I am delighted by my new CFFA 3000, period! OK, I will not leave you wanting more, so I will say a bit extra about it. But first, if you want one, there may be a few left here: https://goo.gl/yb2xMt. Beware, this fifth run of the board may be the last one done by Richard Dreher (R&D Automation). No, the CFFA 3000 is not a vacuum cleaner, but a floppy – and hard drive – replacement for the Apple II computers. Officially, it is called a CF and USB Flash Interface for Apple II. I used mine to replace my quikLoader (QLR4-0317) in my Apple //e enhanced.
The card accepts CF and USB storage devices (but no USB hubs), which makes it much convenient than having to flash EEPROMs. And as a user, you just have to focus on cramming as much as possible disk images into the FAT 16 or 32 partition with MBR (.DSK, .DO, .PO, .NIB, and .2MG image formats are supported). The card takes a slot (slot#1 in my setup) and is assigned to another slot (where the disks will be emulated – slot#6 in my setup). If a physical Disk II interface is present, you will have to remove it (the assigned slot must stay empty). I am using my card as a disk II drives (x2). I guess that if I had an IIGS, I would use it as a hard drive replacement. After setting a few jumpers, connecting the optional remote, and installing the card, you have a few seconds (can be changed) after each power-up to enter the CFFA 3000 menu. It turns out to be very simple and intuitive to use. In particular, I appreciate the easy navigation in the directory trees and between the menu pages.
Ready to Flip?
For example, I really wanted to play Conan: Hall of Volta (DataSoft – 1984) this morning. If you ever played the game on the real thing, you know that after a long load from one side of the floppy, you need to swap the floppy (to the other side) and hit a key to allow the game finish its loading. To do the same with the CFFA 3000, add the images of both sides of the floppy into the images list associated with the first drive. Select the first side of the list and boot. Conan starts to loads and when the game invites you to flip the floppy, simply press the drive #1 button on the remote. This makes the CFFA 3000 point that drive to the second side image of the list. Just have to press any key! Add any extra images the same way if you have an application spread thru multiple disks – with or without multiple sides. The remote is really cool since it also reproduces the activity and status LEDs, which is very convenient if you keep the computer closed. Indeed, the cover hides the LEDs located on the top of the card. Check out the videos to see it in action.
As mentioned earlier, once you have your CFFA 3000 up to and running the game consists of filling the CF cards or USB keys (yes, you can use both at the same time – and they are hot-swappable) with images of your preferred games and applications. One can make their own images from original floppies – using the CFFA 3000 itself – or, downloading them from the Internet (check out the Asimov FTP site). The problem is that sometimes the images are bogus or will not work on your configuration. So, instead of testing each image one by one with your real Apple II, you can use an emulator on your workstation to do the selection. For instance, I’ve tested all the images on the Apple //e emulator for Windows. Once the game checks out as working (and being the game you remembered from 30 years ago – yeah, memory can play you tricks), just drag and drop the images to the storage media. Could it be easier? Hardly. This is why I started writing “I am delighted by my new CFFA 3000, period!”. Have a nice WE.
Note: All pictures & videos are by me, except the picture of the Conan game box (https://goo.gl/JFqDqk)