for Latest News see end
Arcimage is a DOS based programme written by Jasper Renow-Clarke which allows reading from and writing to Acorn format 800kD and 800kE discs on a PC in the form of disk images on the PC's Hard drive. Version 1.2 modified by Tom Humphrey also allows reading and writing of 1.6Mb F discs. This version is experimental and therefore could cause problems but I think it is worth making available. Both versions are stand alone programmes but are intended to be used in conjunction with the PC based Acorn Emulators Archie, Red Squirrel and Virtual A5000. The programme works with many of the emulated DOS versions supplied with Windows, check the Compatibility List at the end.
The reason for writing these notes is that I had a great struggle getting the programme to do anything! When I started writing this page I had had no contact with anyone else (other than another user who was struggling like me!) but I have now heard from the authors and have obtained some more details and files which can be downloaded from the links below.
Obtaining and installing
Arcimage can be downloaded as a zip file from the Archie Website but even here I had a problem, on an Acorn RiscPC running Termite the file refused to download (Termite just displaying an ü ), a Pentium 450 running Explorer also failed, insisting the page did not exist. The only success was back on the RiscPC running Webster XL. So I have put copies here, supplied by Jasper :-
Arcimage V1.1, Pascal Source Code arcimg.pas (12k)
Arcimage V1.1, Ready to go arcimg.exe (10k)
Arcimage V1.1, "Read Me" file readme.txt (2k)
Arcimage V1.1, All the above files, zipped arcimg.zip (19k)
And also Arcimage V1.2 from Tom Humphrey.
Arcimage V1.2 Ready to go arcimg.exe (15k)
Arcimage V1.2 "Read Me" file readme.txt (5k)
Arcimage V1.2 All the version 1.2 files, zipped arcimg.zip (16k)
Once you have the programme you need to find a home for it, I created a directory on the C: drive called Acorn (where I keep my Red Squirrel bits) and put a further directory inside it called Floppyimgs and put arcimg.exe inside it, but of course the choice is yours. I have assumed this arrangement in my examples. If you have the zipped version it will of course have to be unzipped with Winzip or the like. It can also be unzipped on an Acorn with !Spark or !Sparkplug and then transferred across on a 1.44Mb floppy, but watchout the file name doesn't get shortened in the process; if it does rename it to arcimg.exe when it is in position on the PC.
Using Arcimage to read a floppy
OK you've got Arcimg ready to go - what's next, as it's a .exe (executable) its tempting to click on it but this is not very useful, it brings up a DOS window with the basic syntax for operation, if you attempt to click into it Windows will tell you the DOS programme has finished. The correct procedure is to run it from the MS DOS Prompt (Start - Programs - MS DOS Prompt). This brings you onto the C: drive in the windows directory, go back to the root (cd\ <return>) now into the Floppyimg directory (cd Acorn\Floppyimg <return>). Now you are ready, insert the 800k (or 1.6Mb if you have the latest version) Acorn floppy in the PC - you now need to think of a filename for the floppy image, the choice is yours but keep it down to 8 characters or less, assume for the sake of example you decide to call the image "blocks". At the DOS prompt type :-
arcimg blocks /read (return)
The programme will announce itself then say it is reading the image "blocks", It will then start reading the entire disk, as it does it will show the track it is reading from 0 to 79 (for those of us old enough to remember the BBC B and it's formatter for 5.25" 100k disks there is a distinct feeling of deja-vu!!). The programme will then say it has finished reading the disk and return to the DOS Prompt.
WARNING, if you are using High Density (HD) floppy disks (indicated by a hole through the disk on the opposite side to the write protect slide) formatted to 800k you MUST cover the hole with a piece of tape or bit of disk label etc. before inserting it in the PC, otherwise the drive will insist on trying to read it as an HD Disk and it will fail. Acorn machines ignore this hole and make their judgement as to which kind of disk it is entirely by the data on the disk. (see note at end of page about using HD floppies). 1.6 Mb floppies must of course have this hole uncovered.
You should now have a new file called blocks in the floppyimg directory which will be 800k (819200 bytes) or 1.6Mb (1638400 bytes). It is important to understand this is not just a copy of the files on the disk but the entire surface including the blank space and the filing information; hence the file size and indeed the time taken to copy the disk is the same irrespective of whether the disk is nearly full or blank.
Using an image with Red Squirrel
I have not tried the "Archie" emulator so my comments are only for "Red Squirrel". With Red Squirrel running click the Windows mouse pointer on the floppy icon (thats the blue Windows one at the top, NOT the Acorn :0 on the Icon bar). In the window (labelled Open) step up the directories till you get to the C: drive then select the Acorn directory then Floppyimg, the "blocks" file (together with any other images you may have transferred) will be displayed. Click on blocks to select it then click on the "Open" button. The blocks image is now selected as "the floppy disk in the drive" as seen by Red Squirrel. Now you can use the blue Acorn mouse pointer to click on the Acorn :0 floppy icon . Whatever was on the floppy disk will now be displayed in the usual Acorn way. All the normal filer operations can be carried out i.e. you can run programmes straight from the floppy, transfer files to the hard drive, delete things, and perhaps most importantly save items back onto the image file. Having saved items in this way you may now need to transfer them back to a real floppy so they can be used elsewhere.
Writing an image back to a floppy disk
The process is broadly the same as for reading, the first thing to note is that it is probably best to shut down the Red Squirrel emulator during this process since it may otherwise be holding the floppy image file open thus causing arcimage to fail with unclear error messages. Assume you wish to write the now modified file blocks back to a floppy. Put an 800k or 1.6Mb floppy in the drive, it should be of the same type (D or E or F format) as the image you are planning to copy. At the DOS prompt type :-
arcimg blocks /write
As before the programme will announce itself, announce the filename then commence to write track by track. When the transfer is complete the programme will announce it then return to the DOS prompt. Note that although the disc in the drive must be of the right format it need not be blank, since the writing process will overwrite the information on the disk.
These can only be read by the latest version (1.2), if you need to use them download it. Note that in this case it is essential that you DO NOT cover the HD ident hole!
Version 1.2 should allow the formatting of 800k and 1.6Mb discs. I have found it will not work on my PC but this may be a machine/drive specific problem so if you are prepared to experiment please do so and let me or the author know how you get on. The theory is that the PC should do the basic formatting of an Acorn disc, less the filing information. To complete the procedure you need to write a disc image to the disc. It is for this reason you do not need to specify D or E format for an 800k format as the the number of tracks and sectors is the same for both formats, the final format of the disc being determined by which sort of disc image is written to it. I have found the basic format seems to work but when you attempt to write a disc image Arcimage errors with red track numbers and the resulting disc is unreadable. The formatting commands are :-
For 800k arcimg /format800
For 1.6Mb arcimg /format1600
As this is a beta version the author is still very much experimenting!
If the disk is faulty or if you have neglegted to cover the HD hole Arcimage will stagger, disk track numbers will be missed and may be displayed in red, there is no point in continuing. The programme should terminate if you strike any key. If there are problems I have found Arcimage tends to leave the floppy drive running (I once left the drive running for over an hour before I noticed the drive light was still on!). My "way out" for this is to put a 1.44mb floppy in the drive and click on the usual A: drive Windows icon which re-establishes control of the drive. Jasper is looking into this.
Using HD disks at 800k
I was once told by someone who should know that it it poor practice to use HD disks at a lower density, apparently the magnetic material on an HD disk is different and a lower density disk drive will not be able to magnetise it properly, hence although it will probably be sufficient to work it is liable to degrade with time and disk errors will appear. So the rule seems to be - you will probably be fine using disks in this way for transfer but don't archive stuff this way in the long term.
I have tried or had reports that Arcimage works fine with the DOS emulations provided with :-
Windows 98 SE (Second Edition)
Windows ME (Millenium Edition)
However it does NOT WORK with the following :-
Windows XP (but see Latest News)
The author of V1.2 Tom Humphrey has confirmed this is the case and that it is due to the limited hardware access given by the DOS emulations provided with these versions of Windows and asked that this info be provided so that people do not struggle hopelessly if the operating system wont run it! Tom does say he will attempt a full 32 bit re-write of the software which should solve the problems, but sadly he cannot do so at the moment. As soon as I have a new version I will make it available.
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I hope this page will have been of use to people trying to use Arcimage, please let me know of your thoughts.
And of course the authors are also interested in feedback :-
Jasper Renow-Clarke email@example.com
Tom Humphrey firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Scott 25th May 2002
Latest News 11/03/2006
There have not been any changes to Arcimage since this original webpage was published, no rewrites or updates! This is mainly due to the fact that the main Acorn emulator is now the commercial version of Red Squirrel called Virtual RISC PC, this allows direct reading of floppy discs from the emulator when it is running under XP. But I have been informed there is a freeware DOS emulator for XP called DOSbox which will run Arcimage. DOSbox is obtainable from :-