Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ensonic EPS disk drive Replacement with HXC floppy emulator, no sound output on EPS

This post will deal with the replacement of 2 floppy disk drives with SD card "floppy emulators"; devices which allow the substitution of an SD card (or USB memory stick) for a floppy disk

.Among the many models out there, I used the floppy drive emulators from HXC. These come with excellent documentation and support, unlike some other emulators I have purchased form EBAY. I was also able to ascertain beforehand that they work on the EPS.

To save on cost, I used the slim model (less bells and whistles), and ordered simply the circuit board, not the enclosure. This made it necessary to fabricate a mounting scheme from wood and a brass plate... the result was actually appealing and kept the job under 200.00 per keyboard, parts and labor included. For a better aesthetic appearance, the supplier also sells a fabricated enclosure which probably would make the repair look less like a mod. But in this case, we wanted to keep costs down.


Incidentally, I have also purchased standard floppy drives and retrofitted them to the EPS and other Ensonic Models; I documented that on a previous blog post . These units used the older "shugart" interface, and require some pins redirected when attaching a PC style floppy drive.

But floppy drives and disks are getting rarer and harder to find. In general, I avoid installing them nowadays, in favor of the emulators.

If you look up HXC floppy emulators on the internet, you will find all the information you need in terms of ordering one and setting it up. The trick is knowing how to create disk images from your floppy disks, and how to format and put them onto the SD card.

You need to install a special driver on the PC you are using to read from the floppy disk, not the standard windows floppy disk driver. You then need to use software to convert the disk to the HFE format. You then need to copy this HFE image file to your SD card, and rename it DSKA0000.HFE . or DSKA0001.HFE,,,, you can put tons of images on the SD card but they all have to be named sequentially starting at 0 with the convention I just illustrated (DSKAxxxx.hfe), and they all have to have the .hfe extension. You also need to have a .cfg file on the SD card, the right one for the EPS, at all times. You can only put the images on the root of the SD card, along with the cfg file.

But once you jump through all these hoops,  it truly works great in the end!

The only other issues with these EPS's was that the memory expander card needed to be removed, all the contacts cleaned, and then reseated. Issues with this card were causing there to be no sound output whatsoever on the unit.

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