USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

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

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dml
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USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby dml » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:22 am

I recently got hold of a USB HxC floppy emulator specifically to help with cross-development for Atari. Basically the idea is to build your code on a PC or Mac using cross-tools, and the test executable and any required data gets copied to the floppy emulator as part of the build process.

By making sure the floppy emulator is set up with an AUTO folder and with your program being automatically copied into the AUTO folder, all you have to do is reset your ST after each assemble/compile and you have instant test turnaround. In fact you can even wire up the reset line on the ST so the build process resets the ST after the copy.

Well that was the idea. But I'm having a lot of problems getting it to work. Having tried the emulator on a Falcon and STE it seems that most of the time the data read by the target machine is corrupt. Rarely it will read the whole program and then fails to read the graphics data etc - most of the time it just reads corrupt code and bombs out.

The Falcon seemed to have a much better success rate than the STE, but both worked unreliably - I couldn't use it as it is.

At first I thought it was dropped packets, and having adjusted the USB packet size this seems to be mostly under control but the data being read by the STE is still mostly corrupt.

Most of the info available on HxC emulators is for the SD card type. There is very little info from existing users on the USB type and its very hard for me to tell if my device is broken or I'm just using it incorrectly. There are quite a few variables...

- packet dropping
- board revision ("D" / surfacemount with black solder mask)
- other emulator 'settings' e.g. 'Mode' and 'Drive ID' (currently set to Atari ST or Atari ST HD / D0)
- version of emulator software (tried 3 versions so far)
- firmware (is it possible to update the firmware for the USB version? I couldn't tell from the website)
- disk image format - i.e. creating a blank image in HFE format that the ST will recognise and use
- VFDWin (virtual disk mount on PC side - allows copying of files to the image before or during emulation)
- HxC hardware fault / shielding issues (?)
- USB power issues (?)
- other (?)

Any advice is welcome - it's pretty annoying having a project ready for testing and having to copy stuff onto 720k floppies when the emulator should do a much better job. It would be great to have this working!

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:59 pm

Have you tried this version :
http://hxc2001.com/download/floppy_driv ... r_soft.zip

With the USB packet set to 2048 ?

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby dml » Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:57 pm

Hi,

Jeff_HxC2001 wrote:Have you tried this version :
http://hxc2001.com/download/floppy_driv ... r_soft.zip

With the USB packet set to 2048 ?


I have tried that version yes, but not sure I tried 2048 packet size. I'll test and report back.

Cheers

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby dml » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:47 pm

I have since tried packet size=2048 but it doesn't make any difference. Still reading corrupt data.

I tried switching to another PC in case it was a USB power issue but same result. I might have suspected the STE since it didn't have a floppy drive - was removed some time ago by somebody else - but I get similar issues using it on the Falcon so it must be something to do with the emulator or the disk image.

Now looking for pre-made HFE files so I can rule out the VFD/virtual floppy drive tool I used to make the floppy image...

It would be nice to know if somebody else has one of these working on an Atari STE, and exactly which settings and version they use, so I can rule another bunch of things out.

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby dml » Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:13 pm

After switching the HxC USB emulator back into the Falcon I was able to get it to work fairly reliably. To get it working I had to enclose the board in a layer of paper and metal foil and attach the foil to the Atari's ground plane. I did this for a few reasons - visible interference appears on the screen when the USB cable is powered up, and on the STE the most serious problem was floppy access causing the machine to reset. This seemed like an electrical/signal/grounding issue.

So it works on the Falcon when shielded, but I still couldn't get it working on the STE. Hit ESC a few times to refresh the directory on the STE and 11 bombs appear and/or the machine resets itself.

I'll probably source a metal project box for the board before trying it again.

I still don't really know if the STE problem is a compatibility thing or electronic fault but I am making a bit of progress. Still interested to know how others have fared with this unit on the STE.

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:01 pm

What about the earth connection of the STE and PC ?

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby dml » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:15 pm

Jeff_HxC2001 wrote:What about the earth connection of the STE and PC ?


The STE/Falcon were both powered from the same cable - standard mains lead.

The laptop I'm using for the USB side is a bit less certain - however I did try another desktop PC and got the same result.

I did try connecting the PC and Atari grounds (after checking the schematic) to equalize them but it didn't solve the STE's problems.

It could be more than one problem - a grounding/noise issue plus a specific fault in the STE itself, like a bad floppy controller. If I can find another one to test I'll see if it behaves differently.

Cheers

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby shoggoth » Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:54 pm

I bought one of these.

Can't recommend them to anybody. I'm hugely disappointed and expected something even remotely useful.
Ain't no space like PeP-space.

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby AtariZoll » Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:55 pm

USB HxC floppy emulator, assembled by Lotharek, by me works very well with STE, Mega STE, ST machines. Not really good with TT and Falcon.
Negative feedback has usually positive effect.

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby mikro » Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:29 am

shoggoth wrote:I bought one of these.

Can't recommend them to anybody. I'm hugely disappointed and expected something even remotely useful.

Oh, wow. I see choosing the SD card version was definitely a good move, then. Anyway, with upcoming Jookie's CosmosEx device all your problems disappear :) You are going to have a bootable shared hard disk with no effort.

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:20 pm

shoggoth wrote:I bought one of these.

Can't recommend them to anybody. I'm hugely disappointed and expected something even remotely useful.


I don't too since this one is quite old and something new&better is incoming :wink:
But your feedback interest me: what is the problem and/or what did you expected exactly?

EDIT : 3 months later ( 05/18/2014) and still no any single response from shoggoth ... :(
Very interesting behavior here... :wink:
Last edited by Jeff_HxC2001 on Sun May 18, 2014 6:53 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:36 pm

@mikro:
The RPi can already be used with the USB HxC Floppy Emulator to do a tcp/ip remote floppy emulator :D :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJEekEhZtD8

viewtopic.php?f=99&t=25499#p238115
Last edited by Jeff_HxC2001 on Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby Jeff_HxC2001 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:40 pm

AtariZoll wrote:USB HxC floppy emulator, assembled by Lotharek, by me works very well with STE, Mega STE, ST machines. Not really good with TT and Falcon.


What's going on with the TT & Falcon ?

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Re: USB HxC floppy emulation for cross-dev

Postby Cyprian » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:17 pm

AtariZoll wrote:USB HxC floppy emulator, assembled by Lotharek, by me works very well with STE, Mega STE, ST machines. Not really good with TT and Falcon.


I have USB Floppy Drive Emulator and it works fine with my TT
Jaugar / TT030 / Mega STe / 800 XL / 1040 STe / Falcon030 / 65 XE / 520 STm / SM124 / SC1435
SDrive / PAK68/3 / CosmosEx / SatanDisk / UltraSatan / USB Floppy Drive Emulator / Eiffel / SIO2PC / Crazy Dots / PAM Net
Hatari / Aranym / Steem / Saint
http://260ste.appspot.com/


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