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electronizer

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About electronizer

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  1. I got so used to Atari’s menu-based DOS that I found it awkward when I had to figure out how to use the command line. I had to learn my way around the PC XT-compatible system my dad got surplus from the university. We assembled the pieces loose on a card table, without a case. The massive power supply and full height 20MB HDD sounded like jet engines after years of working with the silent 800XL. And only a green monochrome monitor! What’s all the fuss about these IBM PCs anyway?
  2. I love this thread! It really takes me back to the 80s. However, it’s a bit of a sore subject for me. I have looked for “historic” photos of me with our family Atari, but the only photos I can find are with my older sister. In this photo, you can also see our Seikosha GP-100A printer, which I still have. I’m also enjoying the stories of teachers and their reluctance to accept early computer-printed papers. I remember my sister losing points on an assignment because the lowercase letters on the GP-100A didn’t extend below the line. My dad, always an early adopter of new technologies, was disappointed that the teacher wasn’t more supportive. Our setup was fairly simple, since we didn’t have a large budget for computing equipment. We just had an 800XL, a TV, and a 1010 tape drive to start. Later, my dad got frustrated with the tape drive after I partially overwrote one of his programs, and splurged on a 1050. The GP-100A also came later, we bought it secondhand from a member of our local users group. I remember being fascinated with the ability to print graphics, and spending many frustrating hours trying to type in the graphics program in a photocopy of the manual and get it working. Later, we found out there was a typo in the DATA statements, and I was excited to finally see graphics appear under the slowly grinding print head. I’m sure I cut them out and hung them up in my room. I noticed one picture with lots of graphics printouts on the wall, including one of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Was that an Atari image file? I would have been thrilled to have that picture on my wall as a kid!
  3. hunmanik, thanks for posting the link to the early version of the 800 manual—that styling definitely looks like the label on my cartridge. I did end up talking to Larry Wagner—he graciously gave me some of his time and we had a good discussion about the early days of Atari. I was looking through my notes and these two points seem relevant: - Larry recalls that someone else took the 2600 source code for Video Chess and modified it to work on the 400/800 - Larry was researching bank switching with EPROMs and has a prototype that looks like my cartridge (I’m assuming he meant the inside view, not the label) Of course, this still doesn’t confirm anything about the origins or authenticity of my cartridge.
  4. I was away from the forum for two months, came back to update a post, and saw this. I’m so sad to hear this news. I have a copy of Atari Inc: Business Is Fun, which I read cover to cover. I was amazed at the depth of the book and the sheer amount of information on Atari’s early days. I had driven past the building where the first Pong machines were built and I never even knew it until I read the book. My thoughts go out to Curt’s family—he will be missed.
  5. Finally got a chance to look at this again and I figured it out. The Mylar cable was bent at the end, probably to give a better fit in the connector. The traces ended up breaking right at the bend, and the edge connector plug was only making contact on one side of the traces, the side that came after the break. I solved the issue by swapping the outer two connections and flipping the connector over so that it was making contact on the other side of the cable, before the break. I also used a pencil eraser to gently clean the traces. It works very well now—happiness!
  6. Thanks for the suggestion evilmoo! He is not done typing in the program yet, so we don’t want to delete TypoII. When I used to type in programs, I would save the program with TypoII in intermediate stages until it was done, then I would use the commands above to remove TypoII. It still doesn’t make any sense to me that LIST “D:PROGRAM.BAS” would access the disk and then cause TypoII to run. LISTing or SAVEing a program should only access the disk drive and should have nothing to do with program execution, right?
  7. I gave my nephew an 800XL along with an 810 disk drive and some Antic magazines. He typed in a whole program before learning that he had to boot with a disk in order to save it! Now I have him set up with DOS and TypoII so he catches any mistakes. However, we are noticing some strange behavior. I’m having him LIST and ENTER his programs to avoid the BASIC Rev. B bug with SAVE. However, now when he LISTs his program to disk after typing in some code, the disk drive does its thing and then for some reason, TypoII starts. If we restart the computer at this point and ENTER the program from disk, the code he typed is gone. Any ideas?
  8. Yes, that is interesting considering the disk I got with it has C-64 software on one side and the Atari driver on the other side. There was no special software for the Atari, instead, the driver disk just allows you to use the Learning Keys keyboard in place of the Atari’s keyboard. When it was working, it worked pretty well with Hodge Podge, where pressing a different letter gets you a picture of something that starts with that letter (e.g. “K” gives you a koala).
  9. Thank you both for the quick replies. There is no other circuitry visible and the panel looks like it would be damaged beyond repair if I tried to peel off the keyboard layer. The keys are raised pads and definitely have tactile feedback, different from the non-key area. No calibration is required, however, the driver disk can detect whether the keyboard is connected to the joystick port. So, it must be looking for a particular resistance at the paddle inputs.
  10. StickJock, good guess! Looks like it’s using pins 7, 5, and 9, which would be +5V and both paddle inputs. Resistance from pin 7 to 9 is 11Mohm, and it doesn’t change when I press the keypad. Pin 7 to 5 appears to be open, again with no change when pressing the keypad. The Doctor, any thoughts on how I would reconnect the stapled traces? I’m thinking I would almost have to rip out the staples, add conductive paint, and then put new staples in before it dries.
  11. I got one of these a few years ago. From the start, it worked intermittently—sometimes the letters worked correctly, sometimes the rows were shifted so that e.g. when I pressed Q, it registered as K (the letter above it). Eventually it stopped working altogether, to the point where the driver disk wouldn’t even detect it. I took it apart to find “reject” stamped over the “QA Approved” stamp (uh-oh), and two flat Mylar cables coming out of the panel. I used a pencil eraser on the traces where they connect and they cleaned up nicely. However, only one Mylar cable connects to the joystick cable. The other one is connected by two “staples” that pass through the traces on both cables. When I measure the resistance between these staples and the contacts on the cable that connects to the joystick cable, one is high (several megohms), and the other is open—no connection. So, I’m guessing this is where the problem is. Anyone have any ideas about how to repair this stapled connection between the cables?
  12. Pictures of the keyboard, disk, and insert with instructions for Atari owners:
  13. I had two more pilot units—unfortunately I only had the case for these. DA000092 and the other one looks like DA000145. I gave both of these to bob1200xl.
  14. In a previous post I wrote about troubleshooting my Atari 820 printer. It’s been working solidly for more than a week now so I figured I’d post the solution. The failure mode is that the printer won’t do anything after you turn it on. The power LED comes on, but the paper advance button doesn’t work, and nothing happens when you try to print from the computer. Every once in a while, the printer may work when you turn it on, or it may work for a short time and then stop responding (no paper advance or lprint). Assuming you’ve already tried the standard “reseat the ICs” solution with no success, the fix is to replace capacitor C109, a 1uF electrolytic capacitor that forms part of the reset circuit. My guess is that this capacitor hasn’t aged well in many of the 820s out there, either losing some capacitance or developing a leakage current. Because of its small capacitance value, even a slight worsening causes the reset circuit to function poorly, and therefore the ICs in the printer may come up in an unknown (and non-functional) state. In my printer, I chose to replace the capacitor with a 2.2uF part to increase the reliability of the circuit. I tried values up to 4.7uF and the printer still powered up and came out of reset fast enough that it wasn’t noticeable. A capacitor with axial leads would be best, but I made do with the radial lead part I had. Here’s a picture of the fix: I attached the capacitor between R106 and R110. The R106 connection is a little tricky because there’s a via right next to the resistor lead and you need to be careful not to bridge the pads. I also clipped out the old capacitor in case it was passing a leakage current. You can see the empty pads at the left of the picture. The nice thing about this fix is that you don’t have to disassemble the printer, though you’ll need a small pair of precision diagonal cutters to get the old capacitor out. I laid the new capacitor on its side so that the RF shield would still fit. If anyone has an 820 that still works reliably, I’d be interested to know if it uses the exact same part for capacitor C109. Mine had a blue Nichicon rated at 50V. Let me know if your printer has a different one!
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