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Old 21 February 2002, 01:47   #1
jmmijo
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Review: Catweasel MkII Zorro Card Version Part One

Okay, here is part one of my review of the Catweasel Floppy Controller card by J. Schoenfield/Individual Computers. Check out the site at:

http://www.jschoenfeld.com/products/catweasel_e.htm

I ordered the ZorroII version of the board so I could use it in my 4000. It's fits into a spare 100-pin Zorro slot and uses the plastic card guides to help keep in place as it's considered a 1/4 or 1/3 size card. It leaves the in-line ISA slot free for something else, that's if you need it for something

It installs easily enough and is a snug fit, it shouldn't move on you even if you move your machine around a lot.

I connected a spare dual/combo floppy drive, this is a combo 3.5" and 5.25" floppy in one 5.25" unit. I don't think the Catweasel supports this as it appears to see both drives as the same. The docs seem to indicate that it requires the cable twist to function properly where as these combo drives only use a straight data cable.

Since I'm not getting the drives to function properly I'm gonna sub out the combo drive and connect only a 3.5" and see what happens.

Part 2 will come up later in the day as I play around with this some more.

EDIT: To clarify some things about this card, this version of the Catweasel is the Zorro version, it's a combo card. It includes the Catweasel Floppy Controller along with their Bhudda IDE controller on one card! It also comes with 3 IDE ports so you can connect up to 6 IDE devices, this includes HD's, CD-ROM drives and other ATAPI devices like the LS-120 IDE Floppy Drive, the 100 and 250 MB ATAPI Iomega Zip drives and just about anything that supports the ATAPI interface.

Also note that I dis-connected the combo floppy drive and have successfully connected separate 3.5" and 5.25" floppy drives. They do work just fine

Last edited by jmmijo; 21 February 2002 at 03:20.
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Old 21 February 2002, 02:04   #2
Twistin'Ghost
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Looking forward to your tests with dumping C-64 originals!
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Old 21 February 2002, 03:21   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Twistin'Ghost
Looking forward to your tests with dumping C-64 originals!
Me too it's funky in a some respects on how it works, but so far I've been able to read a few 1541 formated disks. I'll post more info shortly.
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Old 21 February 2002, 09:24   #4
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Catweasel Update

Well after configuring and testing away, I've found the best config, well the best for me anyway for the Catweasel board and using PC drives.

I also purchased the Kylwalda boot adapter board along with the Catweasel in hopes that I could use it as a replacement to my standard Amiga 880k drives. Well yes and no, let me explain.

1) It does work but has some issues with some trackloader software. The manufacturer claims it should work with any copy protected disk. Well it didn't work with all of them

2) It seems to check the floppy drive a lot more often then Amiga DOS does in not only the click but when trying to eject the disk, it sometimes wants you to stick the floppy disk back in the drive because of validation issues. Perhaps this is because I'm not using brand new drives and used older ones I have lying about.

Well anyways, I've found that the best is to have the Catweasel drives configured separately from my internal Amiga floppys, this works best for me. It also gives me an excuse to tower the Amiga as well. I've got a couple of Full Tower cases and one of them should work just fine

Well, back to making some images of my C64 disks, I'm using Tracksaver GUI to do this and it seems to be working, however I'm gonna check out a few more things about the .d64 format and see if I'm doing it correctly or not.
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Old 22 February 2002, 03:09   #5
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Catweasel Update Part Deux

Well I've put this on hold for now, I've decided that I'd rather tower my 4000. I have an older Full Tower ATX case I'm using so I've decided to post a new thread on this project, some tips and tricks and a progress chart so to speak
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Old 23 February 2002, 03:22   #6
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Update

Well, since I've now got my 4000 towered I've decided to go back into the Catweasel testing.

I've used an older Teac 3.5" and a Teac 5.25" floppys. They are both from an old 386 box which I recycled already, I just kept the stuff that I could use, like the floppy drives.

Well it does work with many different formats, although you do have to create your own mountlists for each disk format the Catweasel supports, which is about 25 for now.

Since creating a mountlist is basically just using the Ed text editor or your favorite editor of choice, then just use one of the existing mountlists as a template. But the caveat is that you have to know the format ahead of time, meaning that if it's say a low density, double sided, 5.25" MS-DOS formatted disk, then you have to know that it can hold 11 sectors per track, 2 tracks per cylinder and only 40 cylinders instead of 80!

There are also flags that have to be set in the mountlist as well and this could pose a problem for somebody if they don't know the exact disk format and need to read the disk. It would have been nice if the manufacturer had included this info in there manual or on disk even. They give some sparse info on what needs to be in there and the flag numbers for each disk format, just not the actual disk format info. Perhaps only the flag is needed and the controller does the rest?!? I'll try that out and see.

I also found that the 5.25" floppy is either bad or the heads need to be cleaned. I can no longer read any disks off of the drive. I was able to use Tracksaver GUI to create a number of disk images for use with C64 emu's and at least Magic 64 seems to work with them Since this info is something that Twistin' wanted to know, then yes it really seems to work. I now have to replace this drive and check out some more disks. Luckily I have some more of these drives as they are getting harder to find.

Well back to the machine and I'll post more info later.
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Old 23 February 2002, 04:05   #7
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Wow, that is very cool. Were these copy-protected disks? Could be a real breakthrough is the preservation of C-64 games!

I think it is abominable that a fully loaded mountlist wasn't included with Catweasel! Why should the customer have to suss this info out? Great report, though. Keep us posted.
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Old 23 February 2002, 06:30   #8
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Unfortunately no they were un copy-protected disks

I was disappointed in that, the fact that the popular formats were supported by the install routines is good however. This wasn't included in the report, sorry about that.

So for supporting DOS HD formats on both the 3.5" and 5.25" floppys, the install routines get these right off the bat. The 1.44MB and the 1.2MB will be loaded automatically unless you decide to not install the mountlists for this. It's the DD formats that let you down. I realize that the 720K disks are supported via CrossDOS so it's not to bad there, but figuring out the info on the less popular formats, now that's a pain sometimes

BTW Twistin' since I was not able to actually find a d64 FAQ like with the ADF file format, I just tried out the images I created and low and behold they worked. So my guess is that with the Catweasel and Tracksaver you can just about get any disk format you want.

EDIT: what happened when I tried to image some Rapidlok titles, i.e., Gunship, Pirates, Deceptor and Desert Fox to name a few, Tracksaver would give the old 1541 DOS error message for this custom disk format, error 21, no sync mark found I believe. It's interesting that the controller would return the old error codes like this. But since there is an actual handler for the 1541 format, this kinda makes sense in a way.
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Old 24 February 2002, 07:57   #9
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Does anyone know of a Nybbler type software for the Amiga that will copy protected disks in the 1541 disk format?

Seems that the Catweasel board can be custom programmed and they give you info on the floppy drivers disk under the Develepment folder.

Since none of the disk copiers I have support the multidisk.device that the Catweasel board uses I've had to use Tracksaver GUI. It fails on the first copy protected track even if you choose ignore all

I'll look on Aminet for more possible solutions.
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