Thursday 19 October 2006

HxC Floppy Drive Emulator

19 10 2006

The HxC Floppy Drive Emulator is a software and hardware system created by jfdn aka Jeff, that emulates the behaviour of a floppy drive. It currently works for Amiga and 16-bits Atari computers.

If you wonder what a "Floppy drive emulator" can be, just have a look at this slideshow...

HxCFloppyDriveEmulator
As you can see, the floppy drive has been replaced by some piece of hardware. This piece of hardware features an USB connection to a PC. On the PC side, just run the Floppy drive emulator software and drag/drop your favorite disk image file. Then just use your beloved computer as usual (no hardware of software modification of any kind, apart from the floppy drive replacement is needed), and feel the magic !

It means that you can run all your Atari and Amiga software on the real machines, without the hassle of keeping your old floppy disks, and experience floppy drives failures.

Here is basically how it works : the PC software loads the disk image files (.ST, .MSA, .ADF, .DMS...), and convert track data to MFM format (the physical way the data is stored on a floppy disk). Then the hardware part decodes the floppy drive logic, and retrieves from the PC the MFM flow into SRAM buffers. Those buffers are then sent to the target computer.

The first version of the system used 74-series chips and SRAM, and the parallel port of the PC. On the second version, most of the logic has been replaced by an Altera CPLD, and a FTDI USB module has been used to replace the parallel port.

For more information, I suggest that you go to Jeff's pages about his project (Warning, those pages are in French language).