PCW 9512+ Software

Started by ethump, 19:13, 26 January 22

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ethump

Hi all-

New here!

I recently picked up a PCW9512 which seems to have been retrofitted with a 3.5" disk, or it's a 9512+ with 9512 branding.


Either way, I believe it amounts to the same thing! I used to use PCW8256/8512 back in college in the 80s, and haven't touched one since.

I have some questions with respect to software and data transfer if you'd indulge me!

1. Is there a repository of software for this machine?

2. I realize the prevalent disk for PCWs was 3". Can I write 3" disk images to 3.5" media?

3. How would I go about getting data from my regular Windows/Linux world onto PCW disk? Like transferring source code etc?

Cheers!
ecky

GeoffB17

#1
Hello,

Yes, the 'standard' 9512 would have had a 3" drive as A:, but changing that to a 3.5" drive is not a major task and even way back there were probably kits to do the job.

The benefits are that the 3.5" disks are easier to get hold of, and cheaper, and also easier to access on a PC, it's just a matter of software.   The downside would be that any commercial packages would come on 3" disks.   Also, what system disks have you got with the machine, are these just copies on 3.5" disks?

Format wise, the 3" disk and the 3.5" disk would be identical.   With the right software, you could write a 3" image onto a 3.5" disk, and it would work.

There will be a lot of images on the web for PCW software, but much of this would be on CF2 images.   The 9512 should be able to READ a CF2 disk, so your modified machine should be able to read a 3.5" disk that has a CF2 (Single sided, single density) image written onto it.  If you're looking for a LOT of software, then you maybe need one of the emulators and use that to read the image files and transfer the contents to CF2DD images that you could then write to fill a 3.5" disk.

I'm still using my PCW (that was once an 8256, but is now more an 8512+++) and this has an optional 3.5" B: drive.   I use emulators to mess with image files, however, I also have an old DOS type PC with floppy drives and I can read and write to both 5.25" and 3.5" cp/m format disks, so I can readily transfer files back and forth between PC and PCW.   I think there is something that will do the same job within Linux, and within WinDoze, but I'm not so 'up' on either of those options.

There may be cases involving original disks using copy protection where you might have a problem.   You might NEED a 3" drive - but, the 3" CF2 image written to a DSDD 3.5" disk (even if it's using half only of 1 side) may be a solution.

I understand that the 9512 cannot BOOT from a CF2 disk, and this may well apply to a CF2 image.   Some games would need to boot from the disk, so this might be a problem for you.

If you need more info, let us know.

Geoff

ethump

Thanks Geoff - yes, I suspected it'd be the same format. I don't have any system disks. Nothing came with it. Just keyboard and monitor/CPU. Not even a printer, though pretty sure I can live without that.


I have 8", 5.25", 3.5", 3" drives hooked up to various combinations of PC, QL, Amiga, ST, Acorn etc plus Greaseweazle goodness so pretty well covered for reading/writing disks - your guidance will put me on the right 'track' with that I can expect with the PCW.


I did find some system disk images labeled for PCW9512+ and wrote the SOD CP/M 3.0 disk to a 3.5" floppy with the GW. Worked fine. I was wondering about the bulk of the rest of the software which as you say will be 3" CF2 supplied.


Good shout on using an emulator to get things in order before 'commiting' to floppy.


cheers!
ecky


GeoffB17

Greetings,

You've got an 8" drive?   I've got a few 8" disks, but no drive.   I rescued a rather heavy box from an IBM Display Writer system that includes a couple of 8" drives, but although I've got a pile of tech data about them they are FAR from standard drives/connectors/etc so it may be impossible (or rather impractical) to achieve anything with them.

My PCW has alternate 5.25" and 3.5" drives available as B:, I just need to swap the connection cable.   I generally prefer to use the 5.25 drive as those floppies score more on the retro scale, and the extra space of the 3.5" drives doesn't count as I've got JonB's uIDE setup running giving my PCW 13 @ 8 Mb virtual HDs.

I use the DOS software 22DISK on an old PC for accessing files directly on PCW disks, usually the 5.25", but could be one of the 3.5" disks if need be.   This also allows getting at images/disks for other CP/M systems, with different formats.

As far as the emulators go, I installed John Elliott's Joyce system a few years ago, this works well, esp with the ability to set up multiple virtual HDs as C:, D: etc that are actual drives within the PC OS as well, very useful for transferring files again.   I've also used another emulator, Habi's CP/m Box (there have been links to this via this forum recently).   This also has an ability to use a real DOS drive as M:, but this does not protect anything when you exit the emulator.

I had a pair of genuine 3" 9512 boot disks, but as I had no 3" B: drive to read them with they were not a lot of use.   I got all the files extracted via a commercial service, so I could reconstitute the disks as images, or actual 3.5" disks.   That's the CP/M disk, and the LocoScript disk.

Geoff

ethump

Yes, my 8" drives are in a TRS80/16 I picked up recently. Haven't opened it up yet.


I'm pretty sure 8" drives should work with a PC. It's likely a Shugart interface with 50 pin edge connector. Adapters can be made. Could be completely wrong on that!

GeoffB17

Ha?

Interface?  What interface?  There's no interface that looks like such, and certainly no 50 pin edge connector.   There's a lot of wires go to a large plug or two, and my big worry is that some parts that should be part of the drive unit were in fact in the main unit of the DW system, and I didn't 'rescue' the rest of it.   The drive unit was big enough.   Looks like each of the two 8" drives has a massive AC motor attached, if the disk drives turn out to be no use I can always do something with the motors!!

One day, I must start to study the docs/circuits, and try to work out how much of the circuitry of a complete drive unit I actually have.   Maybe there's more than I think?

Geoff

cj7hawk

Hi Ethump,
I've been working on the same problem for about a week, with a new PCW9512 I got. I wrote some software to let me edit/modify/copy etc with CP/M disk images under Windows in a command line, and then I just move it on a USB to a GOTEK and boot straight off of that. I have no problems working with moving COM files like that, I just load them straight into a DSK image, and then I made my own GOTEK adapter and just treat it like a FDD.
If that is suitable, I'm happy to share the code, but it is in early alpha at the moment. Actually, it's truer to say it's in dev, but I've achieved the MVP of being able to move files around, so I'm calling it Alpha now, and it recognizes PCW9K, PCW8K, ZX Spectrum+3 and CPC disks and will work with all the images and move files between them. Very helpful when the file I need wasn't on a PCW9K disk.
It's written in Freebasic, so will compile under Linux just fine.  I can also share what I did to make the GOTEK work with it if that helps. I can also provide STL files to print the GOTEK housing if you have access to a 3D printer.



Let me know if any of this helps -
David

David



zzarko

#7
For working with DSK images, I'm using the excellent LibDsk and its program dsktrans from Joyce emulator. I have a few bash scripts that speed up typing while extracting/making DSK files, but dsktrans does all the heavy work. Generated DSKs I test first on Joyce emulator, and when I have the time on real PCW+Gotek.

@cj7hawk: are you developing your own routines for DSK files?
464,664,6128,6128+,NC150,NC200,Joyce512,PPC512, PenPad, www.oncuponabyte.org

cj7hawk

Quote from: zzarko on 07:52, 13 February 22
@cj7hawk: are you developing your own routines for DSK files?
@zzarko Yes, I've been writing my own routines for PC/Linux etc, in Freebasic. I'm still working on it, but the idea is that you can include the executable on the same USB as the images you want to work with and it assigns them all a drive and provides a CLI, so you can copy between images, delete, format, create new images etc, as well as copying back to the host directory or from the host directory. I didn't know about the other routines when I started, so wrote my own.
So far, I can recognize all the amstrad formats and move files between them, and to and from the host, as well as displaying files in text or ascii or hex, and examine the virtual disk. The most recent updates include copying the boot sector between disks, and tweaking the checksum to make it look like a Spectrum, PCW9k, PCW8k or other disk. It also recognizes any disk that confirms to the XDPB and can default disks that don't including both common CPC formats.
It's still very primitive, but generally seems reliable moving files between DSK files, or to/from the host.
Later I'll include options to change a disk format ( ie, change tracks/sides/sectors ) on the fly, so that disks can be adjusted for different applications.
I haven't tried the images on a Joyce emulator. Mostly I've been trying them with a Gotek on a Spectrum +3, and PCW9512 and lately got a PCW8256 that I'll use to test as well. I don't have a CPC yet.
David.

zzarko

@cj7hawk: wow, that is great what you made! I'll be glad to try out the code, when/if you make it public. Since I'm in a period of moving to a new place in the next couple of months, I'm not sure about my free time. But, I'm checking this forum from time to time, and will be delighted to follow your progress.
464,664,6128,6128+,NC150,NC200,Joyce512,PPC512, PenPad, www.oncuponabyte.org

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