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Getting Started with DriveWire

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Looking for CoCo help? If you are trying to do something with your old Color Computer, read this quick reference. Want to contribute to this wiki? Be sure to read this first. This CoCo wiki project was started on October 29, 2004. --OS-9 Al

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This page was last updated on 02/17/2015. Total Pages: 529. Total Files: 751.

Home / DriveWire - Getting Started with DriveWire

A brief history and information guide to both DriveWire3 and DriveWire4 including separate installation guides for DW3 & DW4


DriveWire is a server side application used in Windows, MacOS (and Linux for DriveWire 4) to provide a disk emulation server for the Tandy/TRS-80 Color Computer series of home computers manufactured during the '80s & '90s.

DriveWire allows the mounting of virtual disk images on a PC style computer, to provide floppy disk emulation. Real floppy disk hardware is becoming difficult to find these days, so applications like DriveWire provide CoCo users a much needed storage method for enjoying their Color Computers again. This Wiki page will attempt to provide the basic information needed to configure a DriveWire system for your CoCo.

Out of respect for software authors, this Wiki page will not host or directly link to any files - links will only take you to the webpages where these files already exist, and can be downloaded from.

Also, DriveWire 4 is a 100% drop in replacement for DriveWire 3. DriveWire 4 simply (or not so simply) adds far more capability to an already excellent application.

One more thing to keep in mind - DriveWire 3 and 4 can be used as a floppy disk emulator. However, there are some software packages that simply will not run when using floppy emulation. This is due to the author creating their own disk access routines, instead of using the RS-DOS DSKCON routines or in some cases, using a ROM/RAM copy routine that wipes Coco client side HDBDOS/DW3DOS from memory when they're running from disk or cassette. Until a successful hardware emulator is created that can accurately emulate the WD1773, then we are stuck with this situation.

DriveWire 3

Getting Started with DriveWire
Getting Started with DriveWire
Year (?)
Publisher Cloud9 Technologies
Author Boisy Pitre
Media Windows & Mac executable file
Requires PC running Windows or Mac OSX
Graphic mode PC/Mac Graphics
Notes Server side software for PC or Mac with a serial connection to the Color Computer 3

DriveWire 3 acted solely as a virtual disk server for a CoCo. Written by Boisy Pitre and sold thru Cloud9, DriveWire3 is a great tool for those needing just a virtual disk server. The DriveWire 3 PC server software can be freely downloaded Here.

DriveWire 4

Getting Started with DriveWire
Getting Started with DriveWire
Year (?)
Publisher CocoCoding/DriveWire4
Author Open Source
Media Windows, Linux & Mac executable file (Java based)
Requires PC running Windows, Linux or Mac OSX (plus others)
Graphic mode PC/Linux/Mac Graphics
Notes Server side software for PC, Linux, Mac, or any machine capable of running a JavaVM for serial connection to the Color Computer 1, 2, or 3

DriveWire 4 is a Java version of DriveWire moved to an Open Source project, and has similar functionality to DriveWire 3. However, the developers have added many other features including: mounting of Internet based disk images, TCP, web server, MIDI control, print to a PC printer (emulates Epson MX-80 from CoCo side, compatible with most Epson and generic printer drivers for the CoCo) and many more.

To use DriveWire 4, you'll need a recent version of Java - as DriveWire 4 is written in Java, it is OS agnostic; meaning it should run on anything that runs a Java VM, including a Raspberry Pi running Linux. You can get a JavaVM (here) for most any type of popular operating system.

You get get the most recent version or DriveWire 4 by visiting the DriveWire4 distribution site and following the links. As you'll soon see, DriveWire 4 supports several computing platforms including all versions of the CoCo. The documentation Wiki for DW4 can be found here: DW4 Wiki.

The DriveWire Cable

Before you can use DriveWire 3 or 4, you will need to connect your CoCo to a computer being used as a DriveWire server. You will need a Coco Serial (bit-banger) to DB-9 serial cable. Again, Cloud9 sells these cables. Conversely, you may build your own based upon the following diagram:


Also, if you have a more modern PC, it's most likely not to have the needed DB-9 serial port. As an alternative, you can puchase USB to Serial (DB-9) converters. These range in price from about $10 - $20 and can be purchased from most any electronics supply house. If they don't have it on the shelf, ask someone and they can most likely order it for you. You will still need the cable above as this is just an adapter to be able to connect it to PC's with no DB-9 serial port.

Alternatively, you can also still purchase an add-on PCI or PCIx serial card. TigerDirect and NewEgg still stock a large selection of these cards. The internal serial cards tend to offer better data transfer rates than the USB to Serial adapters in testing.

HDBDOS & DriveWire


Once you have downloaded the DriveWire software and connected the CoCo to your PC with the correct cable, you'll need to boot the CoCo with an HDB-DOS ROM image. This can be done with a ROM Pak with an HDB-DOS EPROM from Cloud9 (or someone else); loading thru the cassette port (from either a real cassette player or as a .wav file from a PC), an EPROM placed in a floppy controller or even an HDB-DOS ROM loaded from a .BIN file. Again, all of the files can be downloaded from the Cloud9 DriveWire3 page.

  • Contents of the DRIVEWIRE.ZIP, containing the Rom files from the Cloud9 site.

NitrOS-9 & DriveWire


NitrOS-9 cannot be booted directly, you need to bootstrap it from another DOS like HDB-DOS. Use the disk image that has _dw in the name.

Beginner's Guide to Installing DriveWire4, HDBDOS, and NitrOS-9

by Bill Pierce


  • DW4 Installation Guide : A step by step guide to installing the "JavaVM", "DriveWire4", "HDBDOS", and "NitrOS-9 for DW4"

Troubleshooting DriveWire


DriveWire, HDBDOS, & NitrOS-9 FAQs