Getting files onto a PCW

Started by Velociraptor, 00:52, 13 May 22

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Velociraptor

I've got hold of a really nice condition PCW, and I'd like to use it for Z-Engine text adventures as well as ones for the PCW.

Presently I use a USiFAC2 to transfer files and disc images to my CPC. 

I do not expect that the DS/DD drive on the PCW will talk to the CPC in any way but is there a way to write discs on the CPC that can be read by the PCW? 

JohnElliott

Any PCW with 3" drives should be able to read 3" discs in the CPC System or Data formats, though if it's a 9512 it won't be able to write to them.

GeoffB17

To add a little more detail to John's note, I'd point out that a lot of software for the systems was distributed on A: disks where one side was the PCW version and the other side the CPC version.  My PCW was always able to read both sides of the disk.  Not so sure about the B: drive, but if you used a standard 3" drive on both machines then the format should be the same.  Might make things a bit more reliable if you've got a 3.5" drive on both machines instead.

Geoff

JohnElliott

Quote from: GeoffB17 on 02:03, 13 May 22Might make things a bit more reliable if you've got a 3.5" drive on both machines instead.
Or frustrating, if the CPC writes a 40-track format onto an 80-track 3.5" disc...

Velociraptor

So it looks like if the PCW can read 3" CPC formatted discs then I can at worst use them for file transfer to discs in the B drive (B drive is the DSDD one?).

That means I'll be able to transfer files without difficulty, and by the sounds of things write PCW images assuming they are SS/SD.

Looks like it'll be fine!

GeoffB17

It would be a help - still - to know which PCW you have.

Assuming it's a 8xxx type, then the A: drive is the SS (172k) disk, and this is easiest/most consistent as regards CPC/PCW.  As John is suggesting, there are possible complications regarding the B: drive, but if you try to get the disk type the same on both sides things will be better.  3" or 3.5", SS or DS, 40t or 80t.  There's prob people with every combination.   My PCW, for example, has a standard SS A: 3" drive, but I might use either a 5.25" 360k B: or a 720k 3.5" drive.

The problem with making the images is more to do with the disk capacity you have, and this limits making images bigger than SS A: ones (190k file size) if you write the image to M:, assuming you've got the larger RAM.   If you want to image a 730k disk, then you need 790k (?)  to write the image file.

Geoff

Velociraptor

8512 with an A and B drive. 

I think I'm going to be fine though. If it needs to be an image and not files then it'll likely be a SS/SD image so I can write that on the CPC and use it on the PCW. Most likely though it'll be files, and I can use a SS/SD disc to transfer from the CPC to the PCW and then on the PCW I can copy from A to B.

I think I'm at least at the point where I should give it a try and see where I get to!

Thanks for all the help.

GeoffB17

Thanks for the update.

Yes, the A: drive format should be easy.   The B: drive may still be possible - I think that it is possible to attach a 80t B: drive (3") to a CPC (maybe just the 6128, to use with CPM?).

As for images, the 8512 will give you a M: drive of 38?k, so you can create images from A: and save the image file to M: (using for example John Elliott's DU54).  However, that begs the question - how do you get the image file off the PCW to something else.  File too big for A:, although you MIGHT be able to use Squeeze (or the option within the NSWP program) to fit something onto an A: disk.  May depend on the data on the disk, and what % you get from the Squeeze.

I'm interested to know more about what you're hoping to do with the Z-Machine adventures.   There are a lot of them about, other than the infocom ones, but there are different versions of the system (z1 thru z8).  As I understand things, most of the Infocom games are z3 (the first byte of the .DAT files are &H03), but I've seen mention of quite a few z5 games (these can use a larger .DAT file, i.e. max 256k instead of 128k).  Version 6 started to allow limited graphics?  Obviously, we've got a CP/M version of the z3 'interpreter' (that's the .COM file that comes with the games we've got), I'm not sure if there's a CP/M version of a z5 capable prog?

Geoff

Velociraptor

All questions I haven't thought of yet, Geoff. It's a project I'm not in a terrible hurry with and I'll need to buy and build some furniture for my study before I can set the PCW up in there. That room is supposed to be a disconnected room so other than my home office desk for working from home, which gets switched off at the end of the day. I have an all in one PC for reading old magazines on PDF, my record player and records, my bookcase and a desk to read at.... and I hope this PCW where I can play text only games.

I do have a couple of spare B drives I've picked up on ebay. So maybe I can do something with greaseweazle - I have an adapter board for it someone gave me when they were making their own, but I've done nothing at all so far on it.

I think though the first step is to get something at all working on it, once it's set up. And then if I come across things I can't do then I'll solve those problems somehow.

https://www.seasip.info/ZX/zxzvm.html

ZXZVM is what inspired me to do it which is capable up to version 8.

eto

Does it have to be real disk drives? I've seen a video of Perifractic installing a Gotek into a PCW, which gives him access to the disk images directly. 

Velociraptor

#10
I really don't like Goteks. I've managed to collect around 250 3" discs because I prefer using them over a gotek.

GeoffB17

Yes, I like the actual/real floppy disks as well.  Even my main PC (an XP machine) has a 3.5" drive, and a ZIP 100 drive, the older PCs may have 5.25" drives as well.   The more modern laptops do not.

One of the reasons I still use the PCW!  Although that has the uIDE drives which makes many things much easier.  And faster.

The one thing I do not have, but might like one day, would be a 3" B: (DSDD) drive.  Every now and again I could use being able to read the 3" B: disks.  Activating the 3.5" variant is fine operationally, but for day-to-day use I prefer the 360k 5.25" drive.   I don't usually NEED the extra space with the uIDE system.

I did look at the zxzvm system a long time ago, not sure if I downloaded it back then but never did anything with it, or just didn't follow things up at all.   Anyway, I have JUST NOW got it, and installed it, and I've just had a little play.   I'd recently got an archive of Scott Adams games, but they were all .Z5 files, and I needed something they would work on.

So, I've just tried one of the .Z5 games with zxzvm, and YES, they work.

Almost!!

Something not quite right with the handling of the status bar on the top of the screen.  It's not clearing the previous text properly (at all) so this can cause confusion.   Even if it added a few spaces to the end of the new text, this would be a help.

The archive has about 18 games in. 

Geoff

GeoffB17

REgarding all your 3" disks you collected, I recently saw your notes about problems you'd had with some.

I don't know I said back then, but I always give problem disks a 'go' with a bar magnet to make sure they are 100% wiped.  This OFTEN solves the problem, which will have been due to slight tracking differences between different drives used over the years.   Yes, does NOT help if the problem is due to spilling a mug of coffee (or whatever) over the disk.

Geoff

Velociraptor

I wasn't surprised with the problems I had with them to be honest. Almost every one that was very bad had been visibly stored badly from the misting on the metal cover. 

When it comes to using the discs that mostly work I'll try the magnet thing first of all, and see if afterwards they format to the full capacity!

ZXZVM is in active development it seems so maybe you could give your feedback to the author and he could fix it.

GeoffB17

I've just downloaded the source, which is all ASM.  I'm not so hot on that.  I'll look at it, should be able to find the spot at least.

The code was last changed May 2016, so I don't think that counts as 'in active development'??

Geoff

JohnElliott

There was a recent port of zxzvm to the TRS-80 by Shawn Sijnstra which made a number of changes, but I never got round to applying them back to the original Spectrum / PCW version and issuing a new release.

Velociraptor

Quote from: GeoffB17 on 18:25, 16 May 22I've just downloaded the source, which is all ASM.  I'm not so hot on that.  I'll look at it, should be able to find the spot at least.

The code was last changed May 2016, so I don't think that counts as 'in active development'??

Geoff
Oh I was just judging by a 2021 date on the bottom of the page.

Velociraptor

Quote from: JohnElliott on 18:54, 16 May 22There was a recent port of zxzvm to the TRS-80 by Shawn Sijnstra which made a number of changes, but I never got round to applying them back to the original Spectrum / PCW version and issuing a new release.
Aha! You're the author. Thank you very much for doing it.

When I get it up and working on the PCW (I have managed to get one in fantastic condition) I think I'll have a nice peaceful way to play text adventures disconnected from the modern world!

GeoffB17

Regarding the zxzvm system, the z5 file I was trying was giving the problem, this uses a split screen where the small top 'window' provides a status display that includes a 'Visible items' section.   I cannot find any trace of this in the code, if I do a search for 'visi' nothing comes up.

I also tried to run the prog with one of the .DAT files from a z3 game (in this case, Sorcerer).  Using the explicit data/game file worked fine, the game operates.   However, this works differently, the normal/usual display appears on the main screen, and there seems to be no 'split window' effect, and therefore no 'live' Visible items message.  So no problem with the z3 games?

So, could be that the Visible items part is driven by the actual game file, hence the problem that I'm seeing could be the fault of the data in that file.   The set of Scott Adams files that I've got have been generated as z5 files using some automatic or semi-automatic process, maybe I need to find some other z5 files from another source and see if they behave the same.

I'll keep an eye on this, and report further.

Geoff

GeoffB17

Regarding the Infocom games, please note this link:

https://eblong.com/infocom/

this refers to a complete (?) catalog of all the versions of all the infocom games.

Interesting.

Geoff

Velociraptor

That's a good link and I used it before when I was trying to get a setup going using Samsung dex in my kitchen for the same thing (using wildly different tech!) as I'm going to try with the PCW. 


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