Commodore 1541 disk drive replacement

I was previously using MMC Replay, 64HDD (PC DOS) or even Emul1541 (Amiga). Problem with free version of 64HDD was that it has limitations, it is DOS application and it is not open source. One problem with MMC Replay has not true 1541 emulation.

I started to look nice single solution for these use cases. Then I luckily checked what is current status of 1541 Ultimate. Gideon was taking orders from 1541 Ultimate-II at the time. I decided to place the order. 1541 Ultimate-II is replacement of Commodore 1541 using FPGA and microSD or USB mass storage. Another option was Chameleon, but its firmware is not open source and it is little bit more expensive than Ultimate-II.

Current 1541 Ultimate-II features:

  • USB storage, microSD, tape emulator with special cable
    • FAT support with long filenames
    • iso9660 with Joliet. For reading iso images
    • d64, g64, prg, t64, tap (with cable)
    • 1541 emulation or DMA load straight to memory
  • Commodore 1750/1764 REU
    • 128k to 16MB
    • nuvies. REU Movies works with 16MB
  • Cartridge emulation
    • EazyFlash. Read only
    • Action Replay
    • Retro Replay
    • Custom 8K/16K carts
    • etc.
  • Real time clock
  • Dual SID
  • SID player
    • Use real or emulated SID:s
  • Open source
    • sources available
    • hardware is not open

I started to wait the order. Finally after one month waiting hardware patch was ready to ship and got mine. Package contained actual device and 4GB Kington. I had bought already SD card, because I did not know that there is 4GB SD card. Anyway it is always good to have spare SD-cards.

I filled SD card with REU Nuvies, SID music, C64anabalt and other my favorite games and software, put it to Ultimate-II. Then realized that I need C64 serial cable to get 1541 emulation work. I found one short enough from my treasure closet. Connected everything and put C64 on. First I was little confused which button I should push to get filesystem menu to screen. Short instructions which came along the cartridge were helpful. It tells which button does what.

I was impressed how well it worked. Changing images (D64) worked nice and smoothly. Writing to D64 works also. Some cartridge images worked which did not work with MMC Replay. SID player worked just fine. It could be better but it works. I haven’t met perfect SID player yet. I tried to load REU movie and head first problem. Realized that problem was that REU was not on by default. I haven’t even seen configuration menu before. I set REU memory size to 16MB. I haven’t have any needs to change settings after that.

I also have C128D, but I realized that I could run in the trouble with internal floppy drive when using Ultimate-II with it. I didn’t want to make any modifications to machine. So my solution was to put the MMC Replay to my C128D and Ultimate-II to C64.

Ultimate-II doesn’t have yet all features I’d like to see like EazyFlash write support. At least it is open source so it is possible to add such things.

I still use x-cables (PC/Linux) and Easy1541 (Amiga) to transfer disks. Sometimes even MMC Replay.

My opinion is that 1541 Ultimate-II is nice piece of hardware.

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