8-Bit Software

The BBC and Master Computer Public Domain Library

File And Disc Image Transfer Help

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Reading/Writing Floppies

Omniflop and Omnidisk Links changed 08/10/2010 from info on the 8BS website to Jason's own dedicated website

Omniflop, the best solution for reading BBC floppies in XP
FDC the BBC disc read/writing program Information and Download
Using FDC with Windows XP

Direct Link Download of Xfer, direct link software 
Direct Link Cable Offer
Disc Image Types A brief explanation of some disc image types
Disc Image Manipulation 
BBCIM download and information 
Download of BBC EXPLORER 2
DFS and ADFS Explorer
Windows long filename FS for the BBC offsite link to Sprow
.inf Files Explanation of .inf files and their use
Reading DOS discs on a BBC DOSFS
Tape transfer Transfer of tape to disc image by Jon Welch
 
 


These are some of the things it is possible to do:

There are thousands of images and files already created for you available from this 8BS website and other websites


FDC (Floppy Disc Controller Demo) Brief Instructions

Download FDC here

READ a real time AVI demo (25k)
WRITE a real time AVI demo (37k)
If you find these any use, please let me know and I will put a bit more effort into refining them and producing some more

FDC is a disc reader/writer/formatter that will run in a window. It will not work on all PCs, especially newer ones. If you try everything on this page and it will not work, then I cannot help you! You need a disc drive of the same size on your BBC and PC, either 3.5" or 5.25".

If you are using a BBC with 8271 controller and 3.5" drive, you may need this adapted DFS ROM to adjust the timing so your BBC can use it

There are many uses for FDC. I use the program to:
 

  • Read in BBC formatted discs as an image using a PC
  • Write disc images back to BBC formatted disc on the PC
  • Format BBC discs
  • The disc is read in as an image that can then be used in a BBC emulator on the PC. The download of FDC here contains full instructions for its use. I have removed the pieces from those instructions that I find useful and placed them below:

    FDC Commands:

    fd0, fd1, fd2, fd3
    Select which floppy drive to use.  Default is fd1.  Most systems support only two drives so fd2 and fd3 may not do anything useful. (CJR: fd0 is drive A. fd1 is drive B)

    BBC
    Default. Set up all disk parameters for BBC DS SD 40-track 10-sector floppies on 360K PC drive. For 80 track floppies in a 1.2M drive also enter CYL 80 (and DDINHD might be needed).

    BBC80
    Same as bbc but for 80 track disks  (you may need to enter DDINHD after this).
    Parameters set are: 'bbc', then cyl80.

    BBC640
    Sets 3.5" ADFS L 640 K format with a head1alias =1. If it doesn't work, try head1alias=0.
    Parameters set: 'bbc', cyl 80, bytes 256, sectors 16, head1 1 (CJR: this format works fine on my 5.25" drive too)

    (CJR) For ADFS M set the above parameters but use 'read0' as the discs are single sided

    (CJR) For ADFS S set the above parameters but also type 'cyl 40' and remember to use only 'read0' as the discs are single sided

    DDINDD
    Set data rate for double density (e.g. 360KB) disk in a double density (i.e. 360KB) drive.  Note that if you are using a generic 360KB 40-track drive, you will probably want to set SINGLESTEP too.

    DDINHD
    Set data rate for double density (e.g. 360KB) disk in a high density (i.e. 1.2MB) drive.  Note that if the disk comes from a machine that uses normal (e.g. 360KB) 40-track drives, you will probably want to set DOUBLESTEP too.

    FORMAT, FORMAT0, FORMAT1
    Format and verify the disk using the currently set parameters.

    S[TATUS]
    Display all disk settings.

    W[RITE] filename, WRITE0 filename, WRITE1 filename
    Write entire contents of disk from an (for double sided: interleaved) image file.  All sectors appear in the same order on the disk as in the file. WRITE0 and WRITE1 write the imagefile to side 0,1

    Those are the abbreviated instructions for fdc. If you want the full instructions, please download fdc and extract them.

    In Short
    For an 80 track double sided DFS disc
    Insert your BBC disc into the PC drive
    Run FDC
    Type fd0 (if you put the disc in drive A)
    Type BBC80
    Type read <filename>

    For ADFS L, fd0, bbc640
    For ADFS M, fd0, bbc640 and use 'read0 filename' only
    For ADFS S, fd0, bbc640 cyl 40, and use 'read0 filename' only

    Simple as that

    To write the image back, type the above commands, but instead of 'read' type 'write'
    To read/write single sides of discs, type read0 or read1 (write0 and write1)

    Some settings that you may find useful not documented:
    CP\M format (80 track single sided) Bytes 256, Sectors 10, Cyl 80, read0 <filename> This is the default of FDC apart from CYL 80
    ADFS 800K discs:  Sectors 5, bytes 1024, m1, dd, Cyl 80, head1 1 OR head1 0 ALSO. Maybe minsector 0 needs setting too as I discovered with the Archimedes discs

    Using FDC with Windows XP

    See Jason Watton's OmniFlop for the latest solution to reading/writing/formatting floppies in XP

    The following was my solution before OmniFlop came along:

    Thanks to Jason Watton for prompting me on this one. My laptop runs Windows XP and for almost a year I was tearing my hair out trying to read BBC discs using it. The solution was to:

    Create a PC boot up floppy ( double click on 'My Computer. Right click on 'A'. Click in the tickbox for 'create a startup disc'. Click 'Start'. The format happens ). If your PC has no 3.5" disc drive, then I can't help you!

    Place ramdrive.sys on to it from the Windows 98 CD ( that's the tricky bit for me to help you out. You should be able to find this elsewhere on the internet if you can't find it at home )

    Add the line:

    device=ramdrive.sys 32767 /E

    to the config.sys file on the floppy. ( Double click on 'My Computer'. Double click on drive A with your newly created startup disc in the drive. Right click on the file 'config.sys' and left click on 'edit'. Left click at the end of the last line and press enter. Type device=ramdrive.sys 32767 /E and then left click on 'File' then left click on 'save'

    Place fdc on to the startup disc. If you are writing disc images to real BBC floppy, you need to put those images on a PC floppy now ( remember, it can be any PC floppy, not just the startup disc )

    Reboot into DOS ( switch your computer off then on with the newly created startup disc in the drive ). The floppy drive will be drive A, the RAM disc will be drive C ( if your computer does not boot up from the startup disc you need to reconfigure your Bios, I will not go into that here ).

    Copy the program fdc to the RAM disc with:

    copy fdc.com c:

    If you are writing a disc image to a real BBC disc you then need to copy the disc image/s to the RAM disc with

    copy <filename> c:

    You can have several PC floppies full of images that you can copy on to your ramdrive at this point if you wish

    Then type:

    c:

    then

    fdc

    Put a BBC disc in the floppy drive and follow the instructions elsewhere on this page for writing disc images ( remember you may need to format the disc first if the disc is not already formatted. Instructions for this elsewhere on this page )

    To read real BBC discs in to the PC type:

    c:

    fdc

    and follow the instructions elsewhere on this page for reading in images. Remember when you have finished that you then need to copy the images back to the PC floppy with:

    copy <filename> a:

    before you switch off! You can put any PC formatted disc into the drive before typing this command, so you can do many files at once

    Another Solution

    Since acquiring a USB external hard drive, I have discovered a little more. I assume that DOS being unable to read the internal hard disc is that it is formatted NTFS. Therefore if you have a FAT32 partition or a second hard disc (internal or external) formatted FAT32, then DOS should recognise this. You should therefore be able to reboot into DOS and have a hard disc you can use for transfer rather than have to swap around floppy discs. I have created a boot up floppy containing USB drivers that enables the use of a USB hard drive in DOS


    Xfer

     Xfer requires that you have a serial cable. Xfer is a neat bit of software although a lot slower than the transfer by disc method. If your PC floppy disc controller will not access a BBC disc or if you do not have the same sized drive on your BBC and PC, then the serial link is a good option.  Download Xfer v3. Download Xfer v4. Download Xfer v51. These downloads contain both the information you need to construct a link cable and the software to link your two machines.  Xfer 51 is the latest version containing fixes updates and extensions by Jon Welch, it will now successfully transfer DFS disc images AND ADFS disc images as well as transfer of individual files, to and from the PC.

    PCXfer

    PCXfer is supplied with the registered version of Stuart McConnachie's BBC emulator. A great bit of software that reads disc images into the PC via a serial link. Instructions for building the link come with the software. This software will transfer both DFS and ADFS disc images

    Direct Link Cable Suitable for Xfer and PCBBCs PCXfer

    This is the link required for Xfer and PCXfer (the transfer program that comes with the registered version of Stuart McConnachie's PCBBC). Instructions on how to build this link are included with both pieces of software. Please be aware that it is possible to damage your PC or BBC with an incorrectly configured cable. Make sure you are happy with your lead before using it.
    PC Link

    Please also be aware that the link does not always work due to software incompatibilities. Unfortunately, I can't help with this as I know nothing about the software side of the lead. I have used the software with Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows XP from a variety of old and new PCs

    This is taken from the very tatty piece of paper with the drawing that I use when making up the link. Please remember that the numbers on this dawing DO NOT represent any numbers that may appear on the plugs, they are just reference points


    Disc Image Types and Filenames

    Image types (.dsd .ssd .0 .1 .img .bbc .adl .adm .ads .adf)
    You should give your disc images file name extensions (the letters after the dot .adm for example) that enable others to understand what format the image is in and to allow software to determine how to use the image.

    There are a number of formats used by people. In the past (and now come to think of it) folks have used all sorts of different extensions to denote all sorts of image format and it can be confusing. On the 8BS website I have stuck to one standard. I think that most images you will find on the internet now follow these standards

    For double sided discs, I use interleaved (.dsd and .adl) as it is a more rapid process, the image is read in and written back with one sweep of the disc drive heads and the resulting single file is then the finished article. The tracks are stored in the image alternately, track 0 from side 0, then track 0 from side 1, then track 1 from side 0 and so on. This format is known as 'interleaved'. Some folks (especially programmers I think) don't like this as it complicates the software that handles the image. However, the software to handle this format exists, works fine and is available in OmniFlop, OmniDisk, FDC and BBCIM.

    Double Sided Discs:

    .dsd and .adl
    If you are reading a double sided interleaved DFS disc, use the extension .dsd, if you are reading a double sided interleaved ADFS disc, use the extension .adl to represent an ADFS L (80 track double sided) disc.

    Single Sided Discs:

    .ssd .0 .1 .adm .ads .adf
    If you are reading in a single side DFS disc, use the extension .ssd

    Logically, if you are reading in a double sided disc as two separate single sided images, one for each side of the disc, you are better off using the .0 and .1 extensions to denote which file is which side of the disc.

    If you are reading in a single sided ADFS disc (ADFS M or ADFS S), you should use the file extension adm or ads. You should use .adm to represent and ADFS M (80 track single sided) disc. You should use .ads to represent an ADFS S (40 track single sided) disc.

    The extension .adf has been used in the past to denote a single sided ADFS disc such as .ads or .adm, however, there was no standard set and I found that images with these extensions could be anything! I avoid .adf and rename appropriately before passing on. Maybe .adf could be reserved for non interleaved ADFS L discs. I don't have any of these and avoid this type of image

    .img .bbc .dos
    These are other forms of disc image used. They are generally the same as the above .ssd format. I do not use this extension. We are reliant on the person that originally created the disc image to use a form of naming the image that describes its format. This is not always the case, in the past I have found images named .img that are double sided and images named .img that are single sided.

    Added 25/05/2013 : B-Em the BBC emulator requires ADFS 800k images (used by the Master 512) to be named with the extension .img. The emulator also requires DOS disc images to have the .dos extension.

    Finally:

    There are a few other disc images about that are quite rare, some are CPM and some are DOS and DOS+. These are few and far between. I have imaged the DOS+ discs for instance and given them extensions of .800 to denote the setting in FDC that they require (bbc800), I have used similar file extensions for CPM and DOS. However, the filename of these images will usually hold a clue as to what format they are:

    dos_plus_gem_1_fdc_bbc80.800

    for example.

    GEM disc 1, the DOS+ system disc for the Master 512 is an oddity. It is the boot disc for DOS Plus and is in ADFS L format and so could correctly be given the extension .adl but is not readable in ADFS

     


    Editing Disc Images (BBCIM)

    Once you have your BBC disc image, you can either directly use it in an emulator or write it back to floppy. You may want to add files to it or remove files from it. You may want to produce new empty disc images. The program BBCIM will do this for you. Download it here. Includes instructions

    A couple of quick hints for BBCIM

    To turn an ADFS interleaved image into a non-interleaved image (makes a copy of the image first, then alters the original ):
    bbcim ds2ss <filename>

    To turn an interleaved DFS disc image into two single sided  images:
    bbcim splitds dd <filename>
     

     

    BBC Explorer 2

    BBC Disk explorer is a program by Laurie Whiffen to manipulate BBC files and disk images in a similar way to Windows Explorer. You can create new disc images. You can drag and drop files into and out of disc images. You can drag files directly off BBC floppies. The software produces the .inf files required to keep track of the file load and save addresses. Download version 2 Download version 2.01

    This program is probably the easiest way to handle the software you can pick up from all over the internet that has accompanying .inf files.

    Well worth a look at.


    DFS and ADFS Explorer

    ADFS Explorer (and DFS Explorer) by Jon Welch are programs to manipulate disc images. This is a link to Jon's website. These are now absolutely superb programs, not to be missed. Easy to use and very powerful with lots of really useful tools


    .inf Files

    There are many BBC files on the internet (The BBC Lives for instance) that come in zipped bundles. When you unzip the file, you are left with a number of programs without extensions and an equal number of files with the same name but a .inf extension.

    Basically, what you see here is a BBC disc that has been split up into separate files. The actual BBC file is the program without an extension. The file with the same name and a .inf extension contains the BBC filename, load, save and run addresses and also directory and read write access information. This information cannot be stored by the PC in any other way.

    Before you can use these files on an emulator, you will need to turn them into a disc image. That is where Lawrie Whiffen's BBC Explorer 2 comes in. You can simply drag the files into a disc image. Once the files have been put into a disc image, you can then use FDC to write the image to a BBC floppy.

    You can also write these files to a BBC disc on a BBC using a direct link and the software XFER or PCXFER. 


    DOSFS

    It is possible to read a 720K DOS disc on a BBC or Master using a 1770 (or 177x) disc interface. It is not possible to read DOS discs using an 8271 controller.

    DOSFS available on here loads into sideways RAM on the BBC or Master and acts as another filing system. Simply refer to it with *DOS. This is ideal for transferring individual files between PC and BBC. Usually only text files of course. It does have a couple of problems with display of files on the disc (sometimes deleted files show up!Win95FS long filenames extended entries show up in their raw state. DOSFS doesn't take any notice of the "Label" attribute, which is part of the method used to hide the extended entries), but in general I find it quite useful.


    BBCtapedisc

    Info by Jon Welch: This is the executable and source for a program to transfer a tape to an ssd file in real-time using a sound card. It is based on Robert Schmidt's bbctape ver 0.95 program and uses bits from make_tape_blocks and bbcim. It relies on the original bbctape for decoding the audio so the quality of the results can't be 100% guaranteed as a lot depends on the quality of the original recording. However, I have used it to transfer my getting on for 20 years old tapes to disc without too many problems.

    To use it, type bbctape without any parameters to see the help screen.

    The most useful command line is : bbctapedisc -i -s -a image.ssd

    If you play a tape through your soundcard, this will create image.ssd containing all the programs off the tape. E-mail address is in the zip download, if people have trouble using it, they can contact me for further help and advice. Regards, Jon.

    Download BBCtapedisc


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