The vDriveQL delivers hardware emulation for up to eight Microdrives.Designed by Charlie Ingley, Ships from New Zealand
What is it? Delivers hardware emulation for up to eight Microdrives and includes a comprehensive toolkit for managing Microdrive cartridge images which are stored on SD Card. The vDriveQL simply co...Read More…
Delivers hardware emulation for up to eight Microdrives and includes a comprehensive toolkit for managing Microdrive cartridge images which are stored on SD Card. The vDriveQL simply connects to your QL’s external Microdrive bus and is accessed with the usual Microdrive commands. An existing Microdrive case is used to house the vDriveQL (check out the installation manual vDriveQL Hardware Installation).
The SD Card file system implementation is DOS based and is compatible with systems which can read or write to FAT16 or FAT32 media. The vDriveQL has been tested with SD Cards having a capacity of up to 32GB.
The vDriveQL adopts the MDV image format. This format is supported by emulators such as Q-emulator and QLAY. In general, images created with these emulators will be compatible with the vDriveQL and vice versa. MDV images can be formatted, saved to, read from and erased by standard QL commands on real QL hardware.
Other formats, such as the mDump archive format, and MDI, are also supported. They are automatically converted to MDV format prior to assigning to a vDrive.
As well as the standard 128K QL hardware with either the JM, JS or Minerva 1.97/1.98 ROM, the vDrive QL has also been tested on the following:
Miracle Systems Gold Card (including Tetroid’s clone)
Miracle Systems Super Gold Card
512K memory expansion cards
QL Trump Card (including clones)
vMapQL Microdrive Address Translator
Any combination of system firmware and peripheral listed above are supported. It is likely that many other peripheral cards will also be compatible but these haven’t been tested. The toolkit is compatible with Toolkit II and both extensions can be resident at the same time.
The User Manual is available for download here.
For greatest flexibility, the vDriveQL is best paired with the vMapQL Microdrive Address Translator. For more information on this versatile interface go the vMapQL product page (details here).
The Sinclair ZX81 was my first computer and was quickly followed by a Spectrum 48K (and much more recently, a QL). The technology was fascinating, very accessible, and provided a great training ground for the years that were to come.
When the Microdrives were announced I couldn’t wait to get hold of one (I only ever had one) and, contrary to their reputation, I found the combination of Interface 1 and Microdrive reliable and certainly cheaper than the alternatives of the day.
Sadly, time has taken its toll and although the drives themselves hold up well with a bit of care, the remaining cartridges will probably not see another decade or so out before they become unusable.
This is where the vDrive (Spectrum or QL version) comes in. As with other devices such as floppy emulators, the vDrive provides an analogue of the original hardware performance. I’ve resisted the urge to provide any kind of ‘turbo’ mode as there are a host of devices that already do this. The focus was on faithful emulation and compatibility.
The vDriveQL aims to take the hassle out using Microdrives and replicate what the original hardware set out to do.
The vDriveQL can also provide a simple way of preserving existing cartridge contents, ensuring that future cartridge wear and tear is kept to a minimum.
The result is a unique solution that will hopefully go some way to provide the original Microdrive experience for the QL.
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John | May 4, 2019
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