Interesting device...

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Has anyone seen this device before?

Looks interesting.

Interesting disk emulator

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Re: Interesting device...

Nope, but I have now. Smile

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Re: Interesting device...

I've been tempted to buy one since he posted the first. Looks very interesting...
(update) Well, I pulled the plug and bought one anyway. The price is a little high,
but when you think about the effort this guy put into it, I think it becomes quite
reasonable. This card will work better as a storage device for Apple DOS (not ProDOS)
than the CFFA would. Plus it includes bluetooth and the SD RAM. Overall pretty
reasonable in my opinion.

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Re: Interesting device...

I picked one up too. I'll leave some notes once I get a chance to play with it.

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Re: Interesting device...

He's actually been developing it for awhile (since late last year that I am aware of)

Looks like it has come a long way and looks very interesting.
Zan

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Re: Interesting device...

Well, I got mine in today. Pretty fast delivery coming from Korea!

First impressions are very favorable.

It comes with a bluetooth interface and a USB to serial interface to connect to the console, a little console controller paddle and a 16GB SD card loaded up with sample images

I chose to use the bluetooth interface. I plugged a little bluetooth dongle into my Vintage systems server PC, plugged the card into S7 and was able to connect to the card in a few seconds. Using hyperterm you can quickly bring up the card's console on the PC. I have not tried all the functionality yet but here is a quick rundown.

It supports either two floppy images under any OS or two 32MB HD images under PROdos. You have to choose one or the other. Since I have two floppies on it already in S6, this is not an issue for me.

Through the console command interpreter you can change the mode (FDD or HDD), attach or detach images, navigate, create or delete directories, delete or copy files, etc... Or you can use the little controller paddle in conjunction with the console terminal to attach or detach images if you have an aversion to typing. Personally, I don't think I'll use the controller paddle much.

Getting images onto the SD card is simply a matter of putting the SD card into your PC and copying them over. It will work with SD cards up to 32GB. You might just be able to hold the entire amount of published software for the Apple II on that.

It understands INB, DSK and HDV images. They say it's been tested on ][, ][+ and apple //e. It has not been tested on other Apple 2 systems.

The Apple ][ system has access to the controller paddle through peeking a memory location (49405 if in slot 7)

If anyone has any questions, just ask and I'll see if I can figure it out.

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Re: Interesting device...

Would love to hear how the hard drive emulation works compared to CFFA3000. Speeds and such.

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Re: Interesting device...

I don't have access to a CFFA3000, but I have MicroDrive Turbo which I'm told is a bit faster than the CFFA3000. Compared to the MicroDrive, it seems a bit slower, but I have not run any real testing. Can anyone suggest a published benchmark program to test this?

One should keep in mind this unit is only $129 and might not stack up to units costing twice as much.

It is considerably faster than a floppy. Again, I have no hard figures.

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Re: Interesting device...

Is it as straightforward to use as hard drive as the MicroDrive? What was the setup you tried it on? Wondr if it works on a IIGS?

I've stated interest into the possible next batch of CFFA but that's almost a half year away, if at all. If I can find something in the same price class sooner, I'll probably go for it. The Unisdisk enables me to run GSOS but it's not exactly fast and doesn't really give me a feeling that I was running my IIGS with a hard drive.

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Re: Interesting device...

How about BenchmarkeD from Brutal Deluxe.
http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/products/apple2gs/benchmarked.html

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Re: Interesting device...

protek wrote:

Is it as straightforward to use as hard drive as the MicroDrive? What was the setup you tried it on? Wondr if it works on a IIGS?

Yes, if anything more so. I have it in an enhanced IIe. The documentation says it has not been tested on a IIgs

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Re: Interesting device...

Unfortunately it does seem that BenchmarkeD will not work on a //e.

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Re: Interesting device...

Hmm, I'm tempted to get and try it on my IIGS.

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Re: Interesting device...

If I remove the floppies from both my IIe systems, to reduce the overhead of the PROdos volume discovery, then time the copy of a large file from one volume to the next on both systems, this might give a crude idea of speed comparison between this card and the MicroDrive I have.

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Re: Interesting device...

Bill, any more observations of the emulator? Has anyone with a IIGS tried this?

I'm trying to decide between this and a SCSI controller. Connecting a hard drive to the SCSI controller isn't that straightforward as you'd need a custom cable if you want the drive to be internal. That's why I'm slightly tempred to take the plunge and give the emulator a try.

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Re: Interesting device...

Haven't had a chance to play in a few days Crying .

I'll get back to all when I get the chance. My priority list got a little top heavy ...

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Re: Interesting device...

Okay. I have some surprising data.

On each machine I copied UTIL.0, an 81 block file, from one volume to another on the same card and timed how long it took.

For the MicroDrive Turbo : 14.8 seconds

For the SD Disk-][ Emulator: 13.1 seconds

So, this device is actually faster than the MicroDrive Turbo!!

Not bad for a $140 option. I'm very happy with it so far.

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Re: Interesting device...

Thanks for the heads up. I've been considering buying one of these.

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Re: Interesting device...

slight update to my previous data.

The MicroDrive Trubo has 4 volumes on it and the SD disk II emulator only has 2.

Since ProDos enumerates each volume after every action (such as a copy) to see if the volumes have changed, it must do twice as many on the MicroDrive Turbo. This adds about 1.5 seconds to the time recorded for it. If we account for this, then the times between the two boards look more like a dead heat.

Still not bad.

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Re: Interesting device...

Well, I took the plunge and purchased one to try it on my IIGS as it was now re-listed. I'll let you know, how it works out once I receive it. It's going to be an early Christmas present for myself.

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Re: Interesting device...

Received mine this morning. Pretty fast considering it was shipped on the 15th from Korea. Don't know when I get the chance to try it out.

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Re: Interesting device...

I contacted Ian through ebay to find out when the next batch is to be manufactured and sold.
I also sent him the link to Applefritter so he could join in the conversation and answer questions.

---UPDATE---

Ian has another SD Card up on eBay right now.
$139.00

Steven Smile

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Re: Interesting device...

Ok, first impressions on the IIGS. It works. Or at least it loads Tetris every time I boot my IIGS.

I managed to connect to it via the bluetooth but for some reason I couldn't get any commands through. I wonder if I need to have the control dial connected or should I just try some other terminal program than Blueterm on my Nexus?

Didn't have time to try it further. Going to try with a different terminal program tomorrow.

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Re: Interesting device...

Got advice feom Ian regarding the terminal. I need to change the carriage return setting. Will try it tonight.

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Re: Interesting device...

I got the Blueterm configured properly and was able to change to HDD mode. The IIGS boots the default .hdv file into ProDOS.

I have also a 32 MB .po image with GSOS601 renamed as .hdv. It starts loading the OS, showing the progress bar but an extra chime is played and it doesn't finish loading the OS. Terminal shows a couple of SPIN errors, suggesting that there's something wrong with the image. Wonder if just renaming the .po to .hdv isn't the proper way of doing it even though I read somewhere that it should be possible.

Going to do some more testing later tonight.

Btw, the progress bar of GSOS filled considerably faster compared to loading it from the UniSDisk.

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Re: Interesting device...

protek wrote:

Btw, the progress bar of GSOS filled considerably faster compared to loading it from the UniSDisk.

This bar moves on somewhat predicted values and is often completely wrong. Use timing to measure the boot speed of GS/OS.

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Re: Interesting device...

There may be some merit to trying to use CiderPress to convert from .po to .hdv. It will deal with both and although they are supposed to be similar they might be sufficiently different to cause some problems.

Does the GS seem to work well with the card under ProDos?

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Re: Interesting device...

Well, I got a hold of another GSOS image that was a .hdv file to start with. That won't boot completely either and shows some error messages on the terminal window. I wonder, if I should try to do a fresh instal of GSOS into a new .hdv Image? That means I have to either find 7 working DD floppies and get the GSOS images transferred on those with my Mac. Or possibly try to get them working from UniSDisk.

I tried also putting the card on slot 6 but it wouldn't even boot from that. I suppose I should've changed the slot assignments from the control panel, right?

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Re: Interesting device...

Did some further testing. I created a 32 MB image with Ciderpress and tried installing GSOS from installation floppies. Installation seemed to go all right but the IIGS wouldn't boot from it.

I've been in mail exchange with Ian and apparently there is a timing issue between the IIGS and the SD Disk ][. An ACK timeout for some resason.

A 32 MB image with ProDOS containing ProDOS Basic 1.5 seems to load ok.

My next course of action is to set the IIGS to run slower from the control panel to see if that makes any difference. I'm alternatively going to try System 3.2 which is ProDOS16 rather than GSOS to see if it's either the OS or the hardware that is incompatible.

Ian doesn't have a IIGS, so he can't take traces. I've offered to help him with that if possible.

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Re: Interesting device...

Slowing down the IIGS from the control panel didn't have any effect. I did manage to get it working with ProDOS16 to some extent. I created another empty 32 MB .hdv with CiderPress and then copied the files from System 3 disk. I got one error message while copying in the ProDOS16 UI but it seemed to copy it nevertheless. And the IIGS can boot from that.

I think it can be narrowed down to the fact that GSOS being true 16-bit responds slightly differently to disk operations compared to 8-bit ProDOS.

Any thoughts on this?

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Re: Interesting device...

Ian let me know that he plans to get a IIGS to be able to find out why his adapter isn't working with GSOS. I don't know how long that's going to take but since Rich's next batch was postponed to November, it seems Ian has a good chance to get this working before that.

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Re: Interesting device...

Just got word from Ian. He had acquired a IIGS system and made some changes into the R/W routine of the "Interesting device". It now boots GSOS. Laughing out loud

He's still working on it to make it more stable. Hopefully there's a firmware update available soon.

Boy, this was fast action! I honestly didn't expect to hear back from him before next year. The "Interesting device" now has a chance to be a real contender! Smile

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Re: Interesting device...

protek wrote:

The "Interesting device" now has a chance to be a real contender! Smile

Ahh, but I think it is. This beats all other Apple DOS 3.x emulators I've tested so far.
Favoring the original Apple ][ and Plus, this one will be hard to beat IMHO.

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Re: Interesting device...

macnoyd wrote:
protek wrote:

The "Interesting device" now has a chance to be a real contender! Smile

Ahh, but I think it is. This beats all other Apple DOS 3.x emulators I've tested so far.
Favoring the original Apple ][ and Plus, this one will be hard to beat IMHO.

I concur. Alas I only have the IIGS, so the GSOS support is quite essential for me.

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Re: Interesting device...

I got a new ROMBIOS and new firmware from Ian to try out on my IIGS. Luckily I have an EEPROM programmer so that I can flash the chip with the new ROmBIOS. Have to see if I can get the chip programmed tonight. Here's hoping all goes well.

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Re: Interesting device...

According to Ian, these cards have the ability to re-program themselves using the built-in SD card reader.
No EEPROM programmer needed.

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Re: Interesting device...

macnoyd wrote:

According to Ian, these cards have the ability to re-program themselves using the built-in SD card reader.
No EEPROM programmer needed.

Not quite. The EEPROM needs to be flashed in addition to reading the new firmware from the SD card.

EDIT: The ROMBIOS doesn't usually need to be flashed so upgradng the firmware from the SD card is enough.

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Re: Interesting device...

I'm happy to inform that my IIGS now boots into GSOS from the Interesting device. Smile

I flashed the EEPROM and updated the firmware and got it booting. The boot time is about the same as with Unisdisk but that's really not relevant at the moment. Didn't had a chance to test it further as it is midnight and I have to go to work tomorrow.

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Re: Interesting device...

Received a new firmware from Ian with some speed optimizations. GSOS boots a bit faster than with previous. Also tried copying files from a floppy image in Unisdisk to SD Disk II. That worked also. Can't really tell about speed as I don't have a reference but I'd say it's pretty much in par with other 16 bit machines.

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Re: Interesting device...

I'm interested to know why this device is so interesting. If the interest in this device is only due to how interesting it is, then why be interested?

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Re: Interesting device...

It is not interesting to me at all unless someone reports it achieves high speed records...

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Re: Interesting device...

Well, for me it's interesting as an alternative to CFFA3000 and Focus IDE. An alternative, that can be acquired in a much shorter notice than the other two.

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Re: Interesting device...

Alternative...?

Here's an idea for an alternative: A SSD SCSI hard drive hooked up to a Ramfast card! Tongue

OK, maybe it's not a good idea. Sad

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Re: Interesting device...

It's always good to have options. Smile

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Re: Interesting device...

georgel wrote:

It is not interesting to me at all unless someone reports it achieves high speed records...

You mean break the laws of physics? Yeah, that would be interesting.

You do know there are limitations to the bus speeds of the Apple II series, right?

My tests show it to be a tad faster than the MicroDrive Turbo, which was supposed to be the fastest to date, although I admit I have no experience with cards other than this and the MicroDrive. Nevertheless, I highly doubt you can go significantly faster than any of these boards unless the Focus IDE or the CFFA3000 are real dogs, which I highly doubt.

If you can describe a specific test you'd like me to run, or have a benchmark program that would put your mind to rest, I'd be happy to do give them a shot.

Otherwise your response is pretty meaningless. Nein, mein kleiner narr?

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Re: Interesting device...

insanitor wrote:

I'm interested to know why this device is so interesting. If the interest in this device is only due to how interesting it is, then why be interested?

Why the interesting device is interesting to me: By Billo

1) Readily available (takes way less than 2-3 years to acquire one)
2) Unique features (paddle interface, bluetooth interface, serial console)
3) Not badly priced
4) Uses SD cards

Item 1 was the most interesting for me. To me, if I can wait 2-3 years before I get it, why bother? Life can change drastically in that time frame. The bluetooth feature is also really nice. It allows me to control it from my vintage computing server where I have all my other support services for my Apples, TRS-80s, Commodores, etc...

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Re: Interesting device...

protek wrote:

Received a new firmware from Ian with some speed optimizations. GSOS boots a bit faster than with previous. Also tried copying files from a floppy image in Unisdisk to SD Disk II. That worked also. Can't really tell about speed as I don't have a reference but I'd say it's pretty much in par with other 16 bit machines.

Kudos to Ian and yourself for working through this. We are a richer community for your efforts.

Thanks.

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Re: Interesting device...

BillO wrote:
protek wrote:

Received a new firmware from Ian with some speed optimizations. GSOS boots a bit faster than with previous. Also tried copying files from a floppy image in Unisdisk to SD Disk II. That worked also. Can't really tell about speed as I don't have a reference but I'd say it's pretty much in par with other 16 bit machines.

Kudos to Ian and yourself for working through this. We are a richer community for your efforts.

Thanks.

Well, Ian did most of the work, including acquiring a IIGS for the sole purpose of getting his adapter to work. That's what I call good customer service! Smile

I actually received another firmware from Ian today with some bugfixes. I installed it this morning. Probably should try timing the boot of GSOS to get some idea of the speed.

Edit: Bootup time from power on to desktop with arrow pointer is 1 min 10 sec.

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Re: Interesting device...

FYI - My MicroDrive Turbo cold boots into GSOS in under 30 seconds. Stock IIGS ROM3 and 6.0.1 w/few extensions.

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Re: Interesting device...

jeffmazur wrote:

FYI - My MicroDrive Turbo cold boots into GSOS in under 30 seconds. Stock IIGS ROM3 and 6.0.1 w/few extensions.

Mine's ROM1 with 4MegGS and 6.0.1 with SynthLab. I reported my results to Ian so that he can compare them to his. He may be able to make it faster.

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Re: Interesting device...

[quote=BillO
Otherwise your response is pretty meaningless. Nein, mein kleiner narr?


First, I am not yours, and secondly taking into account the german slang not I but you are the fool Wink Your post is meaningless, too, HAHA