Mini 1541 SD drive

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Chip Hageman's picture

Here's an interesting item that was just posted on the Commodore Server user blogs.. a member named Rik Magers recently picked up one of Jim Brain's uIEC flash drives for the Commodore 64. He took things a step farther when he noticed that the alarm box for his door actually resembled a miniature CBM 1541 disk drive.

So whats a geek to do? Well, sacrifice the poor defenseless alarm sensor in order to bring back some long lost computing memories, of course! Nostalgia is a powerful motivator. The recent passing of such luminaries as Steve Jobs perhaps makes us cling to the these early memories of computing nirvana even more tightly than we normally do.

Still.. all things said and done. Kind of pointless, yet very cool.

Kudos Rik!

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Aw, this is so cute! :) It's

Aw, this is so cute! :)

It's got me thinking what other little devices I have around would make good fodder for nostalgic themes. I don't really use thumb drives much, but that's a clear market for making things look like retro stuff.

I also had a thought that the brick power supply of the old Commodore 64 is probably big enough to house an entire PC nowadays.

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Chip Hageman
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Flash drive hack
Matt Barton wrote:

I also had a thought that the brick power supply of the old Commodore 64 is probably big enough to house an entire PC nowadays.

Speaking of which, mine just went. :(

Yeah, thumbdrive hacking has been going on for quite a few years. Maybe pop the guts of a USB drive into a 3.5" floppy sleeve and rig the attachment socket to the inside of a CBM 1581 (3.5" drive). It would probably be a bit bulky, but they are making those drives pretty small these days.

Case in point.

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Rampant Coyote (not verified)
Maybe that's the definition

Maybe that's the definition of art: Something pointless on its own, but evoking an emotional response from its audience.

Although I must admit that the nostalgia of the 1541 drive gives me a mixed emotional response. On the one hand - the C-64 was the source of many, many awesome memories. On the other --- I still feel the frustration of how incredibly slow that sucker was. Decades later.

Chip Hageman
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1541
Rampant Coyote wrote:

Although I must admit that the nostalgia of the 1541 drive gives me a mixed emotional response. On the one hand - the C-64 was the source of many, many awesome memories. On the other --- I still feel the frustration of how incredibly slow that sucker was. Decades later.

Yeah the 1541 was one of the most annoying pieces of equipment I've ever owned. Mine actually was open most of the time.. I needed to tape a penny to the drive head or it wouldn't track correctly... and if you forgot to take the disk out of the drive before you turned it off.... bye bye disk. :)

In hindsight, I probably had a bad filter cap.

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Matt Barton
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I never like disk drives. I

I never like disk drives. I worked in a lab and man, those things were constantly screwing up. Read/write error; oops, there goes all your papers. Some people were silly enough to use one disk all throughout college (or try to, anyway).

I don't know if thumb drives are comparably more reliable...I tend to save everything online nowadays, at least stuff that's critical.

People say the 1541 was loud, but I didn't have much to compare it, too. The only problem I had with mine was that a pin would work itself loose from time to time, and I'd have to open it up and use a pair of tweezers to put it back in.

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Rowdy Rob
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I heard the 1541 was slow, but powerful!
Matt Barton wrote:

People say the 1541 was loud, but I didn't have much to compare it, too. The only problem I had with mine was that a pin would work itself loose from time to time, and I'd have to open it up and use a pair of tweezers to put it back in.

As an Atari 8-bit user at the time, my impression of the 1541 was that it was extremely slow! It seemed more comparable to my Atari cassette drive than my Atari 1050 disk drive, speed-wise. Granted, I witnessed this speed issue early in the C64's life, so I understand that they released "Fastload" mods and code to fix this later on.

I had an Atari 810 disk drive, and it was quite bulky, but I never had an issue with it. Then I upgraded to the 1050 drive, and it was smaller, sleeker, and was able to write more data per floppy. It was an excellent drive. I was also quite satisfied with the Atari DOS at the time.

Speed issues aside, I recall reading about how advanced the Commodore 1541 drive was, how it was practically a full computer in and of itself!

Chip Hageman
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1541
Rowdy Rob wrote:

As an Atari 8-bit user at the time, my impression of the 1541 was that it was extremely slow! It seemed more comparable to my Atari cassette drive than my Atari 1050 disk drive, speed-wise. Granted, I witnessed this speed issue early in the C64's life, so I understand that they released "Fastload" mods and code to fix this later on.

Oddly enough, the problem was not the drive. It was actually a bug in the I/O system of the C64. They didn't change the C64 for fear of causing incompatibilities between versions. Ultimately, the workaround for the problem caused the c64 to be able to at least _use_ the disk drive.. but they passed the data in some convoluted way that took forever.

Later on, some enterprising hackers found a more efficient I/O workaround.. and that lead to the various fastload cartridges and software routines that were floating around.

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
C-64 drive speed workarounds

Yeah, the software or cartridge-based fast-loads were only marginally faster. They were worth it, but still didn't put the C-64's disk drive in the class of just about any other disk drive in terms of speed. Hardware-based mods like JiffyDOS were significantly better, but the cost and hardware hacking skills weren't for everyone. I've never timed it (the only JiffyDOS system I have is a C-128DCR), but even with JiffyDOS I still don't think it was as fast as say, an Apple II disk drive or a Coleco Adam disk drive.

Naturally, the C-64's biggest strength was bang for the buck. We got one of the cheapest systems available, yet it was still as capable or more capable than other systems out there. For that, we'd certainly put up with the pokey disk drive...

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