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MacSD - new SCSI SD card emulation tool


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8 hours ago, ymk said:

The expansion port was not designed around an existing standard.

Gotcha, that's what I figured when you said the activity LED could be plugged in to it, but left my post text alone other than welcoming you aboard within seconds of your first post. Very nice product! Any teasers about future expansion plans possible at this point?

 

edit: GAH! did this reboot of the topic just a few posts too soon.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Time to reboot for this page post-hiatus it seems: http://macsd.com/

 

MacSD-000.thumb.JPG.d54c15103996b1d4b88ad25b3a3ce479.JPG

Screen cap that won't vanish with the eBay listing.

Edited by Trash80toHP_Mini
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9 hours ago, ymk said:

Byte Knight - The lines powering the eight LEDs on the edge of the board (including SCSI activity) run through the expansion header.  All external LEDs share a common cathode line, also on the expansion header.  Any color LED can be used, however current is only around 1mA so I recommend using a modern, high intensity type.  Brightness will be adjustable through the config file.  The firmware and documentation for this feature has not been released yet, but is coming soon.

Sweet - ordered!  And you can ignore the same question that I sent to you on Tindie.

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@ymk Glad to have you aboard!  I'm not sure if I understood the LED aspect.  Are you saying one of the header connections would power an external LED?  I'd be beyond excited for that because with the clear case SE/30 it looks great to have that light working.  I just realized you are still updating the firmware so I'll keep an eye on that to keep the latest version on the boards. 

 

@Trash80toHP_Mini I have no official connection with him, we've just done a lot of business together and he does nice work.  That was the reason for my recommendation.  To me the only downside was the LED header which it sounds like is corrected so I may need to order some more :)

 

 

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8 hours ago, Byte Knight said:

I asked this same question in the RaSCSI thread, but any idea if this would work with the Apple IIgs with SCSI card?

I don't know for sure but I am personally inclined to believe it would given that it bypasses much of the configuration of the SCSI2SD. 

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8 hours ago, maceffects said:

Glad to have you aboard!  I'm not sure if I understood the LED aspect.  Are you saying one of the header connections would power an external LED?  I'd be beyond excited for that because with the clear case SE/30 it looks great to have that light working.  I just realized you are still updating the firmware so I'll keep an eye on that to keep the latest version on the boards. 

 

All eight of the indicator LEDs on the edge can be mirrored to external LEDs.  Nine pins on the expansion header can be used for LEDs (eight anodes and a common cathode).

 

8 hours ago, maceffects said:

I asked this same question in the RaSCSI thread, but any idea if this would work with the Apple IIgs with SCSI card?

 

I've done no testing with Apple II.

 

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If I'm interpreting what this device does that explicitly makes it Mac-friendly correctly, that depends on the Apple IIgs working well with the same SCSI devices Macs use. However, for IIgs there are also lots of other extant options including the focus IDE card (what I've got in mine), floppyemu, which will run smartport HDs on the II, and CFFA, which operates on a somewhat similar concept to this, except that it has an inline control panel for image swapping.

 

@ymk - welcome in!

 

With regard to >4GB images, I'm curious what the demand for that is like. Only '040 Macs will officially run volumes over 4GB, and your'e kind of getting closer at that point to the brief window where the SCSI2SD v6 makes more sense, for performance reasons, and then after that, where SATA cards make more sense. I can imagine a couple use cases for it, myself, but I'm also among the relatively few people I'm aware of running 2TB volumes  Classic Mac OS at all. (Although, like, 

 

With regard to partitioning, what would that look like in terms of setup and configuration? It would seem like the biggest advantage you've really got here is that this device was "designed with the needs of the vintage Mac community in mind", I feel like it would be fair to describe it as explicitly to the exclusion of other platforms and applications where scsi2sd is also used (i.e. it's unlikely one of these will work in a synthesizer or a traffic light or a UNIX machine) and a big part of that is the simplicity afforded by the way this thing is configured.

 

The people among us creating SCSI2SD preloads would be able to change to just zipping up the contents of the FAT32 filesystem as a download and people can avoid, say, DD or managing partitioning entirely.

 

If this is in the docs, you can be like "hey, uh, RTFM" and I will at some point. I don't have the budget for one of these so this is purely speculation on my part.

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There are no disadvantages to implementing >4GB images.  This is something 040 and PPC owners have been interested in, in addition to the CD audio and changer functions.  For example, you could use fdisk to divide a 32GB card into a 20GB FAT32 partition and a 12GB hard drive image.  A drive entry in the config file could point to an image file on the FAT32 partition or to the entire 12GB partition.  

 

Quote

"designed with the needs of the vintage Mac community in mind"

 

That is the general idea, but not a direct quote. 

 

Quote

I feel like it would be fair to describe it as explicitly to the exclusion of other platforms and applications where scsi2sd is also used (i.e. it's unlikely one of these will work in a synthesizer or a traffic light or a UNIX machine) and a big part of that is the simplicity afforded by the way this thing is configured.

 

While my primary focus is Macs, there's no reason MacSD cannot work on other SCSI platforms.  It is being tested on Amiga, SGI, Sun, RS/6000, etc by others.  I will describe it as unsuitable for applications supporting human life (as are its individual components and the SD card).  Nobody should be using this in a traffic light.  Everything else is fair game.


I'm not concerned whether features I add to MacSD already exist in other products.  Everyone benefits from the new options and capabilities.

 

The ini file configuration in no way limits the MacSD's capabilities.  Config files run entire operating systems.  In addition to convenience, it solves the problems of:

  • Keeping firmware and configuration utilities updated in tandem
  • Migrating configuration on firmware updates
  • On-chip configurations valid only for a particular card

 

If you don't want to bother with >4GB images and fdisk; if all you need is a single HDD, your config file is two lines long.  Easy is not the opposite of powerful.

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17 hours ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Gotcha, that's what I figured when you said the activity LED could be plugged in to it, but left my post text alone other than welcoming you aboard within seconds of your first post. Very nice product! Any teasers about future expansion plans possible at this point?

 

Thanks!  No plans for add-ons at the moment.

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18 hours ago, ymk said:

While my primary focus is Macs, there's no reason MacSD cannot work on other SCSI platforms.  It is being tested on Amiga, SGI, Sun, RS/6000, etc by others.  I will describe it as unsuitable for applications supporting human life (as are its individual components and the SD card).  Nobody should be using this in a traffic light.  Everything else is fair game.

Well there goes my plans for it... :lol:

 

I've got a SCSI card on the way so I'll test it out with the Apple II once I get it up and running on my vintage Macs.

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It depends on what SCSI card is in the Apple II. The Apple made cards (Rev. C and the High Speed SCSI) should be "fine" provided that a device on the bus provides termination power as Apple's cards don't provide it without modification. The RamFAST SCSI card is the tricky one. It uses a not-so kosher implementation of SCSI where the controller does not assign itself a SCSI ID on the bus. This has been known to trip up actual hard drives in the past.

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19 hours ago, Compgeke said:

Does the CD emulation support 512 byte sector reads? It's an issue with real CD drives on Unix machines and not dealing with real CDs on those would be great.

 

CD reads are currently limited to 2048 byte sectors.  If 512 byte reads are added, it will most likely be as a third device type rather than a 300i option.  Which (fairly common) drives use 512 byte sectors?

 

Quote

The Apple made cards (Rev. C and the High Speed SCSI) should be "fine" provided that a device on the bus provides termination power as Apple's cards don't provide it without modification.

 

That is an important point since there's a risk of damage if termination power is not provided.

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10 hours ago, ymk said:

CD reads are currently limited to 2048 byte sectors.  If 512 byte reads are added, it will most likely be as a third device type rather than a 300i option.  Which (fairly common) drives use 512 byte sectors?

Basically any Toshiba or Plextor can. XM-5401B, PX-40TSe, etc, etc. I know Sanyo can not for sure (used in some LaCie drives). The CR504/CD600i iirc is jumperable too, using the 2nd from the far right jumper to enable 512 byte sector support. The 300i might also support that, but I don't remember off the top of my head. 

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On 9/19/2020 at 2:40 PM, maceffects said:

I figured I should chime in.  I actually know the guy who makes these great boards.  He even sent me an early prototype for testing purposes.  I, for one, am thrilled that an alternative to SCSI2SD exists that is more Mac friendly.  I've had tons of issues with them so finding one exclusively for the Mac is wonderful.  That said I did get the SCSI2SD to work in *some* of my systems but they hated the Mac SE & SE/30 for whatever reason.  So, if anyone is on the fence, you really should consider MacSD. 

This is good to hear!! I had gone ahead and ordered one, so I am looking forward to trying it out.

 

You just drop in drive images and update a text file right on the SD card, right? It reminds me of Basilisk (emulator) where you edit the prefs file to tell it what disks to load and CD-ROM etc.

 

Edit: Now I see @ymk has joined, welcome! 

Edited by tt
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Several updates have been released over the last week adding:

  • Direct partition mapping for HDD devices, breaking the 4GB barrier.
  • Support for external LEDs.
  • Independently adjustable brightness for on-board and external LEDs.
  • Increased CD audio resolution and gain for 33/48/57MHz modes (12.45-13.28 bit).

 

On 9/21/2020 at 5:06 PM, tt said:

You just drop in drive images and update a text file right on the SD card, right? It reminds me of Basilisk (emulator) where you edit the prefs file to tell it what disks to load and CD-ROM etc.

 

Edit: Now I see @ymk has joined, welcome! 

Thanks!  That is indeed how it works.

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The MacSD has arrived and have been trying it out for the last few days. I think it's a very interesting take on SCSI emulation. For instance, I played some music on it through the audio out jack with a hybrid bin/cue file of "The Manhole". I have been working through some stability issues with transferring files from my modern machine and switched to a Linux based workflow from now, which might be better in the long run for back-up and archival. Fragmentation of the drive is something you want to avoid. I am still testing it out and hoping to find it stable enough to start transferring more stuff onto it from my stash. 

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On 9/28/2020 at 11:53 AM, ymk said:

Direct partition mapping for HDD devices, breaking the 4GB barrier.

I'm curious about this, because it sounds like this would sort of negate the main reason to go for the MacSD, which is the operational simplicity. Not needing to format cards in a particular way in particular. Is there ultimately any plan to switch over to or allow exfat as an alternative?

 

I still haven't really had time to review the documents so maybe this isn't as complicated as I thought, or, if this is an edge case, then it might not really matter how complicated it is.

 

On 9/28/2020 at 3:19 PM, tt said:

I have been working through some stability issues with transferring files from my modern machine

 

Hmm, what kinds of stuff was happening?

 

One thing I'm curious, and, this is both for anybody who has one of these and perhaps specifically for @ymk is what this device is like in terms of write caching, a known weak point of the SD cards in general and in general for SCSI2SD usage you want to buy the highest end SD card you can, to improve performance and stability, even in scenarios where you're buying cards rated for hundreds of megabytes/second of transfer in order to ultimately get about ten megabytes/second of transfer out of it. (At least on the scsi2SD v6.)

 

On my v6, I ultimately got to a point where day to day operations were stable but doing bit mostly out-of-the-ordinary tasks like stuffing or unstuffing very large datasets on the local storage could cause problems. I need to revisit that at some point -- although in the 8600 in particular it's a little bit moot because I really should get that a better disk or put a SATA card in. (That scsi2SD will be cascaded down to my Power120 or 6100/66.)

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11 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

I'm curious about this, because it sounds like this would sort of negate the main reason to go for the MacSD, which is the operational simplicity.

How does an additional feature negate anything?  You may have your own "main reason", but buyers have had varied priorities and uses.

 

For whatever reason, you seem determined to pigeonhole MacSD as a toy while protecting SCSI2SD's market share:  

On 9/20/2020 at 3:31 PM, Cory5412 said:

I feel like it would be fair to describe it as explicitly to the exclusion of other platforms and applications where scsi2sd is also used

 

In the ebay finds thread, you posted:

Quote

One thing that is a bummer for 040s is that disks on this device have a maximum filesize of 4GB due to the underlying FAT32 system, so, SCSI2SD is a better choice for any scenario on an 040 where you want a lot of disk space.

 

And in this thread:

Quote

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.

 

So now that your own main objection, and a "bummer" has been resolved, you still try to spin it into a negative.

 

I'm not here to change the mind of someone who has quite clearly, already made his up.

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14 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

 

On 9/28/2020 at 3:19 PM, tt said:

I have been working through some stability issues with transferring files from my modern machine

 

Hmm, what kinds of stuff was happening?

I was using a Win10 VirtualBox install to format a 16gb SD card and transferring files either within the VM or from the OS X host machine. I was mainly editing the macsd.ini file while the card was mounted in OS X. The SD card in the MacSD would either not load disk images properly or freeze up. I am still observing some freezing which happens to be occurring with HyperCard across 3 different CD images, but I am not sure if its an image file issue or the hardware (MacSD or otherwise). There was an instance where the fragmented status light went on and the machine froze. Due to these issues, I switched to using a SBC with Linux to do the formatting and file transfers. That seems to be better but I need to run it a little more and want to test it with my emulator disk images.

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8 hours ago, Realitystorm said:

What type of images does this support?  Full drive, e.g. multiple partitions in one file, or one partition per file?  I looked in the manual and wasn't sure.  I'm Steve from http://www.savagetaylor.com/2018/01/05/setting-up-your-vintage-classic-68k-macintosh-using-a-scsi2sd-adapter/, and I was wondering if my existing SCSI2SD or floppyEMU images would work

 

Hi Steve.  I've been using your 7.5.5 and 6.0.8 images, and they work well.  Thanks for putting them together, they are very useful.  I have not tried your floppyEMU images.

 

A full drive on the SCSI side is stored as a file on the FAT32 partition on the card, or as an entire raw primary partition on the card.

 

The CD emulation supports cooked images (.iso/.toast/.cdr/etc) and raw .bin images with a CUE or TOC index.

Edited by ymk
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The SCSI2SD files have both the mac driver and partition information in the file.  The floppyEMU file doesn't include either, that file is just a single partition and is used with the floppyEMU's HD20 emulation.  I'll update my site to say my SCSI2SD images work with MacSD

Edited by Realitystorm
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My apologies for the confusion. It's worth noting that several of your quotes are from before you joined in and before we had some information you've brought to us available. Also, before several software updates.

 

I have now read the documentation, and, sure enough: there is now a way to build and use >4GB volumes with the MacSD. This was added after some of your quotes where I said that no support for big volumes was a bummer.

 

However, doing so does, in fact, kind of negate the (at least implicit, but I believe this has been stated) benefit of the MacSD relative to the other extant options, which is that configuration and operation are simple. An explicitly stated reason for excitement for the MacSD is the configuration simplicity, which using it this way changes, to a certain extent. From what I've seen here (and, keep in mind, I'm on this web site, I'm not in your inbox, so I know what people on 68kmla.org wrote in a place where I could see, not what people told you directly) the main interest is in that ease of configuration.

 

It's not quite to the level of configuring a SCSI2SD, but, it's still kind of a bummer for people who wanted big volumes and all of that simplicity.

 

 

In terms of considering it as a toy: This is a vintage Mac hobbyist web site. Our namesake is, at absolute minimum, drinking age, and minus one person who joined in the last two years, nobody here is doing serious work on these things. All of it is toys.

 

But in terms of pigeonholing the MacSD as a "Mac" product, well:

  • It is literally called MacSD
  • It explicitly emulates the Apple CD300 CD-ROM drive
  • It explicitly emulates hard disks in such a way that Macs do not require third party partitioning tools.

 

Overall:

 

I don't intend to steer potential customers away from your product, but in a meta-discussion about extant SCSI hard disk replacement options, it's worth considering the properties of each solution and how those properties become pros and cons. Every tech purchasing decision, ever, involves compromise and a balancing of factors such as cost, functionality, convenience, and performance. I don't have any commercial interest in any of these products, and I'm not shopping for anything like this at the moment, I happen to have bought some SCSI2SDs a few years ago when they were the primarily available solution.

 

MacSD and SCSI2SD are very different solutions on those front, and different people here have different needs.

 

Incidentally, @ymk, let me or @wthww know if you want your account converted to a vendor account, or if you'd like to make a new account to use as a vendor account and use this one for general participation.

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10 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

However, doing so does, in fact, kind of negate the (at least implicit, but I believe this has been stated) benefit of the MacSD relative to the other extant options, which is that configuration and operation are simple. An explicitly stated reason for excitement for the MacSD is the configuration simplicity, which using it this way changes, to a certain extent. From what I've seen here (and, keep in mind, I'm on this web site, I'm not in your inbox, so I know what people on 68kmla.org wrote in a place where I could see, not what people told you directly) the main interest is in that ease of configuration.

The first thing, in my opinion, that would help would be if they had multiple examples of hard drive configurations, including partitioning, using >4GB volumes, etc.  Some of us need to see example code before we "get" it.  ;)  To me, it doesn't seem terribly complicated to configure the MacSD.  But, for someone with no experience with anything like that, I can see where it may be an issue.  More examples would help in that regard.  But, the other possibility I am wondering about is if they were able to do an online configuration tool.  The .ini file is basically just a text file, so I wouldn't think it would be too difficult to put together a web form or process whereby you check boxes and fill in text fields with the options you want, then that's processed with PHP or something similar and it spits out an .ini file you can download and copy to the SD card.  I wonder if that would be beneficial for people that want easy configuration.  They wouldn't have to do the .ini file themselves; they'd only need to follow a step-by-step process to indicate how they want it configured.

 

Then the question would be how many people need such a tool versus how many can figure it out on their own?

 

Disclaimer: I have no commercial interest in any of these products either.  I have two SCSI2SDs for my machines.  I would consider a MacSD the next time I need such a device.

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