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General Category => Amstrad CPC hardware => Topic started by: CPCIak on 17:10, 03 December 09

Title: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 17:10, 03 December 09
I would like to know if anyone has got practical experiences in transferring files between PC and CPC using a parallel cable.
Well, I'm going to play some DSKs on my real CPC. Unfortunately I haven't got a 3,5inch floppy nor experiences in soldering. These specific 3,5" disc drives are sold for about 40EUR at ebay - quiet expensive :( Using a parallel cable seems to be the easiest und cheapest solution...

http://cpcoxygen.fxwebdevelopment.com/magazine/07/cable/cable.html
http://cpcoxygen.fxwebdevelopment.com/magazine/10/parallel/parallel.htm

Thanks for your help!
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: ukmarkh on 20:47, 03 December 09
I've done it in the past, and it works everytime... now I use a 3.5" F.D.D drive connected to my PC, copy the game to it and then play it on my CPC's 3.5" disk. One thing to note, I could only get my Parallel transfer to work with my old Dell laptop, refuses to work with any newer PC's I have. The other option is to buy a USB card, stick all your games on it and play them from that. But you need Symbos and a Symbiface card for it to work, expensive but rewarding.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 20:52, 03 December 09
Thanks! The necessary programs, e.g. CPCTrans and CPCPara, only work in real DOS, don't they?
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 21:10, 03 December 09
The SDCARD HxC Floppy Emulator seems to be interesting. Unfortunately it isn't available yet.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: ukmarkh on 22:30, 03 December 09
Basically you have to boot your PC from a DOS disk, this is the only way I ever managed to transfer games to and from my CPC. You could either stick the bootable DOS files and games you wanted to transfer onto a CD-Rom or try and fit as many games as possible with the DOS bootable files on a single floppy disk.

The SDCARD HxC Floppy Emulator seems to be interesting. Unfortunately it isn't available yet.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 22:33, 03 December 09
Ok - I'll try it this weekend
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: Cholo on 22:46, 03 December 09
Ive had the same experience with parallel cable as Ukmarkh. Had to get a really old pc for it to work well. If i tried it on a P4 3ghz the connection would keep dying (im guessing the pc was simply to fast).
Anyways, i bought an ancient laptop with a black and white screen, dead battery, dead hdd, dead bios battery .. but a working floppy drive and parallel port. Was like £10  ;D
Made a DOS boot floppy with nothing on it. Then put Turbotr on the floppy with a couple of Dsk.

Transfer of a Dsk is pretty quick i recall, like 2-3 minutes on both 664 and 6128.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 23:00, 03 December 09
Maybe it depends on how the LPT port is set in bios; not on the cpu power.
Somewhere (I can't remember where) I've seen it should be set to "standard mode".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_1284
http://ckp.made-it.com/ieee1284.html

The attachment is a screenshot from my mobo-manual
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: mr_lou on 08:29, 04 December 09
The parallel cable was also my first solution when I needed to transfer files.
The cable itself was surprisingly easy to make, but I remember fiddling quite some time in BIOS before I got it working correctly.

Later on I made myself a 3.5" drive, which took a bit longer (because I have a CPC464 which is slightly more complicated than the connections to a CPC6128), but it was definitely worth it.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: Bryce on 10:54, 04 December 09
Hi all,
       my experiences were similar, although I managed to get PCPara working on a relatively new PC. Although Linux is installed, I made a boot disk with just the minimum files required for DOS and PCPara, if the target files are available on a DOS readable Hard-drive, you can copy all you want accross, but grab a coffee before you start, it's not exactly broadband. PC-CPC onnections are starting to get more difficult, now that RS232 has gone and LPT: fades into the history books. Maybe it's time to build a USB / Windows/Linux version of PCPara?

Bryce.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: arnoldemu on 13:36, 04 December 09
Hi all,
       my experiences were similar, although I managed to get PCPara working on a relatively new PC. Although Linux is installed, I made a boot disk with just the minimum files required for DOS and PCPara, if the target files are available on a DOS readable Hard-drive, you can copy all you want accross, but grab a coffee before you start, it's not exactly broadband. PC-CPC onnections are starting to get more difficult, now that RS232 has gone and LPT: fades into the history books. Maybe it's time to build a USB / Windows/Linux version of PCPara?

Bryce.
I think this would be a fantastic idea.
In addition a method through an alternative port on the cpc may be a good choice, something where receiving on the cpc side could be made faster.. through expansion connector maybe?
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: Bryce on 13:49, 04 December 09
I'll add it to my list of possible projects. Slightly off-topic, but I'm working on some hardware projects that will be specifically designed for the CPC-Wiki site. So if anyone has any other ideas of hardware they'd like to see as a project, then let me know. My aim is to keep the projects as simple and cheap as possible, rather than Symbiface sized projects, but I'll consider anything.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 18:28, 04 December 09
It’s too good to last!
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: Ynot.zer0 on 22:06, 04 December 09
Bryce: If you could ponder the concept of plugging a USB key into a VDrive 2 ( http://www.vinculum.com/prd_vdrive1.html ) and then connect that to the CPC - I would be very happy!  :o
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: nurgle on 14:22, 05 December 09
I never got the parallel cable to work, also blew my Amiga 3000 with a parallel cable between Amiga and C64 causing a nasty repair bill (at least there where repair shops back in the days).  :-[

This led me to building an RS-232 interface for my CPC (Amssio by Martin Zacho) and writing my own DSK transfer software for it, so I could use all those DSK images form nvg on my real CPC, even without running DOS on my PC (I prefer Linux).

Later on I connected a 3.5" DD floppy to the CPC which turned out to be a no-brainer and worked so well that I never looked back to other solutions. I have a symbiface as well, but the 3.5" floppy method is so easy that I did not even bother with swapping CF cards. I also did not pay big money. I got 2 used DD floppys in exchange for some gummibears (yes, these drive are junk, you can get them for free!) and bought a cheap power supply plus some connectors and a case for the floppy at a local electronics store. There are plenty of instructions in the Wiki and elsewhere on the net. Just be sure to get an old DD drive with ready signal, to make things really really easy.

A good alternative for a lot of folks seems to be using the CPCBooster together with the ArkosROM. This solution makes sending DSKs between CPC and PC via RS-232 extremely quick and comfortable. However you will need the booster plus a RAM/ROM-Box or similar. Quite an expensive solution just for transfering discs, but pretty nice if you already have the hardware.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: Bryce on 14:43, 05 December 09
Hi ynot.zero,
               I had a quick look at the VDrive2, interesting device, the hardware is not the interesting part, as there are also AVRs and PICs available such as the 24FJ128GB106 which already have this functionality built in and have a processor, ROM and RAM where the magic stuff can take place. Not sure if you are a hardware person, but if so, take a look at Microchips Application Note AN1140 (http://ww1.microchip.com/downloads/en/AppNotes/USB_Host_Stack_01140a.pdf). What's interesting about the VDrive2 is the firmware they supply, which seems to do all the file handling. This could be a neat solution for the CPC, but as I said, I just took a quick look, I've bookmarked the page an will take a detailed look when I have more time.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 16:22, 05 December 09
Yes, I did it  :)
The performance depends on the LPT setting. I just typed in CPCREC.BAS and transfered several .bas files successfully via the parallel interface. Unfortunately TurboTrans doesn't work on the cpc nor on the PC. Well, this little progy is the must have in order to interpret the DSK-files. Does an alternative exist?
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 11:25, 06 December 09
Could someone borrow me a 3,5inch floppy, please???
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 23:22, 06 December 09
Yes, I did it  :)

Me too - only last week  8)  Haven't soldered in about 15 years so was pleased when it worked!

The performance depends on the LPT setting. I just typed in CPCREC.BAS and transfered several .bas files successfully via the parallel interface. Unfortunately TurboTrans doesn't work on the cpc nor on the PC. Well, this little progy is the must have in order to interpret the DSK-files.

I had this problem too.  I solved it by:

1) Using a DOS boot CD (the programs don't work in Windows) - you can download one here (http://cpcoxygen.fxwebdevelopment.com/magazine/12/techhq/techhq.htm) with TurboTrans etc all ready on it
2) Going into the BIOS on my PC and making sure the parallel port (LPT1) is using port 378h - TurboTrans on the PC will only work with this address and the default on my PC was something different

Then I ran TurboTrans on the PC (using TURBOTR EXAMPLE.DSK) and then on the CPC and it worked perfectly.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 09:57, 07 December 09
Thanks "redbox",
I used a modified MS-DOS boot-CD with some DSKs and tools on it, because I couln't find the connection lead for the 3,5" floppy.
Which operation mode did you choose for the LPT port: standard, bi-directional...?
PCPARA logged several time errors and TURBOTR didn't work at all.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 13:05, 07 December 09
Which operation mode did you choose for the LPT port: standard, bi-directional...?

I used Bi-Directional.  I also had to set the Parallel port in the BIOS to I/O address 378h and IRQ 7 for it to work with TurboTransfer.

PCPARA logged several time errors and TURBOTR didn't work at all.

If you're having problems with C/PC Para then I would think either your cable is faulty or the PC is sending it incorrectly.

I know everyone says about the PCs being too quick, but I'm using a ThinkPad and it's fine (not exactly slow - a 800mhz P3 - considering the original transfer programs were written when people were using 386s!).
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 13:20, 07 December 09
I used this diagram for my wiring box.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 17:10, 07 December 09
Those boxes are cool - I had to make my cable from scratch.  I can't see you making too many errors with the wiring there!

I used the same wiring connection table and it works for me.  I have a 6128 Plus - not sure if that would make any difference (if you are using a classic CPC)?

Or you could try using another PC and see if that works?
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 18:17, 07 December 09
I'll try it with another PC at the weekend. Maybe 3400MHz are too much.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 21:41, 08 December 09
I give up!
I just tried out CPC Oxygen's Boot-CD.
Bios: LPT1 Mode Normal, Port 378, IRQ 7
PCPara <-> CPCPara Testmode: 0 Errors
Turbotrans: nothing happens!
WHY???
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 13:49, 09 December 09
Bios: LPT1 Mode Normal, Port 378, IRQ 7

Is "Normal" the same as Bi-Directional?
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 13:54, 09 December 09
According to CPC Oxygen it doesn't matter which operation mode is selected. Using port 378 und IRQ7 is neccessary.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 14:06, 09 December 09
Maybe I am going to have to write a Windows version after all  :o
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 15:09, 09 December 09
YES
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: Gryzor on 11:14, 10 December 09
YES

Hahahah :D Thumbs up for first use of the Glow tag!
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 11:26, 10 December 09
Maybe downscaling the FSB helps...
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: scheeba on 21:31, 01 January 10
Was thinking about building one of these for myself, but having trouble tracking down some of the right parts. Is there anywhere online that sells suitable connectors, especially those 34-way edge connectors?
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 13:29, 02 January 10
According to your profile, you're from Ireland:
I've found a online shop for electronic supplies called "Digi-Key":
http://www.digikey.ie/

Edge Connectors: Catalogue -> Sections -> Section A (Cables,Connectors) -> Page 36

Unfortunately CPC-Boutique has closed, I hope these connectors are correct.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: scheeba on 18:55, 02 January 10
Excellent, fingers crossed those are okay. Thanks for the help, I just couldn't track the things down anywhere.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: CPCIak on 17:08, 08 February 10
Has anyone ever used the program "SEND2"?
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 01:29, 09 February 10
Has anyone ever used the program "SEND2"?

No, but TurboTransfer works well for me and I presume it's faster because it's more recent...?

Interestingly though, this program appears to work with 464+ and tapes which could be good for diskless users.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: mr_lou on 21:57, 09 February 10
Has anyone ever used the program "SEND2"?

I have. It worked fine for me.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 16:04, 10 September 10
I've just got round to looking into developing a Windows version of the parallel transfer (initially PC -> CPC) utility but have some problems...

The Windows software should be quite easy to write using a DLL (http://logix4u.net/Legacy_Ports/Parallel_Port/Inpout32.dll_for_Windows_98/2000/NT/XP.html) for access to the parallel port.

However, the documentation on how the data should be sent from the PC is sketchy:

Marco Vieth describes the process in his original documentation (http://www.cpc-emu.org/docu_e.html#7.6.2), but doesn't give any information on the timings or rate of transfer from the PC side, and this would appear to be important as there have been speed issues in the past with users finding that faster PCs send it too quickly and the CPC can't cope.  The PC software really needs to wait a definite amount of real time between sending data, but I have no idea what this time should be or the format of the data to send.

The information on the cpctech website (http://www.cpctech.org.uk/docs/mods/parallel.html) is helpful, but still doesn't contain any timing or formatting and also has some mistakes (it says the PC and CPC both send/receive on D0 which isn't right).

So before I go any further, does anyone have this information?  I can disassemble the CPC programs to see what's going on that end in the transfer, but can't do this for the current PC programs as my x86 assembler knowledge is poor and I expect they were written in C or something similar anyway.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: TFM on 00:09, 11 September 10
... These specific 3,5" disc drives are sold for about 40EUR at ebay - quiet expensive :(

That's approx the price of 16 3" discs. So by migrating to 3.5" you will save a lot of money. However, you can buy a 3.5" for 5 Euros too. Get a cable and a psu. It's all doable for around 10-15 Euros. But if you have no time for a DIY, then 40 Euros is not too bad. Further you can ask here in the forum if somebody can sell you a 3.5" drive ready2go!
 
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: andycadley on 02:25, 11 September 10
I've just got round to looking into developing a Windows version of the parallel transfer (initially PC -> CPC) utility but have some problems...

I seriously doubt it's worth doing anymore, to be honest. Finding a PC with a parallel port is near impossible these days and even most 'parallel' adapters are only usable for printers as they don't provide a full parallel interface. And with the HxC interface, it's a lot easier and quicker to transfer data via sdcard.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: awergh on 09:23, 11 September 10
 
I seriously doubt it's worth doing anymore, to be honest. Finding a PC with a parallel port is near impossible these days and even most 'parallel' adapters are only usable for printers as they don't provide a full parallel interface. And with the HxC interface, it's a lot easier and quicker to transfer data via sdcard.
Not everyone has can use the HxC interface, I have 2 464s and no DDI-1 so parallel seems like the solution to me,
not to mention I have lots of computers with a parallel port, I have 7 in this room although I would probably just use PCPARA under DOS because it isn't that hard but I would probably use a Windows utility if it existed.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 09:45, 11 September 10
Finding a PC with a parallel port is near impossible these days and even most 'parallel' adapters are only usable for printers as they don't provide a full parallel interface.

That's interesting, never knew that and it could explain why some people are having problems with transfer on newer PCs.

Not everyone has can use the HxC interface, I have 2 464s and no DDI-1 so parallel seems like the solution to me,
not to mention I have lots of computers with a parallel port, I have 7 in this room although I would probably just use PCPARA under DOS because it isn't that hard but I would probably use a Windows utility if it existed.

I didn't get a HxC interface because my PC doesn't have an SDCard slot and also I wanted a 'permanent' solution in as much that one PC is always linked to the CPC and I can use them both for development (and this means Windows instead of having to boot into DOS).  The HxC interface is still 'sneaker-ware' whichever way you look at it and I'd like to have the parallel cable's software enable you to quickly and easily whizz a binary across from the PC and execute it straight away to see if it works on a real CPC.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: awergh on 11:03, 11 September 10
I don't have an SD Card reader for my computer either but It wouldn't be as much a problem as the lack of DDI-1 on the other end.
A dedicated computer for parallel transfers sounds nice, I have a computer in mind for it my 464s seem to live in my cupboard most of the time probably because I only have a small collection of games which means I don't have much I can do with it.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: steve on 15:17, 11 September 10
If you want to transfer software from PC to CPC you might be able to connect your PC sound output to the CPC's tape input so it thinks your PC is a tape drive.

It might even be possible to increase the transfer speed since CD/MP3 transfers are faster than the normal cassette loading speed.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: Ynot.zer0 on 17:25, 11 September 10
I used to have a dedicated 486 PC with Parallel port and MS-DOS just for doing transfers to the CPC.  Sadly that machine died, so I "borrowed" my wifes PC (Pentium something or other), wiped XP off of it, put MS-DOS onto it and I now use that as it also has a proper parallel port.  (Yes, my wife did find out and I had to buy her a new machine)
I found that Windows XP and upwards put driver layers between the OS and the hardware, therefore not letting software directly access the parallel port unless it goes via their driver.  I discovered this as a problem when I was attempting to hook up my OOPIC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OOPic) to an XP laptop (as it uses a serial connector and not a USB one).  In the end I bought an old Dell laptop that was runing Windows98 and allows access to the serial port directly.


Just something to keep in mind if you're going to attempt to use the latest tech. / OS and the old software / ports, etc...
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: awergh on 08:27, 12 September 10
If you want to transfer software from PC to CPC you might be able to connect your PC sound output to the CPC's tape input so it thinks your PC is a tape drive.

It might even be possible to increase the transfer speed since CD/MP3 transfers are faster than the normal cassette loading speed.
I have thought about doing that but it means I have to go find a Tape adapter thingo, it would probably be an acceptable solution although a parallel cable would be more exciting although I would have to go buy myself some tapes so I can do the transfer I think.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 00:46, 13 September 10
I used to have a dedicated 486 PC with Parallel port and MS-DOS just for doing transfers to the CPC.  Sadly that machine died, so I "borrowed" my wifes PC (Pentium something or other), wiped XP off of it, put MS-DOS onto it and I now use that as it also has a proper parallel port.  (Yes, my wife did find out and I had to buy her a new machine)

I have this kind of setup too, but I want mainly want to use a Windows XP type OS because then it can easily fileshare on my network and also run WinAPE etc.  This, along with the parallel cable to the real CPC, would be a great development platform.

I found that Windows XP and upwards put driver layers between the OS and the hardware, therefore not letting software directly access the parallel port unless it goes via their driver.

Yes, this is what stops the currently available DOS programs from working in Windows, but as I said before there are DLL libraries that can take care of this for you (http://logix4u.net/Legacy_Ports/Parallel_Port/Inpout32.dll_for_Windows_98/2000/NT/XP.html) and give direct access to the port even under Windows NT variants.

So now I've just got to work out exactly how the parallel cable process works and write the software...  :o   Think I'll start by disassembling the CPC software and work backwards from there!
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: awergh on 02:29, 13 September 10
Perhaps this can help http://www.benchmarko.de/download/pcpara12.zip
pcpara appears to come with the C++ source code which would be easier then disassembling it.
Title: Re: Data transfer via parallel cable - what's your experience?
Post by: redbox on 12:12, 13 September 10
Perhaps this can help http://www.benchmarko.de/download/pcpara12.zip (http://www.benchmarko.de/download/pcpara12.zip)
pcpara appears to come with the C++ source code which would be easier then disassembling it.

Thanks awergh, that's awesome!  :)

I only knew of the cpc-emu.org (http://www.cpc-emu.org/) website and didn't know this was available - it should make the whole thing a lot easier.

I've got the code for the CPC end to receive/write files and disks and hopefully I'll make a ROM which can be put into a rombox or Plus cartridge so it's always available (eventually!).