PACER INSPIRES DEJA VU
THE NEW PACER disc interface from Omnitronix for the Spectrum evokes strange feelings of deja vu. It is instantly recognisable by users of the Primordial Peripherals and Statacom systems.
The Pacer, and Omnitronix would be the first to admit it, is a budget interface for the Spectrum, and at only £79.95 for the interface plus £2.50 p&p, or £119.95 plus £5.00 p&p for the interface and a 100K drive, it fits the bill admirably. It is simple in operation but it can LOAD and SAVE Basic, Code and Data, which is all many people would want to do.
Omnitronix has redesigned the printed circuit board so it should be a little more reliable than the two previous systems. The system currently only works on 40 track, single-sided drives.
The interface is housed in a metal case which connects to the Spectrum via a flexible three-way connector. The drive plugs into the back of the interface with a choice of either a Shugart or a BBC-style connector.
When the system is powered up, or the reset button pressed, the operating system is copied into the top 8K of the Spectrum memory. That means few commercial programs can be used with the system without major reorganisation.
The system is relatively easy to use; the variable f$ is used to hold the file name plus any parameters and then a RAND USR call is made using a variable, such as 'bl' for Basic Load, 'bs' for Basic Save and so on.
As much as 107.25K can be stored on a disc with up to 39 different files. The interface treats each track as a sector - of 2816 bytes - so even if you save only one byte you lose the other 2815. A file is automatically verified when it is saved and when a Basic program is saved the user defined graphics are saved with it.
The Pacer is not outstanding as a disc interface, but it is a good introduction to the world of disc storage.
Omnitronix Ltd, 13 Dartford Road, Leicester LE2 7PQ. Tel: 0533-839713.