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ijor

Greaseweazle new DIY open source alternative to Kryoflux and SCP

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Posted (edited)

We talked about this on one of the subforums, but it was a bit hijacking another thread. And I thought this deserves his own thread here.

 

There are (were) currently two main devices to perform preservation/flux level dumps of floppy disks, the Kryoflux and the SCP. They are both good and recommended devices, but many people find them too expensive. Since about some time there is a much affordable alternative that is DIY and fully open source:

 

https://github.com/keirf/Greaseweazle/wiki

 

It is based on the extremely cheap "Blue Pill" STM32 development board:

 

https://stm32-base.org/boards/STM32F103C8T6-Blue-Pill.html

 

Here are a few comments, but note that I don't have personal experience with this board:

 

- I don't know much was tested with Atari 8-bit disks if at all

- When dumping disks it produces SCP files as the original SCP hardware does

- I don't know if it supports the mod to be able to read the flippy side as the Kryoflux does

- Writing should work about the same as using a Kryoflux. The SCP is currently better for writing because it is supported by Paheron's a8rawconv that can setup a suitable write splice point.

- The floppy interface is completely unbuffered that might not be suitable for very old 5.25 drives

 

Somebody sells a ready made "plus" version that among other things it adds buffers, ESD protection and also uses a much more powerful MCU. But then the cost might be no so cheap anymore:

 

https://www.sellmyretro.com/offer/details/greaseweazle-f7-plus-usb-floppy-interface-flux-tool-usb-_b-43881

 

Would be interesting to hear if somebody tried this with Atari 8-bit disks.

Edited by ijor
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I'm getting one soon but sadly no PC 5 1/4" floppy drive here, only a XF551. I'll see if I can source a drive, then I'd gladly do some tests for people.

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I made a typo when creating the thread. It's SCP, not CSP. Can any moderator change the title of the topic, please (and delete this post if you want)?

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1 hour ago, ijor said:

Somebody sells a ready made "plus" version that among other things it adds buffers, ESD protection and also uses a much more powerful MCU. But then the cost might be no so cheap anymore:

 

https://www.sellmyretro.com/offer/details/greaseweazle-f7-plus-usb-floppy-interface-flux-tool-usb-_b-43881

 

Would be interesting to hear if somebody tried this with Atari 8-bit disks.

I have ordered the "plus" version and I'm waiting for delivery.

 

Right now you can order also kits over Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/greaseweazle/

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While very interested in this hardware, I would also like to ask about some good case to hold 5 1/4" drive and the board... It was able to find 3D printed onces for Kryoflux.. that's it. Any recommendation?

I have a couple of working 5 1/4 mechs. I got for the XF551 but they were too large for the case.

 

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5 hours ago, ijor said:

I made a typo when creating the thread. It's SCP, not CSP. Can any moderator change the title of the topic, please (and delete this post if you want)?

Fixed!

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Interesting, I might get one and see if it will work with this drive, I bought this many years ago for my ST as I was using

5 1/4" disks with a custom setup but never used it in anger.

 

By the time I got to try this drive my ST was playing up even with 3 1/2" drives (a problem I still have to fix)

 

It does power up and head moves when trying to read/format so I think its ok.

 

You can see its capable of 40/80 track, so should be good with 8 bit disks 

IMG_20200608_112926.jpg

IMG_20200608_112946.jpg

IMG_20200608_113036.jpg

IMG_20200608_113248.jpg

IMG_20200608_113333.jpg

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17 hours ago, TheMontezuma said:

I have ordered the "plus" version and I'm waiting for delivery.

Right now you can order also kits over Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/greaseweazle/

 

Make sure it's the same, or equivalent, to the "plus" version I linked above.

 

The standard version is made using the Blue Pill board and it is extremely cheap. The Greaseweazle wiki mentions a version made with a custom board that uses a more powerful version of the MCU (F7 instead of F1), but otherwise it seems to be the same. I don't know if they call that version "plus" and if that's what they are selling on facebook or not. Then there is the "plus" version I mentioned that besides the upgraded MCU, it also adds buffers and a few more thing.

 

I don't know if it is worth just the upgraded MCU. It is IMHO overkill for this task. Of course, if it costs about the same then it doesn't harm. But I think the safer interface with buffers and ESD protection is much more important.

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18 hours ago, ggn said:

I'm getting one soon but sadly no PC 5 1/4" floppy drive here, only a XF551. I'll see if I can source a drive, then I'd gladly do some tests for people.

 

Hi ggn, how are you doing? :)

Note that if you want, the mechanism inside the XF551 is probably good enough. They are not among the best 5.25 drives, but should work.

 

5 hours ago, TGB1718 said:

Interesting, I might get one and see if it will work with this drive, I bought this many years ago for my ST as I was using

5 1/4" disks with a custom setup but never used it in anger.

...

You can see its capable of 40/80 track, so should be good with 8 bit disks

 

Please note everybody that both 40 and 80 tracks work as well for reading purposes. As always, and not specific to these devices, there is an issue when writing a disk on 80 tracks drive and then reading the disk on a 40 tracks drive like a 1050.

 

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36 minutes ago, ijor said:

 

Make sure it's the same, or equivalent, to the "plus" version I linked above.

 

The standard version is made using the Blue Pill board and it is extremely cheap. The Greaseweazle wiki mentions a version made with a custom board that uses a more powerful version of the MCU (F7 instead of F1), but otherwise it seems to be the same. I don't know if they call that version "plus" and if that's what they are selling on facebook or not. Then there is the "plus" version I mentioned that besides the upgraded MCU, it also adds buffers and a few more thing.

 

I don't know if it is worth just the upgraded MCU. It is IMHO overkill for this task. Of course, if it costs about the same then it doesn't harm. But I think the safer interface with buffers and ESD protection is much more important.

Again, I ordered this version: https://www.sellmyretro.com/offer/details/43881

It was designed by Ant Goffart (with help from Keir Fraser).

Ant listed the features of his design:

  • PCB 80mm x 50mm, KyroFlux form factor.
  • Added stronger buffers for driving 5.25" drives with higher current pull-up resistors.
  • Integrated 5V switching regulator, so only a single 12V supply is required for drives needing both rails.
  • Choice of full-size or micro USB connector.
  • USB ESD (electro-static discharge) protection.
  • Connections for external LEDs, for use if fitting the board in an enclosure.
  • Jumper link to select write protection by default.
  • Jumper link to disconnect WR_GATE for physical hardware level write protection.

In the meantime Keir Fraser (the original Greaseweazle designer) offers following boards in the Facebook Greaseweazle group:

 

102429954_10158541615129122_3315476339709705930_o.thumb.jpg.29ed737c728efad5a49ea4d96438c380.jpg

 

103587202_10158541615444122_8523483429300522002_n.jpg.c71d3fab4189884dc2782c977ab623cf.jpg

I asked Keir about differences of his designs and the design from Ant and got the answer:

 

"Ant's can run everything off an external 12v supply. And it is buffered (as is F7 Lightning but not the basic F7 v2)."

 

So you can consider "F7 v2" as a standard/basic version, which is now green (and the cheapest of all).

"F7 Lightning" is an improved version from Keir.

"F7 Plus" is an improved version from Ant.

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, TheMontezuma said:

103587202_10158541615444122_8523483429300522002_n.jpg.c71d3fab4189884dc2782c977ab623cf.jpg

I asked Keir about differences of his designs and the design from Ant and got the answer:

 

"Ant's can run everything off an external 12v supply. And it is buffered (as is F7 Lightning but not the basic F7 v2)."

 

So you can consider "F7 v2" as a standard/basic version, which is now green (and the cheapest of all).

"F7 Lightning" is an improved version from Keir.

"F7 Plus" is an improved version from Ant.

 

Useful post. Thanks.

 

The "F7 v2" might be the cheapest version that is sold fully assembled, at least by Keir. But note that you can build yourself a bare version based on the Blue Pill for close to nothing.

 

The Lightning version, at £40, doesn't seem to me so cheap anymore. Not much cheaper than the original SCP, and if you live at the US and you have to add international shipping, the Lightning might cost about the same or even more.

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all well and good but is the blue pill version(s) buffered and safe with long term floppy use? or do we look forward to burned up stress?

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3 hours ago, _The Doctor__ said:

all well and good but is the blue pill version(s) buffered and safe with long term floppy use? or do we look forward to burned up stress?

 

The Blue Pill is not buffered, that's what you get for something that costs ~U$1.50. But it should work with 5.25 HD drives, and probably even with not so old 5.25 LD drives as well. You can still add buffers if you want yourself for very little cost.

 

I would prefer something safer and more robust. But the whole point of this is a very cheap DIY alternative for those that can't afford the commercial boards.

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perhaps someone will draw up a quick fix up board for the pill AA style and they pass around for cheap.

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On 6/8/2020 at 7:07 PM, ijor said:

 

Hi ggn, how are you doing? :)

Note that if you want, the mechanism inside the XF551 is probably good enough. They are not among the best 5.25 drives, but should work.

 

I'm doing fine thanks! Just dabbling with various bits and pieces here and there.

 

I suppose that wiring up the XF551 to the greaseweasle won't be straightforward like plugging in a stock cable though, right?

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I have a question of those who know how this works. If you can back up protected software for preservation with this device, can you also write disks from these protected back up files?

 

The reason I ask this is because I have several original disks (manuals and packaging) which sadly no longer load due to surface damage/degradation, and I would like to write a disk and then put the floppy mylar into the original disk sleeve. 

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2 hours ago, ggn said:

I suppose that wiring up the XF551 to the greaseweasle won't be straightforward like plugging in a stock cable though, right?

 

You don't connect it to the XF551 itself. You connect it to the drive that is inside the XF551, which is a standard PC drive mechanism. Depending on the cables all you might not need to disassemble the XF551, just remove the top cover and disconnect the the mechanism to the internal XF551 board.

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2 hours ago, blacka013 said:

I have a question of those who know how this works. If you can back up protected software for preservation with this device, can you also write disks from these protected back up files?

 

Well, sort of. There are some issues and probably it won't work with every single title.

 

The main problem is that most titles are not aligned to the index hole. This requires that the software would perform a high level analysis and would find a proper write splice point for each track. The SCP is better for writing purpose precisely because we already have software (Phaeron's a8rawconv) than can perform this task.

 

As commented above, there is also an issue when writing a disk with an 80 tracks drive and reading it with a 40 tracks one as a 1050 (or a 810).

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Hi ijor,

 

thanks for the info. 

 

Another question, what software do you require for this?

 

Regards

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still wouldn't chance burning stuff up with the XF drive mech... so I'd def use another drive or add the buffer/ get it with the buffer.

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I would like to share my experience with this device.

I just received the F7 plus v2 board sold by Ant Goffart.

I have a Panasonic 1.2M drive.

I tried on both Windows 10 and an old Windows XP computer.

When using the option on the command line to do double steps, the SCP file is recognized by a8rawconv and I could dump an Archon disk successfully (protection with aligned sector 1 and phantom sector in track 2).

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9 hours ago, ebiguy said:

I would like to share my experience with this device.

I just received the F7 plus v2 board sold by Ant Goffart.

I have a Panasonic 1.2M drive.

I tried on both Windows 10 and an old Windows XP computer.

When using the option on the command line to do double steps, the SCP file is recognized by a8rawconv and I could dump an Archon disk successfully (protection with aligned sector 1 and phantom sector in track 2).

Could you please tell us the complete command?
Is it something like that?
 

gw read --rpm=288 --rate=300 --double-step --ecyl=39 --single-sided mydisk.scp

Could you also attach the scp file, please ?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, TheMontezuma said:

Could you please tell us the complete command? Is it something like that?

gw read --rpm=288 --rate=300 --double-step --ecyl=39 --single-sided mydisk.scp

 

 

I don't have personal experience with the greaseweazle, but that doesn't look right.

 

In first place, don't include the original RPM or bitrate. The dumping software is not (or should not be) concerned with that kind of information. With those parameters it might alter the dump and that's exactly what we don't want. We want the dump to contain the information as was produced by the drive, verbatim, without any kind of interpretation. The interpretation should be performed by post processing software without altering the original dump.

 

The last track depends on the kind of drive you use. For a typical 96 tpi drive it should be 82 (see my posts on the other thread about why to include some extra tracks). Also make sure that it includes 5 revolutions.

Edited by ijor

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3 hours ago, ijor said:

 

I don't have personal experience with the greaseweazle, but that doesn't look right.

 

In first place, don't include the original RPM or bitrate. The dumping software is not (or should not be) concerned with that kind of information. With those parameters it might alter the dump and that's exactly what we don't want. We want the dump to contain the information as was produced by the drive, verbatim, without any kind of interpretation. The interpretation should be performed by post processing software without altering the original dump.

 

The last track depends on the kind of drive you use. For a typical 96 tpi drive it should be 82 (see my posts on the other thread about why to include some extra tracks). Also make sure that it includes 5 revolutions.

It is interesting. What are "revolutions" ?

 

 

I asked in the Greaseweazle Facebook Group about 5.25 Floppy drives and got some feedback:

Quote

Yes, HD 5.25" drives can happily read DD/SD floppies - you just need to be aware that they will spin at 360rpm when you're converting them to other formats, so you *may* need to fiddle with the data rate (although I think GW now has command-line parameters to compensate)?

 

Quote

Yes. --rpm

 

That's why I though you need to tell Greaseweazle to compensate the different rpm / data rate of the HD floppy drive...

 

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