Update 2021-10-13: Seems like I was running an ancient version of the HxC software when this was written. Also the HxC on Gotek now has some new exciting features, like like a virtual USB stick accessible via Wi-Fi! The post has been updated to reflect the current statuses of the products.
I have decided to replace the HxC I installed five years ago with a Gotek.
If you want to install a Gotek in your EII, go to this post and see how I did all the cabling and mounted a 5.25” adapter. Pretend that the HxC is a Gotek, then use the installation instructions and configuration from this post!
I decided to replace the HxC Floppy Emulator with a Gotek Floppy Emulator running FlashFloppy! The primary reason was that I needed the HxC’s more advanced jumper settings in another project. It has been rock solid so far. After the swap was done, I realized the Gotek was a great replacement and actually suited me and the EII better. More on that later…
About the Gotek
A stock Gotek only emulates a PC floppy. By flashing it with a custom firmware like FlashFloppy or HxC, it can support other formats. The Gotek is also easy to mod with an OLED display and potentiometer! It’s available on eBay or in stores that sell stuff for vintage computers.
Yes, the HxC was originally a custom hardware floppy emulator running the HxC firmware (doh). That firmware has since been ported to work on Gotek, that’s why a Gotek can run HxC. So the HxC software nowadays works on non HxC hardware as well.
I bought mine from Amiga Kit in the UK, but there are other vendors. I added the optional OLED display and potentiometer options. Those two mods are a must! There’s also a speaker mod available, but I skipped that – when it comes to sound – only the real deal is good enough!
It came pre-flashed with FlashFloppy 2.13. I recommend buying a pre-flashed Gotek unless you really want to flash it via serial yourself. As soon as the Gotek has the FlashFloppy firmware, it can be updated with USB.
It’s as simple as installing an HxC. A tip for opening up the EII, is to place it on two boxes like I did. This gives access to the screws on the bottom.
The Gotek fits perfectly in the adapter (no new holes had to be drilled, like I had to on the HxC).
The jumper was set to S0 equivalent to the HxC’s ID0A.
When I researched EII + Gotek + FlashFloppy, I was worried that it wouldn’t work when I found this issue. It seemed like the issues has been resolved though. I got the config from the same thread, FF.CFG.zip
Below is a condensed version to show the settings that I use:
## FF.CFG: Example FlashFloppy Configuration File interface = jc host = unspecified pin02 = auto pin34 = auto write-protect = no side-select-glitch-filter = 0 track-change = instant index-suppression = yes ejected-on-startup = no image-on-startup = last display-probe-ms = 3000 autoselect-file-secs = 2 autoselect-folder-secs = 2 nav-mode = default nav-loop = yes twobutton-action = zero rotary = full display-type = auto oled-font = 8x16 display-off-secs = 60 display-on-activity = yes display-scroll-rate = 200 display-scroll-pause = 2000 nav-scroll-rate = 80 nav-scroll-pause = 300 step-volume = 10 da-report-version = "" extend-image = yes
I haven’t checked if the secondary 5.25” drive still works, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t. To be honest, I don’t remember if I checked if it worked with the HxC.
Gotek FlashFloppy Firmware update to 2.14
During the installation/testing I used a semi-old SanDisk Cruzer 8GB USB 2 stick. It did however stick out a bit too much, so I got a SanDisk Ultra Fit 16GB USB 3.1 instead, that is way more compact. Unfortunately the Gotek didn’t seem to discover the Ultra Fit stick.
A quick browse of the FlashFloppy changelog revealed that problems with Ultra Fit sticks were fixed in 2.14, so I took good old Cruzer stick and updated the Gotek from 2.13 to 2.14. After the quick update, the Ultra Fit was recognized.
Conclusions – pros and cons – updated 2021
Both the Gotek and the HxC has their pros and cons. With the latest HxC on Gotek development I think it’s a draw, software wise.
Hardware wise, we have a winner, and that’s the Gotek. The Gotek has none of the annoyances I had with original HxC hardware – particularly the screen and somewhat the awkward navigation – but this is of course after you have upgraded the Gotek – a vanilla Gotek is not that fun…
The OLED screen is fantastic – clear and redraws quickly! Smaller than the HxC, but that’s not a problem to me. It’s also a lot easier to see what’s a file and what’s a directory. Also, unsupported files and system files, like .DS_Store and Thumbs.db from the computer, are not displayed (though this “bug” was apparently fixed ages ago and is not a problem anymore)!
Combining the OLED with the potentiometer makes navigation quick. Another thing that’s quicker, is the fact that it’s a USB pen drive and not SD card – I no more need to find that SD card reader. One could have objections to the fact that the pen drive sticks out a bit, but there are very compact models available, if sticking out is a problem.
The FlashFloppy configuration is file based, just edit the FF.CFG file in your favorite editor (mine is VS Code). HxC’s config file is binary and must be edited with the HxC Java software. Both have pros and cons, manually editing a config always has the risk of messing anything up. A dedicated software will help you avoid such mistakes.
Another thing – HxC is really mature by now, but it also costs money. FlashFloppy seems to work just as well for the EII, and it’s free!
But given the new Wi-Fi features of the HxC on Gotek, I’m really tempted to give it a try!
Here’s a summary of the pros of each floppy emulator.
HxC (rev F)
+ SD card doesn’t stick out
+ Large screen (but not as good screen quality)
+ More hardware jumpers (needed for some hardware)
+ Made in EU
Gotek with FlashFloppy
+ USB stick doesn’t require SD card reader in computer
+ Cheaper hardware
+ Much clearer (but smaller) screen
+ Faster navigation with potentiometer
+ Open source and free
+ Config can be done in a text editor
Gotek with HxC
+ Same hardware pros as above
+ Wi-Fi access to virtual USB stick (needs a Raspberry Pi Zero W)