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What is the best floppy replacement -- and why?


Larry
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There are so many of these -- PC-based (or Mac) emulators like APE and AspeQt, S-Drive, SIO2SD, SIO2HD, SIO2Arduino (sp?), and maybe soon a regular Floppy Emulator like the GoTek adapted to our 8bits. Whew! All of these options are SIO based, so speed is pretty much the same, except for the emulator designed to use Android phones (and tablets?).

 

My preference is for APE with AspeQt as a close second. (AspeQt cannot yet write to a "PC-Mirror" AFAIK.) But that is because I love the Windows GUI where I can have a large "filing cabinet" of floppy images (in the guise of a Win Folder). I can mount and dismount images with drag and drop ease. We have easy maintenance of the images using Windows tools, including backup of images.

 

But I realize that lots of folks don't like to be "tethered" to a PC, even if it is a very small notebook computer. Some also still prefer the "look and feel" of real floppy disks.

 

So what do you see as the benefits (and maybe drawbacks) of your favorite?

 

-Larry

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Each has it's advantages and pitfalls.

 

SIO2PC/APE has the advantage that you can just download stuff and load with a real machine usually with no intermediate phase of transferring to other media. OK, sometimes you'll need to unzip files but it's trivial compared to transferring to SD cards and the like. Disadvantage of course is that it's like being tethered to a dialasis machine - ie portability goes out the window, although somewhat less painful if using a laptop and probably a trivial thing for those using a tablet with USB to SIO adaptor. Other disadvantage as mentioned is flaky operation of mirrored files esp in write mode.

 

For me though I don't have one, the SIO2BT has much promise but I don't think there's anything yet that does the turbo speeds. If turbo speeds become available and other issues are ironed out then it could easily become the most desirable solution. Low cost smartphone, transferring files not a big problem, I already do it with the help of Android based FTP servers.

 

SIO2SD - TBH I've probably not used mine in over 3 years. A pain to use if you're adding downloaded files in an adhoc fashion. My preference is to just use SIO2PC in conjunction with IDE +2.

 

Ideal world solution for me would be something that allows SIO replacement over BT and provides an IDE class device for quick access to SD cards. Maybe if an IDE +3 comes along it could do that.

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For me at this point.... I actually prefer the emulation experience over-all. And I mean of the computer itself too.

 

The pros:

  • takes up no extra physical space
  • very portable (I do it all from a flash drive that I can use on any Windows machine anywhere)
  • can use lots of hardware extras without buying them (if they even could be found for sale)
  • easy to pre-configure different hardware setups and easily engage them via different .ini files
  • can engage "full speed" emulation to blast through processing that normally would take much longer
  • very good quality emulation that properly runs almost all software correctly

The cons:

  • as good as the emulation is, there may still be rare software incompatibilities
  • possible input lag which could negatively affect some games which require rapid reflexes (I haven't run into this yet)
  • missing the full blown nostalgic experience by not physically touching and seeing the real hardware on the desk
  • not being able to claim the honor of being "pure" in some fashion
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I like the Lotharek floppy emulator. Everything can go on a single 32GB SD card and backups can be on the PC.

 

Some of the positives:

 

1) Saved space! No longer a mass of diskettes and diskette boxes everywhere.

2) Saved money! No longer any need to buy older degrading and possibly hardware damaging flaking diskettes.

3) More saved money! No need to buy cleaning kits.

4) Saved time on maintaining old hardware.

5) A single Lotharek can be setup to act as two separate drives.

6) 100% Compatibility! Since it acts just like a disk drive, the computer cannot tell the difference.

 

This thing works on a TON of different systems, even Atari's!

<< HERE >> is a list of compatible hardware.

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the sio2pcUSB is a the most convenience - using XEX and ATR file in and out of a real atari.

i can see that some would like the "floppy" setup of the sio2sd - but i hated it - there's too many minor hinderances in using the thing

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Presume you mean the SIO2SD version? http://www.lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=23

 

The HXC versions don't say anything about the 8-bit -- just PC, ST, etc. Or have I misread something?

 

Aesthetically, it is really nice. One of the most professional versions I've seen. And IIRC, the SIO2SD has the complete on-screen selection (.XEX) program that can be used for image selection?

 

-Larry

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@remowilliams-

 

When you say the Ultimate & SIDE2, are you using the SIDE2 card to load images? But can you access files on those images, or just use the SIDE Loader to load them as with game images? Or perhaps you are using the APT feature to set up image partitions and then selecting them as "floppies?"

 

-Larry

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1st - Ultimate1MB/SIDE2, Incognito :)

 

This is my preferred solution... the only downside is that you cannot add disk images or xex files (for use with the SIDE loader) by writing to the CF card from the Atari, it's gotta be taken out. With an Incognito, that's a little inconvenient and adds extra wear and tear to the 800's lid.

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Since most of the stuff I run is taking a look at what people put up here => Internet => PC => some form of SIO2PC or Altirra. I use a couple PCs but my desktop hardly ever gets turned on, mostly laptops. Even my fav laptop is somewhat weak in that it is really a netbook with the only rotating media a 320 gig HD and no serial port. In my case I have a real case of the 'lazies' so the file handling and large amount of hd space makes it so I never have to do hd clean up. Its just easier to use some flavor of Windows to get the file downloaded in the first place and use the file handling features like copy, rename, move, ??? from there.

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I dream about peripheral emulator connected through WiFi.

 

All functions and no wires.

 

I love Lotharek's SIO2SD devices, but the only one still stable is cased. (Thank you Lotharek!)

 

Seriously. Does the static electricity is the main reason of SIO2... faults?

 

I could run SIO2IDE only once!!!

Then it go to sleep forever.

 

I read famouse FJC's explaination about timeouts etc, but firmly designed device stay all these reasons ahead.

Is'nt it?

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1st - Ultimate1MB/SIDE2, Incognito :)

 

2nd - SDrive NUXX, APE

 

3rd - SIO2USB

 

4th - SIO2SD

 

Slight re-order :-):

  1. IDE+ 2.0
  2. Ultimate 1MB/Side 2
  3. SIO2SD
  4. Ape/AspeQT (with an SIO2PC-USB adapter)

From a price/ease of use standpoint:

  1. AspeQT and SIO2PC-USB adapter (<$20, make your own with a FTDI chip for even cheaper)
  2. SIO2SD ($25 without case or cable, $65 with case and cable)
  3. Ape ($60 for USB, $35 for RS232)
  4. U1M/Side 2 ($80)
  5. IDE+ 2.0 ($??)

I don't understand the usability of the SIO2BT. It's a neat hack, but in the end it's not more useful than the SIO2SD which is cheaper.

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I like the Lotharek floppy emulator. Everything can go on a single 32GB SD card and backups can be on the PC.

 

Some of the positives:

 

1) Saved space! No longer a mass of diskettes and diskette boxes everywhere.

2) Saved money! No longer any need to buy older degrading and possibly hardware damaging flaking diskettes.

3) More saved money! No need to buy cleaning kits.

4) Saved time on maintaining old hardware.

5) A single Lotharek can be setup to act as two separate drives.

6) 100% Compatibility! Since it acts just like a disk drive, the computer cannot tell the difference.

 

This thing works on a TON of different systems, even Atari's!

<< HERE >> is a list of compatible hardware.

 

Ummmj... I see ST Ataris listed but not 8-bits. How did you get this working with the XL/XE? Or do you have an SIO2Sd by Lotharek?

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1: Incognito CF card.

 

2: Now for something completely different... A Corvus OmniDrive (case and power supply only), controller replaced with Neoware thin client booting Windows XPe from SSD and (auto) running APE Pro. 80G drive in there connected via USB. AtariMax SIO2PC adapter internally mounted to rear panel. Basically, it can be used as a stand-alone SIO connected set of several large partitions, but also with network connected, I can remote desktop into it to change settings. Another nice part is that I have shared the 80G drive on the network, so (on my main computer that I browse the Net with) I can (in FireFox) right-click on a file, select "Save link as", and send it directly to the drive in the Corvus box, ready for the 800 to read. Someone asked me (a while ago) why I asked Albert to support attaching .ARC files here. They even said something similar to "it's not like you can download them on your Atari and uncompress them with SDX ARC..." Well, yes, that's just about what I do. I must use Windows to download them, but from there on, the file is directly visible to SDX on my 800.

Edited by Kyle22
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I don't understand the usability of the SIO2BT.

 

And how do you copy new stuff to SIO2SD / SIDE2 / IDE+2.0 ?

You need a PC for that. That makes a difference ;-)

 

And I work on TCP/IP networking support for SIO2BT, which will make it even more interesting for Android users.

 

At the end, I like all solutions. And it is really good, that there are so many :)

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Surely you can copy stuff to a micro SD card using an Android device then use said card with an adapter in SIO2SD and IDE Plus (the latter via a CF/micro SD adapter, which works).

 

What I wanted to say is, that there is one advantage of the SIO2BT (which gozar has not seen):

You can open the atariage forum with your Android smartphone, read about a new demo or game, download it and immediately test it on your real ATARI Hardware :)

 

I also like the idea of COMBO devices, like SIO2SD with SIO2BT (and possibly with SIO2PC) in one enclosure:

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/228860-sio2bt/page-5?do=findComment&comment=3211772

Edited by TheMontezuma
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So how does that work? (I don't use an Incognito.) Is the CF feature basically like a SIDE/2?

Exactly the same as Ultimate PBI/SIDE2: you put a bunch of ATRs on the CF card and mount them for read/write. There's a FAT driver inside the PBI BIOS.

 

You can open the atariage forum with your Android smartphone, read about a new demo or game, download it and immediately test it on your real ATARI Hardware :)

Indeed. :) I guess you could do the same with the two devices I mentioned by moving the SD card from the phone to the Atari, but doing so wirelessly would remove a few steps.

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What I wanted to say is, that there is one advantage of the SIO2BT (which gozar has not seen):

You can open the atariage forum with your Android smartphone, read about a new demo or game, download it and immediately test it on your real ATARI Hardware :)

 

I also like the idea of COMBO devices, like SIO2SD with SIO2BT (and possibly with SIO2PC) in one enclosure:

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/228860-sio2bt/page-5?do=findComment&comment=3211772

 

That is a plus. :-)

 

Although I do the same with SIO2PC-USB except I use ownCloud (could use Dropbox or Google Drive). The laptop on my Atari syncs my Atari8 folder, so whenever I see something I want to try I just save it to my Atari8 directory and it will automatically be synced. This is also where I keep Altirra, so all of my files, disk images, etc. are always in sync with all of my devices and Ataris.

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I loved APE but I haven't had a Windows box in this small room for years.

 

Most of the time when I want to try something new I download it and use it, in ATR form, with an SIO2PC cable and SIO2BSD software. I like SIO2BSD because it's commandline driven. I just specify the ATR(s), the IO port, /dev/ttyS0 or /dev/ttyUSB0. I don't even have to specify the cable type, RI, CTS, DSR. I like that too, because I have more than one SIO2PC and can't always remember which cable type it uses.

 

For gaming and for favorite ATRs I use my "Barebones SDrive". I call it that because I built it without the LEDs or the buttons. 99.9% of the time I don't need them.

 

I like SDrive because I can use Hias Reichl's firmware and also his MyPicoDOS game loader to load games at 126 kBits/sec (divisor 0) on both my stock 800XL and stock 800.

 

When I want to do other things besides play games I either go into the SDrive configuration program (hold down LSHIFT during a coldboot) or I use another SD card.

 

There is one deluxe feature to my "Barebones SDrive". It has two open SIO sockets. In fact, that's what the case was originally designed to do, be an SIO splitter. It's a kit called Ape-Link (I don't think it's related to Atarimax's APE software) sold by Best Electronics. The kit comes with a PCB and a case pre-cut for two SIO sockets and 3 SIO connectors. You can cut a 3rd hole in the case or solder in an SIO half cable (not included with the kit) as I did

 

The two devices cover all my basic A8 needs these days.

 

-SteveS

 

 

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I always prefer external solutions. Although I am very enthusiastic about U1MB + SIDE2, this will never be my 'Ultimate' solution, since I'm stuck to that single (or two) atari that has this fabulous modification.

 

Next to that, for me do only count stand-alone solutions to be really ultimate. The need of a laptop, PC or Mac next to my atari is a real downside (for me). My Atari 8bit is an independent machine, setup on a separate desk in my study room... and I want to be as portable as possible (with the other atari's in the house, and on other locations).

 

I have (almost) all possible solutions and they all their pro and cons.

 

Sio based solutions:

 

Sio2USB (Abbuc): I find this one of the best SIO based solutions. Stephan Dorndorf wrote an incredible powerful shell for this device called Yash. The thing has a Real Time Clock built in, which is very handy because writing to your ATR's also updates the time stamp of the ATR files, and it also gives the facility of using a special tool (like apetime) to download the clock to your Atari. You can create new ATR files without the need of a PC or MAC. Downsides: not all USB sticks are compatible, it's slower on higher sectors on bigger ATR's, it does not support booting Binaries (XEX) and it only supports up to three slots (D1: , D2: and D3)

 

Sio2SD (Lotharek and others): This is an extremely powerful SIO based solution. It does do XEX and ATR and it is FAST. The newest Bios lets you -just like Sio2USB Abbuc- create new ATR files. It supports 15 mounted ATR files simultaneously and it has a rather powerful (but complicated) configuration program. It lacks the RTC which I find a pity. With the RTC it would be my absolute number one favorite SIO solution.

 

SDRIVE (Nuxx): This device is very cute. It's not so versatile as the other two mentioned. It does not create new ATR files, it does not have a RTC and it also lacks a fancy LCD screen. It also does not coldboot (it first needs to load a configuration tool, although you can save your settings, this tool is booted always). It does support XEX booting, and it has a relocatable bootloader. Cool part of this device is that swapping disks is very easy and that you can repair it yourself rather (that's really simple). Although it lacks a lot of feature, I'm very satisfied with my SDRIVE. In fact: the last year it has been connected without interruption.

 

Parrallel I/O:

 

IDE+ 2: For me this is the absolute winner. What a powerful and very cool device is this one. It is very compatible on stock hardware. It runs XEX, ATR files, it supports APT partitions, it has cold-boot keycombination, it gives High Speed I/O to sio drives on a stock atari, it has a built in RTC, it has built in SDX... newer edition does also have a swap-disk button (swapping on the fly). Only downside so far: it does not load XEX/ATR directly from FAT32 partition. If that upgrade will come one day... this will be the absolute ultimate harddisk interface ever.

 

SIDE2 (with U1MB): well ... this is with the combination with U1MB also a very close 2nd place. The thing this solution lacks is that I do not have my cartridge port left. On the other side: this solution supports booting from FAT32 (but then again: it is less interesting without the U1MB). It has a built in RTC, it has a built in SDX, and a built in FAT32 loader (you can also use this space for another ROM file, which is compatible)... I did put my favorite assembler in this space. Using the SDX from SIDE I have this car like a stacked cart available in SDX, which is really cool. SIDE2 supports the APT partition table natively which is great. CF cards are interchangeable between IDE+ and SIDE2.

 

MyIDE 2: This one have been my favorite for a long time. And still I am very fond of my MyIDE 2 carts. Especially for games this is a fabulous cart. On stock hardware is the Fat32 loader very powerful since the myIDE 2 cart mimics several types of cartridges. So you can play original XEGS carts on a 64K atari, where you would need more memory in case of an XEX version of the game ( I can play Commando on 64K atari, or Barnyard Blaster, or Karateka) without the need of a floppy drive. The MyIDE 2 cart also runs SDX and has a soft-OS which is not very compatible, but still can do nice things. It lacks RTC (which is a pity) and it also lacks a reset button (which I really miss). The MyIDE 2 cart can also be used in combination with a special OS (you can flash this in Ultimate 1MB or in an eprom or other solution), and then the device is really powerful... but you must not forget: that OS does not support APT partition table.... so I think if MyIDE 2 will stay visible on my radar MyBIOS should drop it's obsolete partition table, and use the APT in next myBIOS versions...

 

Well is this enough information for now ;)?

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Posted Wed Jun 3, 2015 11:45 AM

--- Ω ---, on 03 Jun 2015 - 12:41 AM, said:snapback.png

I like the Lotharek floppy emulator. Everything can go on a single 32GB SD card and backups can be on the PC.

 

Some of the positives:

 

1) Saved space! No longer a mass of diskettes and diskette boxes everywhere.

2) Saved money! No longer any need to buy older degrading and possibly hardware damaging flaking diskettes.

3) More saved money! No need to buy cleaning kits.

4) Saved time on maintaining old hardware.

5) A single Lotharek can be setup to act as two separate drives.

6) 100% Compatibility! Since it acts just like a disk drive, the computer cannot tell the difference.

 

This thing works on a TON of different systems, even Atari's!

<< HERE >> is a list of compatible hardware.

 

Ummmj... I see ST Ataris listed but not 8-bits. How did you get this working with the XL/XE? Or do you have an SIO2Sd by Lotharek?

 

 

 

 

Whats wrong with plugging it into an XF551 or ATR8000 or percom or anything else that uses a Std floppy mech?

 

James

Edited by sup8pdct
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Hello,

I use an SIO2USB with my laptop and APE. Mostly for OG hardware preservation. While I do use my drives sparingly to keep them running, I don't want to wear them out. Also don't want to put some of the harder to find disk games in jeopardy. My game collection is up there, so many times I am playing .atr files of games I own. (except that excellent Dr Mario port..I play that a lot.) Also nice to make "save disks" on my pc instead of having to continually find obsolete media.

As far as "portability", huh? The laptop is the most portable part of my atari setups. I have an xegs with a keyboard extender hooked to a 27inch trinitron for couch gaming (except eastern front...damn start button on the console) The 800 is hooked to a commodore 1702 on my desk next to my desktop PC. I use that for basic tinkering and plan to write a book on it. Just seems more "atmospheric". I started outlining, and there is a definite appeal to typing on that keyboard than the steelseries. What portability do you need?

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