For people like me who began the computing with computers as Atari
ST or Amiga and still possessing one, we still use it time to time for
some instant of nostalgias by viewing some demos and/or by playing some
old video games. However these computers are based on 3"1/2 floppy
disk, so it's necessary to prepare them from a PC. And this is a real
pain: you have to find a floppy disk in good condition, to format it
with makedisk (under DOS because it doesn't work with Windows) from
an floppy disk image, etc. After some long minutes of preparation, we
boot up the Atari ST with this floppy disk and then we realize that
the floppy disk lost some sectors and is unusable... This often occurs
because in a lot of cases, the floppy disk drive of the computer is
Regarding Amiga floppy disks, it's impossible to create them from a
PC because their format is totally incompatible with the PC controllers.
Anyway the tiredness of the floppy disk drive, the decline of floppy
disks and their close disappearance required a fall-back solution to
be able to use these computers in the future...
The aim of this project is to replace the floppy disk drive by an electronic
device emulating the floppy disk drive.
Since the beginning of the project (2006), the HxC Floppy emulators
was designed to be very versatile and to support a large variety of
computers / keyboards / samplers / CNC machines at a low cost.
Thanks to its versability the HxC Floppy Emulator supports most existing
Today the HxC Floppy Emulator is a well established floppy disk drive replacement solution present into the Retro-Computing
domain, the Music domain and the Industrial domain.
At this day there are two differents floppy disk drive emulator :
- A USB version which allows to connect the floppy disk drive
interface of the computer to a PC via a USB cable.
For more information on this interface, go to "USB
HxC Floppy Drive Emulator" part.
In the table below, you can find the
list of supported/tested hardware/floppy file images:
Note : Some computer/hardware are probably missing in this list.
If you have tested the HxC Floppy Emulator successfully with another
hardware or if you want a new file/hardware support, don't hesitate
to contact me.
- SDCard support: >SD Card up to 2GB.
>SDHC Card supported up to 32GB.
(10Mhz SPI bus mode. Average byterate: ~500KB/s) - SDCard Filesystem
>FAT32 supported. Subdirectory and long name file supported.
- More than 8000 HD (1.44MB) Floppy Images on a 32GB SDCard !
- More than 16000 DD (720KB) Floppy Images on a 32GB SDCard !
- Read / Write support
Track mode based floppy emulator (Full track pre-encoded in the HFE
> Read support: Most of existing formats (FM/MFM/Amiga/E-mu track...)
supported. Custom tracks supported.
> Write support: ISO MFM/DD 256/512/1024Bytes sector write supported.
> Write support: ISO FM /SD 128/256/512/1024Bytes sector write
> Amiga Write support (Since the Rev.C Hardware)
> E-mu (Emulator I / II / SP1200) Write support (Since the
- Floppy bitrate supported
>250/300Kbits/s (DD floppies)
>500Kbits/s (HD floppies) (others bitrates possible)
(Note : Variable bitrate not supported. So protected floppy disk image
(IPF and STX file format) file support will be only partial ! If you
look for a device supporting IPF / STX please a have a look to the USB
HxC Floppy Emulator device)
-Tracks / Side:
>Up to 256 tracks per floppy.
>1 or 2 sides.
>Firmware update via the SDCard.
>Last Loaded Floppy Image autostart at power up.
>Very fast floppy image loading (<100ms), no conversion time.
>Floppy Emulator ready at power up! Boot sequence possible right
after the power up !
>File image renaming function.
control tool (Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Amiga) :
With this tool the host computer can access directly to the SDCard
to select files images and change the SDCard HxC Floppy Emulator settings.
With this tool the LCD screen and the buttons are becoming optional
/ useless. You can even remove the LCD screen to put the SD HxC Floppy
Emulator inside the Amiga/Atari/CPC computer without case modification.
Actually Atari ST, Amstrad CPC and Amiga versions of
this tools are available.
Here are the main features of the USB HxC Floppy Emulator:
- Read only Floppy emulator (SD,DD,HD &
ED mode) (!!!!!! No Write Support !!!!! Have
a look to the SD Card version for the write support!) - USB 1.1 device interface (based on the
- MFM, FM and GCR compatible (can handle custom encoding).
- Bitrate between 63Kbits/s and 1MBits/s.(250 differents
bitrates by step of 62.5ns). - Variable bitrate, flakey bits and long tracks, custom tracks support
(emulating of copy protected floppies).
- Can emulate floppies up to 128 tracks.
- "jumper free" Design : Device configuration on the software.
- Flexible Floppy Interface: Shugart, IBM PC and Amiga compatible.
To see the list of computer tested with it, please go
to this List
All necessary informations to build your own USB HxC Floppy
Emulator is available here.
The hearth of the USB HxC Floppy Emulator is a MAX EPM7128S
CPLD from Altera with 128 Macrocell. This chip is connected to a 32KB
SRAM used as buffer and a FT245 from FTDI for the USB communication.
: Do not disconnect the Floppy
interface cable while the USB is connected. This may damaged the
emulator and your equipements.
Always disconnect the USB cable
before connecting/disconnecting the Floppy interface cable.
There are four LEDs on the board:
D1 : Power LED
D2 : Select LED :Is on when the target computer acccess the floppy
D3 : Step LED : Is on when the target computer is stepping/changing
D4 : Link LED : This is the USB link status: Is on when dialoging
the host PC.
This software act as the floppy server with the USB HxC Floppy Emulator.
This program also allows you to convert floppy image files for the SDCard
based HxC Floppy Emulator.
Supports many input floppy image file formats: List
of the supported floppy image formats.
- Works on Windows 98 / 2000 / XP / Vista / Seven.
- Mac OS X support available since the v2.x.x.x
- Linux port work in progress.
- The USB HxC Floppy Emulator support is based on the FTDI
D2XX Direct Drivers.
If you have the USB HxC Floppy Emulator you must install this driver.
The Linux and MacOsX command line version can be build from the sources.