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CFFA for Apple II

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Q: What is the CFFA3000?
A: The CFFA3000 is my third generation Apple II Disk Interface card. This card allows you to use CF and USB flash media as disks in your apple II computer. The CFFA3000 adds some new features over the previous CFFA. 1) You may use disk image files directly. You can download image files off the internet and use them with the CFFA3000. Also, the CFFA3000 will emulate an Apple Disk II controller. Simply load a USB flash drive with all of your favorite Apple II disk images (.dsk files) and plug it into the CFFA3000. Using the built-in menus select the images you want to use as smartport volumes (HDs) and virtual floppy images, and boot.
Q: Are you taking orders?
A: No. The 5th run of boards is complete. In the Fall and Winter of 2019 (northern hemisphere) if I can repair some of the failed units I have, I will sell them via Ebay from time to time.
Q: Will you be making a new generation of CFFA style interface board?
A: Probably not. If I change my mind and decide to make something new, it would have to have some very compelling new features, but currently, I have no plans for something new.
Q: What kind of return policy and guarantee will you offer?
A: You may return the product undamaged for any reason within 30 days of receiving it. I warranty the product to be free from defects for 1 year. Warranty returns will be either repaired, replaced, or refunded based on my discretion. If you want to return something, please contact me via Email: rich@dreher.net
Q: What kind of CF cards will work with the CFFA3000?
A: Almost any brand should work. I don't keep a compatibility list because most cards work.
Q: What support does your hardware have for hard drives?
A: There is no IDE header on the CFFA3000 like there was on the older CFFA cards.
Q: So, what size devices can I use?
A: Almost any flash media should work. The CF card can be formatted: FAT16, FAT32, or ProDOS formatted. Note:FAT12 and NTFS are NOT supported. USB flash devices must be formatted FAT16 or FAT32. For FAT16 and FAT32 formatted cards you MUST have the MBR (master boot record) on the card at block 0. Formatting with Microsoft Windows will NOT place the MBR onto the CF card if it is missing. That requires using DISKPART and can be very tricky. Please use extreme caution when using this utility. Here is a link to a forum post that describes writing an MBR to removable media using Windows. Mac users can use the the normal partition management tool.
Q: If I use a flash memory, won't it wear out after a certain number of write cycles?
A: Very unlikely. Flash based memory does have a finite number of write cycles. So yes, it is possible that after heavy usage, a flash card could become un-writable. I believe most users will never run into this situation unless they are running software that is writing data with a very high frequency. The SanDisk brand flash card has a sector write endurance equal or greater than 300,000 writes. It also features an error detection and correction feature which automatically implements advanced wear leveling. Drivers/firmware no longer have to worry about doing manual wear leveling any more, at least with SanDisk CF products. Sectors that wear out are automatically detected and removed and replaced from the pool of reserve sectors. Under normal usage, it would take thousands of years to produce enough writes to wear out a CF card.
Q: Which model Apple II does this project currently work in?
A: All Apple II computers except the IIc model which has no slots. Note: The CFFA3000 does not work with the Laser 128.
Q: Will it work with ProDOS 8?
A: Yes. I have used it extensively with many versions of ProDOS.
Q: Will it work with Apple DOS 3.3?
A: YES!!! It will allow you to load images files from DOS 3.3, UCSD Pascal, CP/M and others.
Q: Can I load up the CompactFlash / USB flash drive with all of my old Games and run them from there?
A: Yes as long as they are not copy protected. There may be some very light copy protections that will run on the CFFA3000, but don't expect the CFFA3000 to run copy protected games until you try it. Post your findings in the forum.
Q: Will it work with GS/OS?
A:Yes! And you don't need a GS/OS driver to get maximum speed out of the CFFA3000 because it supports extended smartport API.
Q: Will it work in a //c?
A: No. There are no expansion slots in an Apple //c to place my hardware in. It will not work with the SmartPort on the back of the //c. It needs an expansion bus slot, like the Laser 128 had.
Q: Do you need to format the CompactFlash or USB drive before use?
A: Maybe. If you are using the CF card and want native ProDOS partitions you will need to format the CF card with a ProDOS format program. But if you are using FAT16 or FAT32 then you most likely will already have formatted the device in a more modern computer. Note: For USB flash drives, the CFFA3000 supports only FAT16 or FAT32.
Q: Can I take the CompactFlash out of my Apple II and read it with my Mac?
A: Yes! Especially if you use FAT16 or FAT32. This makes it simple to copy image files from your PC to your apple II.
Q: Can I take the CompactFlash out of my Apple II and read it with my Windows/DOS based PC?
A: YES!!!! Now you can read your CFFA formatted CF cards in your Windows based PC. Andy McFadden has written a Windows program that will let you read, write, backup, and restore CFFA formatted CF cards!.You can find more information on his site
Q: What about the Apple II+ and the un-enhanced IIe?
A: The Apple ][+ and //e are supported. There is a setting in the CFFA3000 menus that must be changed to get the CFFA3000 to enter the menu correctly. See the manual for information.
Q: I took the CF card that I was using in my CFFA board and put it back in to my Camera, PDA, Gizmo, etc. and it doesn't work. I can't format it and nothing seems to work with it. Did the CFFA board hurt my CF card?
A: No!!!! The trouble you are having probably is due to the fact the the MBR (master boot record) has been overwritten on the CF card. On the very first sector of any HD in the PC world, resides the MBR. This is where the inital boot code and the main parition table is normally stored. If you use the native ProDOS format on the CF card, ProDOS or GS/OS will overwrite the MBR at block 0 and use it as part of its file system. When you go back to using your CF card in another device, it may not like the fact that it can't find that MBR information, and refuse to work with that CF card. So you will have to re-write the MBR back to the CF card and then you will be able to re-format the card using your favorite camera, or whatever device has that capability.
See this forum post for details on retoring your MBR using windows 7 and later.
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