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USB mass storage breakthrough?

By Chris Williams. Published: 2nd Apr 2003, 04:21:53 | Permalink | Printable

Stuart Tyrrell Developments dancin' the night away

It would appear hardware company Stuart Tyrrell Developments have produced a suitable driver for a pocket USB based MP3 music player so that RISC OS users can transfer music to the device via a free USB socket and listen to their favourite tracks on the move. From the publicity photos, STD are using the Magic Star MP3 Player which contains 64MB of Flash memory to store files. Stored music can be later played back through headphones just like a portable CD player. How very cute.

The key thing to note is that the gadget can store any kind of file as STD have provided a full filing system for the device. This enables users to transfer files (and not just MP3 files) stored in the device between computers. Such a breakthrough implies STD have won the race, as it were, to bring USB based mass storage to RISC OS. Judging by the blurb on the central RISC OS USB site, it turns out Surftec (doing new secret stuff at the moment) were working on USB drivers for storage devices. Pipped at the post we think.

This more than mildly exciting point about mass storage was first spotted by iconbar.com who also highlighted the USB API rift within the RISC OS community.

The STD drivers for the pocket MP3 player are written for the Simtec USB solution which is no surprise as STD retail the Simtec USB podule to end users. The Simtec USB API (the interface used by programmers to talk to hardware) is different to the Castle USB API - thus STD's MP3 gadget will only work with RISC OS machines fitted with a Simtec USB podule leaving Iyonix users in the dark. Hey here's a thought, wouldn't it be nice if we all used the same API? In addition, Windows drivers are also supplied with the device.

STD courageously issued their press release on the 1st April which really threw us as no one announces real news on April Fools day, surely? Having confirmed the news with STD, Stuart himself commented to us, "It's a bit of fun - there's other devices on a similar vein in the pipework".

Now how's that for a tease?


USB MP3 player for RISC OS (prices, ordering info etc.)

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Regarding the issue of several APIs to contend with; could Iyonix users not just buy a Simtec USB podule?

The situation seems to be quite ridiculous.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 2/4/03 1:02PM
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I'm not sure if the Simtec stack is 32-bit compatible; certainly the mass storage drivers currently aren't, but they'd be easy to convert over.

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 2/4/03 1:16PM
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jonix: Indeed. On a platform such as RISC OS, having everyone pushing in roughly the same direction is important. The divergent USB situation needs attention so that effort isn't duplicated and everyone can benefit from the development of RISC OS USB drivers, no matter what USB solution we have in our machines.

 is a RISC OS Userape on 2/4/03 1:51PM
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ape: sigh - less rhetoric, and more action please. Castle "chose" their API precisely because it was the correct path for putting RISC OS 5 on Iyonix.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 2/4/03 1:54PM
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You can't deny the situation is ridiculous, mind you. No blame attached there, just fact.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 2/4/03 2:36PM
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The situation is slightly ridiculous, I have to admit, but we already have had some precedences:

There are several companies with their own "IDEFS" implemtentations, but because it's not at the same level as USB, (practically) no-one complains as long as their IDE drives work fine.

There were also several different MIDI implementations, not all of them cooperated nicely (certainly until MIDI v4).

There is also no widely supported sampler API (Acorn tried, and I believe ESP have also tried, but trying to get drivers for all sampler cards is impossible).

In fact, I can't think of any case where hardware from different vendors could be placed in the same machine and have the same software access them both - except for CDFS, and possibly SCSI. MIDI v4 should've been all right. The only other exceptions (which again MIDI devices were known to do this) are where vendors used the same hardware locations so that if another vendor's code tried to access the IO in the same way, it'd still work.

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 2/4/03 4:19PM
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moss: I agree--this was the point I was making. I just can't help feeling that cooperation would be no bad thing here.

 is a RISC OS Userape on 2/4/03 4:38PM
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Is anyone familiar enough with the APIs to hazard a guess as to whether it's beyond the wit of man to provide a compatibility layer from one API to the other?

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 2/4/03 6:03PM
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Go to Maplin.co.uk, order part A25AT, which is a USB to IDE adaptor for 30, and attach any spare 3.5" IDE drive to it.

There you have it, a low cost portable Mass storage device!

If you want a really compact one then order the cute USB icaddie case and you can fit a 2.5" drive to it. Very neat and tidy. I put my digital images and mpegs on it.

Others parts worth looking at are ZT90X

 is a RISC OS Userquatermass on 2/4/03 7:58PM
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when i was a lad we only had 4k and that was if you were rich.

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 2/4/03 8:52PM
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I hope Stuart sells lots of these little devices :-). Excellent work and another reason not to throw your RISC PC's out just yet.

-- Steve Knutson

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 2/4/03 9:09PM
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ninja: I thought about it, and it probably is possible - however I believe that the Simtec API does a lot more work than the Castle one, so it'd probably be easier to translate the Simtec API into the Castle API - it looks like a lot of work.

quatermass: And for RISC OS you'll need to write your own driver.

knutson: I hope he sells a lot too.

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 3/4/03 9:11AM
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Dave Pilling's Twain driver for the Epson 1660 is available for both Iyonix & Simtec USB interface, I suspect that he has written a library so that all the higher level work is common:-)

 is a RISC OS Userchrisevans on 3/4/03 12:09PM
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Originally (I don't know if this has changed), David's 1660 drivers worked with the Iyonix, but /not/ the Castle USB podule because.....

... wait for it...

The two Castle API's were different! :)

 is a RISC OS Userstdevel on 3/4/03 4:01PM
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I remember the days that Acorn computers were Plug and Play before anyone had even thought up a term for such a process. -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 4/4/03 9:47AM
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This isn't for the sake of an argument but what was 'plug'n'play' on RISC OS? I can't imagine ripping out podules and plugging in new ones, whilst the machine was on, is a terribly good idea.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 4/4/03 10:03AM
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Not hot swapping. Just being able to plug in a device and not worry about hunting for drivers and stuff. Keyboards, monitors, mice, modems, etc all 'just worked'. You didn't have to care about drivers for sound hardware or graphics either. Podules came with drivers on them and our only real problem was printer drivers.

Actually, for a while there printers were no longer a concern because everything had gone USB and we didn't have USB cards :) -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 4/4/03 10:15AM
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The STD USB drivers are hot swapping - just make sure you dismount before unplugging though!

It's really cool - plug it in, a drive icon appears; unplug it, and the icon disappears. You've even got a selection of drive icons to choose from for the device.

Spent hours (well, minutes. Well, a minute) playing with that...

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 4/4/03 11:21AM
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