Month: July 2016

Incorporating Passport by 4am into my workflow for archiving Apple II software with pictures

Incorporating Passport by 4am into my workflow for archiving Apple II software with pictures

This post will:

  • Answer if I still need an Essential Data Duplicator (EDD) card to continue my efforts in preserving Apple II software from 5.25″ media
  • Outline how I use Passport by 4㏂
  • How the Floppy Emu can be incorporated in the process to more efficiently create disk images
  • New titles since the first 66 titles were published

The EDD card is known to me as a card for your slotted Apple II that has the Disk II cable pass through the EDD card on it’s way to the disk controller. Using the up to date software “I’m fEDDup“, one can capture a file containing disk information which retains the original sector structure.  A CFFA3000 is used with a ProDOS partition to save the files for sneaker net transfer to a modern computer.  

Up until the release of Passport, EDD disk images were distributed online to a select few who could apply their talents to removing the embedded copy protection from each image and release the software as cleanly cracked.  That is the disk image is compatible in an emulator and no longer contains routines to stop the loading of the software due to protections.

The presents a problem for the following reasons:

  • EDD backups are slow at ~18 minutes per disk on a stock speed IIe
  • The person doing the backing up doesn’t have a working solution until someone online cracks it
  • Cost involved with sourcing an EDD card and possibly a ZIP Chip or Transwarp accelerator to greatly improve the speed of EDD backups.  
  • Highly specific hardware required means an investment in an EDD card and accelerator which I personally was struggling to justify 
  • Hardware required can be difficult to source

Having said that clearly people to consider the costs involved for a EDD backups system to be justified, with users groups such as Apple II Australia even suggesting the idea of having an EDD card on rotation for members to use.  Time is still a problem here considering an unprotected disk can practically fly through ADTPro in 30 seconds, facing 18 minutes just to capture the disk alone is a hard sell.

The solution is here, available now and working – use Passport by 4am and your choice of 5.25″ disk emulator such as the Floppy Emu which I use and other solutions like Unisdisk and CFFA3000.  Passport does not format while it writes to the disk which is key to Floppy Emu compatibility and possibly other devices.

You can get around having a floppy drive emulator by using two disk drives and ADTPro to transfer the cracked disk to an image which in my experience works equally as well as writing direct to the Floppy Emu.

Disks now successfully backed up that previously failed are at the time of writing:

  1. Fish Scales – Designed by Neosoft, Published by DLM in 1985
  2. Facemaker – by Spinnaker Software DesignWare in 1982
  3. The First Fleet Convict Database – Distributed by Information Technology Week Committee in conjection with The Elizabeth Computer Centre and Gemini Software in 1982
  4. Scholastic Microzine 7
  5. Epyx Summer Games II

My hardware is:

  • Apple IIe, re-capped ASTEC power supply
  • AppleColor Composite Monitor IIe
  • Slot (S) 1 Apple Super Serial Card
  • S2 Apple IIe mouse interface
  • S3 Apple IIe 80 column/64K Memory Expansion and Video
  • S4 Empty
  • S5 Empty
  • S6 Apple 5.25″ Disk controller connected to the DuoDisk
  • S7 Apple 5.25″ Disk controller connected to Big Mess of Wire’s Floppy Emu

To get Passport by 4㏂ running on a setup similar to mine, you’ll need to modify the supplied 819kb .2mg file so it fits into a 140kb disk image for compatibility with the 5.25″ disk controller card.  Passport’s binary and system file are the core files one needs to keep, deleting the source code in CiderPress to trim down the disk image.  I have done this already and I now link to a ready to run 140kb disk image

Here are the steps to take an original copy protected disk into a disk image I use:

  1. Prepare your working disk.  I use a blank 140kb disk image file duplicated with the file name changed to the title of the software I’m backing up.  Or have a formatted 5.25″ floppy disk in Drive (D) 2
  2. Boot my 140kb version of Passport on your Apple II using your method of choice such as disk emulation or ADTPro
  3. Insert your original disk to drive one
  4. Eject the Passport disk image and mount the blank image file you made with the matching file name to the original disk
  5. Configure your target slot and drive, for me I have to press the “S” key once to change the target to: S7,D1 – the Floppy Emu.  My source is S6,D1 – the DuoDisk
  6. Press the “C” key and watch the magic happen.  While the realtime copy and copy protection removal occurs you may like to take notes of what Passport is doing on screen for documentation purposes.
  7. Either repeat steps 4 to 6 or reboot your Apple II to see if the copy boots as expected.

Best practice in making disk images involves cleaning of your drive heads as required. I have cleaned my drive heads with a cotton bud dipped in alcohol and now use a Memorex branded disc drive head cleaner floppy.  If you are getting read errors for some reason, clean your drive heads.

I visually inspect the exposed disk section of a floppy before inserting it looking for surface changes.  If it looks like there is a coating or any deterioration of the surface there is a good chance you’ll transfer some of that to your drive.

By all means get in contact if you have any questions.  Jeremy Barr-Hyde can be contacted by email or Twitter direct message.

Here are some example photos of me indulging:

20160724_21492820160725_17035520160725_19251220160725_193206 …

Serial ADTPro communication

Subjects covered in this post:
Mac OS X serial drivers
Serial cables
I don’t know about you but I was raised to make use of what you had, and if you had fun along the way then you’d learned something.  I certainly did, with this blog post spelling out where I had troubles establishing a working serial connection between any of my laptops and the Apple Super Serial Card.  I could have spent money on the suggested cables and adaptors or even splurged on an Uthernet II

This post may be a tedious read and is intended more for documentation should someone have connectivity issues like I did that are not addressed in the excellent ADTPro website. I referred to this website countless times and if you’re going down the same path you will too.

Serial communication on Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan, where to begin.  I had two USB to Serial adapters in the collection, a silver Dolphin Peripherals and a more solid-looking one with no label.  The Dolphin Peripherals seemed the better choice (wrong) as it had an LED indicator light and a model number.  My mac wouldn’t recognise the device as a serial port so I set about finding drivers.

Dolphin USB to Serial Adapter
Model No: XH6451
Chipset:  FT8U232AM

The fact that Mac OS X supports an extreme range of printers with over 168 pages of drivers drivers, it does not include built in support for once common chipsets as made by Prolific and FTDI.

Fun fact: Mac OS X lists my serial device as both, like “/dev/tty.usbserial-A700dYoR” and “/dev/cu.usbserial-A700dYoR.  Keith Kaisershot explains that “tty” == TeleTYpe and “cu” == “Calling Unit.  Martin Crockett further elaborates “tty is the traditional Unix name for serial ports as in to connect a serial terminal. cu is also a serial port but traditionally used to connect two systems together, a bit like ADTPro connections.”
I was able to find Mac drivers thanks to this Whirlpool Forum thread which support PowerPC-based Apple computers.  No worries I thought – after all one of the great advantages to having an Apple computer collection is being able to walk over to shelf and pick out the model I need, where I chose an iBook G4 running 10.5.5 and installed the drivers which worked as ADTPro would recognise it as TTY or CU serial port.

There is a glitch though – reboot the computer and the serial port is lost.  A technical note I found explains
2. The device cannot be accessed after the computer has

The background to this problem is that FTDIUSBSerialDriver has a dependency on  This is an Apple driver and it is not a Root driver.  This means
that at “root” (boot) time, the driver’s dependencies cannot be satisfied, and the driver does not participate in the extension loading process.

Apple’s position on this problem is as follows :-

“Apple will not (for the foreseeable future) be able to provide a root version of  It depends on other components that are not available at boot time.”

This presented a serious annoyance as ADTPro could crash (for me) if the disk transfer was interrupted on the Apple IIe which was happening randomly.  I would have to hard reboot the iBook and reinstall the driver every time.  This situation was almost enough for me to give up on the idea as it also meant I had to have another computer on my computer desk for at least as long as it took to image the educational software I had.   I decided to keep using the iBook and Dolphin serial adapter with the limitations for the time being.

Note: I even went as far as swapping my SSC for a spare which was an earlier revision.
Moving on to connecting the Apple Super Serial Card (SSC) to the USB Serial adapter.  The SSC uses a DB-25F (25-pin female) port and the USB serial adapter a DB-9M (9-pin male).  I went to storage tub which had a DB-9M to DB-9F cable in new condition and a DB25 to DB9 converter.  This was supposed to be the solution – all the plugs fitted and it wasn’t uncommon to use a solution like this with a modem as I had experienced all those years ago when dialup was a thing.

I had the cable, working serial port, and ADTPro server software ready.  Nothing I tried could get the ADTPro client software running on a real Apple IIe to talk to the Macbook.  I blamed the USB Serial adapter and grabbed a Dell Precision laptop with 32-bit Windows XP on it and a real COM port.  What a time suck.  Would you believe the laptop was running Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Java needs service pack 3?  Would you believe the Microsoft support page for downloading a network install .exe of SP3 redirects to a Windows 10 upgrade page?

Needless to say I persevered like I always do and found a slow mirror for XP SP3 and installed the latest version of Java for XP.  Updates completed I ran ADTpro, connected up the Apple II to the ‘real ‘ COM port expecting things to finally work.  They didn’t.  Same problem as before – no communication between the Apple IIe and computer.

I wrote to the Apple ][ Australia mailing list to basically debrief my frustration and see what trouble shooting options I had.

At this point I considered anyone who had ADTPro working a magician as I had tried everything I could, and decided to walk away from the project for a few days to regroup.  A new cable and adapter from the USA possibly offered a solution but the thought of buying another serial cable and the postage costs to Australia pointed me back to doing things the hard way and using what I had

I decided a new cable was needed and went to a local charity store where I found a  direct DB-25 to DB-9 cable.  Plugged it into the Dell Precision and ADT worked immediately.  The literal second I chose the Bootstrap option that text flew across my IIe screen!

Finally a working solution.  It was the cable the whole time, or more specifically an incompatible DB-25 ->DB-9 adapter.  Feeling energised I went back into a storage tub to just see what the other USB-Serial adapter was like.

Believe it or not, it was the very adapter ‘the interwebs’ suggest as the very best for Mac OS X compatibility – a Prolific 2303.  The first result in Google gave me appropriate drivers for 10.11 which worked, so armed with the right serial cable AND the best USB to Serial adapter I set to work making a spreadsheet to appropriately document the floppy disks and feeding them through my DuoDrive (cleaning the drive heads every so often of course!).

You’ve read this far to learn a genuine Prolific 2303 chipset-based adapter is failsafe thanks to current supported drivers and use only direct 25-pin to 9-pin cable to the Apple SSC.

Programmable Turtle book and software for the Apple II lives on

Programmable Turtle book and software for the Apple II lives on

Update 03/10/2016: By combing the power of myself and Alex Lukacz we bring you the complete package of software and booklet.

On the 23rd of May 2016 I spoke with Greg Preston, president of the now folded NSW Computer Education Group.  Greg remembered Turtle well and brought my attention to the lower right corner “CEU 013”, and suggested that was book 13 of about 150.

My edition is a 1985 re-print which has scanned at least 5 times with various output settings to achieve this ‘final’ version here: Programmable Turtle
This has been processed using Photoshop to correct levels and Adobe ClearScan in the older Acrobat 11 to clean up the text and de-skew pages.

An introduction is on PDF pg.12 as follows:

System requirements
“Turtle requires a 48k APPLE II computer with a disk drive”.

Update 03/10/2016: Alex Lukacz has replied to my posting with a disk image made from his personal copy.  I can confirm it matches the booklet and runs perfectly!  You may download the disk image and accompaning notes hereScreenshot2