Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Everything related to using the HxC Floppy Emulator hardware on your Atari.

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:00 pm

wongck wrote:I would get one but am waiting for a better deal.


euh lol... it costs ~20euros. do you want it for 1 euros ?

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby shinmai » Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:30 pm

Jeff_HxC2001 wrote:A question to the Atari forum community: How much can/would you spent for a SDcard floppy emulator ? 30euros,40euros,50euros,60euros,80euros, 100euros or more ?


I would happily pay 60 or 80 euros, but having missed the order phase to every device like this (like 3 batches of HxC's, a batch of another similar device and now I missed the UltraSatan deadline by mere days), if it would come down to it, I would pay 100 euros or more to finally get my hands on a device like this.

I own three working STs, and currently have no means of transferring data to them, as all of the floppy drives are busted, and even if they weren't I have no access to 720k discs or even a floppy drive. When my MegaFile finally completely died last fall, I've had to give up tinkering with my machines alltogether until I can find a device like this to breathe some new life into them. I'm not skilled enough in electronic work to actually complete a project like this, and getting someone to do a single unit would probably prove very costly.

For now I'm just going to stalk eBay and lurk these forums in the hopes of an announcement of a new batch on anything even remotely similiar to the HxC or UltraSatan. I hope some of the people running these projects will find the time and energy to organize new batches, but I can certainly appreciate the effort that a project like this must require.

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby wongck » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:41 pm

Jeff_HxC2001 wrote:
wongck wrote:I would get one but am waiting for a better deal.


euh lol... it costs ~20euros. do you want it for 1 euros ?


No of course not [smilie=greencolorz4_pdt_16.gif] but if it is, I don't mind. :lol:
This particular one will use the entire USB stick to simulate 1 disk.
There in the market are version that use 1 USB stick to simulate 99 disk.
That one cost more than USD$100.
I am waiting for that model. :mrgreen:
Last edited by wongck on Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby wongck » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:35 pm

shinmai wrote:I own three working STs, and currently have no means of transferring data to them, as all of the floppy drives are busted, and even if they weren't I have no access to 720k discs or even a floppy drive. When my MegaFile finally completely died last fall, I've had to give up tinkering with my machines alltogether until I can find a device like this to breathe some new life into them. I'm not skilled enough in electronic work to actually complete a project like this, and getting someone to do a single unit would probably prove very costly.


Lots of text around on how to use a HD FDD on a ST.... here, here and here... :mrgreen:

and for USD$250 you can get this.
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby BoNuS » Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:10 pm

mikro wrote:To make things a little bit interesting, I and "some" other developer :) are seriously considering ST/Falcon counterpart to this: http://raster.infos.cz/atari/hw/sdrive/sdriveen.htm

The initial idea is to support all ST and Amiga formats, i.e. it should be usable on both machines. Prize as always -- lower than your knees ;-)

But it will take some (10 months at least) time, though.


Well it looks also intresting, I would say go ahead...
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby wongck » Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:40 am

Mikro & Jeff_Hx2001, it would be great if these are specific to Atari and does the Atari non-PC tracks/sectors. Those generic ones out there will certainly works with standard PC tracks/sector only.
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:56 am

wongck wrote:Mikro & Jeff_Hx2001, it would be great if these are specific to Atari and does the Atari non-PC tracks/sectors. Those generic ones out there will certainly works with standard PC tracks/sector only.


Indeed the HxC Floppy Emulator supports specific Atari formats (since 2006). Look the supported computers/ file images here:
http://hxc2001.free.fr/floppy_drive_emu ... SSUPPORTED
Last edited by Jeff_HxC2001 on Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby wongck » Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:55 pm

Jeff_HxC2001 wrote:Indeed the HxC Floppy Emulator supports specific Atari formats (since 2006). Look the supported computers/ file images here:
http://jeanfrancoisdelnero.free.fr/flop ... SSUPPORTED

Cool, so how does it work? :P
Can you write into the .ST file as well?
Do I need a joystick to choose which file I need?
How to define the boot disk?
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Sun Sep 06, 2009 7:17 am

wongck wrote:Cool, so how does it work? :P


i repost the video demo again : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0arlGguYEts
all videos / pictures here : http://hxc2001.free.fr/floppy_drive_emu ... index.html

wongck wrote:Can you write into the .ST file as well?


yes you can write back to the image file.

wongck wrote:Do I need a joystick to choose which file I need?


no there are 3 push buttons. (look the pictures/videos)

wongck wrote:How to define the boot disk?


just select a floppy image file.
Last edited by Jeff_HxC2001 on Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby mikro » Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:49 am

Jeff_HxC2001 wrote:Indeed the HxC Floppy Emulator supports specific Atari formats (since 2006). Look the supported computers/ file images here:
http://jeanfrancoisdelnero.free.fr/flop ... SSUPPORTED


Trouble with HxC is the fact you can't use your ST / MSA / ADF / whatever directly. You must preconvert them on PC and then store to USB / SD card. Our solution will require no such step, you can open your SD/MMC card in Windows, copy ST / MSA / ADF / ... files there and our device will recognize them. That's the reason why we're going to build it in the first place -- we simply don't like more hassle than needed :)

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby wongck » Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:07 pm

I have been looking for several months at different solutions out there.
I have seen one that just predefines folders in the SD/USB drive which follows the convention FOLDXX where XX is 0-99.
The number in front just selects the folder based on this number. I am not sure what it does if the contents are larger than the drive.
Anyway, it was from a solution for music keyboard.

I think it is quite easy this way. No conversion needed, just drag & drop, either from Atari or Windows. :mrgreen:
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:33 pm

mikro wrote:
Jeff_HxC2001 wrote:Indeed the HxC Floppy Emulator supports specific Atari formats (since 2006). Look the supported computers/ file images here:
http://hxc2001.free.fr/floppy_drive_emu ... SSUPPORTED


Trouble with HxC is the fact you can't use your ST / MSA / ADF / whatever directly. You must preconvert them on PC and then store to USB / SD card. Our solution will require no such step, you can open your SD/MMC card in Windows, copy ST / MSA / ADF / ... files there and our device will recognize them. That's the reason why we're going to build it in the first place -- we simply don't like more hassle than needed :)


Trouble ? a don't see any trouble, believe me, it's a solution ;-) .

But with the "on the fly" method it can have troubles:
Chinese Floppy emulator and SdiskEmul (http://atariamiga.free.fr/sdiskemul.php) already does the “on the fly” method.

The mains problems with this method are :
- If you read sector data from the SD and encoded it (add gaps , data, crc16 + mfm conversion) on the fly with a simple MCU , the final timing can't be as the original timing-> compatibility issues with some trackloaders, etc.
Furthermore, due to some specific things , this method doesn't works on amiga (Amiga FDC are mostly software -> no "dead time" allowed between sectors)

- If you convert all tracks into MFM data during the "image loading", this could very long with a simple MCU -> 10 - 20 seconds each time you change a floppy image, it's too long for me (the Amiga Floppy Emulator uses this method http://www.sensi.org/~tnt23/megadrive/ )

- There lot of floppy format around the world : each computer has it's own floppy format, and some of them have 10 differents formats (it's the jungle ;-) )-> good luck to support most of them in a MCU (possible but lot of work). And some of them will be hard to handle by this way (examples : STX, IPF, ADZ, DMS, SCL, SAP,...)

So to avoid these problems i choose to make an file format that fit very well the floppy emulator hardware. By this way the firmware are very easy to code.
Adding a new file format support is also easy, most time the firmware of the hardware didn't change, only the encoder software.
The other advantage is that i can easily change mains parts of the hardware, without rewriting all the project ! Nowadays most MCU/Fpga/cpld are becoming fastly obsolete and expensive.
I don't want to rewrite the whole thing each time a part is becoming obsolete. It's a long-term project, not a "one batch" project.

Saying that the conversion process is a trouble isn't true. This is depending of the method/GUI used.
For users, the images conversion are very easy and can be done as fast as a direct images files (ST, MSA,..) copy.
The software supports batch conversion: you can "convert & copy" a full folder (and its subfolder) of floppies files images directly to the sdcard as fast as a simple file copy.

If someone want try the batch conversion you can download the software here :
http://hxc2001.free.fr/floppy_drive_emu ... r_soft.zip
(it's the button "Convert").
And this conversion method can be enhanced to have something more user friendly and faster than the copy-paste method (see you in a next version ;-) )
Last edited by Jeff_HxC2001 on Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby MiggyMog » Sun Sep 06, 2009 5:44 pm

So to avoid these problems i choose to make an file format that fit very well the floppy emulator hardware. By this way the firmware are very easy to code.


It seems sensible enough to have a format that exactly mimics the data stored on the surface of the disk & how it is accessed including the interleave stuff where applicable. The floppy drives that are used in most computers are mostly the same & it's just the drive controller which is different (Annoyingly with an ST/PC as you can't read other disk formats) so it makes sense to have a wrapper type format which does the job of all of these formats at the floppy disk hardware level instead of having variants like STT/STX/STT/DSK/MSA etc. Does for For floppy disks what SNDH does for music. Have you provided details of the file format?
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:23 pm

MiggyMog wrote:
So to avoid these problems i choose to make an file format that fit very well the floppy emulator hardware. By this way the firmware are very easy to code.


It seems sensible enough to have a format that exactly mimics the data stored on the surface of the disk & how it is accessed including the interleave stuff where applicable. The floppy drives that are used in most computers are mostly the same & it's just the drive controller which is different (Annoyingly with an ST/PC as you can't read other disk formats) so it makes sense to have a wrapper type format which does the job of all of these formats at the floppy disk hardware level instead of having variants like STT/STX/STT/DSK/MSA etc. Does for For floppy disks what SNDH does for music. Have you provided details of the file format?


In fact the software allows you to convert input floppies image to differents formats :
(details of theses formats can be found in the sources : http://hxc2001.free.fr/floppy_drive_emu ... ft_src.zip)

Most of them, as you wrote, mimics the data stored on the surface of the disk:

*.MFM: contains full MFM track
*.AFI: Advanced Floppy Image: contains MFM tracks with bitrate and flakey bits data. All datas are packed and checked with some CRC. Can store copy protected floppies.
*.RAW: same as *.ST / *.IMG : sectors data only

*.HFE: variant of the MFM file format optimized for the SDCard Floppy emulator:

-Details of this format:
// first 512bytes of the file
typedef struct picfileformatheader_
{
unsigned char HEADERSIGNATURE[8]; // "HXCPICFE"
unsigned char formatrevision; // format revision code - 0
unsigned char number_of_track; // number of tracks
unsigned char number_of_side; // number of side.
unsigned char track_encoding; // track encoding mode - 0:RAW MFM/FM.
unsigned short bitRate; // bitrate 250/300/500
unsigned short floppyRPM; // RPM - 300/360
unsigned char floppyinterfacemode; // floppy interface mode : PC/Shugart/Amiga...
unsigned char write_protected; // write allowed?
unsigned short track_list_offset; // offset of the track table in the file (in sector, track_list_offset*512)
}picfileformatheader;

// one element in the track table:
typedef struct pictrack_
{
unsigned short offset; // offset of the track in the file (in sector, offset*512)
unsigned short track_len; // size in byte of the MFM track
}pictrack;

all tracks are 512bytes aligned in the file.
Side 0 & side 1 tracks are mixed together to allow a fast side switching (as fast as a true floppy disk drive).

mfm/fm bit encoding : at 250kbits each sdcard bits take 2us: you need 2 bits to encode an MFM bits (4us)
an atari st mfm track take on the sdcard 0.2 (300 RPM) *250000=50000bits=50000/(8/2)=12500bytes
a full floppy take 12500*80*2 =~ 1.9MB

*.VTR: a modified *.HFE file format (for a HxC Floppy Emu clone, the Vtrucco variant : http://www.instructables.com/id/Emulado ... -Montagem/ , can be buy here : http://produto.mercadolivre.com.br/MLB-100196147-_JM)
Last edited by Jeff_HxC2001 on Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby mikro » Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:27 pm

Jeff, you've made some very good points there. The truth is I like both HxC and our version because it gives us a choice -- for me, the most important thing is to be able to download stuff from net, store it on SD card and put into my device. As you say, we probably never got the same level of compatibility as "direct hardware emulator format' but -- it's OK for me and it will be OK probably for some other people. On the second side, someone would require absolute compatibility, and that's your turn. Remember, our main target audience is Atari (8/16/32 bit) world, where those disk formats aren't so ... "hostile" ... mostly :)

So to sum it up, I'm happy we live in the world of choices ;-)

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby wongck » Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:23 pm

mikro wrote:for me, the most important thing is to be able to download stuff from net, store it on SD card and put into my device.

So to sum it up, I'm happy we live in the world of choices ;-)


And for me is able to have a device that will allow me to load stuff on to the Atari, once the floppy drive dies.
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby shinmai » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:37 am

wongck wrote:There in the market are version that use 1 USB stick to simulate 99 disk.
That one cost more than USD$100.
I am waiting for that model. :mrgreen:


Would that be something like this?

I actually think I might have one of those cheap ones that Jeff_HxC2001 linked to, in one of my old keyboards.. At least it looks very similar. If I could manage to format a usb-stick to 80 tracks and 9 sectors, would that work on my ST? Or would it need hardware modifications (as I said I'm really not cut out to do something like that on my own)... (to clarify, I realize the usb-stick alone wouldn't work, but would a drive similar to the one linked by Jeff WITH aformentioned USB-thumbdrive work as a way of transferring data from my PC to an ST?)

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:33 pm

mikro wrote:So to sum it up, I'm happy we live in the world of choices ;-)


no problem about this ! As you can see there are lot of choices today regarding the floppy emulation. :wink:

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:37 pm

shinmai wrote:
wongck wrote:There in the market are version that use 1 USB stick to simulate 99 disk.
That one cost more than USD$100.
I am waiting for that model. :mrgreen:


Would that be something like this?

I actually think I might have one of those cheap ones that Jeff_HxC2001 linked to, in one of my old keyboards.. At least it looks very similar. If I could manage to format a usb-stick to 80 tracks and 9 sectors, would that work on my ST? Or would it need hardware modifications (as I said I'm really not cut out to do something like that on my own)... (to clarify, I realize the usb-stick alone wouldn't work, but would a drive similar to the one linked by Jeff WITH aformentioned USB-thumbdrive work as a way of transferring data from my PC to an ST?)


This is the same hardware than the 20e one. i am pretty sure that this will work with an Atari ST.
But if you can, ask the documentation to see if you can select the good "Drive select" with jumpers or something else.
I have read somewhere that these drives use a software to get/set files images on the usb stick.

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby shinmai » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:45 am

Jeff_HxC2001 wrote:This is the same hardware than the 20e one. i am pretty sure that this will work with an Atari ST.
But if you can, ask the documentation to see if you can select the good "Drive select" with jumpers or something else.
I have read somewhere that these drives use a software to get/set files images on the usb stick.


It might be the same hardware, but the version I have doesn't have the disk-selection functionality. It has a lot of unused parts on the PCB, so it might be a gutted "light"-version (it uses one usb-stick as one floppy, and doesn't support the 0-99 disks-thing that the device I linked to supposedly does.
It's also missing the jumper pins for the drive ID, but the connectors are there, so I'm going to try and get it to work by desoldering the connection on ds1 and connecting ds0. That's about the limit of my know-how when electronics are concerned, so I hope that'll get it working :)

My drive also doesn't use any extra software to manage files on the disk, as it doesn't use images, but rather wastes the remaning space on the disk. I love the idea of using 1Gb USB drives (the smallest capacity I can easily get my hands on) as 720k floppies :D

I have high hopes for the next batch of HxC USBs. Maybe this time I won't miss the deadlines :)

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby wongck » Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:15 pm

shinmai wrote:
wongck wrote:There in the market are version that use 1 USB stick to simulate 99 disk.
That one cost more than USD$100.
I am waiting for that model. :mrgreen:


Would that be something like this?

Yes exactly, but USD$85 is still too much for it. :(

shinmai wrote:I actually think I might have one of those cheap ones that Jeff_HxC2001 linked to, in one of my old keyboards.. At least it looks very similar. If I could manage to format a usb-stick to 80 tracks and 9 sectors, would that work on my ST? Or would it need hardware modifications (as I said I'm really not cut out to do something like that on my own)... (to clarify, I realize the usb-stick alone wouldn't work, but would a drive similar to the one linked by Jeff WITH aformentioned USB-thumbdrive work as a way of transferring data from my PC to an ST?)

It should work as a standard 720KB floppy, so a high chance, as the actual FDD is standard product. I actaully have a 1.44MB FDD on my ST but it can only access 720MB. So there is no difference in the FDD from a PC or a ST.
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby wongck » Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:24 pm

shinmai wrote:It's also missing the jumper pins for the drive ID, but the connectors are there, so I'm going to try and get it to work by desoldering the connection on ds1 and connecting ds0. That's about the limit of my know-how when electronics are concerned, so I hope that'll get it working :)

yes, moving the zero Ohm resistor (connector) will jumper the device. :mrgreen:
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:09 pm

Back to the USB HxC Floppy Emulator annoucement :

a new message from petersieg :

petersieg wrote:So.. now you can count 20 more white hxc usb units that have been made on the list for 2009.. ;-)

Since there is still interest in more.. I have decided to make another 20 unit batch.. 11 are already allocated..

Peter


http://torlus.com/floppy/forum/viewtopic.php?t=242

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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby shinmai » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:59 pm

petersieg wrote:11 are already allocated..


And this time I'm actually getting one :D Now if only it'd support writing. I guess I'll hook up the HxC to my 1meg STFM for games and watching demos, and hook the usb-floppy emu from my keyboard to my megast2 to be able to save stuff, too.
Or I could use the HxC to load some parallel-port laplink-type software on the ST to transfer stuff back to the PC (I think I saw a software like that in some wiki). Either way, my ST usage is about to increase rapidly in the near future :D

swatcop
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Re: Last batch of USB HxC Floppy Emulator

Postby swatcop » Mon Oct 05, 2009 7:28 am

Jeff -

Are you going to be doing a batch of the stand-alone HxC floppy drive emulators? I REALLY want a couple of them to replace floppy drives in Atari ST and Amiga computers.

I don't want to have to connect them to a PC via USB.

Thanks,
Neil


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