Est. 1984 This upgrade will allow you to attach solid state storage to your BBC Micro. Available for around 10 years, it has a track record that is second to none and is probably the most popular storage system for the BBC Micro Model B, B+ and Master 128. The fastest User Port solid state storage system for the Beeb is now the smallest and most compact too Q & A Below are some of the questions that have been asked several times not only over the last 10 years or so, but also more recently. Which machines will it fit? It is suitable for the BBC Micro Model B, the B+ and Master 128. It is not a direct fit for the Master Compact because that machine lacks a pin compatible User Port. What is the difference between the two interfaces shown in the third photo? You can see that these boards have more components on them than competing designs. Each component adds to the cost, not only the price of the part itself but also in assembly time. These components are therefore used for a purpose and they are the reason why both these interfaces are faster than any other. The two designs are essentially the same in electronic terms. Any firmware (filing system code on ROM) that works with one will work with the other. They both load and save data at the same speed. The interface in this sale is the smaller one on the left. The smaller interface on the left only accepts MicroSD cards The interface is designed to be plugged directly into the User Port and gives a very unobtrusive installation. It is possible to use a short extension cable using widely available standard connectors. This is useful if you want to move interfaces from one machine to another or want easy access to the memory card. This cable is not provided but could easily be added later. The interface on the right (available in another listing) uses standard SD or Multimedia cards (MMC). MicroSD cards can also be used with a suitable adapter. It cannot plug directly into the User Port and would always be used with a ribbon cable. Can I store 2GB of data on a 2GB card? An eye-catching headline about a 2GB memory card could easily create that impression. In fact, that is not how most User Port storage systems - including this one - actually work. The Beeb doesn't see the memory card as just a huge hard drive. Instead, it uses a single file to emulate a large number of 80 track floppy disks, each one selectable with a simple 'star' command. If you attach the memory card (MicroSD in this case) to a Windows PC, the PC will normally see just one file of about 100MB. This file contains the equivalent of just over 500 80 track single sided floppy disks. An 80 track disk formatted with Acorn's DFS contains about 200kB of data, and 500 times 200kB is roughly 100MB. Now you can see why the file on the MicroSD card is about 100MB long. The system is very easy to use and has the obvious advantage that you can back up the equivalent of about 500 floppies just by copying the one file from the memory card to the PC's hard drive using a suitable USB card reader. Is a 2GB memory card any better than a 1GB card? From the previous paragraph, it is evident that it usually makes no difference at all. The card merely has to be large enough to hold the 100MB data file. It follows that 128MB, 256MB, 512MB etc are all more than enough. Of course, 2GB MicroSD memory cards are now readily available at sensible prices and that is why a 2GB card is normally supplied with this system. What is a four-layer board? It's probably rather unhelpful to just say that it's a board with four layers. Here, two extra layers are sandwiched in the middle of the two outer visible ones. Those inner layers are used for the +5V supply and the digital ground. Multilayer boards usually have a darker appearance and look quite smart as a result. Despite the extra cost, the main advantages of this arrangement are ones that you cannot see with the naked eye, and it is only with suitable test equipment that you can observe the cleaner voltage supplies and digital signals. The use of a four-layer PCB was also helpful in making the board more compact. Space under the Master 128 is quite restricted but this board fits very easily (check the photo). I stand by the statement that this is the smallest and most compact MicroSD interface available. Considering all the extras on the accompanying CD, it's probably the most cost-effective too. The User Port connector. This is the rightangled connector soldered to the TurboSPI interface. I've tried the ones available on from China but switched to a quality UK sourced part. One of the issues with the Chinese ones is that they lack a polarising bump in the plastic moulding. The result is that it would be much easier to attach the interface to the User Port incorrectly and risk damage. But the main problem with the ones from China is the poor and inconsistent quality control, as you'd expect with an item costing about 10p. The plating is not particularly good, it has a dull finish and the pins do not solder nearly as well as the UK part. Far worse is the way in which the contacts inside the plastic are formed. Some of the contacts are so badly made that the connector won't even fit the User Port properly. In contrast, the UK parts (about five times the price after VAT has been added) have a consistent firm but smooth action when plugging them into the User Port. The pins have a superior plating and solder easily - check out the photo with the white dot to see how readily the solder flows through the hole and forms around the pin. All in all, having decided to use a quality four-layer PCB, I've chosen the superior UK sourced part for the connector. As the saying goes, why spoil the ship for a hap'orth of tar? Is the data on the MicroSD card identical to other systems? Very unlikely. There will be a lot in common - various games for example - but some of the programs supplied are unique to this system. These include the file finder (very handy even if I say it myself) and the utilities for copying data from floppy disk to the MicroSD card. Is there any difference between this TurboSPI and the TurboMMC? Functionally there is no difference. Read and write speeds are the same. This interface can plug into the User Port directly whereas the TurboMMC requires a ribbon cable. The two interfaces are virtually identical electronically, one is merely smaller than the other. The EPROMs supplied with the two interfaces are usually the same, as are the contents of the accompanying CD. By the way, TurboMMC is not restricted to using Multimedia cards (MMC). It can be used with SD and MicroSD cards as well, providing they support a certain mode of operation. Many do. Can I use the SmartSPI ROM with this interface? Yes. The SmartSPI ROM is not normally supplied but the code is readily available and it could, for example, be loaded into a suitable expansion board offering sideways ROM or RAM. The Master 128 has 4 banks of sideways RAM (each being 16kB) as standard, selectable by links on the main board. Will it work with MMFS? Yes. MMFS is another filing system which is compatible with this interface. However, MMFS has quite a few versions to cope not only with slightly different User Port interfaces but also take advantage of certain features of different computers (Master, Model B etc). Finding the right version for your hardware setup can be tricky unless you know exactly what to look for. I have now updated the documentation on the CD to include full details on which MMFS to use, how to load it and the main advantages of each version. How can I copy files from real DFS floppies to this system? Fairly obviously, you must have a working floppy drive system attached to the computer. There are two utilities supplied with the TurboSPI and MMC system for copying files from floppies to the MicroSD card. One is designed to be used in sideways RAM and is perhaps the more versatile of the two. You can use it to copy all files or use wildcards to limit the copying to only certain files matching the required criteria. There is also an 'imaging' option to make a track by track copy of a floppy disk. A separate file copying utility is provided for those without any sideways RAM in their machine. Files can also be copied in the reverse direction, from the MicroSD to floppies. Note that the copying process relies on legal filing system calls. If the floppy disks have any obscure copy protection built in or are unreadable for any reason, the copying process may not be successful. Do the floppy disk copying programs work with MMFS and its variants? They do now. The copier utility was written nearly ten years ago, well before MMFS was released. I have now updated the software so that the copying utilities work with MMFS. Can data from ADFS disks be copied to the MicroSD card? Yes, with some caveats. Filenames under ADFS (Advanced Disk Filing System) could be up to 10 characters long, but DFS restricts you to 7 characters. Therefore copying a file from ADFS to the TurboSPI card may truncate the filename. Also, ADFS supports directories in a way that DFS does not, so you cannot copy an ADFS directory called 'FRED' as such. You could, however, copy individual files within that directory. The ADFS disk can be floppies, Compact Flash based or BeebSCSI attached to the 1MHz bus. Once I've copied all my floppies to the MicroSD card, do I need to keep the floppy drive connected? No, this should not be necessary. The TurboSPI system will function as a fully featured load/store device and does not need a floppy disk interface to be present. Do I need a ribbon cable? The ribbon cable is not included but this interface can be inserted directly into the User Port and provides a very unobtrusive installation, so you don't actually need a cable. However, there can be situations when a short extension cable can be useful. It makes it much easier to move an interface from one machine to another. Likewise, changing memory cards is less awkward if the TurboSPI interface is readily accessible. Plugging in and removing each interface for testing purposes is also a lot simpler with the cable present. You can always add a cable later and there is nothing special about it - just a standard 20-way ribbon with an IDC (Insulation Displacement Connector) socket at the Beeb end and an IDC plug at the other. Can it be used with a ROM expansion board? Yes, the interface itself just pushes into the User Port and the presence or otherwise of an internal RAM/ROM expansion board makes no difference. The supplied EPROM can be plugged into one of the sockets on the main board. Experimenting with other filing systems is well worthwhile (for example MMFS) and is much easier if you have sideways RAM in the machine. The IFEL RAM/ROM expansion board for the Model B provides 8 banks of non-volatile flash memory and 8 banks of battery backed sideways RAM. What documentation is provided? I tend to prefer the PDF approach on CD. This enables changes and new features to be added without making a pile of printed manuals out of date. Searching for particular topics or keywords is also much simpler. The new PDF covering the different versions of MMFS is quite detailed and it alone runs to over 14 pages. The main information file (including how to copy floppies for example) is 48 pages long. Other material related to the MicroSD system takes the total number of pages to well over 100. You will not get the same level of detail from a couple of sheets of A4. What's included? Essentially, everything in the main photo. That is the interface itself complete with Micro SD card preloaded with utilities, the EPROM and support CD. Other photos simply show how connection might be made to the Model B and Master 128. The computers are not included in the sale. Money-back guarantee The product is covered by a 1 year guarantee. Additionally, most Buy It Now sales are covered by what used to be called the Distance Selling Regulations (DSR). In essence this gives you a time period in which to return the goods for any reason whatsoever. If you wish to return this item within a 30-day period then you will receive a full refund (cost of the item itself and the postage too). The cost of returning the item to us is to be borne by the purchaser unless, of course, the item is actually faulty in which case we will refund any reasonable postage costs as well.