Exciting news on a number of things!

First of all, the DC2N4 low-cost boards were manufactured and shipped! Yay!

Unfortunately I haven’t received the Tiny C2N Monitor PCBs yet, which suggests it might be a while before the DC2N4 boards get to destination.
The reason is that Royal Mail is being more stupid and more rubbish than usual. Check it out for yourself:

2015-11-12 09:14:13
Thu
Swindon Mail Centre
Item scanned on its journey.
   2015-11-11 07:13:23
Wed
7007649900
Item has been included in a Royal Mail Sales Order.
   2015-11-11 07:02:58
Wed
Wallingford DO
Item re-routed to another Delivery Office.
   2015-11-10 23:04:41
Tue
Swindon Mail Centre
Item scanned on its journey.
   2015-11-10 02:56:29
Tue
Princess Royal Distribution Centre
Item scanned on its journey.

Next item in my news list is the hardware for IECHost: I am still experimenting on a tiny (tiny in terms of resources, not in size!) prototype but I will soon move to something that allows for more expansion. There is a possibility that DC2N5 and IEChost will end up using the same hardware (both the LPC based board and the STM32 based one).

Current IECHost hardware (previously used for 1541Host)

Current IECHost hardware (previously used for 1541Host)

After work today I quickly added the code to check the status of serial devices using IECHost:

st = 0;

if (device_number < 3)	/* Only serial bus devices are supported by this command */
	return IOERR_ILLEGAL_DEVICE_NO;

/* This has no real effect but is used to match "close" down below */
serialdevice_open(device_number, CHANNEL_CMD, NULL, &st);

serialdevice_read(device_number, CHANNEL_CMD, buff, sizeof buff, &br, &st);

serialdevice_close(device_number, CHANNEL_CMD, &st);

The above code (wrapped up in a single function, readily available to the user via the user API!) is functionally equivalent to the following BASIC program:

10 OPEN 15,8,15
20 INPUT#15,A,B$,C,D
30 CLOSE 15

When run on IECHost against my 1541-II (device 8), here’s what I get just after power-on and upon a second attempt:

>fs 8
73,CBM DOS V2.6 1541,00,00
>fs 8
00, OK,00,00
>

How cool is that? Well, not that cool to be honest, considering that this stuff has probably been done a number of times by other people so far. Of course I plan to add my own spin to the hardware and do a number of funny things, over the long term. As example:

  1. Upload drive code to the drive RAM for faster communication. I have been using Dreamload in my “D64 Dumper” tool for USBhost-64 but I am looking at other options in order to be able to support a wide range of IEC drives and support fast sector write back to disk;
  2. Have a PC GUI for controlling the device via USB. Pretty much something that looks like my own “D64 Browser” but is capable of retrieving a disk image from the drive connected to IECHost, which users can then work with;
  3. Add support for parallel interfaces used for nibbling purposes;

OK, there’s a lot at stake here but I hope I won’t be working alone on this once the user API is finished 🙂

As a bonus I plan to publish the IECHost code to read a sector using standard IEC communication at some point before next week. Not particularly useful as it takes about 0.53 seconds to transfer a sector across from a 1541-II with IECHost, but nonetheless quite interesting to illustrate how things work. Specifically, I will be showing the IECHost equivalent of something along the lines of the following BASIC program:

10 OPEN 15,8,15
20 OPEN 2,8,2,"#"
30 PRINT#15,"U1";2;0;T;S
40 FOR I=0 TO 255
50 GET#2,B$
60 A=ASC(B$+CHR$(0))
70 POKE BUFF+I,A
80 NEXT I
90 CLOSE 2
100 CLOSE 15

Stay tuned!

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