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Archive for the 'Floppy Emu' Category

Clearance Sale: $79 Floppy Emu Model A

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While supplies last, the Floppy Emu Model A is on sale at a clearance price of just $79. If you’ve been waiting to add one of these hard disk / floppy disk emulators to your Apple computer collection, now is your chance. The response to the new Model B has been great – maybe a little too great, and I need to close out the remaining inventory of Model A hardware. If you’re a Macintosh or Lisa user, or an Apple IIgs/IIc/IIc+ user looking for a Smartport hard disk, this is a great value! See the compatibility table on the order page and the Model B announcement for more details on Model A vs B differences.

If I were a savvier businessman, I might have waited to introduce the Model B until my inventory of Model A hardware was gone. It’s not quite the Osborne Effect, but introducing a new model that kills demand for the old model may not have been the smartest move. Fortunately for you, my loss is your gain! The good news is that interest in the Model B has been strong. In the past I typically made about one sale per day, but recently it’s been much busier. This was the scene heading to the post office after the 3-day MLK Day weekend:

box-tower

The Model A is the original Floppy Emu design that’s been featured here at BMOW for over a year. It emulates a classic Macintosh HD20 hard disk or 3.5 inch floppy disk, or a Lisa 3.5 inch floppy disk, or an Apple IIgs/IIc/IIc+ Smartport hard disk, or an Apple IIgs/IIc/IIc+ 5.25 inch floppy disk. Many people have purchased both a Model A and a Model B, to get a dedicated drive for each Apple computer in their collection. Don’t miss this chance to pick up a Model A at a great price!

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Introducing Floppy Emu Model B

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Today I’m excited to introduce the first significant update to the Floppy Emu disk emulator for Apple II and classic Macintosh computers: Floppy Emu Model B. The new Model B has the same disk emulation functions as the Model A and Universal Adapter, but with several new convenience features:

  • Built-in Apple II Compatibility – Model B is directly compatible with the entire Apple II line, emulating a 5 1/4 inch disk, 3 1/2 inch disk, or Smartport hard disk. While Model A required a separate Universal Adapter for the best Apple II compatibility, Model B has the equivalent functionality built-in. Classic Macintosh and Lisa disk emulation is still supported too.
  • microSD Card Support – The SD card slot is now a push-push microSD type, identical to what’s used in most mobile phones. This will make it easier to find suitable SD card media, since the older full-size SD cards are becoming rare.
  • SD Card Hot-Swap – The SD card can be removed and re-inserted while the Floppy Emu is powered on.
  • Improved Protection Circuitry – Model B features improved protection circuitry on the disk drive interface connector. This circuitry will help protect the Floppy Emu from electrical damage caused by voltage spikes and surges. It also eliminates the risk of potential damage if an Emu board running the Apple II firmware is inadvertently connected to a Mac or Lisa computer.
  • Same Great Emulation Features – All of the time-tested Macintosh, Apple II, and Lisa disk emulation features from Model A are still present. Model B reads and writes emulated 140K, 400K, 800K, or 1.4MB floppy disk images, or hard disk images up to 2GB, if supported by your Apple computer. For full details, see the instruction manual.

If you’re new to Floppy Emu, it’s an external hardware device for vintage Macintosh, Apple II, or Lisa computers. It uses a removable SD memory card to mimic an Apple floppy disk and drive, or an Apple hard drive. The Emu behaves exactly like a real disk drive, requiring no special software or drivers. Floppy Emu is perfect for booting your favorite games, moving files between modern and vintage machines, and troubleshooting a computer without a working OS. Just plug in the Emu board, and you’ll be up and running in seconds.

Floppy Emu Model B is available for sale now. While supplies last, I’m also selling the remaining inventory of Floppy Emu Model A units for a reduced price. It’s disk emulation madness!

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Oops! Laser Cut Material Thickness

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Manufacturing is hard. The thickness of my supplier’s clear acrylic material has magically increased 15%, meaning that the latest batch of Floppy Emu acrylic cases are impossible to assemble. The buttons and light pipes don’t fit in the cut-outs made for them, so this entire batch of product will have to be thrown out. I’m hoping the supplier will agree to re-run my order or provide a refund, but I’m not optimistic since 15% is just within their stated tolerance. An expensive mistake in manufacturing for me!

For the past year, I’ve been offering laser-cut case enclosures as a Floppy Emu accessory, and I’ve sold hundreds of the cases to happy customers. They’re made from 3.0 mm (nominal) clear acrylic. With all of my past orders from the laser cutter, the parts I received had an actual thickness between 2.73 mm and 2.83 mm, and my design accounts for that. A case assembled from the old ~2.75 mm thick material looks like this:

emu-case-assembled

I just received a new delivery of parts yesterday, and the material thickness changed to 3.15 mm! Imagine if you were building a house with 8 foot ceilings, but some of the framing lumber was over 9 feet – it would never work. That’s the same magnitude of change I’m facing now. The buttons and light pipes are cut from the same material as the case body, so now they’re 3.15 mm thick. But the cut-outs in the top of the case are only about 3.05 mm, and the parts won’t fit through. It’s still possible to assemble the six sides of the case, but without the buttons and light pipes it’s useless.

The supplier’s material thickness is rated at +/- 15%, so this is really my fault and not theirs. But +/- 15% is a huge margin. How am I supposed to make that work? If I make cut-outs big enough to accept 3.45 mm (+15%) thick buttons, but the actual material thickness in a future delivery is 2.55 mm (-15%), it’ll be so loose that buttons will just fall out. There’s no way I can see to accommodate a thickness tolerance that large.

Some of you may be thinking that I should never have made a design that relied on the material thickness as a critical parameter, and you’re right. But again, I’m not sure how I could have avoided it – any design where two parts meet at right angles with a tab-and-slot system will suffer from the same problem. For now, I’m faced with either re-cutting all the buttons and light pipes using thinner material if I can find some, or re-cutting all the case tops using bigger cut-outs.

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GS/OS 6.0.2 for Floppy Emu

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If you follow the Apple II world, then you probably already know that a group of hobbyists recently released GS/OS 6.0.2 – a new version of the Apple IIGS operating system based upon Apple’s last official version from 1993. This new version includes many bug fixes and added features.

To make life easier for Floppy Emu owners, I’ve created this pre-configured GS/OS 6.0.2 hard disk image. It’s a 32 MB ProDOS disk image with GS/OS 6.0.2 already installed and ready to go. If your Floppy Emu has the Apple II firmware installed and is set for Smartport mode, then all you need to do is copy the smart0.po file onto your SD card, and power up your IIGS to begin exploring 6.0.2. Even if you don’t have a Floppy Emu, this disk image should also work with other Apple II hard disk emulators – it’s just a generic ProDOS disk image.

Some software-based Apple IIGS emulators like Sweet16 don’t like ProDOS disk images that are larger than 800K. For those, I’ve also created a pre-configured GS/OS 6.0.2 hard disk image in 2MG format. This 2MG disk image will also work with Floppy Emu, but I/O performance will be worse than with the PO disk image, so the PO version is preferred.

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New Product: Universal Adapter Extension Cable

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January 2016 Update: The current hardware version Floppy Emu Model B has built-in Apple II functionality that’s equivalent to the Universal Adapter described here. The Universal Adapter is therefore not necessary when using a Floppy Emu Model B. For information on how the Universal Adapter can improve Apple II compatibility with Floppy Emu Model A, read on.

Today I’m announcing the Universal Adapter for Floppy Emu, which improves the emulation behavior with certain Apple II system configurations. If you use the Emu exclusively with Macintosh and Lisa computers, then you won’t need this. Apple II users, check the table below to see if your intended usage would benefit from the Universal Adapter:

Emulation Type Floppy Emu
Model A
Model A with Universal Adapter Floppy Emu
Model B
Macintosh
   3 1/2 inch floppy disk ok-green ok-green ok-green
   HD20 hard disk [1] ok-green ok-green ok-green
Lisa
   3 1/2 inch floppy disk ok-green ok-green ok-green
Apple II, II+, IIe
   5 1/4 inch floppy disk 1437100947_ko-red[2] ok-green ok-green
Apple IIc
   5 1/4 inch floppy disk ok-green ok-green ok-green
   Smartport hard disk ok-green ok-green ok-green
Apple IIgs, IIc+
   5 1/4 inch floppy disk ok-green ok-green ok-green
   3 1/2 inch floppy disk 1437100947_ko-red ok-green ok-green
   Smartport hard disk ok-green ok-green ok-green

[1] Requires Macintosh 512K, 512Ke, Plus, SE, Classic, Classic II, Portable, IIci, IIsi, or LC-I
[2] Reading the disk works, but writing does not

The Universal Adapter also contains a protection resistor to guard against accidental damage when switching between the Floppy Emu firmware for Apple II and the firmware for Mac/Lisa. With the Standard Adapter, if a Floppy Emu board running the Apple II firmware is accidentally plugged in to a Mac or Lisa, it could damage the Emu or the computer.

To use the Universal Adapter, set its slide switch to the appropriate position, depending on the selected emulation mode of the Floppy Emu. If the Emu is set to 3 1/2 inch floppy disk mode, then set the switch to the “3.5” position. If the Emu is set to any another mode (5 1/4 inch floppy, HD20 hard disk, Smartport hard disk), then set the switch to the “other” position. Setting the switch to the wrong position won’t harm anything, but it may cause disk-related errors.

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So how does the Universal Adapter work, and how does it differ from the Standard Adapter? The Standard Adapter is a passive device that maps the 19 pins of a male DB-19 connector to the 20 pins of a male 10×2 shrouded header. It rearranges the order of the signals on the pins, but it doesn’t alter them or affect them in any way. In contrast, the Universal Adapter is an active device with an on-board IC that helps with Apple II disk connections. Because the Floppy Emu hardware was originally designed for the Macintosh, it can’t handle some Apple II disk signals correctly, so the Universal Adapter does the necessary interface work. Depending on the switch setting, the disk drive enable signal from the computer may be modified before it’s passed on to the Floppy Emu, and some signals will be forced to different voltages.

It’s OK to use the Universal Adapter with a Mac or Lisa computer, even though it’s not needed for those systems – that’s why it’s called “universal”. People who use a single Floppy Emu board with both Mac and Apple II computers may find this convenient.

The Universal Adapter is available for sale now at the Floppy Emu product page. It includes a detachable three foot extension cable (about 1 meter), just like the Standard Adapter/Cable, and it’s available by itself or bundled with a new Floppy Emu board.

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Smartport Firmware Update

I’ve posted a new version of the Apple II firmware for Floppy Emu, that addresses some issues with Smartport hard disk emulation on the Apple IIc and IIc+:

  • Fixed a display bug with ProDOS disk names on the LCD
  • All Smartport disks should now be detected during the first cold boot – no warm restart necessary
  • Apple IIc+ can now use the internal 3.5 inch floppy drive simultaneously with external emulated Smartport disks

You can download the new firmware here: apple-II-0.1J3-F6

On the Apple IIc and IIGS, you can have up to four Smartport disks, which will appear as slot 5 drives 1 and 2, and slot 2 drives 1 and 2. On the Apple IIc+, slot 5 drive 1 is the internal 3.5 inch drive, and the computer is limited to using at most three Smartport disks.

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