Power Cartridge Screenshots
|Hardware features||1 Button Freeze|
optional: 1 Button Reset and ON/OFF Switch can be added
|Manual||PDF: 42 pages - including cover cheat sheet|
|Control Registers||$DE00 - mirrored at $DE80|
|IO1 area $DE00 - $DEFF provides ROM mirror of $9E00|
|$DF00 - $DF7F has the Cart RAM accessible (possible mirror at $DF80)|
Power Cartridge by K.C.S. (Kolff Computer Supplies BV) became available in Europe in the middle of 1986. Several companies distributed the Power Cartridge in various countries in the PAL domain and it seems the cartridge never was sold in the USA. In Europe however it was available for over 6 years and the only thing that apparently changed once of twice was the foreword on the manual. The Power Cartridge came without any version numbers and the sprites at startup and in menu clearly state "1985". It seems that alone has protected the cartridge from getting even a pretended update by the copyright owners somewhen later. KCS as a company seems to have moved on to Amiga and apparently no updates on the hardware or software were ever developed.
The manual situation is somewhat interesting as well. The english translation of the "Nederlandse handleiding" is available as etext but we found no original english documentation as of yet (HELP!). Power Cartridge manuals we have seen were bundled as german and italian or as dutch and french where each language occupies half of the booklet. The back cover of the dutch/french booklet comes with an english cheat sheet while the german/italian version appears to go by german on the back cover. Apparently there is an english manual available which has the C64 picture changed to show a cartridge with some flashes towards it. We are not sure wether it it may contain a spanish back cover though.
16kb of ROM provide a solid base for the most important BASIC toolkit commands and a proper fastloader. The 128 bytes of RAM seem a little lost but RAM is indeed necessary for proper freezing. Looking at the cartridge board there are two places especially marked which allow to add an ON/OFF switch and the "missing" reset button so the cartridge can be upgraded and actually match the competition.
The freezer is somewhat special. It appears to achieve better results than the ones from ISEPIC and Capture and due to its equal char packing algorithm the used disk space is considerably less than e.g. a Capture snapshot occupies. The Power Cartridge is required to restart a frozen program though since a special file format is used. There is no option to save the special loader required to run a back-up and what seems worst is that DLOAD as standard fastloader does not detect the frozen file but BLOAD needs to be executed.
The frozen program is relatively easy to detect. The three files saved to disk are of type USR and should get the name of program last loaded with an extension each using a hash sign (#), a string sign ($) and a percent sign (%). The default for the snapshot is BACKUP which may leave you with:
80 "BACKUP#" USR 6 "BACKUP$" USR 80 "BACKUP%" USR
Additionally to this freezing behaviour the freezer allows entering the monitor but the frozen program cannot be restarted nor are the register values of the frozen program taken to the monitor register display. The possibly most annoying feature has to be mentioned towards the end though: the monitor beeps on every address error (next to the usual ? output).
Power Cartridge ROM is definately packed with feature and the average programmer will not want to miss it but the cartridge sure could have used a few smaller improvements over time. During quite a few years it was always mentioned along the big ones, Final Cartrige, Action Replay and Super Snapshot but was surely outfeatured by any later competitor.
- 64'er Magazin May 1986 (german news article) interestingly had the first announcement we found for the Power Cartridge so far. There is no doubt about announcements on other magazines also during May '86 but maybe even earlier hints can be found somewhere?
- English PDF Manual Scan
Power_Cartridge_KCS_binaries_rr.c64.org_2010-03.rar contains just the C64 binaries: