Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

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audiodane
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Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by audiodane » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:21 am

So I finally got the machine up and running. After fighting various interesting battles (and having a few nights too busy to work on anything), I finally have a machine hooked up with both 3.5" and 5.25" drives. It's been a while since I've heard the boot process of a dual-floppy machine (with the 5.25" boot-seek sounds being much more ominous than the wimpy 3.5" drive's sounds).. :)

I originally just put on DOS 6.22 and tried to run copy and/or xcopy. Turns out that xcopy from DOS 6.22 does not support hidden or system files (and has no command-line option to enable their copying). And running copy for each hidden/system file (after finding them with dir /a) would have just been a nightmare.

Next since I already had DOS622 installed, I went ahead and installed WFW311 (anybody remember those days?) ... I have the 16bit version of WinImage v3, and thought it would run on WFW311. After installing WFW311, without really even trying to run WinImage, I started thinking "how am I going to get the image files OFF the computer? WFW311 doesn't support USB drives..." So I went on to bed that night...

Next I installed Win98SE, or at least tried too. After copying all the install files and rebooting to finish the process, Win98SE informed me that 2GB of RAM was not enough and it refused to boot. Perplexed I tried stepping down to Win95C. Same error. So I went on to bed that night...

Next day I googled and found out that Win9x machines have trouble with greater than 1GB of RAM, and some machines have trouble with greater than 512MB of RAM. Thankfully, there are one or two lines of the SYSTEM.INI file you can modify post-installation that limits the amount of available RAM to Win9x and it will boot fine. Upon getting home, however, I thought to myself, "At this point I'm installing full-up Windows. And now that I think about it USB really took off after Win98 was originally released and as a result Win98 doesn't have uber-support for USB devices." So I figured at this point I might as well just go ahead and install WinXP/SP3. So I did that. I also pulled out a spare junk USB wireless device from a drawer and installed it (ZyDas something-or-other) -- works well enough (when forced down to a 1Mbps link rate) to get online to download the 32bit version of WinImage v3 (yes, an old version for sure).

Finally, with WinXP and WinImage v3 (32bit) installed, I finally imaged THREE floppies before heading to bed for the night.... Space Quest 1 (disks 1 and 2), and SpinRite. It's funny-- it takes about 20-45 seconds to image a disk like SQ1 ... and when you go to save the image file, it's a WHOPPING .... 360KB. :lol:

WinImage did give me a bad sector warning on the SQ disks (which I hope is the copy-protection mechanism and not an actual bad data sector). I wish it would copy the bad data verbatim, but I am guessing the drive itself cannot READ the contents but can only report as a bad sector? I don't really know. I have not yet tried to "install" it from the imaged files (without the original floppies), nor have I tried Collector's installer yet for SQ1. I'll get there soon enough. Lots going on, as always.

I'm also trying to catch up re-watching all the Harry Potter films before the new one (part 1 at least) comes out, and keep up with the around-the-house to-do list that grows ever longer, and ... :)

But at least I now have a machine that is working with my 5.25" floppy and is modern enough to get online and work with my USB devices...

cheers!
..dane

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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by audiodane » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:51 am

By the way ... here's my current USB stick contents... Still a long ways to go, but a start nevertheless... I am actually using SHP installers on another junker machine because I don't want Start menu items, etc. I want a completely portable installation (on my USB stick) with batch files... So hint-hint-nudge-nudge Collector-- if you wanted to slowly start adding "portable installation" support to your installers.... :) That way I can bring my USB stick on vacation and play my games (with saved game data) on anyone's computer without touching their files or having to install anything...
BoxArt\ - scans of box art I’ve found online (would love to have OUR boxes scanned some day)
DiskImgs\ -- where I’m putting the floppy disk images I'm making
DOSBox\ - Full-up old PC (and Tandy and PCjr) emulator including SoundBlaster and MIDI support
Installers\ - copies of the various installers I’ve used from SHP and elsewhere (includes game speed patches, etc)
KQ\ - King’s Quest games (see below)
Manuals\ - PDFs of all game manuals I could find
SCI Viewer\ - extract AGI and SCI game data (images, etc)
Sierra_Copy_Protection_Compendium\ - to answer in-game copy protection questions
SQ\ - Space Quest games (see below)
WalkHelp\ - game walkthroughs

kq_hist.bat – history of KQ (I-VI) (from CD collection)
kq1_agi.bat – king’s quest 1 (sierra original)
kq1_fan.bat – king’s quest 1 (fan remake)
kq1_sci.bat – king’s quest 1 (sierra SCI remake)
kq2.bat – king’s quest 2
kq2_fan.bat – king’s quest 2 (fan remake)
kq3.bat – king’s quest 3
kq3_fan.bat king’s quest 3 (fan remake)
kq4_agi.bat – king’s quest 4 (sierra AGI version)
kq4_early_sci.bat – king’s quest 4 (early sierra SCI version)
kq4_late_sci.bat – king’s quest 4 (late sierra SCI version)
kq5.bat – king’s quest 5
kq6.bat – king’s quest 6
kqarcade.bat – king’s quest arcade (from CD collection)
sq_fsg.bat – space quest fun seeker’s guide (from CD collection)
sq_hist.bat – space quest (I-VI) history (from CD collection)
sq0_fan.bat – space quest 0 (fan game)
sq1_ega.bat – space quest 1 (original sierra version)
sq1_vga.bat – space quest 1 (sierra remake)
sq2.bat – space quest 2
sq25_fan.bat – space quest 2.5 (fan game)
sq3.bat – space quest 3
sq4_cd.bat – space quest 4 (CD-rom “talkie” version)
sq4_flop.bat – space quest 4 (floppy “non-talkie” version had better graphics)
sq45agi.bat – space quest 4.5 (fan made, using narrator “A.G.I.”)
sq45ai.bat - space quest 4.5 (fan made, using narrator “Al”)
sq5.bat – space quest 5
sq6.bat – space quest 6
sqarcade.bat – space quest arcade (from CD collection)
A sample batch file looks like this (honest!):

Code: Select all

@echo off
echo.
echo starting Space Quest 4 (CD) in DOSBox
echo.
echo Thanks to Collector of http://www.sierrahelp.com for the installers used!
echo.
CALL .\DOSBox\DOSBox.exe .\SQ\SQ4.CD\SIERRA.EXE -conf .\SQ\SQ4.CD\dosbox.conf -exit

echo Hope you had fun!
echo.
a more complicated one (Space Quest 6) looks like this:

Code: Select all

@echo off
echo.
echo starting Space Quest 6 (SCI) in DOSBox
echo.
echo Thanks to Collector of http://www.sierrahelp.com for the installers used!
echo.
CALL .\DOSBox\DOSBox.exe .\SQ\SQ6.SCI\SQ6.BAT -conf .\SQ\SQ6.SCI\dosbox.conf -exit

echo Hope you had fun!
echo.
where .\SQ\SQ6.SCI\SQ6.BAT looks like this:

Code: Select all

@echo off 
SIERRA -o .\RESOURCE.CFG
because I couldn't find a way to get the "-o .\RESOURCE.CFG" parameter passed through DOSBox's command line interface.

Anyways, this installation is EXTREMELY portable-- invoking the games this way with DOSBox called from a batch file has DOSBox automatically mount the folder containing the called file as the "C:\" root folder within the DOSBox window. No need to have hard-coded mount locations in your dosbox.conf file... No matter what drive letter my USB device is mounted as (or if I burn the files to a DVD or something), no worries.. works perfectly every time...

cheers,
..dane

cheers,
..dane

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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by Collector » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:33 pm

You could just specify specific dosbox.conf files for each game and place the parameters in the autoexec section. You should be able to do it using relative paths. The machine that I have setup to read floppies is an old Duron with DOS 6.22, Win98 and XP. In most cases XP is fine, but in case I have trouble reading a disk the older OSs will allow me lower level access to try to recover the disks. But, yeah, nothing like that old buzzing/ripping sound of an old 5.25" floppy during boot.
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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by audiodane » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:40 pm

Collector wrote:You could just specify specific dosbox.conf files for each game and place the parameters in the autoexec section. You should be able to do it using relative paths. The machine that I have setup to read floppies is an old Duron with DOS 6.22, Win98 and XP. In most cases XP is fine, but in case I have trouble reading a disk the older OSs will allow me lower level access to try to recover the disks. But, yeah, nothing like that old buzzing/ripping sound of an old 5.25" floppy during boot.
I could not get relative paths to work within the [autoexec] region of the dosbox.conf file ... When I figured out that it would automatically mount the containing folder of the file being called though, everything else fell into place quite nicely.

If you can get relative paths working though, I'd recommend you do that with your installers. Necessary? Of course not. But it makes it that much easier for those who want to use your installers and then copy the games to a USB drive or another computer, for example. No matter how 'clean' a windows installer is, there are some places I'd like to have the games (e.g. my work computer for when I'm on overnight trips) and specifically very much do not wish to have anything "installed", even if only one registry entry.

..dane

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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by Collector » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:57 pm

Just remember that many of the people using the installers are nearly computer illiterate and need things to be as automated as possible. I also want it to be flexible for the convenience of more advanced users. It is not that hard to install on your home machine and simply copy the folder. The only work is setting up the batch files to use relative paths. It would be possible write a small wizard to automate the generation of the batch files.
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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by Tawmis » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:59 pm

Collector wrote:Just remember that many of the people using the installers are nearly computer illiterate and need things to be as automated as possible.
I work in the IT field, and have for a bazillion years, and still consider myself IT illiterate!
:lol:

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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by audiodane » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:41 pm

Collector wrote:Just remember that many of the people using the installers are nearly computer illiterate and need things to be as automated as possible. I also want it to be flexible for the convenience of more advanced users. It is not that hard to install on your home machine and simply copy the folder. The only work is setting up the batch files to use relative paths. It would be possible write a small wizard to automate the generation of the batch files.
Agreed. My only point is that if it was installed using relative paths to begin with, and only the start-menu items had absolute paths, then only the advanced users would even ever see that batch files existed, or whatever... I think there would be a few good ways to work it out.

Of course everything takes time and energy, and nothing is free! I realize that. Just making suggestions... :)
Tawmis wrote:I work in the IT field, and have for a bazillion years, and still consider myself IT illiterate!
:lol:
:lol:

to some extent, aren't we all? When it comes to 1980's and 1990's IT, I'm pretty proficient. When it comes to more modern machines, my knowledge begins dropping off a bit faster... :)

..dane

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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by audiodane » Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:00 am

So now that it's been like 6 weeks, I finally got around to actually looking at these old floppies ... Hacker, Starcross, SpinRite, Super Zaxxon, Chessmaster 2100, Cubic TicTacToe, Super BoulderDash, Rings of Zilfin, ... man I must have 50 or so of these old diskettes... So old they still spelled "disk" with a "k" ... :roll:

The copy protection (bad sectors, etc) though is going to end up making most of these archives useless, unfortunately. :(

..dane

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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by Collector » Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:48 am

audiodane wrote:So old they still spelled "disk" with a "k" ... :roll:
Actually only the optical discs are spelled with a "c". All of the rest use the English spelling with a "k". Floppy disk, hard disk, optical disc. It is from the Phillips trade name, "Compact Disc".
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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by audiodane » Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:11 pm

Reviving an old thread...

So in my off-and-on research, I'm having trouble finding any format that will attempt to store, and an emulator that will properly support, any format that will include intentional floppy errors for copy protection. There seems to be a spattering here and there, but certainly nothing standardized. (like an emulator that will cause an int13 type notification for CPC bad sector detection, etc).

If I were interested (I might be), and so inclined (I might be), would there be any use, benefit, audience, or anything else, for a USB to SuperIO adapter? I figure (maybe naively) that finding a driver for a SuperIO chipset might make it possible to convert it to a USB interfaced driver. I have no idea if this is even viable. The next big glitch would be whether or not "int13" codes would even be supported under such a USB encapsulation.

---> In other words, I can see no reason to attempt to even archive most of my old 5.25" floppies, because I can't use the images without their corresponding intentional disk errors...... am I missing something, or is this the general consensus for commercially produced 5.25" game disks?

cheers,
..dane

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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by Collector » Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:43 pm

A USB adapter for a 5.25" drive would be great. I have an old PC with a 5.25" drive to recover files from what disks I can, but a USB adapter would mean that I wouldn't need to fire up the old PC every time I wanted to read a disk. As far as archiving them, there are only a handful with the CPC protection. You can try the old SUP program to fix them. If that doesn't work, most of these can be made to run by using a couple of files from the collection versions. It is the odd formatted disk, such a s Tandy that are the real problems. Reading disks from other platforms can require hardware from that platform.

It wouldn't work to get USB to 5.25" support to play the games from the CPC protected disks. The problem is not whether USB can support it, but that modern Windows does not allow the low level access it needs to be able to read the "bad" sector. Still, as I said, it would be very handy to have a 5.25" USB drive.
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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by audiodane » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:35 pm

Yea, that's what I was wondering- if "low level access" could be supported in a DOSBox type environment or not. It's not the sierra games that I'm worried about (with super support like SHP offers) but all these other games I have (Super Zaxxon just to pick one completely randomly). Rings of Zilfin is another. I could go on and on. Some don't have any protection, but some do.

Anyway, No promises, especially anytime soon. I just started pondering it a couple days ago. Also wondering if a mini-PCI would be easier to build than USB. Less useful, I completely understand. But everybody's gotta start somewhere. :)

For me, to be honest, it's the drivers that I'm completely lost on. I'm an electronics designer by trade, do it every day of the year. I could design just about any piece of hardware in pretty good order. But when it comes to driver development, I get lost pretty quick. I can do the high level GUI based software development already, but the last Intel based driver I developed was a RS232 comm port driver TSR for DOS, back in the late 80's, and it was pretty crude at that. Nothing to write home about.

If anybody knows of folks "opposite" of me who can do circles around people when it comes to software but have no clue about hardware, let me know- that's who I want to work with. :) What would be particularly awesome would be DOSBox support to such an external floppy driver- one where DOSBox could include the "adaptation layer" to interface to a non-standard external floppy, and mimic the internal floppy dynamics to the application running within DOSBox. ... just a thought! :)

cheers,
..dane

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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by Collector » Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:47 pm

I'm not sure that a driver would be absolutely necessary for a USB device. Windows might see it as simply a USB mass storage device and use its own generic driver for it. It might not be possible for it to have any kind of low level access, though. CPC fails on modern Windows, even with an internal floppy.

I don't know how possible it would be to get that kind of access with DOSBox, but I think that you would need to look at the backend of DOSBox, SDL. Flopper comes to mind, but I am unaware of any image format that could include the CPC faked bad track. I don't think that even Teledisk images can. Even if so, I don't believe that DOSBox can mount Teledisk images. Adding CPC support into SDL would not be terribly portable. You would be dealing with hardware differences too. You would need to talk to the SDL people about feasibilities.
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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by audiodane » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:45 am

Reviewing again the good info on the SHP "Sierra AGI Back-up Disks" page, I'm not sure there's much point in trying to develop anything other than a standard floppy reader. And if that's the case, it looks like KryoFlux may be all that is necessary. I don't know how much one of those controllers costs, but it looks to be an updated and more versatile product than catweasel. I just stumbled across it last night, so I don't yet know much about it, but it looks very interesting, and supports a ton of disk formats. I don't know that it has any major faults or holes in what most of us would be looking for (reading old diskettes). Since there are problems with duplicating a copy protected floppy that can't easily be remedied to begin with, I'm not sure a floppy drive with write access is even necessary. Which makes the KryoFlux option even more appealing (namely that it already exists and seems robust).

thoughts?
..dane

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Re: Reading off my old 5.25" floppies...

Post by Collector » Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:34 pm

If there were someway to create images that could handle CPC and that could be mounted in DOSBox, it would be fantastic. I won't hold my breath, but I applaud any efforts that you may make to that end.
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