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uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:01 pm
by tormod
uDW /old Welsh/ ['judiwi] ('you-dee-wee): Stand-alone DriveWire server for Dragon using SD card mass storage

"What does your Dragon want for Christmas? - A new best friend?"
uDW in action. The microSD card is inserted at the front. Production batch in progress can be spotted on top of the Dragon.
udwanddragon.jpg (104.81 KiB) Viewed 4372 times
The uDW is a complete DriveWire server in a small box (10x5x3 cm). It innocently looks like a slightly larger DriveWire adapter but instead provides the Dragon with its own stand-alone mass-storage solution. Just plug the uDW into the Dragon printer port and use it with HDB-DOS, NitrOS-9 or DWLOAD. No more need for a PC.

The uDW is fully powered by the Dragon, just plug in and play. It starts up faster than the Dragon can say "color basic" and is ready to serve immediately.

The uDW has a slot for a standard micro-SD/SDHC card, up to 32GB.

Of course, all DWLOAD dweebs run great on the uDW, and even a bit better than on the DriveWire4 PC-based server. Saving files to uDW is straight-forward using "SAVE" and "RESAVE", and there is no need for padding files. Using Pere's VDK dweebs you can copy Dragon DOS VDK images to the SD card and access their contents from BASIC. When using HDB-DOS and NitrOS-9 it acts as an enormous multi-floppy or hard drive.

In addition to file storage, the uDW also has a battery-powered real-time clock (RTC) to keep track of time. The RTC uses a Seiko Epson crystal. Your Dragon's own clock, hand-made in Switzerland :D

The uDW comes with an 8-page booklet manual, in retro-style and rich with technical details.

The firmware can be upgraded to add more features. The firmware source code will be open-source. Internally the uDW runs an STM32 microcontroller. For hardware hackers, there are also some interesting possibilities for add-ons.

I have been busy with prototyping and testing since several months (thanks to Ken and Pere for testing early prototypes), and am now doing a first production run, just in time for the retro peak season of Christmas :) If I get some more quality time with the soldering iron in the weekend I can start shipping next week. It looks like I can make 10 of these this year.

The sales price is 50 USD. Shipping is 12 USD for economy to Europe, optionally +10 USD for registered priority mail, rest of the world 14 USD (+14 USD). Note that SD card and CR2032 battery for the RTC are not included. I can add a Kingston 8GB micro-SDHC for 5 USD, including SD adapter.

As usual send your requests and negotiations to:
My "biz" e-mail address.
dragon-tormod-email.png (2.78 KiB) Viewed 4372 times

Re: uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:56 pm
by sorchard
I think I know what I'm getting for xmas now :D

A couple of questions that might be of interest to others:

- Is the manual and source available online now?
- Is the firmware upgradeable via USB bootload or will I need a special programmer?

Awesome idea by the way. You beat me to it!

Re: uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:38 am
by tormod
Yes, it can be upgraded via USB (standard Device Firmware Upgrade interface). It has a mini-USB socket above the micro-SD slot.

I was thinking of prettifying the code a bit more before sharing it all over, but depending on the interest I can hand out sneak peeks. The same goes for the manual, I will post at least parts of it soon.

Re: uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 3:55 pm
by jedie
Nice, all-in-one Box ;)

I had the idea to put the server on a Raspberry Pi...

What Board do you use?
tormod wrote:The firmware source code will be open-source.
Release early, release often :D

Re: uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:48 pm
by tormod
The Rpi is a separate, full computer, although a small one. That's no fun, is it ;)

The uDW consumes a mere 30 mA (with LEDs off) so it is comfortably living off the printer port. And it boots up in no time at all, it actually sleeps for a hundred milliseconds first because the Dragon port is a bit noisy after power-on. And some people will appreciate that it has less RAM than a Dragon 32 :) It is the Dragon's little slave.

Re: uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:55 pm
by tormod
Here is a preview of the manual. The printed owner's manual will have a bit more detail, especially on the internals and extension connectors.

As for using the uDW, it is as simple as:
  • Plug it into the Dragon printer port
  • Insert the SD card (with your files and disk images)
  • Turn on the Dragon and have fun with your virtual disk drives

Re: uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:49 am
by jedie
tormod wrote:the Dragon port is a bit noisy after power-on.
Yes, i have seen "unknown Requests" in my server implementation, because of this :D

Re: uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:33 pm
by Alastair
tormod wrote:Here is a preview of the manual.
A cursory scan of the preview manual reveals two page 8s, with the second page 8 repeating the text of earlier pages.

Re: uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 9:56 pm
by tormod
Thanks. I had patched PDF's to update one page, but had included the old page too.

Re: uDW - the DriveWire microserver

Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 11:25 pm
by sorchard
I bought myself a uDW for Christmas and I'm really pleased with it. It's well made and works very reliably.

It's also obvious that Tormod is doing this as a favour and isn't making any real money out of this. If you add up the cost of a Maple Mini, custom PCB, misc components and enclosure, there isn't much left over from $50.

To get the full benefit you need to have the DWLOAD ROM installed in the Dragon which is what I've done with my D64. There is provision on the uDW PCB for a cassette/audio output so I can imagine various options appearing in the future to pipe software into stock Dragons. I'm hoping to start playing around with the firmware myself to see what I can come up with.

All in all a terrific little gadget for the Dragon with lots of potential for future expansion.