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Setting Up IDE64 In VICE
by DJ Gruby/Oxyron

Setting up an IDE64 device in the VICE emulator is relatively easy, while it still enables you to benefit from all of the nice features delivered by this amazing hardware. Considering the fact it is not a low budget piece of equipment for your C64 (the latest version available is IDE64 V4.1, which costs 99 EUR plus 5 EUR for shipping), you might want to make sure whether it is going to be worth buying.

If you ask me, is it worth that price? My answer... No doubt, sure it is! But now you can come around this conclusion yourself by simply plugging a virtual HDD into your VICE emulator session. There are a couple of steps required to configure it properly, which might not be so obvious for a novice user of IDE64 device. This article is supposed to help you understand them all.


IDE64 is a great piece of hardware, designed and produced by Josef Soucek and Tomas Pribyl, two Czech hardware gurus. The cartridge provides an interface for connecting a CompactFlash, IDE HDD and/or CD-ROM drive directly to your C64. Currently available version of IDE64 is V4.1 and it can be ordered via the IDE64 Project website [1]. It is not a cheap thing though, however it delivers the highest quality, as you not only get the device itself, but also the possibility of using specialized machine code monitor, excellent MAN file manager (Midnight Commander like tool with virtual filesystem support to access D64, D71, D81, T64 images), a realtime clock chip, mini USB Device Port (PCLink enables you to communicate with your desktop/netbook PC directly via USB port), and many more.

Still not convinced, whether it is worth spending approx. 100 EUR to have it? Thanks to Kajtar Zsolt you are right now able to verify if it meets your expectations simply by using VICE emulator. The latest developer's build of VICE emulator enables you to load and install IDEDOS for V4.1 version of a cartridge, while the latest official release, which is 2.2 published on 19 December 2009 and which we are going to refer to within this article, has built-in support for V3.4 only (as a matter of fact it should not bother you, because you do not connect to a real HDD nor use a physical CompactFlash, instead you use a regular file on your disk to emulate their behavior).

I assume that VICE emulator is already installed and configured on your desktop/netbook PC. So let us download the latest build of IDEDOS. IDEDOS is an operating system of IDE64 that is normally flashed into its EPROM memory (as for upgrading real hardware - you usually do it yourself using "Perom Programmer" utility), and acts as a firmware code written in a low-level assembly language to handle all of the device's features. There is a custom IDEDOS download web page, so just point your favourite web browser to the following url: and click onto "Custom IDEDOS download web page" link [2].


When using download web page to compile custom IDEDOS, it is recommended that you use following settings for the purpose of this tutorial to configure your build:

- Target system: C64 or C128
- Cartridge version: V3.1 up to V3.4+
- Disk drive speeder system: None
- PCLink: does not matter
- Second SID base address: none
- Misc options: does not matter

Having all of the options above selected, click on the "Download PEROM" button, and save file to your disk. Your IDEDOS will be a 64KB file named "idedos20100923-c64.rom". Note that downloaded ZIP package contains another ZIP file named "" (the archive contains a few essential utilities, i.a. disk formatter, filesystem checker, perom programmer; for example in order to create the filesystem, you must use "CFSfdisk" tool).


Run VICE executable, and from a left-click context menu select "Attach a cartridge image" > "Attach IDE64 interface image...". Locate unpacked IDEDOS ROM file, and click OK. Depending on GUI used, it might be required to change file extension from ".rom" to ".bin" to be able to see it in the list of directory contents (usually modifying filtering options from "*.[cCbB][rRiI][tTnN]" to "*.rom" should do the trick). At this point you might want to set cartridge as default. Alternatively, it is possible (and usually more convenient) to specify IDE64 emulation parameters as command line options. Attaching raw 64KB IDE64 cartridge image can be achieved by specifying "-cartide <filename>" parameter. This is so easy when emulating your 8-bit computer, however if you were performing this operation on a real hardware, you would have to use perom programmer utility to install new firmware into your IDE64 device first before using it.

Before moving on to the next step, I encourage you to create an empty D64 disk image, and copy over all IDEDOS utilities from downloaded ZIP package onto it. We are going to use one of these tools soon.


The remaining task involves formatting your emulated drive, as IDEDOS requires any storage device to be CFS filesystem compliant. From a right-click context menu select "Drive settings" and untick "Enable true drive emulation" option (if it has not been enabled yet, leave the checkbox empty). Enter IDE64 CMOS Setup Utility by pressing left arrow (note this is not the same as left cursor, it is a key located in the top-left corner of your C64 keyboard) followed by RESTORE (on US keyboard that would be tilde followed by Page Up). Enter "Standard Setup" submenu and modify the following settings:

- Disk fastloader: Disabled
- Direct write: Enabled

After each machine reset "Direct write" value is restored (changed back to "Disabled"), that is why it is crucial not to perform any reset of your emulator from this point on. Press Commodore key (C=) twice to save your changes and to leave Setup Utility. It is about time to load "CFSfdisk" tool. Enable true drive emulation for a while in order to load file from a D64 disk image: "Drive settings" > "Enable true drive emulation". Attach a D64 image file with IDEDOS utilities you should have ealier created. Now enter the following BASIC commands:


This should start "CFSfdisk". Remember to disable true drive emulation now. Since we have not altered any other configuration settings of IDE64 emulated device, we can use default values when the tool asks us various questions. At first we need to provide it with the information about the device number we are about to format:

- Drive number (4-30): 12
- Select drive number 12 and press RETURN

Ignore read errors for now, that is expected since our virtual disk drive (have you noticed "ide.hdd" file appearing in your current working directory?) has not been formatted yet. For "Cylinders", "Heads", "Sectors", "LBA available", and "LBA", accept default values by simply pressing RETURN key. New disklabel and new partition table will now be created. Then let us create partition for storing data files and write changes to our virtual HDD image file:

- Press "n" to add new partition
- Press "1" to choose partition number
- Press RETURN to accept default value for "Start"
- Press RETURN to accept default value for "End"
- Give new partition whatever name you like
- Press "p" to view the partition table
- Press "w" to write changes to "disk"
- Press "y" to confirm you understand what you are doing

When the formatting process is finished, the IDE64 virtual hard drive is ready for use.


Congratulations! You have now successfully set up IDE64 emulation in VICE! There is nothing left to do but enjoying all the amazing features this piece of hardware gives you. A virtual disk image created is only 8MB, however it allows you to get round all benefits of IDE64 device (hey, 8MB is still something like 45 of D64 disk images, that is not few!). There is a script written by Kajtar Zsolt, which makes it possible to create huge "ide64.hdd" files. Consult IDE64 mailing list archives for more details on this topic [3].

Where to go now? Check IDE64 manual to learn how to use it, and what you can do. Google for IDE64 related stuff and websites, and definitely do not miss IDE64 Warez Site [4], probably the biggest and the most up-to-date portal with apps, games, docs, and lots of other IDE64 stuff. For detailed information on copying files and directories directly into your IDE64 disk image, read my article on how to set up Fuse CFS driver published in "Attitude #10".

At this point I would like to give credit to the following individuals, without whom this article would have never come out to your attention:

- Piotr "Fenek/Arise" Fenicz - for teaching me how to set up IDE64 emulation in VICE for the first time back two years ago, when I was not aware of all those issues I hereby share with you.
- Josef "Visac/Cult" Soucek - for his head full of great ideas and his constant support for my efforts to document all those aspects of IDE64 device that are demanded by users.

Should you have any further questions regarding IDE64 emulation in VICE, do not hesitate to contact me directly.



[1] IDE64 Project
[2] IDEDOS Download System
[3] IDE64 Mailing List
[4] IDE64 Warez Site

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