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Atari 800 with Encore Video Productions Info Display System


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#1 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 6, 2014 10:37 AM

I needed an Atari 800 for a project this morning, so went down to the basement to grab one. I've had this machine for years but don't think I've powered it on before. Don't remember where I got it.

 

It has a sticker from Encore Video Productions (Myrtle Beach SC) where the Atari 800 logo should be. And an unusual jack added to the back. But the most interesting thing is when you start it, you don't get MEMO PAD; you get:

 

INFORMATION DISPLAY SYSTEM

By Dean Wittmann and James Marshburn

for ENSIGN COMMUNICATIONS

 

It appears to be a system for displaying messages on a TV, for instance at a TV station.

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#2 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 6, 2014 10:44 AM

I wonder if it's the same Dean Whitmann who wrote the Cassette to Disk utilities. It would be interesting to track these guys down and hear the story of this machine.



#3 DrVenkman ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 6, 2014 11:58 AM

Time to tear that puppy open! That output jack may interface with a genlock device for TV broadcast. I'd love to see pics of the internals and the obviously-custom ROM they've installed. It'd be fun to get a hex dump and take a look at what they've done there. That startup screen looks like maybe they've installed some kind of real-time clock as well. 

Does the system run carts normally? Boot DOS? Etc.



#4 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 6, 2014 12:05 PM

I may open it today. Will post pix if I do. 

 

If you insert a cartridge, it runs it (I've tested Rally Speedway and BASIC.) But with no cart, it always goes to the Information Display program, so you can't boot to DOS with no cart.



#5 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 8:36 AM

The machine RAM/ROM area contains two 16K cards, a CO12989 REV E personality card, and as expected, a custom ROM card. Pictures of that are attached. I don't really know what I'm looking at here, although . . . aren't those EEPROMS that will lose their data if left out in the light? (I took the pix then got them back in the dark Atari quickly.)

 

Also: how does one dump the ROM?

 

 

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#6 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 8:44 AM

Tape over those windows.

 

8 x 2716 should = 16K worth of Eproms.

Does the Eprom board occupy a Ram slot?  It could be that it's a standard OS and the Eprom board acts as a cartridge unless overridden by a normal cart.

 

If you can't boot Dos with it in order to do a dump (Basic won't help as it'd overlay at least the last 8K) you might be able to put the Eprom in the second Ram slot and run with just 16K, then you could probably boot Dos and write out area $4000 - $7FFF.


Edited by Rybags, Sun Sep 7, 2014 8:46 AM.


#7 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 8:55 AM

Pics from the underside.

 

There's are four wires going from various points on the motherboard to the weird four-pin connector, with a stopover at a small breadboard stuck to the side of the machine.

 

 

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#8 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 9:01 AM

8 x 2716 should = 16K worth of Eproms.

Does the Eprom board occupy a Ram slot?  It could be that it's a standard OS and the Eprom board acts as a cartridge unless overridden by a normal cart.

 

If you can't boot Dos with it in order to do a dump (Basic won't help as it'd overlay at least the last 8K) you might be able to put the Eprom in the second Ram slot and run with just 16K, then you could probably boot Dos and write out area $4000 - $7FFF.

 

 

The Eprom board is in the farthest-from-the-keyboard slot, where I think the Atari ROM card usually goes.

 

No, I can't boot DOS. . . unless I can cheat by using a SpartaDOS X cart?

 

If I put the EPROM card in the second RAM slot, the machine would have no ROM. Don't think I have an extra ROM card around.



#9 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 9:06 AM

Looking though my old email, I *think* I bought this unit on ebay from Steven Tucker in 2003. For $22.49 (!)


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#10 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 9:08 AM

Furtherest from the keyboard is where the last Ram module would normally go if 3x16K was installed.

Closest to keyboard is the OS Rom module.



#11 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 9:21 AM

looking down from above the 800 - it's

 

EPROM

RAM

RAM

Personality Card

Keyboard

 

So to write out  $4000 - $7FFF from DOS as you suggested, should I move the EPROM down one slot or two?

 

Then use the Binary Save option?



#12 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 9:25 AM

That's right - so long as you boot a compact enough Dos like 2.x there should be enough Ram left.

 

Moving the card down a slot should be OK.  We need ClausB here, he's the expert on how 800s work.



#13 Ripdubski OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 9:45 AM

Maybe it was one of the TV Guide programs for a cable company. Ive seen some in the past, it just showed what was on eachstation, and restarted when it got to the end.

#14 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 2:00 PM

I moved the card, then I could boot to DOS (yay) and do the binary save. But I don't think it worked, or I didn't do it right.

 

I used DOS 2.0S to do:

 

Binary Save -> ENCORE2,4000,7FFF

 

seemed to work but if I try to binary load the file, I get ERROR 164.

 

When I try to export the file using Atari800MacX, it complains the file is corrupt.

 

An ATR file containing the file is attached… Did I do it wrong? Is the data there?

 

(SmartDOS is on that disk, but yes I used Atari DOS to save the file.)



#15 AtariGeezer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 2:08 PM

An ATR file containing the file is attached… Did I do it wrong? Is the data there?

Noting attached...



#16 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 2:14 PM

here it is.

Attached Files



#17 DrVenkman ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 2:39 PM

here it is.

 

I used Atari800MacX's sector editor to examine your .ATR and while I can't read the raw hex, the ATASCII equivalents show it is indeed a custom title generator and emulator program for TV display. Very interesting stuff. :)



#18 David_P OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 2:47 PM

Needs boot header info, probably.

#19 AtariGeezer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 3:09 PM

Strange, first sector of the dump has a sector link, then the rest is raw data...


Edited by AtariGeezer, Sun Sep 7, 2014 3:09 PM.


#20 bbking67 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 5:34 PM

You should preserve those roms if you can... do you have an EPROM programmer to read them?  Make sure to cover those windows or else you won't have anything left to preserve!



#21 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 5:41 PM

I don't have an EPROM programmer, but would like to figure out how to do that. I've covered the windows in the mean time.



#22 TXG/MNX OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 8, 2014 12:06 AM

You should preserve those roms if you can... do you have an EPROM programmer to read them?  Make sure to cover those windows or else you won't have anything left to preserve!

 

Also the schematic would be cool, the back part is easy that photo graph tells all. but only the top part needs to be photograph better to see all traces.

To photograph better the top part the eproms should be removed they are on a socket

 

Eprom burners are cheap on ebay or maybe someone close v

can help you where are you located.

 

The small board with the connector need to be photographed aswell and the wires where they are soldered then you got everything preserved.

 

It's a real cool find, never saw this thing but that's just nice history. Take care of that machine...



#23 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 10, 2014 9:32 AM

I gently bump this to encourage someone with the knowledge to check out that hex dump to see if it's good. Can that be turned into an OBJ file so anyone can try this software?



#24 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 10, 2014 9:59 AM

I'm trying to copy the file from that disk image but it seems corrupt - gets Error 164.



#25 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 10, 2014 10:19 AM

I get that too. And I'm not sure why. I could try re-saving the file (again). . . but . . . not hopeful that will help.






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