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Atari 800XL - where to start and what to get

SIO SIO2PC ULTIMATE 1MB 800XL SIO2SD

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#1 retroeights OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 12, 2016 7:26 PM

Hi Everyone,

 

I'm ~30 years late to the party  but I finally bought my first Atari computer this week, the 800XL!!

 

As a complete beginner to Atari and this whole scene I'm excited but also a little confused and would love some advice.

 

The computer came with a 1010 Cassette deck (I've replaced the belts) and about 8 games on cassette - the computer and tape deck work fine but unfortunately none of the games load, I keep getting BOOT ERROR - so I haven't been been able to do anything on it yet  :(

 

The main purpose of this is for games, programming (basic and assembly) and the general fun of discovering what this thing can do.

 

I have seen many great looking devices such as: sio2pc, sio2bt, sio2sd, Ultimate 1MB, Side2, Pokey Stereo Sound

 

Where do I start, what should I get? importantly, who should I get these things from and what should I avoid?

 

Please tell me which devices you have yourself, what you found the most and least useful and your recommendations.

 

Thanks to everyone in advance - hopefully this post can help future noobs like me.

 

All the best - I look forward to some good advice!



#2 GlowingGhoul OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 12, 2016 7:35 PM

If you're looking to keep it simple, you only really need two things to modernize the 800XL without going overboard (like the rest of us).

 

A device to replace the floppy drive. I recommend the SIO2SD. It's a small box that emulates disk drives. You can basically keep every Atari game ever made on it (on an SD card) and loading times are very fast. Simple and easy.

 

You may want to do something to improve the video, but that will require soldering. "Ultimate Atari Video" seems to be the best at the moment. Search that term to find the thread where you can get ordering info.

 

You can get an SIO2SD from ebay for about $50,  or from http://www.lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=63 (these are premium versions of the device) for about $90.



#3 mytek ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:42 PM

If you also have a PC or a Mac I would suggest starting with an SIO2PC-USB instead. First it's cheaper, but in my humble opinion it's quicker and easier to use when it comes to sampling what's out there to download. And with the use of a Drop Box or Google Drive your stuff can be accessed anywhere and pretty much using any device (works great with RespeQt SIO2PC Software).

 

You can buy this from the same guy that sells the SIO2SD (product link).

 

Of course both of these products are great, and either one will fulfill your needs way better than a cassette, and for that matter even a standard disk drive   :)

 

- Michael



#4 spookt OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:20 AM

Quick tip for cassettes (and you may already know). Often you need to advance the tape beyond the clear or coloured leader before you try to load. Use your finger or a pencil in the right hand sprocket of the cassette and wind the tape forward until you see the brown oxide tape at the bottom. Then put it in the 1010.

Some games require START to be pressed as you boot the Atari, often they'all need OPTION too which disables BASIC. If your games have inlays check the instructions. (It's worth trying with both START and OPTION as early games pre the XL line often just say START as the 400 and 800 didn't have BASIC built in)

Even if you do manage to get them loaded you'll probably want to move to a more modern storage method and any of the suggestions above are good.

Welcome to Atari - enjoy!

#5 retroeights OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:49 AM

Thanks for the responses guys

 

I'm really interested in both the SIO2PC and SIO2SD devices. I like the idea of the SIO2SD in the case but it is very expensive and as I already have a few Raspberry PIs in cases I think maybe it makes sense to use this with an SIO2PC device and RespeQT - Some people have it working here - I think this is cool.

 

Would there be any obvious disadvantages to this over an SIO2SD device (apart from initial setup and having to power the RPI of course)?

 

I still need to find out what the Ultimate 1MB actually offers and its advantages - from what I have seen it looks promising.



#6 slx ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:17 AM

Sio2PC allows easier handling/setup of files as you work on a screen with a mouse rather than on a 2-line LCD with function buttons. In order to get software on the sio2sd you have to remove the SD, plug it into the PC, copy the software, unplug, put the sd into the sio2sd, etc.

The SIO2SD is a great device but as posted above the sio2pc/sio2usb is probably smoother to start out discovering, as long as you have space for that extra PC next to your Atari. Afaik it's also cheaper.


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#7 GlowingGhoul OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 11:35 AM

I personally don't like having to turn my PC on to use my 8-bit, and have a cable between the two machines. So where and how you have the 800XL set up should be considered.

That said, SIO2PC is definitely more powerful and feature rich.


Edited by GlowingGhoul, Sun Nov 13, 2016 11:36 AM.


#8 brenski OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:02 PM

sio2pc-usb, 1050 drive 2x sio cables and a couple of boxes of 5¼" ds/dd floppies

 

that lot should cost approx £100 ($115) and you'll have a setup that allows you to do most things.

 

APE/Prosystem comes with sio2pc-usb and this'll be useful for transferring from pc to atari using pc files called ".ATR"

these will (using Prosytem) burn to real disks.

 

finally, once you get into disk editing and manipulating, you can do worse than download and use

either makeATR or ATRutils



#9 GlowingGhoul OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:23 PM

sio2pc-usb, 1050 drive 2x sio cables and a couple of boxes of 5¼" ds/dd floppies

 

that lot should cost approx £100 ($115) and you'll have a setup that allows you to do most things.

 

APE/Prosystem comes with sio2pc-usb and this'll be useful for transferring from pc to atari using pc files called ".ATR"

these will (using Prosytem) burn to real disks.

 

finally, once you get into disk editing and manipulating, you can do worse than download and use

either makeATR or ATRutils

 

Just out of curiosity, why would you recommend a real drive in this situation?



#10 ApolloBoy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:34 PM

That's only if you want make real disks, but honestly just grab a SIO2PC or SIO2SD. I dumped my drives years ago after getting a SIO2PC and I haven't looked back since.

#11 retroeights OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:55 PM

I personally don't like having to turn my PC on to use my 8-bit, and have a cable between the two machines. So where and how you have the 800XL set up should be considered.

 

Totally agree here - seems crazy hosting games from a PC for all sorts of ideological reasons, which is why i'm trying to come up with a compromise.

 

The idea in my head is to have a Raspberry PI with a smallish touch screen attached all encased - this will have all the games on the RPI SD card and can automatically boot into something like RespeQT. That would be my external "tape deck" in one unit.

 

Something like this:

 

102035_large.jpg?v=1477646087

 

I guess it's equivalent to putting a tape in a tape deck and pressing the play button.  ;-)


Edited by retroeights, Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:58 PM.


#12 brenski OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 1:16 PM

brenski, on 13 Nov 2016 - 6:02 PM, said:snapback.png

sio2pc-usb, 1050 drive 2x sio cables and a couple of boxes of 5¼" ds/dd floppies

 

that lot should cost approx £100 ($115) and you'll have a setup that allows you to do most things.

 

APE/Prosystem comes with sio2pc-usb and this'll be useful for transferring from pc to atari using pc files called ".ATR"

these will (using Prosytem) burn to real disks.

 

finally, once you get into disk editing and manipulating, you can do worse than download and use

either makeATR or ATRutils

 

Just out of curiosity, why would you recommend a real drive in this situation?

see fourth line above. you know - there are loads of us that like to work with real disks also.

and, APE/Prosystem has 2 key functions

1] create real disks from ATR files

2] create ATR files from real disks

 

...last time I checked, you'll need a real disk drive for BOTH of the above situations.



#13 ApolloBoy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 1:24 PM

brenski, on 13 Nov 2016 - 6:02 PM, said:snapback.png
see fourth line above. you know - there are loads of us that like to work with real disks also.
and, APE/Prosystem has 2 key functions
1] create real disks from ATR files
2] create ATR files from real disks
 
...last time I checked, you'll need a real disk drive for BOTH of the above situations.

The OP doesn't seem interested in fiddling around with real disks though.

#14 brenski OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 1:35 PM

The computer came with a 1010 Cassette deck (I've replaced the belts) and about 8 games on cassette - the computer and tape deck work fine but unfortunately none of the games load, I keep getting BOOT ERROR - so I haven't been been able to do anything on it yet   :(

 

The main purpose of this is for games, programming (basic and assembly) and the general fun of discovering what this thing can do.

 

I have seen many great looking devices such as: sio2pc, sio2bt, sio2sd, Ultimate 1MB, Side2, Pokey Stereo Sound

 

Where do I start, what should I get? importantly, who should I get these things from and what should I avoid?

 

Please tell me which devices you have yourself, what you found the most and least useful and your recommendations.

 

The OP doesn't seem interested in fiddling around with real disks though.

 

I don't see anything that indicates that the Op is ruling out any option. in fact, he states he has a tape drive, and his second line more or less says

"anything goes"


Edited by brenski, Sun Nov 13, 2016 1:36 PM.


#15 retroeights OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 1:45 PM

Thanks for the advice on getting a disk drive.

 

In the future I may consider getting one, for now I have no real need for this but if I end up programming something I want to run from disk (or tape) on a native system (because i'm a bit nostalgic like they!) then it is good to know.


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#16 Thorsten GŁnther OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:00 PM

 

 

I still need to find out what the Ultimate 1MB actually offers and its advantages - from what I have seen it looks promising.

 

It's an all-in-one package to max out your machine to cope with any possible RAM and ROM needs on any machine of the XL/XE line. You can switch ROMs on the fly (it has space for four ROMs) with a nice selection menu, has an internal real-time clock and Sparta-DOS X.

 

If you do not want to solder, the only hardware that is somewhat comparable and currently available is tf_hh's SysCheck V2.2. Despite it's name, it does not only do hardware checks, but also has four ROM slots and - on XL machines and ECS equipped 65XE/800XE only - 512K of RAM (RAMBO standard).



#17 brenski OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:07 PM

Thorsten

does the 4mb upgrade required soldering on ALL 800XLs?



#18 greblus OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 3:31 PM

Totally agree here - seems crazy hosting games from a PC for all sorts of ideological reasons, which is why i'm trying to come up with a compromise.

 

The idea in my head is to have a Raspberry PI with a smallish touch screen attached all encased - this will have all the games on the RPI SD card and can automatically boot into something like RespeQT. That would be my external "tape deck" in one unit.

Something like this [...]

I guess it's equivalent to putting a tape in a tape deck and pressing the play button.  ;-)

 

I can be a bit biased here but AspeQt works on Android :). And I've almost completely switched to AspeQt + SIO2BT these days. If I do something where speed is important, then Side cart is the best solution. But U1MB is recommended in both cases (SIO2BT@57600bps and PBI BIOS for Side).

 

W.



#19 gozar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:29 PM

 

Totally agree here - seems crazy hosting games from a PC for all sorts of ideological reasons, which is why i'm trying to come up with a compromise.

 

The idea in my head is to have a Raspberry PI with a smallish touch screen attached all encased - this will have all the games on the RPI SD card and can automatically boot into something like RespeQT. That would be my external "tape deck" in one unit.

 

Something like this:

 

102035_large.jpg?v=1477646087

 

I guess it's equivalent to putting a tape in a tape deck and pressing the play button.  ;-)

 

 

Use a $49 Kindle Fire tablet and AspeQT. Works really well.

 

I'm currently testing some OTG cables that let me also charge the tablet, I'll post when I know more.



#20 retroeights OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:38 PM

 

 

Use a $49 Kindle Fire tablet and AspeQT. Works really well.

 

I'm currently testing some OTG cables that let me also charge the tablet, I'll post when I know more.

 

I know nothing about AspeQT - are you saying that I can install AspeQT on any android device with OTG capability connected via a SIO2PC or SIO2BT device?  If thats what you mean then that is very cool!!


Edited by retroeights, Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:42 PM.


#21 gozar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:45 PM

 

I know nothing about AspeQT - are you saying that I can install AspeQT on any android device with OTG capability connected via a SIO2PC or SIO2BT device?  If thats what you mean then that is very cool!!

 

 

You can get the app from the Play store or download the app from the Github page:

https://github.com/g...tor-for-Android



#22 gilsaluki OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:52 PM

I guess am the odd duck here.  I still use, and like, my 1050s and tape drives.  I have a SIO2SD, but don't use it.   It baffles me.  To me it is not user friendly.  I asked several months ago if there is anyone out there in 8-bit land that are still using the their 8-bits in the pure form.  I got no responses, so I guess I am truly a dinosaur in the 21st century.  I have done many of the upgrades (memory, video) and found that I really don't utilize them much.  So, now I prefer my Ataris to be original. Love all the interest and the goings on, but it's just not worth it for me.   I going to go load Clowns and Balloons (on tape) now and enjoy it all the same.



#23 GlowingGhoul OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:58 PM

I guess am the odd duck here.  I still use, and like, my 1050s and tape drives.  I have a SIO2SD, but don't use it.   It baffles me.  To me it is not user friendly.  I asked several months ago if there is anyone out there in 8-bit land that are still using the their 8-bits in the pure form.  I got no responses, so I guess I am truly a dinosaur in the 21st century.  I have done many of the upgrades (memory, video) and found that I really don't utilize them much.  So, now I prefer my Ataris to be original. Love all the interest and the goings on, but it's just not worth it for me.   I going to go load Clowns and Balloons (on tape) now and enjoy it all the same.

Clown & Baloons, first game I think I ever got a pirated copy of!



#24 Stormtrooper of Death OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:52 AM

Gilsaluki, i am still using unexpanded Atari 130XE and 2 1050 diskdrives (both with old mini-speedy upgrade inside). No other expansions built in my Atari computer. I copied about 500 5.25 inch floppies last week, that i downloaded from the internet and got on my atari thanks to the WriteATR utility and an old pentium 3 computer that has a 3.5 inch and a 5.25 inch diskdrive.



#25 kb3wmh OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:19 PM

If you go the SIO2PC route, you don't need to buy a commercial option, you can use an FTDI

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