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Low-cost and no-cost Atari 800 upgrades


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#1 chad5200 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:20 AM

I recently upgraded my 1200XL with ClearPic video mod, 5V SIO fix, and OS upgrade to 600XL/800XL compatibility with High Speed SIO and Fast Math patch.

 

Then I did the video upgrade on my 800XL detailed here: https://atariage.com...rade-for-800xl/

 

Now I am wondering...

 

Are there any similar upgrades for the 800?  I have mine apart for cleaning and would like to perform any upgrades on it now.  I am good with a soldering iron and replacing electronic components and have an EPROM burner.

 

Thanks!

 



#2 Urchlay OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 12:27 PM

I recently upgraded my 1200XL with ClearPic video mod, 5V SIO fix, and OS upgrade to 600XL/800XL compatibility with High Speed SIO and Fast Math patch.
 
Then I did the video upgrade on my 800XL detailed here: https://atariage.com...rade-for-800xl/
 
Now I am wondering...
 
Are there any similar upgrades for the 800?  I have mine apart for cleaning and would like to perform any upgrades on it now.  I am good with a soldering iron and replacing electronic components and have an EPROM burner.
 
Thanks!
 

The 800's video doesn't need upgrading or fixing the way the 800XL and
1200XL's does, IMO. At least, my 800's video is gorgeous, and the 1200XL
video mod (I did the SuperVideo one) makes the 1200XL look almost as
nice as the 800.

The 5V SIO thing is specific to the 1200XL, AFAIK none of the other
Ataris had the current-limiting resistor there.

The OS upgrade is doable. The fast math just replaces the 2K math pack,
you'd use the same code for the 800 as you did for the XLs. Not so sure
about the fast SIO. You want a patched version of the 800 OS, not sure
if this is readily available.

If you want to run the XL OS, it'll take more work (soldering on the OS
module, and possibly soldering to the motherboard too) since it needs
a 16K EPROM. Also the XL OS might need to be patched some to work on an
800. To get this working, you might end up building most of an Incognito
board... better to just buy one, if they're still available.

Hmm, the OS module (personality board) has 3 ROM chips on it. IIRC,
one of these is the 2K math pack, so if you're doing just the fast math,
you'd just be replacing one of the ROMs. Not sure (but someone will know)
what type EPROM to use and whether it's a drop-in replacement or would
require some logic (like a 2600 cart does).

Personally I keep my 800 stock. Maybe if I had another 800, it might
get some upgrades... if I had a 400, it definitely would.

#3 Mr Robot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 12:54 PM

There's a 4-in-1 OS upgrade here http://blog.3b2.sk/i...ARI-OS-1_2.aspx, this would make it easier but more expensive https://atari8bit.net/4xos/

 

This is only $15 https://lotharek.pl/...tail.php?id=192

This is only $18 https://lotharek.pl/...tail.php?id=200



#4 R.Cade OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 1:05 PM

I think Hias' Fast SIO patches only work on the XL, because it uses some extra space or feature not in the original 800. At least that's how I remember it... :)

 

Found: In the README, it says this:

Installing this patched OS in an Atari 400/800

is not easily possible, because the patch uses ROM addresses
$CC00-$CFFF which are not available in stock Atari 400/800 computers.

Edited by R.Cade, Sat Apr 20, 2019 1:07 PM.


#5 David_P OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 1:13 PM

The 4-in-1 OS upgrade is for XL/XE computers (excluding the XEGS), not for an original 800.



#6 xrbrevin OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 3:28 PM

Jurgen only lists the "super colour cpu card" for the 800

 

http://atariage.com/...e-made-by-tfhh/

 

I fitted one to my 400 and its a great item


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#7 adam242 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:02 PM

There is a very simple video mod that makes a noticeable improvement to the 800's already-excellent video quality.

 

It involves swapping out one resistor. Give it a try!



#8 Kyle22 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:13 PM

Incognito.

 

Edit: NOT low cost, but BEST.


Edited by Kyle22, Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:15 PM.


#9 Nezgar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:45 AM

Three simple hacks for the 800 I can think of are:
 
- An override switch/locking button for the cartridge door switch. Protect from accidental data loss from a poweroff by opening up the cartridge door, wear and tear on the cartridge door, or to aid in cartridge copying by allowing removal/insertion of cartridges while the computer is still on. :D

 

- Switch that cuts the console speaker sound. Just a single pole single throw switch that disconnects the speaker signal.

 

- 6502 Hard reset momentary push button, simple on 400/800 for cold reset saving powering off/on the machine: http://atariage.com/...on-atari-8-bit/



#10 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:06 AM

There is a very simple video mod that makes a noticeable improvement to the 800's already-excellent video quality.

 

It involves swapping out one resistor. Give it a try!

I agree that the 800 has the best out-of-box video, but it can be improved, my Super video mod on my 1200XL I find superior (especially the color since the SV 2.1 uses the 1200XL's unique chroma boost circuit), not "almost" as good like Urchlay says. I'm guessing he might have chosen the option to bypass the 1200XL's chroma circuit in the upgrade? Otherwise I think he would be calling it superior too. Maybe he'll let me know if he reads this reply...

 

But I HAVE to do some upgrade as the TV/monitors I use for both of my Atari's refuse to pick up the chroma signal, so I'm stuck with B/W unless I use my Ambery video-to-VGA converter, which I need for my PAL modded 1200XL, since my cheap walmart TV/monitors also refuse to display my Atari's PAL signal at all, even though both TV/monitors are supposed to support PAL. They recognize there is a PAL signal, it says "PAL" up in the corner of the displays, but I still get the blue screen and the TV/monitors say "unsupported signal" anyway...so there's something about the old Atari PAL signal that these TV/monitors just don't like, just like the chroma on my 800! It's cheaper for me to mod then spend good money replacing the TV/monitors that otherwise are quite good. Especially when I do have a 1084S CRT waiting in the wings to be repaired (just a PSU issue). Currently awaiting some components and time to repair it.

 

Eventually I'll get my 1084S monitor fixed to use with the 800, but in the meantime I need to do some video upgrade, I'm going to see if this simple mod makes enough difference for the chroma to be picked up...

 

EDIT: Just checked out this simple mod by FJC and see it's only for Luma, so that won't help my color issue, but I may do it anyway...I guess I'll have to come up with my own fix for my chroma issue.


Edited by Gunstar, Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:14 AM.


#11 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:12 AM

 

- Switch that cuts the console speaker sound. Just a single pole single throw switch that disconnects the speaker signal.

 

 

I don't know why people want to do this, I love the internal speaker on my 800 and I'm planning on adding one back into my 1200XL! Though I guess at least it's a switch so it's not just removing it all together.



#12 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:17 AM

I recently upgraded my 1200XL with ClearPic video mod, 5V SIO fix, and OS upgrade to 600XL/800XL compatibility with High Speed SIO and Fast Math patch.

 

Then I did the video upgrade on my 800XL detailed here: https://atariage.com...rade-for-800xl/

 

Now I am wondering...

 

Are there any similar upgrades for the 800?  I have mine apart for cleaning and would like to perform any upgrades on it now.  I am good with a soldering iron and replacing electronic components and have an EPROM burner.

 

Thanks!

 

You can do a dual-POKEY stereo mod to the 800 for dirt cheap, aside from the cost of a second POKEY chip. You have to do the original piggy-back method anyway, as none of the stereo boards available are made to fit where the 800's POKEY is located. I'm going to do this as soon as I get another POKEY. 

 

I also did a simple cartridge port mod to my 800 that allows The!Cart and MyIDE II to work in an 800: 

https://www.wudsn.co...t/atari-800-fix

http://atariage.com/...ix#entry3987633

 

I also disabled the 800's cartridge door power button so I can open or leave open (required for MyIDE II to fit) or open without powering down. That's simple enough to not need instructions, IMHO.

 

Claus Buchholz has quite a few different Atari 800 memory board upgrades to do. I'm currently modding my 3 16K boards into 52k, 64K and Axlon 256K boards, all using his schematics and guides. Then I can just have one memory board and swap them out depending on what I want at the moment:

http://atariage.com/...memory upgrade

http://atariage.com/...0/#entry1483021

http://atariage.com/...memory upgrade


Edited by Gunstar, Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:36 AM.

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#13 chad5200 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:27 AM

There is a very simple video mod that makes a noticeable improvement to the 800's already-excellent video quality.

 

It involves swapping out one resistor. Give it a try!

 

Thanks for the tip.  I just did this to my 800.  Major improvement!


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#14 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:36 AM

funny thing is the 800 is a Stereo Atari, sound out the tv and sound out the computer, I would put a more efficient and bigger better speaker in the 800, cheap and with the correct software sounds good. Kyle22 was just talking about a whole bunch of the sort of music etc... the other day.



#15 gozar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:16 AM

Three simple hacks for the 800 I can think of are:
 
- An override switch/locking button for the cartridge door switch. Protect from accidental data loss from a poweroff by opening up the cartridge door, wear and tear on the cartridge door, or to aid in cartridge copying by allowing removal/insertion of cartridges while the computer is still on. icon_mrgreen.gif

 

When I had my machine open I soldered across the current switch to disable it, so the 800 always thinks the door is closed.

 

- Switch that cuts the console speaker sound. Just a single pole single throw switch that disconnects the speaker signal.

 

 
I unplugged the speaker. :-)
 

- 6502 Hard reset momentary push button, simple on 400/800 for cold reset saving powering off/on the machine: http://atariage.com/...on-atari-8-bit/

 

One of my 800s I bought had a switch installed for a hard reset, I need to open it up and see how it's connected. The switch is very handy, more than I thought it would be.


Edited by gozar, Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:17 AM.


#16 Nezgar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:31 AM

I unplugged the speaker. :-)


But now you won't be able hear the talking voice in games like Whomper Stomper, or GTIA music demos... A switch would allow you to re-enable it without having to open the machine...

 

Edit: Apparently Ultima III uses it as well, for the combat sounds, freeing up the POKEY for the music.



#17 gozar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:25 AM

But now you won't be able hear the talking voice in games like Whomper Stomper, or GTIA music demos... A switch would allow you to re-enable it without having to open the machine...


I'll probably re-connect the next time I'm in there. :)

It would be nice to have some sort of software/hardware solution so I don't have to add a switch to the case. I wonder if I could mount a switch on a board to go into one of the slots since I have two free because of the incognito.


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