The XA1541 active cable is a serial cable that connects Commodore machines or drives to the PC parallel port. It's a substitute for the X1541 cable, XE1541 extended cable and XM1541 multitask cable and has been designed to work in all modes of all parallel ports on all PC motherboards. It's compatible with all parallel ports and with all Commodore machines and drives and clones that have the usual serial bus port.
You need the following hardware to make use of this cable:
A PC with a parallel port
A Commodore 64, 128 or VIC20 machine or a Commodore 1541, 1570, 1571 or 1581 drive, or any other Commodore machine or drive or clone that has the usual serial bus port
The cable is supported by the following PC software:
cbm4linux (© by Michael Klein, 1999-2002) (local copy)
OpenCBM/cbm4win (© by Spiro Trikaliotis, 2001-2007, and Michael Klein, 1999-2004) (local copy)
nibtools (© by Markus Brenner, 2000-2004, and Peter Rittwage & the C64 Preservation Project team, 2004-2013) (local copy for DOS and local copy for Windows)
mtap & ptap (© by Markus Brenner, 1998-2002) (local copies)
The Star Commander (© by Joe Forster/STA, 1994-2005)
Don't let the name "XA1541" fool you. This cable works with all kinds of Commodore drives that have the usual serial bus port, not only Commodore 1541 drives. Also, you can use it to connect a Commodore machine to the PC.
If your Commodore 1541, 1570 or 1571 drive is already fitted with a Commodore parallel cable then you might be better off with the XAP1541 adaptor which makes use of the parallel cable and triples the transfer speed.
This cable should be working with those motherboards and laptops, as well, that are incompatible with the XE1541 extended cable and the XM1541 multitask cable. However, because those two cables are easier to build and they do work with most present PC's, it is suggested that you build this cable only if you know that your motherboard doesn't support those cables or you want to prepare for the future when, possibly, further incompatible motherboards will appear on the market.
Currently, the following motherboard revisions are known to not support this cable:
Gigabyte GA-5AX, revision 3.0 (not available anymore)
Please, note that these motherboard revisions don't support any of the X1541-series cables: apparently, they don't follow the parallel port specifications correctly. If you have access to any of these motherboard revisions, please, do some tests and send your results to me. New items will be added to this list as proven negative feedback is left.
This cable uses BSV52 transistors which are very small SMD components; this makes the construction quite troublesome. If you want to take the risk, you may use 2N3904 transistors instead but, be warned, there's no guarantee that a cable with that transistor would work on any PC.
Method 1. If you can't or don't want to put the electronical parts onto a small board, you may solder them together with simple wiring. You can find the details on how to build this cable at the construction page.
Method 2. A more reliable and elegant solution is to put the complete circuitry onto a small board and hide it inside the case of the parallel plug. You can find the details on how to build the cable, with this board, at the construction page.
The assembled cable for Method 2 looks like this: complete cable, top of parallel plug at PC end, bottom of parallel plug at PC end, DIN plug at Commodore end.
These pictures should give you an overall idea on how the cable looks like and how it should be properly assembled. However, when building a cable yourself, you should not rely on the pictures only; see the construction guides instead.
Connect the serial plug into the serial port of your Commodore drive. Connect the parallel plug into the parallel port of your PC.
Important! Do not plug or unplug cables while your equipment is switched on. Make sure that all components of your equipment are connected to the same, properly grounded power outlet. Put your equipment far away from monitors, TV sets and other devices with strong emission, otherwise cables may pick up interference and you may experience data loss or corruption.
If you have problems with your cable then you can test it with XCTest and XCDetect.
The XA1541 active cable is © by Michael Klein and Nicolas Welte, 2000. If you produce and sell cables or adaptors that are compatible with this cable then you must give credits to the copyright owners. If your adaptors are built onto printed circuit boards then you must also make the complete layout available in a format and resolution that is suitable for high quality reproduction.
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