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About this blog

Hindsight and brain farts

Entries in this blog

 

MIDI Computer Blues: Note On - Note Off

The Arduino is receiving data from the 850 and can send data to a MIDI device. The trick now is to get the MIDI command data from the 850 and send it to the MIDI device. There was nothing but silence from the synthesizer during the first day of programming. I would have had a sleepless night but decided to go to bed and skim the 850 manual for possible fixes. Fell asleep within 5 minutes. The Arduino sketch seems simple enough. Read 3 bytes - Write 3 bytes. Just be sure the pin assignment

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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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A8 Hardware Project Literature

This bibliography (of sorts) began while researching previous projects and has expanded greatly while organizing my magazine collection. Articles or books on hardware projects requiring a screw driver and/or a soldering iron were added to the list along with a general interest piece or two. Most of these articles/books can easily be found on the web and will be in hard copy forever. I'm hoping that someone will find the inspiration within this list to build or update some of these projects

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Going Retro: Checking on the A8

Retrofying the checking account gave me a chance to think about how much of my every day banking has changed over the last 30 years. Debit cards, ATMs, automatic deposits, automatic bill payment, automation of data entry at the window, and online banking came about after opening up my first checking account. Now that my balance is one password away I didn't even bother to keep the Transaction Register (that little book that comes with the checks) up to date. Maybe one of the biggest changes i

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Torpedo Projector - screen shots

The Torpedo Projector has been sitting on the shelf for a few years. The instructions were written around 2007 and that's about how long its been sitting on the shelf. I played a couple of games of Star Raiders on the 6 foot screen, but I can't believe I was overly impressed since that was the last time it was out of the box.     For playing your 1980's video game machines that have a composite output, you might be happy with one of these toys. Just keep your expectations low. After a

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RTC v2.1

I wanted the RTC project to be over but it wasn't long before daylight savings kicked in and I needed to reset the clock. All I wanted to do was be able to run a program on the Atari8 to set the time on the RTC and then have it rerun the SETCLOCK.BAS to update the clock on the Atari8.   And as long as I was going to do that I may as well reconfigure the hardware and………. . So by the time I was finished it needed to be called version 2.1.   Hardware: When I found Arduino Uno clones for $6.50

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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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Atari Clock & RTC pt.3 of 3

The Arduino is sending data to the 850 every second, the Atari has the Clock and R: handler loaded, and the only thing left is to write the BASIC program to get the time from the 850 and set the clock. I took the original CLOCK2.BAS and turned it into a pile of spaghetti code and called it SETCL850.BAS. It gets the job done but I know there are more errors then have been anticipated. This ATR is a single density disk image with DOS.SYS 2.5, the AUTORUN.SYS from pt.2, and the SECTCLOCK.B

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Atari Clock & RTC pt.2

Part 1 ended with the Arduino/RTC/RS232 shield able to send the time and date to the Dell. The next step was to hook the unit up to the 850 and read the data using Bob Term. Once the Baud rate, translation and duplex were set to 9600bps, ASCII and Full, the time and date were updated every second, just like on the Dell. As I watched the stream of data being printed to the screen I said to myself, "This is going much to smoothly. I bet the RS232 device handler and clock are going to use th

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Atari Clock(ANALOG 31) & RTC(DS1307) pt.1

In the June 1985 issue of ANALOG (#31), the "ATARI CLOCK" by Jonathan Buckheit was published. It is a machine language program that added an extra text line to the top of the screen display and printed the time once per second. I remember typing in CLOCK1.BAS to create an AUTORUN.SYS file and CLOCK2.BAS to set the time. I also remember using it but soon tired of inputting the time for each REBOOT. Download ANALOG issue #31 for more information. http://www.atarimania.com/atari-magazine-analog

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Going Retro: What's the DIF?

Having chosen Calc Magic as my A8 spreadsheet program, the next logical step seems to be to transfer the data into Calc Magic. Several of the files that are to be transfered started out as Visicalc files then migrated to Calc Magic, then to the ST, then to the IBM running Lotus 1-2-3, then to Microsoft Office, then to the iMAC running Microsoft Office, then back to an IBM compatible running Microsoft office, then to Open Office, then to Excel 2013, and now back to Calc Magic. I could have save

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DDT for MAC/65 Reference Sheet

You would think that at some point, while writing programs for the Diamond GOS using the MAC/65 V1.01 assembler cartridge, I would have learned how to use DDT(Dunion's Debugging Tool). I was much to busy trouble shooting the programs to read the manual. It wasn't until reading Atari Roots by Mark Andrews that learning DDT seemed advantageous. Now that the manual has been read, DDT will be used. But the question remains, How many commands will be remembered when next it is used? (As often

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Going Retro: A8 Spreadsheets

My first opportunity to go retro was when I wanted to build a spreadsheet to calculate wheel rpm and pulse duration for the bike speedometer project. At about 12mph the computer readings start to become erratic. So I started at the beginning and booted up VisiCalc. VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program I ever saw. I had talked the company into purchasing an image analysis system that used an Apple II. Of course the finance people saw this as an opportunity to try out VisiCalc without

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Analog Machine Language Games for A8

Needed one more list for my Book of Lists. I looked through the Analog issues and made one of the machine language games written in Assembler. Now to organize the programs I have and find those I don’t. If I remember, Harvey Wallbager was the first I typed in. Planetary Defense got the most play time. I’ll have to play then again to be sure the files haven’t been corrupted. Analog ML GAMES # TITLE

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S.A.M. Word Editor v1.0

I wanted to get my collection of SAM programs organized on the PC using my new Atarimax SIO2PC. I’m not sure how large the collection was but some of the disks were unreadable. SAM worked fine with DOS 2.5 and got RECITER working after remembering to boot with a translator disk. I guess at some point while running SAYIT.BAS I decided a better phonetic word editor would be nice. Once started I just couldn’t stop.   What I did was put the phonetic spelling chart on the screen. The dictionary s

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Analog’s Boot Camp Table of Contents?

Analog published a column dedicated to teaching assembly language programming. Boot Camp appeared as 42 articles spanning a wide range of topics with many tips, tricks and example code. If Boot Camp was compiled into a book, this might be the table of contents or at least I’m hoping that it helps the next time I’m looking for information or code examples. PDF of following table Analog boot camp index.pdf Chap Issue Author Subject 1 72 Hudson

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Joystick Port Logic Box

Not that many of my projects get past the prototype stage. Once I find out that something can be done I rapidly lose interest. I have found in the past that once built, the circuits rarely get used because Im working on the next project. But every so often a circuit gets soldered together and put in a project box to have on hand. Such is the case with the Joystick Logic Box. While programing the Spinax light control circuit I wished I had the ability to quickly hook up some LEDs to the

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