Introduction ::Important Note
: Chameleon 64 does not work with the Commodore 128 or Cartridge Expanders. An attempt to test or try either method could result in the Hardware being damaged or malfunction !
I had been eyeing up this *special* Cartridge for a few months and kept " Umming " and " Ahhing ". Until I made the final decision to go for it and " caved in " to it's features and options. The yellow casing is strangely appealing, even if some may think it is as odd. Even the are blue buttons pleasing to the eye and to be honest, does it really matter what colours the Cartridge and Buttons are ? ( for the colour conscience person out there ).
The Photo below clearly shows, that yellow and blue do go together with a " Matlow " Swizzler Refresher as an example ( now consumed - yum ! )
( Top ) SD Card Slot / VGA Output - Separate Monitor Needed
( Front ) LED's Power Red and Active Green - Buttons Left
> Disk Change Middle
> Freeze Right
The Cartridge has several inputs for different Cables :
A Breakout Cable ( Left ) is for Power, Standalone Mode ( not tested fully at the moment ) and PS/2 Connector ( Right ) for Keyboard and Mouse with an extra USB is for Data. Also, there is a Battery, in the middle of the Photo, this can be used for a Battery Backup Clock that the Chameleon supports. However, you will have to open the Cartridge in able to place the Battery inside. If so, great care is needed, so not to damage the casing. A small Flat-ended Screwdriver could be used in such a case.
( Left ) PS/2 Connector for Keyboard and Mouse etc / ( Right ) USB Port for Power / Data
( Left ) VGA Output ( Right ) SD Card Slot
( Left to Right ) Audio Output / Infrared Receiver for CDTV Remote ( same hole as Audio ) and space for the RR-net rev.2 Ethernet Interface.
( Upper Inside ) Brown Strip for Protective Black Cover and does not interfere with Cartridge workings or when placed in Cartridge Port / Slot.The Workings ::
Upon first booting up your C64 you'll be presented with some black lines and a brief boot screen before you reach this screen. Nothing to worry about, this is perfectly normal as it is loading the OS from the Onboard Flash.
You have four options : F1 - Start Browser / F3 - Edit Configuration / F5 - Upgrade BIOS / F7 - Edit to Basic
F1 - Start Browser ... Browse the contents of your SD Card to load different images ( subject to appropriate Plug-ins )
As standard, you are able to Load .PRG and SID Music Files. However, if you wish to Load .T64 and .D64 Files, you will have to use a different Plug-in ( see Plug-ins ).
F3 - Edit Configuration ... F1 - F3 are fairly understandable for selecting what you want. However, I haven't needed to use the F5 - Save Config and just skipped to F7 - Exit Without Saving. F5 - if pressed you are required to Press FLASH and Enter ( needs further investigation )
Whilst on the Main Menu, if you Press the 'Middle' Button for 2 seconds, you will be presented with the following Menu :
Select 'Options' for futher configuration ...
One of *killer* features of Chameleon 64, is VGA Output ...
Although, in this Photo it doesn't demonstrate the full capabilities. However, you can configure the Resolutions and Hertz of your screen output, depending on limitations of your Monitor. It is recommended that you use both RF / S-Video connections and VGA, whilst setting up the Screen Modes and Resolutions. It doesn't quite work with one Monitor.Plug-ins ::
For some of the Disk and Tape images you will have to install a Plug-in in order for them to work. This is a painless and straight forward process. Simply, create a 'SYSTEM64' folder on your SD Card.
You will notice I have created other Folders : C64Music ( SID's ), Demos and Games ( .PRG / .D64 / .T64 ), Plug-ins and System64. If you just want to run SID's and .PRG files and nothing else, then you won't need to use any Plug-ins, but if you do, then the follow will provide some great options and results.MMC64 Browser by Beyond Force
With this browser you can Load : .PRG / .D64 / .T64
Unfortunately, it does not load SID's. In order to use this Browser you need to download the .ZIP file from 'The C-64 Scene Database' and copy the BOOT.BIN and MMC.PRG file into the SYSTEM64 Folder on your SD Card. Whenever you use the Browser function, this will be the default Browser. To default to the original Browser, just remove the BOOT.BIN and MMC.PRG files from the SYSTEM64 folder on your SD Card. Simplying Press RETURN on the selected file, Loads it. There is a TEXT File within the .ZIP for this Browser, so you can read up on the workings shortcuts when using it. MMC64 D64 Mounter by Beyond Force
If you are happy with Loading .PRG and SID's, but wish to run .D64 images, you can use this neat little Plug-in. Using the same method as before, clear out the SYSTEM64 folder and copy the file D64PLGIN.BIN to the SYSTEM64 folder.
Again, using the similar controls, by Pressing ENTER to Load the selected file.D64 Reader by Achten/Goronzy
Here we have the ability to Dump a Disk Image to .D64 format. Using the same method as before, clear out the SYSTEM64 folder and copy the file D64PLGIN.BIN to the SYSTEM64 folder. Then, when you are ready, press ENTER and it will start to copy the Disk ... in an AMAZING ... 1 minute 22 seconds ! The .D64 just created will usually appear at the bottom of the .D64 list, so don't panic if it doesn't appear straight away.D64 Writer by Kratznagel
Now the reverse process of Dumping a .D64 image to Disk. In both the D64 Reader and Writer process, I used the same Disk content. Using the same method as before, clear out the SYSTEM64 folder and copy the file D64PLGIN.BIN to the SYSTEM64 folder. Then, when you are ready, press ENTER and it will start to copy the .D64 image to Disk ... in an AMAZING ... 1 minute 22 seconds ! Exactly the same as the Reader process.
Retro Replay - 'Freezer Cartridge Function'
Although this function is relatively obvious and seems to work well, by simply pressing the 'Freeze' Button ( middle of three for 2 seconds ) when a Demo or Game is running. However, as current testing has proved, you cannot use a C2N or similar Tape Deck whilst using the Chameleon 64. There maybe various reasons for this, either Hardware or Software. If used, when you use Shift and Run/Stop and Press Play on Tape, nothing happens. I am not entirely sure why, but more puzzled if anything. As this is a replicate of Action Replay, you will find the most common Options and Utilities at your disposal.Summary ::
I may well have overlooked a few options and operations with Chameleon 64, but what I have experienced has given me a taste of a product that is and should be a winner with lots of potential. It does have the capability to run in standalone mode, seemingly as a portable device or a FPGA Computer as it is reportedly capable of. I am of course using a BETA version of this product, 100% Hardware ready, but the Software is still being tested in areas. Some of the options I have already used could well be combined into one. A fine example is the Browser and some of the Plug-ins. If a Browser had the capability to enable following in one product or program :
[ D64 Read / Write ] [ .D64 / .PRG / .T64 / ] [ .SID / .PSID ] [ All C64 compatible Picture Formats ]
And additional options :
[ use of C2N Tape Unit or compatible ] [ A nice PDF Manual with basic and advanced features for all users ]
This may seem to be an expensive product at 199 EURO's, but when you consider it's capabilities and what it offers, you'll soon start to recognise it's worth. If the support with Software Development is faithful and strong to the Chameleon 64, it is sure to succeed.
For more information on Chameleon 64, please visit the following website : [ http://www.vesalia.de/e_chameleon.htm