Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

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Antonis
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Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by Antonis » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:16 am

Greetings to the Archi community,

I'm a long time reader of these forums as a guest, but today I thought it is time for my first post.

I recently got an A3020 from eBay in a very good condition (battery is recently replaced - although of the same type so I'll keep that in mind), the outer case seems in a very good condition, all keys are working fine, system boots without any issues. The machine has also a 512mb CF card on the on-board controller with the default apps in it (I assume from the Risc OS 3 system disks). The rest of the specs are - more or less - as expected; 4mb RAM, Risc OS 3.11.

The whole idea now is to start installing the most important must-have utilities I read in these forums, especially the sparkplug etc. so I can later unzip demos, games and apps in the CF and run them from it. If I understand correctly from these forums, the A3020 can read directly 2HD floppy disks formatted on a PC. However, any disk I tried to format in Windows (using an external usb floppy drive) in 1.44 mb returned a big red "bad disk" message when tried to click on its drive icon on the a3020 side (it goes without saying that windows was able to read and write on the floppy after the format).

I've read a lot of issues in these forums regarding the above, but most of them where about the A3000 that can only read DD disks out-of-the-box. I'd expect that things would be easier with the A3020. Is there something obvious that I'm missing ? (besides the dreadful case that the A3020 drive might be damaged)

P.S. Buying an ethernet podule in order to transfer the files is not currently a very desirable option as they are expensive, rare, it takes too many days for the delivery and I wouldn't want to start experimenting with A3020's internals without a very good reason. Besides, I'd like to keep the podule slot available for a possible Midi in the future (I'd love to investigate the possibilities of making music with it, if everything goes well with the above basic stuff).

Thank you all in advance, and since I now have the chance; excellent work in this community. I've learnt a lot of things for this not-so-widely-spread platform.

Kind regards,
Antonis

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danielj
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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by danielj » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:23 am

Hello and welcome!

The A3020 is a good machine :) Well done on getting a working example. So, yes, the A3020 can read 1.44MB PC formatted disks - just make sure that you zip things up in an archimedes emulator on the PC before putting them on a floppy and then unzip them on the A3020. That way you won't loose the filetype information that RISC OS stores. Use the A3020 to format the PC floppy, it should be OK that way around (it'll also mean you can check the drive is working properly).

Network - the A3020 has an econet module socket and there are network cards that plug into that and then use a media adaptor unit on the back of the machine to talk to the network. This one will work if you're happy to use BNC/coaxial cable: http://www.cjemicros.co.uk/micros/indiv ... ACO-4K10B2 and you can add a 10baseT media adaptor unit at a later date. Added bonus of these is you keep the podule socket free.

d.

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by Antonis » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:05 am

Thank you very much for the prompt reply. I haven't try formatting on the A3020 so that will be the first thing when I get home.
Is there any special option I should use in order to format it in PC / DOS format or is this just another option in the format utility ?

Reading in another thread, middle-click on the drive icon and select format should launch the respective Risc OS utility.


/Antonis

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by mattdy4 » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:49 am

Antonis wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:05 am
Thank you very much for the prompt reply. I haven't try formatting on the A3020 so that will be the first thing when I get home.
Is there any special option I should use in order to format it in PC / DOS format or is this just another option in the format utility ?

Reading in another thread, middle-click on the drive icon and select format should launch the respective Risc OS utility.


/Antonis
If you menu click on the floppy icon you'll see Format and the option to format DOS 1.44MB as well as 720k and other floppy formats. Might be worth giving the floppy drive some compressed air / a clean if you have trouble formatting or read / writing disks too

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by Antonis » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:42 am

mattdy4 wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:49 am
Antonis wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:05 am
Thank you very much for the prompt reply. I haven't try formatting on the A3020 so that will be the first thing when I get home.
Is there any special option I should use in order to format it in PC / DOS format or is this just another option in the format utility ?

Reading in another thread, middle-click on the drive icon and select format should launch the respective Risc OS utility.


/Antonis
If you menu click on the floppy icon you'll see Format and the option to format DOS 1.44MB as well as 720k and other floppy formats. Might be worth giving the floppy drive some compressed air / a clean if you have trouble formatting or read / writing disks too
Thank you very much for these clarifications, they are always welcomed as I'm not familiar with the Risc OS yet.
I'll try the above as soon as I get home, and I'll update this thread.

/Antonis

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:00 am

Welcome Antonis. :D

The A3020 is a great machine. Mine has the same specification as yours and is the fileserver on my Econet.

Sometimes there is a discrepancy reading DOS format floppies on the A3020, especially if the PC formatted the discs on a USB drive. If your A3020 can format and read/write discs in 800K, 1.6Mb and DOS 1.44Mb then your drive is OK. There may be an alignment issue between the A3020 and the PC floppy drives.

As well as cleaning by blowing dust out of the way using a 3.5" cleaning disc will help a great deal. I use them regularly to keep my drives in tip tip condition.
- John
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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by Antonis » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:12 pm

flaxcottage wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:00 am
Welcome Antonis. :D

The A3020 is a great machine. Mine has the same specification as yours and is the fileserver on my Econet.

Sometimes there is a discrepancy reading DOS format floppies on the A3020, especially if the PC formatted the discs on a USB drive. If your A3020 can format and read/write discs in 800K, 1.6Mb and DOS 1.44Mb then your drive is OK. There may be an alignment issue between the A3020 and the PC floppy drives.

As well as cleaning by blowing dust out of the way using a 3.5" cleaning disc will help a great deal. I use them regularly to keep my drives in tip tip condition.
Thanks !
Good ol' cleaning floppies :D Sadly, even the normal floppies are very hard to find anymore in stores, and even the ones available have insane prices. But the moment of truth for the A3020's disk drive is near. I don't ask for much from the floppy, really. As long as I am able to transfer some main utils and any demos and games/apps I can find in the CF, I won't bother it again.

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by Antonis » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:02 pm

It lives ! [-o<

All your advices were correct of course. Who can format a PC dos disk, in PC dos format better than an...Acorn.
The floppy drive of the A3020 was more than happy to format correctly the disk in 1.44 mb. The usb floppy on the PC read it fine and transferring of the files begins =D>

It also looks like a brilliant OS. Love the fact that you can navigate in a menu / submenu and end up in an input field in order to finalise the action, directly within the menu (e.g. when creating new directory). Great UI design.

Thank you all, for your valuable help.

/Antonis
Last edited by Antonis on Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:11 pm

Great news. =D>

Enjoy your machine.
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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by Antonis » Wed Sep 05, 2018 7:27 am

Good day all,

Another issue (or most probably something I'm doing wrong) regarding sparkplug. Although it seems to be installed fine in the CF, whenever I try to load it, it tries to read the floppy drive for ever, hanging the entire system in the process. If there is no disk in the floppy, it just hangs there trying to access the floppy for ever. If there is a floppy in the drive (or inserted right afterwards) sparkplug loads fine and its icon is shown in the task bar and I can extract files with it normally (the files I need to extract are in the CF so floppy should not matter).

Does this ring any bells ? Why does sparkplug although loaded from CF it keeps looking the empty floppy ?

/Antonis

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by flaxcottage » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:15 am

Have you tried loading Sparkplug before doing any disk access? Sometimes RISCOS applications will look for a disk if the drive has been accessed first - RISCOS remembers where it first saw various utilities and/or folders.

Failing that check the settings for Sparkplug. It may be a disk-based install that has been copied across to CF.
- John
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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by Antonis » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:57 pm

flaxcottage wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:15 am
Have you tried loading Sparkplug before doing any disk access? Sometimes RISCOS applications will look for a disk if the drive has been accessed first - RISCOS remembers where it first saw various utilities and/or folders.

Failing that check the settings for Sparkplug. It may be a disk-based install that has been copied across to CF.
You were right. The !Run file needed a line uncommented which seems to allow it to run from HD/CF (or the volume/path it was started, anyway) and stopped it from desperately seeking floppy drive.

The RiscOS desktop applications seem very familiar to the MacOS ones. They are actually folders that look as single files on the desktop, while having some filenames like !Run !Boot etc that perform specific automated tasks like executing the actual application, when the parent icon is double clicked.


Thanks !

/Antonis
Last edited by Antonis on Wed Sep 05, 2018 6:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by helpful » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:27 am

Antonis wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:57 pm
The RiscOS desktop applications seem very familiar to the MacOS ones.
The other way round of course, as RISC OS did it years earlier :D

Rather than using SparkPlug, you might want to try the read-only version of SparkFS from here - https://www.riscosopen.org/content/downloads/common
It turns archives into directories so you don't even need to decompress things to run them.

Bryan.
RISC OS User Group Of London - http://www.rougol.jellybaby.net/
RISC OS London Show - http://www.riscoslondonshow.co.uk/

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by Antonis » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:20 am

helpful wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:27 am
Antonis wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:57 pm
The RiscOS desktop applications seem very familiar to the MacOS ones.
The other way round of course, as RISC OS did it years earlier :D

Rather than using SparkPlug, you might want to try the read-only version of SparkFS from here - https://www.riscosopen.org/content/downloads/common
It turns archives into directories so you don't even need to decompress things to run them.

Bryan.
Not sure if the mac os classic system v1.0 had the same application structure back in the distant 1984, but I highly doubt it, so most probably acorn did it first. Point is, it works better than anything else :)

Thanks for the heads up, it is always welcome, as I'm still trying to figure out what to do first. SparkFS sounds good, keeping archives in CF compressed, saves valuable space. I'll give it a try.

Also, yesterday I've realised that I will definitely need the !ADFFS as most demos, games, apps are available in ADF format. I assume it does, more or less, something similar to SparkFS.

Point in question, in order to avoid doing something fatal to the OS; the !ADFFS throws an error, since it requires a specific library that I've found in these forums, in an older thread (someone had the kindness to attach it in his post). Should I throw this library in the !System folder by shift-double clicking it or should I follow another method ? I wouldn't want to brick the A3020 because I'm still a noob :lol:

/Antonis

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by daveejhitchins » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:18 am

Welcome to the Forum, Antonis . . . Enjoy . . .

Dave H :D
Parts: UM6502CE, GAL22V10D, GAL16V8D, AS6C62256A, TC514400AZ, WD1772, R6522, TMS27C512, AT28C256
Products: ARA II, ARA III, ABR, ATI, AP6, MGC, AP5 . . .
For a price list, contact me at: Retro Hardware AT dave ej hitchins DOT plus DOT com

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Re: Proud new owner of A3020 but with a rough start

Post by Antonis » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:53 am

daveejhitchins wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:18 am
Welcome to the Forum, Antonis . . . Enjoy . . .

Dave H :D
Thank you ! Nice to be here :D

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