Scor­pio News

  

January–March 1987 – Volume 1. Issue 1.











Page 44 of 63











compatible drives. The TEAC drives were rather noisy in operation, compared with the other 96 TPI drives. They are even noisier when used with either of Gemini’s FDCs. [Ed – this is probably so with the early Gemini GM809 FDC board, but with the GM829 and GM849 boards the drives may be stepped at their maximum rate (3mS). (With the VFC and GM809 only 6mS is possible, which results in the noise.) The GM829 and GM849 give virtually silent operation with Teacs. You must either have the software set up incorrectly, or not have the correct software (Gemini BIOS 3.2 or later).]

Unfortunately, some software in not completely compatible with the VFC – which is a nuisance; when I tried to use an IVC version of DISKPEN, I found this out the hard way and had to resort to WordStar – which is (initially) a lot less easy to use. A Sargon chess program with rather nice graphics which worked on the IVC (with a nasty frame wobble) failed to display any graphics at all on the VFC – all one had was a record of the moves!

A version of DISKPEN is available now (not surprisingly called MAP PEN) which gets over one of my problems and some software hacking might possibly overcome the other problem – but it probably has something to do with the switching of the IVC into its 48 character Nascom-lookalike mode which the VFC cannot do. I suspect that the Gemini SVC would also not like my version of Sargon either since it now has a 40 by 25 display option. I don’t play chess very often and when I do, the machine beats me so the modifications needed are right at the bottom of my list of priorities. Like most of the 99% of video controller users mentioned by Dave Hunt in his article, I probably don’t use the undoubted potential of either the VFC or the SVC to their full advantantage since most of my work is concerned with number-crunching and word-processing, rather than graphics. The instructions given are probably as comprehensible as those supplied with the IVC and SVC, thus implementation would pose no problem for the addict.

CONCLUSIONS

As far as most software is concerned, the use of the VFC poses no problems. In my view, the VFC represents a good, reasonably low-cost attempt to bring the undoubted advantages of disk operation to Nascom 2 owners; for someone starting up with CP/M, the purchase of s Gemini GM813 or MAP CPU card and the VFC represents a considerable cost saving on the minimum ‘all Gemini’ system where 3 boards are required. Some useful features available with Gemini’s current video and floppy disk controllers are not found on the VFC but both the extent of one’s purse and the type of application may well be the deciding factors.

The ready-built full version costs £214 + VAT; other versions are about half this price. In kit form, the full version is £175 + VAT and would take a couple of evenings to build; the video-only and floppy-only versions cost £99 + VAT. MAP 80 Systems are now in Egham (____ _____).

Incidentally, if you are contemplating purchasing disk drives, it is possible to buy TEAC or Mitsubishi drives which are advertised for the BBC Micro by a number of firms. You need the double sided 80 track versions with 400k (BBC mode) capacity which will give a formatted capacity of 784k on an 80-BUS system. Several suppliers offer good bargains – borrow a Beeb-orientated magazine and check the ads.

Private Advert

FOR SALE

Due to upgrade we have the following for sale. Galaxy 1 with keyboard and screen. Also Galaxy 4 Fileserver 10MB with keyboard and screen. Will throw in accounts package, Wordstar Multiplan plus Mailmerge F.0.C. Open to all reasonable offers. RING ____-_____ (DAY)   ____-______ (EVENINGS)












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