July 21, 2013 | In: Hardware by rEdrUm
C64TPC, a drive virtualiser for your C64
No more disks !!
These brillant developpers/electronics engineer know how to bring us the convenience of our modern easy and fast file handling to our beloved old machineries.
The C64TPC is no exception thanks to Ahmet Eymür, a turkish developper whose love for the C64 pushed him to create this neat little device.
A noble purpose
The goal of the C64TPC is very simple. Emulate up to four (4) 1541 drives for your real C64, using the serial port of your C=. On the other side, still using the serial port, your windows PC drives the little box with the help of a very simple to use software.
This will enable to feed your .d64 files to C64 in order to quench your Commodore thirst !
The tiny box
Let’s take a look at this little device.
On the front, three leds used as indicators of the operations/errors.
On the back, the C64 serial cable, the PC serial port and of course the power supply jack.
You will also of course need a multipurpose PSU (that can output 500 mA @ 9v) and a standard null modem serial cable.
Plugged in !
Up and ready
Now that we’ve plugged it in, let see what the software looks like.
The soft (C64TPC 1.1), is presented in a formal and classic but efficient way.
On the left the standard I/O managing system to find your images files.
On the top right, a preview of the content of the selected disk image, C64 style !
This is a very nice and useful feature when you are searching for a specific file to launch on a multi program disk.
Next to this, an also important spot: your pc COM port selection used for the connection to the C64TPC.
On the bottom right, the 4 virtual drives configuration and status.
Finally, on the bottom, the log window with loading bar status, a huge deal.
For the purpose of this demo, I will use a classic game, Double Dragon.
You can add up to four virtual drives, acting as the ID 8,9,10 and 11 on the C64, by clicking on each of their connect button.
After having highlighted the disk image I want to use, I just have to push on the mount disk icon and there we go…
A LOAD”*”,8,1 later the single green lit led tells us that the game is ready to load. RUN.
The loading is faster than on the traditional “real” disk drive, as the C64TPC contains an equivalent to a fastload cartridge.
Real fastload or similar, won’t run alongside the C64TPC because of this.
Ok, is it good then !?
Of course, not every disk image will work. I encountered some errors while loading. Hopefully the software on the pc side gives you details on what’s happening.
The most common error I had through my tests was “Unsupported Command”. After a little research, it came to my attention that some games required special physical commands on the 1541 that the C64TPC is unable to emulate.
I also tried to use a usb-to-serial converter with another pc that didn’t come with a serial port and despite all my efforts, didn’t work…
These little problems are insignificant compared to the positive side of what you get! Roaming through disk images is a real pleasure and very easy to accomplish.
So, where can I get one !?
That’s the problem, you can’t. I was lucky to get one while Ahmet was still producing them but the production as stopped in between.
So eBay remains the best option to find a used one.
But there is hope! I got in touch with Ahmet and he confirmed to me that all the C64TPC source code will be very soon … open source !
Let’s hope some fierce soldering iron/coders will take on the good job further !