reset -
    11 Disk changed 18   12 +5V (DC, 250mA max) 1
    13 Side select 3   14 Write protect 5
    15 Track 0 6   16 Read/write select 7
    17 Write data 8   18 Step head pulse 9
    19 Direction select 10   20 Drive select 3 -
    21 Drive select 1 14   22 Index pulse 15
    23 +12V (DC, 160mA max) -        

    Amstrad CPC

    Compatibility

    Unofficial but successfully tested with an Amstrad CPC 6128.

    Settings
    • As drive B
      downupupdowndowndown
    Links
    • Software for using >200K drives?
    Connector

    The CPC has a 34 pin IDC edge connector with pins numbered as:

    CPC drive connector

    Cable diagram

    The cable diagram is exactly the same as that on the Spectrum +3.

    Atari ST

    Compatibility

    Official as drive B only.

    Settings
    • As drive B
      updowndowndowndowndown
    Links
    Connector

    The Atari ST has a 14 pin DIN male connector with pins numbered as:

    Atari ST drive connector

    Cable diagram

    Untested, extrapolated from signals.

    Atari ST pin Signal Lifetime pin   Atari ST pin Signal Lifetime pin
    1 Read data 4   2 Side select 3
    3 Ground 36   4 Index pulse 8
    5 Drive 0 select 13   6 Drive 1 select 14
    7 Ground -   8 Motor 20
    9 Direction 10   10 Step 9
    11 Write data 8   12 Read/write select 7
    13 Track 0 6   14 Write protect 5

    IBM PC

    Compatibility

    Official.

    Settings
      • Disc ready on pic 34
        downupdownupdowndown
      • Disk ready on pin 2
        downupupdownupdown
    Links
    Connector

    The IBM PC has a 34 pin IDC pin connector with pins numbered as:

    IBM PC drive connector

    To use your Lifetime in conjunction with an existing drive you will need a floppy cable that has at least three connectors. You can then wire it up to the spare IDC pin socket mounted on the cable. These multi-drive cables normally have a small section of cable twisted to switch round the drive select. If you choose to make your cable connect to your existing drive cable then you will not need to wire it up for a secondary drive.

    Cable diagram

    Untested, extrapolated from signals.

    IBM PC pin Signal Lifetime pin   IBM PC pin Signal Lifetime pin
    1 Ground -   2 Unused -
    3 Ground -   4 Unused -
    5 Ground -   6 Drive D select -
    7 Ground -   8 Index pulse 15
    9 Ground -   10 Drive A select 13
    11 Ground -   12 Drive B select 14
    13 Ground -   14 Drive C select -
    15 Ground -   16 Motor 11
    17 Ground -   18 Direction select 10
    19 Ground -   20 Step head pulse 9
    21 Ground -   22 Write data 8
    23 Ground -   24 Read/write select 7
    25 Ground -   26 Track 0 6
    27 Ground -   28 Write protect 5
    29 Ground -   30 Read data 4
    31 Ground -   32 Side select 3
    33 Ground -   34 Unused -

    MSX

    Compatibility

    Unknown.

    Settings
    • As drive A
    • As drive B
    Links
    • To format type call format press Enter and follow on-screen instructions
    Connector

    The MSX series has a 25-pin D-type female connector at the computer, numbered as:

    MSX drive connector

    Cable diagram

    Untested, extrapolated from signals.

    MSX pin Signal Lifetime pin   MSX pin Signal Lifetime pin
    1 +12V -   2 +5V 1
    3 +5V -   4 Index pulse 15
    5 Drive 1 select 14   6 Direction select 10
    7 Step head pulse 9   8 Write data 8
    9 Read/write select 7   10 Track 0 6
    11 Write protect 5   12 Read data 4
    13 Side select 3   14 +12V -
    15 +12V -   16 +12V -
    17 Drive 0 select 13   18 Motor 11
    19 Ready 2   20 Ground 36
    21 Ground -   22 Ground -
    23 Ground -   24 Ground -
    25 Ground -        

    Sinclair QL

    Official but requires disk interface.

    Settings
    • As drive 1
      updowndowndowndowndown
    • As drive 2
      downupdowndowndowndown
    Links
    Connector
    Cable diagram

    Sinclair Spectrum +3

    Compatibility

    Official as drive B only.

    Settings
    • As drive B (official with official cable)
      updowndowndowndowndown
    • As drive B (works with below cable spec)
      downupupdowndowndown
    Links
    Connector

    The +3 has a 34 pin IDC edge connector with pins numbered as:

    +3 drive connector

    Cable diagram

    Untested, extrapolated from signals.

    +3 pin Signal Lifetime pin   +3 pin Signal Lifetime pin
    1 Ready 2   2 Ground 36
    3 Side select 3   4 Ground -
    5 Read data 4   6 Ground -
    7 Write protect 5   8 Ground -
    9 Track 0 6   10 Ground -
    11 Read/write select 7   12 Ground -
    13 Write data 8   14 Ground -
    15 Step head pulse 9   16 Ground -
    17 Direction select 10   18 Ground -
    19 Motor 11   20 Ground -
    21 Unused -   22 Ground -
    23 Drive 1 select 14   24 Ground -
    25 Unused -   26 Ground -
    27 Index pulse 15   28 Ground -
    29 Unused -   30 Ground -
    31 Unused -   32 Ground -
    33 Unused -   34 Ground -

    Spectrum PLUS D (and Disciple)

    Compatibility

    Official for PLUS D, very likely for Disciple.

    Settings
    • As drive A
      updowndowndowndowndown
    • As drive B
      downupdowndowndowndown
    Links
    Connector

    The PLUS D has a 34 pin IDC pin connector with pins numbered as:

    Spectrum PLUS D drive connector

    Cable diagram

    Untested, extrapolated from signals.

    PLUS D pin Signal Lifetime pin   PLUS D pin Signal Lifetime pin
    1 Ground -   2 Unused -
    3 Ground 36   4 Unused -
    5 Ground -   6 Unused -
    7 Ground -   8 Index pulse 15
    9 Ground -   10 Drive 0 select 13
    11 Ground -   12 Drive 1 select 14
    13 Ground -   14 Unused -
    15 Ground -   16 Motor 11
    17 Ground -   18 Direction select 10
    19 Ground -   20 Step head pulse 9
    21 Ground -   22 Write data 8
    23 Ground -   24 Read/write select 7
    25 Ground -   26 Track 0 6
    27 Ground -   28 Write protect 5
    29 Ground -   30 Read data 4
    31 Ground -   32 Side select -
    33 Ground -   34 Unused -

    Spectrum Beta 128

    Compatibility

    Unknown.

    Settings
    Links
    Connector

    The Beta 128 has a 34 pin IDC pin connector with pins numbered as:

    Spectrum Beta 128 drive connector

    Cable diagram

    Untested, extrapolated from signals.

    Beta 128 pin Signal Lifetime pin   Beta 128 pin Signal Lifetime pin
    1 Ground -   2 Unused -
    3 Ground -   4 Unused -
    5 Ground -   6 Drive D select -
    7 Ground -   8 Index pulse 15
    9 Ground -   10 Drive A select 13
    11 Ground -   12 Drive B select 14
    13 Ground -   14 Drive C select -
    15 Ground -   16 Motor 11
    17 Ground -   18 Direction select 10
    19 Ground -   20 Step head pulse 9
    21 Ground -   22 Write data 8
    23 Ground -   24 Read/write select 7
    25 Ground -   26 Track 0 6
    27 Ground -   28 Write protect 5
    29 Ground -   30 Read data 4
    31 Ground -   32 Side select 3
    33 Ground -   34 Unused -

    2 responses  

    1. Hello,

      Thank you so much for putting this information up. And just when you thought that nobody noticed. :-)

      I have one of these back home. A wonderful presentation here.

      Thanks and Regards,

      Alison

      techie_alison – May 10th, 2008
    2. Thanks for putting up information about this drive.

      I have one but it has no logo at the front. It’s all a plain white iron case. I found out by the MGT letters at the pcbs inside.

      Regards

      D – November 2nd, 2009

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