RetroClinic DataCentre for the BBC Model B, B+, and Master

I so want one of these! I now have one of these in my BBC Master 128!

You can read more about this device and order one from this website.

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Datacentre connects via the BBCs 1MHz bus, and has 5 main features:

  • USB Host Controller, allowing connection of virtually any USB device including Flash Drives, Keyboards, Mice, MP3 Players, Cameras and even mobile phones.
  • USB Slave Port, allowing connection directly to your PC
  • 1 Megabyte RAM for use by drivers, filing systems or the user.
  • 64K Byte Non-Volatile RAM, used as a small RAM Drive for storing commonly used programs and utilities.
  • 16 Bit IDE interface, compatible with the existing RetroClinic CF system, but will also allow in the future the full range of 16 Bit IDE peripherals to be used, e.g. CD and DVD Drives, once filing systems have been written for them.

The system as it stands is in it’s infancy, and the first software to come with the board is “RamFS”. Once you have downloaded files on your PC, such as .SSD and .DSD, or separate programs onto any USB Storage Device, be that Pen Drives or Hard drives formatted with the FAT or FAT32 filing system, you can plug that drive into DataCentre, and RamFS it will extract it to a RAM filing system, or in the case of individual programs, load them direct to memory. If you have a Disk system, you can also make a hard copy of that image onto a floppy drive. No more messing with transfer software, as the BBC can read the data direct from the USB drive using the intelligent controller on the DataCentre Board. You can literally download a file or image, and have it running on your Beeb in less than 30 seconds. The software will also allow you to create .SSD and .DSD back onto the Flash drive from either the RamDisk, or your original Floppy Disks (providing they’re not copyright protected), to simply put in your PC and upload or use in an emulator. Again, it’s all done without the use of any transfer programs on the PC, and because there are no PC side programs to worry about, it’s compatible with anything that can read and write a USB Drive, including up to date Macs and Linux.

For any USB device to communicate requires a driver, and the same is true on the BBC. As with any new product, software for it does not appear overnight, and other filing systems and drivers are being worked on by myself, and others. Some demo programs come with the kit which show how to use the USB port for other purposes, such as USBMSE – A basic program that uses any USB mouse and lets you draw on the screen with it.

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