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24Jul/180

Apple IIc – Floppy via Serial

I've recently acquired an Apple IIc and it's time to play games! As previously mentioned, the best way to do this is to hook up the Apple to a PC and transfer data via serial cable. This is all done via the aid of a software program known as ADTPro.

Building the serial cable

You'll find the required information on the connection page of ADTPro. Back to Jaycar we go to get the required components. Needed was a DB-9 female serial connector and a DIN-5 male plug. Some 6-core wire helped also.

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Soldering it all together is very straight forward. Firstly, bridge pins 1 and 5 on the DIN side, then solder up pins 2-4.

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Next, on the DB-9 port, join pins 1,4,6 together. Then join pins 7 and 8 together. That's two separate groups, not all 5 in one join! Finally, wire through (DIN-DB9) the three wires, 4-3, 2-2, 3-5.

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Bootstrapping the software

Everything you need to know is on the ADTPro bootstrapping page. Java is required, so grab a JRE and install it on your platform of choice. Make sure your hardware has a functioning serial port! A USB->Serial adapter will work fine here. Download ADTPro from sourceforge and the RXTX Java Libraries. If you don't install the libraries, the application will remind you anyway...

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To install RXTX, unzip the downloaded archive and move RXTXcomm.jar to \jre\lib\ext (under java) and rxtxSerial.dll to \jre\bin. Open the program once you've got it all installed. It'll be asking what serial port and what speed to use. Leave the speed as default and then choose the correct port.

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At this point, you'll want to copy your disk image files into the disks subdirectory inside the ADTPro folder. Once you're ready to go, turn on your Apple IIc, holding down CTRL-RESET to get to the prompt. Expect ugly characters on the screen... it's no issue.

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Once up (disregard that I already typed the first step above!), go back to ADTPRO and choose Bootstrapping -> ProDOS -> Speediboot.

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Follow the instructions and type out the commands on the Apple. Note: Replace the # with the pound sign on UK keyboards! From here, you'll hopefully load into the main menu.

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Hit R for Receive File and then make sure you are in the correct 'working directory'... i.e. where you copied your disk images to! I found Frogger, renamed it as frgr.dsk and copied it into the ADTPro disks folder. I was about run the floppy disk image from RAM... but why? I have spare floppies... lets use this thing as a floppy image writer!

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It took a good amount of time... sounding REALLY unhealthy. Those Xs didn't look too good either. Turns out this was because I was trying to use PC formatted high-density disks... and that would never work! Regardless, due to the sounds, I wanted to open up the drive to check if it need maintenance.

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For its age, it was in perfect condition. Dusty, yes... and the top padded head was deteriorating... but nothing a little cleanup with alcohol wipes wouldn't fix! I then remembered I had a 'disposable' 360k disk in my repertoire. Using this, I finally had a bit of success... it read the disk header!

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Frogger then burnt, but wouldn't boot :( As that I had no idea if this version of Frogger was for my machine, or if it was even a bootable disk, I thought I'd try the actual images that come with ADTPro. I therefore chose the first image and wrote it to the disk. TADA! It booted!! Very different menu from the remote version when loaded over the wire.

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What next? Oh yeah, Police Quest 1. Turns out this is in NIB disk image format, but it seems ADTPro can handle this. There was a warning of file size mismatch, but I went ahead and burnt it anyway... I didn't bother burning the second side. Once cooked, I turned the machine off.. counted to 10... held breath... crossed fingers... powered on...

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Hahahaha! It worked! But I can't flip the disk without repeating the whole process and writing the other side. I don't think I'll bother as the game loaded so bloody slowly. I'd probably never end up actually playing or using this machine... so it's now on eBay. What a perfect unit if you loved these old games!?

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About stevenh

Trains... trains... trains... + Electronics + Japan.
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