A Quick Look at the CFFA3000

November 9, 2011

Well on friday my CFFA3000 cards turned up :).  Now for anyone who hasn’t been aware of these cards the official site is http://tinyurl.com/3cmqb. Rich has been producing the CFFA (in a few revisions) since 2002 and I have several of his existing cards. The original CFFA 1.2/1.3 and the 2.0 allowed a Apple II user to use an normal IDE HD or a CF Card to act as a HD to the host machine (utilising several 32mb partitions as well as 2 x 1GB with a driver). Now there are other cards similar to the CFFA i.e MicroDrive, but Rich with its primary focus on CF and pricing made the CFFA more attractive to me at the time ($99). This provided a whole new way to use my GS and using Ciderpress (http://ciderpress.sourceforge.net/)  for Windows allowed me to backup and convert my real GS to 2mg files for use in emulators.

In 2009 Rich announced the new CFFA, and when he announced what he was trying to do with this card I knew I would have to get one. The card has surpassed what i was expecting. This new revision is extremely well polished, with a nicely featured and easy to use boot menu that is also accessible via control panel, and bridges the gap between real GS and the emulator world. Unlike the previous cards the new one has removed the IDE connector and its been replaced with a USB port.

In a nutshell the CFFA3000 lets you use pretty much any disk image in an Apple II as well as still supporting the raw partitions from previous CFFA cards. The card can be configured to offer both SmartPort Devices as well as a virtual Disk II. As a test I took my existing CF that had 6 RAW Partitions which contains 4 x 32MB (Prodos) and 2 x 1GB (HFS). I then used Ciderpress to make 6 image files (2mg) and copied them onto a FAT32 formatted 4GB CF  (can be FAT16 as well, but not FAT12 or NTFS). Using the boot menu i assigned each image to a SmartPort and the system booted exactly like my original CF, but now with more flexibility :).

Doing so uses up the physical slot of the card itself as well as another slot virtually (must not contain another card, well one that interacts with the bus for example my TDX sound card would be fine as that uses the slot only for power).

Another thing that is great to see on the card is that both  CF and USB are  hot pluggable and the card will detect and refresh the contents in the menu system. A double beep will notify you that the card has detected new media (On boot with both USB and CF you should hear a double double beep).

Some screen shots below of the menu system accessible by pressing “m” on startup of via the desk accessory. On disk assignment screens pressing space bar will flip between USB and CF listings. Also you can assign more than the standard 6 SmartPorts and you will see these in GS/OS.

You will notice in the pictures an accessory that Rich is also selling called the CFFA3000 Remote & Cable . I have yet to use this as haven’t play much with the Disk II support, mainly as my GS is full of cards. The board has two push switches that correspond to Disk 1 and Disk 2 and it can be used to toggle through sets of disk images.

Basically if you haven’t bought one of these yet then you need to get yourself on the list for the 2nd batch :). Contact Rich via http://shop.dreher.net/