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FluxEngine - floppy disk imager, now with Mac 800k disk support


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I should start off by saying that absolutely none of this is my work, I am just letting the 68kMLA community know about it. This is all done by the amazing David Given.

 

The FluxEngine is a floppy disk imaging device that hooks up to USB on one end, and a regular PC 34-pin floppy drive on the other. It can image the raw transitions from the drive, and therefore is able to handle a whole host of weird and obscure formats that PC drives can't normally handle. It's also very inexpensive - around $10 for the board (a standard PSoC development board) and a connector to connect the floppy drive (no custom PCBs or other components needed).

 

Recently, David added support for reading Mac 800k disks (and 400k too I believe, although I don't have any 400k disks on hand to test), outputting DiskCopy files. I've been having a great time over the past couple of weeks imaging many of my disks - so much easier than using DiskCopy on an old Mac then transferring the files manually to a PC for backup.

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10 hours ago, danda said:

support for reading Mac 800k disks

Nice! I may have to add this board on my next mouser order. Looks like you need an external PSU to power the floppy too, but still great to see 800k getting some attention from a project like this.

 

Would 1.44 mac disks work too? Or are they just read the same as PC disks in FluxEngine?

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9 hours ago, erichelgeson said:

Would 1.44 mac disks work too? Or are they just read the same as PC disks in FluxEngine?

The webpage says 1.44MB Mac floppies are supported: https://cowlark.com/fluxengine/doc/disk-macintosh.html

 

This project looks really interesting! I'll have to look into the total cost of the electronics it uses, but it would be great to have the ability to image disks with such a simple system.

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Yup, 1.44MB "Mac" disks aren't really "Mac" at all - they're just regular IBM formatted disks, so the FluxEngine can read them fine.

 

You will need an external power supply to power the floppy drive; also a computer running some version of Windows in order to program the PSoC board with the necessary firmware (once you've programmed it, the "client" software which does the actual reading of the disks can be run on any platform).

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15 hours ago, erichelgeson said:

Would 1.44 mac disks work too? Or are they just read the same as PC disks in FluxEngine?

You really don't need something like FluxEngine for that. I regularly write Mac 1.44MB floppy images with RawWrite on a PC, I think it should be able to image them as well. Just close any formatting popups and it'll be fine. 

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Regarding copy protected disks, I honestly don't know as I don't have any to test - most of my existing 800k disks are user copies, not original. David, the developer of FluxEngine, does say this though:

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Please note that at this point I am not interested in copy protected disks. It's not out of principle. It's just they'll drive me insane. FluxEngine will most likely be able to read the data fine, unless they're doing bizarre things like spiral tracks or partially encoded data, but let's stick with normal conventionally formatted disks for the time being!

Interestingly, compatibility with the GreaseWeasel is something that David has considered:

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I am not planning on replacing the PSoC5 with a Blue Pill, because someone already has: the GreaseWeazle is a completely open source firmware package which will read and write Supercard Pro files via a standard Blue Pill. The GreaseWeazle’s USB protocol is different from the FluxEngine’s so they’re not directly interchangeable. You can, however, read a Supercard Pro file with a GreaseWeazle and then use the FluxEngine client to decode it. It should work the other way around, too, but FluxEngine’s SCP export is curently broken.

 

I am considering adding direct support for the GreaseWeazle to the FluxEngine client, which will let you just plug one in and make it go as a direct replacement to the FluxEngine hardware.

 

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