Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

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Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:00 pm

I’m looking for a modern storage solution for my Acorn Electron with Plus 1. As far as I can tell these are the following options:-

BeebSCSI with modern AP5 plus 5v power supply
DataCentre with modern AP5
GoSDC

I would like to have access to both disc images (read\write) and be able to read tape images UEF.

The cheapest solution looks to be GoSDC, which also includes additional memory, but looks quite difficult to us especially if you want to access tape images. I guess I could transfer tapes to disc using an emulator with the right rom from slogger.

BeebSCSI offers very large storage but requires both an AP5 and external power supply. Not quite sure of the total cost here. Also I don’t know if tape images work here.

DataCentre looks very good especially the USB port for transfer of files and connecting USB hardware. Again here I would need an AP5 and would probably want a case for the DataCentre.

It would be nice to hear people’s opinions on the options.

Thanks, Richard
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by daveejhitchins » Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:05 pm

rmbrowngr wrote:BeebSCSI with modern AP5 plus 5v power supply
You don't need a power supply - I fit a connector so you can use the 5V from the AP5. And I should be able to supply the BeebSCSImini as well, soon!

Dave H :D
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by danielj » Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:44 pm

Honestly, I'd go with a disk interface +gotek with flashfloppy instead of a real floppy drive! Perfect compatibility with everything!

d.

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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by simoni » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:01 pm

If you just want to load up disk images then the Flashfloppy Gotek is by far the best and cheapest solution. I have several and they are great (plus the 'basic' gotek is about 14 quid on Ebay). You will need a floppy interface though.

If you want a Winchester style storage solution then I'd recommend BeebSCSI for a few reasons such as it being a proper SCSI solution just like the original Winchesters and because I designed it :D - but mainly I'd recommend it because it's a GPL open-hardware/software design so you are free to play with it and it will never be 'end of life' or unsupportable since everyone has access to the design and source.

Dave's AP5 is also awesome - if you love Elks, you will be getting one sooner or later; I'd recommend sooner :)

BTW: The gotek is USB based (and makes it really easy to transfer files) - BeebSCSI also uses FAT format on the SD cards - so you can pop out the card and read it on any PC - so it doesn't need USB for easy transfer (the hard drive images are also BeebEm compatible - so you can mount them on your PC without any conversion).

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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:00 pm

A couple questions about BeebSCSI:

Reading the online documentation I see the need for ADFS rom. Is this included in the solution or do I need something else?

How do you get disc images on and off the SD card? It isn’t that clear in the documentation. Or how can I transfer software from disc images onto the SD card?

Something completely different, I have rom images of View and Viewsheet, in any of these solutions is there a way to mount and use them?

Thanks, Richard
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:12 pm

Just understood how you get images in and out of the LUNs via an emulator. Read carefully the manual.

Cheers Richard
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by CMcDougall » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:32 pm

yes the AP5 is great, also does the 33p MMC interface no problem (emulated SSD / singles discs x511), but won't load UEF tapes....

so you need UPURS rom, plus1 & the board : viewtopic.php?f=8&t=12817#p164813 (if any left...)
& the lead being : USB 2.0 to Serial Adapter to FTDI compliant

sorted :
upurs.jpg
even my youngest can do it!
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by simoni » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:57 pm

rmbrowngr wrote:A couple questions about BeebSCSI:

Reading the online documentation I see the need for ADFS rom. Is this included in the solution or do I need something else?

How do you get disc images on and off the SD card? It isn’t that clear in the documentation. Or how can I transfer software from disc images onto the SD card?

Something completely different, I have rom images of View and Viewsheet, in any of these solutions is there a way to mount and use them?

Thanks, Richard
BeebSCSI acts just like a real Winchester drive - so the BBC Micro/Master needs a disc filing system that supports that. Any unpatched ADFS ROM will do (or the built in one for the Master) - unlike the IDE-based solutions it doesn't require a specific 'patched' ROM - it's all natively supported.

The BeebSCSI LUN images are binary 'blocks' stored as FAT files on the SD card. They can be accessed using BeebEm or you can use utilities like ADFS explorer. Both work and ADFS explorer is probably more convenient but it's unfortunately closed-source and commercial. The best method though is to combine a Flash Floppy Gotek and a BeebSCSI. The Gotek makes it super-easy to handle hundreds of floppy images and you can copy anything to and from BeebSCSI using the normal ADFS commands. Since Gotek provides a 'native' floppy system and BeebSCSI provides a 'native' hard drive system - the combination is just sublime from both ease of use and pure compatibility.

Generally speaking you can buy both a BeebSCSI and a Gotek and still have money left for USB sticks, a pint and something to eat - in comparison to the cost of other available solutions. BeebSCSI is also completely open - so you could even make your own.

For the ROM images you can simply store hundreds of them on a BeebSCSI LUN without even making a dent in the storage capacity (which is as big as the SD card you can afford - and theoretically limited to around 1.5 TBs...). Then you can use SRLOAD and SRSAVE commands to transfer the ROM images to and from sideways RAM (which is built into a Master - and easily added to a Beeb).

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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by daveejhitchins » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:31 pm

rmbrowngr wrote:Something completely different, I have rom images of View and Viewsheet, in any of these solutions is there a way to mount and use them?
With the Electron - AP5 solution, I can supply a replacement Plus 1 Support ROM that provides all the utilities for loading ROM images (e.g. View/Viwsheet etc.) into sideways RAM - that is supported by the AP5.

Dave H :D
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:05 pm

Shopping list so far: modern AP5 (and some sideways RAM) and replacement Plus 1 ROM.

For the replacement Plus 1 ROM I guess we are talking about Slogger Expansion ROM (https://www.retro-kit.co.uk/page.cfm/co ... Expansion/, http://chrisacorns.computinghistory.org ... ansion.pdf). Looks good :D

The AP5 looks to have many possibilities for additional project, so a must for me. :D I am curious what I can use the three free IC sockets for. Additional RAM for sure. Maybe ADFS ROM if I go for BeebSCSI. I'm not so keen on UPURS on loading and saving stuff to a PC. I would prefer an SD or USB solution.

If I go the BeebSCSI route for storage I'll need ADFS ROM so the Plus 1 ROM replacement is a must. The only question I have is that do I need the Electron version from the plus 3 or different one from the Beeb?

Gotek flashfloppy, not so keen as I would need an AP3\4 and no idea where to find one of these. :?

DataCentre, looks like a comprehensive solution with plenty of options. :-k

GoSDC, fallback solution.
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by CMcDougall » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:37 pm

Don't need a pc connected for upurs, that's only needed for loading UEF tape images, that's it!

If you need a SD card for loading / saving 512 SSD DFS 80T discs the 33p MMC interface is the easy way, put MMFS rom or load image to SWRAM on the board, simples 8)
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by danielj » Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:24 pm

As Colin says, if you've got an AP5, and don't want to splash on a floppy interface, the 35p (plus a quid for the cable) MMC solution is the way forward. Or you can get Sir Morris to send you one ready made together with relevant ROM:
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=12689

The main + for the gotek is simply compatibility, so far as the electron is concerned it's just a normal floppy drive!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRtDjiBq0TY

BeebSCSI works with the Acorn version of ADFS as it needs the SCSI drivers, worth noting that BeebSCSIs aren't something that are consistently available - I'm making some at the moment, but presently they're all spoken for (may change!).

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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by Elk Towers » Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:36 pm

In my opinion Dave H`s plus 1 support rom is better than the slogger one

see Dave H`s post 3 up
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by daveejhitchins » Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:01 pm

rmbrowngr wrote:For the replacement Plus 1 ROM I guess we are talking about Slogger Expansion ROM (https://www.retro-kit.co.uk/page.cfm/co ... Expansion/, http://chrisacorns.computinghistory.org ... ansion.pdf). Looks good :D
Here's the user Guide for the AP6 - it shows all the utilities you'll have access to 'except' TreeCopy. A none AP6 ROM is 8K - with an AP6 you can use a 16K ROM (Tree Copy is a BASIC program, so takes up a lot of room!).

Dave H :D
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:25 am

Updated shopping list:-
AP5 with some additional memory
MMC solution (but which ROM?)
AP6 ROM maybe with the replacement board. I opened my Plus 1 to see about installation. It’s an issue 2 board.
And maybe, because I’m curious to play with it a BeebSCSI and ADFS ROM. Need to see how much this costs and all of the above.

Side affects while checking hardware today. I turned on my Elk today and had to do this several times before it worked! A small project this weekend to see what’s going on and to replace some keys that have stopped working. It seems every time I turn it on some more keys stop working grrrrr. Maybe some switch cleaner is needed.
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rharper » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:44 am

Try taking the keyboard cable off the motherboard and cleaning the connector.
The connector pins can become corroded.
I use vinegar with a cotton wool bud followed by IPA.
Ray
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:02 am

Hello Dave H

How do I get in touch with you to purchase an AP5 etc? Private messages seems disabled for me

Richard B
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:14 am

On order: AP5, BeebSCSI, ADFS Rom, AP6 Rom and memory.

Questions\thoughts:-

Using the above equipment, could I build a floppy disc controller which connects to a user port and use a gotek flashyfloppy? If so what would I need?
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by daveejhitchins » Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:32 am

rmbrowngr wrote:On order: AP5, BeebSCSI, ADFS Rom, AP6 Rom and memory.

Questions\thoughts:-

Using the above equipment, could I build a floppy disc controller which connects to a user port and use a gotek flashyfloppy? If so what would I need?
There's an MMB version that works with the AP5. Dave (Hoglet) will probably be along (hopefully) shortly, to describe it. Doubt that the Gotek would work as you'd need a Disk Interface, however, there should be a few more Pegasus Interfaces coming available soon . . .

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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:33 am

Other thoughts regarding the BeebSCSI:-

2.3 Firmware, great to see you can transfer floppy disc images into the hard disc images. I see the program to do this is in mode 7, does it work ok in mode 6 for us poor Elk owners?

Second thought, could the same code be reserved to exact files from the hard disc images to floppy images? It would remove the need completely for third party software and floppy disc drives etc.
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by danielj » Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:43 am

That code doesn't transfer files from floppy images, it just transfers files. No reason why it couldn't be re-coded to use MODE 6 AFAIK.

If you want to move things off a floppy disc image onto a hard drive image (and vice versa) you can use DFS/ADFS Explorer on the PC or, I believe, the new bit of software that yellowpig's been developing?

d.

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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:20 am

Thanks for this Daniel. Lots of thoughts for me on small projects for manipulating files once I get my hands on a BeebSCSI.

Cheers Richard B
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by simoni » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:12 am

The BeebSCSI transfer program is just a simple BASIC application - like the rest of the project it's completely open-source, so you could easily adjust it. The code uses mode 7 so there is ample space for the transfer buffers (if there is no shadow RAM - if shadow RAM is available it uses mode 128). You can modify the code to use smaller buffers though as well as other modes.

The implementation of FAT transfer in BeebSCSI uses SCSI vendor specific commands. The advantage of this is that ADFS already supports this command type, so you can use the built-in OSWORD calls rather than having to hand-code complex SCSI interactions. BeebSCSI simply reads the file and passes the data to the Beeb; it's even possible to rewrite the transfer application to copy a floppy image FAT file directly to a floppy. The provided app is supposed to act as an example of how to do the OSWORD interactions. The BASIC code is on github for easy viewing too:

https://github.com/simoninns/BeebSCSI/b ... strans.bas

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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by duikkie » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:03 am

the one and only project on electron with ch375b is totally forgotten :) :?: #-o

1 smart-spi rom for electron , 1 e(eprom) , 1 ch375b module , 1 chip and so

it is something made in holland :wink: , maybe thats why 8)

people on this forum can find the link , i am tottaly hopeless in finding things


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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by CMcDougall » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:08 am

also the easy Printer port option, & with MMFS 1.2+ you get basic programs (IDTOM & IMTOD) on disc that does from MMC<>DFS 8)
http://www.stardot.org.uk/forums/viewto ... 37#p163755
@Dave /hoglet, if reading, can you put the link in the MMFS support opening thread, as took a while to find!
also, when using the program, may be could add a question from DFS>MMC program for 40 or 80 Track, or just press Escape at T41 :)
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by hoglet » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:53 am

CMcDougall wrote: @Dave /hoglet, if reading, can you put the link in the MMFS support opening thread, as took a while to find!
Done.
CMcDougall wrote: also, when using the program, may be could add a question from DFS>MMC program for 40 or 80 Track, or just press Escape at T41 :)
I've created an issue for this, for when I next do some MMFS work:
https://github.com/hoglet67/MMFS/issues/10

Thanks,

Dave

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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by rmbrowngr » Thu May 03, 2018 6:39 am

Short update:

On order arriving soon in May: AP6+EEPROM, AP5, BeebSCSI with cable and power supply lead and ADFS ROM.

I’m considering whether to add to this with an AP3 or Pegasus 400 combined with a Gotek. Not quite sure which firmware to use here for the Gotek. The idea here is to make file exchange with the BeebSCSI more seamless and not use the closed sourced ADFS explorer.

Or go for a TurboMMC via a user port. There are several ROM options being a standard ROM T/EMMFS, T/ESWMMFS S/W RAM, T/ZEMMFS ROM\RAM. I guess if I have a spare EEPROM I could use the T/ZEMMFS. Question, does this conflict with memory address that ADFS uses? https://github.com/hoglet67/MMFS/wiki/Release-structure

Final question, is whether to get the support ROM for the BeebSCSI? Is it available as an image to load in and out as needed? :-k
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Re: Acorn Electron modern storage solutions question

Post by danielj » Thu May 03, 2018 6:49 am

Gotek firmware, you can use Flashfloppy, which is completely free and open source, or HxC which will cost €10. They'll both work with ADFS and DFS disk images :)

d.

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