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Composite or S-video upgrade service for the Astrocade?


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#1 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:14 AM

Hello all,
 
I am new to the forum and have long wanted to get my hands on a Bally Astrocade. Today I splurged and bought one from eBay that was boxed; at $245 plus shipping, I am almost positive I overpaid. :-(
 
Anyway, I do not want to deal with RF hookups and would like, if possible, the better picture that composite video makes possible, and preferably S-video for the actual video connection.
 
I lack the technical skills to do either mod. If I send you my Astrocade, can someone provide this service? Of course I'm willing to pay for it and for all shipping costs.
 
PM me if this sounds like something you can do.
 
Thanks! Carl


#2 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:21 AM

I am new to the forum and have long wanted to get my hands on a Bally Astrocade. Today I splurged and bought one from eBay that was boxed; at $245 plus shipping, I am almost positive I overpaid. :-(


Welcome to the forum, Carl-- and congratulations on getting your (I'm presuming) first Astrocade.  I've heard you on the Intellivisionaries podcast.  It's cool to see you branching out to the much better system.  Nah, I'm just kidding.  I love most all of the classic systems for various reasons-- even the Intellivision with its somewhat, let's just saw, awkward, controller.

 

There was a time when I would have said that paying $245 for a working Astrocade was too much money, but I'd say that time has passed.  If you're Astrocade is working, then make sure to keep it that way by following some of the tips that you can read about elsewhere.

 

What is your Astrocade's model number?  This can help tell the vintage of the machine and the potential of some of the problems that it may have.  If it's an early Bally Arcade unit (pre-Astrocade) from the 1970s there is much more potential for the unit to have issues.

 

Anyway, I do not want to deal with RF hookups and would like, if possible, the better picture that composite video makes possible, and preferably S-video for the actual video connection.

 

I don't blame you for wanting to avoid RF hookups.  The Astrocade's RF, like most other systems of that era (or, really, any era that used RF for TV output), isn't great.  One thing that I recommend highly is that you use a CRT TV.  Sure, you could use the system on a modern HD TV probably without much issue (I've done it in a pinch)... but old game systems were meant to be displayed on, you know, old TVs.  Just last night I was playing an Atari 8-bit computer game under emulation... and it just doesn't look right.

 

Speaking of emulation, Carl, did you try the Astrocade under the Astrcade emulation in MAME before you splurged and plopped down about $250 for the console?  What made you want to pick up this rather obscure system?
 

I lack the technical skills to do either mod. If I send you my Astrocade, can someone provide this service? Of course I'm willing to pay for it and for all shipping costs.

 

I've not heard of anyone providing a composite or s-video service, but I hope that you're able to find someone who can help you out.  I have two s-video mod upgrades for my Astrocade, but I actually don't use them because of ghosting problems that I have with them.  I'm told that not everyone has this issue with the s-video upgrade, but I just wanted to put that out there so that you're not caught unaware.

 

Carl, what goodies did your Astrocade come with when you bought it?  I presume you got at least a few carts and AstroBASIC, right?

 

(Oh, and if you haven't listened to the Bally Alley Astrocast yet, then give us a listen!)

 

Adam



#3 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:07 AM

Thanks for the warm welcome!
 
The reason for buying an actual hardware is to be able to use the unique controllers of the Astrocade -- I just can't see the experience coming through under emulation. I've written various emulators myself and even I will admit they don't usually capture the feel of playing on actual hardware… And as you mentioned, these systems are made to be played on a CRT, and that means owning the original system for the most part.
 
I haven't yet received my Astrocade so I have no idea of its model number or year of manufacture. I'll be keeping a close eye on any problems or issues that might arise. I know about the overheating and I want to keep my console functioning for as long as possible.
 
I never owned an Astrocade and didn't know the system existed until about 10 years ago. I just find it so fascinating, it's unique (and very well received) controllers and really incredible graphics and bitmapped display, which was so amazing for the time. I also find it fascinating that sprites are done in software, with really no limit on either number or size, except for how fast the CPU can push them out, of course.
 
I also see so much untapped potential, the 256 color palette and the ability to modify it during horizontal blanking periods… And being able to modify the "split screen" register to get at another additional four colors per scanline. Most of the games I'm seeing don't even make use of this with very few exceptions.
 
Yes, I plan to do a couple of Astrocade games. The library is in desperate need of more quality titles, which I will certainly strive to make. I probably won't be able to start development for a year or two, but in the meantime I'll be enjoying learning more about the Astrocade; thankfully there appears to be copious documentation, much official and from back in the day!
 
And just to answer your question about pack-ins : nothing comes with the system, unfortunately, except its box. But I have been able to buy a couple of brand-new Astrocade games: Dogpatch, Galactic Invaders, and Brickyard/Clowns.; I'm also hoping The Incredible Wizard will show up on eBay soon.
 
Sorry for the long message. Just feeling the enthusiasm and excitement of discovering the Astrocade. :-)
 
Carl

Edited by Carl Mueller Jr, Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:11 AM.


#4 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:09 PM

Thanks for the warm welcome!

 
Sure-- any fan of the Astrocade gets a warm welcome: we're few and far between, so we've got to stick together.
 

The reason for buying an actual hardware is to be able to use the unique controllers of the Astrocade -- I just can't see the experience coming through under emulation.


The Astrocade adapters are unique to the system, and they do work very well. There is an Astrocade handcontroller to USB adapter available called the Astro-dapter.  It looks like this:
 
Astro-daptor.jpg
 
You can buy it here:
 
http://www.2600-dapt...stro-daptor.htm
 

I just find it [has] really incredible graphics and bitmapped display, which was so amazing for the time. I also find it fascinating that sprites are done in software, with really no limit on either number or size, except for how fast the CPU can push them out, of course.


The bitmapped display is very cool, it does allow programming the machine to be a little simpler (although it certainly makes BASIC's use of screen RAM really quirky).  I understand what you mean by "sprites" being done in software, but it's not just the CPU that limits how many are available at once.  If the programmer decides to only use the built-in ROM display and vectoring subroutines to move the patterns around the screen, then it's much easier to do then writing routines from scratch.  However, the on-board routines are general purpose routines.  To get more speed from the system, the programmers would write their own movement and display routines.  This makes sense to me, but the Astrocade's lifespan was quite short, so this only seems to have been done on the later games.  As a programmer, you can compare it to people not using the routines in the EXEC when they wanted to push the hardware limits of the Intellivision.  On one hand there is ease-of-use (the build-in ROM routines) and on the other hand there is the potential for more speed (hand-crafted ML code).
 

I also see so much untapped potential, the 256 color palette and the ability to modify it during horizontal blanking periods… And being able to modify the "split screen" register to get at another additional four colors per scanline. Most of the games I'm seeing don't even make use of this with very few exceptions.

 
Many of the games (maybe even most of them) did make use of the right/left color boundary to get more than the normally available four colors on-screen at once.  For instance, even simple-looking games like Dogpatch make use of this feature of the Astrocade.  However, you'll find it's pretty common for games that do use the left/right color boundary to share one or two colors, resulting in (usually) just six or seven colors onscreen at once.

 

Some games that you might not expect did change the color palette on the fly using interrupts.  For instance, Space Invaders (later re-released as Astro Battle) gets more colors on the screen using interrupts.  If you're curious about this, you can check the mostly-complete (to my satisfaction, anyway) disassembly of Astro Battle to look at the details.  Probably the best of example of getting plenty of colors onscreen at once is Michael Garber's homebrew game, War.  That game looks so, well, honestly... it just looks really pretty.
 

Yes, I plan to do a couple of Astrocade games. The library is in desperate need of more quality titles

 
If you make an Astrocade game or two, and need any help finding information that you need, then I can probably point you in the right direction.  Also, I helped publish the two homebrew games that were released on cartridge (Crazy Climber and War), so I might be able to help in that area too.

 

I'd much prefer to see original homebrew titles than re-makes of classics.  It's a fantastic technical achievement to see modern-type games running on classic hardware, but I think it's more fun to play original games.  It appears that originality is the difficult part of programming-- but I wouldn't know; I'm just a game player.  Whether or not you choose to program original games, or make a remake of a title that you love, I'll be glad to try out anything that you work on!

 

There appears to be copious documentation, much official and from back in the day!

 

Yes, original documentation, like the "Nutting Manual," is available.  Also, you might find that browsing some of the disassemblies of the cartridges useful, as well as looking at the source code for the 8K on-board ROM and the source code for Crazy Climber, Football, Treasure Cove, and the Machine Language Manager.  Links to all of this code is here:

 

http://www.ballyalle.../ml_source.html
 

It's also fun to read through the Arcadian and Cursor/BASIC Express newsletters, as you never know what you'll find in them.  Most information in their is directly applicable to BASIC, but there are some interesting tid-bits of machine language information available in there too.

 

And just to answer your question about pack-ins : nothing comes with the system, unfortunately, except its box. But I have been able to buy a couple of brand-new Astrocade games: Dogpatch, Galactic Invaders, and Brickyard/Clowns.; I'm also hoping The Incredible Wizard will show up on eBay soon.

 

When you say "nothing comes with the system," you did get hand controllers though, right?  If you don't have BASIC, then you should try to pick that up too.  Currently, my two favorite games for the system are Cosmic Raiders and Solar Conqueror.  These are both late-release (1983) cartridges, so they can be a little hard to come by, but they're both worth picking up.
 

Sorry for the long message. Just feeling the enthusiasm and excitement of discovering the Astrocade. :-)

 

Write up a storm, Carl; that's how people communicate to get their points across clearly.  No matter the length of your questions and comments, I'll read your posts completely and do my best to answer any questions that you may have.

 

Oh, and in case you aren't aware, you can find about 15,000 past posts about the Astrocade (dating back to 2001) on the Bally Alley Yahoo group message forum, here:

 

https://groups.yahoo...ballyalley/info

 

I hope that you enjoy your Astrocade when you get it!  (If you don't, just put it back in the box and send it along to me... ;-) )

 

Adam



#5 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 6, 2017 3:38 PM

 

Anyway, I do not want to deal with RF hookups and would like, if possible, the better picture that composite video makes possible, and preferably S-video for the actual video connection.
 

 

Unfortunately Carl, I sold the last of the 8bitDomain S-VIDEO boards I had left a while ago.  I don't think anyone has picked up where they (8bitDomain) left off and tried to copy the board.  I was actually hoping someone who come up with additional connections (composite, component) as the actual RCA audio and S-VIDEO cables were on a separate connector, but nothing progressed on that either I'm afraid. 

 

I never owned an Astrocade and didn't know the system existed until about 10 years ago. I just find it so fascinating, it's unique (and very well received) controllers and really incredible graphics and bitmapped display, which was so amazing for the time. I also find it fascinating that sprites are done in software, with really no limit on either number or size, except for how fast the CPU can push them out, of course.

 
I also see so much untapped potential, the 256 color palette and the ability to modify it during horizontal blanking periods… And being able to modify the "split screen" register to get at another additional four colors per scanline. Most of the games I'm seeing don't even make use of this with very few exceptions.
 
Yes, I plan to do a couple of Astrocade games. The library is in desperate need of more quality titles, which I will certainly strive to make. I probably won't be able to start development for a year or two, but in the meantime I'll be enjoying learning more about the Astrocade; thankfully there appears to be copious documentation, much official and from back in the day!

 

I've seen your Intellivison games and they are top notch; I recently picked up my very first Intellivison and plan to pick up some of your games for it.  If/when you get serious about programming for the Astrocade please reach out to me as well as Adam - there is a bankswitched board design out there for it, letting you tap into up to 512K instead of the 8K restriction of the standard cart.  I've been trying to get a game designed to take advantage of it for years but its only gone as far as some bankswitched tests, graphic tests etc. 

 

You can view more about the 512K board in my signature for 128Kgames.com.  Some of the stuff (OK, most of it) is pure fantasy, but the board and programmer are real. 

 

Michael Garber would be a great source of information on programming for it as he programmed the bankswitched software routine (hope I'm saying that right) and was in the process of creating a gaming engine for it.  (Michael programmed the WAR and Crazy Climber hombrew Astrocade games if you weren't aware). 

 

I was also hoping someone would combine the 512K cart along with expanded RAM, which the Astrocade supports up to 64K.  The most recent RAM expansion was the Lil' White Ram from Kenn Lil & Mike White, but it was only 32K.  I'm sure a 64K RAM expansion could be made and streamlined even, just for game playing with the 512K cart. 

 

I think you would really have something there (512K ROM + 64K RAM) and do some amazing things.  



#6 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 6, 2017 3:53 PM

S-Video to composite shouldn't be harder than merging the Chroma and Luma signals with a 470-630 pF capacitor between the two.



#7 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 6, 2017 4:06 PM

S-Video to composite shouldn't be harder than merging the Chroma and Luma signals with a 470-630 pF capacitor between the two.

 

Here is what the 8bitDomain board and connector looks like:

 

S-Video%20Mod.jpg

 

I would rather not modify the connector, but instead make other ones available, like I mentioned (composite, component).  You can see the 7 pin connector on the board where the audio and video piece attaches, but I don't know which of those 7 pins is what.  



#8 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 6, 2017 4:29 PM

I found more pics here: http://www.ballyalle...-video_mod.html

 

The connector seems to be wired like this:

 

1 - Black

2 - White

3 - Red

4 - Red + Green (?)

5, 6 - Yellow

7 - Blue

 

The S-Video connector has a pinout that looks like this:

.4..3.
2....1

1 = GND for the luminance

2 = GND for the chrominance

3 = Luminance signal

4 = Chrominance signal

 

I believe the two red (going to S-Video and sound) and the two yellow (going to S-Video and a resistor on the motherboard) wires are GND signals. That leaves the green and blue wires, which would require a better close-up of the connector to determine which is which.

 

Does the system really output stereo sound, or is the signal duplicated on what I assume are the black and white wires? Are the green and one of the red wires really connected together?

 

While I don't know the system, I doubt you can expect a separated component video signal from this board, but you could definitely get a composite video signal.


Edited by carlsson, Thu Apr 6, 2017 4:29 PM.


#9 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 6, 2017 6:43 PM

Does the system really output stereo sound, or is the signal duplicated on what I assume are the black and white wires? Are the green and one of the red wires really connected together?

 

No, it's just mono audio through both channels (L/R).  Dunno about the specifics of the wires, but I can take some hi-res photos of the board and the connector and post them up. 



#10 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 8, 2017 2:34 AM

 

Unfortunately Carl, I sold the last of the 8bitDomain S-VIDEO boards I had left a while ago.  I don't think anyone has picked up where they (8bitDomain) left off and tried to copy the board.  I was actually hoping someone who come up with additional connections (composite, component) as the actual RCA audio and S-VIDEO cables were on a separate connector, but nothing progressed on that either I'm afraid. 

 

 

I've seen your Intellivison games and they are top notch; I recently picked up my very first Intellivison and plan to pick up some of your games for it.  If/when you get serious about programming for the Astrocade please reach out to me as well as Adam - there is a bankswitched board design out there for it, letting you tap into up to 512K instead of the 8K restriction of the standard cart.  I've been trying to get a game designed to take advantage of it for years but its only gone as far as some bankswitched tests, graphic tests etc. 

 

You can view more about the 512K board in my signature for 128Kgames.com.  Some of the stuff (OK, most of it) is pure fantasy, but the board and programmer are real. 

 

Michael Garber would be a great source of information on programming for it as he programmed the bankswitched software routine (hope I'm saying that right) and was in the process of creating a gaming engine for it.  (Michael programmed the WAR and Crazy Climber hombrew Astrocade games if you weren't aware). 

 

I was also hoping someone would combine the 512K cart along with expanded RAM, which the Astrocade supports up to 64K.  The most recent RAM expansion was the Lil' White Ram from Kenn Lil & Mike White, but it was only 32K.  I'm sure a 64K RAM expansion could be made and streamlined even, just for game playing with the 512K cart. 

 

I think you would really have something there (512K ROM + 64K RAM) and do some amazing things.  

That indeed would be very powerful. For the moment though, I'm going to try to make use of stock hardware as I do enjoy working within limitations, to see if I can push the hardware to do things hitherto unexpected… I just enjoy the challenge I guess.
 
Thanks for your interest in my games. They're not perfect but I think they are pretty solid efforts nonetheless. If you do get a hold of them, I like to hear your thoughts.
 
Carl


#11 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 8, 2017 9:14 AM

I'm going to try to make use of stock hardware as I do enjoy working within limitations, to see if I can push the hardware to do things hitherto unexpected…


I agree with Carl, the 8K limitation of the Bally Arcade/Astrocade was barely scratched.  There were only three first-party games released that were 8K ROM cartridges:
 
Cosmic Raiders (1983)
Incredible Wizard, The (1982)
Solar Conqueror (1983)
 
Of the Bally's entire cartridge library, the above three games are often considered among the best games on the console.  Certainly, they are the best looking games from Bally.  What would have happened if the Bally's hardware had been explored to the point that it was on the Atari 2600?  Imagine, if first-party games from Astrocade, Inc. had continued to come out until 1991, like they did on the Atari VCS.

 

There was some extreme cartridge bankswitching going on by the end of the Atari 2600's lifecycle.  I suppose that would have occurred in the Bally world too if the system had a chance to mature as fully as the little 'ole VCS.  I'm still amazed at what the VCS is constantly pushed to do.  Have you seen Juno First?  I know it uses some extra hardware on the cart... but still, it's fast, amazing and (best of all!) it's fun.

 

Okay, back to the Bally console.  There was one third-party game released that used 8K, it was:
 
Treasure Cove (1983)(Esoterica)(PD)
 

Treasure Cove has the best title screen on the system.  The game is slow-paced, but it's quite challenging in the higher levels.  Plus, eventually you get attached by Yellow Submarines.  Now, that's cool!

One cartridge released in 1978 by Bally used 8K.  It was the Bally BASIC Demo.  This cartridge used a crippled version of the 4K Bally BASIC.  The rest of the 4K is actually a BASIC program.
 
The later BASIC's, that were based on Jay Fenton's Hot Rod BASIC, were also 8K:

Blue RAM BASIC 1.1 (1981)(Perkins Engineering)
VIPERsoft BASIC (1981)(Alternative Engineering)
 
Technically, ViperSoft BASIC never had an official cartridge release, but it didn't take long for homebrewers and hackers in 1981 to move the 8K 300-baud tape, first to a tape in "AstroBASIC" format (so that it would load faster), and then to an EPROM cartridge.
 
If you look at the complete Bally library, you'll see many other 8K cartridges, but most of these are BASICarts (homemade cartridges that work in a similar fashion to the Bally BASIC Demo (half BASIC interpreter and half BASIC program).  Of course, the only two modern homebrew games (War and Crazy Climber) are also 8K ROMs.
 
I'm quite curious to see what Carl is able to program on the Bally.  I'd love to see an original game title rather than a port.  I guess, first Carl has to get a working Astrocade unit.  Maybe in the meantime, he can program the system using the emulation available in MAME.

Adam



#12 Carl Mueller Jr OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 8, 2017 8:27 PM

I agree with Carl, the 8K limitation of the Bally Arcade/Astrocade was barely scratched.  There were only three first-party games released that were 8K ROM cartridges:
 
Cosmic Raiders (1983)
Incredible Wizard, The (1982)
Solar Conqueror (1983)
 
Of the Bally's entire cartridge library, the above three games are often considered among the best games on the console.  Certainly, they are the best looking games from Bally.  What would have happened if the Bally's hardware had been explored to the point that it was on the Atari 2600?  Imagine, if first-party games from Astrocade, Inc. had continued to come out until 1991, like they did on the Atari VCS.

 

There was some extreme cartridge bankswitching going on by the end of the Atari 2600's lifecycle.  I suppose that would have occurred in the Bally world too if the system had a chance to mature as fully as the little 'ole VCS.  I'm still amazed at what the VCS is constantly pushed to do.  Have you seen Juno First?  I know it uses some extra hardware on the cart... but still, it's fast, amazing and (best of all!) it's fun.

 

Okay, back to the Bally console.  There was one third-party game released that used 8K, it was:
 
Treasure Cove (1983)(Esoterica)(PD)
 

Treasure Cove has the best title screen on the system.  The game is slow-paced, but it's quite challenging in the higher levels.  Plus, eventually you get attached by Yellow Submarines.  Now, that's cool!

One cartridge released in 1978 by Bally used 8K.  It was the Bally BASIC Demo.  This cartridge used a crippled version of the 4K Bally BASIC.  The rest of the 4K is actually a BASIC program.
 
The later BASIC's, that were based on Jay Fenton's Hot Rod BASIC, were also 8K:

Blue RAM BASIC 1.1 (1981)(Perkins Engineering)
VIPERsoft BASIC (1981)(Alternative Engineering)
 
Technically, ViperSoft BASIC never had an official cartridge release, but it didn't take long for homebrewers and hackers in 1981 to move the 8K 300-baud tape, first to a tape in "AstroBASIC" format (so that it would load faster), and then to an EPROM cartridge.
 
If you look at the complete Bally library, you'll see many other 8K cartridges, but most of these are BASICarts (homemade cartridges that work in a similar fashion to the Bally BASIC Demo (half BASIC interpreter and half BASIC program).  Of course, the only two modern homebrew games (War and Crazy Climber) are also 8K ROMs.
 
I'm quite curious to see what Carl is able to program on the Bally.  I'd love to see an original game title rather than a port.  I guess, first Carl has to get a working Astrocade unit.  Maybe in the meantime, he can program the system using the emulation available in MAME.

Adam

If I do end up doing any ports, you can be sure that there will be plenty of Astrocade-exclusive content to make it worthwhile to play on the Astrocade. If you look at my games on the Intellivision, I've done the same thing. My "port" of Ms. Pac-Man has 20 Intellivision exclusive levels, new fruits, three playable characters and other options.
 
By the way, a working Astrocade is now on the way. It cost me over $100 to ship to Japan, where I am now living.
 
I'm also getting interested in programming something for BASIC, but I want to do this under emulation and not have to use the very stiff keypad of the Astrocade. I don't suppose there's a way to save to an audio file, but I suppose I could do save states while developing, then at some point when it's finished key it into a real Astrocade and output it to tape.
 
Carl


#13 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 8, 2017 10:11 PM

If I do end up doing any ports, you can be sure that there will be plenty of Astrocade-exclusive content

 

Oh, that's really cool!  Exclusive content is great!  I listen to the Intellivisionaries podcast, so I'm aware of your games for the Intellivision.  I don't have that system anymore. The closest I've got is the Intellivision Flashback, which has a surprisingly good controller.  The emulation of the system isn't great, but it's fair, and if the person never played the original console, then they wouldn't even notice.

 

I met someone semi-local (about an hour away) a few months back via the Bally Alley Astrocast.  He and I have met-up about five or six times now.  About a month back he brought over his Intellivision with the homebrew game GoSub.  That was pretty cool to play.  I'll have to politely "suggest" that he picks up your games... if they're not already sold out.  Last week, this person brought over his Odyssey 2 with Quest for the Rings and I played the videogame/boardgame for the first time.  We've also played the Arcadia 2001 and, of course, the Bally Arcade.
 

By the way, a working Astrocade is now on the way. It cost me over $100 to ship to Japan, where I am now living.

 

Ouch.  You should have bought the Bandai release of the Astrocade!  They're cheap as chips over their.  In America, we had the NES, but in Japan it was Bandai's Astrocade that really caught on in the mid-1980s, I guess because the Bandai release of the Astrocade had hi-res mode built into the unit.  Man, I must have April Fool's Day stuck on the brain, because (of course!) I'm completely making this up-- the Astrocade was never sold outside of the USA and Canada.  I hope that this system that you bought works for you!
 

I'm also getting interested in programming something for BASIC, but I want to do this under emulation and not have to use the very stiff keypad of the Astrocade. I don't suppose there's a way to save to an audio file, but I suppose I could do save states while developing, then at some point when it's finished key it into a real Astrocade and output it to tape.

 

Ah, BASIC programming.  It's always neat to dabble in that language.  On the Astrocade, use "AstroBASIC" (the one with the built-in 2000-baud interface).  Carl, that's the easy cartridge to find, and (hopefully) you have it already (or it's coming with the Astrocade).  If not, then I'll send you a boxed New-Old-Stock copy of it.

 

I've used "AstroBASIC" under the Astrocade emulator in MAME quite a bit; its rather handy.  You are right, there is no tape support for the Astrocade emulator.  This is a huge oversight, and I can't believe that it hasn't been added after all these years.  But (as you suggested), I have used save states under "AstroBASIC" with great success.  The only trouble with save states is that they are not guaranteed to work from one release of MAME to the next update; sometimes they work, but sometimes they don't.  If you're going to program "AstroBASIC" under MAME, then do yourself a huge favor and make yourself a keyboard like I did.  Mine looks like this:

 

AstroBASIC MAME USB Keyboard Layout (Astrocade)(Cropped).jpg

 

You can easily make this keyboard yourself.  I simply used a spare USB keyboard, printed the labels I made onto sticker-paper and placed them carefully onto the keyboard using tweezers.  It works great!  You can download the labels/stickers that I made here:

 

http://www.ballyalle...ICKeypadOverlay

 

Once you use the Astrocade's keyboard, you'll find that it is not nearly as bad as you expect.  Yes, I'm going to say that you will get used to it.  That said, I hardly ever type programs in on the Astrocade.  There are Windows utilities that allow you to write your programs in text format, convert them to 300-baud WAV files that can be loaded into Bally BASIC.  However, the "AstroBASIC" manual has a utility program that allows you to load nearly all Bally BASIC programs into "AstroBASIC" (and you don't even need the 300-baud tape interface).  The only exception to this rule is that if you use machine language routines, or store graphics into arrays, then you'll not be able to load them using this utility.  Still, you can use it for a lot of transfers.  When you get down this path, then let me know.

 

There are many Arcadian newsletter subscribers who hooked up their own keyboards because they wanted a beefed-up system.  For fun, I went looking through the Bob Fabris Collection of scanned archives that haven't yet been uploaded to BallyAlley.com.  I came across these two pictures of someone who hooked up a circa 1979 Key Tronic L1696 keyboard to their Astrocade and placed the Astrocade into a case.  Check it out:

 

Astrocade in Blue Keyboard Case (Photo)(Weintraub)_001.jpg

 

This system probably belonged to Herb Weintraub, but I don't know for sure.  The back of the photo has the name "Weintraub" written on it in Bob Fabris' handwriting, but I'm inferring the name "Herb" from other documents in the Fabis collection.  Here is the complete system setup for use.  You can see that the owner has an Arcadian setup on a stand and he is currently typing in a BASIC program.  Check out that wood paneling.  Look at that audio cassette tape deck.  Even worse, look at the fire that's waiting to happen at the overloaded 110-volt outlet.

 

Astrocade in Blue Keyboard Case (Photo)(Weintraub)_002.jpg

 

This is one of the really cool things about the Astrocade: people took control of the console for themselves.  You didn't see Intellivison, Atari 2600 or Odyssey 2 users doing this sort of hardware hacking in 1980, right?  Or, maybe because no newsletters for those systems existed, we just never heard about it...

 

Adam



#14 glazball OFFLINE  

glazball

    Moonsweeper

  • 362 posts
  • Location:Austin, TX

Posted Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:00 PM

@Carl - congrats on your Astrocade!  I know you'll love it after you get it all working!

 

@ballyalley - you mentioned that the S-video mod causes ghosting on your setup.  Did you try a higher quality S-video cable?  I was using a cheaper cable from ebay and had serious ghosting and a LOT of line noise (almost like stars moving through space), but after buying a better cable from svideo.com, the ghosting was reduced significantly (though not entirely, sadly) and the line noise was gone.  This is the cable I purchased, recommend by 128Kgames:

 

http://www.svideo.com/4pinsvideo.html



#15 kenzre OFFLINE  

kenzre

    Space Invader

  • 20 posts

Posted Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:53 PM

I STILL HAVE SONE STOCK of Lil' WHITE RAMs and UltiMulti carts ($125.00 USD each + P&H of $15.00 per order). I also have some composite Video boards that require some soldering (3 wires) $50.00 Free shipping. The video boards have NO shadowing and also have pseudo stereo (both sides have same output) Most modern TV's have the 3 connector arrangement (Yellow - Video, Red - Right side audio, and White - Left side audio).

At the end of this year (2017), I am planning to retire from manufacturing these products.

Ken Lill

GaMBITS Engineering



#16 128Kgames OFFLINE  

128Kgames

    Dragonstomper

  • 708 posts
  • Victory is mine! I am the Worrior!
  • Location:The Dungeons of Wor

Posted Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:06 PM

I STILL HAVE SONE STOCK of Lil' WHITE RAMs and UltiMulti carts ($125.00 USD each + P&H of $15.00 per order). I also have some composite Video boards that require some soldering (3 wires) $50.00 Free shipping. The video boards have NO shadowing and also have pseudo stereo (both sides have same output) Most modern TV's have the 3 connector arrangement (Yellow - Video, Red - Right side audio, and White - Left side audio).

At the end of this year (2017), I am planning to retire from manufacturing these products.

Ken Lill

GaMBITS Engineering

 

PM sent Ken. 






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