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Gotek troubleshooting

Gotek flashfloppy drive emulators are a popular upgrade for retro computer systems, allowing you to replace finicky and expensive floppy drives and media with flash media. The flashfloppy firmware makes the drives much more capable, allowing them to work in a wider variety of machines, and also making it easier to copy image files from a modern PC directly onto the USB stick. Usually the upgrade goes very smoothly. But sometimes the drive doesn’t work. So let’s talk Gotek troubleshooting.

The first rule of Gotek troubleshooting is cabling. When the drive doesn’t work as expected, there’s a good chance it’s a cabling issue.

Troubleshooting R16, ri6, or RIB message on the display

Gotek floppy emulator for retro PCs

When the 7-segment display reads “rib,” that means the ribbon cable from the drive controller to the Gotek is plugged in backwards.

If you see a message that looks like r16, ri6, or RIB on the display, that is the flashfloppy firmware telling you that it detected the ribbon cable is upside down. Reverse the cable, and the drive will behave as expected.

The message means “rib,” as in ribbon.

When the cable is installed correctly, the 7-segment display will read F-F as the unit starts up, and give a numeric display when a USB stick is plugged in.

Troubleshooting a seek error reading drive A in MS-DOS

The other problem I’ve seen with a Gotek flashfloppy is the drive refusing to boot, and refusing to read disk images, and giving a seek error reading drive a in MS-DOS. This one is trickier, but it’s also a cabling issue. Check to make sure that you didn’t offset the drive cable on the motherboard or on the Gotek itself. On many machines, it is possible to offset the connector, sending the signals to the wrong pins. The Gotek tolerates this much better than real floppy drives do, but it will throw errors. Correct the ribbon cable so that it’s sitting properly on all 34 pins with no pins showing, then you can expect the flashfloppy to work properly in most cases.

Get the drive select jumper right

Gotek troubleshooting

To use a Gotek with most PCs, jumper S1 and clear S0. For Amigas, Atari STs, CP/M boxes, and Tandy 1000s, jumper S0 and clear S1. I configured this Gotek for a PC.

If you don’t get any errors, but the drive does not show up on the expected drive letter or otherwise doesn’t respond as expected, check the drive select jumper.

PCs, with one notable exception, expect the you to set jumper S1, and they use a twist in the cable to decide which is drive a and which is drive b. Most other computers use S0 for the primary drive and S1 for a secondary drive. So if you are having trouble getting your Gotek working in an Amiga, ST, or some other non-PC retro computer, this could be your problem. The notable exception among PCs is a Tandy 1000, which also requires you to use S0 for drive A and S1 for drive B.

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