I've been toying with the idea of building a new PC, partially to replace my Amiga 3000, but more specifically to emulate 8/16-bit computers in general (My collection has gotten to the point where three desks are occupied with five computers, and I have others that I don't have room to set up, and others that I want to acquire, but don't have room to even store!)... and while thinking of what to put into this new computer, I thought it might be a neat idea to put a Catweasel in there so I could actually use real disks.
Now of course, all this is silly and pointless when I can just fill a hard drive with disk images, but there's something authentic and slightly clever about being able to read original disks that I really like (I'm also considering hooking up a tape player to the audio-in to see if I can play Spectrum games through it... yes, I am insane).
I can't seem to find a lot of information on this though. From what I gather, WinUAE and VICE both support the Catweasel... but there's not a lot of documentation. This page
seems to be all the information available for WinUAE, and VICE has nothing more than vague references, and the official Catweasel page
doesn't even mention the Mark IV... so I'm having difficulty deciding if this is going to be worth the investment, or if it'll just be a big disappointment. I gather the community here has more experience with these device than most, so maybe someone here can answer my questions:
- Does this actually work the way I hope it will? Like, will I be able to start up WinUAE, put in an Amiga formatted 880k disk with Dungeon Master on it, and play it?
- Will I be able to read AND write to the disks from the emulator?
- What about protected disks?
- If I connect the Catweasel to both a 3.5" and a 5.25" drive, can WinUAE be configured to use one and VICE use the other without having to swap the cable around? (I don't mean to run both emulators simultaneously, I just don't want to have to keep the case open).
- Seeing as there are no 64-bit drivers (yet), should I build this new computer around Win XP, or is there some way to get them to work under a 64-bit Windows 7?
- I'm aware of the KryoFlux, but it seems geared entirely towards preservation... are there any plans to use it to read/write disks in emulators?
- Is the Mark IV (non-plus) model still available anywhere? Since the computer I'm building doesn't have to be powerful, I'd like to put it in as small a case as possible, and the low-profile option is attractive to me (Of course, my plan involves putting a 3.5", 5.25" and CD-ROM drive in there, so low-profile is probably not going to happen).
- Beyond UAE and VICE, are there any other emulators that support the Catweasel in this manner? (Atari ST, 8-bit, Archimedes, Mac... I plan to get them all running at some point regardless)
- Are there any other options that might suit my needs better?
Even if I can't use the Catweasel the way I want, I might still use one anyways... but it wouldn't be quite as valuable to me.