Topic: Review : 1541 Ultimate II from Gideon's Logic Architecture ( includes Photos )  (Read 7301 times)

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Offline HeadingtonBard

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Introduction ::

Here we have a device that has been sought after for the last couple of years, not by just me, but by many others in the Commodore 64 / 128 community. Pre-orders of the 1541 Ultimate have far exceeded 500+, maybe even 1000+ and can take several months to fulfill due to it's unprecidented demand. Designed by Gideon's Logic Architectures, it fits in perfectly with the users every day needs.



Storage ::

All files can be loaded from a MicroSD Card formatted with FAT12, FAT16 or FAT32. I am currently using a 4 GIG card, but some other users are using higher capicity cards. In addition, you can use a USB Memory Stick, although, I would recommend using an extender Cable, if used, to enable more flexibility during use.



Front : Serial, LED's and Buttons ... Back : Buttons and Expansion Slot ( Tape Extender )



Side : Buttons, Audio and Serial Port ... Side : Buttons, USB Port and MicroSD Slot



A familiar screen greets the user upon switching on for the first time, its of course the Cyberpunx Retro Replay by Count Zero.



If you press the ' Middle Button ' you'll be presented with the following screen. If you move the ' Cursor ' right, the next screen will appear ...



As you can see, from the screen above, there are ' five ' directories to choose from ...



Pressing ' Enter ' with make the pop-up menu appear with ' three options ', ' Enter ', ' Rename ' and ' Delete '.



Once you have chosen a ' Directory ', you should see a list of files to choose from.



The options on this menu are fairly self explanitory. Simply ' Mounting ' a Disk will do as prompted, but will require a reset of the 1541U-II and the use of the traditional ' LOAD " * " , 8 , 1 or LOAD " $ " , 8 to load or list the file structure of the attacted disk. ' Enter ' will allow you to view the contents of the selected .D64 etc. ' Rename ' will allow you to rename and ' Delete ' to delete. Mounting a disk as read only will do, no files like high-score tables will be adjusted or files deleted by accident. Using Unlinked mode is fairly similar, but does not reflect on the .D64 image in question. The other options refer to using addition drives, if needed.



If you just press the ' Right-Cursor ' on a selected .D64 image, you can browse the contents of the disk.



Hereby pressing ' Enter ' on selected browsed content you can, ' Run ', ' Load ' or ' Mount & Run '. This happens with immediate affect, so any Demo or Game should be up and running fairly quickly.

Connections and File Types ::

The 1541U-II is connected via a Serial Cable to the Serial Port, but can be daisy chained to a *real* Disk Drive, not forgetting to adjust the appropriate Drive number, like 8 or 9 etc. Disks can be Mounted, which basically links the 1541 and the 1541U-II, just like the *real* thing. You can link as 'Read Only' or as 'Unlinked', were as High-Score Tables aren't saved to the actual image ( .D64 or .G64 ).

Currently, the following images are recognised : .D64 or .G64 ( Disk Images ), .T64 or .TAP ( Tape Images ), .SID ( SID Music ) and .PRG ( Programs ). Also, REU files can be played via for example : Nuvie Player v1.0 .PRG. Simply select the desired .REU file and then load the player afterwards. You will however, have to set the REU RAM size to 16MB and turn the RAM Expansion setting on first before any such files can be played. See C64 and Cartridge Settings screenshot for details. As of revision 2.2a (A8), REU files don't run too well on the Commodore 128, whilst in Commodore 64 mode. They part run and then crash, this doesn't happen on the Commodore 64 though. Rest assured though, this bug will be fixed as soon as possible by the software developer.

Keyboard Navigation ::

You can navigate the Menus quite easily using the following keyboard controls :
CRSR - Up / Down Move the Cursor ( highlighted line ) Up / Down
CRSR Left - Go one level up ( level the directory or disk )
CRSR Right - Go one level down ( enter directory or disk )
Return / Space - Bring up a content menu with actions to be performed on the selected item
F1 - Page up
F7 - Page down
F2 - Enter the setup menu
F5 - Bring up a menu with actions to be performed
Quick Seek - Use the keyboard to type the name to search for. You can use ' ? ' as a wildcard
Run / Stop - Leave the ' Menu '

Tip : Pressing ' F2 ' whilst in the Menu structure will bring you to the ' Configuration ' menu.

Configuration Menu ::

Whilst in configuration mode ...



Use the Up / Down Cursor Keys to navigate and Right to enter desired configuration screen. Once inside the a settings screen, the behaviour of the keyboard is slightly different :

CRSR Up / Down - Move the cursor ( highlighted line ) Up / Down
CRSR Left / Right - Increase or decrease a setting, cycling through the available options
Del - Go up one level
Return / Space - For string fields - Bring up a text entry box
For enumerated fields - Bring up a context menu with the available options
Run / Stop - Leaves the configuration menu and saves new values

You may need to reset or power cycle the C64 for some of the new settings to take effect.



- Clock Settings



- USB Settings



- Audio Settings


 
- 1541 Drive Settings ( one for each emulated drive, if more than one exist )



- C64 and Cartridge Settings


 
The SID Player within 1541 U-II. Just select a SID and off you go !



1541 Ultimate II LED's ::

From left to right ...

Green 1541 Power
Red 1541 Status
Yellow Cartridge Active
Green Storage Activity

The Drive Power LED has four states :

Off The Drive is not powered
Dim Powered, but not mounted
Half Bright Powered and Disk mounted, Motor off
Bright Powered, Disk mounted and Motor running

Other Hardware ::

The 1541U-II can emulate a Cassette Tape Deck with .TAP file, in order to use this function you will need a Tape Extender. This connects the 1541U-II to the Tape port of the C64. The connector is on the underside of 1541U-II and is available through a small hole in the plastic case. The 6 pins correspond via a Cable back to the Tape Port of the C64. This device can be ordered via the 1541 Ultimate website.

Summary ::

Using an 1541 Ultimate II is a joyful experience with it's user friendly menu driven interface and its pleasing black background. Most of the options used during the everyday operation, for me, are set at default without any changes. Apparently, you can copy from a 5.25" Floppy Disk to .D64 image and the transfer speeds are about ( 1 minute, 30 seconds each way ). This option has yet to be tested, as with the Tape Extender for which I hope to get soon, enabling the loading of .TAP files. Even if it defeats the object of fast access to loading the game.

Possible enhancements :

- SID Play : Pressing Run / Stop or Backspace to return to the File or Folder screen
- A colour preferences screen for the Menus
- Built in Menu for Disk Transfer for .D64 Images to 5.25" and vice versa.

For more information on the 1541 Ultimate II : [ http://www.1541ultimate.net/content/ ]

Also, please respect and be considerate to any long pre-order fulfillment times if you wish to purchase this wonderful product. The current price with a 4GIG MicroSD in Euros is : € 108.40 excl VAT. Check currency rates for a more accurate figure.

« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 12:57:16 PM by HeadingtonBard »
:: HeadingtonBard ::

[ http://www.alexarisgames.co.uk/ ]



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ggizmotigger

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nice review well presented

Also agree i got mine last week and not been off it backing up my floppies to mcc its really easy to use and well worth the wait and money

ggizmotigger

Offline Amiga Man

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Good Interesting Review and again...this is another one that good for C64 ;)

Offline AndyRCM

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in addition to this the 1541U2 now supports EasyFlash too - PoP here I come . . . ;)
"I could see the faces of those who led pissing themselves laughing" - Funeral Pyre by The Jam