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Thread: Writing 3.5" disk images to 5.25" disks

  1. #1
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    Default Writing 3.5" disk images to 5.25" disks

    So I'm trying to write out the utilities disk and the recovery floppies for the Apricot system I just finished working on and there's a problem. Normally Apricot used 3.5" diskettes and all the images are in that format but the machine I got has a 5.25" 1.2mb floppy drive. You can't just write the image back out to 5.25" and expect it to work. I don't even think it will let you.
    On the other hand the disk images are bundled individually with a zip file containing the files within the disk image, so in theory I can just extract the contents to floppies, but it's Apricot's OEM DOS 3.2. The disks are still useless if I can't write out the boot sector. Any suggestions on writing out and making the appropriate disks bootable?
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeXT View Post
    So I'm trying to write out the utilities disk and the recovery floppies for the Apricot system I just finished working on and there's a problem. Normally Apricot used 3.5" diskettes and all the images are in that format but the machine I got has a 5.25" 1.2mb floppy drive. You can't just write the image back out to 5.25" and expect it to work. I don't even think it will let you.
    On the other hand the disk images are bundled individually with a zip file containing the files within the disk image, so in theory I can just extract the contents to floppies, but it's Apricot's OEM DOS 3.2. The disks are still useless if I can't write out the boot sector. Any suggestions on writing out and making the appropriate disks bootable?
    There's this out there but it looks to be pretty involved and probably not the solution you're looking for:

    https://dallibraries.atlassian.net/w...ch+floppy+disk
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    Maybe a long shot, but have you tried booting the Apricot disk images in an emulator like QEMU? I don’t know anything about the Xen but the web thinks it’s more PC compatible than previous Apricots, does it still require a proprietary DOS or can it boot generic? Wondering if you could, conversely, boot the Apricot disk in an emulator and use it to format a virtual 5.25” image.
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    If you want to read/write the files, have you tried COTDOS? (should be in the SIMTEL20 library). If not, drop me a PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eudimorphodon View Post
    Maybe a long shot, but have you tried booting the Apricot disk images in an emulator like QEMU? I don’t know anything about the Xen but the web thinks it’s more PC compatible than previous Apricots, does it still require a proprietary DOS or can it boot generic? Wondering if you could, conversely, boot the Apricot disk in an emulator and use it to format a virtual 5.25” image.
    Online details on the Xen are hit and miss. Initially it was a 286 with software IBM BIOS emulation, then it was a 286 with "some sort of" pc compatibility (I believe they just called it the Xen-i by that point) and by the time the Xen-i 386 came out it was 100% compatible. The only product brochure I've found for the system never mentions an internal 5.25" drive. Only external. There are enough images on google though for me to say that internal 5.25" was later available but we have so far not found a brochure listing it.
    Basing off the Portable running DOS 2.1, something between the Apricot and regular DOS is incompatible and the floppies are not interchangeable without a format. Others however have said only disk 1 of the restore set is DOS bootable and well there's more conflicting information.

    You probably also saw that someone has already managed to get the disk images to work in 86box and they listed how to configure the system to work.

    Here's how to configure 86box for XEN-i:

    1. Machine: Award 286 clone, Memory: 1024kB
    2. Video: any of the Hercules cards
    3. Mouse: Logitech 3-button mouse (we actually want the standard Microsoft serial mouse, but due to a bug in 86box, we have to choose the one after that)
    4. Ports: enable serial port 1 (COM1)
    5. Other peripherals: choose MFM IBM PC/AT Fixed disk adapter as the HD controller
    6. Hard disks: create a new 10MB (CHS = 306, 4, 17) image and set the bus to MFM/RLL
    7. Removable devices: set the first floppy drive to 3.5" 720k
    8. Save the settings, the machine will reboot

    During BIOS post, you'll recieve a CMOS error, press CTRL+ALT+ESC to enter BIOS settings and configure the following:

    1. Diskette 1: 720k
    2. Disk 1: type 1 (make sure CHS is 306, 4, 17)
    3. Video: mono (due to Hercules being the default adapter)
    4. Press F10 and then F5 to save the settings to CMOS, machine will reboot

    Now insert the first disk, let it boot. Press Y once asked to partition the drive with FDISK. The machine will reboot again, from now on follow the instructions on-screen. Once you're done, remove the floppy disk image from drive A: and restart to boot from hard drive. Once you get to the DOS prompt, simply type WIN to enter Windows. You should now see Windows 1.03 in all its Hercules-powered glory and even the mouse works. If you want to switch to CGA or EGA, run INSTALL.EXE in root of C: drive from DOS and follow the instructions. Make sure you also change the display adapter in 86box settings and in the BIOS!

    https://www.betaarchive.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=37783
    I don't actually have any emulators immediately handy but I'm not sure what this would accomplish for me as I don't have any machines that both run a later version of windows and a 5.25" floppy drive to hook into the emulator and write out the disks correctly.

    have you tried COTDOS?
    You will need to enlighten me on this. I've never heard of COTDOS.
    Last edited by NeXT; October 8th, 2020 at 10:30 AM.
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    COTDOS.SYS is a device driver to allow PC XT- and AT-compatibles to read
    and write Apricot MS-DOS diskettes (3.5" 720K, 80 track, double-sided and
    3.5" 314K, 70 track, single-sided).
    It also works with 5.25" 720K drives (but not 1.2MB). When formatting, writes the correct boot sector information. Dates from 1995, so probably works with most common versions of DOS.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeXT View Post
    Online details on the Xen are hit and miss. Initially it was a 286 with software IBM BIOS emulation, then it was a 286 with "some sort of" pc compatibility (I believe they just called it the Xen-i by that point) and by the time the Xen-i 386 came out it was 100% compatible. The only product brochure I've found for the system never mentions an internal 5.25" drive. Only external. There are enough images on google though for me to say that internal 5.25" was later available but we have so far not found a brochure listing it.
    What I came away with from what's out there is if the machine has a 5.25" floppy drive it's by definition a Xen-i? If the disks for a Xen-i will boot with a normal Award BIOS then that looks pretty promising Re: the machine being able to boot a plain DOS disk. Have you tried a bog-standard DOS 3.x disk on it?
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    If you're just trying to copy a 3.5" Apricot disk to 5.25" QD, it's easy enough to do with Imagedisk if you have a system with a 1.2MB drive. After creating an image file from the 3.5" disk, write it out using your 5.25" HD drive and set the data rate 250K->300K on the menu. Use DD media.

  9. #9
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    If the drive is 80-track DSDD, you can write a 3.5" DD image to it. I've done it with the Amiga and it works. There were external 5.25" Amiga drives that worked with DD 5.25" media instead of 3.5", because it was far cheaper media at the time.

  10. #10
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    The drive in the system is what I believe to be DS HD 1.2mb, not DS QD.



    Have you tried a bog-standard DOS 3.x disk on it?
    I actually have not yet powered it on since it arrived in Canada. It worked before it was shipped and once it got here I've been doing preventative maintenance on the power supply. I can jumper the computer to run on 110v but the Zenith monitor is hardwired for 220v, so I need to hunt down my europlug extension cord and power bar and bring the system up on my step-up transformer. I'm at work right now but I do have access to other DOS machines with 3.5" and 5.25" floppy drives .
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