Jump to content

Photo

What is the installed VBXE base in 2017?


68 replies to this topic

#1 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

davidcalgary29

    Quadrunner

  • 5,491 posts
  • Location:Peace River, Alberta

Posted Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:39 PM

I've *finally* got access to a VBXE-modded machine thanks to the efforts of the amazing flashjazzcat. This really is an impressive upgrade, and, I'm curious -- now that it's been around for almost a decade, how widely has it dispersed through the A8 community? Does anyone have a rough guess as to how many units have been sold?



#2 Stephen OFFLINE  

Stephen

    Quadrunner

  • 6,556 posts
  • A8 Gear Head
  • Location:No longer in Crakron, Ohio

Posted Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:44 PM

I've *finally* got access to a VBXE-modded machine thanks to the efforts of the amazing flashjazzcat. This really is an impressive upgrade, and, I'm curious -- now that it's been around for almost a decade, how widely has it dispersed through the A8 community? Does anyone have a rough guess as to how many units have been sold?

Few hundred I would guess.  There seems to be a really shit attitude in the community about it.  People beg for it to not be supported, but they laud memory upgrades, hard drives, etc.  It kills me.



#3 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 8,625 posts
  • Location:Kellyville, Oklahoma

Posted Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:00 PM

Why would people be against it getting support? If they don't care about it, fine, but it's not like they are losing out if they don't want it, on any new projects for it. That seems the same to me as them saying we want support for our 8-bit Atari's but don't anyone support other 8 or 16-bit platforms, just out of spite, like little brats; if I can't have it or don't want it, I don't want anyone else to enjoy it either!



#4 Stephen OFFLINE  

Stephen

    Quadrunner

  • 6,556 posts
  • A8 Gear Head
  • Location:No longer in Crakron, Ohio

Posted Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:03 PM

Why would people be against it getting support? If they don't care about it, fine, but it's not like they are losing out if they don't want it, on any new projects for it. That seems the same to me as them saying we want support for our 8-bit Atari's but don't anyone support other 8 or 16-bit platforms, just out of spite, like little brats; if I can't have it or don't want it, I don't want anyone else to enjoy it either!

Check multiple posts here, some even from less than an hour ago.  I don't get it either.  But the attitude for this extension  in particular, is quite pervasive.  The lack of anything for it in 10 years, shows.



#5 TMR OFFLINE  

TMR

    River Patroller

  • 3,367 posts
  • Beeping the horn on the data bus
  • Location:Leeds, U.K.

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 2:45 AM

Check multiple posts here, some even from less than an hour ago. I don't get it either.


i'd assume that at least some people are worried about VBXE development taking programmers away from writing games on the stock machine?
 

The lack of anything for it in 10 years, shows.


i've considered doing something for it but have no idea where the decent programming resources can be found or if the emulators are trustworthy as regards compatibility - i really can't afford the hardware and seem to remember it being more involved to fit than i'm capable of. i'm not even sure about what exactly the VBXE can offer as regards features to be honest...

#6 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

Heaven/TQA

    Quadrunner

  • 10,388 posts
  • Location:Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 3:56 AM

Jason...

 

Altirra 95% accurate I would guess, programming resources available, nice extension (see my Nordlicht demo)... but if you are walking on the edge it might not work in real HW.

 

The blitter is awesome but our mighty 6502 is slow to feed :D.

 

Altirra Hardware Reference manual is good start. (but has some "bug" in my version when coding the Nordlicht demo in terms of blitting patterns which broke on real HW while it worked in Altirra (it was in the plasma part of the demo).


Edited by Heaven/TQA, Fri Dec 1, 2017 4:04 AM.


#7 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

Heaven/TQA

    Quadrunner

  • 10,388 posts
  • Location:Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 3:59 AM

my claim Atari scene vs e.g. C64 scene...

 

hardware ppl most of the time... (thanks to the OS support, driver model in OS etc)... but lacking software ppl. 

 

better another flash card, another ram extension etc... but VBXE needs ppl who do coding for it... for a RAM based extension noone needs software...



#8 Rybags OFFLINE  

Rybags

    Quadrunner

  • 15,263 posts
  • Location:Australia

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 4:36 AM

The thing with blits is use the thing to construct blit parameters in the first place when possible.  What would have been nice with blits is conditional execution and/or branching.



#9 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

Heaven/TQA

    Quadrunner

  • 10,388 posts
  • Location:Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 4:57 AM

and having min terms ;) and ability to draw lines :D 



#10 suspicious_milk OFFLINE  

suspicious_milk

    Chopper Commander

  • 203 posts
  • Location:Muncie, IN USA

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 7:04 AM

Have VBXE emulate Maria, Susy, Tom, or some **ATARI** tech. You'll get tons more support.

Personally, I'd buy one now if more software supported it. But most feel it's not "Atari" enough.

#11 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 8,625 posts
  • Location:Kellyville, Oklahoma

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 8:17 AM

i'd assume that at least some people are worried about VBXE development taking programmers away from writing games on the stock machine?
 

Dual development is the key; stuff will run on stock machine, or if it finds a VBXE then an enhanced version is loaded, like *ahem* Tempest Elite, but hopefully done by programmers who know the VBXE tech and actually have real machines with VBXE and not just using Altirra, so no issues like with Tempest Elite...



#12 foft OFFLINE  

foft

    Dragonstomper

  • 643 posts
  • Location:Nyon, Switzerland

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 8:49 AM

Still waiting for my vbxe to arrive!

#13 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

Heaven/TQA

    Quadrunner

  • 10,388 posts
  • Location:Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 9:58 AM

Dual development is the key; stuff will run on stock machine, or if it finds a VBXE then an enhanced version is loaded, like *ahem* Tempest Elite, but hopefully done by programmers who know the VBXE tech and actually have real machines with VBXE and not just using Altirra, so no issues like with Tempest Elite...

 

yes... esp. you could even have the VBXE to convert C64/Plus/4 Bitmap to A8 format... so a port might be even more easier... or even mimic sprite based games (ok... no multiplexor...)...



#14 slx OFFLINE  

slx

    Stargunner

  • 1,204 posts
  • Location:Vienna, Austria

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 10:39 AM

I have several old Ataris and have not installed VBXE yet and don't feel much like doing so anytime soon. Apart from it being quite expensive it somehow feels "foreign" to me as does neither replace a storage medium with finite live nor does it really feel like something that could likely have been conceived in the 8-bit-age. 

 

I think it depends a lot on what kind of user you are. If you try to keep you Atari up-to-date and use it for everyday computing to the best of its abilities, a VBXE maybe makes more sense than if you're just re-living or extending your computing past (which is what I do). If I really need better graphics I have enough more modern systems.

 

I will probably change my mind once I run out of CRTs and LCDs with composite video input. As this might be a little while off given a decent stash of monitors I am afraid that by that time RGB/VGA input devices might be on the way out, too. So my real hope is that by that time a GTIA to HDMI (or whatever will come after HDMI) will be available. 


Edited by slx, Fri Dec 1, 2017 10:39 AM.


#15 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

davidcalgary29

    Quadrunner

  • Topic Starter
  • 5,491 posts
  • Location:Peace River, Alberta

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 11:12 AM

I have several old Ataris and have not installed VBXE yet and don't feel much like doing so anytime soon. Apart from it being quite expensive it somehow feels "foreign" to me as does neither replace a storage medium with finite live nor does it really feel like something that could likely have been conceived in the 8-bit-age. 

 

 

 

Interesting. Do you feel that VBXE is the line in the sand which divides A8 machines from  frankenputers or FGPA systems? Does this also apply to upgrades of other components such as POKEY, with a theoretically stable AMY? And Lotharek's Rapidus cards (and I can't wait for that external unit!). Not trying to stir up trouble here -- I'm genuinely interested in this . :)



#16 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

flashjazzcat

    Quadrunner

  • 12,802 posts
  • Location:United Kingdom

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 11:15 AM

My eyes having been scarred today by the sight of an Atari with a SCART connector fitted to the back, I'm starting to think external display converters (which are getting better and better) are the way forward. Say you have RGB out on DB9 and then a DVI solution (which now exists) comes out... you need to hack the case up again to put a DVI connector on the back. Then an GTIA/HDMI adapter is released and the original hole is now too big... Then HDMI becomes obsolete and someone eventually designs an Atari adapter which outputs the succeeding signal...

 

Either you have four Ataris all hacked up to support different non-factory video formats, or one machine which looks like it was owned by Edward Scissorhands. I've been fitting motherboard mounted DIN13 connectors to VBXE Ataris for the past seven years or so and building custom cables to go with them (although the pinout is ST compatible aside from the right-hand audio) and not only does the jack look almost factory, the modifications to the case are slight (enlarging the RF mod aperture). Elsewhere I see DB9 connectors screwed to the plastic, DIN8, DB15, s-video, SCART and now DVI. I can't see these modifications being removed (and sometimes the changes to the casing are irreversible), so it's likely "clean" machines will be receiving the next round of video upgrades. Repeat that cycle three or four times and suddenly there are no "clean" machines left.

 

I'm not seeing this phenomenon so much in the 16-bit world, where the first port of call is often an external scan-doubler or similar. The big difference is that the 16-bit machines already have 15KHz RGB, and that seems to have moved the focus away from hacking up the video at source. Results can be pretty good with these video converters, but if the cheaper options aren't doing a good job for the A8, perhaps it's time someone designed a custom device. Currently all we're really seeing is a drive to deliver 15KHz RGB, Component or DVI over a cable which suits the display device. The fact there's no agreed standard for RGB out of the A8 (although DIN13 was advocated by myself and Candle, with very good reason) has left a big mess, IMO.



#17 mytekcontrols OFFLINE  

mytekcontrols

    River Patroller

  • 2,252 posts
  • Location:Santa Rosa, CA

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 3:57 PM

Yep I have a few Franken-Cases around my shop  :( . believe it or not that kind of played into my decision to create a Mini-ITX system, since I can now simply design a new rear connector bezel, have it professionally milled out of anodized aluminum, and thereby accommodate any new stuff that might require a different and/or additional connector.



#18 TMR OFFLINE  

TMR

    River Patroller

  • 3,367 posts
  • Beeping the horn on the data bus
  • Location:Leeds, U.K.

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 4:34 PM

Dual development is the key; stuff will run on stock machine, or if it finds a VBXE then an enhanced version is loaded


Personal opinion here but i can't help feeling that it'd be underselling the VBXE to do that though, just dropping some visual trinkets over the top of a stock program. And i have enough problems making my stuff run PAL/NTSC without thinking about that too! =-)

i need to do a little research as to what options there are and then think about something to do with it that'll be interesting to code...

#19 Mr Robot OFFLINE  

Mr Robot

    Combat Commando

  • 1 posts
  • AtariArtist
  • Location:USA

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 4:45 PM

I'm not against people developing for the vbxe, if there were more software using it, it might even sway me to buy another Atari machine and put the mod in there. That machine would never become my primary machine though, I feel the same as slx does when he says it just crosses a line somewhere and makes the machine somehow less authentic. I feel the same way about rapidus.

 

SD based storage, Extra Memory, an Extra Pokey and a UAV is as far as I'm able to go and still feel like I'm using the same machine I used in 1985



#20 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 8,625 posts
  • Location:Kellyville, Oklahoma

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 4:52 PM

Personal opinion here but i can't help feeling that it'd be underselling the VBXE to do that though, just dropping some visual trinkets over the top of a stock program. And i have enough problems making my stuff run PAL/NTSC without thinking about that too! =-)

i need to do a little research as to what options there are and then think about something to do with it that'll be interesting to code..

Yes, if it's just slight enhancement, I feel it's better than nothing, but dual development doesn't have to mean just that, it could be two completely different versions in many ways, just like the old days and porting. Start with a VBXE version, and dumb down a stock version for those without VBXE or whatever. 



#21 gozar OFFLINE  

gozar

    Dragonstomper

  • 809 posts
  • Location:Ohio

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 5:00 PM

I had two reasons to install my VBXE:

  1. Better picture. Mine is plugged into a GBS8220 and then into an LCD monitor.
  2. This is the big reason, 80 COLUMNS! I've wanted 80 columns ever since I used AppleWorks on the Apple //e. Even more so once I got to college and needed to access the mainframe. I don't count graphics 8 80 columns either.

Do these reasons violate the spirit of the A8? I don't think so.



#22 Spaced Cowboy OFFLINE  

Spaced Cowboy

    Space Invader

  • 21 posts

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 5:08 PM

This is a *long* way off, but I've started working on an FPGA-based 'Atari QF', with which I intend to support VBXE. I'll formally announce the project some time over xmas, and set up a web-page blog etc., but I've been thinking about doing this for years, and I'm finally getting off my backside and doing something :)

 

Teasers:

 

  • The design will be completely self-contained within one of the Zynq boards available from http://www.myirtech....list.asp?id=502(hopefully the '010 version at $99/£73, but it may need the '020 at $119/£88. All the complexity is contained within this high-speed module, so the PCB work for ports etc. will be much easier to (a) design and (b) manufacture. For "easier", also read "cheaper".
  • Output to HDMI, goal is to drive 1080p (1920x1080), but this might be a stretch for the Zynq's SERDES outputs. May have to drop that down a bit. The video framebuffer will be in DDR so not accessible to the 6502
  • ANTIC will be implemented to behave as it usually does, pulling data from the BlockRAM-based 128k machine-RAM, pushing it over DDR to the framebuffer, and scaling by (assuming 1080p) 6 horizontally and 5 vertically per pixel, to fit 320x200 onto a 1080p display, with a little black letterboxing at the top and bottom. I don't *think* (at the moment) I'll need to implement GTIA. I *think* doing ANTIC will be sufficient.
  • POKEY etc. implemented as cores on-chip.
  • The goal is also to put real Atari joystick, SIO, Cartridge, PBI etc. ports on the snap-on PCB that the module will mount to. All of these are simple wire-ups, so a double-layer PCB ought to be sufficent.
  • Obviously there'll be a 'run at 1.79 MHz' and 'run as fast as possible' option, for different use-cases.
  • I'm also planning on incorporating a hardware version of the Apple ][ "sweet 16" opcodes, to speed up 16-bit code. You'd have to enable it first though.

 

But why "QF", I can (totally not) hear you asking... Well...

 

  • If you take 'X' and 'S', treat the alphabet as numbers, add them together and "wrap around from Z to A", you get Q. Doing the same for 'L' and 'T' you get 'F'. 
  • If you can put a 6502 in an FPGA, there's no reason why you couldn't put a 68k...
  • So once the XL is up and running, the next thing will be to add in a 68k and implement the ST on the same hardware at the same time. 
  • The XL's video out will then (when in ST mode) be available as a GEM window, with integer scaling.
  • File management can happen between the ST <--> XL. I might even link them via midi, so they can talk to each other. 
  • Networking is an option on the ST, and I think there's even a web-browser
  • A goal for this version is to use one of the Arm cores as a GEM accelerator - so the "graphics" would run at 667 MHz, and all the ST would need to do is set up parameters and call it's TRAP to draw lines, arcs, circles etc. I could even try doing something similar for 'basic' on the XL.
  • I can make a play on the Motorola naming scheme, and call it the 'QoldFire'.

 

So where am I now. Well, as I said at the start, there's a *long* way to go, I haven't even bought the zynq board yet. I have started on the 6502 core, and I'm maybe about 1/3 of the way through getting a cycle-accurate CPU design in place that understands RDY and HALT. I realise I could speed things up by using other people's cores, and this is certainly not the first XL clone on an FPGA, but one of the goals for the whole project is to learn more about the practicalities of FPGA design, and there's nothing quite like actually *doing it* to do that.

 

Anyway, thought I'd chime in because vbxe will very definitely be part of the ANTIC implementation (the native framebuffer will be 16-bits per pixel at full screen res, so it won't be a perfect match but it ought to be pretty good).

 

Oh yeah, one other thing. With the implementation of two computers, I'm going to be needing a pretty specialised keyboard, so it'll probably be a custom cherry-keys one somewhat along the lines of this and since we're in pie-in-the-sky land now, there's no reason this oughtn't be portable, so once it's all finally done on the desktop, I'll be planning to link up an LCD display (the high-speed module has LCD-out lines that are driven in the same way as the HDMI), put in my custom keyboard, and have a combined XL/ST portable.

 

Well, if you're going to shoot for the sky...


Edited by Spaced Cowboy, Fri Dec 1, 2017 5:13 PM.


#23 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

davidcalgary29

    Quadrunner

  • Topic Starter
  • 5,491 posts
  • Location:Peace River, Alberta

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 5:13 PM

I'm not against people developing for the vbxe, if there were more software using it, it might even sway me to buy another Atari machine and put the mod in there. That machine would never become my primary machine though, I feel the same as slx does when he says it just crosses a line somewhere and makes the machine somehow less authentic. I feel the same way about rapidus.
 
SD based storage, Extra Memory, an Extra Pokey and a UAV is as far as I'm able to go and still feel like I'm using the same machine I used in 1985


Do you feel the same way about DataQue’s 65C816 upgrade? Didn’t that come out in 1989? And again, I’m just curious. I didn’t use my 800 in 1983 (when I was stuck with a 410 and 48K) in the same way that I used it in 1993 (when I had multiple disk drives and printers). And all of my storage solutions have evolved into SD readers, but they’re still (with SIO ports) A8 devices. I don’t have a ‘line in the sand’, although nothing could replace POKEY...except AMY (or HOKEY).

#24 Level42 OFFLINE  

Level42

    Stargunner

  • 1,643 posts
  • Location:Ridderkerk, The Netherlands

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 5:21 PM

I'm not against people developing for the vbxe, if there were more software using it, it might even sway me to buy another Atari machine and put the mod in there. That machine would never become my primary machine though, I feel the same as slx does when he says it just crosses a line somewhere and makes the machine somehow less authentic. I feel the same way about rapidus.
 
SD based storage, Extra Memory, an Extra Pokey and a UAV is as far as I'm able to go and still feel like I'm using the same machine I used in 1985

This is EXACTLY how I feel about it. It is totally inconsequential i know....but I LOOOOOOVE Stereo Pokey. Maybe it has the excuse of just being two original POKEYs. With nothing really extended hardware wise, and yet the effect is brilliant. It is also an old mod from the late 90s....and it's almost as if Atari developers already built the possibility into the design....

I'm OK with more memory too for about the same reason, RAM extensions ave been around for almost the entire lifetime of the A8. Switching OSes is great etc. I also like stuff like the new cartridges, SIO2WhateverzmodernDevice and MegaSpeedy.....

But adding graphic capabilities like an ST/PC/Mac has.....or speed that is only fun when number crunching..... I mean both don't give that retro feeling....it drifts off too much from the original machine IMHO. And that some people here are angry on people with this opinion is just weird....you are just frustrated over the lack of software support....you payed a relatively large amount of money for something that barely has any real use...

If I want higher speed or better graphics I'll go to new(er) machines.... and I feel everyone is entitled to his own opinion about this.

Edited by Level42, Fri Dec 1, 2017 5:23 PM.


#25 slx OFFLINE  

slx

    Stargunner

  • 1,204 posts
  • Location:Vienna, Austria

Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 5:29 PM

Everybody's line in the sand is a little bit different, obviously. 65816 still fits into late 80's/early 90's for me. I do have a clearly non-1990's Antonia in a 600XL but like the U1MB it does nothing that could not have been done then with a little more hardware or at a price that would have been outrageous then.

 

For storage, convenience beats authenticity, at least for me. I have at least 5 floppy drives but am still not convinced that they will outlive me in working condition. Using floppies is more authentic without any doubt, but will there be floppies available 20 years from now?






0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users