Virtual Floppy Drive – Part II – Testing Gotek

(this is a guest post from Tenox)

This is a continuation of my another post where I do a high level overview of different Floppy Disk Emulators. Gotek is one of them but from various research I have done before buying it I antcipated it will be the worst. Unfortunately the claims turned to be true.

The emulator arrived by FedEx earlier on today. It only took two days since the order, which is excellent, but unfortunately this was the only good thing about Gotek.

The FedEx bag looked like it has been used by at least 5 previous shipments and has already circled the globe few times. The inner package was even worse, a bit of old bubble wrap taped together with the unit and unpacked cdrom. Disgusting!

The unit itself looks rather good, they have made a better looking self adhesive front panel label.

gotek-f

I went to replace my original 1.44MB floppy drive with Gotek. First roadblock that I encountered was the fact that the emulator is about an inch shorter and the original floppy cable did not reach so I had to improvise. The unit powered on so I went on to the documentation and software.

gotek-ribbon

Documentation is absolutely horrible. Written in Engrish is rather hard to understand, however invaluable because without it you will not be able to figure out how to use the software. Looks like they are aware of the software limitations because the documentation is full of workarounds and troubleshooting.

The software is even worse. It only works on Windows XP / 2000, so I had to run it inside VMware Workstation with USB pass-through  It actually did work but usability is similar to RiscOS or Plan 9. Here is a photo from one of the manual pages that illustrates both the documentation and the application itself.

gotek-sw

So how does it actually work? Here is a small excerpt from the user manual: “We will divide a pen drive into 100 partitions of 1.44 mb capacity each.” – err what? That’s right, this is what they are doing. Dividing a pen drive to small partitions and multiplexing them so that you see one at a time. You select the partition using the buttons on the front panel or from the software. When you switch the floppy drive will be mapped to another partition. On the host computer you can see it as a removable drive in Windows Explorer.

gotek-drv

Gotek has promised me that the Type-F will support non-FAT and bootable floppy disks. So I started testing with writing QNX2 aclock demo floppy disk using ntrawrite.

gotek-rawrite

The system has completely freaked out and went to an error mode. Fortunately described in the troubleshooting guide, however requires full reformatting. Now imagine rewriting 100 floppy disks stored on the unit… I spent hours trying to figure what is going in. What I think is that the non-FAT bootable disk can only be used in “singular mode” where you store just a single floppy disk image on the pen drive. What a waste, but it did work and in the end I did boot QNX2 on my 286 from a pen drive.

gotek-qnx2

The next test was trying to boot Xenix from emulated 1.2MB 5.25″ drive. I have re formatted the singular drive to 1.2MB and switched it in the bios. However the system never actually loaded.

When it comes to FAT compatible operating systems like MS-DOS or OS/2, you can actually boot and use multiplexed floppies. You can install MS-DOS 6.22 by flipping the selector to change disks. Pretty cool. I was also able to run BIOS built in floppy disk diagnostics.

gotek-diag

So the device sort of works. I was able to boot a non-DOS operating system and for DOS based floppies I was able to hold more than one disk per USB key. However the whole experience was rather horrible. The verdict:

  • Packaging: garbage
  • Usability: garbage
  • Software: garbage
  • User manual: garbage
  • Compatibility: garbage
  • Total: garbage

So in short do not waste your time with this. Do not buy Gotek unless you absolutely have to.

I’m still awaiting for arrival of HxC, however it appears to be stuck in Polish Post Office, probably due to the holiday season.

Update: EMUFDD has provided me with a link to their page that lists all Gotek-like cheap Chinese and Indian made devices – with a warning how bad they are. They are claiming that German Ipcas also sells Gotek like devices, so I will be updating my previous post.

25 thoughts on “Virtual Floppy Drive – Part II – Testing Gotek

  1. The problem with EMUFDD and their products is their actitude against possible buyers mainly.

    « After all we should not forget what I said many times on this and other forums: everything started because of the CNC machines. Nobody cared to build an emulator for synths or even computers in the first place. The fact that we use those emulators for other purposes than intended is simply a side-effect. »

    Looks like they don’t want the money from many possible buyers, so… TO FUCK WITH THEM!!! Nobody cares on them, someday HxC will beat out the crap from all their products with the plus that HxC is OpenSource.

  2. From one angle yes it is, but I think of it from another. If you have another company say a hing end, studio quality, audio equipment makers. A geek amateur junkie wannabe x-factor dropout “musican” can also say “fuck them” as they have bad attitude towards possible buyers. In this case EMUFDD claims to be a high end quality equipment maker and as a business they are not interested in to a niche of computer enthusiasts. As a business owner I can relate to that. They also claim that their equipment is rugged and works in harsh environmental conditions and can provide quality of service required by high end machinery. I can assure you these cost a lot more to produce than open source stuff.

    Now from the other angle you can see in general that open and open source products are taking over markets once only claimed by expensive software or hardware. Just look at Linux, or embedded boards, and stuff like that. Now all being replaced by open source stuff. So with time HxC has a great potential of eventually taking over EMUFDD. Because they don’t care they won’t get as much exposure in the world as HxC does and eventually they will be pushed out. It’s just a nature of how things work 🙂

  3. « After all we should not forget what I said many times on this and other forums: everything started because of the CNC machines. Nobody cared to build an emulator for synths or even computers in the first place. The fact that we use those emulators for other purposes than intended is simply a side-effect. »

    This is not true.

    A device called HDM-UNIFLASH is available since before 2004 (2001?) for keyboards/synths.
    The SVD is available since 2004 (maybe before): http://www.thesvd.com
    the “Megadrive” was made in 2005/2006 : http://www.sensi.org/~tnt23/megadrive/
    After this the HxC Floppy Emulator (2006)

    As you can see these emulators was designed for old/”retro” computers / keyboards/musician, before that the “cnc market” exist.
    The chinese floppy emulator are available since 2006/2007 as far as i can remember. (widely available on ebay since 2008)
    Most of others floppy emulators was developped later and available since 2009/2010… So this time the copycat is not the chinese floppy emulator 😉

    A floppy emulator is not a new invention, but since floppy disk and floppy disk drive are becoming harder and harder to find/replace, the market grow slowy but steady…until now. Hard to say how many time this will last.

    • and floppy drives equally made in such slave factories are a-ok?

      what is the larger agenda you are trying to push?

      step away from the floppy disks from the 1980s and hit me with your best shot.

    • @EMUFDD : Are you sure that you read me correctly ? :

      I didn’t want to say “we are competitors”. For sure there are probably more emufdd in factory than hxc today… isn’t it ?

      Anyway it’s shame that that you take it like this.

      jf

    • Allright i agree.
      I didn’t talk at all about the emufdd so i don’t understand why you got so much troubles…
      … anyway peace, there is space for everyone 🙂

      jf

      • He’s just insecure about anyone talking about this ‘military death machine’ anywhere, obviously. And clearly he’s never read anything about my site before as he’d know that an Amiga and a 286 is not a baby mulching device.

        Part of me wants to delete all of his comments, and the other half wants to let it stand so people can see just how off base this guy is.

  4. Have you guys try to replace a 3.5 flopy with an GOTEK USB emulator on a prototrak milling machine made by S. W. I.(Southwest Industries)?
    No luck for me.
    John

    • On industrial machinery you can safely use only the EMUFDD professional emulator. Contact them at their official website. EMUFDD is provided as “all-inclusive” solution, with full help to configure, digitalize, virtualize anything you need.

  5. Here floppy emulator:

    http://www.floppydrive.eu/

    Special for industry,
    This floppy emulator having no any protrusion components like USB memory stick
    from front panel, what can make impossible installation and use china type
    floppy emulators in industry equipment.
    Often industry machines having special spring loaded hatch directly over
    front of FDD and this making USB type floppy emulators impossible for use.

    Our floppy emulator not needed special batch converter and is more simply for use.
    And no any jumper at all.
    This emulator is the easiest what can be made.

    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCirwbNnuo4c2Qep_qvPvUGw/videos
    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_vY4bpVz8wEre-gF6mrV5w/videos

    http://www.floppydrive.eu/

    All floppy signals are implemented, support CP/M and IBM.
    Emulator not having any jumper.

  6. Well OF COURSE the link provided by EMUFDD rubbishes their competition! Would you really expect them to say otherwise? Or accept that, certainly for certain uses, a device costing vastly less than their own would be perfectly OK? The Gotek has its flaws, but there are actually several open source projects around now to produce better firmware for it, and the use of an STM32 (ARM Cortex-M) means that potentially there’s a lot the Gotek could do.

    • Here are some ugly but serviceable Windows batch files I threw together for extracting the floppy drive images from a USB stick image and writing them back again. This allows you to access slot 100+ on the 3 digit models without having to remove the emulator from the machine. Credit goes to Gough Lui for working out this was possible!
      See https://github.com/xtcrefugee/gotek-usb-batch-files

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.