DC2N by Luigi Di Fraia DC2N - a tape preservation device for Commodore and Sinclair homecomputers

Media files Ordering PC Software FAQ Technical
DC2N navigation pane by Luigi Di Fraia
DC2N stands for Dumping C2N and it's a preservation device that lets its users dump (ie. make a digital backup of) real PET, VIC20, C16/+4, and C64-tapes directly to a flash-card without the interference of the operating system or filesystem of the host computer.

DC2N can also be connected to various Commodore homecomputers (C64, VIC 20, PET) and emulate a tape drive, the so-called datassette.

Finally, DC2N incorporates a tape duplicator that lets people save TAP files back to tapes using a datassette (this feature has been withdrawn to avoid tape forgery).

I chose to use SD/SDHC cards as storage media. This implies many advantages: compactness, low-power consumption, and an almost endless time of operation, just to name a few.

Before asking questions, please be sure to read the ordering, FAQ, and technical information sections. Thank you!

Feature Available?
Load TAP version 0 and 1 files from SD/SDHC Card to C64/VIC20/PET Checked
Load multiload/multiside games & programs Checked
Record data from C64, VIC20, and PET to SD/SDHC Card Checked
Dump C16/+4, C64, VIC20, and PET tapes from 1530 to SD/SDHC Card Checked
Set/reset restore point for zero counter/rewind scenarios Checked
Motor signal handling Checked
Counter & counter reset button Checked
SAVE LED Checked
Monitor data while dumping (example) Checked

Change log Date
Update firmware from SD card [NOTE: only for new devices as this is a
bootloader update that requires a microprocessor programmer]
Support for C16/+4 tapes that require recording 0-states and 1-states
individually via DMP version 1 (same as MTap's half-waves)
Reset count for filename generation, thus starting back from DUMP0001.DMP 13-Feb-2011
Store tape position upon counter reset/rewind to stored position 09-Feb-2011
Support for SDHC (FAT16 partitions for now) 23-Oct-2010
Select platform (C64/VIC20/C16) when dumping a tape 04-Aug-2010
Select platform (C64/VIC20) when dumping a tape 20-Mar-2010
Support for playback of TAP version 1 15-Mar-2010
Can now mount filesystem even if there's no MBR on SD Card 25-Feb-2010
Key repeat is now available while browsing SD Card contents 20-Dec-2009
After ejecting a TAP file, selection resumes from that TAP 12-Dec-2009

Change requests Submitter Status
Support for Spectrum tapes MC BETA
Support for playback of DC2N DMP files LDF TESTING
Support for FAT32 Several TESTING
Support for slower SD cards Several BETA

When used as a datassette replacement, connected to the tape port of a Commodore computer, the DC2N can play back tape images that are stored on a flash card. In this mode of operation, the DC2N draws the power it requires directly from the Commodore computer it's connected to.
DC2N supports the FAT-16 file system and for playback purposes it reads files in TAP format.
A TAP file to play is selected by means of the LCD and pushbuttons on the DC2N device. Once a valid file has been selected, it can be played back by DC2N by pressing the PLAY pushbutton. Any tape loader is fully supported, including multiloaded tape programs. DC2N also features a FFWD function and the LCD shows a counter that comes handy when it is needed to seek any program on a multi-program TAP file.

For recording purposes a different file format, the DC2N DMP format, is used to save data to the flash card. This format has been defined by myself to allow an accurate representation of the data that is being saved. Its description can be found here.
I also wrote multiplatform PC tools that allow easy conversion between the DC2N format and the TAP one. These are available here.

When used as a dumping system, an external PSU is required to power DC2N: thus DC2N becomes a standalone device and must NOT be connected to any Commodore computer. In this mode of operation the DC2N format is used to store the tape contents on the flash card while it is being played by a 1530 tape drive connected to the DC2N.

What DC2N users say about it:

My goodness the device is workiking:-) I cant believe it. Brilliant. I had some old tapes I had converted to tap files the origionals had been damaged now or cant be read they are loading up and I can play them this is so cool Wow the counter works and the reset! this is excellent i am so excited (no realy i am!)

The device is exactly what i wanted for many years I was told that it was impossible to make such a unit.

...it was noted that the device was very well executed in its contruction and we all played games loaded from SD card.

I have managed to dump two originals, and have tested to convert them to .tap. Works perfectly. This is the greatest device ever... only some 998 originals left to dump! :-)

I have received a DC2N from Luigi, and it is everything I hoped it to be - and more. What a splendid piece of equipment this is! I am currently in the process of dumping my tape collection for preservation purposes. [...] Thanks again Luigi for mad skills and generous help in this matter!

Wow, that is truly amazing. Very, very impressive piece of hardware.

I am right now watching the Vice emulator cyberload the last ninja from the image I just dumped and converted. This is going to be a lot of fun :)

The DC2N is a fantastic bit of kit. I had no problems getting up and running with some suitable .tap files. I created a few of my own and also got a few from the internet. The internet ones had to be converted to type 0 but with the support of Luigi's website and the tools available for download there this was no problem. The first one I loaded was LOCO and this worked with no problems at all. I have since worked with over 100 .tap files and have had no problems. I must admit I really enjoy the tape loading and hearing those great loading tunes again. Real nostalgic stuff. If you are into real C64's and can get hold of one of these great devices then go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

The DC2N is very well built, does exactly what it says on the website and is surprisingly easy to use. A must for anyone serious about preserving his collection of C64 tapes! I especially like it has a LCD screen so you can see what it's doing and the very good, consistent quality of the playback of tape images to the C64.

Massi cadenti:
DC2N is simply the best solution for dumping Commodore (and not only :D) tapes. In fact, I've also outlined a process for dumping Spectrum tapes using off-the-shelf DC2N and C2N ("Metodo Massi Spectrum"!)
Just insert the tape into C2N, press REC on DC2N, select the machine type, and press play on C2N.
Not just that: it can also be used as a C2N replacement with C64 and VIC20, great for reading the TAP files downloaded from the net.
I'm absolutely happy with the DC2N, which as of now supports halfwaves for dumping C16/+4 tapes too (thank you so much Luigi for implementing this feature upon my request).
I've about 500+ tapes to dump (yes, MORE THAN FIVE HUNDRED with data on both sides...:D) and now I can do it without problems.
If you have any doubt about DC2N, don't hesitate any longer. DC2N is GREAT. :-)

Many thanks to the people who supported this project: Robert 'Peepo' Taylor (building, ordering, testing, and plenty more stuff), Bo Gøran Kvamme & Francis Rath (board prototypes), Tom Roger Skauen (testing, bugreport, & suggestions), Martin 'enthusi' Wendt (support), Fungus (ideas & support), Lars Pontoppidan (ideas), Romeo Cane (components), Nicolas 'X1541' Welte (info about tape port connectors), Richard Lagendijk, Ron van Schaik, & Fabrizio Gennari (HCC show in Holland), Nigel Parker (Commodore Free articles), and all the people who gave feedback as well.


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