I recently purchased a Gotek floppy emulator to use with my TI-99/4A. The idea behind the emulator is to, of course, replace the floppy drive on the TI. Well, I’m not going to physically replace the drive- I’m going to use the emulator along with my existing 5.25″ floppy drive to load programs from from disk images onto the computer.
I found a Gotek floppy emulator on Ebay that was being sold by an American seller who was licensed to install the HxC bootloader on it. Here is a link to one of his Gotek auctions. I can’t vouch for him, but I can say that my purchase went well. It looks like he puts a batch of emulators up for sale when he has them ready. If the auction I linked to is over, check his other auctions.
The HxC bootloader is important because it enables you to load the HxC firmware on to it and use HFE format disk images. The seller I bought the emulator from linked to http://hxc2001.free.fr/floppy_drive_emulator/index.html for more information about the HxC project. When I checked that site, I was a little bit confused about what worked with the hardware that I had. There are USB drives that connect to your PC via USB cable. However, I had the version that uses a USB thumb drive to store the HFE disk images and move them between the PC and the Gotek. Luckily, the seller also linked to the correct firmware that I needed to download at: http://hxc2001.com/download/floppy_drive_emulator/HXCFEUSB_HFE_beta_firmware.zip. That file came with firmware for three different modes of use: normal, autoboot, and indexed.
For my drive with only the basic LED display, I needed to use the indexed configuration file. After doing a full format on my thumb drive, I copied HXCSDFE.CFG from the indexed mode folder of the firmware into the root of the thumb drive. With indexed mode, disk images have to be named in the following manner: DSKA0000.HFE, DSKA0001.HFE, DSKA0002.HFE, etc. Using the buttons on the front of the Gotek, you can page through available images and the file number is displayed on the LED as 00, 01, 02, etc until you choose the one you want.
You can download software at hxc2001.com to convert TI99 dsk images to HFE files, but to save time when I was trying to get all of this working, I just downloaded some images from whtech.com (I know that those files are from the 2014 Chicago Faire, but I’m not sure why they’re in the video directory…). I connected the Gotek to the disk controller card in my PEB, fired it all up, and I was completely surprised that it worked like a charm! It was a little confusing at first, but all in all, it was pretty easy.
I’ve added an optional LCD display and 3rd push button to my Gotek, but I’m going to write about that in a second post in a few days since this one has been so long.