ZoomFloppy on the C128

2016-06-28 22.15.06

Soon after setting up the Commodore 128 my mother-in-law is letting me play with, I went online and searched for ways to transfer files (read as games) I download on my Mac onto the C128. I soon came across this forum thread on Atari Age discussing “Getting c64 games on 5 1/4 floppies.”  This reply from user Fratzengeballer sent me over to the RetroInnovations site to check out the ZoomFloopy.

Image from the ZoomFloppy manual (linked)

Image from the ZoomFloppy manual (linked)

It’s basically a device that you connect to your Commodore’s disk drive (mine is an internal 1571) via an IEC serial cable which, in turn, connects to your computer via Mini-USB. In other words, the ZoomFloppy is a bridge between generations of computing hardware—a reach back into the glory of 1980s computer gaming! Many use this piece of hardware to archive floppy discs to their current machine, or copy Commodore files onto a floppy disc. It’s pretty cool to see a small, committed community of hardware hackers keeping the legacy of 1980s computer culture alive and well. And on that note, one of the things that struck me upon opening the package was that the only documentation they included was a printout of the GNU General Public License.

The software that powers this hardware is all open source, and a quick reminder about freedom and software is just an added bonus. If you want to actually get the ZoomFloopy up and running, however, the GNU license is not all that helpful. For that you should start at the ZoomFloppy Manual.  That manual is pretty much all you need if you are running Windows. If you’re using a Mac, like me, then you need to read the extremely well done HowTo post on Lallafa’s blog about installing OpenCBM on the Mac. Essentially, you need to install MacPorts and the XCode Development Environment to get OpenCBM working properly in terminal on your Mac—which will be how you communicate with your Commodore via the ZoomFloopy. I would say more, but there is no way I can match the clarity and precision of Lallafa’s post on the process.

2016-06-28 22.14.35

Blocks of data being copied from my Mac to a 5″ floppy that will work on the Commodore 128….Groovy!

Once you have got OpenCBM working, you can connect your Commodore computer to your Mac—so awesome. With the C128 I found that when I was in C64 mode the ZoomFloppy device could not write to or copy from the disk drive. So whenever copying files to a floppy (or vice versa), I recommend getting out of C64 mode. After that, it was all gravy! The commands are pretty simple. To copy from my Documents/C128 folder it would look like this:

To copy the contents of a floppy disk to my Mac it would look like this:

The rest is just fun and games 🙂 I immediately tried out Donkey Kong, and it worked a treat!

2016-06-28 22.14.02

Donkey Kong for the C64 running on the C128

I then tried out this crazy disk image site I found the other day called Retro Computer Scene. It’s amazing. They have collections of entire floppy disk images that folks have shared, and you can copy them to a floppy disk if , like me, you have a ZoomFloppy. I am finding there are innumerable sites for just these kind of goodness, and the stuff you find is wild. Take for example this disc filled with synth versions of 80s songs like Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean,” Survivor‘s “Eye of the Tiger,” Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl,” and even Howard Jones’s “New Song”!

Screenshot 2016-06-29 15.15.03

Far out, right?! I downloaded this .d64 file to my hard drive and then copied it over to my floppy disk via terminal and the songs play on my C128. One of the characters behind these genius synth arrangements was The Mighty Bogg; s/he was responsible for my personal favorite, an 8-bit synth version of Depeche Mode’s “Shake the Disease.” In fact, I made a video of it for my dear friend GNA Garcia cause only she would understand how awesome this is.

That was last night, today I moved on to getting Conan: Hall of Volta running on the C128, and that took a bit of time because the files at Retro Computer Scene weren’t working. I then found this site with the goods, and downloaded the d64 image file and loaded it as before and disco!

2016-06-29 10.46.20

This image also gives you a sense of my new office space. I moved upstairs to a room with more space so I can start tinkering with this stuff a bit.  My new computer setup featured my Mac sitting atop the C128 chassis alongside the early 90s Sony Trinitron TV/monitor. And while the TV is a stand-in for the time being, I really like the image quality, and it’s a big, fat CRT which keeps the aesthetic alive!

I have to give a huge thanks to the folks who run RETRO Innovations. They shipped my order internationally in no time at all, and everything was delivered as promised. I also got another piece of hardware for the C128 from them: the uIEC/SD drive that integrates with the C128 and allows you to pull files from an SD card. I am still working on that one, but I’ll post more when it’s fully operational.

By the way, blogging about this stuff is so much fun.

This entry was posted in Commodore 128, Console Living Room, video games and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to ZoomFloppy on the C128

  1. Eric Likness says:

    How long before you can create the next wave, Retro Demoscene, running on the original hardware all the Demoscenesters would have used?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoscene

    • Reverend says:

      Eric,
      It’s funny you should mention that because my next post on the C128 will be about the elaborate art trailers of the cracker culture around many of these games. The cracker of the game usually has a tag or calling card that is kind of inline with the Demoscene idea, something that is totally new to me btw, so thanks. I just love falling into the past like this 🙂

  2. Grant Potter says:

    Digging your 128 posts. I have a VC1530 ‘Datasette’ and some games on cassettes that if you are interested in playing with them. This one https://www.c64-wiki.com/index.php/File:Vc1530_2.jpg … listening to the datasette tapes in a stereo is trippy .. would be perfect accompaniment for Butthole Surfers.

  3. HERB MYERS says:

    I GOT MY FLOPPY DRIVE 2DAY BUT I AM HAVING A TOUGH TIME GETTING C64/PC WORKING THE FILE BROWSER JUST WILL NOT UNZIP INTO A FOLDER. SHOULD I NAME ONE OR WHAT ? i HAVE BEEN OUT OF THE COMMODORE SCENE SINCE THE 90’s WHEN I GOT INTERNET AND VIRUSES. I HAD EVERYTHING REU, 64,128, 200 GAMES GEOS POWER USER, AND STUFF (MAGs AND BOOKS). THE CAPS ARE FOR MY EYES. PS A I BOUGHT C128 BUT THE POWER SUPPLY LASTED ONE SECOND AS A BAD WIRE IN CONNECTOR. I STILL DO NOT HAVE KEYBOARD YET AS I USE EMULATOR BUT NO D64 YET. HELP SITES? THANKS

  4. Reverend says:

    Hi Herb,
    I wonder if you might use the CBM File Browser with the ZoomFloppy drive, is that what you are using? Let me know what you are trying to do specifically and see if I might have some pointers.

  5. HERB MYERS says:

    I have had my C128 and 4 C64 4 1571 2 1541 REU 2 easy flash 3 2 zoom floppies SDiec and GEOS SD cards 170 Load Star Magazines 40/80 monitor (40 col on 60 inch TV) and GEOS64 2.0 one month now and made a trade or two. Oh a couple of drives need TLC and my C128 the chips were loose in the sockets and keyboard connector dirty. I do things fast as I only think C= these days with no wife or kids to provide for. I just got GEOS128 and Wheels/gateWay disks on the way with boot maker. I plan trip to NV for convention. Thanks for your kind words but I am flying now! I still need to use Easy Flash abd Zoom Floppy yet but I just plow ahead! Jim Drew at CBMstuff has flux copy!
    This is hot use IBM floppy drive to copy any mag disk at mag level make disk any computer with PC/Mac! Thanks Herb

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