I do have a mostly-functioning Astrocade, but I wasn't able to load the Color Organ .WAV into Bally BASIC
I'll try loading Color Organ today, to at least make sure it works okay. I will try to record the video too, but I probably won't get a chance to upload it to YouTube for a couple of days. Keep in mind that Color Organ is a 300-baud program that came out in 1980; it won't load into the version of Bally BASIC that has the built-in 2000-baud tape interface (this version of BASIC, while technically being called Bally BASIC is usually referred to as "AstroBASIC" to differentiate it from the BASIC without the input jack). All 300-baud programs require the 300-baud tape interface that plugs into joystick port 2 and the light pen port.
Now that I've said you can't load 300-baud programs into "AstroBASIC," I'm going to take that back... sort of. There is a machine language utility program in the "AstroBASIC" manual that allows you to load 300-baud programs via "Astrocade's" built-in interface. The program loads programs into screen RAM and then dumps them out. It doesn't work for any programs that used machine language, but it works for many programs I've tried it with in the last couple of years. If you run the program right after loading it, then it may or may not work, so it is best to save the program right away via the 2000-baud interface in "AstroBASIC."
Appendix F of the BASIC manual has the BASIC listing (it's really a machine language loader program) for this utility that is called 300 Baud to 2000 baud Tape Conversion Program (clever name, right?). It is on pages 104-107 of the "AstroBASIC" manual. Here is a direct link to that program in the manual:
The z80 source code for this machine language program, if you're interested, is here:
Of course, you don't want to actually type this program into BASIC, so you can download it here:
When the program runs, you get a whole bunch of "garbage" on the screen, but that just means that the program is working correctly. The program is a little tricky to get used to using, but it isn't normally needed. Heck, I think I may be the only one who uses it at all.
If you ever decide to type in an "AstroBASIC" program, or write one yourself, then I wrote a simple overview of how I did it using a PC and some tape utility program. These not-quite-docs are in the archive notes for a video art program called Video:Video. You can read those notes here:
With the tape arching tools that are available, a typed-in a Bally BASIC program can only be saved in 300-baud format.
I thought the PRG of Color Organ might be more like a cartridge ROM, but it is in fact just the BASIC data, so loading it into my flash cart won't work, either.
It's possible to probably make Color Organ into a BASICart, but I've never done that before now. If you have one of the Astrocade multicarts, all of the BASIC programs on there were specially converted to run from cartridge. I only have a vague idea how this is done.
The third option is to type the hundred or so lines straight into Bally BASIC (assuming the flavors of BASIC are compatible).
You should never have to type in a previously archived Bally BASIC program. All of the programs that have been archived on BallyAlley.com have been loaded and tested on real hardware. If you're having trouble, then we can work it out.
Both versions of Bally BASIC are mostly compatible. Here is a list of the differences between them:
For the most part, if a program is pure BASIC, then a Bally BASIC program should also run under "AstroBASIC." Yes, there are exceptions, but these can usually be worked around.
my controllers are a bit finicky.
Ah, that's too bad. I guess when you play a two-player version of The Incredible Wizard you always have the "controller excuse" to fall back on when you lose a life. Since your controllers aren't working right, have you been programming mostly under MAME emulation? Even with a fully-working Astrocade, using the MAME emulator is the best way to go for machine language programming.
Is there another option [to load BASIC programs] I'm not thinking of?
I think that you covered all of the ways to load a BASIC program.
Loading and saving Bally BASIC programs that are WAV files via the 300-baud interface is typically trouble-free. The 300-baud interface is usually able to load programs that are in terrible shape on tape. The "AstroBASIC" interface is much more finicky. It requires the sound to be pretty high. I've noticed that it is usually easier to load programs if the "tape" cable is plugged into the stereos of a PC. I have no trouble loading 300/2000 baud programs using my old iPhone 4 (now used as a dedicated iPod) with a cable plugged directly into the phone's audio jack. I've seen people online who use similar setups with their Astrocade systems.
I would love to see a video of this software, but not at the expense of you typing it in manually. Haha, please, think of your fingertips~!
I'm not going to type in Color Organ, don't you worry about that ever happening with a previously archived program.
The Astrocade's 24-key keypad "keyboard" isn't too bad once you get used to it. Just be careful not to bleed all over your Astrocade while you're working your way from blisters-that-burst to thick callouses that can handle the steady and rough hand that all Bally BASIC users must have built-up in the late 1970s to early-to-mid 1980s.