Using Greaseweazle for Japanese Computers

Started by Cyothevile, November 13, 2021, 01:41:18 PM

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Cyothevile

I've been buying and dumping software for the last 9 months and have learned a lot. So I thought I should share this with you all for those that wish to either:

-Backup their rare Discs in an archival format
-write disc images to floppy discs
-Analyze and determine if their discs are damaged or not. Especially important for high value discs

Greaseweazle is an open source tool created by Keir Frazier that is posted on github here.

https://github.com/keirf/Greaseweazle

There are multiple hardware setups for greaseweazle and it uses command line interface. Some dedicated members have made front-end GUIs to make it easier for dummies like me.

So let's talk about the current hardware available.  All of the hardware is again open source and available online. you can buy the parts yourself and assemble them OR actually buy it from an ebay seller. You can also go to the facebook group and buy from people directly which is how I got my F7.

-F1 uses a bluepill STM32. Cheapest option.  I personally required a seperate power source for the 3.5" drive. Cheapest option
-F7 Lightning plus has the ability to power 12V systems provided you have a seperate 12V power brick to plug it in.  This is especially helpful for 5 inch drives for PC98/X68000. Most expensive option and I don't know if anyone else is selling these boards.
-V4 PCB seems to currently available on ebay easily. Price isn't bad.

You will also need a floppy drive and cables and a way to power it.  V4 and F1 should be able to power a 3 inch drive.  F7 can power a 5 and 8 inch drive.  For my X68 and PC98 discs I've been using a 5 inch TEAC drive.  I wrote a disc for PC98 totally fine but only one disc and it worked in PC9801DA.  I also wrote Master disc for a few people on the forums for X68000 and it works (none of my X68 5 inch drives work).  For 3 inch drives I could be mistaken but I believe you need a 3 mode drive for Japanese PCs.  I ripped out the floppy drives from my FM Towns Fresh and I've been using those drives to read and write.

Follow the github wiki for all initial setup.

Now why you're reading. You want to backup or write discs for your japanese computers.

Greaseweazle as of the time writing this supports SCP format which is a flux format and HFE for floppy emulators. 


SETUP

To write a disc you will likely need to convert your format to HFE format for the greaseweazle to write it to disc.  So at this time grab the HXC floppy app from the website.

https://hxc2001.com/download/floppy_drive_emulator/


Now before doing anything go to settings and then parameters. where it says "FLUXSTREAM_RPMFIX" enter "300T0360RPM".  This is required for X68, FMT and PC98.  I don't know about other japanese computers.

Another piece of software I would recommend is a GUI for greaseweazle.  I'm using the GUI by Desert Sage Solutions.

https://desertsagesolutions.com/greaseweazlegui/

You need to make sure your GUI wrapper is compatible for your greaseweazle firmware. So if greaseweazle is on 0.24, you must use a GUI that is compatible with that firmware. Pay attention to the notes.  I'm on a low firmware.  Why? Because it works for me. I don't see a reason to constantly update.

The rest of this guide will be written around the Desert Safe Solutions GUI.  There are one or two other GUIs but they should roughly be the same.  Otherwise everything would be type in command line interface to the greaseweazle.  I strongly recommend a GUI

READ INSTRUCTIONS

Now for reading you need to lock the RPM at 300. Very important.  The only other setting that must be adjusted is drive select and that depends on the jumpers on your floppy drive.  File output formats for disk type...I would advise SCP format since it's a flux format.

Now read your disc.  With the file output from the greaseweazle, open the SCP file in the HXC app. Click Track analyzer and then click "view mode" and select dummy disc. 

*If you have bad sectors* it is likely some form of damage.  However some games for X68000 had copy protection.

Look at the file I attached name "Habitate V1.1 L10 bad disc".  That is an example of a disc that is damaged.  I tried cleaning it several times but honestly boys...it's fucked.


Now look at the Lord Monarch photo.  Notice the offset track.  This is not a damaged disc. That is just copy protection.  In other words the disc is fine and now it's preserved in an archival format! I've never tried writing a protected disc BACK to floppy before though.

Now look at Eikan. It should be noted the CD ROM itself has mastering issues...anyway...
Eikan has zero issues and can totally be replicated on another floppy disc.  It can also work totally fine in a floppy emulator.  You just need to convert the SCP file into HFE if you want to use it in a floppy emulator.  Greaseweazle can also write SCP files back to disc.


WRITE


Writing is simple.  Select your SCP/HFE file and make sure your drive select is correct.


One more thing I need to mention.

Most of the game sets floating around are of questionable quality as they're horrendously incomplete.  Well, it's what most people use for free games. 
The file formats for most of the games in Neo Kobe for example are in HDM or BIN format.  To be able to write these to disc in greaseweazle you must use the HXC app.  Open the disc image in the HXC app and then export the file into HFE format.  Now you can write your games and have fun!

Ending


I have dumped over 160 FM Towns discs with greaseweazle.  These floppies can be in rough shape and I've been trying to archive these discs. I hope you guys find this information helpful as there is zero information online using greaseweazle with japanese computers. I would highly recommend greaseweazle for backing up your collection and also writing discs in Windows10.

fidelware

It's a great job, thank you very much for your effort and dedication,

Cyothevile

People please stop DMing me your personal questions like you are special or I will ask NFG to lock my messages. This is a forum.

Please ask the questions here because other people might have a similar question or even a better answer than me!

NFG

And I will do it too.  Cyothevile is correct, and I have often said the same thing in the past:  It's forum, ask in the forum. 

fidelware

Hello, you help me convert the FDIMAGE.BIN of the FDBOOT In order to record it with GREASEWEZLAE, because with the HXC tool it does not recognize the file and does not let me convert it to HFE

Cyothevile

Quote from: fidelware on December 02, 2021, 10:35:34 PMHello, you help me convert the FDIMAGE.BIN of the FDBOOT In order to record it with GREASEWEZLAE, because with the HXC tool it does not recognize the file and does not let me convert it to HFE

If you want to run the FDBOOT.BIN on a floppy emulator it should work with out converting at all. It worked for me on the Pentium desktop.

It's just a good rule of thumb to convert most file into HFE format for a floppy emulator but a gotek with flash floppy I noticed plays everything from Neokobe or redump set totally fine in BIN/IMG formats.

You're trying to write FDBOOT.BIN to a physical disk correct?  Open file in the HXC app first. Then click export and you should be able to select HFE as a file format. Actually it should be the default option

fidelware

#6
"You're trying to write FDBOOT.BIN to a physical disk correct?  Open file in the HXC app first. Then click export and you should be able to select HFE as a file format. Actually it should be the default option"

that's what i want to do, but when i try to load fdimage.bin in hxcfloppyemulator, below i get a message saying
LOAD ERROR! READ FILE ERROR!
and I don't know how to continue


Cyothevile

It might be better to get an empty, formatted floppy image for Towns

Get disc explorer and pull the files from FDBOOT.BIN.

Then use disc explorer to shove those file into the empty, formatted floppy image.

I've done this before trying to figure out why maririn DX wouldn't boot.

fidelware

hi guys, i made it !!
 with the Virtual Floppy Image Converter http://www.vector.co.jp/soft/win95/util/se151106.html
 I have loaded the FDIMAGE.BIN file and saved it as BK DSK Format
 And in this way an image with an HDM extension is created
 This FDIMAGE.HDM image I convert to HFE
 And then I write it normal with the Greaseweazle to an HD floppy disk

matt

Thanks so much for this guide.

My experience was a long and winding road, with some bumps along the way. Thanks for your help.

- I had to use 360T0300RPM rather than 300T0360RPM, for reasons unknown
- macOS HxC will not write correct files
- Windows HxC writes matching images OK!

SCP (360T0300RPM) -> IMG (rename to FDI) got me going.

Zuofu

#10
Quote from: matt on January 10, 2022, 12:42:59 AMThanks so much for this guide.

My experience was a long and winding road, with some bumps along the way. Thanks for your help.

- I had to use 360T0300RPM rather than 300T0360RPM, for reasons unknown
- macOS HxC will not write correct files
- Windows HxC writes matching images OK!

SCP (360T0300RPM) -> IMG (rename to FDI) got me going.


I've also noticed having to use 360TO300RPM for X68000 images from the Ghostware collection. Especially true with files which have been converted from the .DIM format using VFIC. This probably has to do which the original drive which was used to rip the disk, and what jumper settings they used when ripping.