I've recently found a number of my own programs (very old!) on Spectrum +3 discs, and I'm about to get hold of a working +3. Assuming the discs are readable, I'd like to transfer the programs (mostly basic, some machine code) into something I can back-up and play with - ideally .TAP etc.

I presume I could load them into the +3 file by file and save them to real tape, and then audio-grab the tape and turn into .TAP via an emulator or utility - but it seems a bit long winded. Is there an easier way that I'm completely overlooking?

For reference, there are at best 4 sides full of data, so can't really be more than about 680Kb maximum spread over perhaps 50 or 60 files.

[Edit:outcome] I got a 3.5" floppy working, with a doctored IDE-type cable, and I used SpeccyTape on the iPhone to transfer Garry Lancaster's various disk utilities down onto a +3 disk. From there I was able to format some +3-format and MSDOS format disks and transfer/backup and otherwise just 'use' my disks. Great stuff. Happy to help anyone else who wanders this way, although there is plenty of help already out there.

  • You could bypass the tape and directly record to your PC. – Rico Pajarola Jul 28 '16 at 21:50
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    Welcome to Retrocomputing. It's good to see another Spectrum user on the site. – wizzwizz4 Jul 29 '16 at 12:14
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    Please don't edit answers into the question. If you wish to post your result as a new answer then feel free to do so. – Chenmunka Aug 2 '16 at 8:27

I once wrote a program for this sort of situation: DSKREAD. It runs on a +3 and archives entire disks to tape. You could record the audio, convert to a .TAP file, and then load the .TAP in a +3 emulator to recreate .DSK images containing the original files.

As far as I know, no-one's tested DSKREAD on a real +3, so I've no idea whether it would actually work. It certainly can't handle any form of copy protection, and I think bad sectors might give it trouble.

If your PC has a real floppy controller (ie, a 34-way floppy connector on the motherboard, not a USB drive), you could also try either:

  • Connect the Spectrum's 3" drive to the PC's floppy controller, using a handwired cable. Then use a tool like SamDisk to image the discs directly.

  • Connect a 3.5" drive to the +3's external drive socket (You may need to short the READY pin to ground, if the 3.5" drive doesn't produce a READY signal). Use the COPY command on the +3 to copy all the files to the 3.5" drive. Then put the 3.5" drive in the PC and do the same imaging process.

  • Thanks @john_e - your final point has got me interested, I've had something similar working once before with a 3.5" floppy out the back of another +3. I think we had to format the disks on a real PC first, but eventually it kind of worked. The things I mostly recall are - a) the floppy light was always on & there was some issue about whether or not we were reading from the right 'side' of the disk, and b) every so often the +3 would complain about an address missing (?) during a file copy - some would seem to work, some not. I was left with the clear impression we were doing something wrong! – robsoft Jul 29 '16 at 13:03
  • I've added a link to a blog going into more detail about connecting a 3.5" drive to a +3 -- the writer seems to have found it straightforward. – john_e Jul 29 '16 at 18:40
  • Cheers John - as soon as the +3 is here and working, I'll give that a go. Thanks! – robsoft Jul 30 '16 at 7:59

One solution is to plug an HxC floppy emulator into the external floppy port and do a simple disk copy to an image on the SD card.

  • Hmmm - I've got a Gotek-type 720Kb unit, I've used that with the QL (without much success so far but I think the problem is between the chair and the keyboard if you see what I mean). I could give that a go, thanks! – robsoft Jul 29 '16 at 12:58

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