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SDrive-MAX vs SIO2PC?


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#1 Swami OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:56 PM

I have multiple 800xl's hooked up to different TVs. I really love my SIO2PC as it seems to run pretty much anything except physical media, of course, but it would be nice to not have to have it tied to my laptop and I am thinking about getting another drive emulator for the other 800xls, but would like to keep the SIO2PCs functionality. The SDrive-MAX sounds like it could be the closest stand-alone drive emulator to the SIO2PC so far. I haven't seen any reviews or comparisons for the Sdrive-MAX posted or in videos yet. Has anyone noticed any limitations or advantages in software capability of the SDrive-MAX compared to the SIO2PC? For instance, files that load with SIO2PC that don't load with SDrive-MAX? Thanks!



#2 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:18 PM

I have multiple 800xl's hooked up to different TVs. I really love my SIO2PC as it seems to run pretty much anything except physical media, of course, but it would be nice to not have to have it tied to my laptop and I am thinking about getting another drive emulator for the other 800xls, but would like to keep the SIO2PCs functionality. The SDrive-MAX sounds like it could be the closest stand-alone drive emulator to the SIO2PC so far. I haven't seen any reviews or comparisons for the Sdrive-MAX posted or in videos yet. Has anyone noticed any limitations or advantages in software capability of the SDrive-MAX compared to the SIO2PC? For instance, files that load with SIO2PC that don't load with SDrive-MAX? Thanks!

 

Generally it's the other way 'round. The biggest selling point to me for the SDrive-MAX is that I can use it to load unmodified, protected .ATX files made from "virgin" Kryoflux or SCP images of original floppies. While almost every major title has been cracked over the years, some were cracked years or decades ago and modified - brag/crack screens added, the code tweaked or changed unintentionally or on purpose by the cracker for reasons lost to history. Being able to load original, unmodified titles on real hardware is great. Plus of course, it's self-contained and pretty easy to use. The downside is that the file system of the SDrive-MAX truncates filenames and so if you have multiple files with similar names, it can take a few clicks to pick one from the list, see the long, "correct" filename in the status line, or else back out and try another almost-identical truncated name and hope for the best. Again, it's not a major deal but it's a downsize.

 

SIO2PC devices let you use mouse-based GUI and keyboard to select files, create new disk images, rename them, and you don't have the issue of truncated filenames to fit a small screen as you do with the SDrive-MAX. The downsides to SIO2PC devices are that you need a separate computer or fairly powerful little box like an RPi + keyboard/mouse/display to use efficiently. Also, unless you're using the paid version of APE on a Windows PC, you can't load ATX files through one. There is a development effort going on now to add ATX support to RespeQt, and a test build available, but for now it's Win-only still.

 

Hope this help.



#3 SS OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:59 PM

I like my SDRIVE-MAX.  It's easy to use and good for all of the reasons that DrVenkman lists.  However, I cannot use it in a SIO chain with my other devices.  Other people have been much luckier and more successful with this than I have but, for me, the SDRIVE-MAX has killed the functionality of all of the other devices in the chain when they are connected together.  For this reason, I cannot use my SDRIVE-MAX as a read/write device.  As a read-only device and the only SIO peripheral attached to my XL, though, it is great.   



#4 JR> OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:02 PM

 

The downside is that the file system of the SDrive-MAX truncates filenames and so if you have multiple files with similar names, it can take a few clicks to pick one from the list, see the long, "correct" filename in the status line, or else back out and try another almost-identical truncated name and hope for the best. Again, it's not a major deal but it's a downsize.

 

You can also have it boot to the sdrive.com program which allows you to select the ATR files on the Atari screen, and it is capable of displaying the long file names.


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#5 Swami OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:30 PM

 

Generally it's the other way 'round. The biggest selling point to me for the SDrive-MAX is that I can use it to load unmodified, protected .ATX files made from "virgin" Kryoflux or SCP images of original floppies. While almost every major title has been cracked over the years, some were cracked years or decades ago and modified - brag/crack screens added, the code tweaked or changed unintentionally or on purpose by the cracker for reasons lost to history. Being able to load original, unmodified titles on real hardware is great. Plus of course, it's self-contained and pretty easy to use. The downside is that the file system of the SDrive-MAX truncates filenames and so if you have multiple files with similar names, it can take a few clicks to pick one from the list, see the long, "correct" filename in the status line, or else back out and try another almost-identical truncated name and hope for the best. Again, it's not a major deal but it's a downsize.

 

SIO2PC devices let you use mouse-based GUI and keyboard to select files, create new disk images, rename them, and you don't have the issue of truncated filenames to fit a small screen as you do with the SDrive-MAX. The downsides to SIO2PC devices are that you need a separate computer or fairly powerful little box like an RPi + keyboard/mouse/display to use efficiently. Also, unless you're using the paid version of APE on a Windows PC, you can't load ATX files through one. There is a development effort going on now to add ATX support to RespeQt, and a test build available, but for now it's Win-only still.

 

Hope this help.

 

 

 

You can also have it boot to the sdrive.com program which allows you to select the ATR files on the Atari screen, and it is capable of displaying the long file names.

 

Thanks. Pretty much exactly what I was wondering about. It sounds like from what I've read people even last month are installing their own LCD screens and programming the microcontroller, but the ones I've seen for sale on from the seller are plug and play. I'll have to ask him about what I would need assemble and know how to do.



#6 Swami OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:37 PM

I like my SDRIVE-MAX.  It's easy to use and good for all of the reasons that DrVenkman lists.  However, I cannot use it in a SIO chain with my other devices.  Other people have been much luckier and more successful with this than I have but, for me, the SDRIVE-MAX has killed the functionality of all of the other devices in the chain when they are connected together.  For this reason, I cannot use my SDRIVE-MAX as a read/write device.  As a read-only device and the only SIO peripheral attached to my XL, though, it is great.   

 

I've seen similar behavior with my SIO2PC. It seems to work fine daisy chained with my 1050, but If I also hook it up with my XC12 program recorder through an APELink it won't work.  However, it sounds like more of a problem with your unit if you are limited to only the SDrive-MAX SIO peripheral. Lotharek sells something similar to the APELink with an extra power supply connection that "you should only use when you need to," which is a little scary, but whether this would fix your problem depends on if it is a power draw problem or signal interference.



#7 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:58 PM

 

I've seen similar behavior with my SIO2PC. It seems to work fine daisy chained with my 1050, but If I also hook it up with my XC12 program recorder through an APELink it won't work.  However, it sounds like more of a problem with your unit if you are limited to only the SDrive-MAX SIO peripheral. Lotharek sells something similar to the APELink with an extra power supply connection that "you should only use when you need to," which is a little scary, but whether this would fix your problem depends on if it is a power draw problem or signal interference.

 

It's some kind of SIO contention issue. A diode between the TxD line (IIRC) on the Arduino and the SIO DATA IN line can help, but it doesn't eliminate all issues. Some tweakes to the SDrive-MAX firmware to address timing can also help, but again it's not a panacea. So on my 1088XEL, I use the built-in XEL-CF card reader to boot most stuff on a daily basis, augmented by RespeQt running on an RPiZeroW I have running nearby for some other things. When I want to boot an ATX file, I'll use the SDrive-MAX.

 

At some point, I plan on having several A8's setup for use at once. When I do that, I'll likely have SDrive-MAX's in use on both my "secondary" Atari machines in order to boot whatever I want/need without needing connections to anything else. 



#8 SS OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:18 PM

Lotharek sells something similar to the APELink with an extra power supply connection that "you should only use when you need to," which is a little scary, but whether this would fix your problem depends on if it is a power draw problem or signal interference.

 

I actually own one of Lotharek's SIO hubs.  It is a handy little device but it doesn't solve my problem, even with the external power supply attached.  

 

 

At some point, I plan on having several A8's setup for use at once. When I do that, I'll likely have SDrive-MAX's in use on both my "secondary" Atari machines in order to boot whatever I want/need without needing connections to anything else. 

 

This is pretty much what my plan is as well.  Once I get another 600XL to install my SOPHIA and ANTONIA boards into, I will use the SDRIVE-MAX as the primary input device for that machine because I will not need to do any writing to other devices with that system.  This should make for a nice and compact, but yet very powerful, setup for the 600XL.



#9 SS OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:21 PM

I have been playing around with the SDRIVE-MAX's cassette emulation and ATX support last night and today. IMO, these are the two things that really makes the SDRIVE-MAX worth owning. Especially if you already have a SIO2PC that can communicate with a physical drive to write real floppy disks.

#10 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:01 PM

 

 The biggest selling point to me for the SDrive-MAX is that I can use it to load unmodified, protected .ATX files made from "virgin" Kryoflux or SCP images of original floppies. While almost every major title has been cracked over the years, some were cracked years or decades ago and modified - brag/crack screens added, the code tweaked or changed unintentionally or on purpose by the cracker for reasons lost to history. Being able to load original, unmodified titles on real hardware is great.

 

Hope this help.

 

How does one tell the difference between a "cracked" ATX file and a "non-cracked" one?



#11 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:50 AM

 
How does one tell the difference between a "cracked" ATX file and a "non-cracked" one?


A cracked file “should” be an ATR file, not an ATX. By definition, ATX files are digital versions of the copy protected original disks. Of course nothing stops anyone from naming anything whatever they want, but current modern use is that “ATX” means you need something capable of emulating the original drives and timing details and understanding a certain file convention used by people when they create magnetic flux images of copy protected disks. The file specifies how to handle missing sectors, extra sectors, phantom sectors, etc. Very little software can read these files and provide data with timing accurate enough to the Atari so that the original unmodified files don’t crash.

By contrast, cracked files basically hack away or rewrite the original program code to either remove the protection routines or disable/fool them into allowing the program to run anyway.

Most files were cracked BITD, but very often the crackers installed brag screens or otherwise changed the original code, sometimes in subtle ways. The Atari 8-bit Software Preservation project aims to capture original unmodified versions of titles and create ATX files for posterity. A device like the SDrive-MAX now allows folks to load and use copies of the original unmodified files rather than cracks.

#12 Mr Robot OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:14 AM

Let's not forget the excellent work DjayBee is doing re-cracking these ATX's so they are as minimally changed as possible but now work as ATR's 

 

http://atariage.com/...rbs-atx-torrent

 

I have to say I prefer the SIO2PC to the Sdrive and the Sdrive to the SIO2SD. The ATX loading of the Sdrive is a big plus but it's a work in progress and already hitting limitations on the uno's chip, who knows if it will ever be good enough to load 100% of the protection techniques that were used. The developments to RespecQT to include ATX support are also interesting and not being limited by hardware may eventually be a better solution. In the mean time the work DjayBee is doing is making these new dumps available to all.

 

The SDrive wins in a battle between it and the SIO2SD purely because there is no current development being done to the SIO2SD to improve it. 



#13 Brentarian OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:48 AM

I've yet to build one of these. I've been thinking about adding one to a modded wide mini-itx case that I have, but it would only fit if the screen could be in landscape mode. Does the software/firmware work in both portrait and landscape?

#14 Mr Robot OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:25 AM

no its only portrait



#15 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:57 AM

 

The downside is that the file system of the SDrive-MAX truncates filenames and so if you have multiple files with similar names, it can take a few clicks to pick one from the list, see the long, "correct" filename in the status line, or else back out and try another almost-identical truncated name and hope for the best. Again, it's not a major deal but it's a downsize.

 

 

I'm used to using APE loader with my SIO2PC, with file menu displayed on my Atari. It truncates filenames too, so I'm used to that. It's why I originally was keeping Rasta images limited to the old 8.3 filenames. It's good to know as I build the SDrive Max for my buddy and get it loaded with software. I might as well make sure I use the 8.3 formula and rename files to suit. The SIO cable should arrive as soon as today, and I'll start assembly. :)


Edited by Gunstar, Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:58 AM.


#16 Swami OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:35 PM

Let's not forget the excellent work DjayBee is doing re-cracking these ATX's so they are as minimally changed as possible but now work as ATR's 
 
http://atariage.com/...rbs-atx-torrent
 
I have to say I prefer the SIO2PC to the Sdrive and the Sdrive to the SIO2SD. The ATX loading of the Sdrive is a big plus but it's a work in progress and already hitting limitations on the uno's chip, who knows if it will ever be good enough to load 100% of the protection techniques that were used. The developments to RespecQT to include ATX support are also interesting and not being limited by hardware may eventually be a better solution. In the mean time the work DjayBee is doing is making these new dumps available to all.
 
The SDrive wins in a battle between it and the SIO2SD purely because there is no current development being done to the SIO2SD to improve it. 


It seems like the real limitation to the sio2pc is in a third party pocket pc you could use with win xp to 10 for less than $100 and load ape on it. Then the pocket pc would replace the sd interface. Something in the 5 inch diagonal range, it would have a rechargeable battery and would only need 4-8 GB of free memory max. It could do everything ape can do and not require 8.3 filenames, plus other pc flexibilities. Of course, you probably would need some cheater glasses to go with it.

#17 Swami OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:41 PM

I have been playing around with the SDRIVE-MAX's cassette emulation and ATX support last night and today. IMO, these are the two things that really makes the SDRIVE-MAX worth owning. Especially if you already have a SIO2PC that can communicate with a physical drive to write real floppy disks.


Is the ATX and cas functionality better than SIO2PC/APE or is it the presence of these capabilities without the need of pc interaction. The possible neeed for external power for sdrive was brought up. I wonder if a portable phone charger would work.

#18 Mr Robot OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:44 PM

I use a headless $35 Raspberry Pi 3 running RespecQT. I vpn onto that (from my phone, ipad or laptop) when I want to monkey around with the drives and I have a samba share that I put all my ATR files in on it. 

 

Edit: I think the ATX is better on Sdrive, I know Steve has atx and pro support in APE but isn't the ATX just support for the vapi.dll? The Sdrive is trying to match the physical timing characteristics of the original 810 and 1050 drives so the fancy drive detection routines don't know its not an original drive. I don't use APE so I don't know if Steve has done more than that.


Edited by Mr Robot, Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:50 PM.


#19 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:08 PM

no its only portrait

Yeah, I saw that and wondered why that is. Maybe that's a future option but I could see where that would come in handy when file name aliases were implemented. The 8.3 is a bit limiting. Would like to see longer file image descriptions and if the description is longer than the size of the screen, implement scrolling. 



#20 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:30 PM

Yeah, I saw that and wondered why that is. Maybe that's a future option but I could see where that would come in handy when file name aliases were implemented. The 8.3 is a bit limiting. Would like to see longer file image descriptions and if the description is longer than the size of the screen, implement scrolling. 

 

When you tap a file from the file selection menu, the full name/description appears at the top of the display and scrolls. 






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