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General Category => Amstrad CPC hardware => Topic started by: GUNHED on 20:09, 08 August 21

Title: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 20:09, 08 August 21
Hi there friends of the hardware expansion...

Back the day the ingenious company Vortex released a double 5.25" drive (F1-D) and a double 3.5" drive (M1-D). They had the 0,7 MB Vortex format(s). So basically provided 1,4 MB of space.

Sadly they are very hard to get these days and very expensive.

The floppy controller of the F1-D and M1-D was identical. And it was identical to the DDI-1 controller too. But it had different I/O addresses. So the CPC could use both controllers, the DDI-1 and the F1-D/M1-D. They were available for the full range of the CPCs and Plus computers.

Aside of different I/O addresses:

&FB7E - FDC 0 Status / Amstrad DDI-1 FDC765
&FB7F - FDC 0 Daten /

&FBF6 - FDC 1 Status / Vortex F1-D / F1-M FDC765
&FBF7 - FDC 1 Daten /

The big advantage of the Vortex FDC was that it could deal with four drives! So it added up to four drives to the 6128 for example

Now imagine if we do a remake of this great device?

Is there somebody who would help me to clone the Vortex FDC?
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: TotO on 21:25, 08 August 21
Well...

Amstrad:
---- -0-- 0111 111x

Vortex:
---- -0-- 1111 011x


If you are using discret logic, you may swap the A3 and A7 lines for the decoding through AND / OR IC with a sliding switch to be able to support Amstrad and Vortex on a same interface. (may be A1, A2, A4, A5, A6 are not fully decoded)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 21:30, 08 August 21
Great idea!  :) :) :)


Actually it would be great if our new clone could be fully decoded!  :)

Now, the one thing left is a fully 2-to-4 decoder which allows the FDC with two Drive-Select signals (2 bits) to become DS0, 1, 2 and 3 to support four drives.  :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 18:39, 16 August 21
Hello... sombebody out there how can help me cloning the Vortex F1 controller?
(Cash plays no role).
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 21:09, 16 August 21
Hello... sombebody out there how can help me cloning the Vortex F1 controller?
(Cash plays no role).

Do you have schematics or a real device or (last resort) high resolution pictures of both sides of the original PCB. If so, let me know and I will clone it for you.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: TotO on 21:26, 16 August 21
I imagine that is possible to start from the Amstrad FDC schematic (if the same u765 controller) and update the few changes.
But, there is a real interest to use more than two floppy drives today?
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: SkulleateR on 21:29, 16 August 21
Do you have schematics or a real device or (last resort) high resolution pictures of both sides of the original PCB. If so, let me know and I will clone it for you.

Bryce.


I got one, sadly it's not working anymore, but I can provide pictures :) Maybe this investigation helps getting my device up an running again :D
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 21:30, 16 August 21
I imagine that is possible to start from the Amstrad FDC schematic (if the same u765 controller) and update the few changes.
But, there is a real interest to use more than two floppy drives today?

I haven't even a use for 2 drives, but obviously TFM GUNHED has a use for 4, otherwise he wouldn't want it cloned.

I got one, sadly it's not working anymore, but I can provide pictures :) Maybe this investigation helps getting my device up an running again :D
Well I could fix it for you while I have it if you send it to me?

Bryce.

Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: TotO on 21:44, 16 August 21
I haven't even a use for 2 drives, but obviously TFM GUNHED has a use for 4, otherwise he wouldn't want it cloned.
Sure, I understand that but...I though he already own it.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: SkulleateR on 21:45, 16 August 21
@Bryce (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=225)


I could send it for cloning if this helps out @GUNHED (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=2029) in his project, but since I lost my job due to Corona I'm a bit short of money so I don't think repairing is an option right now :(
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 22:27, 16 August 21
Well, mine is not working too, guess it's the power supply. Need to fix it one day.

For Schematics: Yes, as mentioned before the Amstrad DDI-1 controller can be used. It need two small changes:

1. To be able to use all four floppies a "2 to 4" decoder chip must be added, because the FDC765 has two pins for selecting the drive, but drive connectors need to have four signals (DS0, DS1, DS2 and DS3).

2. Simple change of port I/O addresses (see beginning of thread).

3. EDIT: Oh, and of course the ROM-socket is NOT needed, we have X-MEM, MegaFlash, M4 and more for DOS-ROMs today.

BTW: I'm not the only one who would love to have four floppies accessible at the same time. Adding the two 3" drives from the DDI-1 controller you can have six drives all together. So the perfect fast copy station for 3", 3.5" and 5.25" drives - for everybody who loves real floppies instead SD cards  :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 09:48, 17 August 21
I'd leave the ROM socketed anyway. Even with all the alternative ROM options, you never know when you might want/need the device working stand-alone with different ROMs.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 00:52, 18 August 21
Very true! And in case the hardware really can be done - I'm going to care about the DOS for it. Maybe it would be even possible to adapt ParaDOS for it (however probably only with the help of its creator, because pretty much every byte in ParaDOS is used). Or DDOS or VDOS (bug free and running without hardware encoding of course).  :) :) :)

If somebody out there has a wish / 'wanted' / idea regarding software ... now would be the time to think about it.  :) :) :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 11:06, 02 September 21
@Bryce (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=225)


I could send it for cloning if this helps out @GUNHED (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=2029) in his project, but since I lost my job due to Corona I'm a bit short of money so I don't think repairing is an option right now :(

So this morning the heaviest 5in drive I've ever seen arrived at the door. It weighs a ton! I'll take it apart at the weekend and start reverse engineering the schematic. Off to the doctor now, I think I've pulled a muscle in my back :D


Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 18:14, 02 September 21
Holy steel! You must have gotten the bullet prove version. Hope you feel better soon. And good luck with the work on it. Careful, the data cable between controller and drives does in addition contain GND and 5 Volts to power the controller. This can lead to burning chips if not regarded. I'm sure you know that already, but just to be on the save side.  :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: SkulleateR on 21:35, 02 September 21
@Bryce (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=225)


Hope you're all right, don't sue me, I'm not responsible for that metal case  :-\ ::)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 11:49, 03 September 21
It's a scam! A scam I tell you! The biggest scam since the battery hack! There's a DDI-1 inside.  :D

Bryce.


Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Audronic on 06:03, 04 September 21
@Bryce (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=225)


? Is it a DDI-1 with its own custom Rom ?


Keep Safe


Ray
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 13:16, 04 September 21
@Bryce (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=225)


? Is it a DDI-1 with its own custom Rom ?


Keep Safe


Ray
I haven't opened the DDI-1 yet, but I assume it's a non-modded standard DDI-1. The board it's connected to has it's own ROM and a Z80, so I assume that's where all the magic happens. However, the idiots have filed the part numbers of some of the IC's, so reverse engineering may not be so easy.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 15:56, 05 September 21
The DDI-1 does have a non-standard ROM inside. I'll dump it and check if it's different to the original. It's a EPROM, but it has 40015 hand-written on it, so it may just have been replaced.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Audronic on 02:21, 06 September 21
@Bryce (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=225)


I have had a look in the WIKI and there are some good quality phots of the Vortex Boards, Perhaps some of the numbers you were after are there ?
It would be interesting to see if it is a 40015 or some other wit patches ?


Keep up the good work


Keep Safe


Ray
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 10:45, 06 September 21
The boards on the Wiki seem to be a completely different device and don't contain/require a DDI-1. Here's a picture of the board I have here. You can see the two blanked IC's in the centre above the edge connector for the DDI-1. The empty socket is where the Vortex ROM is located. the board on the Wiki looks like a variation of the DDI-1 and doesn't contain a second ROM or Z80.


Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Fessor on 11:41, 06 September 21
The boards on the Wiki seem to be a completely different device and don't contain/require a DDI-1. Here's a picture of the board I have here. You can see the two blanked IC's in the centre above the edge connector for the DDI-1. The empty socket is where the Vortex ROM is located. the board on the Wiki looks like a variation of the DDI-1 and doesn't contain a second ROM or Z80.
Z80-DART...
I think the board you have is the https://cpcrulez.fr/hardware-serie-interface_rs232_vortex.htm
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 11:51, 06 September 21
Yes, that seems to be the one and yes, it's a Z80 DART.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: AlexM on 22:04, 06 September 21
I have two F1-D drives and controllers. One controller was working for sure the last time I used it, the other one might have issues. There is a disc stuck in the drive which I cant eject; I cant access the disc so either the disc, drive or controller is not working. But I could make pictures of the working controller if needed.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 22:50, 06 September 21
There were variations of the controller. The one with the serial interface was (iirc) for the F1-X. But here it's about the F1-D controller, which only has the FDC765 (and smaller chips).
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 10:38, 07 September 21
So the device I have here is a standard DDI-1 plugged to a serial port expansion, so what exactly am I reverse engineering? The floppy part of this device is a known circuit.

Bryce.

Edit: I forgot to mention, the ROM in the DDI-1 is the standard 40015 content.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 19:17, 08 September 21
That sounds very strange!!! I try to take pictures from my controller. However it's not a good camera.

Anyway, IMHO there's no (big) need to reverse engineering. The target is to have a floppy controller being similar to the Amstrad one, but with different I/O addresses and plugs for four drives, properly using DS0-3.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 20:18, 08 September 21
This vortex drive definitely has the same address decoding as the DDI-1 and can only access two drives. So this isn't the one you are looking to clone. I'll give it a test/repair at the weekend and send it back.

Bryce.
 
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: SkulleateR on 21:17, 08 September 21
Ok, I'm a Bit confused now .... Always thought the difference is in the drives, not the controller ...

After reading again on CPCWiki mine should be an F1-XRS drive and I for sure remember it has VDOS 2.0 inside so (regarding CPCwiki) should allow more than two drives ! As I said .... I'm confused :/
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 19:57, 09 September 21
Of course the controller is different. That makes the F1-D a drive with 0,7 MB format, two drives, access to the internal 3" drive (so three drives) and few things more.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 21:41, 09 September 21
Of course the controller is different. That makes the F1-D a drive with 0,7 MB format, two drives, access to the internal 3" drive (so three drives) and few things more.

It wouldn't allow three drives, because it's a 464 only expansion.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 16:23, 10 September 21
It wouldn't allow three drives, because it's a 464 only expansion.

Bryce.
Well, I was talking about my setup at the 6128.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 16:28, 10 September 21
Eventually I was able to make a good picture of the F1-D controller. This Controller has one cable to the expansion port of the CPC6128, and one cable going to the two 5,25" Floppy Disc Drives. The cable to the floppies is also providing power to the F1-D controller.

The controller has a hardware gimmick which alters the content to be read from the EPROM, so it's worthless to 'just' copy the EPROM to have VDOS 2.11. (not needed to clone of course).

Actually this unit was one of the last to be sold. I assume there is no 'newer' (altered) unit out there.


SORRY! I tried to upload jpg and zip, about 2,2 MB only. But all I get is this:


"Your attachment couldn't be saved. This might happen because it took too long to upload or the file is bigger than the server will allow.
Please consult your server administrator for more information."


However, I was able to put it there:
https://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/Vortex_Disc_Drives#Pictures
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 17:01, 10 September 21
The controller has a hardware gimmick which alters the content to be read from the EPROM, so it's worthless to 'just' copy the EPROM to have VDOS 2.11. (not needed to clone of course).

They've probably just swapped some of the address or data lines.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 15:08, 11 September 21
So I've taken a closer look at the device I have here. Unfortunately the problem seems to be a corrupted EPROM. The Chip is marked X-RS 464. It's not encrypted. Does anyone know if there's an image of this EPROM content anywhere on the interwebs? We don't have it on the Wiki.


Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 13:42, 12 September 21
Morning,
       after some contemplation, a large glass of whisky and some soldering, I now have the Vortex expansion working again. Unfortunately the 7 ton 5in drive is completely dead and probably won't be coming back, but the device can still be used with a standard 3in FD-1 and the RS232 is also fully working again.

Bryce.




Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 03:37, 13 September 21
They've probably just swapped some of the address or data lines.

Bryce.
Regarding the real-time-altering of the EPROM data, IIRC it was connected to the M1 cycle of the Z80. Pretty sophisticated, but somewhere I have the adapted EPROM content which works without that protection stuff. It should be in the Wikit too.


The picture you show is probably from the X-Drive. It's controller does use the same I/O address like the DDI-1. So it's not the F1-D.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 15:45, 13 September 21
They've probably just swapped some of the address or data lines.

Bryce.
Yes, plus fully decoding DS0, 1, 2, 3 to be able to connect four drives. And that's the gem.  :) :) :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 18:10, 20 October 21
Hi guys!


Now, is one here willing to clone the floppy disc interface with Vortex decoding?

Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 10:52, 21 October 21
Hi guys!


Now, is one here willing to clone the floppy disc interface with Vortex decoding?

Does anyone have one to make that possible?

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 01:07, 25 October 21
I have one here, but neither I do know if it still works. It's also connected to another 5,25" drive (as psu).

But what you actually need are the DDI-1 schematics; an additional '2 to 4' decoder to allow 4 floppies (DS0-3). And change the I/O addresses.

On the Vortex controller there's an EPROM (and decoding and encoding) too. We can completely forget about it. Just put the DOS in your Flash-ROM card. That makes it even more simple.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 10:38, 25 October 21
Is there any interest in having these built? You already have one, so who else would be looking for one?

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 19:10, 25 October 21
Is there any interest in having these built? You already have one, so who else would be looking for one?

Bryce.
Lots of users would love to have one, because it's nearly impossible to get the original drive(s) on Ebay or somewhere else.

The advantage to have four drives more is exciting: We could operate a CPC with two drives of each kind. This way it would be extremely quick and efficient to copy floppy discs. Especially with big 3.5" or 5,25" formats this would be awesome!

And yes, some users may not be interested at all in floppies any longer. However others are.  :) :) :)

(At least in Germany I would already have 10 potential customers. Admittedly I would take two of them).
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 15:01, 12 November 21
Wouldn't this be a very nice winter project?


Imagine: A floppy controller for four floppy disc drives independent of the DDI-1


All you need to do is to clone the DDI-1 (without ROM part), change the I/O for few bits and that's it.  :) :) :) :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 15:16, 12 November 21
Yes, but other than you there has been zero interest shown from any other members.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 15:53, 12 November 21
Yes, but other than you there has been zero interest shown from any other members.

Bryce.


Bryce, that's fine. You don't need to participate with this project if you have better things to do (and there may be many). But let's see if somebody else is interested then...
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 21:00, 12 November 21
I'm not stopping anyone else from taking it on, I'm just saying why I don't think it will become my winter project.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: eto on 22:54, 12 November 21
Imagine: A floppy controller for four floppy disc drives independent of the DDI-1

In what scenario are 4 drives useful?
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: villain on 23:21, 12 November 21
In what scenario are 4 drives useful?


I think in a „very special“ scenario around 1990 this would have been very useful… ;-)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 03:01, 14 November 21
I'm not stopping anyone else from taking it on, I'm just saying why I don't think it will become my winter project.

Bryce.
Yes, that would be cool. But if you got better projects (and there may be many  :) ). Now, if people assume you're doing this project, then other hardware constructors will probably not start doing it, because you're very well at hardware. And one person is enough to do such a project.  :)
Also, wenn Leute sehen, dass Du da eventuell Interesse haben könntest das zu machen, dann halten die sich zurück. Das Rad muss ja nicht doppelt erfunden werden. Du weißt was ich meine :)


In what scenario are 4 drives useful?
Thanks for asking. Imagine your CPC already has two 3" drives. So you can make a quick copy from A to B (or B to A).
Now add four more drives, two times a 3,5" drive and two times a 5,25" drive.
This would provide the ultimate copy station.  :)
(And yes, HxC or Gotek should be there too).
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 05:58, 21 November 21
Hi guys!

Just added a poll to see the actual interest in such a nice project.

If you want some more power & magic for you CPC or Plus, then please vote.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: RetroCPC on 09:48, 21 November 21
Depending on the complexity (time required) I could be interested on designing the hardware, are there any schematics and is ROM Code available?

I could create a schematic from a working PCB...

Currently, a great concern is the availability of semiconductors - the semiconductor situation has put many projects on hold...
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 11:14, 21 November 21
Depending on the complexity (time required) I could be interested on designing the hardware, are there any schematics and is ROM Code available?

I could create a schematic from a working PCB...

Currently, a great concern is the availability of semiconductors - the semiconductor situation has put many projects on hold...

Really? For modern projects that's true, but I haven't experienced shortage issues with any of the parts I'd need for retro projects.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: RetroCPC on 12:03, 21 November 21
Without a schematic or pictures of the design we are talking about - I'm not sure which IC's will be required, I found atleast a couple of versions of the Vortex designs - so it be good to have a better idea of the unit being discussed here.

I'm guessing some dodgy source from China will have NOS D765 & FDC9229BT... the rest of the logic IC's should not pose too much of a problem - although I'd still like to get a better idea of the design / schematic...
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: RetroCPC on 12:14, 21 November 21
I have one here, but neither I do know if it still works. It's also connected to another 5,25" drive (as psu).

I can work with this - and can repair if required... Any chance of a photo of the DDI PCB to get an idea of the design / time required?
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Bryce on 14:05, 21 November 21
765's are still easy to source here in Europe as they were used in thousands of devices. I have a good stock of them here too for DDI-1 and 6128 repairs.

Bryce.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: DoctorCPC on 15:29, 21 November 21

Think about it, it would be crazy to have a 5'25'' floppy drive, 3'5'' floppy drive, 3'' floppy drive connected externally. and maybe 8'' driver but i didnt see 8'' driver. i have got 5'25'' PC floopy :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 16:57, 22 November 21
Depending on the complexity (time required) I could be interested on designing the hardware, are there any schematics and is ROM Code available?

I could create a schematic from a working PCB...
That's actually very easy (for a hardware person - not for me). You can take the schematics from the Amstrad DDI-1 controller. Now delete the complete ROM part of it. The leftover is the FDC part and that's all we need.  :) :) :)

The card of course needs a change of the FDC base addresses, but that's only bits. Of course it is desirable to have full 16 bit decoding, so that there is no interference to other hardware expansions.

On a PCB you would have:
- I/O decoding logic
- FDC765
- Digital data separator (that SED chip iirc)
- Four plugs for flat cables to four floppy disc drives or HxC/Gotek devices.

Currently, a great concern is the availability of semiconductors - the semiconductor situation has put many projects on hold...
Yes, sadly. But for the FDC765 and the data separator if should be fine.  :)


Think about it, it would be crazy to have a 5'25'' floppy drive, 3'5'' floppy drive, 3'' floppy drive connected externally. and maybe 8'' driver but i didnt see 8'' driver. i have got 5'25'' PC floopy :)
8" is more problematic, because it's more like HD format. Doable, but very nasty. A year ago I sold my 8" drive, which actually had 1,6 MB on one single 8" disc.

But yes, imagine the ultimate copy station for all formats. And also the simultaneous access to lots of data on lots of discs.  :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: RetroCPC on 20:32, 22 November 21
1. I'd really like to see how the 4 different Drives are addressed (selected)... I could trace the circuit from the Vortex PCB...

2. in respect to signal integrity - its not a good idea to have 4 individual IDC headers for 4 drives, rather 1 Ribbon cable with 4 drive connection points along its length. If you wanted 4 individual IDC drive headers on the PCB, then I'd have to look into buffering / selecting each drive header which would complicate matters...

Again, a photo of the PCB being discussed here would be great :)

I'd almost consider using a small FPGA, but the level shifting from 5V CPC / FDD BUS to 3V3 adds almost as much complexity as the discrete logic used in the interface...

I'd still leave the EPROM psotions... for those who want a Amstrad DDI interface replacement.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 22:08, 22 November 21
DDI-1 clones are available already from different sources. Furthermore they only provide drives A and B.
The great thing here is that we have different I/O addresses, but anything else can be programmed in the same way.
Therefore we can leave the ROM away, it would interfere anyway with other ROM cards or Flash-ROM cards. They got very common today. So leaving the ROM away is not a problem, but makes it cheaper.

The idea of the four cables was connected to the fact that most drives today have only DS0 or DS1 drive select. But few have DS2 or DS2. So I thought it would be a possibility to access all four drives with a DS1 signal, but this is rewired for each one of the four plugs, so that the FDC sees four drives at DS0-DS3.

A schematic of the FDC controller shall be in the wiki, I will look for it.
The links in the Wiki are broken, and only few I can upload here.
But email me for what I have on my computer when interested.  :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: RetroCPC on 01:45, 24 November 21
So we can use x2 IDC headers with a pair of drives on each cable.

With regards to the quad drive addressing - the FDC765 selects the drives via the US0 / 1 pins pins - so theres no seprate addressing... (US0/1 need to be demuxed / decoded).

I woudl still realy like to see a Vortex PCB to better understand how the extra 2 drives are slected (decoded US0/US1)?

The schematic you sent is interesting as it uses the FDC 9216 as the clock recovery / data extractor... where as the photos of the Vortex PCB use a FDC9229...


Does anyone have a link for a FDC9229 datasheet?




Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: Audronic on 02:40, 24 November 21
https://www.cpcwiki.eu/imgs/9/97/FDC9229BT_Datasheet.pdf (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/imgs/9/97/FDC9229BT_Datasheet.pdf)

Keep Safe
Ray
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 23:27, 30 December 21
Well, I got around 120 discs in 5,25" format here. It would be to nice if I could copy them to 3,5". Because from 3,5" I can make DSK files. The disc are all in Vortex format with 0,7 MB, so to copy them via 3" would be pretty crazy.

The sad thing is: About 60-80 disc have CPC software on them which nobody in this forum has ever seen. And probably nobody ever will - because of the lack of an FDC for CPC which can use 3,5" and 5,25" at the same time.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: eto on 23:48, 30 December 21
Well, I got around 120 discs in 5,25" format here. It would be to nice if I could copy them to 3,5".

Would a Greaseweazle be an option to read the raw data and then write a conversion tool to convert it to a standard disk image format?
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 23:52, 30 December 21
I took a look at it. But how could it help? The answer is sadly: NO.

If some more users would be interested in the project of this thread ... but none of our hardware experts is of help here sadly.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: eto on 01:13, 31 December 21
I took a look at it. But how could it help?

I thought that with Greazeweasle it might be possible to copy the contents to a raw format and then create a tool which again converts the raw format into a DSK. I don't have any knowledge about the Vortex format except for what I can read in the Wiki, but it looks pretty similar to other formats.

I personally would find that much more convenient than copying files from 5.25" to 3.5" and then converting them to DSK again.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: RetroCPC on 01:38, 31 December 21
I thought that with Greazeweasle it might be possible to copy the contents to a raw format and then create a tool which again converts the raw format into a DSK. I don't have any knowledge about the Vortex format except for what I can read in the Wiki, but it looks pretty similar to other formats.

I personally would find that much more convenient than copying files from 5.25" to 3.5" and then converting them to DSK again.

I'd be happy to work on the hardware - but as I requested, I need an interface (even non working) to work from which can be return once I've created the schematic...
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: RetroCPC on 00:29, 01 January 22
in the New Year, I'll be designing a ROM x8 Board + RS232 board compatable with the orginal Amstard RS232 Interface, I can add on the Disc Drive interface if I have a board to work with...
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 22:15, 02 January 22
in the New Year, I'll be designing a ROM x8 Board + RS232 board compatable with the orginal Amstard RS232 Interface, I can add on the Disc Drive interface if I have a board to work with...
It would be better to have it as stand-alone, because often users do already have a RS232 and a ROM board already.

I need to see for the original interface. However, you can use DDI-! controller without the ROM part and add a simple 2 to 4 decoder. But I will look for the F1-D controller here. Will come back to the topic as soon as possible.  :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: RetroCPC on 20:18, 03 January 22

Well I'm primarily designing this PCB for myself, if its interesting for others, then great :)

I need an original Amstrad style RS232 interface & ROM board (to support the RS232 RSX rom)... so I can add a FDD interface (which can be then populated on the PCB or not) - with fully decoded drive select lines to support 4 drives by x2 FDD interface connectors.

I might add a DK'tronics mouse port + maybe a couple of expansion port slots for M4, LambdaMikel sound / speech cards etc...

Its a side project, but one I want to have completed before say Easter - as time allows...

The original Amstrad FDD interface sells now for crazy money - so I want a compatible unit... (I can add the fully decoded Drive select lines for you).
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 21:32, 03 January 22
That sounds like a greater project, really with you luck with that. :)

Even if you do, lets say, a DDI-1 clone then four drives will be of interest to anybody I guess, the additional hardware is only a small chip the 2 to 4 decoder for Drive-Select.

What's the topic if this topic here is more to have Vortex F1-D compatible external floppy controller. That's basically a DDI-1 controller with different port addresses and the possibility to use all four floppies (drive select 0 to 3). Such an expansion is needed for the 664, 6128 and 6128plus, because they do have the regular FDC with regular port-addresses inside already.
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: RetroCPC on 01:06, 04 January 22
OK, I didnt realise that the Vortex F1-D has a differant address to the Amstard DDI - I just presumed it had the same CPC Bus address as the Amstard interface - just with extra drive select logic on the uPC765 contorller...

If I have a Vortex F1-D board to work with - then I can make the my design compaibale with both the Amstard and Vortex F1-D FDD contorllers...

The Vortex FDD interfce I've seen is just an Amstard FDD inside a larger case + an extra RS232 interface PCB... maybe somehow there is some modifications to support the extra drive select...

Sorry, without a Vortex F1-D board OR a schematic, I'm working in the blind and cannot help...
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 20:15, 07 January 22
Yes, that's the great thing about the F1-D controller, it has different port addresses.

So the internal FDC (Amstrad) and the external FDC (Vortex) can be used in parallel.
And this means to be able to add up to 6 physical floppy drives and floppy emulators.
The ultimate copy station if you will.  :) :) :)


Is anybody else here interested in this project? Then please use the poll up there.  :)
Title: Re: Extended clone of the great Vortex F1-D/M1-D Floppy Disc Controller!
Post by: GUNHED on 22:39, 09 January 22
A potential schematic is here, but it's working as DDI-1 replacement.
https://eb-harwardt.jimdofree.com/8-bit-technik/cpc-kcc-floppy-controler/

As @TotO (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=290) mentioned it should only be needed to swap A3 and A7 (best with an switch!).

Please have a look at it. Can somebody make PCBs out of it?