Floppy Drive Emulator vs. CF Card Reader

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Wiggle Wiggle's picture
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Floppy Drive Emulator vs. CF Card Reader

Hey, so I was just wondering if there were any advantages to using a floppy drive emulator like the FloppyEmu over a CF card reader like ReActiveMicro's Drive/Turbo IDE Controller.

 

I am currently making a video guide on getting into the Apple II, so any pointers to differences that would be important to new comers would be greatly appreciated! 

 

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Micro Drive Turbo is a hard

Micro Drive Turbo is a hard drive emulator.  It works best with software designed to work with a hard drive and ProDOS applications.  A lot of DOS 3.3 software and games won't be compatible.  The plus is MDT is really fast.  Another downside of the MDT is if you have a IIgs it is not compatible with the AppleSqueezer accellerator card.  Personally, I have both...  Actually I have several modern storage options.  I use Floppy Emu and wDrive the most though.  Booti 2nd most.

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Floppy drives were pretty

Floppy drives were pretty much the standard for the Apple IIs. There is a huge software collection based on floppies. And there are sites with countless floppy disk images. Almost all software which used to work with disk drives will now work with a floppy emulator. There is even a disk format which includes exact timing information. Those images will even work with software using disk-based copy protection schemes. The emulation is so accurate, the computer cannot tell the difference to a real disk drive.

The CF cards require software made for PRODOS (or adapted to at least load from a PRODOS drive). So, not everything can be used on those drives. And you can't just pick a random floppy disk image, stuff it onto a CF card, and use it in one of these PRODOS cards. There are software collections though, like TotalReplay, which combine lots of software into a single CF image. Super convenient. Like hard disks, no more need to switch (virtual) disks for every application/game. But, it doesn't work for all the Apple II software out there.

So, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Best to have at least one of each kind. :)

CVT
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Also consider the CFFA3000

Also consider the CFFA3000 which does disk emulation as well as ProDOS volumes and is back in production:

https://www.reactivemicro.com/product/cffa-v1-0-rev-c-rm-for-ii-ii-iie-and-iigs/

 

Back in 2013 I got mine for $150. Then at some point production stopped and they reached $600 on eBay. It looks like they are back at the original price + inflation.

 

Now if disk emulation is added to the Dan ][ Controller it would blow the CFFA3000 straight out of the water on price.

 

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If you have an Apple IIGS

If you have an Apple IIGS then the MicroDrive/Turbo or other hard drive solution is amost mandatory if you want to run GSOS.

 

If all you want to do is play games from the QKumba's ProDOS conversion archive then the MicroDrive/Turbo is pretty much all you need.

 

But if you want to handle floppy disk images (or real floppies) you will also need a disk controller card, and a floppy emulaiton device like a Floppy Emu, which can now emlulate two drives at a time. And if you have a smartport compatible card (like the Yellowstone card from Big Mess O'Wires) then the Floppy Emu can also emulate up to four HD20 32-meg hard drives images.

 

By contrast the MicroDrive/Turbo does not use any hard drive images.  It actually is a hard drive, a solid-state hard drive by virtue of its CF card.

 

The magical combination for me is the MictoDrive/Turbo and Floppy Emu as a pair.

 

Unlike others, I have almost zero use for a Booti card - it's dog-slow can sometimes be unstable is extremely picky about what type of USB stick you connect to it and it only uses ProDOS images.

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Which is the disk impage format with exact timing information ?

In post #3, McFly wrote:

 

"There is even a disk format which includes exact timing information. Those images will even work with software using disk-based copy protection schemes."

 

Uncle Bernie gets curious:

 

where do I find a description of that image format including exact timing information ? Would hate to reinvent the wheel.

 

I'm planning to revive an old project of mine over the Winter months which can read exact timing information from floppy disk drives. Of course, it's obsolete (uses mid 1980s IC technology) and a Greaseweasel probably can do the same thing which much less ICs, but I want to finish this old project and then, having a compatible image format useable by existing floppy disk emulators would make sense. Why should I invent my own format that is compatible with nothing. I need this tool primarily to check my Apple-1 floppy disk controller for 100% compatibility with the Apple II disk controller and if I could tap into whatever open source software that might be available to analyze floppy disks on a low (pulse) level could save me a lot of time. I especially want to be able to detect where the write splices are and if they somehow deviate from the "norm". 

 

- Uncle Bernie

 

P.S.: - about the foolishness of floppy disk copy protections

 

Actually, you could use the weirdness of write splices as a copy protection, too. Nobody can reproduce them exactly. All you need to do is to analyze them, get a statistical fingerprint, and then write this information to a regular sector to be used by the copy protection check. The risk, of course, is subtle differences between the floppy disk drive in the mastering machine and the floppy disk drive of the user of the software. I dimly remember some idiotic copy protection schemes from the 1980s which rendered games produced under license (and on a different mastering machine) unplayable. And these greedy bastards then still sold these botched products for a greatly discounted price, probably to recover production costs. Ever heard the term "shooting in your own foot" ? A friend of mine developed a software product with a copy protection so complicated and undefeatable and uncrackable that when he later (after stopping production himself) was approached by a software publisher willing to buy the rights for this software it turned out the protection could not be reproduced nor removed. So he lost at least some five digits of easy "play money" he could have had with no effort.

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That format is the WOZ format

That format is the WOZ format. It's an offshoot of the Applesauce project. At the link below, there is a link to the format reference along with some test images for emulator developers to check compatibility.

 

https://applesaucefdc.com/woz/

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Spooky ...

... seems that "nick3092" answered my question in post #7 before I even completed my post #6.

Telepathy ?

Anyways, thanks for the info, I will look into that. "WOZ" format. What else could it have been !

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