By John Crane

Originally published in EUG #22

Well, after spending a great deal of time repairing it (after the Post Office's best attempts to wreck it!), I've finally got around to having a play and I must say I'm impressed.

Switch on, wait for the Hard Drive to build up speed and press CTRL-BREAK. Assuming you wish to carry on in ADFS (DFS doesn't use the Hard Drive), pressing SHIFT-BREAK will boot the Hard Drive. Derek has loaded an enormous amount of stuff onto it and it's going to be a long time before I've seen it all. Anyway, if you catalogue the drive, various directories are displayed. After typing in what you require after LOAD, CHAIN, etc, you hit RETURN and it happens. No clicking or whirring from the drive, no screen flashing. Just there - instantly!

My favourite is Stop Press 64. It's quite straightforward and easy to use. I thought it was fairly quick to use on disk. However, on Hard Drive, it's incredible! The font (F), page (P), screen (S) and cutout (C) files are all stored in the root ($) directory of the Hard Drive. SP64 itself is in DIR SP.

There is a fair amount of stuff in the files already but if I want to add more, it's quite easy. After setting up and before going into SP64, I just need to copy from the floppy drive to the appropriate file on the Hard Disk. Then I type *DIR SP (RETURN) and *EXEC !BOOT (RETURN) and I'm away! It's essential to set up like this as once in SP64 it won't allow access to any other drive except drive 0 (which is the Hard Drive). There may be a way around this but I haven't found it yet.

One thing I have found that seems to be unique to this set up is the *LOADROM command in AP2. For some strange reason, this can only be used in 32K mode. Any attempt to use it from TURBO or 64K results in either nothing or, at best, a corrupt image being loaded. However, once I've got loaded I can switch to TURBO or 64K and carry on without further problems, so it's no real hardship.

Two areas I would like to improve (And which I would be grateful for practical solutions for!) are that Derek obviously used a monitor for the set up as there is no socket for TV output. I don't have a monitor so I added an adaptor.

There is not a lot of space inside the SuperElk case so as a result the co-axial cable runs fairly close to the Hard Drive. Some of the stray noise therefore seems to travel down the wire resulting in interference on screen. I have shielded the cable and rerouted as much as I can and this has lessened the problem but SP64 and images with a lot of white/coloured parts are still snowy. I've tried an attenuator but even a low level one results in no picture at all! It's not really practical to get a monitor as my A3010 would not work with it (And I haven't the space for two screens!).

That's all I can think of to say about the SuperElk for now. If anyone wants to know more about it though, let me know and I'll do the best I can.

Since I wrote this article, I've had a bit of a rethink and decided that I don't really have the time to realise the true potential of the I'm selling it.

On another subject entirely, I have finally received another Elk back from Slogger but without my DFS chip (installed on one of the spare sockets on the SP64 board). Time to pester Bill Bradbury again! Otherwise half my software is useless. Here goes another six months...!

John Crane, EUG #22