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Old 27 March 2015, 17:08   #41
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Thank you for the suggestion. Reading the DMS documentation it states that in EXTREME circumstances this option may be needed: "Generally you will rarely if ever need to use this option." So I omitted it. Guess I have to start over.
The problem with not using the NOZERO option, is that DMS doesn't archive the entire disk. It leaves out those sectors which it thinks are unused. But those sectors could contain important data. (Example: a program/demo which writes data to the disk but does not mark those sectors as used in the disk's bitmap. Or a disk which contains deleted files. Those won't be recoverable if you don't specify NOZERO.) So it's safest to always use NOZERO.

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Does the NOZERO option still apply the default "BEST" compression, or will the resulting archive be 880k+ in length? In other words: Is there another flag I should also set as a "best practice"?
Specifying best compression (which is the default) tells DMS to use whichever compression it thinks is suitable, given the amount of free memory. I guess HEAVY2 would give the best compression ratio, which DMS would use anyway, if there's enough memory free?

Personally I'm not a big fan of DMS but it is widely used in Amiga-land. [Reason being, there's a bug in DMS which for a small percentage of disks means the created .DMS file is corrupt. Or at least, it won't unpack properly. But you only find that out after trying to write the .DMS file back to a floppy disk. DMS TEST doesn't show the problem.]

Regarding floppy drives, you could try cleaning the drive heads. Hopefully cleaning disks/kits are still available somewhere.

I don't know how full your hard disk is, but you could create a boot floppy which passes control to the hard disk. After booting from that you could remove the disk from DF0: which would free up that drive for reading disks.
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Old 27 March 2015, 21:43   #42
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Specifying best compression

Personally I'm not a big fan of DMS but it is widely used in Amiga-land.

Regarding floppy drives, you could try cleaning the drive heads.

I don't know how full your hard disk is
Thank you for your reply.

Regarding compression: Compression is not the main objective, but preservation. The ZIP drive is just a stepping stone to burning to DVD. I have multiple disks that I can use and other machines with ZIP drives and DVD burners.

Regarding DMS: What would be a more reliable tool; what is your preference?

Regarding head cleaning: Performed it yesterday evening after the problem surfaced. In spite of this, one drive still could read and the other could not. The drive that developed read problems did a lot of grinding trying to read some non-standard game formats. I assume that contributed to the problem.

The hard disk is 20 Mb and almost full, but even if it were not I would be leery of subjecting the df0: to extended use / abuse, especially if the hardware is as fragile as it appears to be.

Thanks again for your suggestions,
Charles Hudson
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Old 27 March 2015, 23:25   #43
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Regarding compression: Compression is not the main objective, but preservation. The ZIP drive is just a stepping stone to burning to DVD. I have multiple disks that I can use and other machines with ZIP drives and DVD burners.

Regarding DMS: What would be a more reliable tool; what is your preference?
For non-copy-protected disks, using DMS w/NOZERO or creating an ADF file captures the same data. There are various ADF-creation tools, you could even use TrackDOS which I mentioned earlier, though there are probably better options for ADF creation.

By the way, using DMS specifying NOZERO and CMODE NONE (i.e. no compression) will be a workaround for any compression-related bugs in DMS. You can compress files much better than DMS itself can after transferring them to a PC anyway.

For imaging copy-protected disks (and also unprotected ones) you can use MFMWarp or WWarp. Exactly how to use those probably deserves its own thread. One benefit of doing that even for unprotected disks, is that you can usually see whether an original disk has been written to since it was new.

The SPS dumping tool can image disks at an even lower level than MFMWarp/WWarp. However that requires at least a 68020 CPU so won't be usable on your system. There's a whole forum about the SPS project here...

There is also dedicated hardware which you can use with a PC and floppy drive, so no need to involve your real Amiga with reading disks. Kryoflux and SuperCard Pro. Both those cost money (~$100), but are probably the best option if you have a lot of disks (incl. copy-protected ones) to preserve. And you can use a relatively cheap/recent PC floppy drive instead of an old Amiga one.
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The drive that developed read problems did a lot of grinding trying to read some non-standard game formats. I assume that contributed to the problem.
DMS can't read any non-standard disk formats. So as soon as you hear a lot of head grinding you might as well abort it. Even though it might not report any errors, the tracks are not being stored in the DMS file.
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Old 28 March 2015, 13:40   #44
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Thank you once again for your suggestions. I'll research these other tools.

-CH-
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Old 28 March 2015, 14:03   #45
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There is also dedicated hardware which you can use with a PC and floppy drive, so no need to involve your real Amiga with reading disks. Kryoflux and SuperCard Pro.
Thank you for the suggestion.

I have the Central Point Copy II PC ISA card; I was intending to use it to archive some old 5.25 floppies from the CP/M and DOS days. I guess I could use it for the Amiga disks as well.

I have two machines with (at least some) ISA slots. I was planning to install the card on a machine with a TEAC 55 drive and run MS-DOS (insert your own joke here) to drive the software. Still building out that machine - need a VLB Tseng video card.

Another of the many projects...

-CH-
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Old 29 March 2015, 15:38   #46
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The Copy II PC Option Board may not be a great solution for archiving Amiga disks. Nothing wrong with experimenting with it, but:
- Does it allow reading a disk into a file, as opposed to just making a copy on another floppy disk?
- It probably doesn't capture as much data as MFMWarp/WWarp.
- Once you've used it to create an image file, can you write that image file back to a floppy? Can you somehow convert it for use with an emulator?

With your current setup, if you get a USB Zip drive (should be quite cheap on eBay) you can easily transfer files from your Amiga that way. Using WinUAE you should be able to directly access the Zip disks you wrote on the Amiga.

If you can afford it, Kryoflux or SuperCard Pro work with 5.25" drives too.
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Old 29 March 2015, 19:03   #47
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With your current setup, if you get a USB Zip drive (should be quite cheap on eBay) you can easily transfer files from your Amiga that way. Using WinUAE you should be able to directly access the Zip disks you wrote on the Amiga.

If you can afford it, Kryoflux or SuperCard Pro work with 5.25" drives too.
Thank you for your reply.

Do I understand you to mean obtain a USB ZIP drive for use with the PC? I have an IDE internal ZIP drive on one machine and a spare external - a little flaky, as I recall - that may be parallel interface. I also have PCI SCSI controllers, and could walk the SCSI ZIP to another machine.

In addition to problems with the 1010 floppy disks, at the moment both Amigas appear to have problems with their serial interfaces, either the 8520 or the 1488/1489 ICs (another thread on EAB; "Lost in a time warp").

My first thought was to transfer information by modem (to a PC with capacity and a DVD burner via a second phone line) but I couldn't establish communication with the Amiga's modem. When I ran aground on that tack I switched to interfacing the ZIP SCSI.

I considered purchasing the Kryoflux last year, but thought I would first see if I could make do with what I have before spending the $100-plus on yet another peripheral. My primary objective is to salvage the disks' information; they were stored, wrapped in plastic but in a damp and mildewed basement environment, for more than 20 years.

The Amiga is the means by which to extract that information. Unfortunately at the moment I am having difficulty negotiating those avenues.

Thank you once again for your suggestions. I'll look at the Kryoflux again.
Charles Hudson
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Old 29 March 2015, 23:14   #48
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I have the Central Point Copy II PC ISA card; I was intending to use it to archive some old 5.25 floppies from the CP/M and DOS days. I guess I could use it for the Amiga disks as well.
This is the file repository to look for Copy II PC card drivers and software.

http://retro.icequake.net/dob/files/ (and subdirectories)

A visit there should give you a feel for its scope and limitations.
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Old 31 March 2015, 21:05   #49
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This is the file repository to look for Copy II PC card drivers and software.

http://retro.icequake.net/dob/files/ (and subdirectories)

A visit there should give you a feel for its scope and limitations.
Thank you for your reply.

As far as I know there were two products from Central Point: Copy II PC was a stand-alone disk copier, and Transcopy was for use with the Copy II PC Deluxe Option Board. Transcopy is located here: ftp://ftp.oldskool.org/pub/OptionBoa...ndex.html#soft

The TC software runs under DOS. The Copy II PC software was also available for the C64; I have a copy of that as well.

The board is an ISA based board that receives signals from the disk controller (on-board or slotted) and translates them as needed by the software, then relays them to the floppy drive. The documentation claims it copies everything when imaging a disk.

I installed my board on an old PC running MS-DOS 6.2. I located the documentation, which is not completely explicit, and retrieved the TC software. I had to guess about cabling but my 3.5 inch drive responds, i.e. reads and writes, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

I have succeeded in reading four Amiga-format disks and creating a disk image of each on the PC hard drive. I have not yet written them back to disk or verified their accuracy on an Amiga. Pictures attached.

Thanks again,
Charles Hudson
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Old 01 April 2015, 00:05   #50
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I have succeeded in reading four Amiga-format disks and creating a disk image of each on the PC hard drive. I have not yet written them back to disk or verified their accuracy on an Amiga. Pictures attached.
Wow! That surely has exceeded everyone's expectations already! Well done!

It just goes to show what some of the old dos-based disk imaging utilities were capable of - especially those with custom hardware support.

I don't have a Central Point Copy II PC Deluxe Option Board myself; I first discovered that file repository many years ago when trying to restore some Teledisk images I found on an IBM file server back to floppies for use with a PS/2 machine. I was a bit surprised to find that it was still very much alive when I tried to connect with it once again.

Please let us know how it goes when writing those images back to disk.
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Old 01 April 2015, 16:06   #51
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Please let us know how it goes when writing those images back to disk.
Thanks for your reply. There is much left to be done:

The utility so far has refused to write the image back to the drive it copied from. I don't know why, yet, but it suggests that the diskette is at fault. I have tried several, formatted and un-formatted, DSDD disks, same as the source disks I imaged. This may also be a cabling issue, though the drive operates properly under DOS direction.

Then there is the fact that the Amigas are torn apart at the moment waiting for 1488 and 1489 chips to arrive. I seem to have blown out the serial ports through careless handling and static electricity. I want to socket the driver and receiver chips in case I do this again.

Finally, I would like to see if the Kryoflux DTC software can talk to the CP board. It would be a long shot, but AFAIK the principle is the same: use a non-NEC controller chip to manipulate the drive and read all signals regardless of sync pulses.

I may just break down and buy the Kryoflux board if I can't make the CP tool work. The site I referenced above says that, far from increasing the capabilities of the software, Central Point actually weakened the software in response to complaints from the industry. Maybe I need to try an earlier version of the CP tool.

I'll keep those who may be interested posted on the results but it may be a few days before I produce any.

Thanks again for your interest.
Charles Hudson
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Old 01 April 2015, 19:38   #52
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Finally, I would like to see if the Kryoflux DTC software can talk to the CP board. It would be a long shot, but AFAIK the principle is the same: use a non-NEC controller chip to manipulate the drive and read all signals regardless of sync pulses.
There is little chance that this would work. There is nothing else in common with these two devices, apart from the fact that both talk to a floppy drive.
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Old 02 April 2015, 04:53   #53
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The utility so far has refused to write the image back to the drive it copied from. I don't know why, yet, but it suggests that the diskette is at fault. I have tried several, formatted and un-formatted, DSDD disks, same as the source disks I imaged.
Is your disk drive HD or DD?
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Old 20 April 2015, 23:13   #54
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Is your disk drive HD or DD?
The PC's drives are all 1.4Mb. I no longer own any lesser density 3.5" drives.

I thought about trying to use one of the Amiga's drives in its stead, but further research led me to another source who stated flatly that the machine I was trying to use as host was too fast. "The Central Point board was made to be used with a maximum bus speed of about 10 mHz," he said. "If you have a Pentium processor you are too fast."

Since then I have been investigating the following paths:
1) Resurrecting another, older machine as the CP board host. This is a 486 VLB - my first build - that at the moment is looking for a working ISA or VLB video card. I must have given away ten of them in the past. Nuts!
2) Bought a SuperCard Pro from Jim Drew at CBMStuff and have been learning the ins and outs of the software and hardware. Some successes and some failures, but promising all in all.
3) Bought the Kryoflux board as well; still crossing the pond. TBD.

One day I hope to have a bake-off and publish the results. Meanwhile, I fixed the serial port on one of the two A500s. The modem now works! See the thread "Lost in a time-warp" for details.

That's all the news for now. Regards and thanks again.

Charles Hudson
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