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MacSD - new SCSI SD card emulation tool


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This flew by my radar a couple weeks ago, and then @Trash80toHP_Mini mentioned it in the eBay finds thread. Nobody else has created a dedicated thread about it yet, so, here we are.

 

I don't have one, I don't know who built it or if they're even here, but I'd love to try one out, I just don't have the money to do it, so if you've got one, I'd love to hear more about what it's like and why you picked it!

 

That starts here: 

 

then, more here, and on the next page: 

 

 

The MacSD is a new storage replacement tool for vintage Macs, featuring CD-ROM emulation and CD audio in/out. It stores disk and CDROM images as files on an SD card, itself formatted as FAT32, and the configuration is a plain text file.

 

THe main selling point seems to be the simple configuration.

 

More info at MacSD 

 

This was originally my reply:

 

 

Me receiving a bunch of notifications like "uh oh".

On 9/8/2020 at 12:09 PM, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

I'm thinking they're aiming it at the non-Mac market SCSI2SD enjoys, Keyboards and other music related equipment? That might lend itself to CD-Changerish stuff?

w/re a new thread: "eeehhhh" (making it)

 

In terms of what this thing is targeting: Straight-up the answer is that it's targeting people who come to sixty eight kay M L A dot org and say that they are having trouble configuring the SCSI2SD.

 

This thing has all appearances of being intentionally as simple as possible, which is why it uses image files on a FAT32 filesystem, a configuration file you can edit with a text editor, and physical switches to control certain other aspects.

 

The goal of this device is to be your only SCSI device.

 

The trade-offs are this:

  • Costs more than the SCSI2SD v5 and v6 (this price will never come down as far as the scsi2sd v5 has, because it has very little viable market outside of the Mac)
  • Slower than v6
  • Only 4GB volumes supported, regardless of the Mac you put it in (for ex. if you put a scsi2sd v6 in a PPC Mac it should hypothetically support 2TB volumes, my v6 has a 30GB volume in my 8600, whether that's important to you will of course depend on context -- 040s generally support 4GB+ volumes with 7.6 and newer, 030s are normally limited to 4 unless something else has come up (or some third party software has like a boot + driver + data arrangement)
  • better CDROM + audio support (better for multimedia/game cdrom consumption, make it easier to, say, do a CDROM-based install of the OS without having any other devices)
  • MacSD is easier to configure than SCSI2SD

 

If I had to guess, under the hood, the MacSD is simulating apple-branded hard disks, which would make it unsuitable to industrial and music gear that's looking for other specific things. (the SCSI2SD is thusly configurable, 

 

 

The most recent overall comparisons we've got in performance of some different options were provided by @Fizzbinn here:

 

 

At the moment, none of these options is as fast as the potential a high end or modern disk can be. e.g. except in seek times Fizzbin's Savvio probably should top the charts, as a disk from probably 2005 or so. My experience with the SCSI2SD v6 has been that it's fast enough and generally feels sprightly in use on the PowerMac 8600, although the 8600 specifically is new enough that there's other options like PCI SCSI/IDE/SATA cards, so my take generally is that the scsi2sd v6 should be reserved for x100 PowerMacs and that most 68k Macs are probably well-enough served by the v5.

 

There's also the rascsi, which I haven't tracked closely. When it first came into being, it cost more than a scsi2sd v5 to build and was slower. It's my understanding that it has sped up a lot,  perhaps with the pi4, but the disclaimer still applies that I don't have the latest on it. It's less "appliancized" than any of the other options, but, in that as pi speed boosts it could have the potential for the greatest performance.


General note as always for any of the SD-based solutions is that they generally want the best SD card you can get and benefit from buying further upscale.

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23 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

In terms of what this thing is targeting: Straight-up the answer is that it's targeting people who come to sixty eight kay M L A dot org and say that they are having trouble configuring the SCSI2SD. 

I'll be interested to see if anyone gets hold of one and sees how well this holds up.  If nobody does it soon I might, but the very last thing I need right now is another project...

 

23 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

There's also the rascsi, which I haven't tracked closely. When it first came into being, it cost more than a scsi2sd v5 to build and was slower. It's my understanding that it has sped up a lot,  perhaps with the pi4, but the disclaimer still applies that I don't have the latest on it. It's less "appliancized" than any of the other options, but, in that as pi speed boosts it could have the potential for the greatest performance.

The really interesting thing about the RaSCSI to me isn't using it as a storage replacement, necessarily, but that it's essentially a dev kit for software folks like me to build soft peripherals to talk over SCSI, especially now that @landoGriffin has tidied things up and made a nice board etc.  For my part, I'm curious as to whether someone (perhaps me again) can implement various networking things on it; I'd like to get Ethernet running (probably folliowing saybur's excellent writeup of the Nuovo protocol), but I'm especially interested in questions like: can we offload IP to this?  How about SSL?  What can we do with the USB ports on the Pi?  It's probably never going to be as "finished" as the scsi2sd, but I think there's some really interesting potential there given that most people use their macs as toys rather than for Serious Business.

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As you noted these solutions are getting more expensive (and more features, better UX, etc) though a few years ago (2016/2018) there were a few Arduino SCSI <-> SD solutions made - even compatible with 68k macs. One even has SCSI Ethernet support though I don't see them mentioned on vintage mac sites such as this one.

 

I do have a SCSI2SDv6 (and soon a RaSCSI) but as all my spinning disks are failing at an alarming rate and v5's seem to be sold out indefinitely - I'm more interested in a cost effective SCSI version that is "just a drive". I am building and have the arduino and PCB's printed (just waiting on a few more parts in the mail) for the "ArdSCSino V2" at a reasonable price - and I hope to replace all my compact mac's drives with them. I will start a thread once I actually get everything in hand. Also thanks to RaSCSI discord for answering some noob questions on getting started as I'm a developer, but not an embedded systems developer :)

 

Links:

https://hackaday.com/2016/12/25/the-tiny-scsi-emulator/

https://bitbucket.org/tinyscsi/tinyscsiemulator/src/master/

https://github.com/ztto/ArdSCSino-stm32/

 

Edited by erichelgeson
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A thing that does exist, although I don't know how reliable they are, is SD card slot extenders, so you could put this inside a mac and then route the actual SD card out the back or through the front. An external version that hung off the SCSI port like the scsi2sd does would be great, but youd' need to deal with the sound stuff. (line out like a real external CDROM drive would be fine, I suspect.)

 

On 9/9/2020 at 9:31 PM, cheesestraws said:

For my part, I'm curious as to whether someone (perhaps me again) can implement various networking things on it; I'd like to get Ethernet running (probably folliowing saybur's excellent writeup of the Nuovo protocol), but I'm especially interested in questions like: can we offload IP to this?  How about SSL?  What can we do with the USB ports on the Pi? 

From a "The Future" perspective, that's absolutely the most exciting thing there, I agree entirely. Probably lots is possible. I'm not particularly creative on that front, but I know that the idea of a modern replica SCSI ethernet solution is a hotly interesting item to many.

 

 

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On 9/10/2020 at 9:27 AM, erichelgeson said:

As you noted these solutions are getting more expensive (and more features, better UX, etc) though a few years ago (2016/2018) there were a few Arduino SCSI <-> SD solutions made - even compatible with 68k macs. One even has SCSI Ethernet support though I don't see them mentioned on vintage mac sites such as this one.

 

I do have a SCSI2SDv6 (and soon a RaSCSI) but as all my spinning disks are failing at an alarming rate and v5's seem to be sold out indefinitely - I'm more interested in a cost effective SCSI version that is "just a drive". I am building and have the arduino and PCB's printed (just waiting on a few more parts in the mail) for the "ArdSCSino V2" at a reasonable price - and I hope to replace all my compact mac's drives with them. I will start a thread once I actually get everything in hand. Also thanks to RaSCSI discord for answering some noob questions on getting started as I'm a developer, but not an embedded systems developer :)

 

I've never heard of ArdSCSino before, that looks really interesting to me. For most of my Macs, I just want a barebones HDD replacement, that doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to work. And if these work well, that might just be what I need.

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8 hours ago, Daniël Oosterhuis said:

I've never heard of ArdSCSino before, that looks really interesting to me. For most of my Macs, I just want a barebones HDD replacement, that doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to work. And if these work well, that might just be what I need.

But it appears to be only a DIY option.  I personally like the option that I can just order. 

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8 hours ago, pcamen said:

But it appears to be only a DIY option.  I personally like the option that I can just order.  

If everything works out I plan to put together a few and add some more QoL improvements to the software. Will make a post on where you could get them. Have everything I need to start so will be making that thread soon.

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On 9/10/2020 at 4:35 PM, Cory5412 said:

A thing that does exist, although I don't know how reliable they are, is SD card slot extenders, so you could put this inside a mac and then route the actual SD card out the back or through the front. An external version that hung off the SCSI port like the scsi2sd does would be great, but youd' need to deal with the sound stuff. (line out like a real external CDROM drive would be fine, I suspect.)

 

I have purchased a few of these extenders, but they have all proven to be incredibly unreliable. They sometimes work okay with my modern computers, but I have never successfully gotten one to work with my Macintoshes, unfortunately. Over the years I have purchased and returned several with no luck.  I wonder if there is some sort of EM interference inside the SE/30 from the CRT? These products definitely have no shielding at all, whatsoever.

 

I wish I could find a way to make a working extender, though. It would be so much easier than bringing out my MacCracker each time I want to copy files from Basilisk II. Has anyone cobbled together a system that works?

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I also just spotted the MacSD. It sounds like it doesn't need to deal with formatting partitions, right? I am interested in getting one since I have had reliability issues with the SCSI2SD cards where the disks quickly become corrupted. It may be something only I am dealing with, but I have heard others say they have also had problems bringing them up. I am in a loop where I find some time to tinker with 68k hardware, start using the system and then have to deal with reformatting and retransferring files, so I have hit a sort of roadblock in moving on with actually getting to use the system.

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11 hours ago, davidg5678 said:

I have purchased a few of these extenders, but they have all proven to be incredibly unreliable. They sometimes work okay with my modern computers, but I have never successfully gotten one to work with my Macintoshes, unfortunately. Over the years I have purchased and returned several with no luck.  I wonder if there is some sort of EM interference inside the SE/30 from the CRT? These products definitely have no shielding at all, whatsoever.

 

I wish I could find a way to make a working extender, though. It would be so much easier than bringing out my MacCracker each time I want to copy files from Basilisk II. Has anyone cobbled together a system that works?

It would be a huge pain to open up your case and remove the SD card every time you wanted to add a new CD ROM image to the card, then edit the ini file so you can access it.  Or am I missing something here and there's any easier way to do it?

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11 hours ago, tt said:

I also just spotted the MacSD. It sounds like it doesn't need to deal with formatting partitions, right? I am interested in getting one since I have had reliability issues with the SCSI2SD cards where the disks quickly become corrupted. It may be something only I am dealing with, but I have heard others say they have also had problems bringing them up. I am in a loop where I find some time to tinker with 68k hardware, start using the system and then have to deal with reformatting and retransferring files, so I have hit a sort of roadblock in moving on with actually getting to use the system.

I only had corruption issues when I would mount the microSD card on a more modern Mac (in order to transfer files to it) and it would try to read the HD images.  If I just keep the microSD card in the SCSI2SD and transfer files to it via my network, everything works fine.

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11 hours ago, Byte Knight said:

I only had corruption issues when I would mount the microSD card on a more modern Mac (in order to transfer files to it) and it would try to read the HD images.  If I just keep the microSD card in the SCSI2SD and transfer files to it via my network, everything works fine.

That could be the issue. I think I tried not using a modern machine with it at some point thinking that was the case, but still had issues. If this new drive lets us load up large disk images like a floppy emu would, that would be much more convenient to get started and back up.

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21 hours ago, pcamen said:

But it appears to be only a DIY option.  I personally like the option that I can just order. 

That's not much of a concern for me. Other than the SD card slot, everything is through hole, and it's very simple to assemble. Just solder in the Arduino Blue Pill, the 50 pin connector, and the SD card slot, and the solder work is already done. Programming should be relatively simple too. What my concern would be is speed. While the Blue Pill is definitely more advanced than the most common Arduinos, sporting an ARM Cortex M3 chip, I don't know how it stacks up against the SCSI2SD. If it's fast enough for the older 68000 and 68020 Macs, I'm already happy having it as a cheap solution for my lower end/older Macintoshes, reserving the pricier options for the higher end 030s, 040 Quadras and PowerMacs.

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20 hours ago, davidg5678 said:

I have purchased a few of these extenders, but they have all proven to be incredibly unreliable. They sometimes work okay with my modern computers, but I have never successfully gotten one to work with my Macintoshes, unfortunately. Over the years I have purchased and returned several with no luck.  I wonder if there is some sort of EM interference inside the SE/30 from the CRT? These products definitely have no shielding at all, whatsoever.

 

I wish I could find a way to make a working extender, though. It would be so much easier than bringing out my MacCracker each time I want to copy files from Basilisk II. Has anyone cobbled together a system that works?

I have been using this (link below) extender continually inside my SE/30 for several years now with zero issues.  It works flawlessly and allows me easy access to the SD card (though, my SE/30 is networked and I’ve fund I pull the SD card much less often than I expected to).

 

While it’s possible to thread through the security slot, I’ve not using the back PDS access port (I do SCSI networking thru an Asante EN/SC) and I’ve found it’s much easier to just pull the extender thru the rear port which I leave open (better airflow anyway, probably).  Otherwise you have to do sort some gymnastics to open the case, since the SD reader will stop you from opening it all the way until you reach inside and carefully extract the “male” dongle end of the extender from inside your SCSI2SD.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D9JIUU0/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_Q01xFbDE8RN56

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8 hours ago, Crutch said:

I have been using this (link below) extender continually inside my SE/30 for several years now with zero issues.  It works flawlessly and allows me easy access to the SD card (though, my SE/30 is networked and I’ve fund I pull the SD card much less often than I expected to).

Hmm... I actually tried that same product too, but it did not work for me. I wonder if it has something to do with the SCSI2SD models behaving differently. I did my experimenting with a SCSI2SD V5.1. Did you use another model or the same one?

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9 hours ago, davidg5678 said:

Hmm... I actually tried that same product too, but it did not work for me. I wonder if it has something to do with the SCSI2SD models behaving differently. I did my experimenting with a SCSI2SD V5.1. Did you use another model or the same one?

I’m actually using a SCSI2SD 5.0 which has a micro USB slot (if I linked the right item, it’s a micro-male-to-regular-SD-female extender, which would not work in your 5.1, so I assume you’re using something else .... ?).

 

Here’s an actual link:

https://www.amazon.com/LANMU-Extension-Flexible-Monoprice-Raspberry/dp/B01D9JIUU0

Edited by Crutch
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On 9/14/2020 at 2:00 AM, Crutch said:

I’m actually using a SCSI2SD 5.0 which has a micro USB slot (if I linked the right item, it’s a micro-male-to-regular-SD-female extender, which would not work in your 5.1, so I assume you’re using something else .... ?).

 

Here’s an actual link:

https://www.amazon.com/LANMU-Extension-Flexible-Monoprice-Raspberry/dp/B01D9JIUU0

<semi-relevant tangent>

 

I have the 5.1 with a full-size SD card slot. Maybe the problem is that I used a Micro SD to full-size SD card adapter inline with the extension?

 

I'll have to see if I get better results with a full-size SD to a full-size SD extension. If a product like this fixes it, I would have to assume that one of the two devices is not properly implementing the SD card interface. It's probably the SCSI2SD that is at (fault?) because the other extenders I have purchased in the past have worked with my modern iMac just fine (assuming I remember correctly, it has been a while). It's equally possible that the implementation of the SCSI2SD SD is in spec, but my iMac just tolerates out of spec SD better than SCSI2SD.

 

</semi-relevant tangent :)>

 

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23 hours ago, ian128K said:

I wonder if that means that it would be able to kill two A/UX birds with one stone.

That would be a fine use case for it.

 

As I understand it, A/UX supports "big" volumes poorly anyway, so the thing that makes me not want to put it in, like, my own 840 (I'd use bigger volumes) aren't that big of a deal for A/UX.

 

It'l be slower than a scsi2sd v6 if you were planning a swole AWGS95 or Quadra 950 build, but it'll be both the CDROM drive and the storage device in that scenario.

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On 9/10/2020 at 12:27 AM, erichelgeson said:

I do have a SCSI2SDv6 (and soon a RaSCSI) but as all my spinning disks are failing at an alarming rate and v5's seem to be sold out indefinitely

 

Err, no? I'm not sure where you sourced this erroneous information from, but you're completely wrong. We (Inertial Computing, who is the OEM that manufactures them) ran out of stock, due to a surge in demand, for about three weeks. Respectfully, please don't spread FUD. SCSI2SD V5.1's are now generally available again, and we will continue to make them as long as the parts can be sourced in volume, and the demand doesn't abate, which it's far from doing.

 

We also have plenty of V5.5's available, and have just ordered another thousand.

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8 hours ago, aperezbios said:

Err, no? I'm not sure where you sourced this erroneous information from, but you're completely wrong. We (Inertial Computing, who is the OEM that manufactures them) ran out of stock, due to a surge in demand, for about three weeks. Respectfully, please don't spread FUD. SCSI2SD V5.1's are now generally available again, and we will continue to make them as long as the parts can be sourced in volume, and the demand doesn't abate, which it's far from doing.

 

We also have plenty of V5.5's available, and have just ordered another thousand.

Sorry, but this isn't a good look for your store. Correcting someone is fine, but this aggressive style does not win you customers.

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