In true Jeff fashion, I finally got around to building my Floppy Emu emulator, only a year or two or three after actually buying it, which emulates many various Apple and Mac floppy drives as well as even some hard drives.
Web Site: http://www.bigmessowires.com/floppy-emu/
I’ll admit, I’m NOT an Apple nut. I’ve had some experience with them over the years, including picking up various Macs, usually via dumpster dives and curb finds over the years, but they never appealed to me like the IBM compatibles did.
That said, I do have a Apple IIe I got from Craigslist a few years ago, and gave it some love. I had to replace a broken key and switch on the keyboard, and oddly enough, you can actually do so as each individual cherry switch is soldered on. Once I got it working, I had to learn how to use it as that generation Apple is foreign to me. One challenge was that I had zero floppy disks for it, despite having the actual drives, so no way to actually boot it to anything. After some research, I found a VERY neat program called ADTPro that actually bootstraps the Apple via the serial port. It does this in two steps; the first step literally does a dump of assembly language into the built in monitor, runs the code which is really the ADTPro “client”…which then uses the same serial port to request disk images from the server software running on a Windows or OSX computer on the other side of the serial cable. I was thoroughly impressed with this and it worked awesome. I used it to boot up the Apple, then transfer a few disks images to new floppies so I could not only boot it, but do other important things, like playing Oregon Trail. All….night.
Back to the Floppy Emu, rather than needing serial cables and a laptop or desktop to run the ADTpro server program, this little device simply emulates either an Apple floppy drive, or depending on the model of computer, even an Apple hard disk (the ones that connected via the Floppy plug, such as the HD20).
Sadly, my Apple needs a little more love as the monitor seems to blow the fuse often. It likely needs to be capped, so look forward to an article on that some time in the future. Anyhow, I bought the Floppy Emu a couple years ago in hopes that I’d just likely leave it inside the IIe and use it more often, but as always it fell by the wayside and sat unassembled in a drawer. Due to me recently cleaning out my office and finding it again, I finally assembled it as I’ve now decided to try to compile all my various vintage computer tools and gadgets into one big toolkit, so it’ll be used not only for my IIe, but any future Macs or other fruit-based computers that happen to hunt me down.
Lastly, if you’re looking for something similar for IBM compatible computers, there are several out there, including the HxC2001 and the Gotek. I do have a Gotek hiding in a drawer somewhere as well (they’re actually fairly cheap), but I may also buy an HxC as well to round out my floppy emulation gadgets. HxC also makes updated firmware for Goteks to add compatibility and features to them, which you can get for $10.
If your a Commodore nut, you likely already know about the ZoomFloppy, and if not, now you do.
There’s even emulators forSCSI drives, and while there’s only a couple projects in the works for IDE drives, you can find cheap compactflash to IDE adapters or use a modern sata solid-state drive with an ide/pata adapter.
Stay tuned for future articles or videos on actually using the Floppy Emu as well as other floppy drive emulators. For ADTPro, you can find a video of that in action right on their web site or on Youtube.