Several months ago I received a 1541 Ultimate-II+ from Gideon’s Logic Architectures and haven’t had the time to get it setup, so here goes nothing. I have no doubt the product is awesome, but the provided usage documentation is a bit lacking. Before I start there are 6 things I wanted to get working out of the box:
- Update to the newest firmware
- Setting up JiffyDOS
- Play Ultima 4 from disk
- Play Centipede from cartridge
- Play Pole Position from tape
- Setting up an REU
Looking at the list it seems ambitious, but I paid a non-trivial amount of dollars on the ability to do all 6 of those things. Here goes nothing!
Not worth taking a picture of the box, as it was a fairly non-descript cardboard box. Inside the box was 5 items: an itty bitty 8GB USB drive, the 1541 Ultimate-II+ itself, a short IEC jumper cable, the tape adapter and a short USB 3 cable to connect the device with the tape adapter. The tape adapter was an add-on purchase and doesn’t come with the unit by default.
Loading up the memory card
To accomplish my laundry list of tasks I need some software and by some I mean a lot. I grabbed the latest firmware update (update_495.u2p), all 4 Ultima IV disk images from my own collection (u4brit, u4dung, u4pro and u4town), a Centipede cartridge ROM that I found on a sketchy website, a Pole Position tape dump from the previously mentioned sketchy website, a JiffyDOS ROM image for a 1541-II purchased from Retro Innovations, GEOS 2.0 (GEOS64, APPS64, SPELL64 and WRUTIL64) disk images from here and the Commodore 1764 REU Utility Disk image from my own collection. It is bad form to just dump everything to the root of the disk, but I can organize my collection later.
Hooking it up
Hooking it all up is pretty straightforward, but here is photo evidence.
It appears that some fast loader is installed by default. I just hit F3 to make it go away. We will shut it off in a second.
Everything appears normal so far.
There are three buttons on the back of the unit. The left starts a freezer which can do all sorts of cool things, but that is for another time. The right button is a reset button, so lets also ignore that one for now. The middle button is what makes the magic happen.
Hit the middle button.
Updating to the latest firmware
First we need to navigate to the firmware update located on the itty bitty USB drive. You use the arrow keys to navigate, ‘Return’ to select items and ‘Run/Stop’ to go back.
Hit ‘Return’ on the firmware update.
Select ‘Run Update’ on the little popup menu and follow the instructions.
For good measure turn the C64 on and off, don’t just use the restart button.
Setting up JiffyDOS
First we need to disable the default fast loader. Push the middle button then it F2 to bring up the setup menu.
Navigate to ‘C64 and cartridge Settings’…
Navigate to ‘Cartridge’…
Select ‘None’ from the menu.
Changing the inserted cartridge typically requires a hard power on/off. So turn the C64 on and off. Once the machine is back on hit the middle button. Next, we need to navigate to our JiffyDOS ROM Image and hit Return.
Select ‘Use as Drive ROM’…
So now we need to set both drives to use a custom 1541 ROM. Hit ‘Ok’ and then F2 to bring up the setup menu. Navigate to ‘1541 Drive A Settings’…
Hit ‘Return’ and navigate to ‘1541 ROM Select’…
Hit ‘Return’ and choose ‘Custom*’…
Repeat the same steps for ‘1541 Drive B Settings’ and hit the restart button.
Execute ‘@””,8’ and ‘@””,9″ at the prompt and we should get back a JiffyDOS status message instead of the stock 1541 status message. SUCCESS!!
Play Ultima 4 from disk
Hit the middle button and navigate to the Ultima 4 Program disk.
Select ‘Mount Disk’ and load Ultima IV like you always would.
To test out Drive 9 we will ‘Journey onward’…
Hit the middle button and mount the Britannia disk on Drive B…
SUCCESS!! Ok fine I skipped to the part where I had to insert the Towne disk into Drive A, but the point is I have a multidisk game working with both drives!
If you can load Ultima IV you can pretty much load any game, so I think I have disk based games down. Next up, cartridge games.
Play Centipede from cartridge
To load a cartridge you first need to navigate to your cartridge image and hit ‘Return’.
Select ‘Use as Cartridge ROM’. Now you need to let the unit know to start up from a cartridge. So hit ‘F2’ for setup and navigate to ‘C64 and cartridge settings’. Select ‘Cartridge’…
Select ‘Custom 8K ROM’ or ‘Custom 16K ROM’ depending on your ROM size. My Centipede image is 8K, so we go with the 8K option. Anytime you change the boot cartridge you need to hard restart the machine, the restart button will not work. So power off then power on and…
SUCCESS!! Don’t forget you have to set the boot cartridge setting back to ‘None’ to “unplug” the cartridge from the unit.
Play Pole Position from tape
So it took me 3 tries before I remembered this, but YOU CANNOT LOAD TAPES IN JIFFYDOS!!! So first step disable JiffyDOS. Now, navigate to your .tap image.
Select ‘Run Tape’. This is not a fast process, but eventually…
Setting up an REU
So far this has all gone surprisingly easy. A lot of credit goes to this awesome piece of hardware that lets you do a bajillion things. Last thing I wanted to do was setup an REU. First thing to do is enable the REU in the unit. Middle button then F2 for setup. Navigate to ‘C64 and cartridge settings. then Enable ‘RAM Expansion Unit’.
Next lets set the REU size. I went with 16MB because what the hell!
Now we need to test that it actually works. The simplest approach is to use the REU Utility Disk to test the “REU”. So we mount up the disk image and load the disk.
Option 5 and wait a minute or so…
SUCCESS!!! So it works, but an even better test is to test it out with GEOS. So, I mount the GEOS boot disk and load it GEOS.
Well look at that, RAM 1571 shows that it recognizes the REU. We are good to go.
Overall this is a pretty badass piece of hardware and while I LOVE my physical drives and disks I would consider this a required piece of hardware for any Commodore enthusiast. Any comments or questions, just hit me up!