It’s a sad fact that, as technology marches forward, it affects even retro enthusiasts. For years, Commodore users have archived their personal disk collections using the ubiquitous “Star Commander” and some variant of the venerable “X-1541” adapter to connect IEC-based disk drives to the PC. As parallel ports have changed through the years, designers have adapted the X-1541 design to keep up. But, with the advent of the USB port, parallel ports have all but disappeared from the marketplace. The inherent design of the X1541-style cables cannot overcome the loss of a connection to the computer!
A few years ago, Till Harbaum created the XU1541 project, designed to connect via a USB port on newer machines. However, the project was eventually cancelled, with development efforts stalled.
Nate Lawson decided to do something about that. Taking a cue from the XU1541 design and identifying its shortcomings, Nate started working on a new implementation using a hardware USB-based Atmel AVR microcontroller via a Bumble B Mini USB Development Board. I got involved in March, when Nate asked if I would be interested in helping with the PCB design. Though initial ideas were to simply build a base for the Bumble-B, cost analysis led us to simply design the Bumble B functionality into a specific-use board.
Though my recent relocation hindered the timeline, I am excited to now announce the upcoming sales of the ZoomFloppy Commodore Drive USB Adapter. The schematic is finalized, board design is nearly complete. Nate presented details on the device at the recent Chicago ECCC show, outlining the many features of the new device on his web site, including his ECCC presentation.