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ATR 8000


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#1 Skarrj OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:00 AM

Can someone explain what this does or was used as? The info I'm finding is somewhat vague.

#2 sloopy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 21, 2011 2:57 PM

It was a box that would connect a RS-232 serial port, a Parallel port, and has a floppy controller for up to 4 drives (5.25", 8" were common, but 3.5" would work too. all single/double density)


also it could use the A8 as a terminal and run CP/M, and there was a 8088 addon that could run text based PC applications too...

sloopy.

#3 a8maestro OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 4, 2011 9:21 PM

I have some info at:
http://atari.a8maest...ball/ballho.htm

Rick D.




Can someone explain what this does or was used as? The info I'm finding is somewhat vague.



#4 UNIXcoffee928 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 4, 2011 11:01 PM

It's not a wheel chock.

#5 Larry OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 5, 2011 6:01 AM

I've still got one + extras. It was a "big deal" in 1980 (or so), but CP/M died with the advent of MS-Dos and the PC. In the early days of Atari, floppy drives were very expensive and double density was essentially non-existent. The ATR 8000 offered a unique solution to Atari I/O needs, plus offered the possibility of tapping the then-large body of CP/M applications.

It is very outdated by today's standards (big, and slow), but some folks still find them quite interesting.

-Larry

Can someone explain what this does or was used as? The info I'm finding is somewhat vague.



#6 UNIXcoffee928 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 5, 2011 3:38 PM

This was probably the single most expensive Atari-specific peripheral that was ever released during the time of the 8-bits (excluding say, large format Centronics plotters, and high-end non-Atari-specific stuff that could be added via the 850).

It was also an EXTREMELY desirable piece of kit that everyone wanted, but very few had. It is still a very useful device because it gives you a lot of options for connecting your Atari to modern gear... for example, you can easily connect it to a modern Linux/UNIX system as a tty, allowing you to use your Atari as a physical interface to your console, or any terminal session.

I remember that it was sold in different Tiers of configurations, with a fully tricked out one being more expensive that and Atari Computer with a disk drive. I seem to recall that there were initial supply problems, and that people waited for a while to get the original add ons (I may be wrong on that). In any case, they were very rare, back then. So rare that it is almost like a mythical device, of the type that actually surprises you, when it shows up on ebay, in modern times.

I don't have one, and never have had one, but I do remember that the specs for the device allowed for a lot of different expansion routes. If the device seems slow, I'm sure that if you added more modern (or higher-performance vintage) peripherals to it, it would be a lot faster. I remember that the CP/M implementation was supposed to be particularly good (much better than the later C128), and that the ATR8000 gave you the convenience of a full CP/M system and an Atari 8-bit that could share the same hardware resources.

I had a lot of experience with Heathkit H-89 & Z-89 CP/M machines, when I was a kid, and some casual experience with other CP/M systems, and I'll tell you, it was easy enough stuff to learn... just pick up a good book on it. While it is obsolete, in and of itself, and kind of arcane, you can use CP/M for a lot of interesting things... back then, there were a lot of AI & robotics programs and other interesting stuff written that you wouldn't be able to discover & mess with, without access to an older system. There were also programming languages that no longer exist on modern platforms, so if you are studying the lineages of languages, it could still be quite useful, in that regard. Other than that, you can just consider it to be a sometimes useful add-on to your current Atari DOS of choice, since it will allow you to use & study uncommon hardware stuff.

The ATR8000 is one of the coolest things made for the Atari, and it has a lot of potential that is probably overlooked by many owners of the device. If you can track down the technical manual for it, you can have all sorts of fun interfacing it to other equipment (both vintage & modern). If you have one, you are fairly lucky!



#7 sloopy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 5, 2011 4:17 PM

UN*XCoffee928, i am gonna guess you never owned one... i would have rathered a couple XF551's and a P:R:Connection instead...

the ATR-8000 doesnt support any kind of I/O beyond 1x, doesnt support 'Dual Density', and had compatibility issues with alot of original games with copy protection (especially EA games), all that doesnt really out weigh the ability to use 5.25" 720K floppy drives, or 3.5" 720k floppy drives.

then in CP/M you have the issue of a 'scrolling 40 column window, in a 80 column screen', or choose the flyspeck 3 font for 80 columns on screen at once...

honestly, best thing it was suited for was large amounts of storage before the Supra HDI was released, as you could put four 720k drives on it for 2.88M of storage (or 4.8Mb with four 8" drives)...

but overall, damn glad i did (and still ) own mine :')

sloopy.

#8 UNIXcoffee928 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 5, 2011 4:50 PM

UN*XCoffee928, i am gonna guess you never owned one... i would have rathered a couple XF551's and a P:R:Connection instead...

the ATR-8000 doesnt support any kind of I/O beyond 1x, doesnt support 'Dual Density', and had compatibility issues with alot of original games with copy protection (especially EA games), all that doesnt really out weigh the ability to use 5.25" 720K floppy drives, or 3.5" 720k floppy drives.

then in CP/M you have the issue of a 'scrolling 40 column window, in a 80 column screen', or choose the flyspeck 3 font for 80 columns on screen at once...

honestly, best thing it was suited for was large amounts of storage before the Supra HDI was released, as you could put four 720k drives on it for 2.88M of storage (or 4.8Mb with four 8" drives)...

but overall, damn glad i did (and still ) own mine :')

sloopy.

Well, if someone could have afforded one of those boxes, that someone surely could have added any other additional equipment to the setup, too... lol.

As I had mentioned above, I never had one, and I was just explaining that it was a pretty useful & desirable piece of kit, based on its advertisements, specs, & reviews. I was under the impression that 80 columns functioned as expected, if you were using a secondary 80 column capable monochrome monitor (in the same fashion as the Bit-3 Fullview-80, which needed an additional monochrome monitor)... Can you explain more about the 80 column issues that you had? Is there a scan of the last revision's manual?




#9 sloopy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 5, 2011 7:14 PM

Basically there were 4 ways to display CP/M:

1) Normal 40 column display, that was actually a 'window' that scrolled horizontally, for a full 80 column 'screen'

2) a 64 column software based display where each character was a 5 pixel wide by 8 pixel high character

3) a 80 column software based display where each character was a 4 pixel wide by 8 pixel high character
(called flyspeck 3, as each char is 3 pixels wide so you have one pixel of 'space' between each character)

4) Use a Bit 3 80Col card, which was officially supported by the later software
(there were directions for using the Austin Franklin 80Col card also)

I didnt use CP/M a whole lot as it was character based only as the special graphics of the A8 werent available in CP/M, the connection was literally like a CP/M computer hooked to a VT-52 or VT-101 terminal, and this could actually be done, as my ATR-8000 came from a company that made CP/M software, and they had like 15 of them with just VT-220 or VT-240 terminals hooked to them for programming...

the MS-DOS side is the same, so apps like 1-2-3 and such would work (purely character based), but no graphics...

sloopy.

#10 ACML OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 5, 2011 7:50 PM

I had an ATR8000 I picked up in the mid 80's. I found some good uses for it. I wrote my senior college project using Wordstar and my plots used Energraphics that were both CP/M programs. I had 5.25" 360K and a 5.25" 1.2Mb drive hooked up to it. The 1.2Mb drive was configured as an 8" (77 track) which formatted ended up being about 1Mb. Closest thing to a hard drive I ever had on the 8-bit. In 1988 I got my first 8086 IBM (10Mhz) XT and I needed the drives and the PC case. I sold both my ATR-8000's in 2004 when I liquidated all my 8-bit hardware. Let me tell you, it was a boat load. If I had known about the SIO2PC and emulators, I would have saved my source code. It's all gone somewhere in a landfill.

#11 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 6, 2011 4:44 AM

3) a 80 column software based display where each character was a 4 pixel wide by 8 pixel high character
(called flyspeck 3, as each char is 3 pixels wide so you have one pixel of 'space' between each character)

Actually it was called DT80.

#12 Panther OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013 3:57 PM

I used to use one with four floppy drives...two 360K and two 720K drives (all 5.25").  Later I made a cable to connect some Atari ST 3.5" 720K floppy drives to it.  I used it to run the BBS for the West Los Angeles Atari User's Group BBS.

 

Actually, I still have the ATR 8000 in a box somewhere.



#13 Subby OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013 9:00 PM

You happen to have any of the documentation or driver disks?
Did yours have CP/M capability?

#14 Panther OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:09 PM

I have the disks, but no documentation.  I had to figure everything out back then.  Yes, mine has CP/M capability and 80 columns.



#15 Kyle22 ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:32 PM

The ATR8000 would continue to be a useful device if someone had a detailed memory map for it so we could transplant some of the highspeed RAMCharger Z80 code from the Indus into it.  It has all the possibilities of being screaming fast as a disk interface.  I wish I still had mine.  It quit working years ago, and I never took the time to troubleshoot it.  It is probably gone, but I will try to find it next time I go to my old house.

 

I have also seen some HD interfaces that sit under the Z80, so that may also be a possibility.  There is plenty of space inside the ATR for a small HD.

 

-K



#16 sup8pdct OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:54 AM

I had dissembled the atr8000 rom some time ago (64k ver) and found that rom was copied to ram then moved to high ram. It should be on my pc at home and will look at it again once i get back (sometime in dec). Z80 io space is seperate to ram space (ie no ram space is lost unlike 6502).

James

#17 Kyle22 ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:05 PM

That would be great if you have it :)  I just now (as I am typing) had a thought... I wonder if there is some Z80 embedded type of "ATR8000 on a Chip" that would fit in a small package about the size of a P:R: Connection with a USB port for hard/floppy drives...



#18 sup8pdct OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:25 AM

Here is a listing that I have worked on/out so far.

It is a bit complex when it comes to interrupts and sending/receiving on sio buss.

Schematics I have doesn't show what U52 is and page 3 has been chopped off so cannot workout what some ports do.

My atr is still locked away so cannot get at it till at least Christmas. Have fun reading it.

 

James

Attached Files



#19 Kyle22 ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:38 PM

Thanks, I'll look at it.

 

-Kyle



#20 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:41 PM

Yeek, that needs further analysis and commenting...

#21 sup8pdct OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 29, 2013 3:15 AM

Still working through it slowly. A better schematic would help a little.

 

James



#22 sup8pdct OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 2, 2013 7:04 PM

Have found a few interesting things.

It should be possible for those with cpm disks to have them backed up on to Atari disks stored as files on floppy images, not as an atr unto it self. The ATR8000 has a Z device that has 4 commands. Set, Read, Write and Go. Read and write can only send/ receive 256 bytes at a time. A small Z80 program can be written to read any sector on a 512 byte sector format disk and transfer it over to the atari. The reverse is also true.

The tricky bit is to format a disk for 512 byte sectors to recreate the CP/M disks.

 

From here.               http://www.gaby.de/sysdisk.htm

 

I have found some teledisk copies (amongst heaps of others) of the atr system disks but they seam to be corrupted when i use TD02IMD to convert them if they convert in the first place. Lucky there is a zip file that has some com files, one of which is a format program. I also noted there is a disk with source of the bios (CP/M?) but it doesn't seam to be all there. It says 1024 byte sectors!!?? Should be 512??

The ATR manual has helped despite some typos.
Can post what i have done so far if requested.
Still needs work but the basic workings should be discernible.

James


Edited by sup8pdct, Mon Dec 2, 2013 7:08 PM.


#23 warerat OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 3, 2013 6:38 PM

There is commented source available somewhere, but I don't remember where it is.  I found my copy and hacked it slightly so that it will create the ROM binary file.  It is interesting to note there are some monitor functions commented out in the source that is not in the production release.  Apologies for the ugly hacks in globals.mac and rom.mac, but it does build!

 

I found the pasmo Z80 assembler (http://pasmo.speccy.org) was closest to the syntax that was used to build it originally.  I used version 0.6.0.20070113.0 with the following switches:

pasmo --bin --nocase rom.mac atr8000.rom

 

This will create the atr8000.rom file which is an exact match to the v3.02 ROM that exists in my ATR8000.

 

Hopefully someone can take this and do something useful with it.

Attached Files



#24 scottinNH OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 6, 2013 1:11 AM

Rather than interfacing these to an Atari (as folks stated, it's dated) I'd love to play around with one using an Arduino. All this old micro stuff, on Arduinos lol. Atari did the 8 bits right by making all SIO peripherals serial devices. (Believe it or not, you can't read/write floppies with an Arduino, you can only drive the motor for sound effects).

Back in the day I longed for one of these, as the 8" disks had massive capacity (and CP/M was very interesting.... Was one of my favorite emulators on the Atari ST... Loads of free utils with source code and free compilers If I remember).

For kicks, price out an 8" drive on ebay.

#25 mechanerd OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 9, 2017 3:31 PM

Rather than interfacing these to an Atari (as folks stated, it's dated) I'd love to play around with one using an Arduino. All this old micro stuff, on Arduinos lol. Atari did the 8 bits right by making all SIO peripherals serial devices. (Believe it or not, you can't read/write floppies with an Arduino, you can only drive the motor for sound effects).

Back in the day I longed for one of these, as the 8" disks had massive capacity (and CP/M was very interesting.... Was one of my favorite emulators on the Atari ST... Loads of free utils with source code and free compilers If I remember).

For kicks, price out an 8" drive on ebay.

 

I have two ATR 8000 boxes with 64KB handed down from my mentor in the 1980s. They ran the disk drives , modem and printer for the Action Annex BBS in Vancouver, WA. They were trick devices considering the alternative of hanging a daisy chain of SIO devices to do the same thing. There is a web site that has schematics and the ATR manual can be found online. The guy is in Bratislavia and documented more about all the disk drives in one blog than ever seen before. 
http://blog.3b2.sk/igi/post/ATR-8000.aspx All sorts of goodies on this site.

My current problem resurrecting them is the power supply design was not the best.
The 22 VAC transformer and it's so called bridge filtercap/regulation worked, albeit it was not designed for 20 years of operation. It did last 8 years for the BBS.

One of the machines worked and the other has logic gates going from a probe  ,but is not communicating on the sio port anymore.  I patched in +12V and +5 from a PC supply and got one working for about an hour.
Why would I want to wake up this bit of coolness from the BBS world?  
I was gifted 400 floppies of double sided, double density format disks with probably 1000-2000 MIDI files typed in by my mentor's wife. They are unique and copies of public domain songs in MIDI format that can still be played on todays synthesizers or your emulated ones on the PC.  Two of the MIDI files ended up as demo files on the Windows 95 CDROM release my Microsoft. Bill Gates used to visit the BBS and download them.
I have the actual drives used to write the disks, about 5-6 5.5.25" drives, so I know alignment issues won't be a problem.
I'm leery of trying to just buy a XF551 drive and take my chances losing data. 
So, anyone an expert on finding glitches on a truly neat board? All the chips are labeled on the board. It needs sockets.  
 I have a spare board with eproms that read, one spare z-80 and likely just need to xray the board and find the short in it. The ram was recycled from some other project and was installed. I can see where someone has used the 4264s with wire wrap on another Atari 800. The ram bank and the z-80 went thermal and quit. 

I even tried putting back in the stock 16KB ram and set the junmpers to see if that would get it working to no avail.

I never really got into using CP/M for an OS, as I was chasing IBM PC sales and programming after 1986 or so. 

btw saw this other answer on this forum about where to locate the cp/m disks, images and tools.
http://atariage.com/...tem-disks-here/
---------------
For those who are still looking for ATR-8000 CP/M system disks, I found them here: http://www.retroarch...tari/index.html

 

Link for other CP/M bootdisks: http://www.retroarchive.org/maslin/

 

Here is all of Don Maslin's stuff: http://www.classiccm...oftware/maslin/

 

You need an old MS-DOS machine with a 360K floppy drive (and a good controller), and the TeleDisk program here: http://www.classiccm...06/teledisk.htm

 

Hope this helps.

 

-Kyle

---------------------
  Anyone spare a true DSDD drive for a loan or know where I can get the controller parts cheap?
I am also looking into an ISA IBM pc floppy controller of the vintage with the use of the atarisd.exe app. which might not read dsdd anyway. 

Thanks, 


Edited by mechanerd, Thu Nov 9, 2017 3:34 PM.





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