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ParanoidLittleMan

Future is floppy less

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Well, for some it is present. Myself barely using floppies in last 10 years. The reasons are well known: low reliability - old disks, drives, not possible to get new ones. And I would add factor of price. SD cards, Flash cards generally are now cheap, and can hold thousands of floppy images.

 

One of main features of my improved TOS 1.04/1.62 is Virtual Floppy. It is little similar to Floppy Image Runner, but can much more with less RAM.

I made little demonstration YT video where can see how it works - with image mounting utility SW in early stage.

 

But it can much more: can use very large pseudo floppy image files, even over 20 MB size, where can place multiple floppies content. And all it can work on machines with only 512 KB RAM - well what normally works with so much. I will update this thread soon with more details and features. Need more supporting SW.

 

And new release of Block Out: http://atari.8bitchip.info/ASTGA/B/blockout.php

4 versions available - for 4 diverse medias .

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Second demo video:

 

At start pointing on large image sizes - like 6 MB for Elvira 2 . Possible even more, so can put content of several floppies in single image file, what will act as logical drive A: . Here mounting 3 types of images:

1. Blockout - regular floppy image, same as what runs from real floppies

2. Elvira 2 - large image, with content of 6 floppy disks, space for game saves. It is actually FAT16 format, since FAT12 is max 4 MB .

3. Stardust - 2 MB image, and because this game uses direct floppy controller access, it was needed to make some changes in it's code - based on hard disk adaptation. You may see that there are no regular files on this image, when switching to it. The benefits: less RAM needed - no need for disk cache. Higher speed - no need to RAM swaps as in VHDload concept based systems. Hard disk access is with TOS ROM code. Waitings in this video are because slower depackers in games. Basically, you can run 512 KB games from hard disk with this well on machines with only 512 KB. Or 1MB games with 1 MB RAM .

And of course, not only for gaming. Those who made images (ST, MSA) of their floppies, with own SW, data can use them well, without need to write on real floppy disks, HxC . Just copy on SD card for Atari .

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Hey Peter is there a way to save drive setups?? for example you put three into drive A that last video.. if That was a common setup for me.. could I save that? so that I did not have to set it up each time I loaded the floppy emu?

 

James

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Hey Peter is there a way to save drive setups?? for example you put three into drive A that last video.. if That was a common setup for me.. could I save that? so that I did not have to set it up each time I loaded the floppy emu?

 

James

Setup remains on drive (media as SD card) until selecting and putting there new image files. So, when turn on machine later, need only to run that Virtual Image tool and click on Activate button without adding any images to A or B . That will reactivate latest setting. I working on adding there option to list mounted images and to be able to select active one for A: and B: . This is all matter of supporting SW, what can be developed later by time, without need to change TOS self.

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And one video more: Space Ace . It is on 4 floppies, and I did Dragon's Lair 1-3 too - latest is on 7 floppies.

Best thing is that it all work with 512 KB RAM only too .

 

Converting existing hard disk adaptations for Virtual Floppy usually goes fast. So far did: Warhead, Kristal, Stardust, Giana Sisters, Space Ace 1-2, Dragon's Lair 1-3, Awesome, Potsworth & Co.

This are with direct floppy access, so some changes in code are needed. In lot of cases can use regular floppy image, since about 60% of games using floppy access via TOS . Like Blockout, Dungeon Master, Elvira 2 ... Of course, copy protection must be deactivated (cracked) .

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And latest demonstration video for now. It is practically complete - I added all what planned.

Can see features which make usage easier. May go in Virtual Floppy mode right after power on/cold boot by pressing key v . Then last config activates. AUTO run can be prevented by holding down right Shift key - then go to Desktop, where can change active image.
Active images for A or B can be selected with VFutil PRG. Can select some other configuration/container file too. So, all it can go pretty fast and simple, and you can quickly return to some your old images, configs. And there is option to save image to file - that's welcome if there are changes in it's content made in VF mode.

Short desync after reset is because I did it with US TOS, which starts at 60 Hz, and my capture card supports not it, so switching to 50 Hz when logo and input time countdown appears.

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I made tests with some 30 games, just by alphabet:

Virtual Floppy compatibility test #1

Working well:

10 Frame
1943
1st Division Manager
20000 Lieues Sous Les Mers
221 Baker Street
23 Games on 1 floppy (Arkanoid ... Uridium)
3D Break Thru
3D Pool
5th Gear
1789 La Revolution Fr.
8 Ball

A320 Airbus
Academy
Action Fighter
Action Service
Addictaball
Adrenalynn
Adventurer
Advanced Fruit Machine Sim.
Advanced Rugby Sim.
Affaire
African Raiders


Not:

9 Lives

Aaargh!
Acidopolis
Addams Family
Advanced Destroyer Sim.
Adventures of Robin Hood
Advantage Tennis
Afterburner
After the War
AGE
Aigle D'Or


The reason for not working is usually direct floppy access in SW code. It is used in some cases for data access, in some only in copy protection test. This are mostly cracks, but there may be remains of protection - not fully removed - passes test on systems with floppy, and not without floppy. This problem is well known for me, since I needed to remove all floppy access in hard disk adaptations, so all it can be fixed. Of course, quality games are which are of interest in first place, and worth of time. Some are fixed already.

 

Images are from: http://atari.8bitchip.info/ASTGA/astgam.php

Floppy images there are mostly cleaned up from diverse crap, made compatible with higher TOS versions, as much is possible + possible improvements, bug fixes. But there is still lot of it what is not tested enough good, especially diverse cracks. Bugs are possible even in originals as we know. Feedback is welcome. I still dream of some Atari SW database about SW compatibility - on diverse Atari machines, TOS versions, even RAM size. + possible bugs, problems. Differences between versions, etc.

Edited by ParanoidLittleMan
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On 4/17/2019 at 9:46 AM, ParanoidLittleMan said:

Second demo video:

 

At start pointing on large image sizes - like 6 MB for Elvira 2 . Possible even more, so can put content of several floppies in single image file, what will act as logical drive A: . Here mounting 3 types of images:

1. Blockout - regular floppy image, same as what runs from real floppies

2. Elvira 2 - large image, with content of 6 floppy disks, space for game saves. It is actually FAT16 format, since FAT12 is max 4 MB .

3. Stardust - 2 MB image, and because this game uses direct floppy controller access, it was needed to make some changes in it's code - based on hard disk adaptation. You may see that there are no regular files on this image, when switching to it. The benefits: less RAM needed - no need for disk cache. Higher speed - no need to RAM swaps as in VHDload concept based systems. Hard disk access is with TOS ROM code. Waitings in this video are because slower depackers in games. Basically, you can run 512 KB games from hard disk with this well on machines with only 512 KB. Or 1MB games with 1 MB RAM .

And of course, not only for gaming. Those who made images (ST, MSA) of their floppies, with own SW, data can use them well, without need to write on real floppy disks, HxC . Just copy on SD card for Atari .

Hi Peter,

 

I’m using hatari and trying to use GEMDOS to run a game from emulated c drive. I’ve mounted each of the three disks via drive a and copied onto c in same folder. Game intro runs but asks for location of disk 2 in drive c. Is there a way to solve this?

 

I’ve downloaded the game already in hard disk version film atariage game page (operation stealth) but it just shows the start game load screen then goes back to Atari desktop in an orange colour.

 

 Thanks for reading,

 

 Anthony 

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GEMDOS type hard disk in Hatari (and Steem too) is not real hard disk emulation. You need to use ACSI hard disk emulation with image file of complete drive/media.

And even then, it is not same as Virtual Floppy A:  .  Old Atari SW, done for running from floppy drive have really wide range of solutions for detecting which floppy is inserted, and when you want to make it run from hard drive or single floppy often changed in code are needed. 

I replied on your e-mail couple days ago, considering Operation Stealth. Same thing: you need ACSI hard disk emulation for it.

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