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System Solutions' Cartmaster

Article from Music Technology, November 1992

The CartMaster desk accessory lets you select which of the four cartridge slots is currently active.

The cartridge port on the left side of the Atari ST was originally intended to provide an effective launching pad for cartridge-based programs. While one or two such programs came out in the early days of the ST, the music software companies have primarily used the cartridge port for one or other of two purposes: copy protection and sampling. Consequently many users have two or more cartridges in regular use and continually have to insert and remove them from the port.

Apart from the hassle of having to re-boot the ST each time (cartridges cannot safely be removed or inserted while the ST is on), the quality of the metal contact is poor and this can lead to programs bombing through the misreading of data from the cartridge.

Wizztronics, an American company (Is this serious? - Ed), have surveyed the market and decided that there is a space for a cartridge port expander providing the price is right. The fruit of their labours - CartMaster - is designed to plug into the ST and offers you no fewer than four extra ports - enough, surely, for the most dedicated ST user. One of the ports is actually located on the side of the unit and is therefore perfect for connection of expansion hardware such as the Microdeal Replay range of samplers.

The others stand slightly proud of the expander and are designed to accept 'standard' sized cartridges. Included with the expander is a disk with a desk accessory from which you can select which port is currently active.

The actual fit into the ST's cartridge port is a little sloppy - the circuit board connector could do with being a bit shorter - and it would be nice to have LEDs next to each socket to give immediate visual feedback as to which socket is active. But this aside, CartMaster works perfectly; I tried it out with ten cartridges including Steinberg, C-Lab and Hollis Research copy protection dongles, a Replay sampling cartridge and the Hybrid Arts FM Melody Maker synth cartridge and found no difficulties at all.

The price tag of £129.95 may appear to be a little steep, but this is nearly £60 cheaper than C-Lab's equivalent, the Combiner, and the Steinberg Key Expander is no longer available. If you regularly use a number of cartridges, CartMaster is well worth having.

Price : £129.95

More from : System Solutions, (Contact Details).

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Pro Music Guitar Classics

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That Was Then

Publisher: Music Technology - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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Music Technology - Nov 1992

Review by Vic Lennard

Previous article in this issue:

> Pro Music Guitar Classics

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> That Was Then

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