For years I have wanted to be able to read some of my old, non-PC, floppy disks. A few years back I decided it was time I made a start (see posts here). The initial idea was to use an Arduino, with a PIC32MX as a fallback, connecting it to an external Amiga floppy drive and that is exactly what I did. I then connected it to a PC floppy drive and was able to control it. I was able to read from the drive, however it was very unreliable. So I paused and re-evaluated what I had done and took another look at other projects including:
- Amiga Floppy Reader (AFR) by Marco Veneri;
- Tech Travels – Keith Monahan;
- Rob Smith – Arduino Floppy Reader;
- AVR X-Copy; and
- ADF-Copy – Nick’s Labor.
For a period I considered switching to an ESP8266, ESP32, STM32, Teensy, Raspberry Pi or a UDOO Neo. After seeing these other projects though I was convinced I could get the Mac to connect to the Arduino and read data. Well control was not an issue but reading data has remained an issue. Thinking the issue was hardware based I ordered several new parts. Whilst waiting I happened to come across a few other projects:
The Flux Engine is a nice concept but uses an FPGA and requires Windows to program. Ignore the name of the BBC reader, it is capable of reading many formats and uses a few logic chips to connect to a Raspberry Pi. The GreaseWeazle uses nothing more than a STM32 Blue Pill. The BBC version appeals to me as having it connected to a Pi opens up various possibilities, integrating a real floppy with an emulator for example. I have the parts to try both the GreaseWeazle and BBC Reader, but as the former is easier, just a few wires from the Blue Pill to a floppy drive I decided to start with that.
Next it is a simple command line to read a disk:
Greaseweazle/gw read mydisk.scp
There are various options you can use, but this read some old Amiga disks just fine. There are some custom PCB versions and various additional programs. It can connect to most floppy drives and seems to work very well. So scrap all of my work, why reinvent the wheel? Going to use this project, do a bit more testing, possibly look at a custom PCB version, an enclosure and connection to both 3 1/2 inch and 5 1/4 inch drives.