Instant loading on Amstrad CPC(464)

Gotek drives are getting popular. It’s just floppy drives emulators used in vintage computers, ideal for instruments that use floppy disk or even legacy industrial computers. Of course, retro computers.

In fact, we recently installed a Gotek in our new Amiga 500!

But regarding the Amstrad CPC, exists a gadget that Greek enthusiast ikonsgr has built thanks to his electronics knowledge and love to retrocomputing stuff and is promised to be a better solution than the Gotek.

It’s the USIfAC II (Universal Serial Interface for Amstrad CPC II)

This board can do many things, but the most remarcable is the almost-instant loading of games into your old CPC.

* Receive buffer of 3100bytes (~3,5times than of previous interface)

* Serial port speeds of up to 1.065.000bps!

* Full 16bit address decoding,

* AMSDOS and PARADOS ROM emulation,

* 765 Floppy Disk Controller emulation,

* Use a Usb storage device, by utilizing a cheap CH376 usb host module,

* Many RSX commands that offer full access of PC Hard Drive or a usb storage drive, for change/create/delete directories and load/save/delete programs/games (even Ascii files)!

* Incredible loading speeds of up to ~30kb/sec (more than 6-7 times faster ,than a usual speed of a gotek/floppy disk drive)!

* Full read/write access of DSK images of  both AMSODS and PARADOS  formats!

* Access up to four DSK images and choose them “on the fly”, to support all multi-image Games!

* Load SNA snapshot files!

* Extra RSX commands to copy files from/to floppy disks,transfer DSK images to floppy disks, and quick Format disks!

* 1kb EEPROM for use as extra memory or for storing/executing your own routines.

* Includes 3 classic games, GALACHIP, PACMAN and KILLER GORILLA!

* Equipped with a reset button and a Pause switch!

Full USIfAC II features

I have a CPC464 (with the audio-loading mod) and works fine, but it’s very time-consuming (same time as a real tape). When you are young, no matters the time you spend loading tapes. When you are at mid-age, time is gold!

So, this board is a must-have for every Amstrad CPC user.

The board has a quick how-to that you should learn first, but when you have the steps in mind, you will be loading your favourite games really quick:

Astrocop game loading within 10 seconds

You can buy the board directly from Ikonsgr for 24 to 29€, a very great price for its value.

The game I used for the loading demonstration is Astrocop by Mananuk, a game published just this year 2022!

I love to see that enthusiasts use their spare time to code brand-new games, software or even hardware to bring our old retro computers back to life!

More stuff from Ikonsgr

Check out other stuff from him at his web:

http://retroworkbench.blogspot.com/

In addition to this board, he has designed another board that will expand your CPC464 to a CPC6128:

Board would be especially useful for Amstrad CPC 464, as it will, not only allow to run games that require 128k Ram, but also, using the special “Dual mode”, you will have amsdos/parados rom (for fast access of dsk image files, like with CPC6128) or CPC6128 firmware+Basic (to use all new features and conveniences of CPC6128  BASIC 1.1), along with 256K Memory expansion!

29 euros extension card for Amstrad CPC from Ikonsgr

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