Preparing for the CFFA3000

July 9th, 2012 9:21 AM
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The July episode of the Open Apple podcast debuted yesterday (a Sunday! Unprecedented!), featuring an interview with Rich Dreher, one of the Apple II community's foremost hardware developers. After having long been an admirer of his work, I met Rich at KansasFest 2011 — yet despite all that, I've never actually owned a product of his company, R&D Automation, LLC. By the time I'd dusted off my physical IIGS to complement my decade-long exclusivity with emulation, the second model of CFFA had already sold out, and the mythical CFFA3000, promising both CompactFlash and USB interfaces for the Apple II, was on the horizon. As I've reported before, I didn't buy one of the first batch — not even when presented with the opportunity to buy it directly from the dealer at KansasFest — because I spent last summer geographically removed from my Apple II and didn't want a card I could not immediately use. Foolish me! The first batch sold out faster than anyone expected, and the second was another year off.

Finally, the second run is now available and is shipping at the rate of fifty per week. I am invoice #3410, order sequence #134 — whatever that means. Regardless of when my particular order ships, I am looking forward to putting it in my Apple.

… but then what? I've heard folks say that the CFFA3000 revolutionized storage on their machines, eliminating the need for any other drive from floppy to hard. I don't see that happening in my case: I still have my 5.25" disks that need to be imaged, so floppy drives will always have a place in my daisy chain. But the CFFA will certainly make the imaging process faster and easier, eliminating the need to transfer files across a serial or Ethernet cable via the excellent ADTPro.

I'll have my own experiences to report soon, but in the meantime, I'd like to hear from other users of this device. Did you immediately grok the CFFA3000's potential and start using it to the fullest? Or was there a learning curve as you slowly transitioned from 30-year-old technology to this new hardware? Did the card live up to the hype in your experience?

CFFA3000 video review

December 15th, 2011 1:42 PM
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As mentioned on the latest episode of the Open Apple podcast, Brian Picchi has lately been putting out some remarkable YouTube videos. He started this time a year ago with a review of the IIGS itself. Lately he's cast a wider net, highlighting a variety of Apple II products from games to NDAs. One of his latest is a review of the CFFA3000, the CompactFlash and USB card from Rich Dreher. It's a card I had the opportunity to purchase in-person at KansasFest 2011. I passed at the time, as I was still months and thousands of miles away from my Apple II. Now I'm kicking myself, as not only does the card have scads more features than I realized, but the first batch sold out like hotcakes, with no more expected until 2012.

Brian's video is a good overview of what will have you too lining up for the second batch:

If you're looking for other ways to expand the hardware capabilities of your Apple IIGS, Brian's overview of several peripherals is also worth a watch. And be sure to read the comments on this and his other videos — unlike most YouTube comments, these are quite knowledgeable and constructive, suggesting yet more ways to improve your retrocomputing experience.

Keep up the great work, sir!