Last modified: Sep 19, 2022, Page views: 9
uIEC/SD, top side
uIEC/SD, bottom side
Deluxe Daughter card, top side
Deluxe Daughter card, bottom side
Together at 90 degrees, rear view
Together at 90 degrees, front view
There is a reason why the uIEC/SD gets a 5 star rating on go4retro.com. Everyone who's bought
one loves it. I totally love mine and would also give it a 5-star rating.
I was out of the scene for 8 years. Well, way back in the day there were always a variety of
means for getting content from the outside world onto your C64. I purchased a copy of Big Blue
Reader. This could read PC floppy disks. But PCs quickly shed their floppy drives. Then I had an
IDE64 to which you could, and still can, hook a CD-ROM drive. It supported reading ISO9660
formatted CDs. But CDs are generally difficult as a transfer medium because of the way they are
There were also some direct cable solutions that I never tried. I eventually got into using
networking solutions. I ran WiNGs on my SuperCPU equipped Commodores, and with that I could
dial up to a real internet account via PPP over a modem, and the I used FTP to transfer files.
Well, during my 8 years of absence, CDs went the way of floppies, and dial-up internet
connnections became a distant memory. My house doesn't even have a real landline anymore, just
a highly compressed VoIP line which doesn't support modem connections. I wanted to get back into
using and coding my C64, but I felt like an island unable to even transfer over some new
At the suggestion of some friends on IRC, I ordered a uIEC/SD with the Deluxe Daughter Card from
Retro Innovations. And it instantly blew open the floodgates of getting stuff onto my C64. This
piece of hardware alone is responsible for allowing me to download anything and everything that
piqued my curiosity, and then just toss it on an SD card and pop the SD Card out of my Mac and
into my C64. The fact that the uIEC/SD reads and writes SD cards in the same format that they
come in when you buy them at the local BestBuy or wherever, is its best feature. They could not
be easier to use. You never have to format them, the partition size is huge, much much bigger than
the 16 megabyte limit on CMD HD native mode partitions.
And this was not necessarily how it had to be. The IDE64, which I have the v3 of, takes Compact
Flash cards as an option for storage media. But, it doesn't just read standard CF cards. You have
to format them first with a special IDE64 file system. But the uIEC/SD has no such limitations.
Not only is it a great way to get content from the internet onto your Commodore, it's an equally
great way to get content from the Commodore back to the world.
Let me tell you about another amazing feature that is not advertised on the website, but it
absolutely should be. The firmware knows how to navigate into disk image files, natively. What
this means is that you can put a .d64, .d71, .d81 or .dnp image file onto an SD Card. And then
you can "change directory" right into one of these disk images. It's as though they are always
mounted where ever they happen to be sitting in the file system. One of the great features of
WiNGs, which I came to rely on, was its ability to easily mount disk images into the file system.
Once mounted, you could navigate into them with standard commands, and copy files out of them
or run programs directly out of them. This was really great for its time. But it was sadly an
ability that was only usable within WiNGs. I found that if wanted to copy just one file out of
or into a .d64 image, the easiest possible way was by booting up WiNGs.
The uIEC/SD supports this ability natively, within the device's firmware. And it is totally
transparent to the C64 itself. This is amazing. Not only does it let you navigate into a .d64
and just run a game or demo straight from within (while maintaining the virtualized track and
sector layout of the image), but you can also use programs like FCOPY to copy individual files out
of the image. And if you have JiffyDOS, you can use the built-in 2 device copier to copy files
out of a disk image straight from within BASIC. You have to understand how great this is. In the
old world, the best you could do was use a disk imaging tool, like d64IT, to write a .d64 file
either to a physical 1541 floppy (very slow), or if you were lucky, to a 1541 emulation partition
on a CMD device like a CMD HD, RamLink or FD2000. Then you could manipulate individual files
in those partitions, and copy to other partitions. But if you wanted to make a change to a .d64
you had to write to a partition, modifying the partition, and then copy the entire partition
back to a new .d64 image. It was very laborious. uIEC/SD solves all of this.
You don't need JiffyDOS to use the uIEC/SD. But, let's get serious. If you care about your own
sanity, you need to get JiffyDOS. I used the uIEC/SD on a flat C128 for a few weeks. Entering
a lengthy basic statement every time just to change a directory is not a lot of fun. And the IEC
bus is still as perilously slow as ever. I ordered JiffyDOS for my C128 and installed it without
too much trouble. And it opens the world again. Not only does it tremendously speed up transfers
but the DOS wedge for issuing commands is so great that once you have it you cannot go back. Also,
the built in 2 device file copier is so handy, I use it almost every day. So, practically speaking,
JiffyDOS, if you don't already have it on your Commodore, is an extra expense to really be able
to use the uIEC/SD.
The description from the go4retro store, which is mirrored on this site below, says that the
uIEC/SD is just as fast as any other drive, but it's solid state so it's more robust, quieter,
lighter, cheaper, etc. It is all those things, however, in my personal experience, it is sometimes
slower than the CMD HD. I'm not entirely sure why that is. I wrote a PETSCII
art renderer, and extended it to PETSCII art animations. Each frame is written out as a
separate 1000 byte file. And a very simple program loops as quickly as possible, reading the
files, one after the next, directly into screen memory. The framerate of the animation is tied
directly to how quickly the drive can pull just under 1K of data off the disk and into memory.
I was surprised to find that the framerate is noticeably slower when reading data from the uIEC/SD
than from the CMD HD. That said, under all other circumstances, I have never noticed it being
any slower. It's just an interesting observation.
... More to come, soon.
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Hold the entire collection of Commodore games and utilities in the
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The “Micro” IEC offers that and more, supporting Secure Digital (SD)
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