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Member Since 6 Nov 2010
OFFLINE Last Active Mar 13 2019 3:36 AM

#4212371 New Dragon Ethernet cartridge interest check

Posted by ol.sc on Sun Feb 3, 2019 3:59 PM

@flashjazzcat: Thanks for your detailed explanation - honestly!


@Mr Robot: Thanks for trying to help, but there's no need for introduction - at least from my POV: flashjazzcat (Jon ?) has been there helping with answers in about every question thread I opened so far in this forum. I admire his work (been reading through the many pages of the thread on his GUI development) and appreciate his advice.

#4206973 Preannouncement: Dragon Cart II

Posted by ol.sc on Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:59 AM

It's in fact not that easy to find anymore these days. The Dragon Cart was built around the module "IP Dragon" from a very small company named "Invector Embedded Systems AB".


Some traces:




Some trivia:

Glenn's Apple II Ethernet card "Uthernet" was built with the very same module. However, the module is mounted upside down on the base PCB. So what you read on the old page linked above...


"Our production and design line is customized to be able to quickly adapt the production to meet your needs. We will customize the modules to whatever your needs are. Below is an example of a customer specified module with a slightly different connector layout."


...(and the picture below that text) was actually Glenn's Apple II project :-)


Here's a picture of the complete Uthernet card showing the benefit of the unusual setup - which is to make it "flat" enough to not block the neighbor slot in the Apple II. BTW: I'm a bid proud to say that this setup was my idea...



#4206372 New Dragon Ethernet cartridge interest check

Posted by ol.sc on Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:00 AM

Given that we now know that Duddie's device is supposed to stay a cart device it's obviously too confusing to name the two non-cart devices "Dragon Cart II" ;-) I'll provide the new name for the PBI/ECI devices in the respective thread.


Regarding Duddie's cart I'd personally ask to give it some name that's different from just "Dragon Cart" in one way or another in order to allow e.g. configuration programs to clearly differentiate between the original Dragon Cart and the new cart without having to resort to something like "Dragon Cart (2019)" or alike.

#4206370 New Dragon Ethernet cartridge interest check

Posted by ol.sc on Sat Jan 26, 2019 7:53 AM

@ZuluGula: First of all thanks for you detailed posting !


I started this thread to motivate one person to work. I didn't anticipate that I will motivate someone else.


If "someone else" refers to Glenn and me then this isn't the case. We started our project totally independently.


This project started about 13 months ago with someone asking basically for a rerun of original Dragon Cart. The conversation turned quickly in the discussion about designing an improved Ethernet cartridge for Atari.

The idea of Glenn's and my project goes back to mid 2015 - see: http://atariage.com/...e-wiznet-w5100/

Today, I spoke briefly on a phone with Duddie about the current status of his work. He told me that he made two prototype cartridges, which went to atar.area users: Draco030 and grzybson, who are working on a software (new and conversions of existing programs).


Do you happen to know if "existing programs" refers to anything I mention in http://atariage.com/...t-ii/?p=4203077 ?


This prototype is different from planned production version, which supposes to have a pass thru cartridge port and Ethernet port on a side. The side Ethernet connection and available cartridge cases might become problematic for 800/400 and 1200XL users. Please understand that those computers are not very popular and widely available in Poland, which may make testing difficult. He said that he will continue his work, despite of another similar existing project.

Thanks for providing this relevant information here :-)
So it seems we can put on record that:
* Duddie's project stays a cart device (about to change into a pass through cart).
* Glenn's and my project is a set of two pass through devices, one PBI, one ECI.
* Both projects are supposed to be continued regardless of the other existing.

Oliver, do you have any working prototype?




How about working software? Can You share with us?


What do you consider "working software"? Working on the Atari? About all my software works on the Atari. Working with the W510? All my software works with the W5100. Working with Duddie's prototype? Surely not without knowledge, how/where the W5100 is mapped. I asked you about that 4 days ago without any response - see: http://atariage.com/...i/#entry4203122


What do you refer to with "share with us"? All my software is open source.


Conclusion from my POV:


The Atari community can be happy to very likely be able to choose from three Ethernet devices soon:

* Pass through cart

* Pass through PBI

* Pass through ECI


All three device use the same W5100 Ethernet chip. This asks of course for software interoperability. I'm willing to commit to support with my software all three devices if the same commitment comes from the people coding primarily for the cart.


I presume that the cart maps the four W5100 registers to four successive addresses in the $D5 page. I presume that those addresses are fixed as it is supposed to be hard enough in the first place to find four addresses providing a high compatibility with carts plugged into the pass through port.


The PBI and ECI devices will have DIP switches to select the PBI device ID. Being activated by writing that device ID to $D1FF they will map the four W5100 registers to $D1F0-$D1F3 (at least until we learn that these addresses are a bad idea for some reason). I guess the coders in question know that they should set $0248 just before setting $D1FF.


So the software needs to know the PBI device ID to access the PBI and ECI devices. We could even go so far to agree on a common way to tell it so the user doesn't need to to it for every software again. E.g. I could see a file named W5100.CFG. It would contain just a single byte. This byte would be either binary $0-$8 or ATASCII '0'-'8'. $0 / '0' would mean the cart while $1-$8 / '1'-'8' would mean the PBI device ID.


Furthermore I'd like to point to https://github.com/a...0-Shared-Access


All my software follows the convention for "the program". If the programs primarily written for the cart would follow that convention too then it would become possible to create a RAM-based OS-driver/handler that e.g. provides access to a network drive by following the convention for "the system" - and have that driver/handler use the W5100 simultaneously to the the program using the W5100. On the Apple II I demoed a HTTP download program saving the data to a file - and that file being located on a network drive. The W5100 serves both the HTTP download program as well as the network drive handler.


I hope you agree that there's great potential in cooperstion here...

#4205624 New Dragon Ethernet cartridge interest check

Posted by ol.sc on Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:19 AM

been trying to follow these threads....are there really 2 sets of people developing DragonCart II or whatever....? I thought it was just two threads by the same folks. That seems a bit much.


So you want one of the two projects to stop? Which one?


I don't care about one of them being DC II, but not both, that's just silly. And the 'dragon' part anyway came from the Dragon IP chipset that was in our cart,


At least I do certainly know where the name came from. But with the artwork done on the shell of the original Dragon Cart this was already "abstracted away". So at least to me 'Dragon' has by now nothing to do anymore with the hardware used.


I always felt that puppetmark didn't want to earn money, own the market or whatever. There are design files on the website inviting others to continue where he left off. My idea was to honor that attitude by carrying on with the name. I asked him before doing so. So much for the background.


However, I understand that at the point we decided to go for a PBI/ECI device the name "Dragon Cart" wasn't exactly great anymore. But I still wanted to keep it for the reasons given above. By the time I noticed that there's another Ethernet project actually being a cart and - as far as I can tell - not having come up with any own name so far I of course knew it would cause confusion.


So maybe it would be nice to get together. But I don't see the "other" producer represented here. Maybe he has a totally different naming idea. May he will decide to migrate from a cart to a PBI/ECI too. We don't know.


And this brings me to an even more general aspect:


Why is there no communication? Is it uncool, boring, old-school to talk to each other? I mean, from the translation of the http://www.atari.org.pl/thread I get that the decision for the W5100 was driven by the fact that there's W5100 support in Contiki and/or IP65. I've implemented that code. If I would have been him I'd contacted me long ago asking about adding "official" support for his upcoming device in my code. What will happen instead? Let me tell you:


Users of 8bit-Slick will complain that the game isn't working with their nice new gadget. 8bit-Dude contacts me asking me to support it. I can't deny it because I like his work and want him to be successful. So I look up "somewhere" how the W5100 is mapped and implement "something". Me catching up with fulfilling expectations. Me the stupid guy nobody needs to talk to as I'll do whatever needs to be done anyhow? Do you have an idea how demotivated (aka fed up) I'm playing this game?



#4205258 Preannouncement: Dragon Cart II

Posted by ol.sc on Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:53 PM

I think the PBI version should be called the "Dragon Bus (XL or XE)", and the cartridge version the "Dragon Cart".


- "Dragon Bus" doesn't seem nice to me as the device isn't the bus, it uses the bus.

- "Dragon Cart" (without any addition) doesn't seem a good idea for any W5100-based device as it's totally incompatible with the CS8900A-based 'Dragon Cart'.


Obviously I don't want to start a flame war over this issue.



#4205252 Preannouncement: Dragon Cart II

Posted by ol.sc on Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:43 PM

Granted I should probably look into the Wifi stuff, since I don't currently have ethernet in my Atari Den.


According to my experience all Ethernet solution in question work like a charm with any stock "wireless bridge".

#4204319 New Dragon Ethernet cartridge interest check

Posted by ol.sc on Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:27 PM

Why not use a NAS?  Or maybe even a Mac or PC (kinda like SIO2PC, but over ethernet via a router and/or switch)?


I hope it's okay if I answer although I'm not Dan...


Those machines usually use the SMB2 protocol to share files. The SMB2 protocol is so complex that TCP/IP is nothing related to it. So you have three options:


1. Go for some simple proprietary protocol and implement your own server (e.g. by extending AspeQt).

2. Go for some as simple as possible protocol still somewhat popular. There come FTP and NFS into ones mind. However both are likely still too complex.

3. Go for some simple, well known, but not popular protocol. There you have TFTP.


You see, after all you end up with 1.) as 2.) is no real option and 3.) has no real benefit.


Just my two cents, Oliver

#4204029 New Dragon Ethernet cartridge interest check

Posted by ol.sc on Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:24 AM

As far as software goes [...]


In case you're interested in actively developing something for the W5100 I'd be happy to discuss details with you - either in another thread or 1:1, as you prefer. Just let me know...

#4203546 Preannouncement: Dragon Cart II

Posted by ol.sc on Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:23 PM

I think you can specify all the info that DHCP can supply, but having a DHCP client implementation is probably more user friendly, as you won't be pointing the end user off to their router setup webpage, etc. Not sure how difficult a dns resolver would be to implement.


The programs I provide all include DHCP and (where relevant) DNS. That's not the issue. I just wanted to comment on the common misconception of people reading the W5100 data sheet thinking they can create a network program by just hitting the W5100 registers. But at some point they usually notice that they didn't think about DHCP and DNS.

#4203285 Preannouncement: Dragon Cart II

Posted by ol.sc on Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:17 AM

Will this come with an adapter for the MPBI connection in the 1088XEL? 


I don't think so.


Love the dragon breathing smd led's  :D


I was sort of wondering why nobody commented on that so far... There's even a small power LED "in" the eye :-) 


#4203077 Preannouncement: Dragon Cart II

Posted by ol.sc on Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:06 AM

So there are two projects now for a new Ethernet/Dragoncart, your project and the polish project:


Looks like I have to get both devices to find out which is the better one.


Hm, the only benefit of the Dragon Cart (clone) over the Dragon Cart II that I could see is that there might potentially be software supporting the Dragon Cart not being adapted to support the Dragon Cart II as well.


What's your estimated price for a PBI or ECI+Cart device ?!?

There's no official announcement yet but my very personal guess is that it will be more expensive than the Uthernet II (http://a2retrosystems.com/products.htm) as it contains (a lot) more parts (incl. a CPLD which needs to be programmed) but that Glenn will try hard to keep it in the two-digit USD range. But again that's just my personal guess!

Regarding your Dragoncart programs, will you update them or will they all work with the new Dragoncart II ?

The Dragon Cart II uses the W5100 chip instead of the CS8900A chip. Therefore no program supporting the (original) Dragon Cart will support the Dragon Cart II without adjustment.
Let's define the term "my programs" as "programs provided by me" for the sake of simplicity here...
I will certainly update them! They will work in the same way their Apple II and C64 siblings already do. This means in detail...
There will be a program ETHCONFI.COM allowing to select between the 'Dragon Cart' and the 'Dragon Cart II'. It needs to be run once before running IPCONFIG.COM.
- Date65, Telnet65 and Tweet65 will autodetect the 'Dragon Cart' and the 'Dragon Cart II'.
- HFS65 will autodetect the 'Dragon Cart' and the 'Dragon Cart II' as soon as the program becomes available for the Atari (hopefully soon).
- Wget65 will only support the 'Dragon Cart II'.
- All programs will autodetect the 'Dragon Cart' and the 'Dragon Cart II' simply be using the updated library. However, the updated library will be somewhat larger which might potentially cause RAM issues.
- There will be an additional library for the 'Dragon Cart II' beside the existing one for the 'Dragon Cart'.
- There will be an additional library allowing programs to autodetect 'Dragon Cart' and the 'Dragon Cart II' which - again - will be somewhat larger than the device specific libraries.
The only 3rd party program known to me to make use of an IP65 library is 8bit-Slicks (http://8bit-slicks.com/). It uses the IP65 C library. So what I wrote there applies here.

#4202735 Preannouncement: Dragon Cart II

Posted by ol.sc on Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:17 PM



I presume that some of you are interested to learn that there's a new Ethernet project. It's a cooperation between Glenn Jones, the manufacturer of Apple II Ethernet cards, and me. Here's the link to his current Ethernet card named 'Uthernet II': http://a2retrosystems.com/products.htm


The original 'Uthernet' card was based on the Cirrus Logic CS8900A Ethernet chip (just like the Dragon Cart). After literally years of checking alternatives Glenn and I decided to migrate to the WIZnet W5100 Ethernet chip for the 'Uthernet II' card. We believe that the very same reasons for that migration hold true for the Atari too - and therefore we want to make a W5100-based Ethernet solution available for the Atari.


Without going into all the details the W5100 combines from our perspective the best of two worlds:


- It can be used in a pure Ethernet controller mode very similar to the CS8900A. This allows for easy migration of any CS8900A-based program to the W5100. On the Apple II there's not a single (published and therefore known) network program/framework/library today that doesn't support the W5100 beside the CS8900A.


- It can be used in a TCP/IP offloading mode. This allows programs not caring about backward compatibility to the CS8900A to push all the TCP/IP handling to the W5100, e.g. to establish and maintain a TCP connection with just a few hundred bytes of code and no 6502 cycles at all.


- It can be used in both modes at the same time. This allows a CS8900A-compatible user program to use the W5100 in Ethernet controller mode while at the same time some OS driver uses the W5100 in TCP/IP offloading mode to e.g. provide access a virtual disk drive hosted on some machine on the network. This isn't just some vision but actual reality on the Apple II.


So after having moved from the 'Uthernet' with CS8900A to the 'Uthernet II' with W5100 on the Apple II it sort of seemed natural to move from the 'Dragon Cart' with CS8900A to a 'Dragon Cart II' with W5100 on the Atari. I asked @puppetmark about the idea to actually re-use the name 'Dragon Cart' and he liked it a lot, thanks!


When I got in touch with my Atari contacts about the Dragon Cart II they all replied unanimously, that they really like the idea but that Glenn and I should pretty please go for a PBI device instead of a cart. And so we did! The Dragon Cart II isn't an actual Atari cart. It's a PBI device.


There will be to variants. One for the XL PBI and one (a bit later) for the XE ECI. Both will have a pass-through design allowing to plug in another PBI/ECI device (or a cart on the XE).


Please note that it won't be a "true" PBI device in that it won't contain a ROM holding a handler. It won't be detected by the OS as I/O device. Rather a user program and/or RAM-based driver has to directly access the W5100. While this may not be the approach preferred by everybody it's for sure the only approach delivering optimal performance.


However, although the Dragon Cart won't come with a handler ROM it will be as compatible as possible with any other PBI device. It will fully adhere to the $D1FF PBI device activation "protocol". It will even come with DIP switches allowing the user to select the Device ID (1- 8) to be used by the Dragon Cart II.


The Dragon Cart II is supposed to become available in spring 2019. We'll be looking for a few beta testers sometime in February - details will follow.


And finally as treat for all reading through this (too) lengthy post here are some design pictures. Please note that they're just a snapshot of the current design and are subject to change - in fact some things will change for sure.



This is the top side of the XL device. On the left hand side there are the DIP switches. On the right hand side there's the RJ45 socket and a Micro-USB socket for providing power in case the XL doesn't.



This is the bottom side of the XL device. All parts not relevant to the user have been moved here out of sight.



This is a 3D picture of the XL device. It gives a visual idea of the sockets.


So that's it for tonight,


#4175870 Stock IP65 for the ATARI

Posted by ol.sc on Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:44 PM



A classic Ethernet chip "only" takes care of the Ethernet layer. This means that it's up to the 6502 to handle the TCP/IP layer. IP65 is such a TCP/IP layer for the 6502. Running the TCP/IP layer already takes away quite some resources from the 6502 not available to the "rest" of the running program. The Cirrus Logic CS8900A is such a chip - and the one usually used for 6502 based systems.


However with the rise of embedded systems there were enough systems with limited resource that there was a market to develop chips with integrate the TCP/IP together with an Ethernet (or WiFi) layer. After several rather expensive chips the Espressif ESP8266 and ESP32 are by now THE solution.


With the WIZnet W5100 Ethernet chip there's sort of a hybrid. It allows to be used both as pure Ethernet chip as well as TCP/IP+Ethernet chip.


So what type of chip to go for on what machine?


On the C64 there are quite some CS8900A-based programs. So RR-Net MK3 at the end stayed with the CS8900A used before although there was already a prototype with the W5100.


On the Apple II and the ATARI there are less network programs to be compatible with. Most/all relevant programs are based on Contiki or IP65. And both Contiki and IP65 allow to easily switch between the CS8900A and the W5100 (with the W5100 used as pure Ethernet chip). Additionally the W5100 brings options to develop code using the ESP8622 TCP/IP layer. 


On other machines I personally would consider this:


- On a machine with (nearly) 64kB RAM and reasonably well supported cc65 C library I tend towards the W5100. It allows to a) easily bring the existing Contiki/IP65 programs to the machine in question and b) make use of the W5100 TCP/IP layer for new programs.


- On a machine with (much) less RAM and/or weak/no cc65 C library I'd rather think about an ESP8266/ESP32 approach. In contrast to the W5100 the Espressif chips don't contain only a TCP/IP layer but additionally a DHCP client, DNS client and HTTP(S) client.


After these rather lengthy general remarks now for a more specific answer to "what would be the requirements in order to easily interface with IP65?": A CS8900A or W5100 or LAN91C96 with its registers mapped straight to some 6502 memory mapped I/O locations.




#4175709 Stock IP65 for the ATARI

Posted by ol.sc on Wed Dec 12, 2018 1:45 PM

>> 8bit-Dude: Oli, I have a question: [...]


> tschak909: Short answer, [...]


I wasn't aware that you call yourself 'Oli'.