BMOW title
Floppy Emu banner

The Programming Board

Behold the Floppy Emu programming board! Normally when you read “programming board” on this web site, you’d think of some circuitry on a PCB, but this time it’s a 3/4 inch thick plank of poplar wood. Ah, that kind of programming board!

Sometimes I need to reprogram a large number of Floppy Emus, and this tool makes the job much easier. My old method was to connect the Emus one at a time to an Apple IIgs, turn on the computer, push buttons to begin a firmware update, and then wait ~30 seconds for the update to finish. It was a slow and inconvenient process when dozens or hundreds of Emus needed reprogramming. With the programming board, I can slap down one Floppy Emu into a bracket, start the firmware update going, and then rotate to the next Floppy Emu. Everything is powered from a USB supply, and I use a hub with individual lighted switches to turn on power for each Emu bracket.

Updating three Floppy Emus in parallel is a big improvement, but there’s also another trick here that makes the process even better. With the old method on the IIgs, some fiddling with cables was necessary every time I connected or disconnected a Floppy Emu. Things would slide around on my desk, and I’d waste time getting the connectors lined up. The programming board uses metal pegs at each bracket to hold the Floppy Emu centered, so a short 4-inch ribbon cable can drop down perfectly aligned with the connector every time. Here’s a close-up of the alignment pegs:

If you’re wondering about those green lights on the bottom two power adapters, they’re not status indicators, but just simple power lights. I accidentally bought some high-brightness LEDs, and even with under 10 mA current they’re so bright that it’s irritating. They’re dazzling to the point of being blinding. Fortunately the LED in the top-most power adapter didn’t work due to my lousy soldering job. I covered the bottom two with 5 layers of paper, which cuts down and diffuses the brightness enough to be tolerable.

Read 2 comments and join the conversation 

2 Comments so far

  1. Keith Kaisershot May 4th, 2017 7:27 pm

    Why does the process require a IIgs? Firmware testing?

  2. Steve May 4th, 2017 8:18 pm

    I was only using the IIgs as a convenient power supply. With the USB power adapters on the programming board, I now no longer need a computer at all.

Leave a reply. Comments may not be monitored regularly. For product support questions, visit the Contact page.