Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

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microkid
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Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

Post by microkid » Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:43 pm

Hi everyone. I've just found all my old BBC Micro floppy disks (40-track, single sided) in the attic at my parents' house, and I'd like to get some of my old programs (including games and chatbots) running again, using BeebEm on my Mac. So I'm trying to figure out how to transfer the files across. I don't need to image entire disks. I assume an SD or MMC card makes most sense as the transfer medium. So presumably I need access to a working BBC Micro Model B (or better) with DFS; a working floppy drive; and an SD-MMC interface (one that goes on the user port, not the floppy-drive port, so I can use them both at once). And then I can do something like *DISK / LOAD / *CARD / SAVE to save individual files to the card, and then read the card on my Mac. Will that work, or should I be thinking about imaging entire disks using a disk-imaging program? (I have about 40-50 disks, BTW, and would be interested to know how likely it is that I'll be able to read them! They were kept in boxes in a cold attic.)

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Richard Russell
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Re: Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

Post by Richard Russell » Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:54 pm

microkid wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:43 pm
and an SD-MMC interface (one that goes on the user port, not the floppy-drive port, so I can use them both at once).
Rather than using a special interface, I transfer the data to a PC via a serial data connection (using, in my case, the BEEBXFER utility supplied with BBC BASIC for Windows). Not as fast, but effective and requires only a suitable cable (and a Windows PC!).

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danielj
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Re: Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

Post by danielj » Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:59 pm

Hello! If you want to do it the cheap way, you just need to get hold of a 5.25" floppy drive, then you can use GreaseWeazle and associated software to pull the data off the discs:

https://github.com/keirf/Greaseweazle/wiki

You'll need a bluepill STM32F103 board from bitsbox, a few dupont cables (either f/m or f/f depending on whether you're attaching them to a socket), and possibly some 1k resistors. Under a tenners worth of gear + the price of the floppy drive?

If that sounds like the sort of thing you'd like to attempt, we can talk you through it :)

Of course, no one's going to say "don't get a beeb" :D - you can use a floppy USB emulator at the same time as a real FDD, just set one of them to drive 1 and one to drive 0 and use a cable which has an additional 34-way IDC connector onto it (you can just crimp one on to the existing drive cable and it'll work). It's easier to get the disc images off the floppy emulator USB stick (check out https://github.com/keirf/FlashFloppy) than it is off the SD card where you have to extract them from the beeb.mmb file first. It's also easier to to this for copying the discs as you're just backing up from one drive to the other instead of trying to move files across filing systems.

In so far as how readable the discs are, have a look at the surface (you'll need to spin the disc around in its sleeve and look at both sides). If there appear to be white flecks on it, you could well have a case of the mould. You can either try and whisk it off with a q-tip and isopropanol, or slit the sleeve and give the disc itself a wash in soapy water before inserting it into a clean sleeve to read it in the drive. Don't run a mouldy disc through a drive or you end up having to clean the drive heads.

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danielj
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Re: Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

Post by danielj » Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:00 pm

Richard Russell wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:54 pm
microkid wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:43 pm
and an SD-MMC interface (one that goes on the user port, not the floppy-drive port, so I can use them both at once).
Rather than using a special interface, I transfer the data to a PC via a serial data connection (using, in my case, the BEEBXFER utility supplied with BBC BASIC for Windows). Not as fast, but effective and requires only a suitable cable (and a Windows PC!).
Which reminds me of the other method - UPURS :)

https://www.retro-kit.co.uk/UPURS/

This is a ROM and a very easy to build cable that plugs into the user port and transfers discs across from the beeb very quickly!

d.

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flaxcottage
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Re: Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:21 pm

Getting disc image archives from floppy disks can be quite an art. All require extra hardware and software for your Beeb or require a Windows XP (best option) PC computer with a native FDC on board and a 5.25" fdd fitted.

Protected disks will be difficult to image and may require extensive hacking. Old disks may also have a fragile surface and even if they look clean may have a layer of oxide which will coat your disk drive heads at the first read. Cleaning with a cotton wool bud and IPA should be used on each unknown disk to remove this gunk before attempting to read the disc.

If the disk is a commercial release there may already be an image available on the internet. Try www.bbcmicro.co.uk for games or www.flaxcottage.com for educational titles.

These methods will produce images from unprotected disks;

1. Use a serial method as Richard or Daniel have advised. UPURS needs a dedicated cable and a ROM,
2. Use OmniFlop on the PC to image the floppies,
3. Use a Datacentre if you can find one or borrow one, [-o<
4. Use a SD storage interface. I would recommend turboMMC because it has utilities provided for doing just what you want. The disk images can then be copied to your Mac using DFSExplorer (unless this is a Windows only piece of software),
5. Bribe someone to image the disks for you. :D :lol:
6. If the disks are unprotected they could be copied to a blank disk on a GOTEK drive from your floppy drive using *BACKUP
- John

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SimonSideburns
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Re: Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

Post by SimonSideburns » Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:34 pm

flaxcottage wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:21 pm
These methods will produce images from unprotected disks;

1. Use a serial method as Richard or Daniel have advised. UPURS needs a dedicated cable and a ROM,
2. Use OmniFlop on the PC to image the floppies,
3. Use a Datacentre if you can find one or borrow one, [-o<
4. Use a SD storage interface. I would recommend turboMMC because it has utilities provided for doing just what you want. The disk images can then be copied to your Mac using DFSExplorer (unless this is a Windows only piece of software),
5. Bribe someone to image the disks for you. :D :lol:
6. If the disks are unprotected they could be copied to a blank disk on a GOTEK drive from your floppy drive using *BACKUP
7. Come along to an ABUG meeting and bribe someone there to image the disks for you. At least that way you won't have to source and buy a BBC B and all the associated peripherals. But where's the fun in not owning your own Beeb?
Just remember kids, Beeb spelled backwards is Beeb!

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flaxcottage
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Re: Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

Post by flaxcottage » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:28 am

SimonSideburns wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:34 pm
7. Come along to an ABUG meeting and bribe someone there to image the disks for you. At least that way you won't have to source and buy a BBC B and all the associated peripherals. But where's the fun in not owning your own Beeb?
Ha ha! I like it. :lol:
- John

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microkid
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Re: Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

Post by microkid » Thu Jan 09, 2020 1:09 pm

Thank you all for your helpful and detailed replies. I'm simply trying to recover old programs I wrote when I was a teenager, so none of this involves copy-protected disks. And fortunately someone has kindly offered to transfer them for me and turn them into .ssd files that BeebEm can read! So I am going to send off a couple of disks next week and see how that goes. I may yet be tempted to buy a refurbished Beeb, though. The keyboard's just not right when using an emulator.

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flaxcottage
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Re: Transferring BASIC programs from old BBC B floppies

Post by flaxcottage » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:49 pm

Yield to temptation. You know it makes sense. :twisted:
- John

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