80-Bus News


March–April 1984, Volume 3, Issue 2

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MONITOR.COM and Other Stuff

by Adrian Perkins


This “article” is a collection of hopefully useful bits and pieces, on both the hardware and software front. It is hopefully the first of several such articles, assuming the Editor approves and deems this blurb fit for publication. It hopefully contains something of interest for everybody, but mention of a certain operating system is made occasionally.

HS-1N Revisited

Some of you may recall that a while back I wrote a review of the HS1N digital cassette system for the Nascom. Somewhere in the article I mentioned the possibility of a Cassop-HS1N interface. What has happened to it? I hear you ask. Well, it’s like this… At about the time the article was published, a friend at work, Tim, bought a Cassop system. Armed with the source code for the Cassop (and a tape with some Cassop files on it) I had soon patched my HS1N software to read the Cassop tape. Well, the catalogue actually, for some reason I couldn’t read in any files. The effort on that sort of fell by the wayside as I proceeded to upgrade to disks (see below). The end result is that the interface software is half-written, and my trusty HS1N is up for sale, at a very resonable (i.e. cheap) price (see the Ads. section).

I had an interesting letter from a Mr I.P Coole of Imperial College, London. He too owns an HS1N, and has reported that the tape drives increase speed with age. This had lost him a lot of software before he found out what was causing it. Well, I haven’t noticed any problems, and neither has Tim reported any problems, so maybe it is a batch problem. Maybe any other HS1N or Cassop owners can comment? The cure suggested by Mr Coole (short of using a frequency meter which he describes as ‘messy”) is to always transfer all the required files onto a new tape before adding any files if the old cassette is more than a month old. I tended to do this anyway – I prefer assembler work, and the size of files I was using precluded the saving of more than two on one side of a tape. Thus when editing a file, I would always save the new version to a new tape. Being the only file on the tape, it would thus improve the load-time for next time. This may explain why I never noticed the speed problem.

Cheap Disks (or Doing it the Hard Way)

When I bought my Nascom 2 over four years ago, I did so primarily to learn about micros. But I kept on adding this and that to it, but at no time did I consider fitting disks to it. Disks are, after all, a bit too expensive for something that’s just a hobby. That’s why I bought my HS1N system in the first place. Shortly before my HS1N article was published, someone (I forget who) in the local user group (NasTug) announced the possibility of getting some cheap disk drives. Pertec were discontinuing the FD250 drive and were flogging them untested, unguaranteed at some #50-#60 each. I saw my chance to finally upgrade to disks at a price I could afford, so I put my name down on the list.

Several months later, my name finally reached the top of the list, and despite comments of “Just wait till they fall apart” from A Certain Person (a shameful thing to say about a product his company was only too happy to sell to customers a few months previously), I collected my drives (and handed over the money). The drives had been tested by someone in the club and declared “working”. A bit of high-pressure salesmanship by a certain local(ish) company ensured that nearly all of us used the (then) new Vfc. It made sense to me: there “ain’t a lot of room” in my Kenilworth case, and anything that puts an

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