Category: 8bit

Notes on Floppy Disks

Posted by André on 2019-01-02.

Floppy disks are a thing of the past. Except if you’re in retrocomputing like I am. Recently I had to repair an old, vintage Commodore Floppy Disk drive due to leaking electrolytic capacitors. It was a dual drive and when re-assembling it I found that one of the drives had one head with a high error rate. But when I tried to read up on floppy drive theory and operation, I found it unbelievably hard to find anything useful on the web. So here are my notes of what I found.

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The anatomy of a microbenchmark

Posted by André on 2014-08-04.

Almost two years ago I demonstrated a 10MHz accelerator card for the Commodore PET on the Classic Computing exhibition. For this presentation I wrote a small demo program that draws a 3-D cube on the PET's screen - first with 1 MHz, then with 10 MHz. As I was concentrating on the 10MHz speedup, I didn't have enough time to look deeply into the demo program itself. So it was questioned why it was so slow in 1MHz compared to other demos. Finally I found the time to have a look at this, so I'll make this an example of a performance optimization job. Read on to learn about how the proper approach for a performance optimization even helps fixing performance problems in an old Commodore BASIC program.

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The XD2031 architecture explained

Posted by André on 2014-08-02.

Recently I have written about refactoring a 20 year old code base, namely of the file system server code for my old Commodore computers (see here: Refactoring-20-year-old-code... ). Here is a description of the internal structure of that code. I do this description in the form of an "architecture overview", a form that I think is missing for many a software project.

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Refactoring 20 year old code...

Posted by André on 2014-08-01.

When I was working on my selfbuilt 6502 operating system, I had a file system server on the PC, connected to the 6502 via a serial line (RS232). It was using a generic, packet-based protocol on the serial "wire", so I decided to reuse the protocol and the server for an AVR-based implementation of a Commodore disk emulator. The Commodore would talk to the AVR via IEEE488 or the CBM serial IEC protocol, which would behave as a disk drive and use the wire protocol to talk to the PC to server files from there. In the beginning it looked like a good idea. But it took much more time than expected. Read on for the full story.

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