360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

discuss PC<>Acorn file transfer issues & the use of FDC, XFER, Omniflop/disk etc.
jimmydeath
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360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby jimmydeath » Fri Jul 18, 2014 11:43 pm

Hello

Has anyone had any joy getting a 5 1/4" 360K FDD to work with Omniflop because I am struggling to do so.

So far I have found 4 different Motherboards that have a bios that allows you to select a 5 1/4" 360K drive and installing DOS 6.1 then allows me to format/Read/Write disks as 360K, 180K and even 160K. The problems start as soon as I install Win XP because whenever I then try to access the FDD I get an I/O error, even using Omniflop and installing both the FDC and FDD drivers does not resolve the issue.

I then tried installing Win 2000 (the earliest version stated to work with Omniflop) but still have the same issue. (I have tried 5 different 360K drives all of which work with DOS but not windows)

I have read on some forums that the last windows to support 360K drives was NT4 however that isn't on the supported list for omniflop.

Any suggestions ? (other than installing a 5 1/4" 1.2M drive)

Thanks

regards

James

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby SimonSideburns » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:48 am

I never got Omniflop to work with any windows version, so I gave up and got a USB to RS232 cable, but that was awfully slow (and didn't seem so reliable) so I spent some extra cash and purchased an external RetroClinic DataCentre.

Best £70 or £80 I've ever spent.
I'm writing a game where you can change your character from a Wizard to a monkey to a cat.

Well, Imogen that!

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby jimmydeath » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:00 am

Thanks, but I prefer to use all the original hardware otherwise I might as well use an emulator.

Perhaps I'm just going to have to do it the hard way through DOS.

Regards

James

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1024MAK
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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby 1024MAK » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:12 am

I've never tried to use a 5¼" drive like you describe, but I do have Omniflop running on an old Compaq PC under Windows 2000. It writes and reads to DD 3½" disks in the original 3½" drive fine :D.

Which floppy controller does your Beeb use? If it has a 1770 type, you can use a 3½" drive (one of my Master 128's has a set of BeebMaster Sony 3½" drives attached). If you have the older FDD chip, it is still possible to use a 3½" drive, but you need the patched DFS ROM. This is something I will get around to trying one day :roll:.

Mark
For a "Complete BBC Games Archive" visit www.bbcmicro.co.uk NOW!
BeebWiki‬ - for answers to many questions...

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby SimonSideburns » Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:45 pm

jimmydeath wrote:Thanks, but I prefer to use all the original hardware otherwise I might as well use an emulator.


Think I missed something there, you were talking about using a PC running Windows. What part of the original hardware of a BBC Micro is that?

What can be better than backing up or restoring your floppies onto a modern device plugged in to the BBC Micro with a USB stick inserted?

Oh well, each to their own.
I'm writing a game where you can change your character from a Wizard to a monkey to a cat.

Well, Imogen that!

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby danielj » Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:16 pm

I've used a 1.2mb floppy drive with it to read, under windows xp. Very slow. also depends on whether your bios supports the darn things...

D.

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby jimmydeath » Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:34 pm

Think I missed something there, you were talking about using a PC running Windows. What part of the original hardware of a BBC Micro is that?


I think you have misunderstood, I only want to use a PC to create disks to use in the original machines (not just Acorns). It is more convenient to use a PC to download the software, move it around my network and to be able to write disks in multiple formats than to use, say, XFER, for the BBC and other similar tools for other machines. The intention is to build a couple of PCs to cover 3", 3.5" and 5 1/4" disks.

What can be better than backing up or restoring your floppies onto a modern device plugged in to the BBC Micro with a USB stick inserted?

An original 5 1/4" FDD


I have made a little progress with omnidisk, I can format a floppy as 256byte sectors with 40 tracks and 9 sectors per track however it fails with 10 sectors per track. I have tried writing some of the SSD files from the Stairway to hell website but they fail to, probably because I don't know yet what format they are in (i.e. no of tracks, sector size etc)

regards

James

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby DutchAcorn » Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:47 am

Afaik a 360K drive is not capable of handling 80T discs. I remember using the BBC drives as 720K disc drives for backup purposes using PCem on an Arc. Of course they could never be read on an IBM compatible PC because they were never fitted with 720K 5.25" drives. I actually tried fitting one in a PC to use with Omniflop but could not get it to work. In the end I got a 1.2MB drive that does the job for Omniflop.

All of the SSD images I have seen are 80 track, single sided images. So I would not think you would be able to write them on a 360K drive.

You could also use a data centre to transfer the images to floppies on a BBC.
Paul

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby sweh » Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:57 pm

DutchAcorn wrote:Afaik a 360K drive is not capable of handling 80T discs

Correct; these are 40Track Double Sided Double Density drives (9 sectors per track, 512 bytes per sector; 40*2*9*512/1024=360K).

1.2Gb disks were 80 Track Double Sided High Density (15 sectors/track).
Rgds
Stephen

jimmydeath
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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby jimmydeath » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:19 pm

All of the SSD images I have seen are 80 track, single sided images. So I would not think you would be able to write them on a 360K drive.

Ahh, that's useful, thankyou.

You could also use a data centre to transfer the images to floppies on a BBC.

No thanks.


The book 'Disk programming techniques for the BBC microcomputer' describes a 40 Track disk as 10 sectors at 256 bytes which is what I have been working with.

I think I have found part of the problem, at least using Omnidisk in DOS, whenever I select BBC 40 Track it defaults to FM mode, it seems to format it but then can't write the catalogue. If I then switch to MFM It formats OK and write the catalogue correctly. I am assuming then that it is supposed to be an MFM disk

Regards

James

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby danielj » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:31 pm

Just to check... You mean it won't write the disk image once you've formatted it?

Formatting in omniflop doesn't write the catalogue to the disk, it literally just lays down the tracks and sectors.

d.

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby jimmydeath » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:44 pm

Hi Daniel

I am using Omnidisk not Omniflop, and I believe using the command '*format' in Omnidisk formats and writes a catalogue.

Having just been to http://primrosebank.net/computers/bbc/floppy_drives.htm
It says that 40 Track, 10 Sectors and 256 Bytes should be available in FM and MFM modes. Aarrgh.

I am hoping that these problems are due to ignorance on my part and that someone can spot my error.

Regards

James

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danielj
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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby danielj » Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:13 pm

OK, I've no experience of omnidisk, I've only ever used omniflop.

Unpicking this a bit. a 360k PC drive can only write 40 tracks. By default, the disc controller in a PC writes in MFM format, but many can also deal with FM. That's the major point of weakness with this, especially with more recent controllers, there's very little reason for them to reliably support FM.

If you're wanting to use discs with a BBC, a 360k PC drive is capable of writing 40 track DFS format. It's just a question of whether your disc controller will play ball...

Have you tried omniflop rather than omnidisk?

d.

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby jimmydeath » Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:43 pm

Hello Daniel

Thanks for your reply.

I have tried Omniflop but get a disk i/o error with the 360K drive, haven't tried the 1.2M yet. I get this with Win 2000 and XP.

I have tried 5 different motherboards so far including a 486 with the floppy interface as an ISA card.

All the interfaces are reported as a version of the F765 controller i.e. the one Omnidisk is written for.

I have just tried using a 1.2M 5 1/4" drive in DOS with Omnidisk and get the same error in FM mode when it tries to write the catalogue.

The errors are:
Error: No Data (invalid sector number)
Error: No Cylinder

I am coming to the conclusion that regardless of the Omnidisk/flop text saying that most PC FFD interfaces work I am just unlucky.

For those interested the motherboards are:

Abit AB-BH6
Asus A7V333
Asus P5Gd1-VM
2 the Max 486IU
Epox 8NPAJ

Regards

James

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby SarahWalker » Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:09 pm

Not sure if you've mentioned this, but have you tried formatting the disc on a Beeb then trying to read/write with Omnidisk/Omniflop? From what I remember when I used it Omnidisk could read and write to BBC discs okay but formatting never worked.

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby CMcDougall » Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:03 pm

^also noticed, with OmniFlop and winXP, format on a beeb, read it back in on PC, and it takes a lot longer. But, format in OmniFlop on PC, put on a blank.ssd/dsd (to get the cat) put files on with beeb, the PC will read it back a lot quicker.

I always use 3/12" discs in the PC, as never got a 5/14" drive to read beeb discs :cry: Much better to wire up a 51/4" drive and a 31/2" combi, so can copy/backup the 51/4" disc onto the 31/2", then get PC to read the 31/2" backup :)
pic, looks a mess, but does the job! :
https://scontent-a-lhr.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... e=5453777B

also /maybe this thread may help for a 40T disc:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7680#p78956
this way, if the beeb can read it, then the PC will also too as would eliminate head alignment.
Omnidisk/flop text saying that most PC FFD interfaces work I am just unlucky

join the club! same as me then with my first 10 desktop PCs :roll:

If you just need the discs/progs onto PC, UPURS is your best friend =D>
ImageImageImage

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby DutchAcorn » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:34 am

jimmydeath wrote:For those interested the motherboards are:

Abit AB-BH6
Asus A7V333
Asus P5Gd1-VM
2 the Max 486IU
Epox 8NPAJ

The MB I use for Omniflop is an Asus CUSL2-C that I bought in 2001 :)
Paul

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby danielj » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:55 am

CMcDougall wrote:If you just need the discs/progs onto PC, UPURS is your best friend =D>

[quote]

This. It stops you having to mess around with Omniflop, the beeb can do all the disc writing, so you'll know it'll get it right, and it's cheap-as-chips :)

d.

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby flynnjs » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:14 am

DutchAcorn wrote:Afaik a 360K drive is not capable of handling 80T discs.


Yes, a 360k drive is 40T DS. PCs never officially used 80T DS
in 5.23" form although you can set the PC up to tell it that it's
a 3.5" 720k and it works just fine. I remember using my 80T
5.25" beeb drive on my first PC and getting twice the storage
that all my mates were getting without the expense of a High
Density drive and disks.

I also remember there being 80T SS drives for sale which would
also work out to be 360k although I don't know anyone who
used one. Looking through the DOS format command, there were
also 40T SS (180K) drives used on early PCs.

Ultimately, it's probably better cutting the BIOS out of the
equation and using Linux. It has the tools to be able to
drive the floppy in all sorts of configurations, not just limited
to those the BIOS supports.
If you don't have a 80T DD "beeb" drive then you can use a
1.2M PC drive with DD disks. If you tell the PC that it's a
3.5" 720K drive then it won't try to write High Density.

There's probably some DOS software that just does direct
access to the FDC that can also pull those tricks but DOS
has so many other issues I couldn't be bothered.

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby poink » Sat Jul 26, 2014 6:51 pm

flynnjs wrote:There's probably some DOS software that just does direct
access to the FDC that can also pull those tricks but DOS
has so many other issues I couldn't be bothered.

Omnidisk. Omniflop does the same thing for Windows.

The problem isn't software, it's hardware. PCs haven't needed support for writing FM floppies since...well, ever (even the *original* IBM PC didn't support it), and no one's used a 'real' (as in, not a clone built into the floppy controller) since probably the early 90s. The problem, therefore, is that the circuitry may simply not exist, or if does exist it may not work properly.

If I finally get around to building a floppy writing machine, I'm sure I'll be putting Linux on it, but I'll still have to be careful about getting a working floppy controller. SMSC SuperIO chips sound like a solid bet, as they don't require external components to support FM.

Perhaps we should be thankful that we're not the TRS80 folks, who thanks to (amongst other issues) the use of non-standard data address marks and the change of controller from a WDC1771 (in the Model I) to a WDC1791 (in the Model III/4) had issues even back in the day with floppy interchange, as the WDC1791 simply can't distinguish between some of address marks the WDC1771 (topic 6 on this page) used.

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby jimmydeath » Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:13 pm

Thank you all for the continued interest and suggestions, after spending Sunday in the company of two BBC-B's (One ADFS and one DFS) I have come to the conclusion that none of the motherboards I have are FM capable.

If I format a disk in MFM (ADFS) mode (16 sectors/track - 256 bytes) then the BBC can read a disk created by the PC and vice versa however switching to FM (DFS) mode and the PC can't write a disk that the BBC understands and throws a major wobbly trying to read a BBC created disk to the point that Omnidisk keeps trying to reset the FDC and then locks up altogether.

UPURS looks interesting, I already have an XFER cable which I have used in the past however the aim is to have one or two PCs sat in the corner of the workshop that can write any disk format not just Acorn (ok so I don't expect it to cope with hard sectored floppies for my Northstar) so that when I get one of my computers out I can create a disk for it.

Thanks

Regards

James

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby jimmydeath » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:04 pm

Well I finally managed to format, read and write 40 track single density disks on a PC that can be read in a BBC-B and vice versa.

It took a while trying out various mobo / FDD combinations but was eventually successful with and EPOX EP-8K5A2+ mobo and a Toshiba ND-04DT 360K drive.

I used omnidisk but the trick seemed to be to use RATE = 2 which it warns is normally for 3.5" FDDs

The only thing I need to work out now is how to read and write a single side only, what happens at the moment is that it reads side 0 and then errors on side one, writing is the same, the disk still works so the errors are just an annoyance really. You seem to be able to specify the head using the 'Read' command but for me it still attempted to read side 1 once it had done side 0

James

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby beebee » Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:51 pm

What commands are you using on omnidisk. I have tried using copy and backup to transfer .ssd files from my c: drive to a formatted floppy on my a: drive. I have tried all variations of the examples given on the omnidisk website with no success, I get bad drive, file not found etc. The aforementioned examples are the only instructions that I can find for omnidisk which is a bit frustrating. Iam using an old company contura laptop running Windows 95, Iam using the freedos version of omnidisk, it is formatting and verifying the floppies ok, I just cannot get it to write to them. Sorry to sidetrack your topic but reading your posts it looks as if you have experienced the same problems as me. Any help would be much appreciated.

Regards

Jim

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby SimonSideburns » Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:01 pm

Hopefully he's still reading this almost two years later :-)
I'm writing a game where you can change your character from a Wizard to a monkey to a cat.

Well, Imogen that!

jimmydeath
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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby jimmydeath » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:25 pm

Crikey it's been a while since I last looked at this thread and in the meantime I have spent most of my waking hours doing a loft conversion so not had as much computer time as I would have liked.

When I get a chance I'll have to look at this again to recall what I did. I have in the meantime picked up an Amstrad PC3086 that has a real F765 disk controller in it so that might be interesting to try.

Another thing I picked up was a SupercardPro from CBM stuff which makes perfect backups of things although I haven't yet successfully converted a single sided single density disk into anything that an emulator will run. The Supercard software doesn't seem to support single sided stuff yet :(

Regards

James

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Re: 360K Drives, Windows XP and Omniflop

Postby EtchedPixels » Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:20 pm

The Amstrads seem to be ok. I use a 1512 and a 1640 to handle awkward disks. Both have NE2000 clones in them that can work 8bit and a DOS TCP/IP stack. The floppy drive is the slowest bit of the task.

Alan


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