by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
In my last post and video, I shared my experience with the assembly and first use of a Commodore4Ever Pi1541 for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Not familiar with the device? Take look here for more information.
The Pi1541 turned out to be a great device; if you have a bunch of disk images laying around your computer. As I began to prepare for my next using the Commodore Plus/4 episode, it became evident that I needed a blank disk image so I could save and load my own basic program and application files. I wasn’t sure you could do this with the Pi1541 by itself, so I began to look for hints online. Turns out, you cannot. You need to do this on a computer using some software. In this post and the accompanying video, I share that process as well as some other tips.
NOTE: While this process focuses on the creation of a .d64 diskette image for the Pi1541, it turns out that this same process works for SD2IEC devices. I updated the title and the contents to reflect this use case.
In the video below, I share the content found in the blog post below.
Below are the links (#ad) mentioned in the video:
The process for creating a blank image utilizes the VICE (Versatile Commodore Emulator) emulator software. Installation of VICE varies by computer; however, I will run through the installation on a Linux distribution (Elementary OS). Check out the VICE download page for the many other versions available.
For Linux users, the most recent version of VICE should be ready to install from your distribution’s repositories. On my Elementary OS install (based on Ubuntu), it’s as simple as:
sudo apt updateand wait for the repository lists to update.
sudo apt install vice and a terminal message similar to the one below will appear:
Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done The following additional packages will be installed: libgtkglext1 libpangox-1.0-0 The following NEW packages will be installed: libgtkglext1 libpangox-1.0-0 vice 0 upgraded, 3 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded. Need to get 5,257 kB of archives. After this operation, 34.0 MB of additional disk space will be used. Do you want to continue? [Y/n]
yat the prompt and VICE will install.
For the Linux version, VICE will install several VICE launchers as shown in the image below:
While you can use this software to create your own .d64 diskette image, the software is also a whole lot of fun for on-the-go retro-computing on other devices; but that’s for another post. Let’s not get distracted and get back to the task at hand.
With VICE installed, create a diskette image using the following steps:
Start the VICE (C46) emulator on your computer. A screen similar to the one below will appear:
From the VICE menu, select File / Create and attach an empty disk image / Device #8. The following dialog box (or something similar), will appear:
NOTE: Type everything in lower case characters because they will be converted to upper-case when using on a Commodore computer or emulator. You can use other symbols, but I recommend you first take a look online at what symbols are allowed.
d64option (it will be the default).
LOAD "$",8and then
LIST), you can play around with the image on your computer before we transfer it to the Pi1541.
Now that the diskette image is created, let’s move it to the Pi1541.
Copy the newly created .d64 from the computer to the 1541 directory as shown in the image below:
With the image transferred, we can now use it on a Commodore 8-bit computer.
DIRECTORYcommands (depending on the Commodore computer you are using with the first option usable by all).
The directory listing will include the new .d64 image contents and it can now be used like a diskette inserted into a 1541 disk drive.
You could find a copy of a blank .d64 file online, download it, and then place it on the SD card; but where’s the fun, and learning, in that? Besides, now that you have the secret sauce, you can now easily add your own header text to the image and create other types of diskette or tape image files using the same process, but with different options. The fun is in the exploration.
I’d also like to point out that you can transfer a .d64 file between computers and devices. Want to code on your computer? Place the SD card from the Pi1541 or SD2IEC device into a computer, use VICE to code (using a modern keyboard and emulating any Commodore 8-bit you wish), save the program to the disk image, and then place it back into the Pi1541 (or SD2IEC) and try the program on an actual Commodore computer. It’s a great way to take your retro-computing hobby on the road with you! While you’re at it, load up the SD card with other programs and disk images and use the VICE IEC option to access them all (you are welcome for that extra tip and can Google that one!).
One last reminder. As I’ve learned over time, SD cards, can be fragile. Make sure you have many on hand (#ad) and back up your data regularly.
Know another way to create a .64 disk image? Have other tips and suggestions for me and the community? Well, why don’t you help make this post better! Leave your comments and thoughts below or in the comments under the YouTube video.
🕹️ retroCombs, OUT!