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Showing content with the highest reputation since 05/17/2021 in Blog Entries

  1. 10 points
    I realized that there is no place where people can download my ROMs. So I decided I should use my blog to provide them. There will be ROMs of all my homebrews. And maybe I will add some demo or unfinished stuff later too.
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  9. 6 points
    NOTE: use MenuMaker 0.4. It fixes a bug found in version 0.3, and adds support for the 2019+ VecMulti. MenuMaker has been updated for 64-bit macOS. This will create the menu for @Richard H.'s VecMulti SD cartridge for the Vectrex. Program with source: MenuMaker20211211.zip Port was done using Lazarus, which is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Use MenuMaker 0.2 if you're still on a 32-bit version of macOS.
  10. 6 points
    Little time ago I posted some files here that were roll-ups of files for MAME/MESS from the, what I call, the 'other' 99s; that is the TI99-8, TI99-2, TI-99 PSystem, MyArcII XB and the Geneve 9640. Looking over them I realized I hadn't vetted these very closely, especially the Geneve. (FYI: if you don't know anything about the Geneve, here is the Wiki article with some excellent links for a deeper dive on the subject: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneve_9640 ) So I went back and pulled up MESS Geneve and began testing and adding software so now I have a much better package with lots of games and tested software that runs on the MAME/MESS Geneve without much effort. The tested and working files are put in two .HD files; OS7 and FDRIVE. OS7 is the operating system and the development files. FDRIVE is the games, Advanced BASIC and XB26 files and other miscellaneous files. As stated, I tested these files as working to the extent of my ability. If something is missing that you may know of from the Geneve I either could not get it to work or I just didn't know about it. Here is the brief listing of OS7. BATCH contains batch runtime files for: AB - Advanced BASIC startup Bible - A Christian Bible program CAL- displays a monthly calendar EA - loads TI-99 Editor assembler in MYGPL The HELP files - GPLHELP, MDOSHELP, PROGHELP & QDEHELP 4th - starts the Forth programming package MA - starts Myart MW - starts Myword XB - starts XB2.6 in MYGPL Some of the other packages on OS7: Forth - the Forth programming package directory DSK - holds the Fortran programming package. Start the Fortran in XB then RUN "HDS1.DSK.FORTCOMP.XBBOOT" to execute DSK1 - the virtual Disk 1 drive TASM - the 9640 assembler TIC - the 9640 C programming package MDOS - the MyDOS operating system files. Notable utilities: D - this is a two column formatted directory program DM - the directory manager EDITOR - an advanced editor GAMEGPL - starts GPL programs directly bypassing the TI menu QDE - the general purpose editor for the 9640 XCOPY, XDEL & XDIR - more advanced directory commands FDRIVE listing: ABD - directory program that will run in Advanced BASIC XBD - same as above for XB26 GAMES - MYGPL and MDOS game executables Listing for game executable. Can be run straight from MDOS alpiner, blasto, anteater, burgertime, carwars, chisolm trail, donkey kong, henpecked, jungle hunt, junkman jr, mbgames (includes connect 4, hangman, yathzee & zero zap), microsurgeon, moonmine, moonsweeper, munchman, munchman2, othello, popeye, princess & the frog, return to the island, roto-raiders, schnozola, tetris (MDOS native), the attack, TI invaders, tombstone city, topper, video chess, wingwar, hunt the wumpus and yathzee. Note: it is recommended when starting all these games except Tetris to press SHIFT+SHIFT+CTRL the F4 to slow the speed down otherwise they will run at up to 5 times the speed. Tunnels of Doom -TOD. the files for Tunnels of Doom are in HDS2.TODDISK Adventure - Adventure files are in HDS2.ADVDISK Infocom - all the Infocom games are in the HDS2.INFOCOM XBGAMES - these games must be run from XB26 otherwise they won't work. buckrogers, centipede, congo bongo, dig dug, hopper & Qbert. I also added some other .HD files: 9640news - all of Beery's 9640 newsletters. PSYS - this is the Psystem for 9640. It, sorta works but not well enough to have added it to OS7. MDOS7 - these are the original MDOS7 files. other Games - these are some games that mostly run but with issues. How to run. Copy all the MESS files in your MAME/MESS directory. It contains the ROMS and other import files to run the 9640 emulator. run the supplied batch files GENEVE-9640.BAT to run the emulator Some thoughts on the Geneve 9640. It's still very much a work in-progress. Berry and his other programmers are continuously working on updating the system and adding more features to what is a fairly stable platform. There is also some work on a 9640 hardware recreation, so we got that too. The 9640 was/is a good upgrade of the TI-99 line. It has a much nice BASIC, faster, better graphics and sound. Personally, I think it been a better product than the 99/8. But, that is history. If you want something to play with in the vain of the 99-4a, I would recommend the 9640. Even if you can't get a real iron, make you a virtual one with MAME/MESS or wait and see if a real 9640 finally makes it out the door. Enjoy, HLO Geneve9640.zip
  11. 5 points
    We still have to wear masks in our state. So when they recently decided to have us sheeple stop wearing masks on March 19, I thought I'd make a little comic to celebrate this fact. But then they moved the date up to March 12. While I'm happy since masks don't help at all, I already made March 12's comic (I made today's on February 1.) Oh well. I'm still putting it up on March 19. And in case you don't read my comics, here is today's: I don't know why I do this. I guess I'm just one of those people that has too much going on in their mind and needs to get it out. But the problem with that is then new ideas form. It's a never-ending vicious cycle of creativeness. It's like "Why bother making Uncle Hairy's Nosehair if it's never going to be released?" I guess the answer to that is "because I COULD." The easy part of programming the Atari 2600 is that you can make grids out of the playfield in any shape you want. The nosehair in the game is the playfield. And I could make it grow 1 pixel at a time. So I did. So if you go onto the website on March 12, you'll find a comic about a guy who hates birds. I thought this one up after seeing a certain candy bar ad on TV. It's not that I stole the idea. I just thought of a different joke to it. And masks are stupid anyway. How is wearing a cloth mask over your face going to prevent anything? If it's as small as we think it is, it'd just go through the holes in a mask and get you that way. I'm the type of guy that thinks "It's here, we have to live with it, there's no way to kill it, so just deal with it." Or the other thing we can think is that "COVID" is fake, it's just the flu, and they just did this to control us better (which I wouldn't be surprised if this was the truth all along.)
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  13. 4 points
    REWRITTEN AS OF 12/07/21. NOT QUITE COMPLETE AS OF 12/11/21; just more pictures to add in. This is my blog on all the upgrades, modifications and hacks that have turned a standard 800 into a machine that is still the original vision of Jay Miner's 'Colleen' 800 at heart, and still fully compatible, but includes advancements and upgrades that Atari and Jay never envisioned over 40 years ago. Not just internal upgrades, but port and case modifications too. And finally, a complete "restoration" as the computer case, as well as the cases of peripherals including the 410 and 810 all were badly UV damaged (retro-brite done twice with yellowing returning) and the brittle plastic has cracked or broken in places. Some of it as a direct result of all the handling and modifications, and accidents. This has been an on-going project for over 2 years. Started after the first retro-brite attempt. So body work and a completely new paint job have been done, including other system matching peripherals and controllers. But my 800's face lift and make-over are not to the original colors of the 800 line. I instead decided to redo the look of my 800 in homage to the ill-fated 'IBM "ATARI" PC' that I fell in love with the look at first site, when I first saw the image of it. Of course shape of the 800 case is the same, but the colors are taken from the mock-up IBM PC in the picture directly below this paragraph. I have made minor tweaks better to my liking and taken some liberties of my own and extrapolated across my entire 800 "system." Images of the completely repainted and redone ATARI 800CX and peripherals are at end of this blog, after detailing the upgrades and mods with specs and pictures first, because it's what is on the inside that counts, and looks are only skin deep. My new 800CX* includes: Incognito board features include: 4 slots for OS separate for Colleen and XL/XE mode 64k of FLASH for future GUI 2 slots for BASIC/CARTRIDGE build in, configurable PBI CF card storage (works as PBI in XL/XE mode, and through SDX driver in Colleen mode) build in FAT32 loader (SIDE) with both ATR and XEX file handling SpartaDosX onboard RTC 1MB Axlon compatible memory expansion for Colleen mode 64k/320k/576/1088k total memory available in XL/XE mode up to 52k of memory in Colleen mode (configurable) Pokeymax 3 features include: Quad Pokey Dual SID Dual PSG Four channel Covox, with Paula style DMA GTIA audio digital pass though SIO audio mixing PBI audio mixing May be updated/configured via software on Atari Larger 10M16 FPGA, leaving adequate resources for future enhancements Spare 5V safe IO for future enhancements Sophia 2 Feaures: 100% compatible GTIA replacement PAL/NTSC encoding Independent RGB/YPbPr/VGA and DVI outputs 480p/576p 3:2/5:4, 16 luminance levels for all Antic and GTIA graphic modes 8 selectable DVI graphic modes from 2 color to 18-bit color onscreen 1280x960 4:3 1280x1024 5:4 1344x960 14:10 1440x900 16:10 1536x960 16:10 1600x900 16:9 1704x960 16:9 15 loadable 18-bit color palettes PBI upgrade (DIY) Edge connector for a true XL/XE physically compatible PBI port Connects to PBI out on the Incognito board via ribbon cable internally Dual-PIA board (DIY) Features: Allows 4 extra controller ports ( 8 total in Colleen (800) mode and 6 total in XL/XE mode) Second PIA uses POT(paddle) pins 5 & 9 on the 4 new ports for PIA CA1&2 and/or CB1&2 signals for communication instead of analog controller signals from Pokey. Header for future expansion New controller ports will be external, via ribbon cables exiting underneath the 800 case to a dual-use 3D-printed Turbo Freezer/external controller port case. The Turbo Freezer 2011 connects to the PBI, ports will be beneath Turbo Freezer Custom A/V and SIO port boards (DIY) Stereo out headphone jack for Pokeymax audio out Second SIO port (both ports upgraded for HSIO upto ~126K vs 19.2K single speed Mono audio out RCA jack Composite out RCA jack S-video out mini-din jack DVI out for Sophia 2 Original internal RCA RF out re-purposed for Pokeymax 3 RCA digital audio out jack LED RGB internal lighting & keyboard lighting (DIY) Full rainbow of colors Multiple flashing and fading color cycle settings Choose a single color Brightness and dimmer adjustments Remote controlled SEE PICTURES AT END OF BLOG TO SEE LED LIGHTING Other minor upgrades and modifications (DIY) Complete recapping of motherboard and PSU board Pal conversion with PAL CPU board, Incognito and new PAL crystal on mobo All 74LS series IC's replaced with newer 74HC or 74F series Keyboard repairs External upgrades Fujinet 1.0 features: The #FujiNet device provides the following services: Device Description Notes C : (Cassette Drive) Loads CAS images. Under Development D : (Disk Drive) Load floppy disk images from onboard MicroSD or networked TNFS server. Supports ATR, ATX, and XEX formats. Currently Working R: (Modem) 850 Modem emulation, supports Type 1 Poll to load handler. Works with existing communications programs such as Ice-T, BobTerm, AMODEM, PLATOTERM, and BBS servers. Currently Working P: (Printer) Printer output saved to PDF files downloadable from the device. Available Printers: 820, 822, 825, 1020, 1025, 1027, 1029, Espon 80, Okimate 10, HTML for copy/paste, GRANTIC Screen Printer. Example 822 Printouts (PDF): Text & Graphics. Currently Working N: (Network) NEW networking device. #FujiNet configuration commands in place and working (WiFi, mounting, etc). TCP/UDP Currently working Other SIO2BT Bluetooth Connection. Apetime Real Time Clock (NTP). SAM Text To Speech as a printer, voice output from #FujiNet to Atari (Video with explanation, WAV File & SAM short video). MIDIMaze network gaming in progress (Video) Currently working Turbo Freezer 2011 Features: 1MB flash and 1MB battery backed RAM, both XL and XE adapter boards are equipped with a pass-through PBI connector (XE adapter also contains a cartridge slot) Freezer function: stop/resume a program at any time, save/load snapshots to/from TurboFreezer RAM / ramdisk / disk / tape. Built-in, enhanced, debugger. Stereo Pokey systems are now supported, too. Oldrunner mode: integrated OldOS 512k battery-backed ramdisk, 100% PORTB compatible CartrdigeEmulation: can use up to 960k flash and 384k RAM to run 8k, 16k and OSS carts. Supports new SDX (same banking as Ultimate1MB, up to 512k max.) plus "stacked" carts running from the CartEmu (so you can run SDX and MAC/65 from the TurboFreezer). Added AtariMax 8Mbit (1MB) compatible banking (up to 960kB) and new 8k + RAM banking (main 8k bank at $A000, optional 8k RAM bank at $8000). PBI adapter case includes 4 controller ports for use with Dual-PIA upgrade above The new look in homage to the 'IBM "ATARI" PC' Tragedy strikes! While carrying different case parts to the painting area for clear-coating I dropped the 800's hinged cover for expansion and cartridge ports! The hinges break in half and a chunk breaks off of the lower right corner of the cartridge door! Spot repairs ensue, first the hinge assembly is disassembled and then super glue is applied to hold pieces in place. Then J.B. Weld is liberally applied to the hinges and underside of the cartridge door for strength, leaving "welds" as-is for greater structural integrity. Then J.B. Weld is applied to the crack on the door front, and smoothed to hide the crack. It looked better before I painted, but it is acceptable for the time being and I will pursue getting a new cartridge door to replace this one. below are the broken pieces and then showing them repaired. The repaired door with paint applied will be shown below in the "finished" final reveal. System nearly complete. Still needed: paint touch-up, badges and name tags, raised letter on face plates detailed. close-up shots in final reveal. Here is are all the main system pieces, minus the Fujinet and Turbo Freezer connected. 99% complete. I have to do some touch up on the Fuji badge on the 800CX and finish detail painting the controller jack numbers on the lower front panel, and a touch up here or there. More pictures to come, with the system fully powered, with LED lighting and all sides and angles. (FINAL PICTURES NOT YET PRESENT) _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ *Custom eXtended line. I spent a long time coming up with a new designation for my 800, since it is anything but a stock 800 anymore, inside and out. I finally decided on "CX" since there are so many new features one letter just doesn't cover it (beyond the X for eXtended line since now it is compatible with XL/XE's). I came up with the idea while giving my repainted CX85 and repainted self-designated 'CX35' mouse (see blog on modifying a TRS-80 Coco analog mouse to the Atari). Why not 'XC' staying in-line with XL and XE machines? Because "XC" would imply that it was part of the eXtended Line/eXtended line Enhanced computers, but the 800 was prior to the extended line and is only compatible due to upgrades, not an official extended line machine stock that was then customized. Also because it matches the "CX" designation of my keypad and mouse.
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  18. 4 points
    Creating the Retro Gaming Experience To me, sitting infront of a flat screen TV using some emulator and a wireless controller didn't really provide me with the best Retro Gaming experience. When I first tried playing the old games I used to love on emulation, it just felt empty and stale. I wasn't sure why at first, then it hit me. When I was playing the games, I was looking for that nostalgic experience. I wanted to relive the memories of my youth. Unfortunately emulation wasn't sparking that nostalgic memory. I needed a true Retro Gaming experience. I learned then, there was a difference between just playing a retro game at home and actually "experiencing" home retro gaming. I kinda compare it to the experience of playing one of the new Arcade One-Up machines in your house compared to actually going to a real (retro) arcade. Both experiences are extremely different even though you're playing the same game. So it's the atmosphere that plays a big part in contributing to the experience. (I needed to bring the atomsphere back) So a few years ago I decided to create my own Home Retro Gaming experience by creating a retro gaming nook. I had a small space in the corner of my garage to use as a template. This would take a lot of patience and hunting. Though I had plenty of Atari stuff in my collection, I still needed to hunt out the decor I needed for this retro nook. To sit down somewhere and feel like I went back in time. The act of playing on a old CRT TV, being restricted by cords. The earthy tones of the wood paneling. The simplistic decor of the late 70s/early 80s of my youth. To design something that took me back in time would offer the true experience. My first pick-up was this 1977 Sony Trinitron with matching TV Cart: So during the next year-and-a-half I combed eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and local thrift stores. I not only needed the right decor, but I needed it cheap (I didn't really have much of a budget). Once I accumulated enough stuff to make my design reality, it was time to begin. I decided to dedicate a small corner of my garage for a retro corner. I started with the wood paneling. Luckily, many of the home improvement stores still carries wood paneling for very cheap. After getting the wood paneling up, it was only a matter of laying the carpet down and putting the pieces in the place. When all was said and done I only spent around $300 to complete this project. A lot of the cost savings came with patience. waiting to find the right stuff for the right price without overspending (For example, the TV and cart I was able to pick up for $30). Here was the end result. The final Retro Nook came out better than I imagined. Sitting in this corner playing my Atari, I almost thought I was back in 1983. Even the copper colored wing-back chair was the same chair we had a 1983 (my family never had the heart to get rid of it). People have to remember...... Back in the early 80s, most home decor were still from the 70s (unless they recently remodeled). Add a little stale tobacco smoke to the nook to complete the Retro Gaming experience😂. For the rest of the year I often enjoyed disappearing in my little gaming area to relive some of my nostalgic memories. At times my kids even joined me. It was great to show my children how "dad" played games when he was a little boy. During the next summer I decided to do a redesign of my retro corner. I wanted to make it a themed corner, as well as incorporate one of the old cabinet TVs that I have. I have always been a fan of playing original hardware on original hardware. So I have multiple CRT TVs that my children and myself use. I do have a few cabinet TVs and I had one in particular I wanted to use for my new "themed" retro corner. Here is a old cabinet TV I have in my bedroom. It's the TV I used most of the time before I designed my retro corner. Anyways, since I wanted to redesign my retro corner I decided to do it themed design. I decided to go with a Q*Bert theme which was one of my favorite Retro Gaming characters. It took a while to gather all the stuff I needed for the redesign. I already had an old 1970 zenith cabinet TV I wanted to use, but to find the right Q*Bert themed decor was a little challenging (more specifically the wall art). Then I found the perfect piece. A Q*Bert latch hook rug became available and I just had to have it. I was also able to acquire a orange wingback chair for $20. Here is the final design...... This Q*Bert themed design I was extremely happy with. I decided to get rid of the table to bring back the good ole days of having to sit on the floor to play. Coincidentally enough, I finished this design right around Halloween. I actually had a old early 80s Q*Bert costume (one of those old vinyl Collegeville costumes). My son decided to humor me and put the costume on so I could do a Halloween photo. I tried to use an aging filter to make the photo look a little less "high def". I'm not professional photographer so I did what I could with my cell phone, lol Here was the end result. MY 2020 DESIGN..... In 2020 I decided to shrink up the design a little. To make something simpler, and to design a area that would mimic a image you would see on a Atari Ad. I used a different TV for this one (1984 Zenith). One of the best parts about having this retro corner is being able to spend time with my kids introducing them too the early gaming experience. Due to Covid-19 and spending a lot of time at home, we were able to spend a lot of time playing games together. All in all, creating a authentic Retro Gaming experience is relatively inexpensive and you only need a very small space. Playing these games takes me back to a simpler time. For some reason I find it more enjoyable playing on my retro setups then I do behind a computer screen or on some other type of emulation. The feel of the carpet, the act of inserting the cartridge, the smell of the TV tubes, the sight of the wood paneling, and being restricted to the limitations of technology all help contribute to the overall Retro Gaming experience. This is what I remember, and I find myself actually enjoying playing these old games more as I disappear in my time machine. COVID-19 The summer of 2020 I came across a old 1979 Sony Trinitron. I decided to do a very quick redesign to include that TV, as well as using my Space Invaders wall art I've been holding onto for a while. After I was done my children's school went to "virtual learning" due to the Coronavirus. My kids decided to turn my Retro Nook into a Virtual Learning Battle Station, (where old technology mixes with new technology..😂). My 2021 design In 2021 I wanted to mess around with more themes within my design. I decided to start spring off right and go with a Easter theme. About 2 weeks before Easter, we got word that the Easter Bunny was going to visit our house on Easter morning. I wanted the Easter Bunny to feel welcome and it was a perfect opportunity to use my retro corner for my children to take photos with Easter Bunny. So I quickly put my Retro Corner together preparing for a special visitor. After the visit from the Easter Bunny I want to create a 👽 Alien 👽 themed area. This is something I wanted to do for quite some time. I've always been a fan of sci-fi and I wanted this "Alien Abduction" type of feel for my 2021 design. Green accent lights to give the whole corner a eerie glow This alien design for a 2021 is really fun to work with and I'm constantly changing it a little. I recently got rid of the green lights and decided to give it more traditional lighting. The kids and I have a great time playing games in this area and I love the fact that my children enjoy having a little retro gaming time with their dad. Ghostbusters Afterlife 2021 In October of 2021 I decided to change up the decorations in the room one last time in anticipation for the new Ghostbusters movie. Myself being a child of the '80s I have always loved the Ghostbusters franchise so I decided to give my retro Corner a Ghostbusters theme for the final design of 2021 I'll end with one last photo. My most recent setup that I may use if I decide to redesign my Retro Corner in the future. It's my 1976 Zeinth gaming station. It's been a blast having this little retro gaming corner. In the past 3 years I have been able to spend a lot of time in my retro corner playing my old Atari with my kids (and creating awesome memories). Hopefully someday I will be able to dedicate a entire room to the simplicity days before the internet. The days before the constant bombardment of social digital stress. Thanks for reading my blog. InShot_20210926_120836072.mp4
  19. 3 points
    For the past two years, our annual student film screenings for the Character Animation Program at CalArts haven't happened. At least not in person. (For those reading this in the inevitable, distant, dystopian FUTURE and may have no knowledge of what happened in 2020 - this was due to a worldwide outbreak of e-coli brought about by some undercooked Chicken McNuggets at McDonald's. For those who don't know what Chicken McNuggets were, they were "extra parts" genetically engineered and grafted onto chickens that could be repeatedly harvested for foodstuffs without killing the host chickens (although the process itself was horrible and needlessly cruel, but not nearly as bad as their "Cow McNuggets" or "Rhesus Monkey McNuggets". For reference, search the historical archives for: "pink slime"). For those who have no knowledge of what McDonald's was, it was a global, dictatorial empire that ruled the entire planet. Everyone worked at McDonald's, lived at McDonald's, were educated by McDonald's (search historical archives for: "Hamburger University"), ate at McDonald's, and were ultimately "served" by McDonald's (search archives for the historical documentary: "Soylent Green"). The empire ultimately met its demise when they stopped putting "toys" in their "Happy Meals". And yes, that's a euphemism. And no, you do not want to search the archives for what that actually means.) It's hard work preserving history for future generations, but somebody has to do it. Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to... something or other. I forget what. Look it up on Wikipedia, I suppose. Anyway... In 2020, our shows were cancelled outright. We had an online screening in the fall that year, but it was kind of a stop-gap. In April and May of 2021, we had online-only versions of our two shows, but it felt weirdly disconnected without live audiences. Our Open Show had a live chat, so there was some sense of people watching it... but there was no such chat for the Producers' Show. I sat at my computer, keeping an eye on the live stream... but there could've been 100 other people watching, or 1000, or one. But this year... we were back. Not 100% back-to-normal, but back-in-person anyway. The Open Show (comprised of all of our student films for the year) is usually held indoors in the Main Gallery on campus. Typically, this runs in one day, with around 320 people watching it. Not exactly COVID-compliant. Or perhaps, pandemic-prudent. Even though mask requirements had become optional in LA County, our college still required them whenever in the building. That close to the end of the academic year, we kind-of didn't want to have an outbreak right before graduation. So with that in mind, we made the decision to move the show outside. Hey - it's Southern California! So weather shouldn't be an issue. Right? But too much sunshine, however, was. We usually use a video projector for the films, starting at 11 AM to fit it all reasonably into one day, which works fine inside where you can control the light. But outside, you can't really use a projector unless the sun is down. So we did three things to address this: First, we ran the show at night, starting at 6:00PM after the sun had gone far enough over the main building to put the courtyard into full shade (although the sun wouldn't set for at least another 90 minutes). Second, because we usually have 7 or 8 hours of films (before adding intermissions), we split it over two nights (Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23), so the show wouldn't be running until 3 AM. This year we had 186 films, running 8 hours and 13 minutes - so we definitely needed both nights. Third, and the biggest change, was we hired a company to set up an 11'h x 20'w LED wall, plus a sound system, and run the show for us. The LED wall is visible in full daylight (and incredibly bright at night), and hiring a crew to handle all of the setup, teardown, and the screening itself was a huge relief, and saved us a ton of work. Well... I should say it was a huge relief after they finished setting it up and we knew it was going to work. We'd never worked with this company before, nor seen their LED wall in person. Plus the work it saved was offset this year because the show started on Friday - not Saturday - which meant I had an entire day less to edit the entire thing together. So it was still a highly compressed and stressful week. But for once we didn't have to build an impromptu movie theater in the Main Gallery. Here's the 11' x 20' LED wall (with enough subwoofers to make your ears bleed from 30 yards away): The panels do have some variation, but generally it evens out when they're all on (although there was one noticeably more-blue panel than the rest, but it's something most people likely wouldn't pick up on). The back of it: We chose 11' x 20' for two reasons: 1) This is the same size of the projection screen we used indoors and we didn't want to step down from what we previously had, and 2) to go any larger requires that a custom support truss be engineered which dramatically increases the cost. This is their largest standard size. It was plenty large enough. A close-up of the LED matrix (once you're about 20 feet away, you don't see the individual pixels anymore): And as for the weather? Well, 24 hours before the show - it rained. Not just a little either, but a torrential downpour. But it cleared out and the day of the show it was bright and sunny! But windy. And cold. That night got down into the low 50's. Maybe even the upper 40's. But everyone just bundled up, brought blankets, and we handed out foam floor tiles for people to sit on, so they wouldn't be on wet grass. Saturday night was better - the wind had died down and it was a good 10 degrees warmer. (For those wanting to know it in Celsius - subtract 32 and multiply by 5/9. I ain't gonna do it for ya'.) Cold weather aside, the show went really well. The LED wall is pretty cool technology, although it doesn't have the same kind of dynamic range we're used to on typical computer monitors, so some films suffered a bit, and there were the aforementioned color inconsistencies between panels. But it was still impressive. When it's turned on, the image almost looks Photoshopped during the daylight because you don't pick up any reflections or shadows (the moire pattern was caused by my phone, and isn't visible in person): At the most, they ran the wall at only 60% brightness. When the show started, they were down to around 40%, and 12% after the sun went down. They also brought more sound gear than we usually use (four subwoofers plus six powered 12" speakers, vs. our normal two subs and four speakers), so there was plenty of volume available. I estimated around 200 people were there each night, which is pretty good considering the cool temperatures and it being outside at the back-end of the building (instead of just inside the main entrance in a high-traffic area). My iPhone absolutely refused to take a picture of the audience without the video completely blowing out: In reality, the video looked more like this: Splitting it over two nights certainly cost more for the rental, but I think it was worth doing. With 30 minute intermissions at the two-hour mark, it made each night's runtime pretty reasonable (although it's still like watching two feature films back-to-back, two nights in a row). Any downsides? Well, the temperature for sure. Bathrooms were also a bit further away. Plus we had no concession stand this year since the Theater School wasn't doing their usual fundraising, and for some reason, we weren't allowed to have food trucks (although another event just the other evening had them... so what's up with that?). Will we do it outside again next year? Beats me. The cost was significant, and there were certainly some compromises made in terms of comfort and presentation. But splitting it over two days is something I definitely think we need to keep. Sitting through eight hours straight of anything is painful. I still haven't watched The Batman yet for that very reason. Right. So that's one show done with. The Producers' Show for this year was held on May the 4th (which as every fan of pop culture knows, is Dave Brubeck Day) and this year we were at a new theater again. But not just a new theater for us, but a brand-new theater period! In previous years, we were originally at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theater at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. But when they decided to renovate it and it was shut down for construction, we ended up moving to the main theater at the Director's Guild of America. When they decided to renovate that one (I don't think we were doing anything to cause this...), we ended up moving to the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Fortunately, they'd already just been renovated, so we felt safe for awhile. And then we had a pandemic. Which really could've been completely avoided, if people had just gotten their chicken nuggets from Burger King instead. They're way better. Or better still: Chick Fil-A. Love those. Especially with their Buffalo sauce. (Made, as far as I know, from real buffaloes.) When we started looking into theaters again for this year's return to being in-person, there was a new contender. And because of various factors (including capacity, availability, and proximity to world-famous Hollywood landmarks), this year's show was held at the David Geffen Theater at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. It only just opened in the fall, and it's as absolutely state-of-the-art as a theater can get. The signs on the seats are "reserved" signs for sponsors (we have quite a few of them): The whole thing is inside a giant concrete ball. Kind-of looks like the Death Star. Funny nobody mentioned that on the day of the show. Since, you know, I'm pretty sure Dave Brubeck liked Star Wars. They even have the requisite C-3PO Oscar statues: The theater holds 1000 people, but our target was around 500-600, so we could still have some social distancing. Everyone was required to wear masks and have proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test. Apparently, it worked. I haven't heard any reports of anyone getting sick that evening. In the end, we had over 500 people. For our first year back, I'd call that a win. Here's a rather clunky composite of several photos as people were getting seated. My iPhone absolutely refused to capture a panorama that was actually usable: I stayed in the back for the whole show. By then, I'd seen every film multiple times, so for me, it's more about watching the audience (especially students) react to the films, rather than watching the films themselves. Even then, I found myself watching the show because the sound and projection in the theater were absolutely first-rate. And we got some great compliments from the technical staff at the theater about our preparation and the quality of our DCP which is always nice to hear. Especially since this is THE Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. It's kind-of like Apple telling you, "Hey - nice computer!" The show was by all accounts a complete success. The audience had a lot of fun, the films all got great responses, the students got terrific industry exposure, and everyone enjoyed being back together and seeing friends and colleagues again for the first time in years. You can read the official CalArts blog about it here. (Although the list posted there doesn't actually link to any films.) If you want to watch some of the films, check out our Vimeo channel our or YouTube channel. (Not all films have been posted online yet. That's up to the students.)
  20. 3 points
    Did I mention I bought a PS4? Years ago. I don't actually recall when. Oh wait, here's an email receipt from Best Buy... 11/18/18. Must've been a Black Friday sale. $199. Was that a good price? I'm guessing it must've been. I don't buy new consoles unless I can get them cheap. I bought it in order to... uh... why did I buy it again? Oh, right. To play Carmageddon. Remember the PC (and Mac) game from the late 90's where you smashed up opponents and ran over pedestrians for points (like the camp classic movie Death Race 2000)? It was so pixelated and goofy as to be completely hilarious. There was also a really good expansion pack and a pretty-good sequel. Then a terrible sequel (which I never bought, since it never came out on the Mac). Then an iOS release in 2012 of the original (complete with lumpy polygons and pixelated graphics). The original developers rebooted the game around 2015 for the PC (after a crowdfunding campaign and years of delays), and finally a PS4 version called Carmageddon: Max Damage in 2016. So, because I'm a Mac user and could only realistically play the new version on a console, and there were probably... three?... other games on the PS4 I could think of to buy, I decided to buy a PS4. Two years later. It came with Spider-Man. I haven't played it yet. I'm not sure I even put in the disc. I played Carmageddon pretty-much through the whole game. All that's left is to grind through "achievements". Meh. The original was more fun. I also bought Wreckfest. It's supposed to be like um... that game where you crash into things. FlatOut. Yeah, that was it. So I played Wreckfest for awhile. It was kind of fun. Neat physics. But kind of tedious. I bought Burnout Paradise too. For some reason. Even though I owned it for the PS3 and played it enough there. The series peaked back on the PS2 with Burnout 3. Pretty sure I've never even put the disc in the PS4. I bought Dangerous Driving because it's supposed to be more like the classic Burnout series. Did I play it? Not sure. Probably a little. I wonder if there's a folder or something on the PS4 showing me what I've played? You see, it's been awhile since I actually turned my PS4 on. The last system update was apparently installed in 2019. So the first thing it had to do when I turned it on today was install a software update. I usually use my PS3 when I watch Blu-ray discs. So the PS4 doesn't even get used for that. Not that I watch Blu-rays (or DVDs) much anymore. I mostly stream through Apple TV now. What else did I get for the PS4? Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Pretty sure I haven't played that. Again, may never have even put the disc in. I also bought WRC 8 for my PS4. I really love watching rallying. I really like driving games. I should probably play one of them. I hear WRC 8 is very good. WRC 9 is out now... oh wait, so is 10. And 11 is coming out in the fall. Maybe I'll get that one. If 8's any good. I should probably play it. Or see if I already have. I also bought Gran Turismo Sport. Because I really liked Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 2. Amazing games. I also own Gran Turismo 3 "A-Spec" and GT 4. And 5. And 6. I don't think I played any of them all the way through after 2 though, because A-Spec was pretty disappointing if memory serves. And I have Gran Turismo on the PSP. I often forget I own a PSP. I wonder where it is... But GT Sport was mostly online. So I didn't play it much. Clearly, my PS4 has gotten very little attention. So then... why did I even bother turning on my PS4 today after three years of it being idle? Because, of course, I bought Gran Turismo 7. Please try to not hurt yourself rolling your eyes. You can get a headache from doing that too much. Yes - I bought another game for a console I haven't touched in three years. Because, I guess, I'm stupid. And particularly stupid this time, because usually I wait for games to hit the "Greatest Hits" bin before buying them at a fraction of their original price. But no, I bought GT 7 for full price. (But not the $90 anniversary version. At least I'm not that gullible.) I suppose the reason is, I was really disappointed in GT Sport because there was no traditional single-player career mode, so it's been nine years now since a proper, new release of Gran Turismo. For all intents and purposes, this is the first real Gran Turismo for the PS4. So I bought it. Pretty much on launch day (or launch week). So how is it? Well, one common complaint about the Gran Turismo series is the lack of realistic damage. Nonsense! I can report, first-hand, that the damage in Gran Turismo 7 is incredibly realistic. Check this out: Look at that damage! Not only is the plastic cracked along the entire top edge of the case: But it actually tore the paper insert, too! So, thanks for that Amazon! That extra touch of realism is just what this game needed! Would it kill them to invest in slightly-less-flimsy bubble envelopes? And yes... I returned it. They sent me an (undamaged) replacement right away. Even before I sent the other one back. Actually, returns are ridiculously easy now with Amazon. I just requested a return, they sent me a QR code, and I took the game and code to my local Whole Foods Market, and they scanned it in and boom! Done! No shipping or packaging required. So anyway, with an undamaged copy in hand, this evening I was finally able to dust off the PS4 and pop in the game. As mentioned before, it had to run a system update first. But I expected that. And it took only a few minutes. So kudos to Sony for speeding that whole process up! Now then, onto the game itself! Oh, right. Uh... 48 minutes. Well, I guess I can go have dinner or something. But that's fine. If it copies it to the internal drive, the load times will be much faster. (Time passes) Right. Now to put in the game disc. There are actually two Blu-ray discs for the game. The first disc was just data. The second has the game. It's like swapping floppy discs back in the early days of the Macintosh! Ah good times... good times. And since this is a brand new game, it should fire right up! Here we go! Ugh. I think BattleBots is on tonight. Guess I'll go watch that. I'm starting to remember now why my PS4 just sits around gathering dust. That's what it's best at.
  21. 3 points
    Prelude Now that the Bally Arcade is restored, it's time for some upgrades. The Bally Arcade and Astrocade systems were designed to be upgraded into full computers that keyboards, printers and even a light pen could be added too. Officially none of these items or a memory upgrade were ever released by Bally or the later company called Astrocade that purchased the Bally Arcade from Bally. Both promised solutions but all turned out to be vaporware and I don't think prototypes were even made, just schematics and words on paper. Enough though that some, back in the 80's and now are turning Bally Astrocades into computers, from scratch with only some documentation or using third party devices and documentation. Part 0: Notes and explanation Any text centered in bold denotes the next part or "chapter" to the blog. I do my blogs a bit at a time at the same time I am doing the actual upgrades, and mods and taking pictures of it all. In this blog until it is finished, there will be text in Italic denoting it is temporary, an explanation of what is still to come, that will be replaced when what is still to come, gets done. I do not write all of any part at once either, and there will be Italic temporary text letting you know if there is more to come in that part. If there is no Italic text at the end of a part, that part is finished. I have chosen an upgrade similar to early third-party upgrades, but maybe stream-lined a bit, called 'Lil' White Ram.' I assume because it's small, has a white case and is extended ram. It upgrades the Bally/Astrocade to 32K (I don't know if that is all or if it is on top of the 4K the console has to start with. Of course with the Z80 processor 64K is the max without banked memory to switch in and out. I also have Bally Basic cart with a 2000 baud cassette tape jack and a vintage cassette deck I just ordered to go with it. Though I will have to repair and restore it as well. A machine language monitor cart is another upgrade to allow use of the Astrocade like a computer, called the Machine Language Manager or MLM. Both come with labeled keypad overlays using shift and control buttons to select BASIC words and commands and enter numbers and letters. Part 1: The keyboard and keypad kits The keyboard upgrade this all around upgrade blog is titled after will connect to the 24 key (10-pin) keypad and a ribbon cable is generally fed out the rear PBI/expansion connector or through an area of choice modified to allow the ribbon cable to protrude. In my case, I have one of the earlier motherboards that still has a 10-pin "test" edge connector built in, for factory testing and then it gets enclosed and hidden by the case and metal shielding. I am making use of this connector so I can have a nice, neat keyboard connection with a keyboard that can be unplugged. I will have to cut out openings in both the metal shielding and the plastic case for access for a keyboard plug. So after looking into a couple of keyboard alternatives, and almost settling on two different keyboards I had on hand and one that someone offered, but turned out not to be in working condition, and deciding I could find something better, with a case already, I looked into it a bit deeper and found what I want in a kit keyboard. So I don't have to build my own, and that matches the wood grain of the Bally Professional Arcade, It's a high-end mechanical keyboard kit with real real Walnut wood case, that I have just ordered. While starting the keyboard upgrade to the Bally motherboard as I wait on the keyboard to arrive, I noticed that the Bally Basic console keypad overlay and the Machine Language Manager keypad overlay have different layouts for the numbers, a row off from each other. This presented a problem because this keyboard upgrade is designed to directly hard wire the console keypad's keys to the keyboard so the key board is seen by the Bally as the console keypad. And if buttons are used for different things between the two programming carts, then the keys on the keyboard will match up with Basic, but not with MLM or vice versa. At first I decided to just label the keys for both Basic and MLM with top and bottom half different labels to follow for each. But then I decided that would make the keyboard to "busy" looking and detract from appearance, which I am going out of the way to make all look classy and match. So, I decided that I would have two keyboards, one for Basic and one for MLM. But I also didn't want to constantly be swapping keyboards, and two like the one above is awful expensive for one machine. The solution I came up with was I needed to find a 24-key keypad compliment the keyboard and both could easily fit on the desktop together, and it makes the system look more complete overall as well. Then I can attach both via a Y-adapter cable and leave both plugged in, using the keyboard for Basic and the keypad for entering MLM code. So here is the keypad I found to go with the keyboard pictured below. I will have to either make a walnut would case for it to match the keyboard, or at least find walnut wood grain laminate to attach to the perimeter so they match. Assembly and wiring of keyboards yet to come when they arrive Part 2: Case and shield/ground plane modification Cutting an opening to plug in the keyboard to an unused (for factory testing) 10-pin edge connector. First I cut away part of the shielding and paper insulator to have access to the hidden edge connector. Then inserting the shielding and motherboard back in the case bottom, I use a gold sharpie to mark out the area to cut the plastic case for the keyboard plug to plug in. Then I use my Dremel with a cutting wheel and Exacto razor knife and cone sander head to cut and refine the case cut-out. Part 2: the keyboard edge connector Next, I cut the traces connecting to the 10-pin edge connector, isolating the tongues on both sides of the board, where the plug plugs in. I also found and ordered a 10-pin edge connector plug from Mouser Electronics, shown below as well. To be added yet is the drilling of staggered holes for both top and bottom tounges, so all ten connector fit in the space of 5 on the component side of the motherboard as there is no room on the bottom. Also pictured below are the Dupont connector male angle header that 10 of the pins will be separated individually to solder into those staggered holes. More to come... Part 3: installing a new wiring harness for the keypad and keyboard The next step was to remove the old keypad harness from the motherboard and keypad, and install a new Dupont wiring socket. I used a 24-pin socket that I lined up with the keypad harness hole on he motherboard, since the holes on the motherboard are not uniform. Once I matched up pins as close as possible, I cut out the extra pins. and bent whatever pins left that had to be to insert in the pad holes on the motherboard. Then solder the new socket header onto the motherboard. Now it's time to install some Dupont wiring that will connect to the keypad. Though I don't have enough with male to female connectors, and had to order more, so the wiring pictured below of male to male Dupont connectors is just to take pictures of what it will look like, though on the keypad side the wires from the keypad will plug into Dupont connectors. Using the extra female connectors on the 24-pin female header I installed for dual sets of wires, one set to the keypad and the other set to the edge connector for the keyboard, by connecting adjacent pins on the female header together using short bit of wire going from one hole to the adjacent one, so that the the second set of ten wires (twenty total) make contact with the first (no pictures of this procedure yet, to be added in later). Below is a sample picture showing two sets of black/white/grey and green/blue/purple wiring. the rest will be added once my Dupont wiring arrives. I also removed the old clear tape and aluminum backing from the keypad, and replaced it with new aluminum backing and clear packing tape as the old stuff was worn through t the black contact bubble cover and I didn't want the wear to reach the bubble contacts underneath. Awaiting components to finish this part of the blog. Part 4: fans and venting Another small modification I am doing to the Bally Arcade. to also help prevent over-heating and just allow everything to last longer by not allowing it all to be constantly running hot and heating up the entire interior of the machine, as I stated in the original restoration blog of the Bally, was creating a stand for my Bally with my 3D printer and installing a PC fan in it to help keep the Bally cool. Instead I discovered that an old Xbox One fan/usb base fit perfectly under the Bally right where the venting is and a couple of plastic protrusions from the fan base fit snugly in between the venting to keep the Bally from sliding off, and it is well balanced at that position too, giving the bally about a half to one inch of air space underneath it. Yes, the fan base has been cleaned since I took these pictures. The fans can be changed to blow into the Bally through the venting, or pull air through. I have chosen the latter setting. But there was yet another design problem with the Bally Arcade, and that is even though it has underside venting, and venting on top in the cassette holder slots, the metal shielding and it's insulation paper are completely blocking the vents, so they are practically useless anyway. So, while I had the Bally disassembled I did a bit of re-engineering myself and drill some holes through the shielding and insulation paper to allow the easy flow of air through the Bally at it's venting. Yes, that dirty USB fan will be cleaned. Part 5: Ram and Rom upgrades Below are pictures of purchased upgrades and cartridges to expand the Bally Arcade into a full-fledged computer, along with the keyboard. There may or may not be more information written to this part Part 6: The recorder repair & restoration Here is an old Sear tape recorder I found and purchased in "non-working, for parts" condition simply because it matches my Bally Arcades aesthetic motif very closely, and after I restore it, it will match even better, with the edition of some gold chrome trim like I used in the Bally Astrocade restoration blog I have in my profile as well. The first picture is from the auction. All others are ones I took once the recorder was in my possession and I started cleaning and repairing it, in preparation for a full restoration. The second picture below I took right after the recorder arrived and I was able to see just how HUGE it is! I put a more modern standard size recorder next to it for comparison. It's also 3 times as tall that you don't see from that angle. The next pictures show the recorder after an initial deep cleaning with Windex and a toothbrush. The metal parts still need another cleaning to removed the rest of the dirty residue that Windex wasn't strong enough to remove all of it quite, especially on the buttons. Below is a picture of the inside, after cleaning it I took it apart to check the condition of the electronics inside, and the condition of any old rubber belts. It had one belt which was indeed stretched and dry. Luckily I'd planned ahead (I have a number of cassette recorders & players) and already have a cassette drive belt assortment of standard sizes that I used to replace belts on my Atari 1010 and 410 recorders. And sure enough, I had one to fit this old Sears recorder. The belt in the picture is the new replacement which is why it looks perfectly taunt. That may be the only thing wrong with this recorder and it may work great. Testing it out is next. Initial testing revealed that it does work, the tape plays, and rewinds and fast forwards, but there is a volume issue as the sound is VERY low and the volume bar does nothing to change it. It could be needing a head cleaning (next on list) or the volume pot needs cleaning or replacing. But also, it's eating my tapes, so I have to figure that out and correct it too. So, it is now time to open the cassette recorder up again (last time all I did was replace the belt) and give it a really good cleaning, because 9 times out of 10 tapes being eaten are a sign of very dirty mechanisms that move the tape, via the drive motor. The volume issue needs to be addressed too. Below are pictures of the inside of the unit. These first three pictures are mainly to show any label information on the inside of the machine. These are all pictures just showing different angle of the mechanism and just how dirty everything is, surely cleaning it all will fix my tape-eating issue. This next picture is of a couple of adjustment pots I found, they may need to be adjusted later... Ok, it's now time to clean and restore all the mechanical parts. My first attempt will be doing it without taking any of the mechanism apart, as there is always a chance of issues and new problems can occur when doing this, so I avoid unless I absolutely have too. For this job, I called in the big guns: the lighter fluid and WD-40 are for cleaning and loosening any stuck parts. The 3-in-1 oil and Lithium grease are for lubrication for some moving parts after the cleaning, grease for springs, arms and latches, oil for wheels, spindles, pulleys, gears and cogs. And also the tools I used for cleaning. After a thorough cleaning of the mechanism and parts, and greasing and oiling some parts, I looked to the volume issue which turned out to be a simple loose wire I had to re-solder. I then put it all back together and tried out a tape. It WORKS! Volume works, everything is moving as it should, and it didn't eat my tapes. I have a fully refurbished (mechanically & electrically) working recorder. After a second cleaning on the outside case, and applying some orange glow wood oil cleaner she almost looks new again! All that is left is a bit more restoration to the buttons, I did the best I can cleaning them, but they still look bad. So I am going to laminate them with some gold tape I have that will help it to match the Bally better too, as well as repair the trim around the tape window using a Krylon 18K gold paint pen, the same I used to repair the Bally logos on the Bally controllers. I would use the gold chrome trim, but this part is too thin and it's too much hassle trying to cut the gold chrome trim thinner and keep it even and straight. The last bit of modifying to make it match the Bally better will be using the same gold chrome trim I used to restore the Bally's trim, around the outer top edge of the recorder. And then the final step as with the Bally, will be to wipe everything down with Rejuvenate brand paint and plastic color restorer and protector, as I also did with the Bally Arcade to bring back it's original paint and plastic color. This starts here soon. Part 7: The Bally Professional Arcade & computer system (wrap up of the projects and the blog, with some final pictures and notes) Under construction Thanks for looking at what I've done so far, the rest of the upgrade and this blog are only awaiting for parts to arrive to finish.
  22. 3 points
    Turns out there's an updated version of VecMulti that requires a slightly different format for the menu file. The menu created with MenuMaker 0.3 would show extra characters on those VecMulti cartridges, resulting in the names shifting. Starting with Page 2 the names would no longer line up with the numbers 1-4 (game 1 on page 2 is AllGoodThings). With the help of @NeonPeon I've been able to reverse engineer the new format, and have updated MenuMaker to support both versions. By default the menu will be created for the Original VecMulti. If the resulting menu is shifted, then select 2019+ VecMulti to create the menu with the new format. The selection will be remembered. Also fixed a one-off bug I discovered in version 0.3 that caused the last game in the Games directory to not show up in the menu. Program with Source MenuMaker20220110.zip
  23. 3 points
  24. 3 points
  25. 3 points
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  26. 3 points
    I put a blog about it up on Atari Owners Club forum site but had intended to bring it here too for a while and I am finally doing it. Other "coming soon" blogs are all blogs I had written before on the now defunct Atari Sector forums and I believe them to be lost forever, or at least I've no idea how to retrieve them an in the end decide it easier to redo them all from scratch. I still have most of the photos, so it's just collecting them into one folder and then re-writing the processes. But this one is a simpler copy and paste from Atari Owner's Club, so now that I have some time I'm starting with it. So here begins the real blog, the full repair and restoration of the Bally Professional Arcade, Montgomery Ward special edition. Below are pictures of the unit before initial cleaning. Here are some misc. images of controllers, what's left of the PSU, broken pieces that fell out. Here are images after initial cleaning with Windex and a shop cloth, tool for corners and crevices and toothbrush for same as well. Here are some interior images of the Bally Arcade. As far as I know, from when this unit was put into storage a decade ago, it's in working order except for the lack of a working PSU. I will clean it all up, make a PSU for the unit similar to the dual-power PSU I made for my CA-20001 drive (thread on AS) and I will be removing the RF modulator (which easily unplugs from the mother board!), and do a video mod to the unit. IIRC, I think this unit has RGB output I can tap into! If you are unfamiliar with Bally Arcade/Astrocade consoles, and would like to know more, here is a link to the Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bally_Astrocade Having removed the case entirely, and the shielding and RF modulator, I'm down to the bare motherboard. I also removed lids on the crystal oscillator board and power input box, just to take a peak. I'll be using 91% Isopropyl alcohol, a toothbrush and disposable shop cloth to clean off the motherboard. The top shielding also doubles as a heat-sink for one of the custom IC's, and I'll be cleaning off the old lithium grease and replacing it. Next I'll use a steal wool S.O.S. pad to scrub the rust and tarnish off of the metal shielding and get it looking as new as possible. and clean out the inside of the case bottom which has rust from the ground shield on it too. The RF modulator will probably not be re-installed and instead I'll do a S-video (or RGB if possible) modification. I'll also be working on case restoration in parallel, mainly a deep cleaning of the black textured plastic and repairing the gold chrome trim as best I can. Right now, I will probably make it look the best I can using a gold paint pen to redo the trim, but later on, when I get my hands on some real gold chrome leaf or decal tape or something to redo it more properly. In the mean time, the gold paint will be used sparingly only where the original gold chrome is damaged (which does include the entire outer trim that a previous owner already attempted to repair, poorly, with silver paint.) The PSU I will probably still build my own custom one out of two separate ones like I did with my CA-2001 disk drive. I will also replace the two large capacitors on the motherboard before anything else, just in case and so it doesn't have to be done later down the road. I've finished cleaning the motherboard, and now that I can see it clearly, it looks to be in excellent overall condition and it's a high-quality PCB with heavy-duty circuit traces. There is no obvious physical evidence of any damage or burnout, short or open circuit, no corrosion or cold solder points. It appears the rust all occurred only to the shielding and RF box and the motherboard was protected within, except from years of dust. I pulled the three custom IC's that have sockets, and re-seated them. The keypad board is hard-wired and glued to the motherboard. The keypad contacts appear to be bubble contacts very similar to those found in the common CX-40 joystick. and they all feel to be in good condition, hinting at little use of the keypad, so I'm hopeful it works and will continue to do so for a long time. As I continue to repair and restore this console, I plan to remove the plastic covering the expansion ports so they are ready to be connected to what ever I can lay my hands on or build myself. I've put aside the motherboard and shielding for a while and jumped back on case restoration. I did another deep cleaning, then a rub-down with orange-glow wood rejuvenation oil which also rejuvenates old plastic. I also cleaned off all the ruined and badly done metal trim paint on the outer case edges, I will try a quality gold paint job on them with quality gold paint, but if it doesn't look good enough (it's not going to be chrome shiny) then I'll eventually redo it with some proper gold chrome trim. The gold trim around the keypad area is also in rough shape, and not really salvageable, so I'll attempt the same there as well. The keypad is looking pretty good now that it is cleaned, it has some minor scratching on it's metal surface, but polishing it up helps to hide it. The wood grain motif is in great shape over-all, there are some worn and scratched areas that are hardly noticeable along the bottom edge, but not enough to attempt any repairs, you can't see it unless you go in close for a look. So the next post will show the gold trim work I've done and dirty and cleaned controllers, and probably start the body repairs too. On the tinted clear plastic cover, it looks great after the orange glow and I can make that shine permanent later with the WIPE-NEW product I used on my XL and 800 cases that worked so well. The Montgomery Ward name stamp cleaned up nicely as did the Bally metal name badge. I still have to clean the controllers and they will also need some gold trim restoration on the Bally name logos that are on them. The controllers will also need some minor body work done on them around the top where the joystick/paddle protrudes where pieces have broken off on both controllers. I will be using J.B. Weld for the body work as I always do, but it will also be necessary to paint the controller handles afterward to hide the body work. They are a black semi-shiny plastic so some semi-gloss black paint should do the trick, with clear coat to protect it. After sitting overnight, the orange glow oil has reconditioned the plastic and soaked in or evaporated away, so the plastic has been rejuvenated to it's original color and sheen. I'm especially impressed with the results on the tinted cover, and I don't think I need to bother with wiping it down with Wipe-New either. I'm happy with the results as-is, except for restoring the gold trim which I will attempt today. I'll post pics later... I have found something better than gold paint to restore the gold chrome trim. I am using metallic gold chrome auto trim to replace the original gold chrome. The replacement is actually probably better quality in that it will last longer and not wear off like the original, since it's got some thickness and industrial strength adhesive meant to endure years of weather. It looks like the thinner trim will be a perfect fit around the Bally Arcade keypad area and I'll us the larger trim for the top perimeter of the case, however it will need trimming. I still need to do something about the reset and eject buttons, reset is completely missing it's gold and the eject is damaged. I may have to just resort to gold paint there. Though I'll attempt just a touch up on the eject button since the original chrome is still mostly there. But first, a few more close-up shots of the Bally's keypad area, as I don't think any previous photos have accurately captured the actual damage to the gold chrome trim. Even these photos below, aren't the best, and you would expect to see black where the chrome has worn off, as it was with the top case outer trim. But it's actually a light pinkish-tan color left under the worn off chrome. And in all the photos here, the light areas are where it is worn off, it's not just caused by light glare. It will be a huge difference once new gold trim is in place. Alright you 8-bit retronauts, here are pictures of restoring the gold chrome trim around the keypad! Here is the first strip in place at the top. Here are top and bottom strips in place, the bottom plastic protective coating half-way removed for show. Here we have all four sides and the center keyboard trim in place, over-lapping prior to trimming. Here is the final result, after over-lapping the trim, cutting at a 45 degree angle on the corners trims both top and bottom strips to be flush. The center trim separating the keypad from the cart port was cut straight across using the upper and lower trim edge as a guide to cut as close as possible to be flush and hide the seam as best possible there too. And finally, the corners of the trim are trimmed to match the outer curved corners of the keypad and cart port frame. Here is what it looks like with the case back in place over the keypad. I was just noticing that the eject button isn't original gold either, it was redone with silver paint, so I'll be getting a gold paint pen to redo both buttons. They didn't do too bad of a job on the eject button, assuming the damaged areas have worn off again since, but why they used silver on it instead of gold, and the same with the outer case trim too, I have no idea. If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing right. I was just searching for and studying some other Bally Astrocade/Pro Arcade system images to make sure I'm right about the original look, and I believe this photo below is one of the better ones, showing all gold trim and highlights. Here is the finished gold chrome trim on my case. All that's left is painting the RESET and EJECT button's raised lettering and some Wipe-New on the tinted clear cover for original luster, and Ms. Bally will be restored to her former beauty! (cosmetically anyway) I wish they were better pictures, but I have terrible lighting for photographing in this room and the flash only adds glare. But using the camera without the flash to avoid the terrible glare, there isn't quite enough light for my terrible phone camera to focus accurately. So after finishing the case (actually, it's on hold until I get a gold paint pen to finish the buttons and that will be ordered Friday as well), I will continue with clean, and restoring the controllers. IIRC, I can test them out for functionality on an Atari, it's just they are wired differently so the trigger button might be up on the joystick and up on the joystick might be right, but I think I can still test all directions and buttons and paddles for functionality at least, before the Bally is up and running. But the controllers will also not be completely finished either, until the gold paint pen I will order arrives to repair the logos on them, and I get some black spray paint to repaint them after doing body work on broken parts. So...I'll probably get started on the controllers today, and have done what I can, with pictures by this evening. It's another lousy, rainy day here anyway. So, before I get started, here are some "before" shots of the controllers and current condition. In the last picture showing the top of the controller, I believe that is corrosion on the gold metal surrounding the "2." I'm hoping I can clean that up some or completely with some TarnX. The number one controller is in much better condition with no corrosion, only a few fine scratches that will stay, to give it "character" and I'll shine both up as much as possible too. The Bally logos on both sides used to have gold chrome plating on them, and will be painted gold after the controllers are repaired and painted black. One controller is broken in two places, the other in one. As stated before, I will be using the same technique on repairing the broken parts as I did with my Syscheck XL case I modified from a Commodore modem case (as seen on AS). using electrical tape for the mold around the outside, and fill it in from the inside with J.B. Weld. Then I will use copper trace repair across the top with more J.B. Weld on top of that to create extra strength. Sort of like re-bar in cement. Here are interior shots of the Bally controllers, for the curious. One has a plastic cover in place and the other has it removed, that cover slides between the trigger and the leaf switch and wraps half-way around the joystick apparatus. It has a heavy-duty spring which returns the joystick rod to center. On the bottom of the mechanism is a small PCB board which, once again, contains metal bubble contacts like those found in Atari CX-40 joysticks. But, there are heavy-duty leaf springs attached to the rod that press against a polyurethane "wings" that actually press against the bubble contacts in this chain reaction. Underneath all of that is a pot that looks pretty similar to the ones found in Atari paddles. It's all almost arcade quality, which one might expect from Bally/Midway, since they had/have an arcade video and pinball division(s). Not quite as heavy-duty, slightly downgraded for the consumer market, high-end consumer market. And if these were arcade controllers they would be in die-cast metal cases, not plastic. Still, the quality you expect in an expensive after-market controller, not ones included in a system that needs to compete in price among other things, against Atari VCS, Odyssey 2 under original ownership and later Intellivision, Colecovision and the 5200 under new ownership. Here are shots of a complete tear-down, short of the main assembly.I will be testing and cleaning contacts while it is apart, after I do the body-filler on the controller handle, while I wait for it to cure. I will probably have to tear-down the paddle-pot and clean it as they get tarnished from sitting. I've had to redo Atari paddle pots after just a few months of non-use. But I'll test them first...But it all looks in very good condition and I expect the joystick and fire button to work without issue, even though I'll clean them anyway. This last picture is shows the shape of the joystick opening, basically square, with indents in the middle, and those are molded in, not from wear. I'll have to build up a "wall" with the J.B. Weld that is even across, and then use my Dremel with a grinding stone to re-create the proper indent(s), otherwise the joystick(s) won't have the proper throw-distance as other directions. THE REPAIR The first thing was to gather the supplies I'd need for the repair job. This includes 91% rubbing alcohol and paper towel for pre-cleaning, plastic gloves (to keep my hands clean and parts finger-print free) electrical tape, clear Ducktape brand packing tape (not shown in pictures), J.B. Weld, bits of left over resistor leg wire from previously installed resistors (I save these for stuff just like this or to use as wire traces on DIY circuits where only short lengths are needed) and tools for mixing, applying, sculpting and carving the J.B. Weld. I start by wrapping a length of electrical tape around both controller halves, forming it to the basic shaped of the outer controller surface. Using the unbroken controller half allows me to "bridge" where the missing piece is on the broken side. Next, mix up a batch of J.B. Weld as per instructions on the tubes. I then apply a bit of J.B Weld to the inside of the broken half, making sure to fill in most of the hole left by the broken piece, but NOT all the way to the top of the controller half, but just to where there is an indent to the short neck at the top, as shown in the picture below. This is just a basic repair and reinforcement to the case structure, something to build another sculpted layer too. after 24 hours of curing and removing the electrical tape on the outside. Next I use a razor knife (Exacto blade) to carve out the edge seam that overlaps the inside of the other controller half as show in the second picture. The next step is to apply packing tape to the opposite controller half, create a layer on the case that wraps around from the outside, and hugs the indents where two case halves overlap (1st and 2nd pictures below). Because for the next step both controller halves will be screwed together (3rd picture), but you want to keep J.B. Weld off of the half you are not applying J.B. Weld too. Once these two steps are done, then more clear packing tape is wrapped around the outside of the front of controller case, at least half- way around to the sides, hugging the controller case contours exactly (picture 4). Next is the second round of J.B. Weld. This will go all the way to the top to reform the neck. But first, I took a couple pieces of that small left-over resister wire and placed them so on the broken case half they overlap the original case and the area of J.B. Weld filling in the broken space. They will also slightly overlap the other side of the J.B. Weld repair and the second half of the controller. Mix up some more J.B. Weld and start adding it into the opening on the broken half side, covering the reinforcement wires and all the way to the top of the neck, filling in the area where the clear plastic tape is bridging the neck where is broken. This layer of J.B. Weld should be a couple of millimeters thick, but with a thicker "lip" at the top made flush with the lip of the unbroken half. But don't worry about forming indent for the joystick rod yet, just go straight across as the other case half is protected by that first layer of tape. After it cures for 24 hours, remover the outer packing tape, remove the screws and separate the controller halves which should be free of each other due to the tape layer wrapped around the unbroken half. You can now remove the tape wrapped around the unbroken half edge. You can now screw the case halves back together. Now, with a razor knife, sanding paper and whatever tools might help you cut and sand on the inside of the case half you are repairing and carve out the indents matching the other side at the neck top. and carve out any indents to match the shape of the other half on the outside front of the case. Lightly sand smooth after carving. Example pictured below. I've marked and X temporarily to show before and after shots of a permanent marker approximation of what it will look like once really painted. Some final finishing sanding still needs to be done before a real painting, so this is sort of a "rough draft" of the repaired controller case pictured below. I Here are pictures with the repaired and other unrepaired controller cases next to each other. The repaired one is 2nd from the right. So for me, it's rinse and repeat three more times to fix all four controller halves. (only two are mine, the other two I'm repairing in exchange for the new RESET and Eject buttons I "traded and bartered" for...) The capacitors for the Bally motherboard arrived, so replacing them is next on the list. I did notice one error in the list of capacitors I got on-line. They say the C8 capacitor is normally a 15uF, but in fact it's a 6.8uF on my motherboard. On the capacitor list they say they substituted 22uF for the 15uF's, but in the case of C8 I have gone with a 10uF as that is the closest to 6.8uF I have on hand. My replacements are all 35V and 50V rated, except for C6 which I upgraded from 10V to 16V as per the suggestion in the substitute PSU instructions. In any case, all the new capacitors should be able to handle any higher voltage levels from the new transformers. The large caps arrived too, so I think I have everything I need, for the moment to get this show on the road again. Hoping none of the custom IC's are bad. I will start on the project again today, as we've got nothing but rainy days this past few days and the next couple. I had intended on starting this weekend, but I pretty much spent it all napping, worn out from working last week. OK, all motherboard main capacitors have been replaced. I'm ready to start on the new PSU. While I was downloading some more Bally arcade materials and printing out the instructions and schematics for the substitute transformers PSU, on @BallyAlley 's site, ballyalley.com I did finally run across the instructions for an RGB out circuit, which I won't bother with, but that's because the Bally Arcade does have B-Y, R-Y, Y(Luma/mono out), and I already have an Ambery RGB-to-VGA converter/upscaler that also accepts various component RGB. So all I have to do is run a VGA cable out the back where the RF cable used to go, which, of course, will be made slightly larger to accomidate the cable. That will run to a DIY break-out-box that sits outside the BPA, via VGA input, and mount a component output 3xRCA, 1x chroma RCA out and it in combination with 1x Luma (shared with component outs) RCA out for monitors like the CBM 1084P I have. I'll do a dual-mono RCA audio out also. All of this will only take 5 RCA outs. I also already have DIY cables for component to the RGB2VGA converter, C/L-to-S-video, and C/L-to-composite cables to go from the B.O.B to monitors and adapters/converters for the ability to plug it in via 3 different video outs. I also stumbled across directions for a 64K upgrade and connecting a keyboard, so I may even end up doing that stuff too, before finishing with this Bally! Since I'm also building a new PSU unit for the Bally Arcade, I have decided NOT to go the route I have seen in other Bally restoration videos of attaching the replacement power supply directly to the original internal plug connector, I will be using a PSU port salvaged from a broken Xbox 360 unit, and the cord from the Xbox PSU box that plugs into the connector. (below is a picture of the Xbox 360 PSU cord). It has 6 lines going through it which is more than enough for the four wires that go from the PSU to the Ball Arcade unit. I have found PSU's with the correct voltage and minimum amp requirments for the dual-power needed. Just like the ones I found for the CA-2001 disk drive PSU I built, they are made for musical audio equipment like distortion peddles on guitar's and whatnot, but they are the only type I can find that are AC/AC and the right voltages and amp needs. To be continued when they arrive. The transformers for my DIY Bally PSU arrived today, so I can start building it. I've set up to get on with building the Bally Arcade PSU. First I'll follow the schematics on a bread board, and after testing I'll move it to the two green boards you see in the pictures. I've laid out schematics of the substitute PSU from the original Arcadian newsletter from the 80's and a recent update, along with the data sheets of transformers. As I stated in an earlier post, like I did when I built the CA-2001 drive PSU, I'll be making a case and cords for the PSU out of a salvage Xbox 360 PSU case and cords. I'll be using both original input and output cords on this one, my intention being to build in a power input port on the Bally that I will salvage from one of a half-dozen broken Xbox 360's I have on hand. I showed a picture of the type of cord from PSU to unit in an earlier picture, and more will come when I get to that part of the project. I'll add more pictures to this post as I build the test board. New content as of 1-9-22. The repair and restoration continues, some things have changed as per restoration plans. The controller repair section above now includes broken case repair "tutorial." I will no longer be building or including a DIY PSU in the blog, as I was given the opportunity to purchase an original Bally Arcade PSU from a Bally fan who read this blog. I was also able to acquire RESET and EJECT buttons with the gold chrome paint intact, so I no longer will need to paint the old ones with gold paint. And the last item I acquired from this person are two paddle knobs for the controllers that have good 1&2 decals on the top. So, I still needed to fix a broken switch on the RF modulator so I could set it to a channel (3) and I also had to disassemble and clean the unstable power switch. I removed the broken RF switch and just solder-shorted the RF to channel 3 only as that's all I need and it's a quick fix. After taking care of these two things it was time to turn on the Bally for a second test run (the first resulted in a power-up and all motherboard voltage testing checked out OK, but no video image) and the result is I now have a working Bally Arcade, not needing to replace any other components but the capacitors. In fact, and the pictures below don't do it justice, but I think this is the clearest RF image I have ever seen on any console up through the first 3D console generation, the last generation I used RF for any time. So for now I am waiting on building a new RGB video out board and just enjoy it as-is with old-school RF for now, on a little old-school CRT TV that I have. I want to keep the custom IC's especially, but everything nice and cool to promote further longevity because these old IC's run hotter as they get older and this further deteriorates them. With some custom IC's being very rare, possibly irreplaceable now or soon. So I took some precautionary measures, maybe overkill, but it certainly can't hurt, to help protect from over-heating and these old proprietary I.C's from running hot and I added heat sinks to all major I.C's and added onto the current, less-than acceptable, heat-sinks on the voltage regulators (they ran hot, got there nearly instantly and hotter than I've ever felt a regulator get). I of course will not be replacing the top shielding, it wouldn't fit on anymore anyway, but that will also help keep it all much cooler. I will be printing a stand for it as well with my 3D printer, which will also house a small PC fan that will drawer air through and out the bottom venting. I Since it's in working condition, I will wait until any dram or 74LS series IC's go dead before swapping them all out for newer versions and adding in sockets as well. For all intents and purposes, this machine is completely restored, aside from finishing up my controllers. So I gave the exterior another good cleaning and then wiped it down with a micro-fiber cloth and Rejuvenate brand plastic and paint restorer. Shown below with the keypad overlay that goes with the built-in sketch program and a white 3D printed cassette shell in inserted and ejected positions, testing that it fits and works.
  27. 3 points
    I had forgotten I bought On Duty and Always Winter about a month ago. Coming all the way to northern Pa from Finland is quite a journey. On Duty is a cool little top down shooter that kinda reminds me of Commando mixed with nes Metal Gear. It has a lot of humor to it and doesn't take itself too seriously. Always Winter Never Christmas is a small novel along the line of choose the path to take, and is Sci-fi in nature. Once again it is filled with pop culture humor from other sci-fi franchises. After looking at the White Lynx web site I found there was another game on the Always Winter cart, Robot Run. A cartoon Star Wars inspired side scroller. You collect "junk" to get rations. It reminds me of flappy bird but instead of jumping you just move up,down, back, forward. It has a nice music track and backgrounds change periodically. Pretty fun after finishing the novel.
  28. 3 points
    When I get really really ultra bored (which I am right now), I decide to draw comics. I recently decided that instead of drawing the box they're in myself, just have the printer do it. Which, while that does mean turning on the computer in the den, which isn't really all that horrible, except that you have to press "Enter" really fast because it gives a fan not working warning. Even though it seems to work okay without one. I don't usually work on it for tons of hours at a time like I do on this one, which I keep on all the time in case an urge strikes to work on my projects, which is nearly all the time I'm awake. And even if I go to sleep, I may wake up in the middle of the day to work on it. So anyway, I made 6 boxes on a 8.5x11 inch sheet of paper. It fits really well. I decided to put the caption in the square rather than print it outside of it on the bottom. This is to give the comic a uniform look when I am looking at a whole bunch of them. It appears that I am the only one who looks at my webcomic which is sad. But it's also sad that I have to wait to die, and I'll never know when I will because I'll be dead. Anyway, the comic now looks like this: All nice and square. This is my most recent favorite. I remember an old ad: "Bruce Chevrolet, a name you can count on." (Portlanders, remember Bruce holding a kangaroo while saying that?) What other name can you count on? Why, Steve Tenfingers, of course. I'm about to do the one that will be on at Thanksgiving, but I don't have a Thanksgiving-y idea for it, so it may just be a regular one. I've been also making the usual stuff: video games, crossword puzzles, and other stuff. So now I'll go to my piece of paper and try to finish the thing off. I hear it calling. I have 4 comics on it already.
  29. 3 points
    Picked this up from Sew 8-bit https://www.facebook.com/Sew8Bit/ https://twitter.com/Sew8Bit Pictured here with another Atari Jaguar, Bubsy from Fractured Furry Tales https://atariage.com/forums/profile/4709-doctorclu/?status=90770&type=status
  30. 3 points
    Its been 10 months since I put the TASCAM TA-1VP vocal processor in the rack. I've had the time to read the manual several times and watched the youTube videos. This made me feel a little less clueless during these initial tests. Since a vocalist was unavailable the Atari Pokey chip was a good substitute. The TA-1VP is designed to take an input from a microphone or the line input and adjust it to the nearest pitch specified in the SCALE settings. It will work for one voice or instrument tone. As it turns out the Atari is able to stay on key for most of it's range. When the notes get up to around C6 and above the Pokey chip can't be programed to the proper frequency. At least if your using the Advanced Music System or BASIC SOUND command. Tuning the Atari sounds to the musical scale was not much of a challenge for the TA-1VP. The wave form isn't that complex. The only feature that was used in these examples was the AUTO-TUNE. The MIC MODELER, COMPRESSOR/GATE, DE-ESSER, and EQUALIZER/OUTPUT modules were turned off. Can't get much more basic then that. The Hardware The Atari 130XE is hooked up to a TV monitor through it's composite/audio port. The TV monitor headphone jack is connected to TA-1VP LINE input in the back. The mono out put is connected to the mixer. The mixer is connected to the audio digitizer. The digitizer is connected to the PC through the USB connection. Your system may be different. The first thing you want to do is set the input to LINE and turn the Phantom power off. This is done from the SETUP section. It's also mentioned in the manual. Turn on the rest of your system and Make your adjustments until you can hear/record the signal from the TA-1PV. You may want to check to see if your headphones are working. It was the last thing I checked. There are two setting that are controlled in the AUTO-TUNE section. The SCALE and SPEED. The scale is the notes you want to be active. The C-Major scale is used for the first two tests. The second is the SPEED. This determines the reaction time of the AUTO-TUNE. A SPEED of zero makes the auto tune happen almost instantaneously. Test 1 - SWEEP This simple "SWEEP" test is written in ATARI BASIC. It outputs the sound between 0 and 255. Maybe it should have been called the bomb drop test. The recording starts out with a RUN without the auto-tune followed by a run with auto-tune. You can hear the auto-tune stepping through the notes. 10 FOR X=0 TO 255 20 SOUND 0,X,10,10 30 POSITION 19,0:? X;" " 40 FOR Y=1 TO 20:NEXT Y 50 NEXT X Sweep.mp3 Test 2a - C Maj scale This program uses a chart from the XE manual to set the pitch to produce the notes in the C-Major scale. The frequency is off for the highest notes. Sounds are in tune with the AUTO-Tune on. 10 RESTORE 100 20 READ PITCH 30 IF PITCH=-1 THEN END 40 SOUND 0,PITCH,10,10 50 FOR X=1 TO 200:NEXT X 60 GOTO 20 90 REM Pitch table 130XE Manual-P67 100 DATA 121,108,96,91,81,72,64,60,53,47,45,40,35,31,29,-1 190 REM Detuned 200 DATA 118,109,94,92,83,71,63,60,54,47,44,39,34,32,28,-1 Cmaj table.mp3 Test 2b - Detuned Change the line 10 to RESTORE 200 and you will hear a scale that is intentionally detuned. The audio file has the detuned (auto-tune off) and then with auto-tune. A third run is with the SPEED set to 7. You'll hear the note start out at original frequency and then it sounds something like using the pitch bend wheel to adjust to the properly tuned note. Nice effect if you need it. Cmaj detuned table.mp3 TEST 3 - RITZ.AMS This last test is the intro to "Putting on the RITZ" using Advanced Music System software. There were some off key notes at the end of the intro that needed fixing. The Voice 1 was recorded with the Auto-Tune and all notes of the chromatic scale were on. Then Voices 2-4 were record on a sperate track without auto-tune. Then re-mixed into a third track. The out of tune notes were corrected and it still maintained its POKEY sound. Intro: Audio file orgRitz original AMS.mp3 Audio file voice 1ritz track 1 auto tuned .mp3 Audio file voice 2-4ritz track 2-4 no autotune.mp3 Audio file remixedritz track 1-4 mixed.mp3 Atari support files (.BTX are BASIC Text) AUTOTUNE.atr Conclusion: It works really well for those higher notes that need Auto-Tuning. I'll bet you - I'd use it a lot if a AMS Chip Tune Radio Station was in the works. I can't wait to try mixing a sing-a-long track with some songs in my Atari AMS collection. Can it make me sound like I can sing? Or, should I try to auto-tune SAM? I just have to remember there are limitation and that "You can tune a piano but you can't tune a fish."
  31. 3 points
    Don't know why, but Facebook had taken to censoring my comments. Comment about Liftoff and some awesome bookmarks to go with it In reply to a "wind turbines aren't green" showing buried blades I posted a comment on how fiberglass recycling has only recently been possible: Comment about covid delaying the ATSC 3.0 (next gen TV broadcasts, up to 4K) rollout in Houston. I've also noticed mentioning COVID in any way tends to get a comment blocked. I used the "disagree with decision" option every time, but just got this covid 🙄 excuse for why they wouldn't look into it. Rather lame excuse for an internet based company. I signed up for Facebook to communicate with friends and family. If Facebook is going to actively prevent me from doing so then there's no point in using Facebook - so I've deleted my account. Was surprised to see that it takes 30 days for the deletion to occur: My dad's off Facebook now too, though not because he wanted to. Last Friday somebody hacked into his account then changed his password, email, and phone number. Facebook sent my dad an email about the password change with a click here if you did not change it. We clicked here, but the recover process only gave the option to send the recovery email to the hacker's email account?!?!? When we declined that Facebook's response was they couldn't help us. What good is the email with a click here if you did not change it option if it can't recover the account to the email address that message was sent to? So dad tried to sign up for another account, but Facebook would not let him.
  32. 3 points
    Here are my plans for platformers using that 7800Basic demo. The Agathodaimon (Rastan Saga and Curse of Issyos meet Zelda 2, Gargoyle's Quest II, and Robot Ninja Haggleman 3. I was planning on having 7800XM support, but Curt Vendel's death shot the chances of that happening down.) Kid Zenithian (Classic Mega Man, but with the ability to duck and shoot upward. See also Magical Doropie/The Krion Conquest.) Ð838 (Metroid Clone) Snáwcild (A Ninja Gaiden clone featuring a Demon Lands character whose name literally translates to Snow Child.) Ildu (Wonder-Boy-esque platformer with Old English/Anglo-Saxon themes. Part of the Middanyeard series.) Ghosts 'n Goblins clone.
  33. 3 points
    So when I was ... younger... my Dad took me to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Like a lot of kids I was a big fan of Star Wars. Dad said I sat back in the chair, bored during the previews. Then the trailer for Star Wars:The Empire Strikes Back came on the screen and I was at the edge of my seat! And then the movie started, and there was some action there with the Klingons, but by and large I got bored again, sat back in my seat, and fell asleep. For Dad, a person who had seen Star Trek on TV, I want to say in black and white at the time because that was the TV they had, seeing the crew back together must have been amazing. And from what I hear of movie goers there was a lot of excitement about them all being back together. So let' s start with the Klingons. DIFFERENT than the spaghetti Western looking Mexicans of old. Now they have armor, a more reptilian look, amazing. I remember as a kid thinking the Klingons were full of themselves and well, the music soundtrack, if you listen to it, seems to agree. The Klingons come in all cool and slow, with the awesome Klingon anthem music playing. And as they are steadily get their butt handed to them, that music speeds up more and more as if to say "We're still cool... no.. we aren't running..." Many other great scenes. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (henceforth called "ST: The Moving Picture" to quote Mad Magazine's parody of it) was all about the special effects. Great music too! But don't be fooled, there is unusual story that goes with all this. For one, Kirk is back on the ship and he has NO IDEA what he is doing. Oh yeh, he just about gets the Enterprise destroyed two or three times in the movie due to his arrogance and stubbornness to admit he doesn't know the refit Enterprise. Kirk in all this is a complete doosh to Commander Decker, the man who oversaw the refit of the Enterprise and who Kirk keeps around to have the thankless job of saving the Enterprise those three or so times, and then gets chewed out by Kirk for doing the job Kirk asked him to do. Never in the Star Trek franchise would Kirk haters get more ammo than in this movie. And then there is Spock. He's back! But is he really? And who's side is he really on? The Federation, or the being that is calling out to him. I mean what a lot of people loose here is there was some time, real and story wise, that this crew has not been together. Oh everything looks the same, but there is so much going on. Will Spock betray the Enterprise as he acts on his own? Will Kirk get everyone killed? If you really look at it, under the surface these people are a mess. And it just goes on and on. "ST: The Moving Picture" is a lot of unusual things. It introduces a MIGHTY Federation, then puts the Enterprise right next to an alien ship that causes a spacial disturbance that goes on for several astronomical units. What is an astronomical unit? One is as long as the distance from the Sun to the Earth so 93 million miles. Now that is one serious ship, and the Enterprise is tiny compared to that. And a lot of screen time is given to the Enterprise crew exploring this huge alien vessel. I call this portion "Star Trek: The Screen Saver". Looks like some random thing that was generated, but all that is model work. It is actually quite wild and... alien! And here is where you get to join the Enterprise crew on the adventure as you are there, traveling along this ship. And that is the curse, and the joy of "ST: The Moving Picture", it doesn't skimp on the details. You are seeing it all there with them. And that's where I will leave this as I let you discover why "The Human Adventure is Only Beginning!". Let you enjoy the sights, the sounds, the nap! Sooo speaking of naps, two years ago was the 40th Anniversary for "ST: The Moving Picture". So to celebrate the fact that thanks to Dad taking me that first time, I can say I have seen EVERY Star Trek movie in a movie theater. So we go into the movie, and probably about a third of the way into the movie, my Dad caught a snooze. He denies it. Guess, like me that first time, he was watching it from behind his eyelids. Great action movie? No. Fun experience where you are along for the ride? Yes, welcome aboard! (Just take the shuttle, not the transporter.)
  34. 3 points
    I mostly play my Atari games on Stella with by Hyperkin Trooper, or on Harmony Cartridge on the 1981 console I've had for 40 years, but I have a modest physical collection that makes me happy to have. And this is how I organize my digital collection...
  35. 3 points
    My daughter painted this and gave it to me yesterday for my birthday...
  36. 2 points
    I didn't get to sleep until 5 this morning because I was up all night trying to animate teh players' legs. At 4:30a.m. I had finally done it. After many false starts and retries. I think this makes the game look a lot better now. This also means I'll probably be asleep when they come into the house to check the water tomorrow. Mom will have to let them in and put the dog in my room. The water will be turned off at around 8:30 a.m. I just got up. I woke up a few times before, but just fell back asleep because I was so tired. I took a gummy melatonin to make sure I fell asleep last night. I forgot those things make me sleep a long time. Edit: added a YouTube video:
  37. 2 points
    So over at the Officious Bubsy Fan Server there is a bit of celebrating going on for Happy MARIO or MAR10 Day. As best explained: So along with this we saw the following: Great stuff!! Bubsy has a lot owed to Mario. After all, Bubsy was all the speed of Sonic with the vulnerabilities of Mario. Others things shared over there... actually is a lot. But I liked these two promotional posters that Xinny found somewhere: I love how in the time of Genesis and SNES that Bubsy had a two button joystick like an Atari. Oh sure, I've seen Joysticks for other systems, but most people just have the D-Pad thing going. So Bubsy probably TOTALLY had an Atari. Yep. Anyway, overall, Happy MAR10 day. A cute day to remember another game mascot. Now I suddenly want to get a pizza ... or fix plumbing... weird. Originally posted at: https://atariage.com/forums/blogs/entry/18009-cruisin-discord-happy-mar10-day-march-2022/
  38. 2 points
    By sheer coincidence, on Tuesday's episode of ZeroPage Homebew, James posted a poll asking if people used a video mod or stock RF to output video from their 2600s. Overwhelmingly, people answered RF. So the timing of this blog post is pretty good, since I've been working on this particular entry for well over a week. RF tends to have a bad rap with the Atari 2600. It's the standard connection between your console and TV, and was designed for a time when the only input that TVs had was for an antenna (either a pair of terminal screws, or an F-type coaxial cable connector). The reason RF gets a bad rap is twofold: 1) It's fuzzy 2) It's noisy. Now, there's not much we can do about the fuzziness. The reason for that is because of how RF works. The 2600 creates video as luminance (brightness) and chrominance (color) signals. It then takes those signals, and mushes them together into a single composite video signal, and then modulates that with the audio signal onto a radio wave that the TV tuners of the day would see as a channel and demodulate it back into video and audio. So because it's mushing the luma and chroma together, everything gets a bit soft and indistinct. That's just the way RF is. The signal is carrying a lot of stuff that has to be separated back out at the other end. To get a sharper picture means modifying the 2600 so you're taking video and audio directly from the output of the TIA (Television Interface Adapter) chip, before they get to the RF modulator, and then outputting them directly using either a composite (luma and chroma merged) or S-Video (separate luma and chroma) signal, with audio sent separately. To go beyond S-Video requires a special mod that can transcode luma and chroma into either RGB (separate red, green and blue signals) or component video (which is... confusing ). Both further separate the components of the video signal, maintaining the best possible color definition. But modding a console has drawbacks. First, you have to have some ability to solder small electronics. There are no fully plug-and-play mods available. If you don't know how to solder, that means either learning, or finding someone else to do it for you. Second, you're altering your original console, which some people simply don't want to do. Either because of the risk of damaging it, or just because they want to keep it original (although mods can usually be removed). So if you don't want to mod your console, but want the best RF picture you can get, then it's time to clean up the noise. The noise happens because since the 2600 uses radio frequencies to transmit picture and sound, and that signal is susceptible to interference. This can come from just about anything: nearby lights, microwave ovens, hair dryers, fans, electrical cords, air conditioning, power supplies and other electronic devices, and it manifests itself as static on the screen. There's some metal shielding in the 2600 to help reduce this, but most of the noise comes from the connection between your console and the TV set. And this is what we can address. The first thing to consider is where you plug your 2600's signal into your TV. If your TV has an F-type connector and a tuner that can still tune in the (now defunct) analog channels, you can just plug into that. But if you have a cheap TV with a poor tuner in it, that can negatively affect your picture. A bigger problem is if you're using a monitor that has no tuner, and only a composite input. Then you need an external tuner. One option is to plug the 2600 into the F-type connector on an old VCR, tune it to channel 2 or 3, then plug the VCR into into your monitor. But the output you get depends on the quality of the built-in tuner and the video circuitry, and a lot of VCRs were, well, junk. Plus, they're bigger than they need to be, especially if you aren't playing VHS tapes in them anymore. All you really need then is the tuner, or more to the point, an RF demodulator. And you want to get a good one, since that's the thing that's going to separate out that RF signal, and pipe the video and audio to your display. So let's start with that. What I use is a dedicated Sony tuner (TU-1041U), that was designed for use with their professional video monitors in broadcast applications. Fortunately, with the death of analog broadcast TV, these things are all over eBay, and they're usually dirt-cheap. Right now, there are some available for less than $15. Some variants have mono audio only, which is fine since the 2600 is mono anyway, as are many older CRT monitors. I bought a stereo model, so the audio gets sent to both channels in my home theater system. (The audio is still mono, it's just coming out of both speakers.) The demodulator in this is excellent. For one thing, it wasn't a consumer piece of electronics. This was built by Sony for professional use. It was designed to take RF signals and demodulate them back into high quality composite video and audio. It doesn't play tapes, or record shows, or do anything else. It's significantly smaller than a VCR, and it looks cooler too. That said, it doesn't do S-Video. Sorry. If you really want S-Video, your best bet is installing a mod. If you want to get S-Video without a mod, you'll still need a demodulator and then a composite to S-Video converter. But unless you can find one on eBay, decent ones are almost $300. Even then, trying to convert composite to S-Video is like trying to un-mix chocolate milk. You could probably do it, but it's not going to be worth the effort or expense, and neither the milk nor the chocolate are going to come out of it very well. So, with a good demodulator in hand, let's see about improving the noise problem. For all of the examples below, I shot all of the pictures off of a Sony PVM-14M2U monitor, calibrated with a color bar generator (click on any picture for a large version). If you're going to do any work on improving your 2600's picture, the first thing you need to do is calibrate your TV or monitor to color bars. This is simple enough to do with a DVD player and a calibration disc. The 2600 was developed according to NTSC video standards, and if you don't get your display correct first, then anything you do to the 2600 really isn't going to reflect what it should look like. (The same applies to PAL 2600's, but with more lines, and weirder colors. ) All RF signals went into the TU-1014U tuner, then into the monitor's composite video input. The same four-switch 2600 was used for all RF tests. The S-video signals were from a different four-switch 2600, and the signal went straight into the S-Video input on the monitor. First, let's look at how all 2600s were originally connected: the switchbox. This horrible little tin disaster connected to the antenna leads on the back of your TV, and allowed you to switch between your antenna and your 2600. For those with an F-type connector on their TV, you had to add one of these adapters, and attach the switchbox's screws to it: The other side would plug into the back of your TV (or cable box, if you were an early adopter): The problem with switchboxes, besides being susceptible to RF interference, was the switch contacts would get dirtier and dirtier, resulting in an increasingly noisy signal. Here are three pictures from the exact same system. This is using the original Atari RF cable and a switchbox. Here's how it looked, right after installing it for the first time in years: That's Chopper Command, in case you were wondering. I should point out, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this 2600. After giving the switch a good cleaning with contact cleaner, and working the switch back and forth a number of times, I could get a pretty clean signal: But the slightest bump of the switchbox, and I'd get this: And these were the best pictures I could get with the switchbox. Clearly, the switchbox has to go. The simplest replacement is an RCA to F-type adapter: This bypasses everything inside the switchbox, and lets you plug the RF cable straight into your TV. But what do you do if you still need a switchbox? Maybe your 2600 is still sharing an RF input with something else on your TV? Well, get a switch that isn't noisy. A high isolation A/B switch is the way to go. I have one from the late, lamented Radio Shack. But there are others out there. An important thing to remember though - you're increasing the number of cables when using an A/B switch. You have to plug your 2600 into the switch, then run another cable from the switch to your TV. Each cable increases the potential for that noise we want to get rid of. The cables basically act as antennae, picking up whatever stray RF interference happens to be floating around. So let's deal with the main cause of RF noise: the RF cable. Atari's original cable is thin, long, and poorly shielded. It's basically a magnet for interference. Here are three pictures using Atari's RF cable, without a switchbox: Look familiar? A little grainy? (The camera captures static that you don't always see in person, because it's happening so fast. Try taking a picture of your own TV, and see what you get!) Here's another look: See all of the extra noise? So what's the difference between those pictures and the previous set? Well, nothing! It's still the same 2600, the same stock Atari RF cable, and the same monitor. In fact, each of the photos in the second set was taken within a few seconds of the ones in the first set. The only difference is that for the second set, I've moved the RF cable about six inches closer to the 2600's power cord. That brings up a very important tip: keep the power cord under control! I've found that I can reduce RF noise a lot, just by bundling the excess power cord together, wrapping a Velcro™ tie around it, and moving it until the picture noise diminishes. A related tip is that if I bundle up the excess RF cable, it tends to pick up less interference. If you grab the bundled RF cable in your hand, you'll usually see the onscreen noise drop even more dramatically. At that point, your body is basically canceling out the interfering radio signals. (Or something like that.) But holding the cable in one hand isn't really conducive to playing videogames. Maybe you could have someone else hold the cable for you while you marathon your way to that Laser Blast patch. What we really need though, is an RF cable that's better shielded. When I test RF systems, I use a broadcast-grade video cable (the purple one in the photos) with excellent shielding. But having leftover broadcast cable sitting around isn't a practical solution for most people . So I thought I'd look for an off-the-shelf solution. First, I tried out a Cable Matters quad-shielded RF cable (this came in a three-pack, but you can find similar, single cables). This is decent quality but still affordable. The shielding looks like this: Now, that looks like a lot of shielding, but look at the braided part. There are gaps in it. There are more gaps than braid. You can look up the cable specs online, and find out more information about it. For this cable, it says that it has 95% coverage in total. Two braided shields, plus two foil. It also says the cable is "swept to 3.0 GHz". So what does that mean? Well, it's a spec that says how high of a signal frequency the cable should be able to carry. The higher the spec, generally the higher quality the cable. The Atari uses either VHF channel 2 or 3, which at 50-60 MHz is way, way below that. So this should be fine, right? Let's take a look! Now, those do look better than the stock RF cable. But let's move the cable back to where we had problems before: It's still picking up interference. Not as noticeable as before. But as a budget option, this would be fine, and it's definitely going to improve your RF picture. But we can do better. Remember that broadcast-grade cable I used? It's made by Clark Wire and Cable. Here's the shielding it uses: This has two layers of braided shielding each rated at 98% coverage. But again, I only have this because of a few leftover cables from work. To make new ones, you'd have to order the cable by the foot, buy some connectors, and stripping and crimping tools. Can we get something similar, without having to go to the hassle and expense of making our own cables? Well, this wouldn't be much of a blog post if we couldn't! (I'm sure not going to make the cables for you.) Fortunately, you can pay someone else to make them, and order them from Amazon. Blue Jeans Cable uses Belden 1694A, with really nice Canare connectors. The shielding isn't quite as robust as the Clark cable, but it it has a layer of foil shielding and a 95% coverage braided shield. So it's braided shield alone is effectively the same as all of the shielding in the Cable Matters cable. It's also rated for 6GHz. Effectively, this means the cable should be of higher quality than the Cable Matters one and be able to reject more interference. Here are the three cables side-by-side. The original Atari cable on the left, the Cable Matters one in the middle, and the Blue Jeans one (using Belden cable) on the right. Now, the Blue Jeans cable is expensive. No question about that. But the build quality is exceptional. Even though the cable is about the same diameter as the Cable Matters one, the Belden cable is less stiff (as a point of comparison, the Clark cable I have is so stiff that it's difficult to work with - it's really meant for permanent installations). The Canare connectors on the Blue Jeans cable are actually a joy to use. Most F-type connectors are a pain to tighten or loosen because the part that turns is usually too small to grip comfortably. But the Canare is easy to grip and turns as smooth as butter. So, it's a nice cable that doesn't skin my knuckles when I install it. But what does it look like? Very clean! Every bit as good as the Clark cable. But how does it do at rejecting interference? Well, it's still there. If you have bad RF interference, it's going to show up on your screen regardless of the cable. The goal here is to minimize the noise, and maximize the signal quality. A better cable does equal a better picture. There's less signal loss, and more shielding against interference. But there's always going to be an environmental component. Some of it you can control. Some of it you may not be able to. But you have to at least start with a good cable. Now, replacing a stock RF cable in a 2600 requires opening it up. Fortunately, it's just a few screws to remove, and the RF cable is simply plugged in, either near or directly into a small metal box (the RF modulator). To install the new cable requires an adapter. A new RF cable will have an F-type screw-on connector. The Atari cable used an RCA plug. The problem is, depending on the model, the space inside the 2600 can be very limited. In this four-switch, the cable has to bend at a 90° just above where it plugs in, and then exit out the back of the console. There's no way that the new RF cable will fit there, especially with an adapter on it. It's too tall. But as they say, two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do. Or something. So I came up with this: Two right-angle RCA adapters, and an F-type to RCA adapter. This setup adapts the F-type connector to RCA, and then routes it where it needs to go. Before reassembling the 2600, I'll use electrical tape to wrap all of the connectors together. The final RCA adapter that plugs into the 2600 has to have its center post filed down (at right), or it bottoms out before fully making contact. Note the pin on the Atari connector to the left. To see if I can simplify this setup, I've ordered a right angle F-type to RCA adapter. But it hasn't gotten here yet. I'll post an update in the comments if it works. Now, even with a really good cable, RF isn't going to be 100% noise-free. This is still RF and still susceptible to interference. But a high quality cable can make the picture more stable and much cleaner. This is the best RF can probably look on a 2600. It's certainly a lot better than the stock Atari RF cable. And this will work on an Atari 7800, too. Or any console that used a weedy little RF cable to connect to a TV. If you want a truly noiseless picture on your 2600, then you'll need to install a video mod (in this case, a CyberTech S-Video mod, in a four-switch 2600): As a direct point of comparison, here's a color test binary using the Belden/Blue Jeans RF cable: And the same, using S-Video: If you can get RF working without noise though, you won't really mind not having S-Video. As long as you don't think about it too much. Unfortunately, the CyberTech mod is no longer available. But at some point, I'll be installing an Ultimate Atari Video mod, and we'll see how that compares. Update: I added an addendum in this blog entry showing a lighter, more flexible Blue Jeans cable and a simpler RF adapter setup.
  39. 2 points
    368 < PreviousIndexNext >
  40. 2 points
    I figured out why using the TASM .TEXT command was producing junk at times. It was because the 'pretty font' I used with Adventure II XE, font1.s, had the characters switched around and some were actually replaced with custom chars. Standard ASCII and ATASCII has lower case letters from $61 to $7A, and upper case letters from $41 to $5A. But this font1.s had upper case in the range $21-$3A. I had a temporary programming fix which got the upper case letters to work, but I kept noticing other problems. This character set uses descenders, requiring the use of Antic Mode 3. I then edited the charset with Notepad, and carefully swapped upper case letters and the numbers rows back to where they should be to match ATASCII (and what the TASM .TEXT command was programmed to assume). So that's done. Back in 2011 or so, when I started to use that new charset for Adventure II XE, I must have figured out where the character ranges were and adapted. Until now I wasn't aware font1.s didn't match the 'customary' ATASCII character locations. (I didn't use the .TEXT command with Adventure II, instead I used the .BYTE command for lists for the words / rankings). The other thing I've been doing is working on the city street screens. AA user @LS_Dracon produced this Antic4 charset and 1st city screen for me back in 2010, based on some mockups I had made. So I'll use his designs from ... 12 years ago. LOL. I've started to make changes to some things and I added a few DLI color changes. Not sure if that cobbled street is too "busy" . Here is a sample of the work-in-progress city street , and I just copy/pasted the verbiage from another screenshot for now, to visualize how it would look. The Holmes text will be at top screen and is in Antic 3. The building and street graphics are Antic 4.
  41. 2 points
    For a while, I have had an idea for Atari 5200 and A8 called Detective Powers. My old blog entry from 2015 has my original ideas. Here is the original blurb for the game: Assume the role of the world’s most famous consulting detective, using investigation and deduction to navigate Baker Street, countryside manors, and interior room locations in a retro 80’s arcade-adventure style of game play. Find helpful items and clues, keep your Detective Powers fully charged and solve each case. Cases are based on several canonical Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and are planned to include The Musgrave Ritual, The Dancing Men, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Final Problem. Sherlock Holmes Adventures is a 32K game for the Atari 8bit XL/XE computers and the Atari 5200 Supersystem. I've worked on it now and then, but my goal of twin 5200 / A8 dev has been slow going. I have 2 Atari 5200 engines at 32K, and 1 A8 engine at 64K using bank switching. My attempts to make 1 64K engine that would produce twin 5200/A8 game ROMs hasn't been going too well. So I went back and just fooled around more with the original 32K 5200 code. I figure I can eventually copy this code to an A8 compatible shell. But I was tired of fighting with the mechanics of bank switching and 5200 vs A8 registers. I took the prettier font/charset I used in Adventure II XE and I've got a shell going on 5200. This game is more text-intensive, and the 5200 version is currently in TASM (not DASM). I tried using the TASM .TEXT directive, but it only seemed to work with lower case letters. If I put .TEXT "Hello World" , the capital letters don't translate to screen correctly. I wrote a conversion macro so I can continue to use the .TEXT feature for the verbiage and not worry about capital/lower-case letter problems. I haven't included any of the actual in-game screens into this engine yet. First I'd like to understand better how to easily include the verbiage. In the game, Holmes will talk to you as you play, as though you are Watson. Do something dumb, you'll read in the text box "Really Watson, this will NOT do!" I still have some more work to figure out how to more easily include lots of verbiage.
  42. 2 points
  43. 2 points
    I have a co-worker who recently took in several foster children. They had known the family and the kids knew who they were, the parents had overdosed several times and lost their kids for the foreseeable future. I talk about games frequently at work though most ignore me. They are more into hunting, fishing, and trucks. This day however, my co-worker asked me where to buy PS2 games for a 9 and 11 year old. Turns out he has a nearly new PS2 he hasn't used in years he wanted to hook up for the foster kids for christmas. He doesn't have any games though. We also have the same low paying job and I know they don't have much for christmas for those kids. I really didn't have good answer for him to start with. Heck even 360 is slim pickings at Gamestop around here now that the generation has rotated out. A generation before that? Ebay and Amazon but trying to explain how to setup accounts and go about finding cheap deals, let alone pick stuff out to someone that never has? I knew I had boxes of PS2 stuff put away and doubles of many games. Plus I know I had some kids games I had kept that my own kids had played. I dug out several boxes at home and came up with a Christmas donation for him. I had more but they weren't as nice, missing cases or discs were questionable. I wasn't going to do GTA as a free donation but that was the only game the oldest kid had specifically asked for. As for content, these kids saw magnitudes worse in real life than what an old GTA has in it. A racing game, several cartoon platformers, superheroes, an army shooter, GTA, a cross section of genres. The way my co-workers face lit up when receiving them makes me think he might enjoy these with the kids too. So its no PS5 or anything new but it's nice they'll have some fun stuff to play on Christmas morning now.
  44. 2 points
    I watched Babylon 5 when it was first on TV and I have every episode recorded on VHS. One of these days I'll digitize them so I can enjoy them rather than the "widescreen" versions. Babylon 5 was great TV - each episode and season told a story which was then part of the story told by the entire series. But a reboot doesn't compute IMHO. Part of the reason B5 was great TV was JMS. He had the vision for the entire series, the backstory, and the ability to change plans when required due to cast, production company and whether there would be a next season. JMS also had the experience to know how important it is to come in under budget (something which doomed Firefly). So JMS is being given the green light to do a reboot of B5. But a big part of B5 was the knowing that each episode was part of the larger whole - even if you couldn't see it yet. Simply retelling the same story with new actors and better SFX would remove much of the enjoyment as you'd know how the story is going to end before it even started. But if JMS's plan is to tell a different story, then it's not really Babylon 5.
  45. 2 points
    A bit back I had these MAME/MESS packages posted on ti99resources.wordpress.com/ but decided with the limited space I have on that website to just concentrate on the TI-99/4 and TI-99/4a. So I posted them to an Atariage thread. But since things, over time, tend to get lost in those threads I'm re-posting them here with updates. Notes: The .zip files come with everything you need to get the MAME/MESS emulator up and going except the current MAME/MESS. The emulator has been tested with MAME/MESS .235 and works down to version .225. get MAME here: https://www.mamedev.org/release.html and MESS here: https://messui.1emulation.com/ MESS is just MAME with the top menus put back. I have the ROMS, CFGs and INIs in a MESS directory you will need to copy into your MAME/MESS so that the emulators will work. Be sure to keep the name of the MAME/MESS directory as MESS so that the execution batch file will work. The emulated computers: Tomy Tutor - Cassette and cartridge only. Myarc Geneve 9640 - I have it booting into 2 hard drives. There is a lot more related files in other hard drives in archive. Myarc MyXBII - also boots to a hard drive. P-Card - Boots a boot floppy. Be sure to have the switch for the P-Card turned on in the switches. Only use the disk created to the p-card I have included. others may not work. TI-99/8 - Boots to floppy. Only use the blank SSSD & DSSD disk I have included as others may not work. This is a resource intensive emulator with using the Hexbus; I5 or better. TI-99/2 - Cassette only. Stick with the way I have it set up & don't use the MAME/MESS configurations of the Hexbus & the 32k memory expansion. Both I have had issues with errors on the 99/2. After all, who needs more than 4k anyway. So here you go, have fun. HLO TI99_Geneve.zip TI99_MyXBII.zip TI99 PCard.zip TI99-2.zip TI99-8.zip Tomy Tutor.zip
  46. 2 points
    A while back I wrote an Uno card game in Atari Microsoft BASIC (see here) . Here are the original blog game instructions. More instructions are in the short Uno manual in the .ZIP. To Play: the bottom 4 lines are the letters for your cards segregated by color; red, yellow, green and blue. last line is Spl which is the change color cards. the types of cards beside the colors are 0-9 D=draw 2, S=skip and R=reverse. under Spl are C=change color and F=draw 4. when the human plays you choose SORT, PLAY and TAKE. SORT just sorts your cards. TAKE will take a card from the pile. PLAY will play 1 of your cards. in Play you type the card you want to play by following the prompts. the game plays a standard game of Uno except; Uno call is automatic and has 1 in 12 chance of 'forgetting to call a Uno' penalty which is also automatic. The original version was the simple standard rules of the game. But the real fun of Uno is the various versions of the game that one can play. So I went back to program and added several of the additional game versions to spice up the game, and a little sound too. This is the opening menu choices for the versions. Note that you can load and save your profile choices to disk or just play a default game. I added six new versions of game play: 2S as pick 2? - this version has the 2 card as aTAKE 2 for ALL players. Play a 2 and all the other players will have to take 2 cards. 7S swap cards? - Play a 7 and you can swap your cards with any other player. Take till play? - when you have to take a card you must KEEP taking cards until you get to one that is playable. DRAW4 only? - you can't play a DRAW4 until it's the only card playable. Good Take must play? - When you TAKE a card, if that card is playable, you must play it. NOTE: If TAKE card is playable you get a beep then the game rolls you back to the SORT, PLAY, TAKE screen. The other 3 computer players play a very good game. I programed in that sometimes they will mess up, but not often. I found I win about 1 in 4 or 5 games, which is a good average. I want to also mention that Atari MS BASIC was such an under-rated BASIC. I gotten to really like. It's greatest strength is it's similarity to other 8-bit BASICs of the time. The game disk auto-boots the Atari MS BASIC which in turn auto-boots the Uno+ game. Anyway, enjoy the game. HLO UnoPlus.zip
  47. 2 points
    I have been working on Upmonster for the Odyssey 2 a lot today. Here is a screenshot of the most current version: I noticed some things when I returned to working on this. First, the platforms seemed to be all grouped together and not going to the left very much. So I spread the pit out wider. Yes, the upmonster can jump from one edge of the pit to the other if he needs to. I also made it (IMO) easier to control by lessening the amount the upmonster moves when it's moving. I also put in my new intro in it. It works well. Too bad I can't put it in ZipZap. I tried again and it just didn't like it. So I gave up. Version 24, an older version (and by older, I mean earlier today), is on the Odyssey 2 part of the forum. I fell asleep shortly after writing the blog entry I wrote at 1 a.m. and didn't wake up until about 1 p.m. I was just laying on my bed because I was sleepy, but not expecting to sleep, but I did anyway. But sleeping for 12 hours, I didn't think I was that sleepy.
  48. 2 points
    So while designing the castle, I wanted to make it look similar to the castles in Super Mario Bros. I did this last night. This is the first attempt: It looks, well, interesting. The red blocks do look quite odd, though, so I redesigned it earlier today. This is what it looks like now: A little better. I like the fact that it's like the All-Stars version of the castle because instead of pictures of Bowser hanging from the walls, it's pictures of a chocolate milkshake. And no, you won't get burned if you touch the lava because you're in front of it. I am going to compose the music soon. I want to make it similar to the castle music of SMB. Why? I want to hint to the player that he's reached the end of the game and they're on the last level. I have room for more levels, but it's hard to think up of them and I thought ten was a nice round number to stop at. Plus, I don't want the player to think the game is really long and that there's no end to it. Then, I'll program the ending. I think I'll spend a lot of time on it because I figure why not since I have the room to do so.
  49. 2 points
    Received a question via Messager that I'm going to reply to here as others may find it interesting as well: Long story short, extra hardware in the cartridge. Short story long, one or more of the following are added into the cartridge: Extra ROM When the Atari was designed ROM was expensive so they only used 2K for the games (think Combat, Air-Sea Battle, etc). They did plan ahead though and designed the Atari so it could use 4K ROMs. As the cost of ROM dropped 4K games like Space Invaders and River Raid could then be written. Having extra ROM gives a game the space to store more detailed graphics. Bankswitching - AKA even more ROM Atari thought the successor to the 2600 would be out before they needed to go beyond 4K of ROM. The 2600 turned out to be more popular, and longer lived, than they expected so eventually 4K was no longer enough and they had to figure out a way around the 4K limit. What they came up with is known as bankswitching. For bankswitching you can think of the cartridge as a book, and each page in the book contains 4K. The Atari can turn the page to see different parts of the cartridge. A "2 page book" would be an 8K cartridge, like Asteroids and Ms. Pac-Man. A "4 page book" would be 16K for games like Solaris. I believe the largest game released back in the day was Fatal Run at 32K. Extra RAM All that extra ROM allowed for more complex games that needed to keep track of more things. The Atari only has 128 bytes of RAM and the cartridge port does not have the required signals to support RAM in the cartridge; critically it's missing the Read/Write line which is used to determine if the memory being accessed is to be Read From or Written To. Eventually they figured out how to work around that by repurposing an address line as the R/W line. The tradeoff of using an address line is each byte of RAM in the cartridge shows up twice in memory - one location is used for Reading, the other location is used for Writing. Jr. Pac-Man used extra RAM in order to keep track of all those dots in the large scrolling mazes. Games that use extra RAM tend to also use extra ROM. Coprocessor The Atari's unique in that the program has to update the video chip in real time, scanline by scanline, in order to create the display. This part of the program is known as the Kernel and is very time critical. Eventually extra ROM and RAM cannot help make a game look better as there just isn't enough processing time to utilize those extra resources. To solve that, Activision came up with a coprocessor, known as DPC. DPC speeds up common kernel calculations, allowing even more updates to the video chip on every scanline. More updates leads to better graphics, as seen in Pitfall 2. DPC also includes support for 3 voice music via waveform addition; however, using it requires the audio chip to be updated every scanline. That's a 9.2% hit in processing time in the Kernel, though Pitfall 2 used this feature to great effect. Sadly the market collapsed before DPC could be used for other games on the 2600, though coprocessors in game cartridges were very common with later systems like the NES. Space Rocks Space Rocks uses all of the above - extra ROM, RAM and a "DPC+ coprocessor". Those are air quotes as the DPC+ coprocessor doesn't actually exist. So how'd we pull that off? Well the Harmony Cart (and Melody board, basically a Harmony without the SD slot or USB port that is used to create stand alone games) has an ARM processor that runs different drivers to emulate the different types of hardware that can be found in an Atari cartridge. One those drivers emulated the DPC chip, allowing you to play Pitfall 2 on it. The Harmony has a lot of unused resources when running the DPC driver so we created a new driver, known as DPC+, in order to unlock those extra resources (extra RAM, ROM, and even running game code on the ARM processor itself). The Future As we learn more about the 2600 we can create new drivers for the Harmony/Melody to take advantage of that knowledge. As an example we're currently working on a bus stuffing driver and have created a few demos so people can try it out. Expect to see a lot more activity on this new driver after the holidays. Bus stuffing in action:
  50. 2 points
    Time for another... Stupid Game Idea! (idea... idea... idea... cookie... idea...) Turbo was one of my favorite arcade games, and was the best arcade racer until Pole Position came along. Even then, it was still a groundbreaking game that would pave the way for others like Out Run, Cruisi'n USA, Chase H.Q., and all of their various sequels and spin-offs. Sometime back I wrote up a little blurb on my involvement with the 2600 Turbo prototype. Initially, I was brought in to create artwork for a reproduction box, manual and label for the game (which I did). Also, since the original prototype was effectively unplayable, I was asked to re-design some of the graphics and provide gameplay feedback for an enhanced version. That way, there would be something playable on the cartridge, rather than just a nice box on a shelf. And while the work Thomas Jentzsch, Fred Quimby (batari) and Dennis Debro did on the prototype was impressive by any standards, the whole project was still a pretty major disappointment to me because it still wasn't as much like Turbo as I hoped it could be. Part of the problem, was this: That was from Electronic Games' 1983 Software Encyclopedia. Quite the build-up, wasn't it? So how could you not anticipate something great? Unfortunately, the game that was written up in that preview was never finished or released. It was listed in various magazine ads in the early 80's, so I thought that maybe it had. But I watched and waited, and it never showed up. Over time, a couple of tantalizing mockups appeared (this one showed up on Digital Press, but I don't know its origin, since the link is now broken): And this one, from the actual Turbo flyer: But it never appeared for real until the prototype was found in 2006. (Apart from a particularly elaborate April Fools' joke, that is.) Once I got to play the actual prototype, it was extremely disappointing. The controls were terrible, everything ran too fast, the game was really incomplete. I suppose compared to some of Coleco's other efforts though, it was probably par for the course (I'm looking at you Zaxxon... and Donkey Kong... and Donkey Kong Jr...). So a lot of work had to be done. The question though with updating a prototype is always - how much do you do to it? At some point, you can only do so much without re-writing the entire kernel, at which point you might as well just program a new game. To be faithful to the original programmer's intent, the decision was made to improve it as much as possible within the original kernel. Effectively - make the game as good as Coleco possibly could have made it back in the day using the existing kernel, had they taken the time to do so. The final enhanced version of the prototype is night and day from the original. It's now very playable, and at times almost feels like Turbo. I don't know how much of the original code is left (Thomas would), but if memory serves, very little of it wasn't changed, at least to some degree. Some of the changes made include: Speed adjusted Controls improved (inertia added) Graphics improved (cars, roadside objects, score) Audio improvements/additions Roadside collision detection added Skidding on ice added Scoring changed to match arcade Extended play/extra lives changed to match arcade Flashing score when timer reaches 10 seconds left Fire button can start games Reshaped the road (straight sections) Improved difficulty progression (this took a lot of playtesting) Tons of bug fixes And more that I'm sure I'm forgetting That said, because the original kernel was so limiting, some things just couldn't be added. Some of these really defined what Turbo was: The ambulance Water puddles Vertical player movement (one of the key risk vs. reward elements) Manual shifting More environments/road variations A better sense of movement Large roadside objects More road, less sky (Turbo used a vertically-oriented monitor) For awhile, at the same time we were kicking around ideas on improving the existing prototype, Thomas, John Champeau and I began discussing what a written-from-scratch homebrew version of Turbo could be. One of the arcade game's most distinguishing characteristics (besides its above-and-behind view, since most racing games of that era had been top-down), were all of the environments you drove through. With Turbo, you always felt like you were getting somewhere, and you could track your improvement by where you ended up at the end of a game. A certain bridge, or curve, or whatever. The sky color does change in the 2600 prototype, but apart from the snow and tunnel stages, they didn't look that distinct. To make convincing environments in Turbo, there needed to be a variety of roadside objects, and they had to be big. The sprites were already going to be used for the cars, so re-using those for other objects would cause massive flicker. Another problem with the prototype (and probably the biggest one), is that you just don't get much of a sense of movement. The roads (drawn with the playfield) are coarse and static. You only see one opponent car at a time, and one roadside object at a time (and no roadside objects on the curved sections). By comparison, Pole Position on the 2600 and Enduro had smooth, moving road edges using the ball and missile objects. But they have no roadside objects, and the road and roadsides had to be the same color. So how could we get a sense of movement, and get the roadside objects that defined the look of the game? After some discussion, we decided the approach would be to use the playfield to animate the roadside objects (as suggested in both unreleased mockups). The problem is, this would require multiple playfield color changes to pull off. While it would leave all of the sprites for cars/puddles/the ambulance, there wouldn't be enough kernel time left for smoothing out or animating the road edges. So that meant the animation of the roadside objects had to be convincing enough to make up for the coarse, static road edges. I went through Turbo in MAME, and captured screenshots of all of the different environments. Then went about visually designing a kernel with Thomas and John that could - in theory - reproduce those environments. The mockups from those discussions are what follows. I should point out that absolutely no code was ever written for this version. But since these were mocked-up with the input of programmers, most of these could be done, and I suspect that now it would be well within the capabilities of the Harmony cart (which didn't exist then). Possibly even with smoothed road edges. So let's get on with it... First, the city (arcade version): This is from the prototype: And the proposed homebrew mockups (these all took multiple revisions, but I figured I'd just include the final ones): Note that there's now room for the player's car to move vertically. The score, "cars passed" progress bar, gear indicator, lives left, and timer are at the top. The road widths changed in the arcade game, plus there were different types of trees, and "hills": This was the prototype's lone tree: Here are different sized trees (hills were never mocked up, but would just use a narrower road for the upper half): The mountains and sky were borrowed from the prototype. We went from multiple rows of street lamps in the arcade: To just one in the prototype: Getting decent detail using the playfield is a challenge, but the point is less about the detail, and more the overall effect of movement and environment: Curved roads were an important part of the arcade game - especially the seaside blind curve: The prototype kernel only had one curve, and it only went one direction. It also had no sense of movement, since it had no roadside objects: The mockups had moving objects, plus the blind curve (reverse directions weren't mocked up, but the intent was to include them): There were other environments in the arcade game as well: At least the prototype had the snow scenes and tunnels: These are the mockup versions: However, not in the prototype at all were the bridges. There were several in the arcade game, and they helped serve as points of reference, plus the narrow red one made it really hard to pass other cars: So I felt it was pretty essential to have them in a 2600 version, too (again, the cityscape in the distance was borrowed from the prototype): The environmental elements are mixed and matched in the arcade games, to give seaside roads, or different trees, etc: Which should be possible on the 2600, to some degree: Finally, the arcade version could have four other cars onscreen with you: The prototype could only ever have one: Even with the asymmetrical playfield and color changes, Thomas figured we could still fit up to six cars onscreen (two in each horizontal section). This is without flicker, too. The nice thing about having so many objects is we could include the ambulance and water puddles if we managed things properly. (It might have also been possible to use a missile for the puddle, but I seem to recall there wouldn't have been enough cycles to do it, plus it would take on the color of whatever sprite was its parent.) The non-player cars would have to be single color, but not necessarily all the same color: So there you go. The Turbo that was never made. Maybe someone will take it on someday... but I'm not going to hold my breath. I waited for 26 years to play the last version of Turbo for the 2600, and it wasn't worth the wait. Besides, I'm still hoping for Bosconian, don'tcha know. Still, you can pick up the prototype in the AtariAge store and play that. It has both the enhanced version and the original prototype on it, so you can quite literally say it's not half-bad.
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