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A Brand New Atari 2600 Clone Project


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#26 Kenny_McCormic OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 1:12 PM

If you are gonna do 4 controller ports the cable tangling will get pretty wild, I would go wireless. Making a wireless CX-40 and CX-30 in their standard case size would not be too hard with today's technology.

#27 jaybird3rd OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 2:58 PM

It needs a name - I propose The Cheetah

The first step is to start designing and building it. For some reason, coming up with a cool name is what many people always seem to want to do first on these kinds of projects.

Which reminds me ... if you want a cool name, how about this: The Atari 2600, Team Savage Edition!

Edited by jaybird3rd, Mon Oct 5, 2009 3:35 PM.


#28 Video OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 3:59 PM

No need to fuck with Tia or anything like that. You could have teh Tia hooked direectly to an old style analog cable like on a traditional system, and a side line going to a digital converter chip to handle proper upconverting to good HD standards for the ones who just need it to work on an HD set for some reason. No reason to mess with anything vital to the system beyond that.



And for goodness sake give us 40 bits for the playfield instead of 20!

Great idea!

But that brings up another complication with designing a new 2600 clone: do you recreate the limitations of the original hardware, or do you go to the trouble of adding new features (more playfield, more sprites, more sound channels, more RAM, etc)? The problem with the latter is that no 2600 games could use the new features unless they were designed specifically for the new clone, and in that case, they're really not "2600 games" anymore. Why would anyone bother with the new features if the market for games that could use them is so limited?


That's why a 7800 compat system would be cool. The 7800 isn't nearly as common,don't know how many were made, but I'd be willing to bet itwas less common than the SMS. It opens all the newer features you could want, while still being faithful to te original 2600 system.

If you are gonna do 4 controller ports the cable tangling will get pretty wild, I would go wireless. Making a wireless CX-40 and CX-30 in their standard case size would not be too hard with today's technology.


Heck yeah, Wireless controllers would be cool. However, it HAS to still have a physical port for controllers. I like the controllers myself, and while you could have all new controllers, it would be cool to be able to use your old faves still.

#29 jaybird3rd OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 5:09 PM

No need to fuck with Tia or anything like that. You could have teh Tia hooked direectly to an old style analog cable like on a traditional system, and a side line going to a digital converter chip to handle proper upconverting to good HD standards for the ones who just need it to work on an HD set for some reason. No reason to mess with anything vital to the system beyond that.

True, but that would just give you the same kind of A-to-D conversion that we already have now (the conversion would just be happening inside the 2600 instead of inside the TV), unless you can build an A-to-D converter that is better than the one included in modern televisions. That isn't so easy, either.

#30 RevEng ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 5:21 PM

I thought Legacy Engineering owned the rights to the FB2 core. (Though not the trademark)

If so, then there's no reason to reinvent the wheel. Someone with a thick enough bankroll could pay Curt et al to implement the fixes and feature for the new 2600.

It would certainly be a lot cheaper than starting from scratch.

BTW, remember how Intel named their 586 the "Pentium" because they found out they couldn't legally trademark a number? There's no reason this new box couldn't simply be called "the 2600".

#31 lapetino OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 5:28 PM

I thought Legacy Engineering owned the rights to the FB2 core. (Though not the trademark)

If so, then there's no reason to reinvent the wheel. Someone with a thick enough bankroll could pay Curt et al to implement the fixes and feature for the new 2600.

It would certainly be a lot cheaper than starting from scratch.

BTW, remember how Intel named their 586 the "Pentium" because they found out they couldn't legally trademark a number? There's no reason this new box couldn't simply be called "the 2600".


If that is the case, then convincing and/or hiring Curt and the Legacy Engineering gang to create an updated 2600 clone would be an excellent idea. Maybe a crowdfunded project? Sponsored by AtariAge? Is there a Venture Capitalist in the house? :)

#32 VectorGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 5:34 PM

The first step is to start designing and building it. For some reason, coming up with a cool name is what many people always seem to want to do first on these kinds of projects.


No problem - I'll just mind my own business...

#33 nathanallan OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 7:43 PM

I thought Legacy Engineering owned the rights to the FB2 core. (Though not the trademark)

If so, then there's no reason to reinvent the wheel. Someone with a thick enough bankroll could pay Curt et al to implement the fixes and feature for the new 2600.

It would certainly be a lot cheaper than starting from scratch.

BTW, remember how Intel named their 586 the "Pentium" because they found out they couldn't legally trademark a number? There's no reason this new box couldn't simply be called "the 2600".

I totally forgot about that!! O'Shea has the white 7800 consoles, and they're sitting on them. So it has already been designed and is just waiting for an investor.

I am going to suggest this to someone I think will go for it.

Stephen Colbert!

Serious. Have email address will travel.

/edit Email away. I probably won't hear back for a while, though, if at all.

Edited by nathanallan, Mon Oct 5, 2009 7:54 PM.


#34 Random Terrain ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 10:02 PM

No problem - I'll just mind my own business...

That's right! You shut your mouth and only speak when spoken to! :D

#35 accousticguitar OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 10:11 PM

I like "The Cheetah." And we kind of are cheating, right? :ponder:

#36 Random Terrain ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 10:23 PM

I like "The Cheetah." And we kind of are cheating, right? :ponder:

Please, no more cat names. Those stupid cat names are what killed off Atari the first time, so let's avoid them like the English avoid toothbrushes or the French avoid deodorant or people from the USA avoid American cars. :D

#37 accousticguitar OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 10:27 PM

2600 would be fine too, especially if it's not copyrightable like RevEng says.

#38 Curt Vendel OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 12:08 AM

Actually if we're going to take another stab at this, a 7800 on a chip is what I'd prefer...



Curt

I thought Legacy Engineering owned the rights to the FB2 core. (Though not the trademark)

If so, then there's no reason to reinvent the wheel. Someone with a thick enough bankroll could pay Curt et al to implement the fixes and feature for the new 2600.

It would certainly be a lot cheaper than starting from scratch.

BTW, remember how Intel named their 586 the "Pentium" because they found out they couldn't legally trademark a number? There's no reason this new box couldn't simply be called "the 2600".



#39 Random Terrain ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 12:13 AM

Actually if we're going to take another stab at this, a 7800 on a chip is what I'd prefer...

If that would be possible, would it also be possible for it to be more compatible with Atari 2600 games than some of the older Atari 7800 consoles:

http://www94.pair.co...800_compat.html

#40 tetrode kink OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 1:42 AM


I look at it this way: Atari should have given it 40 bytes for the playfield in the first place.


It'd be nice if Atari had done any number of things but it is very easy to lose sight of just how expensive all of this stuff was back in 1977. They were trying to hit a price point of less than $200 in 1978 dollars...

...Every feature in the machine had a tangible cost that would impact the bottom line. It wasn't like today where the equivalent of $10 1978 dollars will buy you a well featured single board computer.

...Even a 400 cost something just shy of $500. And we're talking about something that corrects all the 2600 deficiencies as Atari saw them.

Considerable cleverness went to producing even what the 2600 could do and still be affordable enough to stick under a Christmas tree.

Here here, frogstar_robot, you beat me to it.

As the TIA was a specialty-part to begin with, they stuffed all they could into the technology they had to work with and still hope to price the VCS below the stratosphere.

Just be grateful they gave programmers the option of repeating OR mirroring the PF in the first place! :D

Or, look at it this way; because of all its limitations, we now have the Best Programmers on Earth developing homebrews. OK, big leap from the beginning to the end of that sentence, but I think we're all smart enough to fill in the middle parts! :)

-tet

#41 RevEng ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 6:44 AM

Actually if we're going to take another stab at this, a 7800 on a chip is what I'd prefer...



Curt

I think the idea of a 7800 clone is even more exciting than the idea of a 2600 clone!
There's a number of ways this could proceed, and everything seems to lead from where the funding would come from.

What are your thoughts on...

1) A crowd-funded project. Is $500 from 100 people in the ballpark, or is it laughable?

2) A traditional VC allowing the additional expense of a cart slot to be in the design?

3) Taking Legacy public so it can finance this and other projects. If this question is too intrusive or personal, feel free to just ignore it. But I believe in what Legacy does and would be willing to invest.

#42 disjaukifa OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 6:49 AM

I like "The Cheetah." And we kind of are cheating, right? :ponder:

Please, no more cat names. Those stupid cat names are what killed off Atari the first time, so let's avoid them like the English avoid toothbrushes or the French avoid deodorant or people from the USA avoid American cars. :D


It seems to be working for Apple :cool:

-Disjaukifa

#43 accousticguitar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 11:10 AM

but I think we're all smart enough to fill in the middle parts! :)

That's just it. I'm not. I want 40 bytes!

#44 channelmaniac OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 4:56 PM

...cartridge-based, backward compatible (hardware and software) with 7800, 2600, Supercharger, AtariVox et al...built for arcade perfect ports and fresh new audio/graphic rich titles...built FOR developers and therefore built for gamers...

It needs a name - I propose The Cheetah


6502 based... with the RIOT chip which gave the 2600 its 128 bytes of RAM and I/O ports and TIA for compatibility... Should then run 100% of the 2600 games.

But then give it 32K of SRAM (a single 62256 SRAM chip will work nicely) and bitmapped graphics to go with that TIA.

Any unused lines on the cart slot can be repurposed for whatever you want.

Add in a nice, cheap sound chip and you are good to go. Some cheezy Yamaha FM sound generator will work nicely and not cost too much... plus there are plenty of code and music samples you can use for it.

RJ

#45 Cebus Capucinis OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 5:55 PM

The first step is to start designing and building it. For some reason, coming up with a cool name is what many people always seem to want to do first on these kinds of projects.
Which reminds me ... if you want a cool name, how about this: The Atari 2600, Team Savage Edition!


ARGH!!! Beat me to it! I read this far and then thought 'oh, I have a hilarious inside joke to say to THAT one! Let's see if Team Savage will make it, because we already have the BIG part done: the name!" but no, I'm too slow..

#46 Video OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 7, 2009 4:14 PM

$500 from 100 people would be $50,000, but the real questionwould be, how much would it cost to make the consoles? I'd be interested in fronting some money, if we could guarantee seeing something if we could match that ammount, but I don't know, it sounds a little low (and the chance of getting more money, or many more people is probably pretty low, assuming we could pull off that much to begine with)


No need to fuck with Tia or anything like that. You could have teh Tia hooked direectly to an old style analog cable like on a traditional system, and a side line going to a digital converter chip to handle proper upconverting to good HD standards for the ones who just need it to work on an HD set for some reason. No reason to mess with anything vital to the system beyond that.

True, but that would just give you the same kind of A-to-D conversion that we already have now (the conversion would just be happening inside the 2600 instead of inside the TV), unless you can build an A-to-D converter that is better than the one included in modern televisions. That isn't so easy, either.


Yeah, basically that's my point. The reason Atari doesn't look to good on modern TV's, is they have simply moved on and aren't properly compatible with the signal the 2600 outputs. That it works at all is a not so minor miracle that people seem to ignore though. But yeah, a custom chip added after TIA basically, to pre process the image into something a modern day TV is compatible with is basically what I'm talking about. You could even have a few built in features like auto stretching, fill screen, or a more traditional look...



I like "The Cheetah." And we kind of are cheating, right? :ponder:

Please, no more cat names. Those stupid cat names are what killed off Atari the first time, so let's avoid them like the English avoid toothbrushes or the French avoid deodorant or people from the USA avoid American cars. :D

:lol: OMG, to funny.

#47 tetrode kink OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:14 AM

I hate this thread. It's so pointless.

Before it hit two pages of posts it was already bifurcating into the inevitable divergent paths: Those that want a "2600" with all the modern whizbangs and those that just want a genuine gate-for-gate reproduction of the classic VCS but using modern materials and methods, that will connect to modern TVs easily.

For the record, I'm in the latter camp. If you have an Atari with all the latest technology, you may be able to market it to the masses but you can't possibly call it a "2600" with a straight face.

The problem with doing just a straight operational clone of a 2600 is that no major manufacturer will touch it so it would have to be a Harmony-like project, one undertaken by the talented members here, solely for the love of the beast.

So, can we all just move on and concentrate on preserving the Original Plastic as long as we can?

-tet

Edited by tetrode kink, Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:04 AM.


#48 Random Terrain ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:10 AM

The problem with doing just a straight operational clone of a 2600 is that no major manufacturer will touch it so it would have to be a Harmony-like project, one undertaken by the talented members here, solely for the love of the beast.

So, can we all just move on and concentrate on preserving the Original Plastic as long as we can?

Feel free to move on, the rest of us are staying. Most of us are talking about a fairly small production (probably low thousands at the most), not some mass produced dumbed down product designed to attract the average nose-picking mouth-breather. It's not pointless at all. Whether it's a new Atari 2600 clone or a new Atari 7800 clone, I'll be happy as long as it will use cartridges and it has modern hookups (and the Harmony cart will work with it).

I spent over 100 dollars on a modified Atari 2600 and the unremovable sound chip died. Now it's a large paperweight. It's hard for me to come up with that amount of money, so I won't be doing that again. I'd rather save up the money for a new Atari 2600 clone or Atari 7800 clone with all new parts that is designed for the TVs of today.

#49 CPUWIZ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:52 AM

I spent over 100 dollars on a modified Atari 2600 and the unremovable sound chip died. Now it's a large paperweight. It's hard for me to come up with that amount of money, so I won't be doing that again.


Send it to me, it would take about 5 minutes to remove that chip and plop a socket in it. :P

#50 potatohead OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:44 AM

Seriously RT. That Atari is totally fixable. And there are lots of Ataris to be fixed.

The specs above are basically the VCS we have now + harmony cart! That's going to hit somewhere in the $100 range soon, with a nice mod being a few bucks more. Given that, and the availability of consoles, a clone doesn't make a lot of sense. We are lucky --damn lucky to have gotten the flashback. (which could always be mounted in an old plastic case, I might add)

The modified Ataris I saw at this years game convention in PDX were outstanding in their quality. If there is any effort, increasing the availability and ease of modification seems to make the most sense. Making a new VCS, that acts like the old VCS, but does new things is going to be very, very difficult.

If you want a new console that has that classic feel, use a micro and retrofit existing ones, or have new cases made. Way cheaper, and the classic feel can be had, along with new projects. There are now several great system boards being produced, all using different, modern day micro controllers. Their graphics capability ranges from VCS to maybe SNES, depending on how good the programmer is.

I'll be honest and say that's the road I'm going down. At some point, I'll take the micro I'm gaming and programming on, and retrofit a VCS. With all the common carts just laying around, all that is needed is to make boards for carts, and that classic feel is in the bag.




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