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Hardware floppy drive emulators


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#1 morelenmir OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:31 PM

I have an U1MB-SIDE2 combination and a SIO2SD. I am also seriously thinking about picking up an IDE+ v2.0 if they are still available. All of these allow a pretty decent degree of floppy emulation. However they don't--quite--do everything I would like.

 

My ideal scenario would be a setup where you can in some way create and mount a new floppy image of your specification in regards size and type without leaving the A8. I can envision something like a button to press that would freeze the Atari, bring up a menu on-screen whereby you specify and create an *.ATR image and then mount it. Another press of the button un-freezes the A8 and you can go on to use the new floppy image as if you had just latched a new disk in to your 1050.

 

Is there any hardware available that has this 'on the fly menu' type system for creating disks? I seem to think maybe the 'Black Box' did/does something like this? Any others?



#2 BillC OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:12 PM

Th

 

I have an U1MB-SIDE2 combination and a SIO2SD. I am also seriously thinking about picking up an IDE+ v2.0 if they are still available. All of these allow a pretty decent degree of floppy emulation. However they don't--quite--do everything I would like.

 

My ideal scenario would be a setup where you can in some way create and mount a new floppy image of your specification in regards size and type without leaving the A8. I can envision something like a button to press that would freeze the Atari, bring up a menu on-screen whereby you specify and create an *.ATR image and then mount it. Another press of the button un-freezes the A8 and you can go on to use the new floppy image as if you had just latched a new disk in to your 1050.

 

Is there any hardware available that has this 'on the fly menu' type system for creating disks? I seem to think maybe the 'Black Box' did/does something like this? Any others?

The SIO2SD supports this: 

 

http://atariage.com/...io2sd-make-atr/



#3 morelenmir OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:25 PM

You sort-of can...

 

With the SIO2SD the device will automatically create an image if it receives a formatting command for a drive and no *.ATR is currently mounted in that emulated drive-number. The size of the new image is dependent on the size of the format. There is also a piece of 'configurator' software that manages the SIO2SD on the Atari-side that will let you explicitly create a specified size of image and mount it.  Both of these meet my requirements about half-way! The former case is the closest, as with the second you need to launch the configurator which would obviously force you to leave the initial programme you wanted to 'slot' in a new disk for.

 

As I say, my ideal would be something that froze the Atari momentarily and presented you with a menu to create the new image and then when you were finished de-froze and returned you to where you were beforehand.


Edited by morelenmir, Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:28 PM.


#4 Level42 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:36 AM

Just wondering ...why ?

#5 SS OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:59 PM

I played around with the SIO2SD method a bit last night. It works pretty good and it's certainly easier than creating an empty ATR in Altirra and then importing it to the SD card like I was doing before. I can't see much need for a second step in a different sub-menu.

Edited by SS, Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:00 PM.


#6 morelenmir OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:39 PM

Just wondering ...why ?

 

Because that would allow usage that was almost equivalent to a real drive and disk. I'm currently using the SIO2OPC-USB and RespeQt which is almost ideal since my PC is right next to my Atari and I can lean over to the PC and create a new disk image in RespeQt whenever I want.

 

My only real problem with this scenario is RespeQt doesn't fully emulate the XF551 (or any of the other floppy mods like 'Happy' and so on). Therefore the mod-dependent software like 'Warp Speed' or 'Synchromesh' will not run and DOS XE in particular won't let me use double-sided, double-density floppy images. Apparently however that is a physical limitation of the SIO2PC-USB hardware and can never be put right because the USB connection is incapable of operating fast enough to mimck the back-and-forth of data commands between the A8 and a real XF551. Obviously, practically speaking all of the benefits that Happy or the XF551 brought have been superseded by POKEY divisor 0 throughput and even larger geometries of floppy--2880 sector disks for instance--which the SIO2PC-USB and RespeQt will furnish under SDX.

 

Sadly, since I have been looking for a real XF551 for over three years and never found one then RespeQt is the closest I can get!


Edited by morelenmir, Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:41 PM.


#7 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:47 PM

So can we assume from all this that you now have a fully working Atari and are looking for new challenges? :)

#8 SS OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:52 PM

I can see that you would like to be able to do it "on the fly" but I guess my question would be why not set up Alrirra in the exact DOS/drive configuration that you want and then create and format a bunch of empty ATR images with it? Then you could fill a folder full of them to use in the same way that you would a box of pre-formatted floppies. Wouldn't this give the same end result that you are looking for but just with a different way of getting there?

#9 Kyle22 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:42 PM

I understand the problem he is talking about. The 'High Speed' as opposed to 'UltraSpeed' protocols are different. HS requires the high bit to be set on the command at 19.2, then PoKey is instantly changed to a higher baud rate for the data frame.

 

USB can't change speed so fast. That is the problem. UltraSpeed does a speed request from the drive first, and sets PoKey speed according to the response from that drive. After that, the speed if fixed at Ultra. It is not rapidly switching speeds.



#10 _The Doctor__ ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:05 AM

APE and SIO2PC usb version from Atarimax handles XF551 emulation without a problem... it is an intelligent USB device that handles speed changes just fine.



#11 morelenmir OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:08 AM

So can we assume from all this that you now have a fully working Atari and are looking for new challenges? :)

 

Oh... Imagine a world were that were true...  Where everyday was the first day of spring and all the birds sing Beethoven's Pastoral at 5.30 each morning!

 

Sadly. not.

 

I can see that you would like to be able to do it "on the fly" but I guess my question would be why not set up Alrirra in the exact DOS/drive configuration that you want and then create and format a bunch of empty ATR images with it? Then you could fill a folder full of them to use in the same way that you would a box of pre-formatted floppies. Wouldn't this give the same end result that you are looking for but just with a different way of getting there?

 

Sure--especially now Phaeron has released a version of Altirra where drives like Happy and XF551 are fully emulated using their real firmware. But... Real hardware has... something...  For those who feel it then using the real machine with all its little inconveniences is.. magical somehow. Which is why I wonder which is the must 'realistic' of the floppy emulators.

 

APE and SIO2PC usb version from Atarimax handles XF551 emulation without a problem... it is an intelligent USB device that handles speed changes just fine.

 

Really?  I am sure there was a long discussion about two years ago where it was determined that the SIO2PC-USB and RespeQt could not respond fast enough to Dos XE's command requests and that is why when using that DOS you get 'Error #173' every time you try use the drive emulator as if it were an XF551 and then format a drive image. Maybe things have changed over the interim. I certainly hope so!


Edited by morelenmir, Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:14 AM.


#12 _The Doctor__ ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:22 AM

Yes really, Steve's APE and Steve's sio2pc usb version at Atarimax when used together handle XF551 emulation just fine.

 

The limitation you are hitting is two fold, respeqt doesn't implement full XF emulation, and the usb adapters involved are able to handle it either... although you would think it shouldn't be an issue... maybe a usb 3.0 or better device could handle it with generic software who knows...

 

In any event, Atarimax solved it years ago and I bought both the software and the sio2pc usb and never regretted it.. in fact one of the best purchases I have ever made


Edited by _The Doctor__, Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:28 AM.


#13 phaeron OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:16 AM

HiassofT did an analysis of the timing for XF551 high speed:

 

http://atariage.com/...ased/?p=3431721

 

The host computer has to grab and check the ACK byte and then reconfigure the serial port within 300 microseconds, or about half a byte. That's why the devices that handle this reliably use a microcontroller directly attached to the SIO bus -- they can't wait for the round trip over USB and through the host PC. Faster USB is unlikely to help as latency is the problem here.



#14 morelenmir OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:43 AM

HiassofT did an analysis of the timing for XF551 high speed:

 

http://atariage.com/...ased/?p=3431721

 

The host computer has to grab and check the ACK byte and then reconfigure the serial port within 300 microseconds, or about half a byte. That's why the devices that handle this reliably use a microcontroller directly attached to the SIO bus -- they can't wait for the round trip over USB and through the host PC. Faster USB is unlikely to help as latency is the problem here.

 

This is what I was referring to!  Many thanks Avery.

 

Yes really, Steve's APE and Steve's sio2pc usb version at Atarimax when used together handle XF551 emulation just fine.

 

The limitation you are hitting is two fold, respeqt doesn't implement full XF emulation, and the usb adapters involved are able to handle it either... although you would think it shouldn't be an issue... maybe a usb 3.0 or better device could handle it with generic software who knows...

 

In any event, Atarimax solved it years ago and I bought both the software and the sio2pc usb and never regretted it.. in fact one of the best purchases I have ever made

 

Many apologies--I misread your post. I thought you were speaking about SIO2PC's in general and not specifically those from AtariMax.

 

From all accounts that company make excellent products so I have no doubt they have sorted this issue out.  Sadly they are also an American company so buying any of their stuff requires paying customs to import into England...  That made their $30 Happy upgrade rather pricey when I bought it a fee years back!

 

Is it possible to make one's own AtariMax style SIO2PC-USB? The APE client software is free I believe.


Edited by morelenmir, Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:16 AM.


#15 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:37 AM

 
Is it possible to make one's own AtariMax style SIO2PC-USB? The APE client software is free I believe.


No, Steve’s device is a custom hardware implementation with a specially programmed CPLD or the like. Nothing generic about it. And APE’s trial version is free but the fully featured registered version is about $50.

#16 Level42 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:26 PM

Would Sdrive-Max support this ? I have no idea ?



#17 SS OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:02 PM

(edit - sorry, wrong thread)


Edited by SS, Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:41 PM.


#18 JR> OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:32 PM

Would Sdrive-Max support this ? I have no idea ?

It does allow you to mount a 'New' atr.  This will create an ATR file once a format command is issued to the 'drive' it's mounted to.  So it's not terribly flexible in this respect.. Only standard floppy formats are supported AFAIK, and you have to be able to issue the format command from the computer.






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