The Apple IIgs has proven to be the most versatile and helpful machine in my hobby of preserving Apple II software. Having moved from the Apple //e with two Disk II controllers, I had to rethink how I could use Passport on the IIgs and also use I’m fEDDup for Essential Data Duplication images.
The following post aims to explain:
- Slot configuration and rationale
- The most efficient way to boot into GS/OS, I’m fEDDup and Passport by 4am on a MicroDrive / RAM Fast card
- Choosing between imaging tools
- Optionally using an EDD card for advanced preservation and applying the card in a IIgs
- Testing of disk images using Virtual ][
- Workflows to copy data from the Microdrive in Ciderpress
A good video which compliments this post is available now https://youtu.be/9MfhkLRv638
Configuration of slots in the IIgs control panel isn’t clear that Slot 5 automatically remaps to Slot 6 for compatibility in Apple II ‘mode’. Therefore no changes to Slot 5 and 6 in the IIgs control panel are made.
As I use a Floppy Emu for writing disk images to in Passport and also testing them on the IIgs, this is connected to a Apple 5.25″ Disk controller in slot 7. I chose this because being the highest number, when I reboot the IIgs, it will run the Floppy Emu which allows me to see if the disk image runs straight away. The second benefit is Slot 7 is accessibly by Passport. This requires the IIgs control panel to set Slot 7 as ‘Your card’.
The MicroDrive I use is in Slot 2 and works very well for all my purposes which are running GS/OS and booting partitions of ProDOS 8 software (I’m fEDDup and Passport by 4am). This requires the IIgs control panel to set Slot 2 as ‘Your card’.
The EDD card with DB-19 upgrade cable resides in Slot 4, with the IIgs control panel set for Slot 4 as ‘Your card’. Note: This will disable your mouse in GS OS until you set it back. No worries for disk imaging. This particular card has two Disk II ribbon cable headers on board with a cable going to a DB-19 connection allowing a Unidisk 5.25″ drive to piggy back into it. This cable is the perfect solution if you don’t have a Disk II drive available.
With the cards installed you need to configure your Microdrive storage device with partitions you can use. My partitions are as follows on a 128mb CF card:
- Microdrive utilities and Prodos 1.5
- Passport by 4am
- I’m fEDDup 32mb version*
- GS/OS 6.0.3 on a 27mb partition
CiderPress was the tool of choice to read the proprietary Microdrive structure and write disk images as partitions. I did encounter one issue with block-too-small partition. I formatted my four partitions as 65535 blocks in size using the Microdrive utilities, but the supplied 32mb version of I’m fEDDup is 65556 blocks – too big for Ciderpress to copy over due to size mismatch. The workaround was to make a new 32mb disk image in Ciderpress that was specifically 65535 blocks. Then open the I’m fEDDup image in another window, then simply copy and paste the contents to my one block smaller image. This was then written to the Microdrive successfully.
Feeling creative I decided to take the 4am supplied 140kb disk image of Passport 20160902 and ‘just’ write that to the second parttiion of my Microdrive CF and see if it worked. I know I could use that disk space for other things but I couldn’t tell you what I’d use it for! This allows me to directly boot Passport from a solid state media and frees up time that I used to spend booting from media then swapping disks. Who knew you could write a Prodos floppy disk image to the Microdrive as a partition and it boots!
Using Ciderpress to write partitions is out of the scope I’d like to have in this post so please follow other guides for further information. I should point out I use a Microdrive instead of a CFFA as they are out of stock. Nothing like needing to use what you have to make the most of it.
Now to consider the right tool for the job. Passport by 4am will allow you to verify a disk is readable by pressing V. It will also read a disk to memory and write to your Floppy Emu a ‘clean crack’ version of the original with patches applied to overcome copy protection. Recognition of patterns is performed in real time – the original is read from Slot 6 Drive 1 and then written to Slot 7 Drive 1 (where the Floppy Emu has a blank disk image mounted).
The benefit from using Passport first up to ‘crack’ your discs is it will tell you if a patch was applied. If no patches were applied there is a good chance no further work is needed to boot or read that disk. If patches were applied, it will explain what was changed. If I see this I make a note that the original was indeed copy protected and then test the new disk image to check it boots.
I’m fEDDup will create EDD files about 2mb in size from your Apple II media if set to 23 tracks and 0.25 track steps. This software is versatile enough to create .DSK files at high speed (~30 seconds or less). Have you considered that I’m fEDDup makes .DSK files too?
Pros of using I’m fEDDup:
– The fastest way to save unprotected disks
– Visual display of tracks
– Disks with copy protection will be copied but the disk images won’t boot (or have issues) so you’ll have to run them through passport thus creating double handling as file names are limited eg SPACEQD1 opposed to Space Quest Disk 1
Now if you’re a high-flying Apple II enthusiast, or in my case just blessed to know generous people, you’ll have an EDD card to use. I’ve suggested slot 4 and explained that I’m fEDDup works well from the Microdrive. The EDD component has extra options. Step allows you to choose 1, 0.5 or 0.25. This adds more time to the imaging process though. Tracks are standard at 22 but 23 is suggested to capture an extra track just in case.
My settings are as follows and its worth noting you access these by pressing O for options, Enter to save, then ESC to return back to the main screen.
- NIB and NIT off
- Overwrite on
- Tracks 23
- Steps 0.25
- Disk II card slot 6, drive 1 (where the Apple 5.25″ Unidisk is in the IIgs dis port)
To capture a .DSK image which we now understand will quickly copy an unprotected disk with a basic file name, press D.
To capture a disks contents at archival quality, create an .EDD image by pressing S. Make a cup of tea (to be consumed away from the keyboard of course!)
Now if you’d like to follow what I think is the best workflow for discs – keep reading. You’ve got your SD card based floppy emulator connected to slot 7, 5.25″ Unidisk in the Apple IIgs disk port and Passport y 4am booting from your source. Prepare duplicate blank disk images and file names. It can be handy to have extra blank disc images for Side B.
With your file names matching the discs and copied over to your floppy Emu (or SD Disk II etc), boot passport and mount your blank. You may need to check the destination is Slot 7 in Passport. Press C to crack the disc and or transfer the contents to your corresponding disk image. When finished, eject the floppy and place it in front of your monitor, so you can take a photo on your phone for later documentation. Having a photo of the passport report and floppy next to it helps keep track of what belongs to what.
You should be able to read your Floppy Emu SD card on your computer, double click on the file you’ve just made and have it boot in virtual II or your emulator of choice. So what happens if all you get is a blank screen or something cryptic like “?OVERFLOW ERROR IN 10”? You need to double check the disk can’t be cracked in Passport first as that will most likely help. If the patches applied don’t work or no patches can be found BUT the disc boots happily and runs as you’d expect on real hardware, it’s time for an EDD image to be created for advanced, and manual cracking.
If you have encountered disks like this, as I did last week, then EDD is where it’s at. After creating your EDD images, take the lid off your IIgs and remove the CF card from the Microdrive. This manual labour adds up – try and do this in batches to save wear and tear too.
Connect your CF card to your computer via a USB card reader and open Ciderpress. Open the volume for your CF card and allow it to process the directory listing. Find your newly created EDD file, right click and press Extract. Once the file has moved over, copy it to a folder shared to your Mac.
Now that you’ve copied over your used .dsk fiels from the Floppy Emu SD card and moved the EDD file over, it’s time to document. I encourage you to keep notes as you go of anything significant like if you had to clean the disk, what errors happened and so on. Save these into your folder for the title and any photos you took along the way – like the one I hope I suggested you take of the disk label against the screen showing the Passport results.
If you have any further questions on the process by all means comment or email me directly and I’ll respond… eventually 😉