Vortex Disc Drives

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A series of external 3.5" and 5.25" floppy disc drives from Vortex providing up to 720K capacity (704K available). The Vortex drives were most popular in Germany.

S- and D-Drives (720K)

These are the very first generation of 720K floppy disc drives from Vortex. They came in variants having either a single drive ("S" variant) or two drives ("D" variant). The 5,25" drives used were BASF 6138 type drives (double-sided, double density, 80 tracks).

Variants

  • F1 - S Single 5.25" drive with power supply connected via ribbon cable to interface with NEC765 and VDOS 1.0 or 2.11
  • F1 - D Double 5.25" drive with power supply connected via ribbon cable to interface with NEC765 and VDOS 1.0 or 2.11
  • M1 - S Single 3.5" drive with power supply connected via ribbon cable to interface with NEC765 and VDOS 1.0 or 2.11
  • M1 - D Double 3.5" drive with power supply connected via ribbon cable to interface with NEC765 and VDOS 1.0 or 2.11


A1-S Upgrade Kit

Vortex offered an upgrade kit consisting of a bare 5,25" drive (BASF 6138) and an installation manual, allowing to upgrade a single F1-S drive to a dual F1-D drive. To do this, one simply had to install the additional drive in the free slot of the drive case.

FDA-1 3" Drive Adapter

This adapter allows to use an external Amstrad FD-1 3" drive on Vortex F1/M1 setups connected to a CPC 464. Since only two drives can be used simultaneously, the 3" drive had to be manually selected first using RSX commands.

RSX Description
|S,1 Use 3" drive as drive A, upper Vortex drive is disabled
|S,2 Use 3" drive as drive B, lower Vortex drive is disabled
|S,0 Disable the 3" drive (default)

FDC I/O Ports

All types of floppy disk controllers for the F1-S/F1-D/M1-S/M1-D range are based on the NEC 765 chip. The manual states that on "controllers having an integrated ROM module/eprommer" (probably the later 6128 interfaces?), the port addresses can be freely configured using a decoder ROM.

CPC 464:

Address Description
0xFB7E uPD control
0xFB7F uPD data
0xFA7E motor on/off

CPC 664/6128:

Address Description
0xFBF6 uPD control
0xFBF7 uPD data
0xFA7E motor on/off


Z-Drives (180K)

These are less expensive drives and were meant to be directly connected as B drive to a CPC 464 with DDI-1 or a CPC 664/6128. Since these drives do not ship with an own controller or a VDOS ROM, they do rely fully on AMSDOS and thus only 40 tracks can be accessed. The Z-drives were basically S-drives without a Vortex controller and CP/M license.

Variants

  • F1 - Z Single 5.25" drive with power supply with ribbon cable (does not come with interface containing FDC or VDOS)
  • M1 - Z Single 3.5" drive with power supply with ribbon cable (does not come with interface containing FDC or VDOS)

A1-Z Upgrade Kit

Vortex offered an upgrade kit consisting of a controller, manual, CP/M license and utility disk which upgraded a Z-Drive to a S-Drive.


X-Drives (720K)

These are the latest drives from Vortex for use with a CPC 464 with DDI-1 or a CPC 664/6128 (ie. on systems that already have a floppy disc controller); no additional controller was required anymore. Instead, a ROM module was supplied together with the drive, which provided VDOS 2.0-X. Only single-drive variants were available. The |S command (for accessing a third drive) is no longer used, the new |X command allows to swap drive A and B (same as X-DDOS from Dobbertin). These drives are very well designed and have solved many of the problems of the earlier series, especially in terms of compatibility.

Variants

  • F1 - X Single 80 track, Double Sided, 5.25" drive with power supply
  • M1 - X Single 80 Track, Double Sided, 3.5" drive with power supply
  • F1 - XRS same as F1-X, upgraded with RS232-C interface
  • M1 - XRS same as M1-X, upgraded with RS232-C interface


X(RS)-Modul

The X-drives for the CPC 664/6128 are connected directly to the floppy port. To provide VDOS, the "X-Modul" had to be installed to the expansion port. This is a single-ROM board containing a VDOS 2.0-X ROM and was also available with an additional RS232-C interface (named "XRS-Modul"). The board supplied for the CPC 464 version came with a chunky housing in which both the "X(RS)-Modul" and the DDI-1 had to be installed.

RS232 I/O Ports

The RS232-C interface of the "XRS-Modul" was advertised to be compatible with Amstrad/Pace interfaces, but offers only one channel (so no channel B).

Address Description
0xFADC SIO data (R/W)
0xFADD SIO control (R/W)
0xFBDC 8253 counter 0 (R/W)
0xFBDD 8253 counter 1 (R/W)
0xFBDF Mode word (W)


VDOS

See VDOS

Vortex Disk Format

See VDOS: Vortex Disc Format