Floppy Emu I

(This post should have been put up in August of 2015)

I ran across an amazing piece of hardware on the internet.  It is called the Floppy Emu and is designed to connect to the floppy disk drive port of vintage Macintosh computers.  The Floppy Emu lets you store diskette images on a modern SD card and access them on your vintage Macintosh.

I won’t do a full review of this piece of hardware as I don’t think I could do it justice.  The ability to easily move disk images from the internet or my PC to my vintage Macintosh computers is the reason I bought one.

I ordered the Floppy Emu with the case, extension cable and sd card for a little over $130 on a Friday this past June.  It was shipped from southern California to Maine over the weekend and I had it on Monday afternoon.  It was simply, but well packed and fit in my small mailbox (like a small PO Box).

I opened it on the kitchen table and checked the contents of the package and found everything there.  The transparent case is laser etched and cut, and requires some assembly.  My daughter and I put it together in about half an hour, most of which was pealing the protective paper off the case parts.  If you wear glasses you’ll want them handy as things are small.  Altogether it presents a pretty little piece of hardware, with it’s clear case and several blinking lights and LCD screen.

Once it was put together, I plugged into my Macintosh SE and turned the SE on.  The Floppy Emu is powered by the Macintosh disk port and it lights up right away when I turned on the SE.  When the Macintosh is ready for a disk, you can see a list of images on the LCD of the Floppy Emu.  Using two buttons you can scroll up and down the list and a third button lets you choose an image.  When you choose an image, it is like putting a disk into the drive.

Last Update: 27-Aug-15

 

Oregon Trail, Update and Online

Last July, I posted about finding a copy of an early version of Oregon Trail.  I was going to get it running on an emulated PDP 11/70 running RSTS/E.  I managed to get it all typed into the emulated computer, but it was not running very well.

Recently, I cleaned up my ability to print listings from my emulated PDP 11/70.  One of the listings I printed right away was for Oregon Trail.

Last night, I spent about half the night working on Oregon Trail.  I loaded up the PDF of Oregon Trail in Creative Computing (V4N3 May/June 1978) and set the size at 200%.  Working with the printed listing and a ruler to mark my place, I went line by line through the program and made corrections on the printout.  In some instances I increased the size setting to as high as 1600% in order to clarify what was in the magazine.  I spent a matter of a few minutes making changes from the listing to the program and as a finale step ran a cross reference listing and found one variable that was not really supposed to be there.

I believe I have it running now and have put it in the games library so others my try it out.

 

Creating PDF of Basic-Plus listings using WF-2630

In the past I have tried to get usable listings posted in blog postings and they don’t fare well for me anyways.  While I was working on getting my emulated 11/70 to print I tried out something that works out pretty cool.

I have an Epson WF-2630 multifunction printer.  It prints, scans, and faxes.  It can create PDF documents as it scans and has an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF).

When you print out a listing it stacks up first page on the bottom to last page on top, so first thing I did after printing a listing is to reverse it so the header page is on top of the pile.

After I looked at the first couple of listings I had a thought about creating a PDF of one.  I took the stack and put in the ADF of the printer facing up.  I ran the Epson scan program and just told it to scan using the ADF.  For the size setting I used “Letter [L][11 x 8.5 in.]”.  After scanning the whole document I saved it.

The first couple of times I tried it I was using the size setting of “Letter [8.5 x 11 in.]” and then when I opened it using Adobe Reader I would rotate the image.

Choosing the “Letter [L][11 x 8.5 in.]” setting saves me from having to rotate the document to view it.

Looking at the PDF this creates is very much like looking through an old fanfold listing.

Here is a listing of a program I typed in called Star Merchant:
STMRCH-BAS

Emulated 11/70 Printer

I have emulated a PDP 11/70 to run RSTS/E for decades.  The big thing that was missing for me was the ability to print.  Almost two years ago I switched from SimH, a great emulator, to Ersatz 11.  Ersatz 11 has the ability to print using the host computers printer.

When I switched over I got the printer working but, it wasn’t quite right  I seemed to loose a few lines of text over the page breaks.  The other night I had time to sit down and work though it.

If I print the traditional way, I could only get 80 columns.  Ersatz allows you to rotate the output to get wider printouts.  I had already rotated the output, but while I got the wider printouts I was loosing a couple of lines across the page breaks.  A little tedious trial and error resulted in a setting I could work with.  This line in the ersatz init file sets up the printer:  ASSIGN LP0: OSPRINT: /LANDSCAPE/ROTATE:90/FORM:LETTER/SIZE:132×58

Once RSTS/E was setup I changed the spool command file

FORCE KB: LP0:/DFL:55/LEN:55/HEAD:1/WIDTH:132

You will notice that the init file defines a page size of 58 lines of 132 characters, but the spool file defines it as 55 lines of 132 characters.  They don’t match but they do work on my Epson WF-2630.

The print out is not perfect.  The header pages from QUE are a few lines to long to fit on a page but the rest of the print out is great.

 

 

Raspberry Pi 3 B+

Not vintage, by any stretch of imagination, but I have been fascinated by the Raspberry Pi since they came out.

Last month, I ordered one, specifically I bought the newest Raspberry Pi, the 3 B+.

The package I ordered had the Pi, heat sink, the smoke case with the clear top, power supply and 8 GB micro SD card with NOOBS from Adafruit.

They shipped it right out and I got it in a few days.  Arriving in the afternoon, I spent about two hours trying to get the Pi board into the very pretty case.  It wasn’t going to go in more than about three quarters of the way and it just would not snap in.  I set the case aside and tried to run it with out the case.  I got it all set up with a TV and plugged in the power for a very pretty rainbow screen with a lighting bolt off to the side.

A quick look on the internet shows that this might mean I need a newer OS than came on the SD card.

I went out and got another micro SD card and following the instructions on the Raspberry Pi downloads page (https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/) downloaded the latest NOOBS image and put it on the new SD card.  This one booted right up and worked fine.

Knowing that everything was working as it should I went on further at the Raspberry Pi website.  Apparently others have had the same problem and there was a video that showed exactly what my problem was.  When you put the card in the case you put the long edge with the HDMI port in first and tip the card down away from yourself until it snaps into place.  The problem I had was the micro usb port has a very tight opening and you have to be perfectly square or it won’t go together.  After watching the video I tried again and it went right in.

All in all, its a nice little computer.  I’ve had some older laptops with less power.

 

 

 

RC2018/04 – April 30

The month has run out.  My project is nowhere near done.  It is in fact barely started.

I have been working on initializing the files.  Seems like every time I made a step forward, I trip over something.  I’ve been working with three manuals in PDF format and a large paperbound book.

It took me days to figure out why I was getting a Protection Violation.  It turns out I was over thinking opening the file and added an unnecessary mode.

Now I’m dealing with a bloated file.  It should be a block in length and yet it exploded up to sixteen blocks.  The record size of the file should mean I could get 16 records in a block.

While RC2018/04 is over, my project is not done, but I plan to keep plugging away on it!

 

 

 

RC2018/04 – April 3

I had the day off and was going to get a lot done.  Here’s how the day went.

I went down stairs to work on the computer.

Oh look, there’s face book, I should update that and see what’s going on.

A few minutes later (many actually) I click on the email tab.

After reading and sorting out that email I moved onto another email tab.

That one done I remembered a couple of online builder type games, that need their daily updating.

After all that, I remembered I wanted to order a Raspberry Pi.  I’ve never had one before, so I have to look through all the goodies.  I should have a case, and a power supply and an sd card with an OS.  You know what they say, “Time flies when your having fun”.

So there went the whole morning wasted on not getting anything done.

On to Plan B.  I found a spiral notebook and got to work.  I wanted this game/environment to be like a text adventure.  You move around based on what you read in the descriptions by typing commands as small sentences.  Sometimes just one word, like a direction (north, east, south and west) to move.  I plan on using at least North, North East, East, South East, South, South West, West, North West, Up and Down to start with.

I want at least some of the user/players to be able to expand the environment by being able to add on as they go.  This was a hanging point for me because I didn’t want something hokey to differentiate between players and builders.  I figured I would code in a flag for the user and come up with a plan a little later once I get the environment working to tell who was who and impose limitations on the player.  Along these same lines, I need to come up with a way to identify each person so they can interact when they are in the same place.

Last Update: 04-Apr-18

RC2018/04 – April 1

Once again it’s that time of year, RetroChallange.  Last year I choose a similar project and you can see that down below at RC2017/04 – April 1.  I never got one line of code written.

For this RetroChallenge I plan to write a multiplayer game that will run on an emulated PDP 11/70.  I’m leaning towards a multi-user dungeon.  I once used one that allowed users to add on and that seemed pretty cool.

I’m working along the same lines as last year, in that I want others to be able to play along as it were.  A little later on, as I get things working, you will be able to telnet to puff dot mooo dot com at port 4000 and sign in.  This year we will use account (18,4) with a password of RC.

 

 

New A/B Switch

On March 18, Daniel DiPietro posted on Facebook about adding an A/B switch to his Apple //c.  That way he could leave both a mouse and a joystick connected all the time and just change the switch to use either one.    I have done such things many times in the distant past, but never thought of it for this case.  When I read about it, it made so much sense that I decided to do the same thing.

Tuesday morning I ordered an all female DB9 serial A/B switch and a DB9 Male to Male Serial Cable from two different sellers on eBay.  One said delivery by Saturday and the other by Monday, yet the both came early Friday, yesterday.  Great service from both.  One thing that surprised me was the size of the A/B switch.  In the past I used the Black Box switches and they were quite a bit larger.  This box was about the size of a 100 count package of 3×5 cards.

I plugged in the cable from the Apple //c to the A/B switch and then connected the mouse and the joystick to the A and B ports on the switch.

I tested the mouse with Dazzle Draw and the Joystick with Columns, a Tetris like game.  Both worked as planned, so I printed out labels with my label maker and put them on the switch box.