1541 – Why so complicated

May 14, 2014

1541YUNO

The Commodore 64 has a disk drive that is unique in many ways. Not only is the Commodore 1541 said to be the world’s slowest disk drive, but it’s also big, bulky, noisy and has a reputation of being unreliable. Also, it works in an unusual way. In many ways it’s the disk drive that has defined our experience with the C64.

In addition to the original model 1541 there were also the updated models 1541C and 1541-II from Commodore. The drives have different looks, differences in hardware and in ROM versions, but the basic functionality and features are principally identical.

Some later models in Commodore’s 8-bit serial disk drive range were improved in some ways, but those have less importance today. For a C64 as a retro system, the 1541 is the de facto standard. Still, in this time of emulators and hardware add-ons, compatibility with the original 1541 disk drive is regarded as a must.

And today, for someone who doesn’t want to resort to emulators only, the large and unconventional disk drive brings some practical challenges. So understanding the 1541 helps us to understand the options we have for replacing it! Read the rest of this entry »

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EasyFlash 3 hands-on

February 16, 2012

At the end of last year skoe released the EasyFlash 3 design. Just like the original EasyFlash, the design is open source, so basically anyone is able to start making those. It’s likely that these boards start surfacing from different sources. The first place selling assembled EasyFlash 3 cartridges I found was Retro-Donald’s Sinchai-Shop, and mine’s from there.

There are already at least two board designs. One like mine here, a short cartridge with buttons on both sides. The other design has longer board and the buttons are at the back in the usual way.

You North-American folks are probably pleased to know that RETRO Innovations is going to manufacture and sell them as well.

And yes – this is your JiffyDOS on a stick .. err.. cart solution!

Seriously, calling EasyFlash 3 just that is a vile devaluation (and I’ve seen it already happen). It’s much more than “just” a KERNAL on a cartridge. Read the rest of this entry »


New C64 hardware rolls out

February 28, 2011

New hardware just keeps on coming for the C64. Now, a new device called Alien Flash Cartridge and the long-awaited Chameleon cartridge are available.

The Alien Flash Cartridge was revealed at Lemon 64 Forums only two weeks ago. It is 16 megabyte Flash memory cartridge that has EasyFlash support and Action Replay compatibility. It also features USB connection that can be used for flashing the cartridge and also to download programs directly to C64 memory. Basically the cartridge has 16 one megabyte memory banks and each of them act like EasyFlash cartridge – except those can be flashed over USB connection. This alone is awesome, plus add the Action Replay mode and the ability to push single load programs to C64’s memory over the USB connection. Certainly a very interesting piece of kit!

If this sounds like must thing to have better act fast. These cartridges can be preordered now and the preordering is open only until 6th March! The developer Stingray sells the cartridges over at his website Multimeter Calibrations Australia. Check the link to Lemon discussion for more info. Find also the few demonstrative YouTube videos.

If I didn’t have EasyFlash and several Action Replay compatible devices already I would be placing order right now!

The Chameleon, in turn, has been in development for a long time. It started out as a “VGA box for C64” but bloated out to become something much greater.

Since the C64 does not provide any higher spec video signal than S-video, the starting point idea for Chameleon was to replicate the VIC-II video chip using a powerful FPGA core and have it generate the VGA video signal to have high quality picture for today’s monitors and televisions. Since there’s some serious processing power available, why not use it also for something else? Well, they did. Read the rest of this entry »


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