The Sinclair ZX81 was my first computer and was quickly followed by a Spectrum 48K (and much more recently, a QL). The technology was fascinating, very accessible, and provided a great training ground for the years that were to come.
When the Microdrives were announced I couldn’t wait to get hold of one (I only ever had one) and, contrary to their reputation, I found the combination of Interface 1 and Microdrive reliable and certainly cheaper than the alternatives of the day.
Sadly, time has taken its toll and although the drives themselves hold up well with a bit of care, the remaining cartridges will probably not see another decade or so out before they become unusable.
This is where the vDrive comes in. As with other devices such as floppy emulators, the vDrive provides an analogue of the original hardware performance. I’ve resisted the urge to provide any kind of ‘turbo’ mode as there are a host of devices that already do this. The focus was on faithful emulation and compatibility.
The vDrive can also provide a simple way of preserving existing cartridge contents, ensuring that future cartridge wear and tear is kept to a minimum.
The result is a solution that will hopefully go some way to provide the original Microdrive experience for both the QL and the Spectrum.
Many thanks to Rich Mellor (QL) and Will Woodvine (ZX) for beta testing. Their excellent suggestions, and support, made it a whole lot easier to get this far.
Note: This is strictly a hobby venture and I’m not set up for mass production and intend to make products in batches of 5-10 at a time. Please check for current availability and pricing on SellMyRetro or Tindie. If you can’t find something you’re looking for due to being sold out then please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS: Almost two years later since this post and apart from being busy in keeping up with the vDrive demand, I’ve added the vMap Microdrive address translator for the QL and the vLA1 ULA replacement for the Sinclair Interface 1 (and I haven’t finished yet!).
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