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An Arduino-Based Parallel Port Hard Drive Troubleshooter

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AlexTheCat123:
I've been working on an interesting project for around a week or so that I figured you guys would want to know about! I built myself a USBWidEx a month or so ago and I really love the functionality that it provides, but it was pretty hard to find the Renesas processor that it requires and I ended up destroying 3 processors and 2 boards since I suck at such fine surface-mount soldering.

In order to remedy these two issues, I decided to try and build my own USBWidEx-like device using an Arduino Mega and a simple breakout board that only uses through-hole components. This was my first time trying to emulate a communications protocol like this and I was worried that it wouldn't work, but luckily it seems that my fears weren't justified.

My device communicates with the modern computer using a terminal emulator just like USBWidEx does and it uses XMODEM to transmit and receive drive image files. So far, it can read and interpret the spare table, read and write to any block that the user specifies, and backup and restore the entire drive to a file. It works great with my ProFiles and Widget, but random data errors crop up when I try to use it with a Cameo/Aphid for some reason, so I'll need to look into that some more. I've attached some pictures showing the device in action.

The SD card slot on the board is for the next phase of this project, where I hope to make the board emulate a ProFile in addition to communicating with one, but I'm skeptical about the Arduino being fast enough to emulate a drive since the host, not the drive, sets the pace of communication.

Once I add more functionality and get some more of the bugs worked out, I'll make sure to release the (sloppily written but functional) code so that other people can build their own. In case you can't tell, I'm pretty excited about this project! Let me know what you guys think and tell me if you have any tips or suggestions!

stepleton:
Wow, awesome! Congratulations on this new gizmo!


--- Quote ---It works great with my ProFiles and Widget, but random data errors crop up when I try to use it with a Cameo/Aphid for some reason, so I'll need to look into that some more.
--- End quote ---

Oh yes, please let me know if you find anything out there. If it's OK with the real drive then any emulator ought to be able to deal with it too! (Unless it's the Xenix ProFile driver --- that's just weird.) I wonder if it's timing out on you --- there was an update to the software on 20 June that removed some timeout assumptions that had been there previously.

AlexTheCat123:
Thanks! I'm using the latest version of the Cameo/Aphid software, so unfortunately that doesn't fix the issue. I'll keep looking and I'll try to figure out what the problem is! My guess is that it has something to do with the Arduino being slower at communicating with the drive than a Lisa, Apple III, or USBWidEx would be.

rayarachelian:
Very nice!

AlexTheCat123:
I just uploaded the source code and a description of the device to GitHub, so feel free to check it out if you guys are interested!

It still doesn't work with the Cameo/Aphid, so I'll have to keep looking into that issue.

By the way, I tried using the Arduino to emulate a ProFile and it kind of worked, but it just couldn't always keep up with the strobe pulses from the Lisa.

Let me know what you guys think and if you have any suggestions!

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