Archive Atari 8-Bit Computer Disks from a Real Floppy to a Virtual Disk Using FujiNet (15-30 minutes)

Task: Archive Atari 8-Bit Computer Disks from a Real Floppy to a Virtual Disk Using FujiNet

Needed: Web browser, 48K or 64K Atari computer, FujiNet, floppy disk drive, Atari DOS 2.5 or similar

Time: 15-30 minutes

Guest Author: Randall Kindig from Floppy Days and ANTIC podcasts

Introduction

I recently had the need to archive some Atari 8-bit public domain (PD) disks from a long-gone Atari group. These disks were single-sided, single-density with no copy protection, so I wanted to create a workflow that made it easy to create virtual disks (ATRs) using one of many possible methods available on the Atari 8-bit platform today, so that the virtual disks could be saved to a cloud-based archiving location such as Archive.org. In this particular workflow, I utilized the versatile FujiNet network adapter for the Atari 8-bit.

Before you proceed, you will need an Atari computer with at least 48K (400/800) or 64K (XL/XE) of memory. I used a 600XL with 64K of RAM. I also utilized standard Atari DOS 2.5 to do the copying, just to keep it simple and easy to acquire and use. You will also need a FujiNet network adapter with a micro-SD card. Finally, you will need an Atari 8-bit disk drive, such as the 810 or 1050. Which drive you use is going to depend on the disks that you are archiving and whether they are single-density (90K, either drive) or enhanced density (128K, 1050 only).

Instructions

First, read the previous post on how to use the FujiNet network adapter for the Atari 8-bit.  Additionally, there is an online Quickstart Guide on how to use the FujiNet.

Second, attach the FujiNet to the Atari 8-bit computer SIO port with a formatted micro-SD card inserted and boot into FujiNet.

Third, using FujiNet, mount a virtual DOS 2.5 disk in drive slot 1 (D1:) by connecting to atari-apps.irata.online (directory Atari_8-bit/DOS/). This particular version has been modified to allow the maximum number of drives from DOS 2.5, rather than the default of two (2) drives.  This is important because we will be utilizing three (3) drives to facilitate this workflow. Note that there are a lot of different options for disk copy software, such as Copymate utilized in other projects. There are also other similar disk copy programs you could try. There is some discussion of other options on Atari Age. However, this workflow assumes you are using DOS 2.5 with at least 3 drives set up.

Mount DOS 2.5 From Irata Online
Mount DOS 2.5 From Irata Online
DOS 2.5 File with Multiple Drive Support
DOS 2.5 File with Multiple Drive Support

Fourth, you need to create as many blank virtual disks as required to copy the real disks. To do this, go into the SD card from FujiNet and use “N”ew to create as many blank disks as you need. Name them appropriately so that you know which real disks are being copied to which virtual disks when you are done. Make sure you name them with a .ATR extension. You will need to choose the disk size. A single density disk (e.g. Atari 810 drive) is 90k. Extended density (e.g. Atari 1050 drive) is 130k. Double density is 180k (e,g, Indus GT drive).

Create Blank ATR File as Destination for Copy
Create Blank ATR File as Destination for Copy
Select Disk Size (90K=Single Density)
Select Disk Size (90K=Single Density)

Fifth, mount the first virtual disk into slot 3 (D3:) as W(rite). It’s important that these be set to W(rite) or you won’t be able to copy the real disks to the virtual disks.

Sixth, connect your floppy drive (e.g. 810, 1050, Indus GT) to the Atari (via the FujiNet SIO passthru) using an SIO cable and make sure it is set as drive 2.  Turn on the drive.  The current configuration thus is as follows:
   D1: DOS 2.5 (virtual)
   D2: real disk drive
   D3: blank disk (virtual)

FujiNet with Passthrough SIO to Real Disk Drive
FujiNet with Passthrough SIO to Real Disk Drive

Seventh, reboot the computer from FujiNet (by pressing the Option key and holding the Option key down on the XL/XE to bypass BASIC) into DOS 2.5.

DOS 2.5 Menu
DOS 2.5 Menu

Eighth, format the blank virtual disk in D3: using DOS (menu item “P” if single density, or “I” if enhanced density).

Ninth, insert the real disk to be copied into the disk drive.

Tenth, use Duplicate Disk (menu item “J”) to copy (D2:, D3:) from DOS.  Follow prompts till done.  Enter a “Y” if you are prompted with “TYPE ‘Y’ IF OK TO USE PROGRAM AREA.  CAUTION: A ‘Y’ INVALIDATES MEM.SAV.”

DOS 2.5 Disk Copy
DOS 2.5 Disk Copy

(If there are no more disks to copy, you’re done!  If there are more disks to copy, follow these steps):

Eleventh, use FujiNet’s Web Config from the Web browser of your modern computer to eject D3: and insert the next blank disk into D3: (be sure to insert in Write mode).

Web Interface to the FujiNet
Web Interface to the FujiNet

Twelfth, go back to the Eighth step and continue with the next disk.

Comments

When copying the real disk to the virtual disk, it will take DOS a couple of passes to read the disk and then copy it.  With some other software, and additional RAM on the Atari (such as a 130XE) it’s possible to shorten the process by only requiring a single pass.