Topic: Review : Chameleon 64 from Vesalia / Individual Computers ( includes Photos )  (Read 14803 times)

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Offline HeadingtonBard

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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 > Reset

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 ]
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 12:56:14 PM by HeadingtonBard »
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Offline muguk

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I had loads of plugins installed on my MMC Replay. I didn't need to remove them each and every time.

From memory you just need to rename the file extensions of the plugins (in the System64 folder) for them not to show up in the plugins menu.


Offline HeadingtonBard

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I had loads of plugins installed on my MMC Replay. I didn't need to remove them each and every time.

From memory you just need to rename the file extensions of the plugins (in the System64 folder) for them not to show up in the plugins menu.



You could well be right, but some Plug-ins have similar Keymaps. Plus, if you pressed Return on a specific one, how would it know, whether to Read or Write an image ? Unless you can choose a Plug-in ?
:: HeadingtonBard ::

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ggizmotigger

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nice pics and alot good info soon as something sellls i will buy one

thankd for showing

mark

ggizmotigger

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oh well couldent wait any longer knowing my luck they might sold out by the time i would got round to it so i just bought it :))  dont tell the wife or the divorce will cost me lott more money lol

i think the pics hooked me into getting one.

Offline HeadingtonBard

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oh well couldent wait any longer knowing my luck they might sold out by the time i would got round to it so i just bought it :))  dont tell the wife or the divorce will cost me lott more money lol

i think the pics hooked me into getting one.

Shh ! It's okay, I won't tell ! ;)
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ggizmotigger

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just bought a cdtv inferred joystick from amigakit for just under 13 quid as the site bought cameleon wants nearly 20 quid delivered just thought id let you know as this is jostick support for it :)

mark

Offline AndyRCM

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Very impressive although I think I will stick to my 1541-ultimate II for now - don't really need VGA at the moment - might do one day though! ;)
"I could see the faces of those who led pissing themselves laughing" - Funeral Pyre by The Jam

Offline HeadingtonBard

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just bought a cdtv inferred joystick from amigakit for just under 13 quid as the site bought cameleon wants nearly 20 quid delivered just thought id let you know as this is jostick support for it :)

mark

Keep me posted with CDTV Joystick usage, it will be interesting on see how that works ! :)
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Offline HeadingtonBard

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Very impressive although I think I will stick to my 1541-ultimate II for now - don't really need VGA at the moment - might do one day though! ;)

The 1541 Ulitmate II was also an option for me, but I am note sure when it will be available to buy again ... Maybe another six months ? :O

I am very happy with Chameleon 64 and look forward to using it more over the coming weeks. Especially during a week off before Easter ! ;)
:: HeadingtonBard ::

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Offline HeadingtonBard

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just bought a cdtv inferred joystick from amigakit for just under 13 quid as the site bought cameleon wants nearly 20 quid delivered just thought id let you know as this is jostick support for it :)

mark

How are you getting on with your Chameleon ? I haven't upgraded to Beta5 yet, I'm still archiving disks, 2.5 boxes to go ! :)
:: HeadingtonBard ::

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ggizmotigger

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hi yes i got it on wednesday and the cdtv joppad but not had chance to have a go on it as just doing up garden ( keeping missis happy dont want to see i got it lol ) she back work tuesday but will have  a go tuesday or before depending on what we doing. let you know then.

mark

you got a list of the best place to get plugins and what are the best ones to use specially the one so i can back up all my floppy disks to archive with little tutorial on how to back em up. As all they sent was a2 sided peace paper with no proper instructions which i think was bit lame.

mark
« Last Edit: April 24, 2011, 07:29:57 AM by ggizmotigger »

Offline HeadingtonBard

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hi yes i got it on wednesday and the cdtv joppad but not had chance to have a go on it as just doing up garden ( keeping missis happy dont want to see i got it lol ) she back work tuesday but will have  a go tuesday or before depending on what we doing. let you know then.

mark

you got a list of the best place to get plugins and what are the best ones to use specially the one so i can back up all my floppy disks to archive with little tutorial on how to back em up. As all they sent was a2 sided peace paper with no proper instructions which i think was bit lame.

mark

I have managed to get the best *three* plugins to do the job. I've zipped them up and they can be downloaded from my website :

http://www.arisfamily.co.uk/alex/rcm/cham64.zip

1. D64 Mount
Mounts a D64 and runs Disk. Docs included.

2. D64 Read
Dumps a 5.25" image to D64. No Docs, but just make sure there is already a D64 image in the folder before you start. Press 'enter' over the image and a prompt should appear asking for a name, pressing 'control' will abort from that point. It won't overwrite the image, it just needs there to one in the folder to start with.

3.D64 Writer
Dump a D64 image to 5.25". Docs included.

I am hoping there will be better documentation for Chameleon 64 in the near future, I'm sure it will help everyone. I might leave updating the Cartridge until the final build. It does all I want it to at the moment, hopefully the docs will follow suit as well ! :)

Cheers, Alex. :)



:: HeadingtonBard ::

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ggizmotigger

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thanks for that ive down loaded i look forward to trying them, soon as ive setup i will let yu know how the cdtv joy works.
 why cant it rain like it always does on bank hols stuck doing garden sweating me nuts off  :)

again thanks for that
mark

Offline Amiga Man

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£199 is expensive kit but it got lots going for C64  ;)