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Using an Iomega 100 Mb ZIP drive on any PC XT like an Amstrad PC 1512/1640 or a PPC


You are the happy owner of an Amstrad PC 1512, 1640 or a portable PPC 512/640 (or another Amstrad XT model) but are lacking a hard disk, so you are limited to slow floppy drives, either a 360 Kb 5,25 or 720 Kb 3,5 inch floppy drives. Of course for older PC it's easy to use an 100 Mb Iomega ZIP drive (parallel, SCSI or IDE) but the official driver is using an instruction only available on an Intel 80186 (seldom seen) or a Nec V20/V30 processor (stated on wikipedia). The PPC 512/640 has a V30 but the official driver uses a lot of memory and needs msdos v4.0+ instead of msdos 3.3 on the PPC or v3.2 on PC 1512 (also 1640 ?).

Well, there is another solution for using a parallel ZIP drive (not the Plus version which also features SCSI), it's using PalmZIP by Klaus PEICHL which works with msdos 2.0+, even with a 8086, uses much less memory. The only limitation is using three 32 Mb partition (C:, D: and E:) if you are using msdos 2 or 3, with msdos 4 you can use the full 100 Mb with only one partition (but disks accesses will be a little bit slower). It's a shareware, you can test it for 7 minutes for free to check that it is working for you. If it is the case you will have to pay only 8 euros. I did it two days ago, five hours later I received a zip file by email with the registered version ! Yesterday I bought a ZIP drive and I was able to test it during the night. Happily I still had some ZIP disks I was using years ago and that I kept through several house moves.

Using the driver is simple, just add in your config.sys the following line :

device=palmzip.sys /c

/c is for loading the driver only if it is connected, though the driver is only 3 Kb. They are other options so I recommend to read the included documentation (english and german). You can use the /f option to treat the zip as a fixed disk for faster operation but then the zip disk must not be removed unless using the zipman utility.

Zipman must be used if you are using msdos 2 or 3 to format three partitions of 32 Mb each (FAT12 or FAT16), or an usual 96 Mb partition if you are using msdos 4 or above. Zipcopy is another utility for copying complete partitions within a disk. The partition assigned to the destination drive will be overwritten. The last utility is lpr_test which is designed to check if your parallel port(s) supports the bidirectional data transfer mode. The PalmZIP device driver runs a similar test to determine the correct mode of operation.

You can see a youtube video by Retro Erik using the PalmZIP driver on an Amstrad PPC 512. You should check his youtube channel as he has several videos about Amstrad PC computers.

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