After last week’s post, I’ve reached a point where I can start to do some real work with my Apple 2. The next step is to upgrade the storage. In the case of my Apple IIe Platinum, it means adding storage because I bought it without a floppy controller or drives. If you look carefully at the pictures in the introduction post, you may notice that the controller was removed, but the ribbon cable was snipped off! Although the original Apple 2 can be connected to a cassette tape recorder to save and load data out of the box, a couple of floppy drives is a must. Outside of this project, I would have picked a duo-disk unit for an Apple 2e, and two 5.25” floppy disks for anything else.
For my pimping project, though, I will use a modern replacement for storage. My choice goes to the CFFA 3000 by Richard Dreher (R&D Automation). By now, I believe they are all gone, and there will be no production re-runs. You may still find a few on eBay, but they will cost you a lot of money. I wrote about this exceptional modern storage for the Apple 2 here. Since I am vampirizing the CFFA 3000 from my Apple IIe Enhanced for this project, I will build a Floppy Emu disk emulator by Big Mess o’ Wires (BMOW). There are many other SD solutions out there, so pick the right one for your project. I wanted a solution that I could use with many Apple computers (2, GS, Macintosh, and even Lisa – not that I have one), so I picked the Floppy Emu Model C. I also grabbed a case to house the emulator. As always, with laser-cut acrylic cases, the assembly requires few additional hands, let’s say four or five. Nothing some tape cannot fix, though.
Contrary to the CFFA 3000, the floppy EMU requires a physical floppy controller. Depending on your controller model, you may need an Internal/External Drive Switcher. I had to use one of these adapters with my IO controller 655-0101-B from 1983.
Just for shits and giggles, I also added a Noisy Disk module. This board interfaces between the controller and the emulator, and uses a relay to emulate the floppy disk noises. You know, those brrrrr, toc, toc, toc sounds. If you spent hours copying floppies using Locksmith, you know what I am talking bout! I attached a few videos with audio tracks to demonstrate this. Note that BMOW also sells a Daisy Chainer to insert the emulator into a chain of physical disks. Such a device should make backup copies of old floppies trivial!
The next focus for the pimp my Apple II project is memory! Have a nice WE, and stay tuned!