Core32 Technical info

CORE32 is:

A fully featured tool that allows archival and replay of all tapes designed for CBM 8-bits machines (Commodore 64, VIC-20, PET, Plus4, C16 etc.)
CORE32 is able to completely and accurately emulate a Commodore Tape recorder C2N 1530-1531 in all of its functionalities but, unlike the original tape recorder CORE32 takes advantage of digital file storage on Micro SD cards to archive the original magnetic tape content. This prevents data losses due to wear-and-tear that are very common when using cassette tapes to store digital information.

These are the most relevant features:

  • CORE32 converts the content of the cassettes in a proprietary high resolution file format (HTAP). HTAP files have a self-validation mechanism (AuthentiTAPE technology) allowing to make sure the file is not manually altered. This allows to make sure it will always be possible to distinguish between the orginal files and any altered copy. HTAP File format, differently from what happens with the regular TAP files, stores all the information necessary for the preservation of the original signal stored on the cassettes. HTAP file format can be then easily converted to any of the popular formats used on the emulators (TAP V0, TAP V1, TAP V2, WAV etc.)
  • Specifications of HTAP file format have been made public to allow third parties to implement tools that will work directly on these files and/or to allow to implement the compatibility of the existing tools/emulators with these files.
  • HTAP files generated by CORE32 are standard, so they can be used directly with CUTE32 cards with no issues despite it’s readily possible to understand if the file was originally generated by a CORE32 or by a CUTE32
  • Remote console tool running on Windows PC allows to use all of CORE32 card features controlling it via a Wi-Fi link
  • It’s possible to connect to the CORE32 using a “Wi-Fi direct” point-to-point connection, without a Wi-Fi router, or using home Wi-Fi network
  • Files can be exchanged between the CORE32 and the PC by using Wi-Fi link
  • Console Application allows to catalog the full content of multiple SD-cards allowing to search for the required file in one or multiple SD-cards at a time. The search can be carried out also on the content of tape compilations and at the end of the search it’s possible to “reveal” the location of one of the found files by just double clicking it. Doing so will position the main window directly on that directory/that file.
  • Both Application and CORE32 card have direct update detection and update process execution from manosoft main site. Updates can be carried out also manually if desired.
  • Currently the console application runs on Windows PC’s (Win XP or better) but since the communication between the application and the CORE32 card is via TCP/IP the development of other applications (also on mobile devices) should be extremely simple
  • The card implements anti-counterfeit technologies and this allows to avoid others to produce clones thus preventing card value losses. Even serial number and manufacturing date are protected from tampering and are displayed thorough the Console program.
  • Persistent configuration based on both Micro SD Card and non-volatile internal storage
  • Wide compatibility with Micro SD cards on the market even with the most recent fast micro SD and SDXC (High capacity) formats
  • Hot-swap functionality that allows to remove-reinsert the SD card without having to reboot CORE32 in the vast majority of the situations
  • Real Time Clock with support for Time Zones and automatic synchronization (PC or internet). This way the date/time of files created with the card is always correct
  • Bullet-Proof Firmware update with CRC validation of the content to avoid corruption
  • Fully digital Buzzer volume setup (logarithmic) that can be controlled from remote (even when the content of a tape file is being played back)
  • Accurate FFWD emulation that allows to use any “FFWD menu” based tape and access each of the programs in the tape quickly without having to load all the preceiding ones
    Accurate REW emulation that allows to load tapes relying on tape positioning made by the fast loader such as RADWAR or Super Pavloda
  • Full emulation of tape counter (Absolute and relative) that allows to load tapes asking to reset the counter and the to rewind to 0. Positioning is very reliable and rewind to zero can be either manual (REW) or with an instant-execution functionality.
  • The two preceiding functionalities, together with the emulation logic of the card, are allowing to load ANY kind of tape based program, multi-load, FFWD menu based, multi side, multi tape, based on loader positioning, based on counter reset or based on positioning to a specific counter. We didn’t find yet a program that cannot be loaded.
  • Tape player on CORE32 is compatible with the popular formats TAP V0, V1 e V2 – DMP V0 e V1 and also, of course, with its HTAP V0 properietary format. – Positioning features described above are available on tape files of all compatible formats.
  • CORE32 supports tape accurate tape player emulation for all CBM 8-bit line Computers (PET emulated as VIC-20) taking into account also the different between PAL and NTSC standard CBM computer belongs to
  • The card has a progress bar that allows, during replay, to understand at a glance where the replay of tape is taking place and proportionally how much time is remaining
  • Azimuth justage visual functionality directly on the Windows Console program that allows to fine tune Tape Head Azimuth before grabbing
  • File being generated by the Grabbing operation can be automatically named with the name of the first FOUND: item of the tape being grabbed
  • CORE32 recognizes automatically all the programs contained in a compilation together with the number of tape turns where each of them starts. it is possible this way to jump instantly to the program of interest in a multi-program compilation single tape file
  • The tape turns counter is accurately emulated to match the one of an original CBM C2N tape recorder
  • It’s possible to manage directories containing a maximum of 500 items (files/sub dirs) each one with names even 63 characters long
  • It’s possible to record the digital signal from the C2N tape recorder (connected with an “Y” adapter) as well as from the CBM computer the CORE32 card is connected to (this allows to record on digital file the content of the tapes as well as the
    programs the end user creates on his CBM computer and the status of the games allowing to save it to tape)
  • Proprietary digital storage file format (.HTAP) that allows to grab/store the content of the tape with extreme precision (measurement precision 12ns, storage precision 0.5 us)
  • Playback of the files is executed with very high precision allowing to reproduce pulses that are only few microseconds wide with very low jitter. This allows to load successfully tape files that not even a PC based emulator can load.
  • Possibility to master tapes starting with any of the supported formats. A cassette mastered suing an .HTAP file is virtually hydentical to the one the HTAP file was created from
  • Tool available to convert HTAP file format (produced while grabbing with CORE32 card) into any other standard tape CBM formats TAP V0,1,2 with automatic playback speed compensation and even in WAV files with 192Khz maximum sampling rate

NOTE:

In order to be able to:
1) Convert the content of a magnetic tape to an HTAP file
2) Save the content of any supported tape file to a real magnetic tape
It’s necessary to use a “Y” adapter allowing to connect to Datassette to a CBM Computer like the ones sold to duplicate tapes in the 80’s. These adapters have been anyway re-designed and are sold cheap on eBay.
Instead to be ale to save from the Commodore Computer to an HTAP file (e.g. game save on virtual tape or saving programs to tape from the computer) it’s enough to have CORE32 directly connected to the tape port of the Commodore Computer.

What CORE32 is NOT:

  • An audio-oriented TAPE mastering/grabbing system. Audio methods are producing low quality results that would not be acceptable
  • Despite CORE32 is able to accurately grab any digital signal, even the one coming from non CBM machines, and even the export functionality could convert HTAP files (that are computer agnostic) into a WAV that would allow post-processing with utilites dedicated to other non-Commodore computers. The aforementioned functionalities will NOT be officially supported, even if from some tests we ran they seem to be working reliably.
  • CORE32 is not the n-th solution to barely load a single-shot loading tape file to a CBM machine
  • CUTE32 is not the n-th solution to barely load a single-shot loading tape file to a CBM machine, based on a pre-built generic microprocessor card being attached as piggy-back onto a PCB with a handful of components