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Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

For experts to discuss very technical stuff and newbies to ask why the Spectrum they bought off ebay doesn't work.
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kokkiklhs
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Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by kokkiklhs »

Well, you own a Speccy +3 but you have not much software on 3'' disks to try. So you are obligated either to load by tape, which in this case sucks, or to replace your internal, original 3'' floppy drive with a 3.5'' or a gotek. The last two options are not bad, but I hear some of you say "I don't want to modify my Speccy +3, I just wish I had some 3-inch floppies full of my favourite stuff"... or even "I have a couple of old 3-inch floppies where I had saved some BASIC proggies of mine when I was at school, 30 years ago. I'd like to preserve/store them in my Windoze/Mac/Whatever modern box in digital format or use them with an emulator and share them with some internet mates on the other side of the globe"...
Now, here's the easiest and most retro-guaranteed solution, you can have as much games as you like on real 3'' floppies, as long as you have some of them around as spares, to fill them with fresh software.
This is a rather simple task, but I have found no specific page on the web explaining what is to be done, and after a recent request by [mention]flatduckrecords[/mention] , I decided to make a little step-by-step guide.

All we need is:
- Our little +3
- A gotek USB floppy emulator, already flashed with the latest FlashFloppy firmware
- An old 34-pin floppy drive ribbon cable from an old PC, with connectors for 5.25 and 3.5'' drives
- Some 3'' disks
- An external 5VDC supply, for the gotek (optional)

The great news is that NO PCs AT ALL need to be involved, except, of course, for downloading our .DSK files from the web and writing them on the USB stick to be used with the gotek. So this way the transfer has a very high retro-factor, as the +3 itself does almost all the job of copying/transferring on and from its disks!

Most of us in here are more or less users/collectors of what we today call "retro" computers, not only Spectrums but also of other brands and various models. I personally prefer to say "old home computers" or "8-16bit computers", as I've been using many of them since they weren't retro at all! :mrgreen:
I find it very unlikely for the majority NOT to have at least one CPC6128 somewhere, with a couple of 3'' disks. So here's a good source with 1-2 disks that we don't want or we have double. Also, if you have a 6128, Atari ST or Amiga, you most likely already know very well about gotek and FlashFloppy firmware. If you don't, there are a lot of tutorial videos around the web which demonstrate and explain the flashing procedure.

If you already own a 6128 with gotek or with external 3.5'' floppy drive, you have all your necessary gear ready for use. THE CABLING IS EXACTLY THE SAME for the 6128 and the Speccy +3, either for a 3.5'' real floppy drive or a gotek flashed with FlashFloppy, used as secondary (combined with the internal) or as standalone primary drives, connected externally.
You can see a very nice guide for the CPC with 3.5'' floppy drive here:
http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/Guide_o ... #The_Cable
which applies AS-IS, NOT A DIFFERENCE AT ALL for the Spectrum +3 with its internal 3'' drive as primary and an external gotek as secondary (which can be properly jumpered to become primary, as well)... The hardest part if we don't already have the bits and bobs is to locate the ribbon cable, but they appear rather often at feebay and other similar selling sites. We can of course rip one off from a very old PC box, or build one from scratch, if we find the connectors (the ribbon itself is easy)... I mentioned the 5VDC PSU for the gotek as optional, because we can easily take the 5V from inside the computer with a piece of lead, if we like. That depends on our taste...

As soon as we are ready with our +3, its internal A: floppy drive and the externally connected gotek set up as B:, we just do the following:

1) To write .DSK on real 3'' floppies:
- Load on drive B: (gotek) a .DSK image with Disk Utilities 54 and any other .DSK images that contain the software we want to write on real disks.
- Through +3 BASIC, boot from B: (using LOAD "B:" and LOAD "DISK"). N.B. that the BASIC loader somewhere triggers on drive A:, so we have to alter a couple of lines and save it back to the diskimage, in order to become drive letter-independent. I assume we all know how to do that, but if someone doesn't, feel free to PM me! I can send my own diskimage of DU54, already altered to run directly from B: or from A: without problems.
- After complete loading of DU54, don't forget to select your desired .DSK on gotek, to be used as source. I personally left the .DSK with DU54 and this was the first thing (second was CP/M Plus, third Tiratok Demo by DeMarche) to copy on a real disk, as I can afterwards boot directly with the initial menu LOADER from the real disk and avoid giving BASIC commands to boot from B: every time I want to make another copy!
- Put in internal 3'' drive A: a write enabled disk (must be already formatted or you'll have to format it with DU54 before proceeding with copy), then select COPY with SOURCE B: and DESTINATION A: from the menu, and after a while you're ready!!!
That's it, nothing more to do. You can then reset/power off the machine and boot directly from A: with the main menu LOADER (if your disk is bootable)... Of course, if you don't like having the gotek attached any more, you can gat rid of it after having finished writing to your real disks and you'll have an absolutely original +3 setup to go with!!
Have fun!!!

N.B. that if we don't have/don't want to use a gotek, the whole job can be also done with a real 3.5'' floppy drive attached as secondary on the +3, BUT it will be MUCH more time-consuming (transfer .DSK to 3.5'' floppies and then from the 3.5'' floppies copy to 3'' with the internal drive) and complicated, with the need of an old PC with floppy drive involved, though the retro-factor will be the highest possible, as we are avoiding the "modern" USB stuff... :lol:

2) To backup real floppies to .DSK using the same procedure vice versa:
I have not completely succeded (yet) to doing that with DU54 and I suspect that this is a problem of the software, it gives me "Disk Changed" and "Verify Error" messages. I have nevertheless successfully formatted a random .DSK and copied some stuff on it through +3 BASIC, so the FlashFloppy firmware definitely supports writing on gotek. Of course we can go for a file-by file copy option, but what about sending the whole 40tracks of one 3'' disk side to a .DSK?
I don't know any other disk-to-disk copier utility similar to DU54 for the +3, I am open to your suggestions. What I am trying to do here works 100% out-of-the-box in other similar cases, e.g. with external gotek and Amiga 500, using track to track copiers like X-COPY. Dunno why I couldn't do it on the +3 with DU54, I was sure that it would be done and I'm surprised that it isn't.
Perhaps it could be done with Discology on an 6128? Too bored to try right now, but it's surely an interesting experiment to do...
I also noticed that CP/M Plus, even though it boots and seems to work fine, behaves strangely with DISCKIT, always asks to remove disks from the drives, even with both disk/diskimage removed....
I am leaving the rest to all of you to discover and perhaps add some more info here about what I'm missing on this second part!

I hope you enjoyed reading so far, thank you for your patience! I also hope that you'll manage to write lots of 3" disks with your favourite stuff and have a good time with it!
Cheers and stay "retro"!!!
8-)
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Pegaz
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by Pegaz »

As far as I remember, DU54 as well as Kobrahsoft DB1, have a problem with protected disks and I am not sure there's a definitive solution to this problem.
Here's the thread in which we talked about it, most of all about protection of the original Kobrhasoft DB1, as the best Spectrum disk copy program, in my oppinion.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2702

I've done a lot of tests but, so far I haven't found a solution for cloning stubborn protected disks, even with great SamDisk or cpdwrite tools on a PC.
If someone might have an original DU54 and especially a DB1, it would be great to try and make a valid copy for preservation purpose and for everyday use.
I haven't tried your method with GOTEK drive, but if DU54 is involved, I doubt anything more can be achieved...
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kokkiklhs
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by kokkiklhs »

Pegaz wrote: Fri May 07, 2021 6:22 pm I haven't tried your method with GOTEK drive, but if DU54 is involved, I doubt anything more can be achieved...
Yes, I tried it right now, DB1 cannot be copied with DU54... :cry:
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by flatduckrecords »

Thank you very much for the detailed post [mention]kokkiklhs[/mention]. I’m looking forward to trying this myself and I’ll report back with how I get on!
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by TomD »

Pegaz wrote: Fri May 07, 2021 6:22 pm As far as I remember, DU54 as well as Kobrahsoft DB1, have a problem with protected disks and I am not sure there's a definitive solution to this problem.
Here's the thread in which we talked about it, most of all about protection of the original Kobrhasoft DB1, as the best Spectrum disk copy program, in my oppinion.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2702

I've done a lot of tests but, so far I haven't found a solution for cloning stubborn protected disks, even with great SamDisk or cpdwrite tools on a PC.
If someone might have an original DU54 and especially a DB1, it would be great to try and make a valid copy for preservation purpose and for everyday use.
I haven't tried your method with GOTEK drive, but if DU54 is involved, I doubt anything more can be achieved...
The latest Greaseweazle (https://github.com/keirf/Greaseweazle) release has support for copy protected disk copying. I've tested a few and find it works great. Obviously you will need a Greaseweazle, a 3" drive connected and a PC to it but I really think this is the best way to get protected disks onto real media.
Retro enthusiast and author of Flynn's Adventure in Bombland, The Order of Mazes & Maze Death Rally-X. Check them out at http://tomdalby.com
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by 71owl »

Just tried this method with DU54 and I can't get it to copy anything :oops:

If the disk is CATable then you can simply copy files from a Gotek to a +3 Floppy through basic commands. Very few commercial disks were left open like this and most have some protection.

DB1 and DB2 and Plus-3-Mate are all very good at copying disks with protection but I think they were designed for physical disks rather than disk images on a Gotek?
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kokkiklhs
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by kokkiklhs »

71owl wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 4:13 pm Just tried this method with DU54 and I can't get it to copy anything :oops:

If the disk is CATable then you can simply copy files from a Gotek to a +3 Floppy through basic commands. Very few commercial disks were left open like this and most have some protection.

DB1 and DB2 and Plus-3-Mate are all very good at copying disks with protection but I think they were designed for physical disks rather than disk images on a Gotek?
Have a look at this:
viewtopic.php?t=3320

You'll find a lot of useful info and links to multiple unprotected .DSK to transfer...
If a copier program can copy a protected physical disk, should be able to do exactly the same with image from gotek, as gotek (at least in theory) emulates 100% a real disk drive...
8-)
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by flatduckrecords »

Thank you again [mention]kokkiklhs[/mention], I've now got my Gotek up and running!

I've been enjoying Castlevania and Redshift that I coped onto a real 3" floppy with DU54, and a bunch more that wouldn't copy over but would run directly from the Gotek (Chase HQ, Batman the Movie, Bubble Bobble and Alien Storm). I made a few notes about it as well.

And there's still plenty more .dsk images to explore in ZXDB (plus those additional resources mentioned in the other thread)!

Cheers,
Robert

Image


( I know it's upside down. I like it that way. )
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by Guesser »

I don't like shorting pin 11 and 12. It directly shorts the output of an internal gate. :(

The reason the connector on the floppy drive is upside down is because the connector keying on the +3 is backwards (in other words that connector is the one that's upside down really).
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by kokkiklhs »

flatduckrecords wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 3:40 pm Thank you again @kokkiklhs, I've now got my Gotek up and running!
Wow, very good news [mention]flatduckrecords[/mention], it's nice to see that you made it and I'm also very glad to have helped a little!
Thank you very much for kindly mentioning me in your notes, it's very cool!!!
I wish you enjoy many many happy hours with your Speccy and all your favourite games!!
8-)
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by flatduckrecords »

Guesser wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 8:23 pm I don't like shorting pin 11 and 12. It directly shorts the output of an internal gate. :(
Yikes! Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll look into a safer method in that case.
Guesser wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 8:23 pm The reason the connector on the floppy drive is upside down is because the connector keying on the +3 is backwards (in other words that connector is the one that's upside down really).
Aha that makes sense now, thank you. I’ll revise my post as well. Cheers!
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by Guesser »

I have details on my website of how to do a true drive changeover jumper/switch, but it's a very invasive modification (cutting PCB traces).
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by flatduckrecords »

Guesser wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 10:55 pm I have details on my website of how to do a true drive changeover jumper/switch, but it's a very invasive modification (cutting PCB traces).
Excellent, thanks. I’d been mulling over whether to perform the audio fixes as well, or just keep it “stock”. I’ll give it some more thought and maybe do both at some point. But I’ll stop abusing the poor logic gate in any case!

And in the meantime I will go ahead and add the 1N4148 signal diode as recommended in your cable construction guide.
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by Guesser »

Depending on your Gotek model you may not need anything at all! It's my understanding that there's a jumper to enable a proper ready signal, at least on some of them?
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by flatduckrecords »

Guesser wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 11:19 pm Depending on your Gotek model you may not need anything at all! It's my understanding that there's a jumper to enable a proper ready signal, at least on some of them?
Hmm, I think it might depend on the firmware as well. It seems jumper JA is mean to enable the READY signal on pin #34, but the FlashFloppy firmware I'm using seems to interpret that as forcing the Gotek into firmware update mode.
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by Dodgemeister »

HI,
I am very inexperienced at programming and have been unable to transfer .DSK files to real 3" floppies.
My setup is a Plus 3 with standard 3" floppy and an Amstrad FD-1 with a gotek fitted.
I have a jumper to short pins 11 and 12 so i can boot from the FD-1 and play .DSK games and I remove the jumper to use the gotek as drive B.
Can you please let me have a copy of your modified DU54 as I am struggling to get it to run on drive B.
If you could It would be much apreaciated!! :D :D :D :D
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by kokkiklhs »

Dodgemeister wrote: Sat Oct 29, 2022 6:44 pm HI,
I am very inexperienced at programming and have been unable to transfer .DSK files to real 3" floppies.
My setup is a Plus 3 with standard 3" floppy and an Amstrad FD-1 with a gotek fitted.
I have a jumper to short pins 11 and 12 so i can boot from the FD-1 and play .DSK games and I remove the jumper to use the gotek as drive B.
Can you please let me have a copy of your modified DU54 as I am struggling to get it to run on drive B.
If you could It would be much apreaciated!! :D :D :D :D
Hello and welcome to the forum! Check your PM!!!
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Re: Writing .DSK diskimages to real 3'' Floppies on the +3

Post by Dodgemeister »

Thank you Kokkiklhs for a great tutorial!!
I am a begginer at the best but it was very easy to follow and now with the help of your modified DU54, I can make real floppy disks out of ,dsk files.
There is quite a few games that are copyrighted and I am unable to copy them but I have managed to get some made and some utillities copied onto disk, So well done that man!!!! :D :D :D :D
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