User avatar
Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Posted Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:27 pm

OK I have been using mostly my C64c for the past few years and my Amigas have been taking a back seat.

I love trying hardware out on the 64, it is part of the fun.

I have been aware of the Ultimate II+ for quite a while and have been wondering if I should just bite the bullet and buy one, even if it is not something I will use heavily. I have actually not talked to anyone about their experiences with it which is why I thought I would ask what people thought of it and if they would still buy it today based on their experience with it now.

So what are your thoughts? Is it a must have? What features do you use most? Pros and cons etc.


For a bit more background on me you should know first and foremost that I love using floppy disks. So I don't think I would use it as a floppy replacement full time. I have tons of disks and until they turn to dust I don't really see a time when I won't use them.

Here is some of the cartridges I already own, many of which I have owned since the 80's:
1764 REU (1 factory and 1 I upgraded to 512k.)
Fast Load (Bought this one when it came out, ok, ok my Dad bought it. 😉)
Action Replay V, Super Snapshot 4, 5.22, EasyFlash 3, Final Cartridge III, BackBit
uIEC/SD
WiModem, C64Nic+, C64Net Wifi Modem (Zimmers.net firmware)
Various other Speeder and utility carts

User avatar
intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:32 am

For me personally, the Ultimate1541 is the single greatest device currently made for the C64. Period.

I love it. And let me be clear. I have both the U1541 and U1541ii+. (By the way, I HATE their names especially when you include the Ultimate board. It's so damned confusing to just talk about.)

I got both because the original 1541ii puts serious stress on the DIN connector when you use the device with the C128D. The ii+ design purposely moved it further back to relieve some of that pressure.

But I love the ii's design more. It uses a tiny micro sd card, which a lot of people complained about being hard to remove. So it was swapped out with the 2+ in the form of USB ports. Whatever, I liked the streamlined look of the original.

Regardless, they work the same way.

Probably the hardest thing to get used to is the user interface. It's... not amazing. But after you use it for a few days it becomes second nature.

For games that require several disks or save disks, I'm old school and use my original disks. I use my original disks for *any* game I own, to be honest. I like using them, too.

But for all of the new stuff pouring out? I'll use the Uii every single time. No hesitation. Also, a lot of new games come packed with CRT files, which load almost instantly on the Ultimate.

Let me put it this way: If you have any intention of playing the jaw-dropping Eye of the Beholder for C64 later this year, you have to get an Ultimate or similar device. Its nearly unlimited storage was the only way to feasibly bring EotB to the C64.

It also has a ton of built-in cartridge ROMs (which to be completely honest I rarely take advantage of) and you can do all kinds of modifications to the SID settings. To be frank, there are so many settings that many of them feel created for hard core engineers and programmers; I leave most of them alone.

It also has integrated ethernet if you're lucky enough to have an connection near your C64 station. Member Bulletdust has been using this feature recently and raves about the speeds.

The 2+ even has a little speaker so you can hear the drive access, but I've never really been a fan of emulated disk drive sounds, personally.

Cons
It's right there in the name, but there is no direct support for 1571 or 1581 files. Adding that would be kick ass (and there are other products on the market that do support them). So when you do use the device with your C128, a lot of times you're going to probably find yourself in 64 mode.

Since you're using it with your 64C, that probably isn't a big deal. But if you wanted to write from a found .71 file to a real floppy, my recollection is it doesn't work.

So, as long as you stick to C64 stuff, you should be pretty happy.

Worth noting: when you plug it in it will be Device 8 by default unless you go in and change the settings. Personally I'd leave it that way. If you want to use real disks just unplug it. And if you ever want to write a disk image, you can change your real 1541 (or whatever) to Device 9 for that event. Once done, flip it back to 8.

I've moved my Ultimate to 9 before, but usually its an unnecessary PITA.

User avatar
Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Posted Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:25 pm

Awesome write up, intric8. I appreciate that.
I do have a flat 128 that I don't usually have plugged in and I wasn't aware that it worked with that, so thats cool. Does it work in C128 Mode?

For writing disks I usually just use either a ZoomFloppy + 1571 (great for .nib files) and sometimes my EasyFlash 3 via USB, which is probably the next fastest way to write out a .D64. (The first probably being a ZF+1571 while using NIBTools to write the .D64.
intric8 wrote:It's right there in the name, but there is no direct support for 1571 or 1581 files. Adding that would be kick ass (and there are other products on the market that do support them). So when you do use the device with your C128, a lot of times you're going to probably find yourself in 64 mode.
I did find this snippet while looking for the documentation:
https://github.com/GideonZ/1541u-docume ... ystems.rst
Which implies .D71 and D81 support but without documentation I don't know what that means.
intric8 wrote:The 2+ even has a little speaker so you can hear the drive access, but I've never really been a fan of emulated disk drive sounds, personally.
Yeah, I agree. If it is anything like the sounds in VICE on a macbook then I am not a fan as there is usually no depth to the tinny sounds that a piezo can make.

Thanks for the info, man! I am looking forward to checking it out.

User avatar
McTrinsic

Posted Tue Feb 04, 2020 2:43 pm

Is it an option to use a TurboChamaeleon with the Ultimate as a cart??

User avatar
Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Posted Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:08 am

Interesting stuff and the Turbo Chameleon is another that is on my list of curiosity. It seems to remove the 64 hardware out of the equation a lot more. Hence it can't run on a C128 like the U2+ can, but I digress.

So related for those that ordered a U2+, how long did it take you to receive it here in the USA? Did you buy it when it was in stock and did it ship not long after? Just curious on the time frames as the Ultimate 64 website doesn't mention anything about ship time or transit times.

User avatar
intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:14 am

how long did it take you to receive it here in the USA? Did you buy it when it was in stock and did it ship not long after?
It took quite a while. Maybe a few months? I think when I ordered mine the last time it was actually in-stock, but it still took a long time to get here.

The Ultimate64 board I ordered as pre-order, and that took a lot longer. You can always email Gideon and ask as he might be able to give a timeframe. There is also a Facebook Group all about the Ultimate(s). It's not the most helpful group on the net, but it's more than zero.

I grabbed 2 Turbo Chameleons last year: one for myself and one as a backup (I'm paranoid that way). I really got the TC purely for the accelerator. Playing Mario on a C64 with the TC is pure heaven. I think in the future more games will support that feature so for me it was somewhat of an investment for the future. I prefer the Ultimate overall, but the acceleration is pretty awesome in the rare chance it is utilized.

User avatar
Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Posted Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:56 am

Ok, Cool. Thanks for the heads up. Hopefully the in stock ones are shorter but it seems like a lot of the cool gadgets for our computers are made oversees which is a bummer for shipping to the USA.

User avatar
McTrinsic

Posted Fri Feb 07, 2020 4:49 pm

What I meant: is it possible to use the TC64 on the Ultimate that’s a replacement board (not the Ultimate as cartridge).

User avatar
Bulletdust

Posted Fri Feb 07, 2020 8:52 pm

I couldn't do without my 1541 Ultimate II+, quite simply the best peripheral ever designed for the C64 - Period.

User avatar
Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Posted Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:11 am

McTrinsic wrote: What I meant: is it possible to use the TC64 on the Ultimate that’s a replacement board (not the Ultimate as cartridge).
Interesting Idea. I don't have either of those but maybe someone has tried.

Thanks for all the comments. Should be getting one soon...





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