Subscribe via RSS

Cheap Chinese Gotek Floppy Emulator

It was always going to be too good to be true. I was buying other shit on eBay and found that they also had Goteks. For around AUD$12 I couldn't resist.

For those that don't know, the Gotek is a famous device in the Amiga world for emulating the floppy drive. It's the same size as a normal drive and has the same mounting holes. On the front is (usually) a USB slot, LCD display, buttons and activity lights. The goal is to have numbered disk images on your USB key and swap through them like a jukebox.

As soon as I opened my parcel, I realised I'd bought somewhat of a reduced version. No display, no buttons...

DSC00440

Ok, off-the-cuff this would mean the USB key would have to contain a single disk? Not the worst outcome (for the price I paid), but not what I was expecting. I installed the drive in the 386 I was building and it was detected correctly. It all plugged straight in and there was nothing to set. There is a row of jumpers, but I didn't have any supporting documentation and just left them.

DSC00474

On boot, the green LED lit on BIOS post and I let DOS load from the HDD. I rummaged for a small USB key and found a 4gb lying around.

DSC00445

All good so far... dir a:...

DSC00446

Pretty deep error: Sector not found reading Drive A. This usually indicates that the disk isn't partitioned, let alone formatted. Not really unexpected. I tried FDISK, but it doesn't care for floppies. Format wouldn't handle it either.

I dragged the USB back to my laptop and found that it had a single 4gb partition with a TV series on it. Jumping in to Disk Management, I deleted the only partition on the disk. At this point I chose to leave the partition table empty as I couldn't create a 1.44mb partition under Windows 10; the smallest option was 8mb?

Slapping the USB key back in the 386 saw a much better result. Trying to list the directory gave a warmer error (General failure reading drive A) and so I tried formatting it...

DSC00447

Yes sir, I would love to kill 1.44mb of data!

gotek

Taking it back to my laptop, I now found that it had a 1.44mb partition. So this can't be done from Disk Management but the firmware on the drive can partition it via its firmware. It was a standard FAT parition, so I copied HWINFO over. I wanted to check system information on the 386 and this application worked in DOS. Taking that back to the machine saw it load off the disk and work seamlessly.

I'll try out writing disk images to the 1.44mb partition tonight...

28Oct/150

Buffalo E7 Kagayaki PC Mouse

On the way back from Shimoda to Tokyo, I happened upon a delight in the shopping magazines found in the a seat-pocket on the Odoriko. I'd actually already scoured Osaka and Tokyo for this delight, but all shop assistants (Yodobashi, Bic Camera, etc...) had never even seen the product.

Little did I expect to find it in, what we declare in Australia, as home-shopping dodgy magazines. But, there it was... and a friend in Japan managed to order it for me then and there on the train! It then arrived only a few days after I returned to Oz.

DSC09382 DSC09384 DSC09386

Under those delicious 'older gentleman' dark chocolate KitKats is a Buffalo USB Mouse. It's a standard form-factor with fantastic markings. Buffalo have taken the time and painted them in line with the E7 shinkansen.

DSC09393 DSC09391 DSC09392

Further than this, they've even put a serious amount of effort into the packaging.

The artwork on the outside of the box is a lightly water-coloured scene of the Shinkansen bolting somewhere north.

I love it that they've made the box out of plastic. The mouse is centrally on display, with all appendages neatly concealed in the base of the packaging.

DSC09394 DSC09396 DSC09397

Opening it felt like unfolding origami. The intricate design perfectly fit the coiled cable and documentation.

DSC09398 DSC09400 DSC09404

Once out, I found it to be smoother than I had expected. It has a very glossy finish and is slippery to the touch. Fortunately, the sides are covered in a rubber panel, which provides a nice level of grip.

DSC09405 DSC09407 DSC09408

The best part about this mouse is that the scroll wheel is legit. The wheel is clicky and can be pressed without rotating. I've used newer mouses in the past that had very light-touch wheels that even had momentum if you spun them too quickly. This wheel has the exact friction point I've been looking for.

25Oct/150

Power Mac 7200: PCI USB Cards

USB has been around for a long time, it seems. Longer than I'd originally thought. For fun I wanted to try and get this relic of a PowerPC into the less-than-stone ages and, well, plug things in without having to reboot. USB would provide this and I had a few devices to try out.

There's information on what OS' support USB here at lowendmac. My mileage varied... but I actually think it was because of faulty/old hardware rather than software incompatibilities.

Belkin F5U220

20151025 111909The card shows up in System Profiler but there is no power on the USB bus. I plugged a $10 HP Mouse in and the LED/Laser didn't glow. It seems this card is only good for Beige G3s or higher? Or could this card just be faulty?

OS 9.2.2 had installed and loaded the USB extensions... so it seemed that it wanted to do something with the card, but failed.

Adaptec Duo Connect PCI Card AUA-3020

20151025 111955This card comes with 2 FireWire and 3 USB 2.0 Ports. I plugged it into the PCI slot and booted up. I had already installed OS 9.2.2 with the previous USB card in, so the USB extensions were all there. Plugging in the same HP Mouse saw the light glow underneath. It worked!

Right-click just acts as normal click, so it effectively becomes a one-button mouse. I'm sure you could install something like USB Overdrive to make the buttons and scroll wheels more functional.

Opti FireLink BG-3800-00 UH-275

20151025 112011This is another PCI USB 2.0 Expansion card. Most USB tutorials for these older-style PowerMacs mentioned this chipset, usually recommending it. I found one on Ebay for under USD$10.

It worked perfectly on installation. No configuration necessary. The mouse lit up and was functional straight away.

OS9.2.2 and USB Keyboards/Mice

20151025 111849The USB cards will apply power to the bus very early in the boot process, but the devices wont actually work until the last icon on the desktop is loaded. It's still recommended to use your ADB equipment (or at least keep it for emergency purposes.)

Both the HP USB Mouse and Apple Keyboard (from a future iMac) worked perfectly fine.

LITE-ON DVD Drive

20151025 150659I plugged in my portable eSAU108 DVD/CD Writer. On the Adaptec Duo, I only got a flashing red light on the unit. It seems that the card does not output enough power for the device to function correctly. On the UH-275 USB Card, the drive worked perfectly.

Further research indicates that the drive has a smart USB power detection feature. The LED will flash red if it needs to suck power from two ports. So it seems the Adaptec correctly limits the power, whereas the UH-275 can push out more milliamps.

USB Overdrive

Downloadable from here, I assumed this would give me left-click and scroll-wheel mapping... instead it just stopped the HP Mouse from working at all. I gave up on it pretty quickly.

Does the USB get passed through to the DOS Card?

No. Even worse... if you have a 2-button mouse on the USB, the second button does absolutely nothing on the Windows side. It makes perfect sense but can be really confusing when you still have to command-click to get a context menu.