November 29, 2013
Here’s what I made as a 30 year birthday present for a friend of mine. Maniac Mansion cartridge for the Commodore 64!
Of course a cartridge like this never existed back in the day, as the original Manic Mansion released for the C64 was disk only game. It’s only thanks to the crackers, patchers and hardware developers of recent years who we can thank for the possibility to have this much acclaimed and loved game in a C64 cartridge format today.
You’ve probably guessed already that it’s an EasyFlash cartridge in a ‘custom’ Maniac Mansion themed cartridge case. And on the EasyFlash, there is written the excellent EasyFlash-patched Maniac Mansion Mercury by Onslaught. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
January 21, 2012
Just a quick heads-up, I recently ordered some stuff from Retro-Donald’s Sinchai-Shop. Finally the goods arrived, and above you can see the loot I got.
Top: Micromys V3. Below, from left to right: EasyFlash 3, MMC2IEC + programmed AVR, Nano SwinSID, Super PLA.
Sinchai.de is an online shop that is specializing in Commodore 8 bit accessories and DIY kits. Unfortunately the site is in German only, as is all communication and support. Additionally the information and instructions for the products may be very slight, and most of the product support seems to be at the German C64 forum Forum-64. The shop supports the community there and vice versa it appears.
At least the product assortment is very interesting, and they ship worldwide. And Google Translate is your friend if you are like me and don’t speak nor read German.
Apart from the language barrier and almost three weeks’ delivery time I’m very pleased with the experience. Might be that Donald is busy putting the now-released EasyFlash 3 boards together! The pieces I finally got are of good quality, and the packaging was well done. Postage rates were reasonable, and generally, so are the prices at the shop. My recommendations.
Quick run-down of the stuff I ordered Read the rest of this entry »
December 26, 2011
Unseen has finally released a new version of the sd2iec firmware. This new firmware version of 0.10.2 does not bring that many updates, but one that I have been waiting for; sd2iec has now support for the fastloader that has been in EasyProg since ages.
I wanted to make a little comparison of the now supported fastloader’s performance using uIEC. Which is faster, EasyProg fastloader or JiffyDOS? Will it take even less time to flash the cartridge if the cartridge image is compressed using EasySplit?
Hardware & software configuration:
The image I flashed several times using different configurations was Prince of Persia C64 version 1.1. It is a 513 kb cartridge image, closely half of the flash memory size of EasyFlash. When the image is compressed using EasySplit, the file size is 159 kb. In Commodore terms, the images were 2069 and 644 blocks respectively. Read the rest of this entry »
November 30, 2011
Since my hands-on review of EasyFlash cartridge things have been moving forward. EasyFlash has been gaining popularity in the Commodore community.
At the time of my overview there were only few EasyFlash tailored releases around, and I thought that the most prominent use of EasyFlash cartridge was the possibility to create EasyFlash multicart images from several single load programs using the Draco Cart Maker.
Since that, the EasyFlash tailored game releases kept on coming. These are usually some of the bigger games for C64, or even compilations of them, modified to run from EasyFlash without loading pauses, often including extra graphics, documents or other bonuses, incorporating bug fixes to the originals, and often with game or score saving feature writing directly to the flash memory. These features are sometimes found only in the EasyFlash patched versions.
At the moment there are quite a few EF releases already, and I’m sure new ones keep on appearing. Basically EasyFlash has become a new medium standard for C64.
And even more so with the phenomenal C64 port of Prince of Persia by Mr. SID. It’s a 1:1 port of the original Apple II game and graphically almost on par with the PC and Amiga versions. The famous fluid animation is there and the gameplay is identical to the original game. Not to mention it’s a great game and a classic, now for the first time ever available on C64 and C128. And it’s available only for the EasyFlash cartridge. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
February 13, 2011
New hardware for the C64 appears like it was still a production machine. It’s amazing. This time I’m talking about EasyFlash cartridge. EasyFlash has existed for some time already, and now I got myself one of those.
I bought mine fully assembled from Mike Betz via Lemon64 Forums. These carts are nicely finished with quality case, stickers and all. And of course I peeked inside – the case hides the real quality of the cartridge; Professionally made PCB, all socketed chips and flawless soldering make up these EasyFlash cartridges.
So what’s EasyFlash?
EasyFlash is a Flash memory based programmable cartridge for C64. Basically it works like any original game or software cartridge except that the cartridge binary (data, or cartridge image) can be easily erased and rewritten. And this is done using no other tools than the C64 and software called EasyProg. Any standard (8k & 16k) or Ocean Type 1 (128k & 256k) cartridge image can be written into EasyFlash and it effectively “becomes” that cartridge. Read the rest of this entry »