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Happy 1050 and Electronic Arts


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#1 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 6, 2017 6:19 PM

I recently upgraded one of my trusty 1050's with an AtariMax repro Happy board. Mostly I want to play around with magnetic media again just kind of because, I figured it was a cheap and EASY upgrade for double-density, but it might be fun to screw around copying some of my old original disks from back in the Ferg ...

 

So tonight I pulled out my original SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD disk (which DOES boot, by the way) and tried to copy it with the Happy software that came with the board. I discovered the included "PDB" files, two of which are for different EA titles. #3 on the Happy disk specifically lists SEVEN CITIES as one of the titles, so I loaded it up, popped in my original disk and began.  The software runs and tells me it has copied 11 tracks. When I swap disks to write a copy, it writes out the tracks, tells me to swap disks, etc. until finally it reports "Done."

 

So I power cycled  my Atari and reboot - I get the EA logo, which shifts color for a moment as if the load is progressing normally, the drive head seeks back and forth several times and then stops, but the game never loads. I have tried booting the disk with various combinations of OS roms, expanded memory options and whatnot ... I even tried a brand new disk from a never-opened pack (until tonight). Nada.

 

The last thing I tried was to do a simple "Happy Backup Program", skipping the PDB file, and instead setting the special options to increase the number of sector reads, telling it to enable the skew setting, and set the drive to "Slow" mode (not "Unhappy Mode" per se). And now my copy works. :)



#2 ijor OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 6, 2017 8:36 PM

Note that there are two different versions of Seven Cities with two very different protections. The most common one, the one that seems you have, has the so called Skew Align protection. This protection doesn't necessarily need any PDB. As you did, all it needs is to enable skew align at the Happy Backuper. In theory (see below), the only thing that PDB does is precisely to enable skew align automatically.

 

Increasing sectors needed shouldn't be needed at all unless your original disk is marginal and might benefit from some retries. The drive must be set to slow mode one way or the other. Otherwise the protection will fail. You can configure the drive, or as you did, you can force slow in the happy backuper. It is not clear to me if you tried to run the copy made with the PDB in fast, buffered, mode. That of course won't work. The same way that it won't work with the original.

 

Regarding the PDB automatically enabling skew align, that is how it is documented by Happy. But I seem to remember that what it actually does is something different. Instead of copying the skew align from the source disk. It automatically recreates the know skew align that those EA titles have. If so (again, I don't remember for sure), that is much better and the copy will be done much faster.

 



#3 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 5:55 AM

Thanks for the info, ijor. I searched the forum and found your comments on EA protection in a similar thread about Archon II from several years ago but until I started goofing around with this stuff on my own, it didn’t make as much sense as it does now. This is all just a fun learning experience for me; my original disk works fine and of course cracked versions have been available forever now.

#4 Gunstar ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 8:10 AM

There really isnt much need for a copying anymore, as you said, except the odd software that hasnt been cracked and archived yet. I got my Happy upgrades (Atarimax) simply because it was the cheapest solution for ultra speed and double density, far cheaper than the US doubler is sold by the dealers. I wonder if I will ever have a need for it's copying abilities.

#5 Mclaneinc OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 8:21 AM

I believe you have to set the drive to un-Happy to boot many of the EA titles, something to do with the timing I think..You will get what you described if the Happy is in Happy mode..


Edited by Mclaneinc, Thu Sep 7, 2017 8:23 AM.


#6 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 9:55 AM

I believe you have to set the drive to un-Happy to boot many of the EA titles, something to do with the timing I think..You will get what you described if the Happy is in Happy mode..


I tried that for the first copy I tried using the Happy EA PDB file but you get the message that the disk must be booted in a Happy drive.

#7 Mclaneinc OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 10:02 AM

I tried that for the first copy I tried using the Happy EA PDB file but you get the message that the disk must be booted in a Happy drive.

 

I can understand it saying that to copy it but that sounds odd to play the copy....

 

Anyway, I hope you get it sorted...

 

Best of luck..



#8 ijor OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 10:28 AM

I tried that for the first copy I tried using the Happy EA PDB file but you get the message that the disk must be booted in a Happy drive.

 

That means you used the wrong PDB. You used the PDB for the newer version of Seven Cities of Gold. That version uses the later EA copy protection, the so called "supertracks" that the Happy can't really copy. What it does is to "simulate" the protection at runtime with custom code running on the drive. That's why a Happy is needed to run the copy.

 

But it is strange that the Happy didn't complain that the source doesn't match the expected protection when making the copy.



#9 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 10:56 AM

Is there any info on how super-track works?



#10 ijor OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 1:23 PM

Supertracks refer to tracks with too many sectors. More than what you can fit even slowing down the drive. In this case it has 34 sectors. But what really matters is not just the number of sectors but their content. All the sectors on the track except a single one have a good CRC, they read without error. Not that big deal, all you need is to overlap the sectors. One sector starts in the middle of the previous one. But if you want them to read without errors, you must write the whole track in a single pass. Otherwise the write splices would produce read back errors. The problem is that the FDC has some limitations about what can write at format time. It is not designed for this purpose. It is designed to first format the track and then write the individual sectors in a separate pass.

 

So you need at the minimum something like the Bitwriter to copy these tracks. Or, of course, flux level hardware copiers.



#11 ijor OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 1:27 PM

Btw, just in case you don't know. You currently can run the Archiver under Altirra, load a VAPI/ATX image of any later EA title and inspect the track, which IIRC it's always track 2 in EA.



#12 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 5:12 PM

 

That means you used the wrong PDB. You used the PDB for the newer version of Seven Cities of Gold. That version uses the later EA copy protection, the so called "supertracks" that the Happy can't really copy. What it does is to "simulate" the protection at runtime with custom code running on the drive. That's why a Happy is needed to run the copy.

 

But it is strange that the Happy didn't complain that the source doesn't match the expected protection when making the copy.

 

I thought I tried both PDB files and neither would boot properly. There are two EA-specific choices for EA PDB files - "#3" which lists SEVEN CITIES, ARCHON II and maybe one or two others, and "#27" which lists RACING DESTRUCTION SET and some others. At the end of the list it says there are more PDB files on the back of the disk but on my disk from Steve, the other side is unformatted. 

 

Hmm. Well, I've got time tonight, and some blank disks to play with. Time for more experiments. :)



#13 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 5:39 PM

Okay so I’m playing around again tonight ... both of the EA PDB files state they need a Happy drive to run.

Another weird thing is that the Happy Backup Program doesn’t seem to use my ramdisk - lots of swapping going on here. Anyone know if I need to select a specific option in my Ultimate 1MB to be “Happy compatible” and avoid all this disk swapping?

#14 ijor OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 7:05 PM

 

I thought I tried both PDB files and neither would boot properly. There are two EA-specific choices for EA PDB files - "#3" which lists SEVEN CITIES, ARCHON II and maybe one or two others, and "#27" which lists RACING DESTRUCTION SET and some others. At the end of the list it says there are more PDB files on the back of the disk but on my disk from Steve, the other side is unformatted.

 

Those two are both for the newer EA protection including the newer version of Seven Cities. Yes, the PDB for the older version of Seven Cities is in the back side, it even tell you that is the same as enabling skew align and forcing slow:

 

Happy-EaOld-PDB.jpg



#15 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 7, 2017 7:42 PM

Wow, okay cool. Thanks, ijor. I checked again tonight and indeed, the back side of the disk I got from Steve gives me an error when I look for additional PDB files. Interestingly, years ago I got an archive of tons (many thousands) of .ATRs categorized and alphabetized - I have what appears to be a Side A and Side B of the Happy Warp Menu disk that I got, but even simulating things in Altirra, the Side B .ATR gives the same error I get with my real disk. Weird.

Well, I’ll look around for a second, working .ATR of Side B. If I find one, I’ll write it out to Side B of the disk I have. Thanks for the confirmation.

#16 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 8, 2017 6:00 PM

 

Those two are both for the newer EA protection including the newer version of Seven Cities. Yes, the PDB for the older version of Seven Cities is in the back side, it even tell you that is the same as enabling skew align and forcing slow:

 

attachicon.gifHappy-EaOld-PDB.jpg

 

Alright so following up - what version of the Happy software is that, ijor, and do you happen to have an .atr I can use to write a real floppy? I've tried the real disk I got from Steve but it's got no readable PDB files on it when I try, and the TOSEC archive Side B .atr gives me the same "No PDB" files error in Altirra that my actual disk does. Same error with the Side B from the Holmes Archive in Altirra. AtariMania doesn't have version 7.1 either. I searched the forum and some folks posted a different Happy 7.1 side B .ATR than the one in the TOSEC archive but also no PDBs when I flip the disk in Altirra and ask the Happy Backup to load PDB files. 

 

Either I'm really missing something or ... a good Side B isn't archived anywhere I've yet looked. I freely admit there's likely user error here. :) 



#17 ijor OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 9, 2017 1:59 PM

It's 7.1, of course. You have PM



#18 Gunstar ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 9, 2017 4:31 PM

My Atarimax Happy disk is single sided, so I'm missing the back-side stuff too. can someone post an ATR of the 7.1 side 2?



#19 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:51 AM

Okay, for whatever reason, none of the common archives seems to have a correct, working copy of the B side of the Happy Warp Speed 7.1 software disk, complete with the additional PDB files referred to above. For those who wonder what I'm talking about, if you boot the A side of the disk and select option 4, Happy Backup Program, you are asked if you want to use PDB (Pre-Defined Backup) files. If you select Y, you are given a series of 35 files presented 10 at a time, each of which is a set of options for making bootable backups of various titles. The end of the list states that there are additional PDB files on the other side of the disk. However, none of the disk .ATRs out there for side B seem to have these PDB files. Every one I've tried (from the Holmes Archive; the TOSEC archive; several versions posted in various older AA threads) has the same issue - when you mount those versions of Side B and tell the Happy Backup Program to read the list of PDB files, you get an error message.

 

Finally, thanks to a kind soul, there's a working, correct side B of the Happy Warp Speed 7.1 software disk! I've written this file to a physical disk using APE ProSystem and then used it (or rather, the PDB files contained on it) to make a working backup of my SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD disk. The attached zip file is a complete working copy of both sides. 

Attached Files



#20 Nezgar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:48 PM

I believe I have the same version of Seven Cities of Gold, and could not produce a working duplicate with all the options I tried for skew etc. Awesome to see the Side B PDB's found - i'll have to give this a try!


Edited by Nezgar, Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:48 PM.


#21 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:12 PM

I believe I have the same version of Seven Cities of Gold, and could not produce a working duplicate with all the options I tried for skew etc. Awesome to see the Side B PDB's found - i'll have to give this a try!

 

Here's my original disk. Perhaps the numeric code under blue dot on the label specifies the protection scheme used or program revision? Anyway, I *was* able to use the PDB files on the Side B .ATR contained in the zip file to make a working, bootable duplicate. 

 

SSoG Disk.jpg



#22 Nezgar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:33 PM

Hmm. No blue dot on mine. Will see how I make out, will try this evening. The gold hub ring is the icing on the cake. :)

scan0001.jpg



#23 ijor OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:04 AM

Finally, thanks to a kind soul, there's a working, correct side B of the Happy Warp Speed 7.1 software disk! I've written this file to a physical disk using APE ProSystem and then used it (or rather, the PDB files contained on it) to make a working backup of my SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD disk. The attached zip file is a complete working copy of both sides. 

 

Note that it is not just additional PDBs. Side B is bootable as well and have a few goodies besides the PDBs.



#24 Nezgar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:04 AM

Well no such luck for me...

 

Using the backside PDB #14 "older ELECTRONIC ARTS PROGRAMS" listing "SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD (older version) the copy process errors out and literally crashes the drive when writing track #3. (It ends with the computer endlessly raspberrying, and drive cycling activity light) - tried on two different happy drives, and two different computers!

 

I guess my grey disk pictured above is the 'Newer' version of SCOG. as mentioned on this page http://www.digitpres...sevencities.htm"with the newer “Supertrack” method (as used in Racing Destruction Set, Super Boulder Dash, etc.). "

 

Front PDB #3 creates a working backup, but requires a Happy drive to boot

Front PDB #27 creates a working backuo but requires a Happy drive to boot

Normal backup manually enabling skew align and forced slow makes a disk that starts to boot, then hangs on copy protection check

 

Not a huge deal, since I've had cracked copies very early on for day to day use... but still interesting. This would probably be a disk that a Bitwriter is needed to dup, or of course a kryoflux.


Edited by Nezgar, Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:10 AM.


#25 Kylev OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:14 AM

Nezgar,

I think you miss the point of the PDB backup process. Using one of those requires a Happy drive as the PDB gets loaded up to the drives extra RAM and is used to simulate the copy protection on the original disk.






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