IECHost: GUI client revision 2.0-alpha binaries available

As anticipated in my previous post, here are “alpha” binaries of the IECHost GUI client for Windows and Linux. Although these are release candidate versions and the ones I will support moving forward, bear in mind these are only meant for preview/early testing purposes.

IECHost GUI client 2.0-alpha for Linux 64-bit

GTK+ 2.24.31 runtime installer for Windows
IECHost multi-threaded GUI client 2.0-alpha for Windows

Enjoy!

IECHost GUI client 2.0 running under Xubuntu Linux by Luigi Di Fraia

IECHost GUI client 2.0 running under Xubuntu Linux

IECHost GUI client 2.0 running under Windows 10 by Luigi Di Fraia

IECHost GUI client 2.0 running under Windows 10

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IECHost: library integration completed

This evening I managed to complete the integration of my client libraries for USB serial communication into the GUI client for IECHost.

Over the weekend I will probably make “alpha” binaries available for both Windows and Linux users. In fact, I am able to support both platforms once again, thanks to the OS-agnostic design of my libraries.

IECHost GUI client 2.0 running under Xubuntu Linux by Luigi Di Fraia

IECHost GUI client 2.0 running under Xubuntu Linux

I will probably postpone exposing the timeout mechanism that is implemented by my libraries until I’ve done some refactoring of the code and until I’ve added a number of controls in the GUI application for:

  • initializing the drive, via “I0”
  • sending custom commands to the drive (not entirely sure about this one as it can have bad consequences for inexperienced users)
  • formatting disks with “Format II”

Stay tuned!

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IECHost: GUI client with read retry for Warp disk dumping

I managed to do some testing with the new IECHost GUI client and I’m happy to share an “alpha” version with IECHost users. Download link here.
Bear in mind that not only I added a simple retry mechanism for sectors that were read with errors during the Warp disk dumping process, but I also rewrote part of the mechanism to draw the sector dashboard within the “Disk Imaging” tab. If you notice anything strange/unusual there, feel free to contact me.

I now plan to start some code refactoring in order to be able to leverage the libraries I wrote for use with my client applications, already at the core of iechost-utils. Such work will project the GUI application into revision 2.0, which I should be able to publish and fully support under Linux too.

Stay tuned!

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IECHost: read-retries for warp disk dumping being tested

First of all, thanks to Paul and Andy for taking the time to share their views on this rather important topic! Your feedback really motivates me to make this project better and better.

Now, I’ve had a deep thought about sector read retries and I suggest that we might want to take our views well in sight, but I’d rather implement all of this in stages, which enables us to clearly understand why things end up being implemented one way rather than another, backing each decision with field learnings.

I am testing the first stage/iteration, the one that does NOT even require a firmware update. It consists in re-reading sectors with a fast protocol if and only if 10 or less sectors were dumped with errors. Each sector is re-read only once, for now, just to rule out transient issues.
Bear in mind that when I refer to this read as “fast”, what I mean is that I run custom drive code that dumps GCR data and sends it back non-decoded using a “fast” 2-bit protocol over the IEC bus. I feel like the benefit of receiving GCR data at the client side is quite remarkable, but this is just a feeling so I envisage additional testing would be necessary to get a better perception of what’s really required in the field.

Having thought about the need to test with errors, I came to the conclusion that I do not really need errors for this testing. I mean, I don’t need to go through the process of creating errors on the physical medium: I can just fool the GUI client to think that the first 5 sectors it read failed the health check:

IECHost: testing sector read retries in case of sector errors by Luigi Di Fraia

IECHost: testing sector read retries in case of sector errors

These five sectors are then re-read, after the dumping process ends, with the current sector being retried shown as light-blue:

IECHost: testing sector read retries in case of sector errors

IECHost: testing sector read retries in case of sector errors

If the sector reads without errors upon a retry, then it becomes green, otherwise it goes back to red/yellow based on the nature of the read error upon retrying.
The log tab also provides extra information on the retry process:

================================
Imaging disk
Data checkbyte failed for t/s 1/20
Data checkbyte failed for t/s 1/2
Data checkbyte failed for t/s 1/5
Data checkbyte failed for t/s 1/8
Data checkbyte failed for t/s 1/11
Retrying t/s 1/20
Retrying t/s 1/2
Retrying t/s 1/5
Retrying t/s 1/8
Retrying t/s 1/11
Disk image saved to: D:\embedded\avr\new-projects\iec_host\disk-images\ANOTHER DEMO AT X2012-7.D64

I shall provide a beta version of the GUI client after I manage to do a further little change in this area, and subsequent testing.

Any thoughts on this stage/iteration? Feel free to comment!

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IECHost: new GUI client beta published

Version 1.16-beta of the IECHost GUI client was published within my Software page. This update incorporates just a few rationalizations of the messages that are displayed in the logging tab and in the status bar.

IECHost client running on Windows 10 by Luigi Di Fraia

IECHost client running on Windows 10

Enjoy!

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IECHost: iechost-utils update

This evening I decided to expose a further option in my iechost-utils client: execution of tasks with a selectable timeout (in seconds). Defaults are applied when no timeout value is provided, which were measured in the field.

Here’s the output from the current executable:

IECHost utilities, rel 1.3 - (C) 2018 Luigi Di Fraia
Communicate with an IECHost device to perform common tasks

Usage:
   iechost-utils.exe [options]  

Options:
   -d <drive number>: Select drive number (defaults to 8)
   -e: Escape control codes in directory listings
   -t <timeout>: Task execution timeout in seconds

Tasks:
   -c "<command>": Execute disk command
   -f: Fast format disk
   -i: Initialize disk
   -l: List disk directory
   -v: Validate disk

Examples:
   iechost-utils.exe -d 9 COM6

I’ll probably add file copy next, but we shall see.

Stay tuned!

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IECHost: updated firmware and iechost-utils client software

Today, along with some refactoring of the IECHost firmware, and subsequent regression testing, I also added an extra “task” to “iechost-utils” to run custom commands.

As I have recently timed “Format II” execution times, I thought to also time the standard format process for comparison and future web-search reference:

>iechost-utils.exe -c "N0:NEW DISK,02" COM9
IECHost utilities, rel 1.2 - (C) 2018 Luigi Di Fraia
Communicate with an IECHost device to perform common tasks

Executing... succeeded in 68.92 seconds

To double check the results I also went for:

>iechost-utils.exe -l COM9
IECHost utilities, rel 1.2 - (C) 2018 Luigi Di Fraia
Communicate with an IECHost device to perform common tasks

Fetching directory listing... succeeded in 1.47 seconds

0 {REVS ON}"NEW DISK        " 02 2A
664 BLOCKS FREE.

I am quite satisfied with these results 🙂

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