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Hindsight and brain farts

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Inside the Quick Shot II Turbo Joystick

I was surprised at the dismal condition my joysticks were in when I tested them with the Pocket Joystick Tester. When an LED did not light, I know it was broken but most of the time they would dim, blink, or change light intensity as the switches were activated. These are sure signs that the contacts need cleaning. If I’m going to clean the contacts I may as well take some pictures to share.       Quick Shot II Turbo   I’m not sure where I got this joystick or if it has ever been opened

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Atari 8 bit <-> 850 Interface <-> RS232 Shield <-> Arduino

As if there isn’t enough hardware to hook up to your RS232 equipped computer, now you can build your own. It was a nice thought to build Arduino boards with a USB port for serial communications and programming, and even nicer that it can be equipped with an RS232 port for communicating with our Ataris.   You’ll need an 850 interface or a PR:connection hooked up and running on your Atari 8-bit. The ST has an on board RS232 port. If you have hooked up a modem or set up communication to anothe

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Relay Boards under Atari 8bit control

Seems not so long ago if you wanted to control a relay switch through your Atari 8bit joystick port, you had to build the hardware from scratch. Not anymore. Now you can buy circuit boards with 1, 2, 4, 8, or 16 relays. A couple more parts and you've got what it takes to control your world.     Search Amazon with the key words Arduino Relay for an idea of what is readily available. I ended up with a SainSmart 4 channel relay board not because it was the best but because I wanted to get one

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Inside the WICO Command Control Joystick

What can you possibly say about the WICO Command Control Joystick that hasn’t been written? Not much. I was able to clean the leaf spring switch contacts and restore the continuity but never could figure out how to dismantle the bat stick.   There was little difference between the two joysticks that were rebuilt. Inside, one was marked 2/7/83 and the other 11/??/82. The color of the plastic changed but the design was similar. There are lots of posts and stops in the base that hold its inner

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Pocket Joystick Tester

Pocket Joystick Tester

Have you ever been in a situation where you wished you could check your joystick but your Atari game system or computer was not within reach? Maybe you’re at the flea market looking for a joystick. Maybe you’re at your work bench. Maybe you want to check out the broken joystick that your friend gave you to play with. Whatever the case, now you can build this portable pocket joystick tester to carry where ever you go. As projects go, they don’t get any simpler. The bigger you make the

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Seiko RC-1000 Watch Terminal <– Atari RS232 connection

Back in the day, I started writing Atari BASIC software to edit and transmit data to a Seiko RC-1000 Wrist Terminal Watch. This may have been the only time an Atari 8Bit, 850 interface, and RC-1000 were in the same room and if it happens again, you may want the following information to write a proper editor.           The RC-1000s are being listed on eBay for around $250 to $2,500; I got mine while Seiko was liquidating their inventory at around $50. There were Apple, Comm.64, and IBM

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NUNCHUK + ARDUINO = ATARI JOYSTICK

The Arduino is an open source microprocessor system that is being used to by many hobbyist and hackers for what seems to be endless possibilities. One such possibility is to read the data from a Wii Nunchuk and send it to a computer through the USB port. This is explained very well on the Arduino web site.     What I have done is to manipulate the input from the Wii Nunchuk and send it out to the Joystick port to mimic the classic Atari Joystick.   I would rather think of this write-up

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A CX-40 Micro Switch Upgrade

I wanted to try replacing the spring contact switches with micro switches in the CX-40 Joystick from the first time I read about it. The height of the switch seemed to be of great concern. It had to be below 2.5mm and the pins on the nylon stick insert had to be sanded down for proper spacing. I was searching Amazon to find a micro switch when I came across a “4 x 4 x 1.5mm SMD Momentary Twist Tactile Micro Switch DC 12V 0.2A”. I was hoping that with a thinner switch the pins would not need

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GVOX Guitar --> 850 -->Atari 8bit - FAIL

Fender’s GVOX Guitar interface has a DB9 serial connector that would fit nicely into the rs232 port on the Atari 850 interface. I wasn’t able to rule out the possibility of getting the two to communicate, its just that I can’t justify the time, effort or value to find out.   The GVOX Guitar interface connected your steel string Guitar to a Win95 computer with a MIDI sound card through a COMM: port. The interface would monitor the pickups mounted under the strings for frequency and volume da

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Wii CLASSIC CONTROLLER + ARDUINO = ATARI JOYSTICK

Since I was successful getting the Wii Nunchuk hooked up to the Joystick port I thought I would try the Wii Classic Controller (WCC). The hardware was simple, unplug the nunchuk attached to the Arduino project from my last blog and plug in the WCC. It was my poor choice of internet search criterial that gave me the most trouble.     I just needed to find the function library for the WCC. The first search pointed me to “playground.arduino.cc/Main/WiiClassicController”. This is a library cre

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Inside the WICO Ergostick

The WICO Ergostick was my joystick of choice during the ST days. In those days the mouse was getting more use then the joystick but it did relieve the wrist pain. I can use the left or right hand for the mouse but never became ambidextrous with any joystick.   The ergonomic design of the rubberized housing allowed for a solid grip without a lot of pressure and cleaned up nicely in the dish washer. I feel I should mention that you should remove any parts you don’t want to get wet. WICO used

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S.A.M. RAAKS YUW

I've added a third computer to the MIDI chain. Computer #1 plays drums, and Computer #2 runs S.A.M. and Computer #3 plays the lead, . Each computer had a specific BASIC program written to read data from the joystick ports. For this example, Queen's -" We Will Rock You" was arranged for the three computers. You can listen to the MP3 file and then decide if you want to read about the how. SAM Rocks - mp3.zip   COMPUTER #0 - Control The music was entered using the MIDI MUSIC SYSTEM softwar

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8-bit Atari meets LEGO’s Maxilos and Spinax #001

I’m assuming that everyone has hooked up an LED to their computer and made it blink. I’m also assuming that most everyone said, ”That’s cool. Now what?” I'm going to be running lights to a LEGO Bionicle and then using the Atari to control the light show. This could be accomplished with any programmable controller but, since this is an Atari Age blog, an Atari 8-bit computer seemed to be a logical choice.     The Bionicle kit #8924 is the embodiment of Maxilos and his four legged friend,

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The Casio DH-100 project plan

Between the time that the Casio DH-100 Digital Horn was introduced and todays prices on eBay, the price dropped to the point where it seemed to be a bargain. I was fortunate enough to have pulled the batteries (15 years ago), so there was a good chance that it would still work.   Now I want to build an Atari8 sound module to accept MIDI information from the DH-100's MIDI port(or any MIDI controller). The MIDI Implementation chart for the DH-100 is not extensive but the streaming of the ch

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MIDI Computer Blues - Setting up the Hardware

Within the Atari 800 computer manual is a program called Computer Blues. "This program generates random musical notes to "write" some very interesting melodies for the programmed bass." Maybe the first program I typed in . That same program is in the 1030 XE manual. It was while listening to this program and trying to figure out what to do with an Arduino MIDI shield that I thought, "What would Computer Blues sound like if played through a synthesizer?"   Gone is my MIDI Mate, CZ-101 and Rolan

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Ultra-sonic Range Finder -> Arduino -> RS232 -> Atari Computer

Ultra-sonic Range Finder -> Arduino -> RS232 -> Atari Computer

If capturing text from your Arduino to a terminal buffer is all you want to do, you are lucky. You may want to collect data and use it in your own programs. Unfortunately there are not a lot of example programs to learn from and the 850 interface manual can be cryptic for us mortals. Persistence does pay off. Usually the “let’s try this” style of debugging will eventually get you to the proper combination of port settings and program logic.   I wanted to hook up a sensor to the Arduino

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Soldering Arduino Shield Stackable Header Pins

The more you play around with Arduino circuits for your Atari8 the more likely it is that you will be soldering stackable header pins onto prototype boards. The better the solder job, the easier it is to stack your boards. No mater how many times I try I haven't seen an improvement in my skill set. At lease not until I built this LEGO fixture to hold the pins perpendicular to the board while soldering.   The fixture uses LEGO Technic parts. They are all standard parts. Attached is the buil

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Implementing the MIDI Implementation Chart

Playing MIDI notes has turned out to be quite easy for Atari BASIC through the RS232-Arduino-MIDI OUT (RAMO) interface (see previous posts in this blog). Most MIDI instruments have additional functions beyond receiving the note ON and note OFF commands. Each MIDI instrument should come with a MIDI Implementation Chart (MIDI-IC) that will indicate which functions are implemented. The MIDI-IC for the CASIO CTK-481 will be used to build some BASIC programs to control the CTK-481. That is to

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MIDIPLUS miniEngine USB - first impressions

I ordered the MIDIPLUS miniEngine USB sound synthesizer to reward myself for doing something special. This is the first chance I've had to play with it and can't remember exactly what that something was. Maybe it wasn't that special.   The thing that interested me most about this general midi sound module is its size( 3" X 4" X 1"). I just don't have the room to keep the TG-33 and sound mixer on my desk. If I want to have a short retro session, it can quickly be set up in a few minuet

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CRUTCHFIELD Spring 1982 catalog

A co-worker gave me his copy of the Spring 1982 Crutchfield catalog knowing I was looking into buying my first computer. This catalog contained 15 pages of Atari product information (page93-107). I was impressed with the graphics capabilities but the onscreen lower case letters made the 800 my first computer. I have never regretted that decision.   Recently I was reminiscing and noticed the catalog pages yellowing. Before it turned to dust seemed like a good time to scan and share. The enti

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SIO2MIDI - Home Made MIDI Interface.atr

A disk image with Chris Terpin's Home Made MIDI Interface(1991) had been downloaded at some point during the MIDI Blues project and was not examined until now. The disk contained a text file giving a brief (and somewhat incomplete) explanation of how to build the MIDI I/O circuits and hook it up to the SIO port. That was Part 1 of 2, I'm wondering what part 2 of 2 might have said.   This is a message thread in the Forum that contains a link to an FTP site in response #9. Look for "Home Ma

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Inside my Computek Joystick

The Computeck joystick was very similar to the Quickshot 2 in that it used the same spring-flipper switches and it had a pistol grip. The base contained 2 extra trigger buttons and a sticker that said, “MADE IN TAIWAN”.   It has no auto-fire circuit but the PC board has the traces to implement one. One might assume that the on-off switch would have been placed in a notch on the bottom.   An emery board, borrowed from my wife’s manicure kit has found a permanent place in the tool box for cl

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A8 MIDI and the Atari Age of rediscovery

When I started the Computer Blues Project I really thought there was no way to program the MIDI MATE from BASIC and that using the RS232 port was an option. If you don't have a MIDI Mate or MIDI Max, it is an option. If you do, there are ways of programing BASIC MIDI applications for them. I am just now starting to discover those methods. That’s at the end of this blog story. Where to start? Once upon a time….. I wasn't going to replace the MIDI Mate I sold after getting the ST but whe

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MIDI Computer Blues - V2.0

After hearing Computer Blues through a MIDI synthesizer, I can understand how some parents feel while hearing their child's first recital. Its not so much listening to the music as it is hearing the potential.   It is in this spirit that I post these zipped sound files. Atari computer blues 8.m4a - the original sound from the A8 with 8 as the speed Midicb piano.m4a - recorded the Casio CKT-481 synth at speed 1 Midich organ.m3q - Organ sound Midich organ and dr

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Radio Controlled Mini Car = 4 Atari digital inputs

Radio controlled mini cars don’t last forever. Sometimes they get stepped on and sometimes the battery won’t charge anymore. In any case, when the radio transmitter and receiver still work, it may be an opportunity to hack a 4 output digital controller.     The receiver unit is from a Bensu Mini Racer. They all seem to have slightly different electronics under the hood but most serve the same functions; forward, reverse, right and left. IR control systems for these cars may pose unkno

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