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Details about  Acorn BBC Micro Master ROM RAM cartridge card + battery backup + write protect

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Acorn BBC Micro Master ROM RAM cartridge card + battery backup + write protect
Item Ended
Item condition:
01 Jul, 2012 22:26:02 BST
£3.00 Standard Delivery | See details
Item location:
PLYMOUTH, Devon, United Kingdom


eBay item number:
Seller assumes all responsibility for this listing.
Last updated on  02 Jun, 2012 13:16:24 BST  View all revisions
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Item specifics

New: A brand-new, unused, unopened and undamaged item in original retail packaging (where packaging is ... Read moreabout the condition
Brand: Acorn

  • Stores up to eight 16kB ROM images
  • Battery backup fitted as standard
  • Less cartridge swapping (reduced wear on connectors)
  • On one board you have all the advantages of ROM and RAM
  • Write protection facilities
  • Gold plated edge contacts for reliability
  • Can also accept a 16kB or 8kB EPROM
  • ZIF socket option
  • ROM Filing System formatter included
  • Professionally made PCB

This is a board designed for use in either of the two cartridge slots provided by the Acorn BBC Master. Normally, cartridges can only hold a maximum of two ROMs but this one can store up to eight. Copies of ROM data ('ROM images') can be loaded into the eight banks of sideways RAM from the current filing system. Once loaded, the data will be retained for years by the battery backup system but obviously you can quickly overwrite it with new information at any time. Write protection is provided as standard.


How long will the battery last?

The current drawn in standby mode (ie main computer turned off) is just a few microamps. Based on the quoted capacity of the CR2032 cell (about 200mAh) and the manufacturer's cell performance data, the battery will probably need changing every five years. It's a quick, easy and inexpensive process - just unclip the old battery and insert the replacement.

How do I access the eight 16kB images?

The 128kB RAM chip can hold up to eight 16kB ROM images, but the machine can only 'see' two at any one time. This is a limitation imposed by the Master itself because each cartridge slot was only ever designed to accept two 16kB ROMs. Effectively, with this card you have four pairs of 16kB sideways RAM. You decide which pair is active by means of the two switches at the left (marked A15 and A16). For each of the four possible positions of switches A15 and A16, the computer will be able to access just one pair of RAM banks. The other three are temporarily unavailable. To access another pair just set the switches to suit. There's no need to turn off the machine when you do this although a Ctrl-Break may be needed. Why it's needed (if at all) is explained in some depth on the accompanying CD.

If the card is inserted into the slot nearest to the keypad, the ROM images appear in ROM sockets 2 and 3. For the slot nearest the back they will appear in ROM sockets 0 and 1.

Why is there no plastic case?

Because the tooling charges are prohibitive small numbers. But the circuit board itself is professionally made and even the surface mount components go through our own in-house surface mount assembly line. All in all, it's a very tidy looking unit.

Do I need to turn off the computer when swapping cards?

Ideally, you should. But remember that one of main benefits of this type of card is that you don't need to physically swap cards around in order to use a different ROM. Either flick the A15/A16 switches as required or just load the ROM image you want from the current filing system. Less swapping of cards means less wear on the edge connector.

How does the ROM socket work?

You can fit an 8kB or 16kB ROM in the socket in the top right hand corner. To access it, you need to move the nearby switch to the right (marked 'ROM'). Of course, the computer can still only see a maximum of two ROM images on the card at any time, so you will 'lose' a bank of RAM by doing this. To get it back again (and disable the ROM socket) you just move the switch to the left.

My own Master has a ZIF socket fitted here which can be handy at times (see below). But with a huge library of ROM images available on the internet it's usually more convenient to just load the right data from the current filing system. The use of a modern solid state storage system in preference to floppies has obvious speed and convenience advantages.

What are the other switches for?

They are mainly for write protection and a read inhibit facility. Both can be useful on occasions.

Can I still use the standard internal sideways RAM?

Yes. The Master provides (link selectable) 16kB of sideways RAM in sockets 4, 5, 6 and 7. The presence of this ROM/RAM card does not affect the operation of the standard RAM and the associated ROM sockets in any way. Unlike the ROM/RAM card, the internal sideways RAM cannot be readily write protected.

Can it be used in either slot?

Yes, the rearmost slot is ROM sockets numbers 0 and 1. The other slot nearest to the numeric keypad is socket numbers 2 and 3. That is the only difference. But if you have any other kind of ROM cartridge fitted then you will probably want to fit this card in the frontmost slot and the ordinary ROM cartridge in the rearmost one (otherwise the switches are difficult to get at).

How do I load data onto the card?

The obvious way is the Master's *SRLOAD command. However, there are some simple assembly language programs provided to do the same job. The fastest way is to *LOAD a ROM image into main memory, then write it up to the sideways ROM address space beginning at &8000. With the Turbo MMC system fitted the whole process takes about half a second, but DFS or ADFS floppies will be entirely suitable. Data may also be loaded from Compact Flash or a GoMMC unit. There is also a program supplied to save ROM images to the current filing system.

Money-back guarantee

The product is covered by a 1 year guarantee. Additionally, most eBay Buy It Now sales are covered by the Distance Selling Regulations (DSR). In essence this gives you a 7-day period in which to return the goods for any reason whatsoever. If you wish to return this item in the 7-day period then you will receive a full refund (cost of the item itself and the postage too). The cost of returning the item to us is to be borne by the purchaser unless, of course, the item is actually faulty in which case we will refund any reasonable postage costs as well.

For UK buyers this offer is extended further. You can return the item in good condition for any reason whatsoever within 7 days for a full no-quibble refund. Not only do we refund the full amount paid but also the return postage (first or second class standard). What do you have to lose by checking it out?


Below: A card fitted to a Master Turbo. This particular card has a ZIF socket fitted and also a Wordwise Plus chip. These two items are not included with the card although you can easily add a ZIF socket later.



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VAT number: GB 0

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