Sunday, 24 July 2016

VIC20 Penultimate Cartridge Preorder

I'm pleased to announce the VIC20 Penultimate Cartridge I have been working on is now going into production by www.thefuturewas8bit.com. Like the nicely cased SD2IEC they produce, the VIC20 Penultimate Cartridge is also going to have a custom case.
Taking styling cues from both the VIC20 and later Commodore 64 cartridge designs, it's going to look fantastic. The label is only on the top half of the case, so you can read it when it is inserted, unlike the original VIC20 cartridges, where you have to remove them to read the title. And let's face it, when this is installed, you're never going to want to remove it.
The colour should be close to that of the brown VIC20 utility cartridges, the thinking being that although VIC20 cases vary from bleached retrobrite white through to smokers teeth yellow, the keyboards are all still brown.
This case has been designed to accept standard VIC20 boards, including my current Penultimate Cartridge boards.
There are two buttons on the new case, so a new space invader shaped board has been designed. Rather than the section sticking out of the top, there are wings on the side with buttons for 'menu' and 'reset' in the corners.
The firmware is now at revision 5.0a, and includes 43 ROM titles, selectable via keyboard or joystick.
Included on there are text adventure cartridges which used to need the user to type 'SYS 32592' to start them. This has been automated, so they will run automatically.
From this menu you can also set common RAM sizes to exit to BASIC, or load a file browser from disk, ideally suited to loading FB20-8K from an SD2IEC. Block 5 RAM is cleared whenever it is used, to avoid auto starting anything you had previously loaded into there.
There is also an advanced menu where you can select which blocks of RAM to populate to suit any programs with particular requirements from 0K through to 35K.
The VIC20 Penultimate Cartridge is available to pre-order now from www.thefuturewas8bit.com. Or if you prefer, buy an uncased version now (while stocks last).

UPDATE: I've updated the firmware to V5.0c, and added a user guide and a few more ROMs

UPDATE: Great video review from GadgetUK164