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Re: [Altair Computer Club] Re: Floppy replacement

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  • Andrew Kessel
    One other thought on this subject. I found it worked pretty well to use a pda (like a palm) and a serial cable with Steve s Monitor Rom to both load basic and
    Message 1 of 31 , Oct 7, 2005
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      One other thought on this subject. I found it worked pretty well to use a
      pda (like a palm) and a serial cable with Steve's Monitor Rom to both load
      basic and basic software - you don't need monitor rom if you have basic
      loaded as the basic program will just load in.
      A little nicer than using a computer, not so nice as a some kind of Altair
      Flash Drive which would be really pretty cool. Note that if the parallel
      port io is possible it might not be that tough to right a driver to get a
      parallel port drive like an old zip drive to work - just a thought.

      On 10/6/05, Steve <alltare@...> wrote:
      >
      > Craig, Bob-
      >
      > I'm not stuck on any particular storage medium, but I think I would
      > prefer solid state rather than spinning state. I'm just throwing out
      > ideas and things to consider. I was mostly explaining before that
      > the software (Altair BASIC) may not be able to run as fast as the
      > storage device is capable of, so no matter what medium we use, we'll
      > have to slow it down, via the handshake signals, so that the computer
      > can talk to it. I think we're really thinking along the same lines,
      > but saying them in different ways.
      >
      > Having the controller talk to an original drive in addition to our
      > new fake drive(s) would be a good idea, Bob, and all the new stuff
      > could be easily tucked into a corner of a DCDD's cabinet. Or inside
      > the Altair if a real drive isn't needed.
      >
      > The Altair hard disk system used a standard 4PIO board (octal 240
      > thru 247) as the computer's interface. The 4PIO connected to an
      > external HD controller that used the same cabinet as a DCDD single
      > floppy drive. There were 3 big logic boards in that cabinet. The
      > controller box was in turn connected to a Pertec 2-platter or 4-
      > platter 14" hard drive through 2 ~50-conductor ribbon cables. Each
      > platter held 5MB.
      >
      > Except for the added code to support the hard disk, the BASIC
      > software was exactly the same as floppy disk BASIC. I can't think of
      > any good reason to try to make a hard disk substitute- it would turn
      > out to be a bucket of worms, I'll bet.
      >
      > steve
      > ========================
      > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "H.E.Robert" <ueoguy@y...>
      > wrote:
      > > Steve, Craig,
      > >
      > > I like what I see, a really great discussion on the possibilities,
      > > certainly gone beyond my
      > > original concept. I can also understand the desire to replace the
      > > original controller cards.
      > >
      > > My original thought was to "talk" to the original controllers, so
      > that
      > > you could "mix" the original
      > > drives and media with the new and improved media, allowing copying
      > from
      > > one type of media
      > > to the other, and back.
      > >
      > > So my hypothetical question, is would it be possible to connect at
      > least
      > > one original drive, and
      > > to really push the envelope, make it either an 8" or 5.25" drive to
      > the
      > > new controller replacement
      > > for copy/archive capabilities? My concern would be to maintain
      > > continued use of either device
      > > going into the future, and not limiting future Altair use to just
      > the
      > > new technology.
      > >
      > > I just thought that, a replacement "controller" might be able to
      > support
      > > both old and new devices?
      > >
      > > Just Bob!.......just my...."why is there no "cents" symbol on a pc
      > > keyboard?" 1.5 cents!
      > >
      > > Steve wrote:
      > >
      > > >Craig,
      > > >
      > > >Wouldn't it be great to use your iPod as the storage device?
      > > >
      > > >The new controller card would have to simulate all of the signals
      > > >that normally come from the real thing. I don't see any big
      > problems
      > > >with drive selection- The drive select commands are really just
      > > >address specifiers, just like PCs today. The controller would
      > select
      > > >and load from whatever part of the flash drive or hard disk that
      > you
      > > >have addressed as drive 2. It's just another addressing
      > function.
      > > >There's sector addressing, track (cylinder) addressing, and drive
      > > >addressing.
      > > >
      > > >I think the most critical part (but not all that difficult) would
      > be
      > > >to simulate all of the time-dependent handshake signals. For
      > > >example, after a head step command, a delay must be generated to
      > > >allow the head to actually get to the next track before other
      > > >commands can be accepted. This kind of "clear to send" signal is
      > > >what most of those one-shot timer circuits are for.
      > > >
      > > >Some commands can simply be ignored, like the HEAD CURRENT switch
      > and
      > > >TRIM ERASE.
      > > >
      > > >Although any modern medium will have much faster access time than
      > the
      > > >FD400/500 drive, we may not be able to make much use of that
      > speed.
      > > >I suspect that if we speeded up the track step delay or head load
      > > >settle time, etc., the poor old 8080 and interpreter BASIC might
      > not
      > > >be able to keep up. But who cares, really?
      > > >
      > > >This has all been discused before, a little bit, but a quick
      > search
      > > >couldn't find the relevant messages in the archives.
      > > >
      > > >steve
      > > >=========================================
      > > >
      > > >--- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, Craig Landrum
      > > ><craigl@m...> wrote:
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >>>...snip...
      > > >>>I agree with you, JustBob. A trouble-free floppy disk
      > replacement
      > > >>>would be very useful. I would be very happy if I could get rid
      > of
      > > >>>the MITS controllers and Pertec floppy, and replace them with a
      > > >>>
      > > >>>
      > > >plug-
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >>>in replacement controller that used a 3.5" floppy, or a modern
      > > >>>
      > > >>>
      > > >hard
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >>>drive, or better yet, solid-state media such as a Compact Flash
      > > >>>
      > > >>>
      > > >card
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >>>or USB thumb drive.
      > > >>>
      > > >>>The entirety of all of MITS' software (BASIC, DOS, all the
      > > >>>
      > > >>>
      > > >business
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >>>software, ...) would fit on one 5MB hard disk platter with room
      > to
      > > >>>spare, so even the smallest of today's hard drives would be big
      > > >>>enough for any conveivable storage requirements.
      > > >>>
      > > >>>In case you guys weren't aware of it, Altair floppies didn't use
      > > >>>
      > > >>>
      > > >DMA
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >>>or any other tricky schemes for floppy I/O. Everything worked
      > > >>>through just 3 standard I/O ports (octal 10, 11, & 12). Most of
      > > >>>
      > > >>>
      > > >the
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >>>housekeeping and control was built into BASIC, so most of the
      > > >>>hardware between the Altair's buss and the floppy drive was just
      > > >>>
      > > >>>
      > > >for
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >>>timing or signal conditioning and buffering.
      > > >>>
      > > >>>steve
      > > >>>
      > > >>>
      > > >>Hmmmm - now this is an interesting problem. Ideally you should be
      > > >>able to remove the MITS controller and drives, plug in the
      > > >>replacement card and have it work exactly like the floppies.
      > > >>The only problem I see is how to tell the board which "disk"
      > > >>is mounted in which "drive". Because the board has to
      > > >>act *exactly* like a MITS floppy controller in order to be
      > > >>fully compatible with all the software, it would have to
      > > >>react properly to commands to ports 10,11, and 12. The
      > > >>emulated "disks" would need to be the same size as MITS
      > > >>disks. The ability to specify which "disk" is to "inserted"
      > > >>in which "drive" is the hard part. My first take would
      > > >>be to have an internal board that emulates the controller,
      > > >>with a USB connection to the backplane. This would be
      > > >>connected to an external box with a small LCD screen and
      > > >>a few buttons, with a port to plug in the media (assume
      > > >>its a USB thumbdrive). The user would hook up the
      > > >>thumbdrive to their PC and create as many blank *disks*
      > > >>as they want. Each *disk* would be a binary file of
      > > >>the exact capacity of a hard sectored floppy. A blank
      > > >>file of this type is copied to the thumb drive for each
      > > >>disk desired and named whatever they wish, such as
      > > >>"Altair DOS 1.1" or "Altair Basic 5.0", etc. Now that
      > > >>the drive has been loaded with a number of blank
      > > >>"floppies", it is removed from the PC and plugged into
      > > >>the external emulator box. The box examines the
      > > >>thumbdrive and puts the names of all the "floppy" files
      > > >>onto the LCD. Using the minimal box controls, the user
      > > >>then scrolls up or down and selects the desired "floppy"
      > > >>to be mounted in a "drive" (drive 0,1,etc). Once this
      > > >>has occured, we are in business and from that point its
      > > >>a simple matter to service drive enable/head load/seek/
      > > >>read and write commands from the internal board.
      > > >>
      > > >>I'd love to design and build this thing. If done right,
      > > >>it could emulate other floppy controllers and could
      > > >>be used in other machines such as an IMSAI, etc.
      > > >>
      > > >>It would also greatly simplify the exchange of disks
      > > >>among people such as ourselves - just plug the thumb
      > > >>drive back into your PC and email a binary diskette to
      > > >>someone who then puts in on their thumbdrive, etc.
      > > >>
      > > >>I know this could be even simpler, but it would be much
      > > >>less flexible - i.e. you could emulate 15 drives with
      > > >>a fixed floppy mounted on each and simply not allow
      > > >>the emulated floppies to be removed from the drive.
      > > >>That type of solution could all be done on a single
      > > >>board with some flash memory but you would be
      > > >>limited to whatever could be held on 15 diskettes and
      > > >>you would have to live with booting from whatever is
      > > >>floppy is defined as being drive 0.
      > > >>
      > > >>What do you guys think about all this? A couple of
      > > >>PIC chips, some minor logic, an LCD screen, and we'd
      > > >>be in business.
      > > >>
      > > >>I may take a whack at this or would be willing to do
      > > >>the software part in collaboration with a h/w guy.
      > > >>
      > > >>--
      > > >>Craig Landrum
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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      > --- Steve, your group moderator
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >


      --
      Andrew Kessel


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Andrew Kessel
      That s correct. On my computer that has the rom basic board, I can just upload the basic program as if it were being typed by the terminal. So I guess I am
      Message 31 of 31 , Oct 7, 2005
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        That's correct. On my computer that has the rom basic board, I can just
        upload the basic program as if it were being typed by the terminal.
        So I guess I am just emulating a terminal doing manual entry.

        On 10/7/05, H.E.Robert <ueoguy@...> wrote:
        >
        > Steve,
        >
        > Andy and I went round and round on this a while back, and I think what
        > he is doing is via
        > the "special monitor eprom", he uploads a memory image of anything,
        > Altair DOS, Disk Extended BASIC,
        > whatever, through the serial port, and then runs from the octal "0"
        > location. Just the same as using paper tape,
        > or audio tape, just without the checksum! He can make changes to the
        > image in RAM, then using a small program, he writes the image back out
        > to his PDA as an ascii file. So in the case of disk BASIC, if you have
        > drives connected, they will work, if you don't, it locks up....Just a
        > you would expect a Micro-Soft product to do! O:-)
        >
        > Just Bob!
        >
        > Steve wrote:
        >
        > >So Andy, you're using your PDA through an RS232 port, and pretending
        > >that you have a cassette system? And running Cassette BASIC, I
        > >guess?
        > >
        > >steve
        > >==============================
        > >
        > >--- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, Andrew Kessel
        > ><akessel56@g...> wrote:
        > >
        > >
        > >>One other thought on this subject. I found it worked pretty well to
        > >>
        > >>
        > >use a
        > >
        > >
        > >>pda (like a palm) and a serial cable with Steve's Monitor Rom to
        > >>
        > >>
        > >both load
        > >
        > >
        > >>basic and basic software - you don't need monitor rom if you have
        > >>
        > >>
        > >basic
        > >
        > >
        > >>loaded as the basic program will just load in.
        > >> A little nicer than using a computer, not so nice as a some kind
        > >>
        > >>
        > >of Altair
        > >
        > >
        > >>Flash Drive which would be really pretty cool. Note that if the
        > >>
        > >>
        > >parallel
        > >
        > >
        > >>port io is possible it might not be that tough to right a driver to
        > >>
        > >>
        > >get a
        > >
        > >
        > >>parallel port drive like an old zip drive to work - just a thought.
        > >>
        > >> On 10/6/05, Steve <alltare@y...> wrote:
        > >>
        > >>
        > >>>Craig, Bob-
        > >>>
        > >>>I'm not stuck on any particular storage medium, but I think I
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >would
        > >
        > >
        > >>>prefer solid state rather than spinning state. I'm just throwing
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >out
        > >
        > >
        > >>>ideas and things to consider. I was mostly explaining before that
        > >>>the software (Altair BASIC) may not be able to run as fast as the
        > >>>storage device is capable of, so no matter what medium we use,
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >we'll
        > >
        > >
        > >>>have to slow it down, via the handshake signals, so that the
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >computer
        > >
        > >
        > >>>can talk to it. I think we're really thinking along the same
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >lines,
        > >
        > >
        > >>>but saying them in different ways.
        > >>>
        > >>>Having the controller talk to an original drive in addition to our
        > >>>new fake drive(s) would be a good idea, Bob, and all the new stuff
        > >>>could be easily tucked into a corner of a DCDD's cabinet. Or
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >inside
        > >
        > >
        > >>>the Altair if a real drive isn't needed.
        > >>>
        > >>>The Altair hard disk system used a standard 4PIO board (octal 240
        > >>>thru 247) as the computer's interface. The 4PIO connected to an
        > >>>external HD controller that used the same cabinet as a DCDD single
        > >>>floppy drive. There were 3 big logic boards in that cabinet. The
        > >>>controller box was in turn connected to a Pertec 2-platter or 4-
        > >>>platter 14" hard drive through 2 ~50-conductor ribbon cables. Each
        > >>>platter held 5MB.
        > >>>
        > >>>Except for the added code to support the hard disk, the BASIC
        > >>>software was exactly the same as floppy disk BASIC. I can't think
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >of
        > >
        > >
        > >>>any good reason to try to make a hard disk substitute- it would
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >turn
        > >
        > >
        > >>>out to be a bucket of worms, I'll bet.
        > >>>
        > >>>steve
        > >>>========================
        > >>>--- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "H.E.Robert"
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > ><ueoguy@y...>
        > >
        > >
        > >>>wrote:
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>Steve, Craig,
        > >>>>
        > >>>>I like what I see, a really great discussion on the
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >possibilities,
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>certainly gone beyond my
        > >>>>original concept. I can also understand the desire to replace
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >the
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>original controller cards.
        > >>>>
        > >>>>My original thought was to "talk" to the original controllers,
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >so
        > >
        > >
        > >>>that
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>you could "mix" the original
        > >>>>drives and media with the new and improved media, allowing
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >copying
        > >
        > >
        > >>>from
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>one type of media
        > >>>>to the other, and back.
        > >>>>
        > >>>>So my hypothetical question, is would it be possible to connect
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >at
        > >
        > >
        > >>>least
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>one original drive, and
        > >>>>to really push the envelope, make it either an 8" or 5.25"
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >drive to
        > >
        > >
        > >>>the
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>new controller replacement
        > >>>>for copy/archive capabilities? My concern would be to maintain
        > >>>>continued use of either device
        > >>>>going into the future, and not limiting future Altair use to
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >just
        > >
        > >
        > >>>the
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>new technology.
        > >>>>
        > >>>>I just thought that, a replacement "controller" might be able to
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >>>support
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>both old and new devices?
        > >>>>
        > >>>>Just Bob!.......just my...."why is there no "cents" symbol on a
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >pc
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>keyboard?" 1.5 cents!
        > >>>>
        > >>>>Steve wrote:
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >>>>
        > >>>>>Craig,
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>Wouldn't it be great to use your iPod as the storage device?
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>The new controller card would have to simulate all of the
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >signals
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>that normally come from the real thing. I don't see any big
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>problems
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>with drive selection- The drive select commands are really just
        > >>>>>address specifiers, just like PCs today. The controller would
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>select
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>and load from whatever part of the flash drive or hard disk
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >that
        > >
        > >
        > >>>you
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>have addressed as drive 2. It's just another addressing
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>function.
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>There's sector addressing, track (cylinder) addressing, and
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >drive
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>addressing.
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>I think the most critical part (but not all that difficult)
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >would
        > >
        > >
        > >>>be
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>to simulate all of the time-dependent handshake signals. For
        > >>>>>example, after a head step command, a delay must be generated
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >to
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>allow the head to actually get to the next track before other
        > >>>>>commands can be accepted. This kind of "clear to send" signal
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >is
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>what most of those one-shot timer circuits are for.
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>Some commands can simply be ignored, like the HEAD CURRENT
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >switch
        > >
        > >
        > >>>and
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>TRIM ERASE.
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>Although any modern medium will have much faster access time
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >than
        > >
        > >
        > >>>the
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>FD400/500 drive, we may not be able to make much use of that
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>speed.
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>I suspect that if we speeded up the track step delay or head
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >load
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>settle time, etc., the poor old 8080 and interpreter BASIC
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >might
        > >
        > >
        > >>>not
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>be able to keep up. But who cares, really?
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>This has all been discused before, a little bit, but a quick
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>search
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>couldn't find the relevant messages in the archives.
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>steve
        > >>>>>=========================================
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>--- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, Craig Landrum
        > >>>>><craigl@m...> wrote:
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>>>...snip...
        > >>>>>>>I agree with you, JustBob. A trouble-free floppy disk
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>replacement
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>>>would be very useful. I would be very happy if I could get
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >rid
        > >
        > >
        > >>>of
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>>>the MITS controllers and Pertec floppy, and replace them
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >with a
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>plug-
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>>>in replacement controller that used a 3.5" floppy, or a
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >modern
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>hard
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>>>drive, or better yet, solid-state media such as a Compact
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >Flash
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>card
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>>>or USB thumb drive.
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>The entirety of all of MITS' software (BASIC, DOS, all the
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>business
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>>>software, ...) would fit on one 5MB hard disk platter with
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >room
        > >
        > >
        > >>>to
        > >>>
        > >>>
        > >>>>>>>spare, so even the smallest of today's hard drives would be
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >big
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>>>enough for any conveivable storage requirements.
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>In case you guys weren't aware of it, Altair floppies didn't
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >use
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>DMA
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>>>or any other tricky schemes for floppy I/O. Everything worked
        > >>>>>>>through just 3 standard I/O ports (octal 10, 11, & 12). Most
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >of
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>the
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>>>housekeeping and control was built into BASIC, so most of the
        > >>>>>>>hardware between the Altair's buss and the floppy drive was
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >just
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>for
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>
        > >>>>>>>timing or signal conditioning and buffering.
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>steve
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>>
        > >>>>>>Hmmmm - now this is an interesting problem. Ideally you
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>>>
        > >should be
        > >
        > >
        > >>>>>>able to remove the MITS controller and drives, plug in the
        > >>>>>>replacement card and have it work exactly like the floppies.
        > >>>>>>The only problem I see is how to tell the board which "disk"
        > >>>>>>is mounted in which "drive". Because the board has to
        > >>>>>>act *exactly* like a MITS floppy controller in order to be
        > >>>>>>fully compatible with all the software, it would have to
        > >>>>>>react properly to commands to ports 10,11, and 12. The
        > >>>>>>emulated "disks" would need to be the same size as MITS
        > >>>>>>disks. The ability to specify which "disk" is to "inserted"
        > >>>>>>in which "drive" is the hard part. My first take would
        > >>>>>>be to have an internal board that emulates the controller,
        > >>>>>>with a USB connection to the backplane. This would be
        > >>>>>>connected to an external box with a small LCD screen and
        > >>>>>>a few buttons, with a port to plug in the media (assume
        > >>>>>>its a USB thumbdrive). The user would hook up the
        > >>>>>>thumbdrive to their PC and create as many blank *disks*
        > >>>>>>as they want. Each *disk* would be a binary file of
        > >>>>>>the exact capacity of a hard sectored floppy. A blank
        > >>>>>>file of this type is copied to the thumb drive for each
        > >>>>>>disk desired and named whatever they wish, such as
        > >>>>>>"Altair DOS 1.1" or "Altair Basic 5.0", etc. Now that
        > >>>>>>the drive has been loaded with a number of blank
        > >>>>>>"floppies", it is removed from the PC and plugged into
        > >>>>>>the external emulator box. The box examines the
        > >>>>>>thumbdrive and puts the names of all the "floppy" files
        > >>>>>>onto the LCD. Using the minimal box controls, the user
        > >>>>>>then scrolls up or down and selects the desired "floppy"
        > >>>>>>to be mounted in a "drive" (drive 0,1,etc). Once this
        > >>>>>>has occured, we are in business and from that point its
        > >>>>>>a simple matter to service drive enable/head load/seek/
        > >>>>>>read and write commands from the internal board.
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>>>I'd love to design and build this thing. If done right,
        > >>>>>>it could emulate other floppy controllers and could
        > >>>>>>be used in other machines such as an IMSAI, etc.
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>>>It would also greatly simplify the exchange of disks
        > >>>>>>among people such as ourselves - just plug the thumb
        > >>>>>>drive back into your PC and email a binary diskette to
        > >>>>>>someone who then puts in on their thumbdrive, etc.
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>>>I know this could be even simpler, but it would be much
        > >>>>>>less flexible - i.e. you could emulate 15 drives with
        > >>>>>>a fixed floppy mounted on each and simply not allow
        > >>>>>>the emulated floppies to be removed from the drive.
        > >>>>>>That type of solution could all be done on a single
        > >>>>>>board with some flash memory but you would be
        > >>>>>>limited to whatever could be held on 15 diskettes and
        > >>>>>>you would have to live with booting from whatever is
        > >>>>>>floppy is defined as being drive 0.
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>>>What do you guys think about all this? A couple of
        > >>>>>>PIC chips, some minor logic, an LCD screen, and we'd
        > >>>>>>be in business.
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>>>I may take a whack at this or would be willing to do
        > >>>>>>the software part in collaboration with a h/w guy.
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>>>--
        > >>>>>>Craig Landrum
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>>>>
        > >>>
        > >>>
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        Andrew Kessel


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