What is a (1541) Ultimate-II cartridge?  If you are unfamiliar, read the introduction here.

 

2018-05-08: Due to the new law "General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)", in Dutch known as the AVG, all user data will soon be deleted from this website. This website does not have SSL, which is one of the requirements to comply with GDPR.  The deletion of data includes old orders, but also user registrations. This means that the Forum on this website will become read-only. I foresee that not too long after, this website will close altogether, and all activity will be moved to "ultimate64.com", and possibly another "clean and safe" location.

2018-02-11: Firmware Version V3.2 released. See here.

2018-01-02: New Website is up and running... It does not yet have a forum and download section, but new orders can be placed there. See ultimate64.com.

2017-10-21: Demonstration of the ULTIMATE-64 prototype at the HCC Commodore User Group meeting in Maarssen (NL).

2017-10-06: Showed the ULTIMATE-64 at ZooParty in Viiala, Finland... The guys were happy. :)

2017-07-12: Official announcement of the ULTIMATE-64.. Read more about the Ultimate64 here!

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Fate of time - The story

Since the end of 2015, it became clear that the "good old" 1541 Ultimate-II was at the end of its life cycle. Xilinx, the manufacturer of the most important chip of the cartridge, had started to increase the prices of the chip. Also the memory chip started to be harder to get and at higher cost. When the news came that the company that made the black plastic cases for the 1541 Ultimate-II had lost the injection mold tool, it became evident that the 1541 Ultimate-II would be no more.

I have given it some thought. What would be the best way to continue with this project? When the feelings of being upset about the lost injection tool had subsided, I realized that this may be the perfect moment for an upgrade. This is when set backs change into opportunity.

Since then, a lot of work, and I really mean A LOT OF WORK has been done to create a successor: the "Ultimate-II+".  Why not "III", you may ask or think. Well, the foremost reason is the software. The install base of the "1541 Ultimate-II" is rather large (>3000 units), and I do not want to let my customers down that have just purchased a unit. This means that in case of new hardware, the same software should run on both the new board, as well as on the older board. So, the new board will offer similar functionality. You could see it just as an upgrade, not an entirely new product.

Although the "Ultimate-II+" is similar, there are also differences:

  • No more MicroSD!  (... that needs to be pushed in with something sharp, could fall into the case, ... etc)
  • More USB ports (... one to compensate for the lost SD, and just one bonus: 3 in total)
  • IEC connector moved (... further back to facilitate use on some C128 models)
  • Integrated Ethernet (... no more need for an external USB2LAN adapter, and a smaller step to CS8900A compatibility)
  • Dual Flash (... no more worry that a software bug or upgrade failure leads to a bricked device)
  • Integrated Speaker (... who connects a speaker set to the audio jack for hearing drive sounds??)
  • External power supply connector with auto-switch over circuit (... for stand alone mode, and to lower the demand on the power supply of the C64)
  • Improved Audio (... audio codec, 24 bit/96 kHz*, for sampled sounds and SID emulation)
  • Improved Tape connector (... no more custom board and able that snaps in on the bottom, but standard USB 3.0 cable)
  • Improved power supply circuits (... for some reason they seemed to break down relatively often)
  • Slightly bigger and faster FPGA, as to control the new features

 

Sounds good?  I think so, too!

 

 

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For backing up your floppies, also have a look at KryoFlux USB Floppy Controller

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KryoFlux is able to read Commodore floppies and create .D64 files. And of course, these work well with the 1541 Ultimates!