Using the Amstrad CPC and PCW floppy disk converter

So I learned on the weekend that the unusual floppy drives in the Amstrads - CPC and PCW machines - is not only an odd size (3 inch, much thicker and in a rectangular case, used exclusively as “flippy discs” where the two sides are independent and you use the second side by flipping the disc over), but also have custom connectors including a custom ribbon cable and a swapped voltage (5v and 12v) on the power connector. Ouch.

After @amagni had left, he let me try to convince the converter to work with my HxC2001. Took a while to crack it, so I’m putting some notes here.

There seems to be contention with having multiple drives on the one ribbon cable. Perhaps the Amstrad native drives have a way to handle this, but the emulated drive did NOT handle being on the same cable the same time as the Amstrad drive. It seems to select and seek from both drives at the same time, even if they were selected as different drives. Perhaps I did something wrong but this seems to align with how I ended up getting the switches to work on the converter board.

The two things I needed to to were 1. select only a single drive to be valid. I ended up getting the setting where B is drive 1, and A is unselected to work. I didn’t get A as 0 to work which was surprising. The second thing was it still didn’t boot, so I swapped the side switch and that made it finally work - I could boot the PCW256 from the HxC2001. I selected ONLY Drive Select 1 mapped to physical drive A on the HxC2001, and much fun was had.

NOTE:: with the HxC2001 I needed to use an external power supply for the drive because the converter card was blocked from me being able to plug in the power connector. I would suggest it was designed to work better with the Gotek hardware.

Here’s the converter with the working settings:

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