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Voice Box by The Alien Group


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#1 orpheuswaking OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:53 PM

Hi,

I picked up a lot of Atari things this last weekend one of which was the "Voice Box" by "Alien Group"... It came with a tape that has software for 16k machines on one side, and 32k machines on the other... No matter what I do I can't get it to load either side with any of my known working tape decks. If I do Start+Option or just Start it loads until the end of the tape and then just sits there as though nothing happened. With Cload I get error 1 at line 0.

I looked for other software online and here and found Voice Box II, that loads but I don't have a manual to figure out how to use it. If you load without basic it just gives you a list of options and sits there. no input is accepted. (I'm wondering if the software does not work with the unit I have)...

Therefore does anyone have a working ATR or CAS of the Voice Box software, and also a scan of the manual? Or at least some info on how to use this unit.

Thanks

Simon

#2 orpheuswaking OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:48 AM

[edit] Double post, sorry...

Edited by orpheuswaking, Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:50 AM.


#3 orpheuswaking OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:49 AM

No one has used this here at all? I'm looking for ANY help at all...

#4 rdea6 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:05 PM

I just did a search for Alien voice and got this:

http://www.atariage....r_app[forums]=1

and this is the atr for the Voice box II:

http://www.atariage....tach&tid=144728

Posted Image

#5 orpheuswaking OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:55 PM

I just did a search for Alien voice and got this:

http://www.atariage....r_app[forums]=1

and this is the atr for the Voice box II:

http://www.atariage....tach&tid=144728

Posted Image


Your first link does not work... And as stated I already have the ATR for voice box II... However it just loads to a screen and sits there, I can't get it to accept any input... I need a manual or something to figure it out (that is if that software works with the original device)...

I appreciate the help though :)

#6 perry_m OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:49 PM

Maybe try Translator, since it is so old.

Can you run wav2cas on it?
wav2cas is here: http://home.planet.n...t/atarixle.html

If it isn't corrupt then we can examine the cas image for ideas.

If corrupt maybe it can be repaired, as there are 2 copies, probably similar.

I would like to add emulation of the Voice Box to Atari800 at some point but I need the software for this so it would be useful to have.

#7 orpheuswaking OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:58 PM

I've tried it on a 400 an 800 with and without basic as well as a 800XL and a 130XE... I'm guessing the tape is bad :( but I could try wav2cas

I think it may have multiple programs on the tape though, That's why having the manual would help (of course that the only thing NOT in the boxes)

#8 orpheuswaking OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:36 AM

Attached File  VoiceBox.zip   36.27KB   242 downloads

Wav2Cas files

#9 perry_m OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:14 AM

It seems most of the tape did not convert well with wav2cas. Most blocks were bad.

I read that Phaeron, author of Altirra, suggested using a bandpass filter from 1KHz to 7KHz in Audacity to clean up a recording before using wav2cas. Also Altirra has its own algorithm for reading wav files, so you could try loading it with Altirra.

Just possibly there is some issue with the recording beyond the tape being bad. Perhaps clipping or low volume. Maybe check in Audacity if the waveform looks good.

It is a Basic program. There are some additional segments after the main program. I think this is for a Dictionary.

Possibly we could recover the essential logic for accessing the device despite the corruption of the Basic file but this is difficult because of the large amount of damage.

#10 a8isa1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:26 AM

Attached File  VoiceBox.zip   36.27KB   242 downloads

Wav2Cas files


try the following with your tape:

- ENTER "C:"

- RUN "C:"

- LOAD "C:" (Can't remember for sure but I think this expects long record gaps versus short record games for CLOAD).


Did you try a head cleaning cassette?

#11 orpheuswaking OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:19 PM

Attached File  VoiceBox.zip   36.27KB   242 downloads

Wav2Cas files


try the following with your tape:

- ENTER "C:"

- RUN "C:"

- LOAD "C:" (Can't remember for sure but I think this expects long record gaps versus short record games for CLOAD).


Did you try a head cleaning cassette?


Head cleaning was the first thing I did... Tried all possible permutations of loading the software... I think I've exhausted all possibilities and the voice box will sit on the shelf looking cool but ultimately doing nothing... I think my best option is if someone comes up with a disk image of the original software, which I am very surprised is not available on the many archive sites out there... Either that or figure out how to operate the VBII software and see if it can be made to work with this iteration of the hardware...

In the meantime I think I'll start messing around with S.A.M

I'll bump this occasionally to request if anyone has an ATR or CAS of the original software, and just as importantly the Manual!

#12 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:27 PM

Do you have APE?

If you do, setup a printer such that it captures to a window so you can cut/paste and post the data here.

Then try this to give a listing of the first block:

10 OPEN #1,4,128,"C:"
20 OPEN #2,8,0,"P:"
30 DIM D(128):FOR A=1 TO 128:GET #1,D:D(A)=D:NEXT A
40 CLOSE #1
50 FOR A=1 TO 128:? #2;D(A);
60 NEXT A:CLOSE #2

#13 perry_m OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:01 PM

If you can upload the .wav files you made for use with wav2cas to Megaupload or some such place I will try to use Audacity or Altirra to improve the recovery of data.

I have figured out how the Voice Box II works and I think it can be emulated in Atari800.

The Voice Box II program will freeze when run in Atari800 unless the Voice Box II device is responding correctly. If it fails to work with the Voice Box I then it may be that the protocol is different.

The Voice Box II is not an intelligent device that obeys the Atari SIO protocol. Data is simply sent over the serial line and decoded by a shift register. I believe the cassette motor line is used to signal that the Voice Box II should respond to serial data. The SIO /COMMAND line is not used. The Votrax SC-01 busy status is read using the SKSTAT bit that reads data directly from the SIO bus.

Both the Voice Box I and II use a simple BASIC program as the interface.

The Voice Box I cassette should be loaded from BASIC with CLOAD.

Here are some strings from the Voice Box I images:

(The word "data" occurs as part of the .cas file format and should be ignored)
16k
Spoiler


32k
Spoiler


#14 orpheuswaking OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:15 PM

Some Success.

I was finally able to load the tape into the 800 and then list it back to an ATR in DOS... Examining the tape I can see where it has some kinks and I'm not sure how many more loads I'll get from it. I WAS able to load the dictionary on the 32k side, but not the 16k side... However as this data is loaded in by the main program I was unable to just make a listing of it.

Here is the ATR with both the 16k and 32k main program. Obviously if I ever get the dictionary (and a third set of data on the 32k side) to convert to .CAS I'll be able to run the entire thing from the 800 via APE.

Attached File  voicebox.ATR   130.02KB   200 downloads

And yes I finally got some speech from the unit :)


16k Data WAV (I ran it through WAV2CAS but loading it from APE gives an error from the main program)

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=Y6STFYGX

32k Data WAV (I ran it through WAV2CAS but loading it from APE gives an error from the main program), It appears that this may have two sets of data as there is a small break in audio near the end.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=D4GN4G0B

Edited by orpheuswaking, Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:54 PM.


#15 perry_m OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:40 AM

I recovered the data files.
Attached is 32kfix.cas which is the 32k data file with dictionary and random words list.
The 16k tape has the same dictionary but doesn't use the words file.
Also included is voicebox_d.atr which contains a disk version of the program.
The modified basic program is vb32km.bas
I just changed OPEN #1,4/8,0,"C" to use D:DICT and D:WORDS after copying them over to disk.
The text in the Basic program that refers to the cassette is unchanged and should be ignored.

The Voice Box I driver code uses a 6502 bit-banging routine to access the device, but the Voice Box II code uses the POKEY SIO shift register. Seems that they may not have been compatible. The Voice Box II appears to use the SIO clock line to set the voice's frequency. The Voice Box I doesn't seem to be capable of this. Both of them can set the Votrax sc-01 intonation bits, which is more than the Atari 1400XL can do.

Attached Files



#16 orpheuswaking OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 21, 2010 12:16 PM

I recovered the data files.
Attached is 32kfix.cas which is the 32k data file with dictionary and random words list.
The 16k tape has the same dictionary but doesn't use the words file.
Also included is voicebox_d.atr which contains a disk version of the program.
The modified basic program is vb32km.bas
I just changed OPEN #1,4/8,0,"C" to use D:DICT and D:WORDS after copying them over to disk.
The text in the Basic program that refers to the cassette is unchanged and should be ignored.

The Voice Box I driver code uses a 6502 bit-banging routine to access the device, but the Voice Box II code uses the POKEY SIO shift register. Seems that they may not have been compatible. The Voice Box II appears to use the SIO clock line to set the voice's frequency. The Voice Box I doesn't seem to be capable of this. Both of them can set the Votrax sc-01 intonation bits, which is more than the Atari 1400XL can do.


That's great, I have no idea what to do to change things from cassette to disk so having this as a disk version and the dictionary/random word list converted is amazing...

Thank you so much... I'll give it a whirl tonight.

:)

#17 David_P OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 9, 2014 6:06 PM

To resurrect this thread: There's a Voice Box up on eBay: eBay Auction -- Item Number: 271448103632

#18 Bill Lange OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:37 PM

To resurrect this thread: There's a Voice Box up on eBay: eBay Auction -- Item Number: 271448103632

 

I picked up this item on eBay.  I was actually interested in it because of the images of the documentation.  There are four pages of hand written documentation dated mid July 1982.  There are also 10 pages of typed documentation.

 

The date and the contents of the documentation makes me think that this is a really early The Alien Group Voice Box I for the Atari.  It looks to be a package of hardware, software, documentation and handwritten notes for a disk and/or cassette duplicating company to manufacture the disks/cassettes for The Alien Group.

 

I'm going to work on getting the information scanned and typed up to share with the community.

 

Bill



#19 Bill Lange OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:04 PM

Here are the hand written notes and diskette directory listings

 

 

Attached Files



#20 Allan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:36 PM

 

I picked up this item on eBay.  I was actually interested in it because of the images of the documentation.  There are four pages of hand written documentation dated mid July 1982.  There are also 10 pages of typed documentation.

 

The date and the contents of the documentation makes me think that this is a really early The Alien Group Voice Box I for the Atari.  It looks to be a package of hardware, software, documentation and handwritten notes for a disk and/or cassette duplicating company to manufacture the disks/cassettes for The Alien Group.

 

I'm going to work on getting the information scanned and typed up to share with the community.

 

Bill

WOW!! I was watching that but once it hit $70 I was out. It went pretty high. I didn't even catch that it was possible in-house model.

 

Thanks for scanning the notes.

 

Allan



#21 Ripdubski OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:48 PM

I watched it to 150 and decided not to bid. Nice though!

#22 Stephen OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 18, 2014 7:14 AM

Same here - glad I did not bid against a fellow Atari collector :)



#23 Bill Lange OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:18 PM

Here is the second part of the documentation that came with the Voice Box.  These look like some of the original typed pages for the manual.  There are ten pages of yellowing crinkly paper.  I'm going to put these in some paper protectors and see if I can flatten them out.

 

Next up, I'll open up the actual Voice Box unit and see what is inside this particular model.

 

Bill

 

 

Attached Files



#24 Bill Lange OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:24 PM

Here are some pictures of the Alien Group Voice Box.  It uses a Votrax SC-01A speech synthesizer chip.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • photo 1.JPG
  • photo 2.JPG
  • photo 3.JPG
  • photo 4.JPG
  • photo 5.JPG


#25 Stephen OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:48 PM

Excellent!  Is that the same speech chip used (planned I guess) for the 1450 line?






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