New toy: Greaseweazle!

Greaseweazle Floppy Disk Controller, with a 3.5" Floppy Drive and some disks

One of the things I got for my birthday was a Greaseweazle, which is a rather cheap board capable of doing flux imaging of various types of floppy disks (basically anything with a shugart interface). I’ve wanted an AppleSauce for some time, but this is about 1/6th of the price, and considering I wasn’t sure if I had a drive that works laying around, it seemed like a reasonable compromise to dip my feet in.

So I dug out my only working floppy disk drive: a 3.5” Panasonic from Dad’s old Pentium III desktop from some years back. I had to modify the cable to fit (the instructions say you can simply push the pin in on the greaseweazle’s connector, but I wasn’t about to do that before determining whether my board works… so I used a 1.5mm drill bit and carefully drilled out the blanked off socket at pin 5 on the ribbon cable, because I have a spare if I screw it up), and I had to fashion a power cable using some Arduino jumper leads (probably not quite heavy enough for prolonged use, but it works for a 3.5” drive).

A quick check of the drive, swab the head with some alcohol, and I picked up the first disk I knew where to lay my fingers on… my copy of Rise of the Triad (I hear that’s the new hotness at the moment?). I removed the “write enable” jumper on the board, and issued the command:

gw read rott1.scp

AppleSauce software showing the disk image of ROTT disk 1

It went through each of the 82 tracks, and spat out an image. I wasn’t sure how to check this out on Linux, so I copied it over to my Windows laptop and ran HxC, which seemed to think the image was in okay shape. I later realized that I can download the software for AppleSauce and use the Disk Analyzer portion of it without even having the hardware, so I rebooted my MacBook into the out-of-support High Sierra partition and had a look. When I plugged the flux image into that it reckoned there was a few tracks that were no good.

I installed the greaseweazle tools on the mac, and then read through the rest of the disks without issue, and had another crack at reading the disk using the Mac version, and this time it came back with different tracks it was not happy with: three of them on side 1. This was consistent each time I read the disk, so I was starting to think it was actually buggered.

Then I took a look back at the original rip (thankfully I kept it) and the tracks it’s complaining about actually read clean that time. Fixing this is super easy on AppleSauce, simply click the little box that looks like a medpack, choose “Compare Sectors with…” and select the other image. Then clicking “Repair All” replaces the ones that are marked as bad and as long as nothing overlaps on all your images, you’ll have a pristine copy.

Next, I used File; Export Disk Image or Files; then clicked “Export Disk Contents as Files”. This dumped out a nice folder with an export log, and a copy of the entire disk. I exported all five disks, copied them across to my Samba share, and fired up DOSBox on Windows.

I moved the first disk folder to C:\DOSBOX\ROTT_REG, then did mount a c:\dosbox\rott_reg, then a: and manaccom to start the install. When it asked for disk two, in Windows I renamed ROTT_REG back to ROTT_REG1, renamed the second disk to ROTT_REG, and then after consulting the manual for DOSBox learned I can refresh the disk with CTRL+F4. Hit enter and on it’s merry way it goes.

After copying all 8MB of the self-extracting archive over, it inflated it, I ran setup to configure sounds and off it goes, playing the game perfectly.

I don’t think this copy of the game is rare or anything but I’ll save the files anyway just to be safe. Now to track down a 5.25” floppy drive that’s not a hundred bucks!

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle



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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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