Before we get into the list of devices I am happy to offer to the public, I’d like to underline a few very important points:
- Each of my devices is not a commercial product but rather a craft work that I carry out for the benefit of those who are not comfortable with soldering, dremelling, programming for embedded systems and PC applications, etc. I am nowhere near mass-production capacity and I am not interested in that either.
- I cannot provide estimates about the waiting times as I craft my devices during my spare time, which varies a lot according to other commitments: this is not my full- or part-time job 🙂
- If people show a strong preference for fully built devices over DIY kits I reserve the right to bump up the price of such devices in an attempt to balance offer and demand and avoid being pestered by buyers.
- If anything is shown as sold out, it probably means I won’t be providing any more of it, unless there’s a strong demand that justifies further efforts: components sometimes become obsolete and need replacement – which requires extra work to set-up, configure, and work with; inflation makes components more expensive – which might require evaluating alternatives, etc.
- If the kits below are shown as not available it means that some of the parts have been ordered but not yet received.
- If the devices below are shown as not available it simply means new builds are not yet ready for sale, hence the price quoted is to be considered an estimate that I can change at my discretion, e.g. if the price of some part changes when ordering more of them.
- However, if you order a device when it is listed as available then the price that I advertise is the one you will be paying. This is the preferred route as it might be quite a while between people pre-ordering devices that are not available and myself finishing a build for them.
- My kits and devices come without any explicit or implied guarantee of being fit for any purpose. I describe here what I designed and/or built them for and you can be confident that they do what I say they do, however you are encouraged to assess every bit of information provided in order to understand whether they are suitable for your own needs. If in doubt just ask 🙂
That all said, if you are interested in one of my DIY kits or devices (and, even better, these are also listed as available) just get in touch with me through the contact form here.
Payments are exclusively in GBP through PayPal.
Payments through crypto currencies are welcome, albeit we will have to work out the details of the transfer as and when due.
It only makes sense to ask for the details of a payment once the device or kit you are ordering is available to ship and you’ve chosen whether the shipment should occur via standard airmail or courier. In the latter case you should also have got a rough idea of the shipping costs (see the Shipping section below).
For the shipment of my most expensive devices outside of the UK you might want to get a custom quote with a courier instead of standard airmail as the latter gets overly expensive for my most expensive devices (cost is based on the declared content value and therefore cover for loss/damage).
In the past I used a broker service but I am not recommending any specific courier. You can get an estimate with them by choosing a volume of 15 cm by 15 cm by 10 cm and 0.3 kg. Don’t forget to double check that the service you get a quote for:
- offers an adequate cover in case of loss or damage, and
- delivers to residential addresses, should you require that.
Supporting firmware and software
When you receive one of my devices or kits you should expect that the micro-controllers are pre-programmed and that all the details of the PC-side software will be provided to you via email upon confirming your order. You should also expect to be able to find the latest stable releases of the software in my software page.
DC2N comes in different forms and with different features, which also means a wide price range. The sections below outline the feature set for each line that is (or has recently been) for sale.
DC2N2-mini (128k version)
This device can be used for three purposes:
- make backups of PET, Commodore 64/128, VIC20, C16/+4, Spectrum, BBC, MSX, and Spectravideo tapes (including using both signal edges, a.k.a. halfwaves);
- record from a PET, C64/128, VIC20 (with a third party adapter C16 is supported as well); and
- playback v0, v1, and v2 TAP files to PET, C64/128, VIC20 (with a third party adapter C16 is supported as well, which is the one that would benefit from the support of v2 TAP files).
DC2N2 uses micro SDHC cards as storage medium and provides a character LED interface.
A regulated +5V DC power supply, capable of providing at least 1A, is required in order to power the device, the cassette player and its motor when making tape backups. The power supply has to terminate with a 2.1 mm (inner)/5.5 mm (outer) DC plug. The inner part has to be +5V, the outer one GND.
A 20mm coin cell battery (e.g. LIR2032) can be used to hold the current date/time so that files written to the micro SDHC card are stamped accordingly.
Who is DC2N2 suitable for? Anybody willing to backup tapes AND playback TAP files into their Commodore home-computer.
If you are into soldering and don’t mind putting together a suitable case for DC2N2-mini, here’s what might interest you:
For a fully built DC2N2-mini provided in its blue enclosure (costing me £5.99 + VAT) here’s what you’d be paying instead:
DC2N3 (128k version)
DC2N3 is a backup-only solution that creates PET, Commodore 64, VIC20, Commodore 16/+4, Spectrum, BBC, MSX, and Spectravideo tape backups on USB flash-drives.
Although the functionality to playback tape images into supported Commodore home-computers was developed, it is not practical to fit the tape port connector on the current assembly so that feature is not available.
DC2N3 also provides a very useful TFT display for monitoring the signal coming from a Commodore 1530 (or compatible tape player) thus allowing precise and effective read head (azimuth) alignment.
Additionally, DC2N3 includes a battery backed RTC module for tracking date and time in order to write files to the USB flash-disk with a current creation date. The provided coin cell battery is rechargeable and should last for quite a while.
Finally DC2N3 provides a custom boot-loader that I wrote myself in order to update the DC2N3 firmware in the field from a USB flash-drive so that users can benefit from updates that add new features or fix issues they might find.
A regulated +5V DC power supply, capable of providing at least 400 mA, is required in order to power the device, the cassette player and its motor. The power supply has to terminate with a 2.1 mm (inner)/5.5 mm (outer) DC plug. The inner part has to be +5V, the outer one GND.
Who is DC2N3 suitable for? Well, this is an old-school (pre-Arduino) piece of kit built using expensive breakout modules (e.g. the USB host alone costs me £17), packed with features, beautifully designed, and assembled by hand. Thus it comes at a high price but it is essentially going to be a collectible item in the long run, also due to the low volume of units produced. Therefore DC2N3 would be a recommended acquisition for retro hardware and/or tape collectors.
DC2N4-LC is a backup-only solution that creates PET, Commodore 64, VIC20, Commodore 16/+4, Spectrum, BBC, MSX, and Spectravideo tape backups on PCs running Windows or Linux (OS X might follow if I manage to access a suitable build environment).
DC2N4-LC connects to a PC via a USB serial connection and the tape backup process is handled via either a console or a GUI application.
A regulated +5V DC power supply, capable of providing at least 200 mA, is required in order to power the cassette player and its motor. The power supply has to terminate with a 2.1 mm (inner)/5.5 mm (outer) DC plug. The inner part has to be +5V, the outer one GND.
Who is DC2N4-LC suitable for? Well, it’s suitable for users across the whole spectrum. I’ve taken away most of what I could so that this is a minimal backup system that comes at a decent price, despite being built by hand. On one end of the spectrum, those who only have a few tapes to backup and are on a budget, would ideally go for a DC2N4-LC. On the other end of the spectrum, collectors with a vast amount of tapes to backup, would definitely go for a DC2N4-LC as it streamlines the process greatly, allowing users to name, organize, and test files at the instant they are produced: In this way there is no need to come back on a tape at a later time, thus saving a huge amount of time in presence of a vast collection.
DC2N5-LC is the last member of the DC2N family, based on a 32-bit ARM MCU, and is a low-cost alternative to DC2N version 2.
This device can be used for a number of purposes:
- make backups of PET, Commodore 64/128, Vic20, C16/+4, Spectrum, BBC, MSX, and Spectravideo tapes (including using both signal edges, a.k.a. halfwaves);
- record from a PET, C64/128, VIC20 (with a third party adapter C16 is supported as well);
- playback v0, v1, and v2 TAP files to PET, C64/128, VIC20 with support for IDX files (using a third party adapter C16 is supported as well, which is the one that would benefit from the support of v2 TAP files);
- playback PRG files using either the CBM ROM or Turbo Tape 250 encoding;
- read 30-column TXT files (e.g. software instructions).
DC2N5 uses a micro SDHC card as storage medium and provides a wide TFT display useful for monitoring the signal coming from a Commodore 1530 (or compatible tape player) thus allowing precise and effective read head (azimuth) alignment.
A regulated +5V DC power supply, capable of providing at least 300 mA, is required in order to power the device, the cassette player and its motor when making tape backups. The power supply has to terminate with a 2.1 mm (inner)/5.5 mm (outer) DC plug. The inner part has to be +5V, the outer one GND.
A 12mm coin cell battery (e.g. CR1225) can be used to hold the current date/time so that files written to the micro SDHC card are stamped accordingly.
Who is DC2N5-LC suitable for? Anybody willing to backup tapes AND playback TAP/PRG files into their Commodore home-computer.
If you are into soldering and don’t mind putting together a suitable case for DC2N5-LC, here’s what might interest you:
For a fully built DC2N5-LC provided in its blue enclosure (costing me £6.88 + VAT + shipping) here’s what you’d be paying instead:
This device connects to a Commodore 64/VIC 20 tape port and to a PC through a USB cable. It offers two modes of operation:
- playback a TAP file (version 0, 1, or 2) from a PC into a C64/VIC20, optionally through the use of IDX files;
- record the tape write signal from a C64/VIC20 to a DMP file on a PC (optional feature, not provided by default but free of charge nonetheless).
C16 is supported as well by means of a third-party adapter, which I won’t be supplying myself.
Unlike audio equivalents, this device fully supports the motor signal, which is not just fundamental at the “FOUND” message or at a Credits screen. There are a number of games whose tape loader requires data playback to stop for a fairly large amount of time at given points: this device takes care of that, without manual intervention.
Tiny C2N Monitor
Those who have been following my blog know that this is a little device that sits between a C2N and either a C64 or DC2N (depending on the DC2N build you got you might have to cut the sides of the blue tape connector) and ‘spoofs’ the signal coming from a tape being played back, displaying it on a TFT display (included within the kit).
As part of the spoofing process this device is also capable of intercepting “CBM ROM” and “TutboTape 250” file names upon detecting the relevant signal. Any intercepted file name is shown on the display as well.
All electronic components are from Farnell UK and the PCB has a gold finish. This is not a big scale project: Components and PCBs for just 10 kits were ordered, hence the somewhat higher-than-expected price.
Note on assembling the device if you buy a DIY kit: Users are required to confirm the orientation of the two tantalum (polarized) capacitors before powering up the device. There’s a dark mark on one end of these capacitors that MUST face the integrated circuits (U1 and U2) in both cases. Mounting this component the wrong way around will result in a device that might work for a while but the capacitor closer to the blue tape port connector will eventually blow up and possibly short the 5V supply rail of the C64 to GND.
The assembly process I use is illustrated in this blog post.
The following option is also available:
IECHost DIY kit
IECHost is an IEC bus master that can control Commodore drives such as the 1541 and 1541-II, and possibly other Commodore devices interfaced via the IEC bus such as printers and plotters.
Current features include (durations were measured using the IECHost GUI client for Windows and might be different for other OSes):
- 35/40 track fast DOS disk imaging (23 seconds, for 35-track disks) and restoration (36 seconds, ditto) for 1541 drives and compatible
- file exporting and importing for any IEC drive
- disk validation and formatting for any IEC drive
- 35/40 track fast DOS disk formatting (19 seconds, ditto) for 1541 drives and compatible
The following option is also available: