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 »

Advertisements

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 »


EasyFlash fastloader comparison

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 »


Tips for using sd2iec

October 4, 2010

It’s been already a while since I got the uIEC – one of the available hardware running the sd2iec firmware. I did some experimenting with it on how to make the best use of it if the nicely accompanying JiffyDOS is not present. I posted my experiences at Lemon64 forums, but I thought it would be nice to share them here as well. Still, you might want to read that instead for shorter, less detailed description.

Note that I’m describing sd2iec-firmware being used on uIEC/SD-hardware with Commodore 64. Many different hardware combinations are possible.

The principle

With sd2iec loading files from the SD card’s root folder is like loading files from a floppy disk. The very basic loading procedure is exactly the same – except that the default device number is not 8 but 10. So LOAD”$”,10 or LOAD”GAME”,10,1 works just like one would expect.

Things get more complicated if you want anything more. Something like to enter a directory on the SD card or to mount a .d64 disk image. A real Commodore disk drive wasn’t designed for such things so you don’t even have the commands for something like that. Since uIEC is connected only to the serial port of C64 it can be interfaced only using the IEC bus. Enter the command channel! Everything like directory navigation, disk image mounting and device configuration is done by sending drive commands over the command channel. Read the rest of this entry »


New hardware for C64: uIEC

July 19, 2010

uIEC and new JiffyDOS chips

Few days ago I got myself a uIEC/SD ordered from Jim Brain. I also bought a set of JiffyDOSes which should make a perfect match with uIEC. Even though I am a happy 1541 Ultimate user I wanted to get familiar with this device as it and other SD memory card applications using the same sd2iec firmware seems to be very popular. Also, this one can be nicely used in Commodore machines where the C64 Expansion port is not available.  Read the rest of this entry »


%d bloggers like this: