Saturday, 25 October 2014

1541 Ultimate II Guide 2 : File use

This is another post in my series of guides for the 1541 Ultimate II (UII) cartridge. This post is all about the most common file formats, file management and settings related to these files.

File Management

The UII primarily uses a micro-cd card for storage. Getting files from your PC to the UII involves inserting and removing the card from the cartridge. There is also a USB port on the UII and this can be used with USB sticks and drives. So the sane thing to do is to use the SD card for the static files (like game and audio collections) and to use the USB port for moving stuff to and from the PC.

There is currently no native way to copy from the USB to the SD card using the UII. Copying can be done on a PC but this can become quite annoying especially because the micro-sd cart is small and the UII slot is not perfect either.

But help has arrived. The first version of a file manager has been released to the scene by LFT. It's ye olde directory opus, but tailored for the UII, hence u-opus.  You can find the progam here: http://csdb.dk/release/?id=133734.


You must enable the Ultimate Command Interface in the UII settings (press F2) because this c64 program is talking to the UII through this interface. So, start transferring and copying. This program is a huge timesaver.

Although you can use high capacity SD cards, do not place all files in a single directory. It will take ages to load the directory or navigate through it on your trusty old c64. So, break up your directory in sub-directories. You can create directories with the UII by pressing F5 to get into the action menu.

I hope a future version of u-opus will allow the creation of folders and the movement of files. There is no reason it should not. :)

File Types

There are a number of files used with the UII:
  • d64: This is a 1541 floppy disk image
  • g64: a RAW representation of a floppy disk. 
  • t64: Tape file image
  • sid: SID music file
  • bin: UII firmware update file
If you want more technical information, this site is an excellent reference. But as a user there really is no need to get into this.

Let's get into each file type and check out the possible uses.

d64: The most versatile image for use with the UII. You can browse through these images without first mounting them and select individial files to run by pressing the right arrow when on a d64 file. Running a file will bypass normal 1541 operations and the file will be instantly moved into memory and run. You can also 'mount & run' the file which will mount the disk and then issue a normal load command.

g64: These are mainly used for software which makes use of non-standard file formats, like capture cartridges or copy software. You can only mount these image files, not browse through them in the UII. After mounting load the directory by using load"*".8. Don't use g64 files if you don't have to, there is no advantage otherwise.

t64: Images of file (or files) loaded from tape. You can only load and run the content of these files as there is, of course, nothing else associated with these files. Loading and running is, like with d64 files, instant.

sid: Great fun! Select a .sid file to start the UII SID player. If the tune has sub-tunes you can select it and play those.  Make sure you use a UII firmware which has the player activated. Check out the UII website for the firmware descriptions. I currently use the 2.6k drive+audio firmware.

bin: The firmware update file must be placed in the root directory of the SD card. Using the USB port for this will not work, even though there is an option in the USB settings to allow boot from image files from the USB port.

Creating disk images with the UII

Maybe you like to program on your C64 and you need a place to store source code files, or you want to create a floppy to save all your high score files on.

You can create new d64 and g64 files with the UII. Press F5 to open the UII Action menu and select 'Create D64' or Create D64'. Type in the name of your new file. The name of the file will also be the label of the floppy directory.
The Action menu is dynamic, so make sure you are positioned on a location where you can actually create files, otherwise the option will not show up.

Conclusion

The files mentioned in this post are the ones you will work with the most, so it's good to know what each file is for and capable of. That's it for now. This post will be updated when I found out more about these files and their uses. 

Tata!

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