RETRO Innovations

ZoomFloppy Production Started

by on Dec.16, 2010, under Hardware Design, Storefront

ZoomFloppy PCB (Assembled)

ZoomFloppy PCB (Assembled)

Although parts were delayed due to a Blizzard in the Midwest this past weekend, I was able to construct ZoomFloppy #1 Monday night.  Though one hopes for first attempt success, that is not often the case.  It was indeed not the case for this construction.

When I designed the board, I knew the 0402-sized surface mount components were small, 1/4 the size of the 0804-sized components I normally utilize for SMT designs.  Still, it’s a bit academic until one actually tries to solder the parts.  At a size that is seems near my eye’s minimum ability to resolve details, the components truly tested my soldering abilities.  For comparison, my finest iron tip is 1/32″, and the parts were about the same size as the tip.  Still, I was able to place each component on the board.

When first powering up the unit, it did register as a USB device, and I was quickly able to load the required firmware.  However, upon re-insertion, the unit registered as “xum1541 (ZOOMFLOPPY)” and demanded USB drivers I did not have.  Since it was late, I left the project at that point and solicited help from Nate (the project designer) and others.

Tuesday night, I had learned what version of OpenCBM to load on the PC, the correct USB drivers had been sent to me in a ZIP file, and progress was made.  The correct drivers were loaded, and OpenCBM commands were issues to the device.

Sadly, initial tests failed.  Before assuming the worst, I checked all solder joints, and measured impedences, on the assumption I had soldered a component incorrectly.  During the inspection, I noticed two resistors attached to the IEC lines were shorted to each other, thus effectively shorting the IEC lines together.  After resolving that issue, the unit successfully passed the tests by transferring data from the drive ROM to the PC.

With no need to spin a new PCB, I released the 98 first batch units to production and ordered the required parts for assembly.  The plan is to quickly assemble 25 units and potentially ship before end of year, with the rest coming quickly in January.  Since the 2×8 header X3 was nominal in cost, I ordered it for inclusion in assembly.

Sale price target is $35.00, and I will add a pre-order option in the store shortly. Given the ease of installation and configuration, I predict significant sales.  This device eliminates the need to fiddle with parallel port settings, trying to remember a myriad of differently lettered adapters, and a need to maintain older systems with legacy ports for disk access purposes.

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