It seems useful to me to be able to transfer games, programs or utilities from my PC to the Commodore and vice versa. For this I bought a emulator floppy SD2IEC for Commodore 64. I found and purchased on eBay an SD2IEC emulator, including microSD and thousands of programs and video games, both for Commodore 64 and for other Commodore I own.
Connecting the SD2IEC floppy emulator for Commodore 64
I chose the SD2IEC floppy emulator for Commodore 64, rather than the Tapuino datassette emulator, because it is faster. I also find it easier to find .PRG or .D64 files on the net. These files are in fact supported by the SD2IEC floppy emulator, while the Tapuino datassette emulator uses .TAP files.
The emulator I purchased on eBay connects to the Commodore 64 via two connectors:
- the IEC serial port;
- the connector for the C2N / 1530 datassette.
The data obviously passes only through the IEC serial port, while the datassette connector is used to power the floppy emulator 1541 SD2IEC.
In addition to the two connectors described above, the emulator is also equipped with a third connector, an IEC serial port to connect a 1541 floppy disc drive. This connector can be useful for copying old files already present on the floppy disc to microSD or vice versa. Precisely for this reason, using the dip switches, I set the address of the emulator to 9 (while, in the disc drive, the address is 8).
The Epyx FastLoad interface
In addition to the SD2IEC floppy emulator for Commodore 64, I also purchased aEpyx FastLoad interface. This interface connects to the expansion port of the C64 and is used to speed up uploads from the floppy disc drive and also from the SD2IEC emulator.
I also have a FastLoad interface from the time, a DATEL Action Replay from 1988, but SD2IEC emulators seem to only support modern FastLoads.
Test of the SD2IEC floppy emulator for Commodore 64
As I expected, the emulator immediately worked correctly. The only drawback of the version I purchased is in the case, which is printed with a 3D printer. Unfortunately, it is a bit too wide and the data cassette connector slides right on the edge, without the possibility of being inserted completely.
The SD2IEC emulator is already complete with a microSD card, containing over 3GB of files, including games, applications and utilities for:
- Commodore VIC-20;
- Commodore 64;
- Commodore 16, Plus/4;
- Commodore 128.
To load the browser file, useful for navigating through the microSD folders, you need to type the following commands:
After starting the file browser, you can then see the files contained in the various folders of the microSD.
It is also possible to use a PC to insert new .PRG and .D64 files into the microSD, to then load them and use them with the Commodore 64.
Experiment with DATEL FastLoad and Action Replay
Although it is not supported, I still wanted to try connecting the 1988 FastLoad Datel Action Replay V5.1A cartridge to the Commodore 64, in an attempt to use it with the SD2IEC emulator. As I expected, the file upload speed hasn't improved with the old FastLoad.
The Datel interface is also equipped with Action Replay, which is used to copy the Commodore memory image to file. I then tried to load a game, freeze it with Action Replay and successfully save it to a .PRG file. It is also possible to load games from C2N / 1530 datassettes, and then freeze them and save them to files, thus having them available on the microSD for quick loading.
The only precaution is to save the file using the C: disk save option – standard. In fact, I tried to save the memory image with option A (turbo), but it didn't work.
Data loading speed
Here are some numbers, related to the loading speed of a game (KickStart 2). The game file is approximately 29KB in size.
The C2N / 1530 datassette has a data transfer rate of approximately 50 bytes per second. It takes 580 seconds to load this game (almost 10 minutes!).
The floppy disc 1541 and the SD2IEC emulator they provide a standard data transfer rate of approximately 300 bytes per second. It actually took about 55 seconds to load, so in my case, the data transfer rate was over 500 bytes per second.
Finally, with theEpyx FastLoad interface installed, loading with the SD2IEC emulator took only 5 seconds! Data transfer was 10 times faster with FastLoad installed, settling at 5800 bytes per second.