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  1. The Astro-daptor is a USB interface for connecting Bally/Astrocade controllers to your PC/Mac, Raspberry Pi, or game console that supports USB HID. No driver is needed as the Astro-daptor is recognized as a USB HID (Human Interface Device) joystick. You can buy one here: http://www.2600-daptor.com/Astro-daptor.htm Michael Matte wrote instructions on how to get this astrocade hand controller adapter to work with the MAME emulator. SETTING UP THE ASTRO-DAPTOR FOR USE WITH A HAND CONTROLLER ON THE MAME ASTROCADE EMULATOR 1. Plug your hand contoller into the Astro-daptor and then the Astro-daptor into your computer. 2. Initialize MAME and display the Astrocade menu. 3. Press your keyboard "Tab" key. 4. The Tab menu will pop up. Point to "Input (this machine)", then double-click or press the "Enter" key. 5. The Inputs menu will pop up. You will see a listing of 8 parameters for each player input. Below is a listing of 6 parameters for use with an Astrocade hand controller showing the desired settings, plus 2 parameters for an optional keyboard paddle motion setting. P1 up Joy1 up P1 down joy1 down P1 left joy1 left P1 right joy1 right P1 button 1 joy1 button 0 Paddle analog joy1 Z rotation Paddle analog dec Z* Paddle analog inc X* * This input setting is for an optional paddle motion using the keyboard. 6. The desired input parameter to change must be highlighted in yellow. Use your keyboard down/up keys to point to the desired input parameter. 7. The current input setting must be deleted, unless you want to ADD your new setting to the current setting. Avoid double left-clicking your mouse to change the input setting, because you may experience setting problems. To delete the current setting and enter a new setting: A. Press the enter key to display left/right pointers. B. Press the Esc key so the input setting reads "None". C. Press the enter key to display the left/right pointers again. D. Move joystick, pot or pull trigger to display desired setting. E. If you make a setting mistake, go back to step A and repeat the procedure. Notes: If you can't set a joystick input setting, it is likely the Astro-daptor is not sensing that input. Confirm your hand controller is fully functional. This same procedure in above steps 6 and 7 can be used to change or add keyboard settings. 8. To exit this Inputs menu, move up or down to "Return to Previous Menu" and double-click, press Enter key or pull joystick trigger. 9. To exit first Input menu, move to "Return to machine" and select it. HOW TO ACCESS "DEAD ZONE" AND "JOYSTICK SATURATION" PARAMETERS 1. Go back to the Systems listing by pressing the "Esc" key. Right click "Bally Profession Arcade". 2. A "Configure Machine" menu will pop up. Point to "Advanced Options", if necessary, and double-click or press the "Enter" key. 3. Move down or up to the "Inputs Options" area within this menu. You will see within this area, Joystick Dead Zone Joystick Saturation. It looks like the default settings for these two parameters are 0.3 and 0.85 respectively. You do NOT have to change these settings. The default settings seem to work fine. The Astro-daptor recommendation is 0.0 for the Dead Zone and 0.85 or 0.90 for the Saturation. To change a setting, point to it and highlight it, so left/right pointers appear next to the setting. Use the keyboard left or right keys to adjust the setting. 4. To exit this menu, move down to "Return To Previous Menu" and select it by double-clicking or pressing the "Enter" key. End of document MCM Design Feb 2019
  2. With the help of Jason Scott of the Internet Archive, I have finally added the 26.8 GB of scans from the Bob Fabris Collection to the Internet Archive. These are scans that are NOT on BallyAlley.com. These are from my half of the Bob Fabris collection. Paul Thacker has the other half of the collection. His files were uploaded to Archive.org a few years ago. All of the files are organized by the box from which the documents were scanned. This is how the files are organized on my hard drive for simplicity of finding the original document, if I ever needed it again. A few years ago, I realized that my task of putting all of these files on BallyAlley.com isn't ever going to be finished. Last week, Paul Thacker made a personal request of me to finally get these files online before they get lost or forgotten about on my local hard drive. At my request, Jason Scott zipped all of these files by "box" and the files can be downloaded as nine zipped archives: one zip archive per "box." This is the simplest way to distribute the files. It doesn't make the files easy to search, but it does put them out there for those that are curious to be able to go through them all at their leisure rather than waiting for them to, possibly, appear someday on BallyAlley.com. In these nine "boxes" are 8,487 Files in 931 Folders. The zip archives are here: https://archive.org/details/Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo Here are the file names and sizes: 1) Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo_Box_01.zip - 2.0GB 2) Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo_Box_02.zip - 407.7MB 3) Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo_Box_03.zip - 640.4MB 4) Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo_Box_04.zip - 2.3GB 5) Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo_Box_05.zip - 990.8M 6) Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo_Box_06.zip - 2.5GB 7) Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo_Box_07.zip - 8.7GB 8 ) Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo_Box_08.zip - 1.9GB 9) Bob_Fabris_Scans_Collection_by_Adam_Trionfo_Box_09.zip - 3.5GB Over the next few days, weeks (and possibly months), I'll be describing the contents of these archives. Indeed, I may resurrect the Astrocast and make a few solo-host podcast episodes just to talk about what's available here. These files aren't just "locked" in these archives. Jason will also be placing the files on Archive.org in more accessible formats that can be easy viewed, but for those that are curious and want a local copy of the files, then this is your one-stop destination to pick up all of these documents that are sitting out in my garage. In the meantime, I'd like a few people to download these archives, just to test them out and make sure that they work okay. Also, any and all comments about their contents are appreciated. If you find some neat files, then please point them out to us, for even I haven't looked thoroughly through the contents of the Bob Fabris Collection. Adam P.S. I'm currently uploading a directory to archive.org's FTP site that is called "To-Upload." It contains 10GB of data in 3,572 Files and 613 folders. These are even more files that I plan to someday add to the BallyAlley.com website. These additional files are from various places on the Internet and with many additional scans from both halves of the Fabris Collection.
  3. Today a friend asked me to look at a private WordPress blog that he has for his books. There are only four people who have access to it, and I had to join WordPress to see his blog. Since I'm now a member, and WordPress heavily promotes users to start a blog (that is the site's forte, after all), on a whim, I started a Bally Arcade/Astrocade blog today: https://ballyalleyblog.com/ I already made my first post. Will the blog continue? Who knows, but it's easier to continue it if it exists, right? Adam
  4. On March 26, 2018, I posted the following message to the BallyAlley Yahoo group: Is anyone interested in having a programming contest for the Astrocade? My ideas: 1) Program in machine language or BASIC 2) Short programs for a start 3) Program of any kind (game, demo, music, video art, etc). 4) Prize? I've no idea. Does anyone want to give this a go? Adam ----------------- David Dibbern responded with: My skills were fair back in The day, but I would be interested in a retro port contest. A contest to make any retro arcade game that was not already done for the Bally, ported over . I would even pay pal $10 for starting a prize fund for this. We could get some cool retro games that we wanted to see ported but didn’t ever make it to the Astrocade Thanks- Dave ----------------- Thomas Burtell said: This would be very interesting! Programming has changed so much over the years and we all have gotten better. I'm focusing on other stuff right now, but I'd definitely like to see this Bally-battle. It's like what they do on StackExchange with "Code Golf". You have to write the tightest code with the minimal of resources. ... back to lurking. ----------------- Is anyone here on AtariAge interested in a programming contest for the Astrocade, either in BASIC or machine language? Adam
  5. It's Halloween... so I figured it was time to upload a few videos for this super-scary holiday. Here's the first one... Halloween Graphics with Flying Witch Demo By David Ibach and Steve Walters ARCADIAN 3, no. 12 (Oct. 05, 1981): 126-127. (BASIC Listing) ARCADIAN 4, no. 1 (Nov. 10, 1981): 3. (Loading Method Explanation) General Video Assembler Package (Flying Witch Sample) You can watch this video on YouTube, here: You can watch or download this video from Archive.org, here: https://archive.org/details/HalloweenGraphicsFlyingWitchDemoDaveIbachSteveWaltersBallyAstrocade Unlike most of my other videos, this program, to get it out in a timely fashion, doesn't have any background or an overview. It doesn't even have opening and closing credits. Maybe I'll make an overview of this program later. This program is for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade, a video game/computer system released by Bally in 1978. Halloween Graphics, written in Bally BASIC, and Flying Witch Demo, written in machine language, are two separate programs running together. Halloween Graphics is called "BOO" in the Arcadian. It runs with "AstroBASIC" and no expansion RAM. It draws a pumpkin, a haunted house, a skull and a witch. It runs for about two minutes and then repeats. The flying witch demo requires at least 4K of expansion RAM. A witch flies around a blank screen. When these two programs are combined, as in this video, then a witch flies around a haunted house. The program runs twice in this video. Enjoy this holiday program. Oh, and what's the deal with the pumpkin being yellow and not orange...? Adam
  6. I have uploaded to Archive.org a collection of the 46 patents cited by both of the Bally Arcade/Astrocade patents 4,301,503 and 4,296,930. It's pretty neat reading/browsing the patents referenced in the Astrocade patents. Some of the referenced patents go back as far as 1958. Also, some of the patents are for systems from Atari, Magnavox's original 1972 Odyssey or even very obscure computers like the VideoBrain. Here is a link to all of the patents: https://archive.org/details/46PatentsCitedbytheBallyArcadeandAstrocadePatents Here is some general information about both the Astrocade patents and the patents that are cited by them. ------------------------------ Bally Arcade/Astrocade Patent 1: "TV Game Apparatus" United States Patent #4,296,930 Inventor: Jeffrey E. Frederiksen (Arlington Heights, IL) Assignee: Bally Manufacturing Corporation (Chicago, IL) Patent Granted October 27, 1981 Abstract A TV-type game employs a raster screen television for presenting game symbols. Player operated control switches are encoded to move the symbols. A microprocessor reads the switches. A dually addressed random access memory is employed as the interfacing between the screen and the processor which otherwise function as essentially separate and distinct devices. The memory provides a static storage of the screen pattern for each point in the raster lines with a portion assigned as a processor scratch pad. The memory may be dynamic with periodic refreshing and constructed with individual chips for each of the several bits in a word. The chips are grouped for alternate refreshing and powered during access periods. The processor updates the memory during idle display access periods. The memory is accessed in multiple bit words or bytes for display and processing. For display, a parallel to serial output latch is employed. The previous symbol position and pose is stored in the scratch pad and is erased and rewritten in a new position and pose. The controls may provide encoding. A hardwired bit shifter with programmed shift level rapidly shifts the symbol bits before placing in memory. A high speed memory and low speed processor are shown with separate clocks and a special synchronizer unit. ------------------------------ Bally Arcade/Astrocade Patent 2: "Home Computer and Game Apparatus" United States Patent #4,301,503 Inventor: Jeffrey E. Frederiksen (Arlington Heights, IL) Assignee: Bally Manufacturing Corporation (Chicago, IL) Patent Granted November 17, 1981 Abstract A home computer system provides a video processor for use with a television receiver. The video processor can selectively perform a variety of modifications to pixel data under the direction of the CPU of the computer system before the pixel data is stored in a random access memory to effectively increase the speed or data handling power of the system. ------------------------------ Here are links to both of the Bally Arcade patents: Bally Arcade Patent 4,296,930 (Oct. 27, 1981) "TV Game apparatus" Filed: July 05, 1977. http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/Astrocade_Inc/Bally%20Arcade%20Patent%204296930/Bally_Arcade_Patent_-_(4296930)_(Oct_27_1981).pdf Bally Arcade Patent - 4301503 (Nov. 17 1981) "Home Computer and Game Apparatus" Filed: May 30, 1978. http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/Astrocade_Inc/pdf/Bally_Arcade_Patent_-_4301503%20(Nov%2017%201981).pdf ------------------------------ 46 total patents are cited between the two patents. It breaks down like this: 15 Patents Cited by Bally Arcade/Astrocade U.S. Patent 4301503 ("Home Computer and Game Apparatus") 31 Patents Cited by Bally Arcade/Astrocade U.S. Patent 4296930 ("TV Game Apparatus") Here is a list of each of the 46 cited patents: Rectangular coordinate point data display Charles F Althouse U.S. Patent #2847661 1958 Translation system Dick Co Ab U.S. Patent #3017625 1962 Training appliances for marksmen Bolkow Entwicklungen K G U.S. Patent #3046676 1962 Symbol generator circuit George H Balding U.S. Patent #3122607 1964 Method for the representation of the movement of two bodies by means of electron beams and apparatus for carrying out this method Bolkow Entwicklungen K G U.S. Patent #3135815 1964 Digital storage and generation of video signals RCA Corp U.S. Patent #3345458 1967 Digital storage and generation of video signals RCA Corp U.S. Patent #3388391 1968 Display systems RCA Corp U.S. Patent #3422420 1969 Arrangements for indicating the state of adjustment of optical components in a television camera Fernseh Gmbh U.S. Patent #3435136 1969 Digital marker generator for cathode ray tube Us Navy U.S. Patent #3462639 1969 Logical expansion circuitry for display systems Sperry Rand Corp U.S. Patent #3497760 1970 Means for limiting field length of computed data Fairchild Camera Instr Co U.S. Patent #3577130 1971 Computer for generating animated images with overlap prevention and animation recording Computer Image Corp U.S. Patent #3585628 1971 Character generator for cathode ray tube display device IBM U.S. Patent #3657716 1972 Television gaming apparatus Sanders Associates Inc U.S. Patent #3659284 1972 Television gaming apparatus and method Sanders Associates Inc U.S. Patent #3659285 1972 Video data display system Viatron Computer Systems Corp U.S. Patent #3685039 1972 System and method for the continuous movement of a sheet having graphic subject matter thereon through a window of a display screen IBM U.S. Patent #3716842 1973 Method of perspective transformation in scanned raster visual display Singer Co U.S. Patent #3725563 1973 Graphics display system Atomic Energy Commission U.S. Patent #3736411 1973 Digitally controlled computer animation generating system Computer Image Corp U.S. Patent #3747087 1973 Source data entry terminal Sycor Inc U.S. Patent #3760375 1973 Circle or arc generator for graphic display IBM U.S. Patent #3789200 1974 Video image positioning control system for amusement device N Bushnell U.S. Patent #3793483 1974 Television combat game Magnavox Co U.S. Patent #3809395 1974 System for generating orthogonal control signals to produce curvilinear motion Hughes Aircraft Co U.S. Patent #3809868 1974 Portable computer terminal using a standard television receiver Digi Log Syst Inc U.S. Patent #3822363 1974 Special effect generator for a simulator visual system Singer Co U.S. Patent #3826864 1974 Visual display system Raytheon Co U.S. Patent #3872446 1975 Electronic device for the simulation of an animated game, in particular the game of football Rosalba Ariano U.S. Patent #3874669 1975 Waterborne vehicle trainer visual system Us Navy U.S. Patent #3895183 1975 Method and means for reducing data transmission rate in synthetically generated motion display systems Sperry Rand Corp U.S. Patent #3899662 1975 Apparatus and methods for computer graphics Nat Res Dev U.S. Patent #3906197 1975 Synthetic terrain generator Singer Co U.S. Patent #3911597 1975 Preprogrammed television gaming system Sanders Associates Inc U.S. Patent #3921161 1975 Method and apparatus for generating character patterns Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd. U.S. Patent #3936664 1976 Computer automated information system DMA Data Industries, Inc. U.S. Patent #3949375 1976 Data display terminal having data storage and transfer apparatus employing matrix notation addressing Lear Siegler U.S. Patent #3955189 1976 Microcomputer terminal system Zentec Corporation U.S. Patent #3973244 1976 Multi-channel data color display apparatus Midwest Analog And Digital, Inc. U.S. Patent #3978470 1976 Multi-microprocessing unit on a single semiconductor chip Burroughs Corporation U.S. Patent #3980992 1976 Digital video modulation and demodulation system Sanders Associates, Inc. U.S. Patent #3993861 1976 Television display control apparatus Alpex Computer Corporation U.S. Patent #4026555 1977 Method for generating a plurality of moving objects on a video display screen Atari, Inc. U.S. Patent #4116444 1978 Digital joystick control interface system for video games and the like Texas Instruments Incorporated U.S. Patent #4142180 1979 Computer control of television receiver display Umtech, Inc. U.S. Patent #4177462 1979 ------------------------------ One of the two Bally Arcade/Astrocade patents (U.S. Patent 4,296,930, "TV Game Apparatus") references 31 patents. Among them are two by Ralph Baer, usually referred to as the father of home video games. These both refer to patents related to the original 1972 Odyssey home video game system. Here is some information about them: Preprogrammed Television Gaming System Baer U.S. Patent #3921161 November 1975 Abstract Apparatus for playing games on the cathode ray tube screen of a television receiver is disclosed comprising a gaming device having components for providing location controllable spots on the screen, a source of prerecorded modulated audio frequency control signals, and means for demodulating those control signals and for supplying them to selected gaming device components to thereby provide gaming capabilities where the progress of a game is in part controlled by the recorded signals and in part controlled by the actions of a player. The signal source may be a magnetic tape or record/disc player and a selected prerecorded game tape or disc with control signals recorded thereon as a plurality of modulated audio frequency signals to thereby allow signal separation based on frequency and waveform control techniques and subsequent demodulation of each so separated carrier to provide a plurality of control signals. Here is a link to the above patent (check out the cool drawings of the console!): https://patents.google.com/patent/US3921161 ------------------------------ Digital video modulation and demodulation system Baer U.S. Patent #3993861 November 1976 Abstract In a television system, a digital video system permits the transmission of data along with the usual television picture. The television picture field includes one or more selectively addressable areas and the data is impressed on these areas as digital, binary-coded brightness modulations at rates greater than the vertical field rate. At the receiving end of the system, the viewer positions one or more light sensors opposite these screen areas. The light sensors respond to the binary-coded brightness modulations by developing corresponding binary-coded digital electrical signals. The data stream from a light sensor can then be decoded by a demodulator/decoder operated by the viewer. Here are links for the second patent: https://patents.google.com/patent/US3993861 ------------------------------ I have opened and glanced through all 46 of these patents, but I have not really read them, nor even browsed most of them. If you find anything interesting, then please leave some comments. Adam
  7. It pays to revisit and scan the Bob Fabris collection once in a while. I'm currently scanning in the last box of material that I have in my garage. This box contains the cut and paste versions of the Arcadian newsletter. This box has been very low on the to-scan priority list, as (so I thought) everything in it was scanned already in another format. Well, I was mostly right. I have found a few neat tid-bits in the box so far: this is one of them. Today, I added to letter to Bally Arcade/Astrocade venders that Bob Fabris wrote on January 1, 1983. On December 30, 1982, Astrocade, Inc. declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bob Fabris wrote this letter, hopefully of opportunity, to many of the vendors who wrote software and created hardware for the Astrocade. Bob hoped to be able to carry the thousands of Astrocade users through the coming drought brought on by the declaration of bankruptcy. This one-page letter describes Bobs ideas on how to do this for Astrocade owners and distributors. You can read the letter here: http://www.ballyalley.com/newsletters/arcadian/arcadian_misc.html#LetterAstrocadeDistributors I OCRed this letter. Here is the complete letter (a few comments from me follow): ---------------------------------------- ARCADIAN 1-1-1983 OPPORTUNITY (?) Well, Astrocade bit the dust Thursday, asking protection from creditors under the provisions of the infamous Chapter 11. The latest news report from Nitron is attached - they stopped trading on Friday "pending news", and there is a possibility they may drop as well - see your papers. So where does that leave us? Well, of the various options, it seems to me that there is opportunity here for the third party vendors (TPV) to step in because the only game in town now is the TPV GROUP (pun intended). Only you fellows have material for the unit. There are lots of owners out there, and they will either be 1) left in the lurch if the whole thing collapses never to be seen again. 2) left in a hesitancy period while a Receiver is chosen and restructuring of the 'new' Astrocade company is completed. 3) same as 2) until a new company buys out the assets and starts up. Under any one of those three - or anything else, I would guess - there will be a void that can be filled by the T --- an opportunity to step forward and present wares to ... who? Timing - the CES is right now, who's there? All those distributor guys who know where dealers are - the ones still in step. The best time/place to get in touch with outlets. It seems to me that a best-foot-forward approach to the distributors, etc., that will be there is the only thing to do. Dick Houser and I plan to function as your collective agent, essentially representing everyone in the Sourcebook. We will be pushing the Sourcebook to the distributors - whoever is left - with the message that we can be the bridge of available stock that can tide the dealers over until the reconstructed Arcade is back in production. This representation scheme is only temporary, to take advantage of the opportunity presenting itself. We've been noodling about in this area in a sort of wishy-washy way - now we can be definitive and make those contacts that are available. Who else? Well there are thousands of machines in owners' hands and we can get at a few of them through advertising in the game publications. What have been the replies from the Electronic Games ad? This kind of advertising should be looked into as a possible on-going thing. And also, we can make contact with 8 or 9000 owners that I have from mailing lists, for direct mailings. These are not subscribers, so they are not normally contacted. Also, I'm sure a number of them are no longer interested or owners. Anyway, a package of literature can be shipped to alert these people to TPV existence. OTHER STUFF------ Game Production: The Alternative Engineering people are now geared up to produce cartridges for the Arcade unit, utilizing EPROMs. They will also handle distribution - contact them if you have a program that you would like to have prepared in the cartridge format-- certainly a better way to get a program into a machine than tape, and there's more capacity. ---------------------------------------- To me, this letter exemplifies the ways in which the Astrocade community pulled together to keep software and hardware available for users of the, soon-to-be, defunct Astrocade game console/computer system. Adam
  8. I posted this to the Bally Alley Yahoo group, but it might get more traction here. Plus, the AtariAge forums are much more popular-- and you don't have to be a member to view most of them. I'm using my library's special services to search the Newspaper Archive for Bally Arcade/Astrocade material: https://newspaperarchive.com/ This is a pay site, but I can use the website for free using my library card. I've come across some newspaper ads that I've not seen before now. I've noticed that in 1978/79, there are a number of ads from mom and pop TV stores around the country who are selling the Bally Professional Arcade for $300 (the retail price at the time). If you buy it from them, then they would throw in the Tornado Baseball cartridge for free. Here is an example of such an advertisement (This ad is from page 29 of the December 2, 1978 issue of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph newspaper): (Don't those kids look like they're having so much fun? Man, I love ads from the 1970s!) I've never seen this Tornado Baseball promotion anyplace. Since the promotion seems to be from different stores in various area of the United States, I wonder if this was something that Bally pushed when the system was first introduced. I've also noticed some ads from the same period of time promoting Tornado Baseball World Series tournaments at bowling alleys! Anyone ever heard of that before now? I may post an example of this separately. Did anyone here get a free Tornado Baseball cartridge with their Astrocade when they bought it in the 1970s? Adam
  9. Every once in a while I'll just type in the word "Astrocade" (and remove my BallyAlley.com website) in Google and see what I find in the deep links, you know, the ones that no one ever clicks because they're dozens of pages from the top of the searches. The recent links that I've been posting are coming from these not-at-the-top search pages. It's fun to find "hidden" Astrocade links! Bally Astrocade RGB Schematic I came across this Bally Astrocade RGB schematic by someone named "hotdog6394." https://easyeda.com/hotdog6394/Bally_Astrocade_RGB-4W86GgdNn Can anyone vouch for this hardware? Does anyone know if this is an original design? The Bally Astrocade, A True Hidden Gem Here is a blog post about the Astrocade called "A closer look at the Bally Astrocade, a true hidden gem among game consoles." This was posted by zadoc on April 11, 2018. The "article" is quite general, but I like the pictures: https://imgur.com/gallery/tQJJI Not too bad, right? Revived Astrocade by drunknretro! On June 24, 2016, a blog post was written by "drunknretro." He fixed his Astrocade that had bad video and he shows pictures of the steps that he followed to do it. https://drunknretro.blogspot.com/2016/06/up-from-crypt-bally-professional-arcade.html It's always nice to see an Astrocade live again! Twitter has Astrocade Hashtag?!? I'm not a Twitter user, but maybe I should join the "fun." There are several people that use #astrocade. I didn't expect it to be about the Bally Arcade/Astrocade, but the "tweets" (I hate that word) all seem to belong to the little console that could(n't). https://twitter.com/hashtag/astrocade Does anyone here use this tag on Twitter? 3D Moveable Model of Astroade Here is a link to a 3D moveable model of an Astrocade: https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/ue9c95c6f-746c-4cc9-9eae-882e23ac2289/Bally-Astrocade This is kind of cool. You can move the Astrocade console around in 3D! "Meet me in the Astrocade" Lecture (June 2018) Rachel Weil gave a lecture at the Joy of Coding 2018 conference on June 8, 2018 called "Meet me in the Astrocade: peace, love, and 8-bit hardware hacking." You can read about it here: http://joyofcoding.org/2018/rachel-weil.html I met Rachel a few weeks ago when she was passing through town. We had a three player game of the homebew game "War" together. Great fun! If anyone else has weird or unusual Astrocade links, then please post them here. Adam
  10. I wrote these notes for myself this morning, since it took me a while (too long!) to remember how to clean a non-BASIC WAV file. I thought that the notes might be useful for other people, so I cleaned them up a little and I'm posting them here. This document presumes that you're familiar with process of archiving Astrocade programs already. If not, then I advise you to try archiving an "AstroBASIC" program first and then come back to this document. Cleaning a RAW Binary (Non-BASIC) WAV file with BallyBin and AstroWAV By Adam Trionfo Version 1.0 July 10, 2018 Summary: These are general instructions, written mostly so that I'll remember the process, on how to clean an Astrocade's RAW 2000-baud binary recording created with the Blue Ram Utility. I used the tape version of the Blue Ram Utility 3 by Perkins Engineering. I loaded the utility from a WAV file into my Blue Ram 16K unit. In this example, I converted the 2KB Machine Language Manager (MLM) cartridge by Bit Fiddlers to a WAV file that can be loaded with "AstroBASIC." Here are the steps to load the Blue Ram Utility: Load the Blue Ram Utility using Blue Ram BASIC using :INPUT. (Do not try to load it using :INPUT %(24576). This will not work.) 2) The version of the utility that I used is in the file: Blue RAM Utility (Perkins Engineering).zip This file is located here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/ram_expansion_required/perkins_engineering/Blue%20RAM%20Utility%20(Perkins%20Engineering).zip The file contains a zip file called Blue RAM Utility and Instructions (1982)(Perkins Engineering)(2000 baud)(Blue RAM BASIC).zip The Blue RAM Utility files in that zip file are called: 1) Blue RAM Utility (1982)(Perkins Engineering)(2000 baud)(Blue RAM BASIC)(Load 1 of 2).wav 2) Blue RAM Utility (1982)(Perkins Engineering)(2000 baud)(Blue RAM BASIC)(Load 2 of 2).wav 3) Blue RAM Utility Instructions (1982)(Perkins Engineering)(2000 baud)(Blue RAM Utility).wav Load loads 1 and 2 one after the other into BRB. The program will run automatically after using :INPUT. My intent was to create a loadable WAV file of the Machine Language Manager cartridge. First, I loaded the Machine Language Manager cartridge into the Blue Ram Utility using the COPY command. Then I verified that the load was correct using VRFY. After that, I saved the 2KB MLM program to a "tape" (WAV file) using the Utility's SAVE command. I will not go into details about how I did the above steps. It's easy once you know how, but is beyond the scope of this document. If you are curious about how it's done, then the detailed instructions for how to use the Blue Ram Utility are available online here: http://www.ballyalley.com/perkins/docs-blue_ram_utility3.pdf After I had a RAW WAV file on my computer that was output from the Utility, I used Audacity to amplify the file. I saved this amplified file and then used Ballybin 2 on the WAV to digitally archive the file. Here are the general steps on how to clean a non-BASIC binary file saved in the Astrocade's 2000-baud WAV format using Ballybin and AstroWAV 2. First, there are two versions of BallyBin and AstroWAV 2. Make sure to use the following version of these two files: AstroWAV and Ballybin 2 (2004)(Bob Colbert)(beta)[Feb 27 2004] Once you have these files on your Windows PC, use the command line to clean the saved RAW WAV file. It is presumed here that the RAW WAV file is called input.wav. First create a BML file of the RAW file using the following command: ballybin -l3 -v2 -i1 -bcleaned input.wav Next, make a cleaned WAV file: astrowav -h3 -f1 -woutput.wav cleaned.bml This WAV file is stereo. I used Audacity to make it mono, but this step isn't required. This cleaned WAV file can be loaded into an Astrocade with expansion RAM by following these steps: 1) Insert "AstroBASIC" into Astrocade. 2) Make sure that you're Astrocade RAM expansion has the switches in the 6K area and is set to RAM. 3) In "AstroBASIC," type: :INPUT %(24576) 4) When the program is done loading, hold down Reset and keep it down. Switch the RAM expansion switches to 2K and ROM. Then release the Reset button. After releasing the Reset button, the cartridge (which was saved as a WAV file) should load perfectly. The "AstroBASIC" cartridge which is in the slot will be ignored. [End of Document]
  11. Has anyone here used the Music Maker cartridge for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade to create music or sound effects? I'm referring to this cartridge: The above picture is for the version of Music Maker with the built-in tape interface. However, this program can be used without the interface. Music Maker is included on, I think, all of the Astrocade multicarts. Here is the manual for this "game:" http://www.ballyalley.com/cart_manuals/pdf_manuals/docs-music_maker.pdf Here is a video of Music Maker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzV7mS_lk1E The above video just shows the program being used, rather randomly, for a couple of minutes. I've never seen a video that shows the program being used to create music, which also requires, I think, use of the following keypad overlay: If anyone has experience with music, then I'd love to watch a narrated video of someone using Music Maker to create even a short piece of music (even Camptown Races would be fine!). Is anyone up for the challenge? Adam
  12. Last week I began to disassemble the 4KB, 1979 pinball game for the Astrocade called Bally Pin. The game looks like this: Today I've reached a point where it's worth sharing. You can download it here: http://www.ballyalley.com/ml/ml_source/ml_source.html#BallyPinDisassembly Most of the ROM can be seen in Z80 mnemonics now. Sure, it's hard to follow, but it beats reading hexadecimal! This code can be assembled using the Zmac assembler and the Home Video Game Library (HVGLIB.H), which are both available here: http://www.ballyalley.com/ml/ml_tools/ml_tools.html I became interested in disassembling this game in May of 2016 when we played Bally Pin in the Astrocade High Score Club, here: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/252219-hsc01-round-7-bally-pin-pinball/ The game's manual looks like this: The game cartridge looks like this: I'm learning to use the MAME debugger a little better, which makes disassembling the game go a bit faster. Most of the ROM has been disassembled, but I have not started to follow the game's logic yet. Although, to a certain extent that isn't true, for it's impossible to disassemble a game without following the logic a little bit. Today I disassembled the music "scores" used by the on-board ROM's music routines. By "score" and music, we're actually talking about sound effects. I hope that tomorrow I can start looking into the graphics of the game. I'd also like to see if I can follow how the game gets laid out. If possible, I'd like to add a few well-placed pixels so that the ball doesn't drain. It would be cheating, sure, but it would make disassembling the game go faster, as I have been playing the game without mixed results. If I can't prevent the ball from draining, then maybe I can at least add more default balls when the game begins. As progress continues, I'll post the disassembled source code to BallyAlley.com and mention it here. Adam
  13. I don't know if I'll have more MAME debugger examples, but if I do, then I'll post them here. Over the last few days, I've been disassembling the 4K ROM of Bally Pin (aka Astrocade Pinball). Today while disassembling Bally Pin, I found the table that holds the six "scores" (sound effects) that are called by BMUSIC (a subroutine that you can read about in the "Nutting Manual"). Here is the source code for that table that I created (note that L stand for Label here, so L2F7A means that a score is at $2F7A on the cartridge): ; Music Score Table ?? L2F6E: DW L2F7A DW L2FE6 DW L2FA3 DW L2FB8 DW L2FC2 DW L2FCA Each score is called by the BMUSIC routine, which resides at ROM location $2F67 on the Bally Pin cartridge. I set a MAME debugger breakpoint at $2F67. This allowed me to check what was going on with various registers when BMUSIC is called. I needed to know the values of HL, A and IX. This worked okay, but was a little clumsy. I wondered how to set a breakpoint only when HL was a certain value. I looked online, but I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for exactly. Through trial and error, I discovered that I could stop Bally Pin's execution when the BMUSIC routine was called and one certain score was called. Here's how I did this in MAME's debugger: BPSET $2F67,HL == $2FC2 This allowed me to figure-out that the "score" at $2FC2 is the one of the two sounds that the spinner makes as it goes round and round. MAME's debugger is sweet! It's too bad that the documentation for it is sparse. You sort of need to know how to use it before you start using it, which is intimidating. Adam
  14. I've created this thread to contain all of my future Astrocade video overviews and reviews. Let's get started! Today, I made an overview video of Bally Artillery, a game for the Astrocade. I was browsing random issues of Creative Computing on archive.org on June 7, 2018 when I came across a game that I had never heard of before: Bally Artillery by John W. Rhodes. This game isn't to be confused with Artillery Duel by John Perkins. Both have the same idea, but they are completely different programs. Even though this game was published in August 1982, the author seems to imply in his write-up that it was written in late 1978 or early 1979, shortly after he got his Bally Arcade. You can view the Bally Artillery article with the type-in program, here: http://www.ballyalley.com/type-in_programs/basic/basic.html#BallyArtilleryBASICTypeIn Here are the authors notes from the Bally Artillery article: "In December of 1978 I was ready to buy my first computer system, but my requirements were not easy to meet. I wanted something that could handle arcade-quality games, had high- resolution graphics capability, color display, and Basic in PROM. "I was not satisfied with anything my local dealers had to show (no one I visited had a Compucolor. the Apple dealers were showing low-resolution only, and the Atari was only a rumor), but on the basis of the (somewhat premature) advertising for the keyboard/expansion unit. I decided to buy a Bally Professional Arcade. I could use Tiny Basic for a while, and turn it into a "real" machine in just a few short months. "It was just a few short months later that the local dealers began to show Compucolors and high-resolution Apples, and it seemed that the Bally expansion unit was more of a rumor than the Atari 800. I would visit the showrooms, see those beautiful full-size keyboards, watch people work in "real" Basic and be as green as the color monitors. "I particularly liked the artillery game that Compucolor called 'Shoot...' This game generates a random terrain display and wind factor and positions two artillery emplacements on the screen so that two opponents can take turns trying to obliterate each other. Eventually I resolved that I either had to buy a Compucolor or program this game on my Bally. I chose the latter. "This turned out to be quite a challenge with less than 2K of memory and integer-only Tiny Basic. But the Bally Basic is quite sound for game programming and easy to work with. The greatest difficulty was finding an integer sine routine, but after searching the magazines I found a routine to adapt to my purpose. I started out using a full ballistic equation, but soon found by experimentation that I could use an approximation. This eliminated an integer square-root routine and added speed in the bargain. "I spent approximately two months writing, debugging, and fine-tuning the program, but it was worth the effort. "A few months later I did buy the Compucolor and have been using it ever since. I'm well satisfied with it and use it for a variety of tasks. But my wife and I still enjoy the Bally for its games, especially the artillery game." The article also includes notes and an explanation of how the program works. I'm not sure how I overlooked it before now. Bally Artillery appeared in a major publication. How has it remained under the radar all of this time? Thanks to Lance Squire for typing in Bally Artillery last week. Since he put in the effort, I was able to give the game a try today. I made a video of the game that includes gameplay footage, an overview, and a BASIC listing. You can watch my video on YouTube, here: You can download the original 595MB MP4 video from archive.org: https://archive.org/details/BallyArtillerybyJohnRhodesforAstrocade When Lance get the kinks worked out in Artillery Duel and it's error-free, then I'll added this "AstroBASIC" game to BallyAlley.com. Enjoy! Adam
  15. It's rare that I find new-to-me Bally related items that I didn't know existed in any form. While looking on Archive.org today, I found a 24-page hand-written notebook that John Perkins wrote to "Bob" (I presume, Bob Fabris, the editor of the Bally Arcade/Astrocade Arcadian newsletter) when the Blue Ram was still in development (probably around 1980). The Blue Ram is a RAM expansion unit. You can read John's notebook here: https://archive.org/details/ballyalley_John_Perkins_Blue_RAM_Notebook This notebook was uploaded by "Sketch the Cow" on November 12, 2015. I wonder how he came about acquiring it? I have transcribed the first page of the notebook: "Bob - "This notebook is intended to provide you with a glimpse of the potential of our 'Blue Ram' accessory. The full potential is too vast to be adequately treated in a book 10 times the size. This is because the 'Blue Box' provides the Bally Arcade with many of the features of a normal personal computer about which volumes have already been written. What I hope to provide here is a sketch of what the 'Blue Box' can do as well as some sample "experimental" applications." The notebook provides quite a few details and sketches. This is a great find! Adam
  16. On April 30, 2018, Allen Schweitzer sent Ken Lill, Michael White and myself a private email about a possibly undocumented Astrocade motherboard modification. I asked if I could toss this question out to the public. Allen said that that was fine with him. Here is what Allen said to us: Here are the eight pictures that he included in his email. After the pictures are some comments that Allen got from Michael. Allen followed up his original email to me with this telling me that he did get a reply from Michael about that board. Does anyone know anything about these modifications? Adam
  17. I have added a 38-minute video of Ken Lill's Blue Ram Operating Guide to YouTube. The first eight minutes of the video are an overview of the "Guide," while the rest of the video is the tutorial that Ken wrote. You can watch it on YouTube here: If you're interested in downloading a higher-quality video (2.43GB, 720p, 10Mbs, MP4) to watch on your TV or computer, then you can get that at archive.org, here: https://archive.org/details/BlueRamOperatingGuidebyKenLill The Blue Ram Operating Guide by Ken Lill is a Blue Ram BASIC tutorial written for the Bally Arcade/ Astrocade in 1984. The Blue Ram Operating Guide loads using the Perkins Engineering Blue Ram RAM expansion for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. The "Guide" is an interactive tutorial which starts out explaining the operation of the Blue Ram hardware-- how to connect it to the Astrocade, what the switches do, and more. This includes some images and animations. The later sections are mostly text explaining the new commands in Blue Ram BASIC. The Blue Ram Operating Guide requires 16K of expansion RAM and is used from four cassette tape loads (actually, each load is three separate loads). When the load is done, it tells the user to turn off the tape (i.e. stop playing the archived file). It also tells the user when to turn the tape back on again. Then the program automatically senses when the new load is started. It then asks the user to wait for the load and then goes through its explanation again. It took Ken Lill over three months to create the tape that shows almost all of the features of the Blue Ram BASIC 1.1 in "real time." The tutorial actually shows on the screen what each feature does and how to use it, rather than the user needing to go through the manual and look up how the new Blue Ram BASIC commands work. The video is split into three main parts: 0:00 - Narration and overview of Blue Ram Operating Guide 7:40 - Blue Ram Operating Guide (video of all four parts of the tutorial) 37:21 - End Credits If you're curious about the extra features of Blue Ram BASIC 1.1, then you will enjoy this tutorial for Astrocade users. This video makes a great follow-up to the overview that I made of the Blue Ram hardware last week. If you missed that video, then you can read about it in this post: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/278894-blue-ram-expansion-for-astrocade-hardware-overview/ The Blue Ram hardware is a mystery to many Astrocade fans. Hopefully this video helps to shed some light on this otherwise niche area of the Astrocade that few have seen before now. Adam
  18. I have created a video overview of the Blue Ram hardware expansion for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. It includes video of the hardware, as well as video of ten examples programs. You can watch the overview on YouTube, here: You can watch or download the 3GB, 720p, 10Mbs video on Archive.org, here: https://archive.org/details/BlueRamHardwareExpansionbyPerkinsEngineeringVideoOverview The Blue Ram expansion was created by Perkins Engineering. It was first released in 1980 as a 4KB RAM expansion for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. The Blue Ram was originally meant as a stop-gap upgrade until Bally released the add-under (AKA the ZGRASS) keyboard/upgrade. When the add-under was never released, the Blue Ram became one of three available RAM upgrades for the Astrocade. Here is some additional information about the Blue Ram from the "Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ:" "The Blue Ram plugs into the 50-pin connector on the back of the Astrocade and expands the programming capabilities of the Astrocade. Available either fully assembled or as a kit, it was originally released in June, 1980 as a 4K unit. Over the next couple of years the memory capacity increased, so several different versions exist (4K, 8K, 16K and a small handful of 32K versions). Several confirmed accessories for this unit were released, including: keyboard, printer interface, modem interface, EPROM burner and BSR controller. The Blue Ram could be switched into a mode that simulated a cartridge; several of the third-party game cartridges were programmed using this unit and either the Machine Language Manager cartridge or the Blue Ram Utility." This video covers the Blue Ram in detail, including explanations of how the extra hardware, such as the Blue Ram keyboard, plugs into the ZIF socket. Details of how the three toggle switches (Range, Mode and tape I/O) work are also provided. Without examples, it's hard to get a clear idea of what the Blue Ram can be used for by a user. Short videos of ten different pieces of software are shown that require a Blue Ram and are written in either Blue Ram BASIC or machine language (or a combination of both). The ten videos that are shown after the explanation of the Blue Ram hardware are: 1) Four Blue Ram BASIC (BRB) games by WaveMakers (Mike Peace): 1. Gate Escape 2. Monkey Jump 3. Outpost 19 4. Wack-A-Mole 2) Two other BRB games: 5. Astro Zap, by George Moses 6. Snake Snack, by Ken Lill. 3) Two Perkins Engineering products: 7. Blue Ram BASIC 8. Blue Ram Operating Guide (by Ken Lill) 9. Blue Ram Utility 4) Programs for External Hardware: 10. Plotter Drive Program with Space Shuttle and Robot - By Leroy Flamm Some of these programs, if used from the UltiMuli Multicart, are also compatible with the Lil' White Ram that was created by Ken Lill and Michael White. Enjoy the video! Adam
  19. I added an article to BallyAlley.com called A Power Transformer Substitution for the Bally/Astrocade Computer System by Michael Matte (MCM Design). Michael wrote this article in April of 2018. If your original Bally power supply fails, and you have experience in electronics, then these detailed instructions with schematics and picture explain how to build a substitute power transformer. You can read the article in various formats, here: http://www.ballyalley.com/faqs/faqs.html#AstrocadePowerTransformerSubstitution Here is an example of the finished power supply (more pictures are included in the article): Thanks to Michael for writing this article. Enjoy! Adam
  20. Astrocade fans and collectors sometimes ask me how many Arcadian newsletter subscribers there were in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This subject has been touched upon a few times on the Yahoo message board. Some of this information has been touched-upon on the Bally Alley Yahoo group: Subject: Arcadian Subscribers Date: March 3, 2005 Message #2067 Number of Subscribers to the Arcadian: 1979 - 915 1982 - 2,147 (sub) + 1,260 (No Mail) = 3,407 I gleaned this information from subscriber lists that Robert Fabris sent to me recently. I also have info for other years too, but I'm not about to count those addresses by hand. Adam ---------- Subject: Arcadian Newsletter Subscriber Statistics Posted by: Paul T. Date: April 25, 2006 Message #3015 I received the Arcadian mailing lists from Adam, and for the most part it's page after page of subscriber addresses and order sheets. This could be useful for finding unarchived programs and such, but at the moment there are easier avenues to explore. However, I did find something of historical interest. On November 16, 1979,and October 29, 1982, Bob Fabris made gigantic computer printouts of all the subscribers. These included cumulative statistics of the subscribers, breaking them down by state/territory/foreign country and by gender (male, female, both, non-person [like an electronics store], and unknown). I typed the statistics into a spreadsheet, so I'll upload a couple of CSV files to the group. Here's a few observations. Readership grew substantially between 1979 and 1982, from 915 to 2147, a %235 increase. It also became more regionally diverse. There was massive growth in the Southeast--1 to 22 in Georgia, 2 to 24 in Kentucky, and 1 to 16 in Louisiana, for example. Was the system initially hard to find in some areas? The subscribership was extremely skewed towards males. Ignoring non-persons and unknowns and counting 'both' as one male and one female, the male/female ratio was 712/16 in 1979 and 1862/151 in 1982. Using these figures, the female representation did grow from 2.2% to 7.5%. I do have one question. Most of the non-state state abbreviations I understand--PR for Puerto Rico, DC for the District of Colombia, VI for Virgin Islands, and CN for Canada. But what does FN stand for? Paul ---------- Bob Fabris, the Arcadian published commented on this posting April 26, 2006. He said: "Stuff comes out of the woodwork - Haven't thought about that mailing list in years.... To answer the question about 'FN' This does refer to ForeigN addresses. Post Office requirements. I had to have mail presorted by zip codes to get "publication" rates, and this would put the non-US mail into one pile which would go airmail. One of my subscribers paid for his subscription by sorting all the addresses I sent him, printing labels, and sending them to me for each issue." Paul added the two subscriber list summaries as CSV (comma-separated values) files to the Bally Archive group. The links no longer works, but here they are anyway: File : /FAQs/Arcadian Subscriber Statistics, 10-29-82.csv Description : Cumulative statistics about Arcadian subscribers, from October 29, 1982 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ballyalley/files/FAQs/Arcadian%20Subscriber%20Statistics%2C%2010-29-82.csv File : /FAQs/Arcadian Subscriber Statistics, 11-16-79.csv Description : Cumulative statistics about Arcadian subscribers, from November 16, 1979 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ballyalley/files/FAQs/Arcadian%20Subscriber%20Statistics%2C%2011-16-79.csv I tried to find these CSV files elsewhere (I thought that I would have them on my hard drive), but I had no success finding them. It's pretty neat that subscriber records like this survived nearly 40 years! Adam
  21. The Bally Shrine was a web site run by Charles Taylor in the mid-to-late 1990s. Along with Lance Squire's Bally / Astrocade FAQ, The Bally Shrine is the first Astrocade-related website that I ever saw. It is quite difficult to find any references to this website, as it seems to have been gone since the early 2000s. I've uploaded a three-page print out of The Astrocade Sale/Trade web page to archive.org. The first page looks like this: This document was scanned from the Bob Fabris Collection. Of course, all of these items that are listed for sale are no longer available. Which is a true shame, as this was probably the last place where the Astrocade kiosk was sold brand new; they cost $100. This is the seldom-seen-except-in-pictures kiosk: Imagine getting this kiosk, brand new, for a hundred bucks?!? Charles was unable to get rid of all the kiosks; they took up too much space. I think he threw away the unsold kiosks. Curt Vendel build a homebrew Astrocade Kiosk that was displayed at the Philly Classic 3 in April 2002. You can read about that here: http://www.ballyalley.com/pics/hardware_pics/astrocade_kiosk/Homebrew_Astrocade_Kiosk/Homebrew_Astrocade_Kiosk.html It's strange that people claim that once something is added to the Internet that it is around forever, for The Bally Shrine website clearly shows that this isn't true. It's nice to be able to see this small portion of the website again, even if it is only a small detail of what was available there. You can download the printout of the website here: https://archive.org/details/TheBallyShrine1999AstroSaleTradeWebPage It's is both strange and cool to see this "website" again! Does anyone else remember The Bally Shrine website? Adam
  22. Over the next few months I'm going to be uploading to YouTube video art programs created on the Astrocade. I'll post all of the links to them in this thread; this is the first of them. I have uploaded a ten minute video of the Viper Test Pattern by Alternative Engineering. This is a video art program for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade that was released in 1981. It requires a RAM Expansion and an extended BASIC, such as Vipersoft BASIC or Blue Ram BASIC. I captured this video using my Framemeister setup, which is quite extensive and complicated. I plan to document it sometime in the next few months. For now, just know that this video was captured from an Astrocade with RF out. This video is one of about 60 video art programs that I've recorded over the last few weeks. The other video art programs were all written in Bally BASIC or "AstroBASIC." The extra colors of this Viper Test Pattern are neat to those who know the limitations of the original Astrocade BASIC cartridges. That's why I chose to upload this one to YouTube first. According to The BASIC Express newsletter, "The program puts up a gorgeous ever-changing complex pattern on the screen. You would swear that 32 different colors are on screen at the same time." This is a neat program that uses some of the features of extended BASIC (such as the CIRCLE command) and the additional colors that are not available without using machine language from Bally BASIC or "AstroBASIC." This video art program was released on a cassette tape with Viper 1 RAM Expansion. It also appeared in July/August 1981 The BASIC Express newsletter (Vol. 3, Pages 26-27) and the December 1981 Arcadian newsletter (Vol. 4, Page 19). As I said, over the next few months I'll be uploading additional video art to YouTube. For now, enjoy one of the precious few videos that shows-off extended BASIC on the Astrocade. Adam
  23. A few weeks ago I was testing and comparing all of the programs on Ken Lill's latest Ultimulti cartridge (version 3.0) against the listing of programs that he made for it. My method of testing the programs is to switch the cartridge's DIP switches while the machine is still on and then press the reset button on the console to bring up the new game. Sometimes, before I press reset, this causes some pretty weird effects on the TV screen. Most of the time this looks like garbage or a program crash (which, technically, is what is happening because I'm switching out part of the ROM while the program is actually running). On rare occasions, the crashes look a little artistic. Rarer still are programs that continue to run, but act very strangely. Take this weird mish-mash of both Treasure Cove and The Incredible Wizard; it's an insanely cool Treasure Cove title screen mixed in with the maze from The Incredible Wizard: This happened while I was switching from one game to the other. Note that that DIP switch positions have only one bit difference between them: Treasure Cove - DIPSwitch position $3B, or 00111011B to The Incredible Wizard - DIPSwitch position $33, or 00110011B I tried to duplicate this feat again with no luck. I want to mention that this unusual picture is not a fault of the UltiMulti cartridge. This results from normal operation of the Astrocade. This reminds me of the Atari 2600 technique of "frying" (turning the Atari system on and off very quickly) which can get some very strange, and sometimes predictable, results. Has anyone else seen strange effects like this? I'd love to see some pictures of other unusual occurrences. Adam
  24. Season 2, Round 10 of the Astrocade High Score Club will last about two weeks. This round ends on Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 10pm MST. The main game is a prototype cartridge called Bowling. The BASIC bonus game is called Ten Pins by Esoterica. Bowling Bowling is a prototype game that first became available for purchase in 1985 or 1986 as a 4KB cartridge. Bowling, which was to be released by Astrocade Inc. in about 1982, was supposed to be part of the Sports Series. It would have been cartridge #3006. The programmer(s) of this game are unknown. Here is the cartridge's main menu: Here are three screenshots from Bowling: Here is what the Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ (version 1.82) says about this game: "This cartridge, though never finished, is playable; it contains two games: "Regulation" and "Flash." It was created by Astrocade, Inc., but was never released. New Image released it in cartridge format in 1985 (between forty and fifty were made). Mike White owns the original prototype (the only one known to exist)." The Bowling cartridge ROM image (called "bowling.bin") is part of this archive: http://www.ballyalley.com/emulation/cart_images/ROMs/astrocade_rom_collection.zip The prototype, Bowling, is a one-of-a-kind cartridge. Copies of it were made in the mid-80s until (probably) the early 2000s, therefore, it's possible, though not probable, to get your hands on an actual cartridge. If you don't have it, then it is included on, I think, every multicart that has been released for the Astrocade over the years. Bowling does require the knob, but it doesn't require precise control with it, so it should run okay using the MAME Astrocade emulator with proper setup. I suggest using an X-Box 360 controller for the knob, as this work well. In about 1981 or 1982, Astrocade, Inc. published a 34-page color game catalog of the cartridges available for the Bally Astrocade. The catalog was called "The Professional Arcade: More Games... More Fun... and More to Come..." Among the 28 cartridges showcased in the catalog, five were never released: Bowling, Creative Crayon, Conan the Barbarian, Music Maker, and Soccer. The catalog listing for Bowling looked like this: Here is the game description for Bowling from this catalog: "It's like actually being at the alley. The game has all of the action and sounds of the real thing. Direct your ball with as much hook as you want. Make strikes, spares-- but watch out for splits and gutter balls! Keeps score according to official rules. Try your hand at a perfect game! Can be played alone or by up to 4 players." In June of 1982, Bally released a press release for Bowling that looked like this: The pdf of the press release is here: http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/press/Bowling_[Press_Release_06-06-1982].pdf I've OCRed the press release for Bowling. It says: "For Release June 6, 1982 --- "Astrocade unveils bowling video game cartridge at CES "CHICAGO-Astrocade, Inc. (formerly Astrovision, Inc.) unveiled its BOWLING video game cartridge at the Consumer Electronics Show here today. "BOWLING makes you feel like you're actually in a bowling alley. You can aim, control hooks, and watch the exciting pin action as the ball hits the pins with a bang. BOWLING keeps a running score on strikes, spares, and pins. "With a game variation called "flash bowling," you can also rack up bonus points by rolling over a moving dot, as in the popular commercial bowling machines. "BOWLING can be played only on the Astrocade home video game. It will be available this Fall at Astrocade dealers, priced at $29.95." Of course, since Bowling wasn't released, there is no official box. That didn't stop an enterprising go-getter with quite some artistic talent to create an "official" box for Bowling over on Hyperspin-fe.com. Thanks to "Avar" in the AtariAge forums, and member of the HyperSpin dev team, for sharing this picture with me (note, he didn't create it; I don't know who did). This is what the Bowling box may have looked like had it been released in 1982: I don't have a picture of the Bowling cartridge copy that was released by Michael White starting in the mid-80s. The cartridge's label was probably based on this screenshot that Michael printed to his printer (that was hooked-up to his Astrocade). I think that this label was probably originally printed in color: There is no manual for Bowling. Michael White did write some basic instructions for both versions of Bowling included on the cartridge ("regular" and "Flash"), I retyped these simple instructions back in 2001. Here they are: BOWLING Cartridge 1. Insert cartridge and press [RESET] 2. Choose #1 or #2 (from keypad or hand controller#1) 3. Set difficulty level (from keypad or hand controller#1) 4. Input number of players (1 to 4) Moving the joystick up or down positions the ball. Moving the joystick left or right aims the ball by moving the sight marker. The ball will roll straight towards (and over) it. Turning the knob puts a left hook on the ball (green marker below). The hook increases as the marker moves to the right. Sorry, there is no left hook for you left-handers. Pulling the trigger rolls the ball. Players use individual hand controls. FLASHING BOWLING works the same as FLASH-O-MATIC that can be seen on the coin-op "Shuffle-Alleys" found in bars and taverns. The "Flasher" gives strike and spare awards by its location. When the ball touches a pin the flash stops strobing. It does not resume on the second throw either (no DUAL FLASH). The highest scores are given by "freezing" the flasher at "dead center." The center of the alley gives 700 for a strike and 350 for a spare. If you can get any kind of score out of the upper three difficulties you are truly ready to BOWL FOR DOLLARS!! Even with Michael's directions, I'm not exactly how to keep track of this game's score, or even how close the prototype Bowling cartridge is to being complete. Here is a 30-second YouTube video (posted by "FunCade 64") that shows the basic gameplay of Bowling: Gameplay Options Bowling Options: Difficulty level: Intermediate Bowling (Scoring): Regular Bowling (Scoring) Up to eight points will be awarded for playing "Regular Bowling." We're playing for the highest score. A perfect game should be 300 points. Flash Bowling (Scoring) I don't understand "Flash Bowling," nor have I played the mechanical versions of this game (although, I think I have seen them before). For this reason, "Flash Bowling" is being treated as sort of a bonus game. If you play "Flash Bowling," then you get one point. If you play it correctly (however that gets done), then you'll earn two points. It's okay if one person explains how to play "Flash Bowling" and then we all pile on and play it correctly. Scoring Exception Since Bowling is a prototype, it may be that all functions of the game don't work properly (which may just add to the fun-- whoopee!). If we discover some issues with this game, or if it's just not fun, then I may change the scoring to make this round more enjoyable. Ten Pins This round's BASIC bonus game is a rather nice-looking, first-perspective bowling game called Ten Pins. The "AstroBASIC" version of Ten Pins was released by Esoterica on Tape 5 with Garbersville in 1982. Ten Pins is "an exciting game of bowling complete with hook ball, gutter balls, AMF style pinsetter and every spare situation found in real bowling." Here are a few pictures of Ten Pins: For this round's bonus game, I had originally picked Bowl by Edge Software. After trying it, I realized it is a two-player-only game. I needed to choose another game, so special thanks to Paul for recommending his favorite Astrocade BASIC pinball game, Ten Pins. The cassette tape that contains Ten Pins looks like this: The Box for Ten Pins looks like this: The instructions for Ten Pins are here: http://www.ballyalley.com/tape_manuals/esoterica/Ten%20Pins%20&%20Garbersville%20(instructions)(b&w)(300%20dpi).pdf I'm not pleased with how the instructions for Ten Pins are laid out, so I OCRed them, reformatted and simplified them: Ten Pins Instructions Ten Pins from Esoterica is a realistic, fun game of bowling complete with strikes, spares, hooks, and even gutter balls, for 1 to 4 players. To load the game, type: INPUT; RUN To begin: After the game load, you will see N: Now, input the number of players directly from key pad. Line the ball up by moving the joystick to the right or left. To throw a fast ball move the joystick forward, to throw a slow ball pull the joystick back. After the ball has been released you can hook the ball by moving the joystick to the right or left---Once for a moderate hook, twice for a sharp one. DO NOT HOOK THE BALL TOO SOON! The computer will keep accurate score for all players. Some practice may be required before scores over 200 are achieved. You can download the "AstroBASIC," 2000-baud version of Ten Pins here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/2000_baud_programs/esoterica_ltd/ten_pins_[esoterica_ltd].zip Ten Pins is just one of many BASIC bowling games released on the Astrocade system. Not only are there plenty of bowling games for the Astorcade, but there are BASIC programs written to keep track of your really bowling league scores. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, at least by Astrocade standards, the world seemed crazy for bowling! The world of the Astrocade wasn't the only corner of the computer world that loved bowling. In about 1984, on my Commodore 64, I used to play a bowling game written in BASIC. It was given to me on a disk by a neighbor and, to me, was called "Bowling." I thought that I would try to find it today. To my surprise, I found it rather quickly. The game is actually called Bowling Champ by Joseph Ganci. It appeared in the December 1983 issue of Compute's Gazette. I had no idea that this was a type-in magazine listing! Bowling Champ looks very similar to the Astrocade game Bowl by Edge Software (the game we almost played this round). Here is a screenshot of the C64 game that I just made: Compute! Publications had pretty high standards. I just found the issue that Bowling Champ first appeared in. Check out this cool artwork that accompanied the game when it was published: There is nothing like this artwork in the Astrocade newsletters; that's too bad. In comparison to this simple Commodore 64 game, Ten Pins seems a little more sophisticated, but I guess I won't know for sure until I play it during this round. Bonus Points There are many bonus points available this round for both games. Bowling - Video Review - (1 Point) - Although I found examples of gameplay footage for this cartridge, I couldn't find any reviews. Anyone who makes a video review of Bowling will get a bonus point. Bowling - Multiplayer Game - (1 Point) - If you play a game with more than one person, than you'll get a bonus point.[/i] Bowling - Perfect Game - (1 Point) - If anyone manages a perfect game (300 points), then you'll get a bonus point. This seems really hard, but there may be a trick to it that makes it easy to do.[/i] Bowling - Documenting Bogs - (1 Point) - Since this game is a prototype, there may be some bugs in it. If anyone find any problems, and documents them, then you'll earn one bonus point. Just in case there are dozens of bugs, you can only earn one bonus point no matter how matter bugs are found. Ten Pins - Playing Ten Pins - (1 Point) - Yes, just for loading this game and giving it a quick in AstroBASIC will earn one point. Ten Pins - Highest Score - (1 Point) - The maximum points that can be earned are, of course, 300. Unlike bowling, there is no additional bonus for a perfect game of Ten Pins. Ten Pins - Video Review - (1 Point) - Anyone who makes a video review of Ten Pins will get a bonus point. Summary For such a late game in the Astrocade's history (1982), Bowling looks like it could have been released in 1978. Maybe Astrocade, Inc. didn't publish Bowling because it looked rather poor for the time. Or maybe its just not finished. I'm curious if anyone can figure-out a way to get the most out of this game. For instance, is it possible that "Flash Bowling" is more fun than the regular version of this game? I was pretty shocked to see Ten Pins when it first loaded; it looks really good for a BASIC game. I'm surprised that this wasn't released under a title such as "Bowling 3D" to capitalize on the game's first-person-like effect. Ten Pins has two separate loads, so I suspect that it may be using some machine language graphic routines, but I'm not sure. This round my strain us; I'm not sure I'm prepared to play one bowling game, let along two of them. However, this competition may make this round more fun than I expect. Please post scores early, as this will give us some scores to play against. I'll be gone for some key days during this round, including the weekend that this round ends. If it seems that it is taking me a little while to wrap-up Round 10 once it's over, you can be sure that I'll get to it when I can at the beginning of the next week. Adam
  25. Season 2, Round 9 of the Astrocade High Score Club will last about two weeks. This round ends on Sunday, August 20'th at 10pm MST. The two main games are on the cartridge Grand Prix / Demolition Derby. The BASIC bonus game is called Sideswipe. This very simple game was written in 1980 by Mike Peace and published in the Cursor newsletter. It was later re-printed in the "AstroBASIC" manual, and even eventually found its way onto a tape release by WaveMakers. Grand Prix / Demolition Derby Grand Prix / Demolition Derby is a 4KB cartridge released by Astrocade Inc. in 1981. It is cartridge #2014 and is part of the Action/Skills Series. There is a label variation called simply Grand Prix. These two games were programmed by Bob Ogden and Rickey Spiece. Scot L. Norris did the audio for this game. The Grand Prix/Demolition Derby cartridge ROM image (called "grandprx.bin") is part of this archive: http://www.ballyalley.com/emulation/cart_images/ROMs/astrocade_rom_collection.zip Grand Prix/Demolition Derby is a very common cartridge, but if you don't have it, then it is included on every multicart that has been released for the Astrocade over the years. Neither of the main games on this cartridge requires the knob, so both games play fine using the MAME Astrocade emulator. According to a letter sent to the Arcadian in January of 1979 by Glenn Pogue, the Grand Prix / Demolition Derby cartridge was supposed to be released by Bally on March 16, 1979, but I don't think that there is a Bally release of this game. You can read about the upcoming 1979 releases from Bally in Glenn's letter, here: http://www.ballyalley.com/newsletters/arcadian/letters/Glenn%20Pogue/Letter%20(Glenn%20Pogue)(Jan%2022%201979-).pdf Here is the description of the game from the manual's cover: "Four challenging courses in race car driving excitement! Jockey for position at Le Mans or go for broke on a dangerous Rally track! There's a constant trade-off between speed and maneuverability! Varying skill levels upgrade the challenge and the fun. Here is all the excitement of formula-style racing! The competition gets hotter as players improve their skills! 1 or 2 players." The game's manual cover looks like this: Here is what the cartridge looks like: Here is a label variant of the cartridge: Here is the cartridge's main menu: Here are Grand Prix's three different courses: Four-player games of Grand Prix are possible. Take a look: The winner of round of Grand Prix will see this announcement (sorry, there's no checkered flag!): In Demolition Derby, you can play with up to four players. If less than four people are playing, then the computer controls the extra cars. Here is how the derby begins: This is a game in-progress: Here are highlights from the Grand Prix/Demolition Derby manual: Grand Prix Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines! The starting gun fires, and you're off in a flash, careening around dangerous turns in the race for the finish line. Grand Prix gives you all the excitement of formula-style racing, with three different race tracks and two skill levels to choose from. Starting the Game Enter the number of players (1 to 4), then select the difficulty level by selecting 1 for pro, 2 for beginner. At the pro level, the race cars are able to reach higher speeds than at the beginner level. Select the number of laps (1-99). If you enter a number that is less than 10, press = to start the race. Playing the Game The hand control functions for Grand Prix are: Trigger - Accelerator for race car. Knob - Has no function. Joystick - In right position, race car will turn clockwise; in left position, it will turn counterclockwise. Up position will move car in forward direction. The object of Grand Prix is to be the first race car to reach the finish line. To check your racing time, watch the time clock in the upper middle part of the screen. Once the race has started, use the joystick to move your car around the track. But, be careful not to crash into the other cars or into the race track walls. Skillful driving maneuvers are as important for success as high speeds. The first car to reach the finish line after completing the specified number of laps is the winner. Demolition Derby (1 to 4 players) All the thrills of a live demolition derby! Contestants ram their cars into each other until only one car remains running. Starting the Game Enter the number of players (1 to 4). Computer-controlled cars are provided for more action in games with less than four players. Select the maximum number of points (1-99). If you enter a number that is less than 10, press the = to start the game. Playing the Game The hand control functions for Demolition Derby are: Trigger - Accelerator for car. Knob - Has no function. Joystick - In right position, car turns clockwise; in left position car turns counterclockwise. It automatically moves backward (to protect engine from being hit) unless the joystick is pushed forward. The object of the game is to be the last car remaining on the field with your engine still running. Points start at the number you specify, but one point is lost each time a car is hit in the front. When a car finally reaches 0 points, it is out commission. The last car with points remaining (and engine running) is declared the winner. You'll stay in the competition longer by protecting the front end of your car and backing into your opponent's. In this way, your car's radiator, engine, etc. will remain intact. Here is a YouTube video that shows the gameplay of Grand Prix/Demolition Derby. This video was created by "Highretrogamelord:" Gameplay Options Grand Prix Options: Difficulty level: Pro Number of Laps: 5 Demolition Derby (Options): Difficulty level: Pro Maximum Number of Points: 10 Grand Prix/Demolition Derby (Scoring): Five points will be awarded for playing each of the two main games. Grand Prix We are playing for lowest overall time for Grand Prix tracks 1-3. You can post each track score separately and I'll figure-out the math. Remember to complete 5 laps of each track. I presume all of our times will be very close; there may even be some ties. Demolition Derby This game does not keep track of the player's time. If you play a game and are the winner, then you'll receive five points. I don't expect that there will be anyone who can't win against the computer, but if there is anyone for some reason who can't beat the three computer players (how sad!), then that person will receive three "participation points." Yeah, yeah; that does sound a little like "everyone gets a trophy!" Sideswipe This round's bonus game is a straightforward "racing" game, one that I expect nearly every "AstroBASIC" owner played in the 1980s, as it was reprinted in the "AstroBASIC" Owner's Manual. The game is called Sideswipe. It's an early effort by Mike Peace, who wrote the WaveMakers games. Sideswipe looks very-much like an early BASIC game; that's because it is very early. Here are some screenshots of Sideswipe in action: Sideswipe was first published on page 69 of the October 1980 issue of Cursor: In 1981, it was reprinted in the "AstroBASIC" owner's manual on page 89: Eventually (in 1982, I think) it was included with three other programs program on WaveMakers' tape 12 called Four Famous Freebies. You can download the "AstroBASIC" version of Sideswipe here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/2000_baud_programs/wave_makers/Sideswipe/Sideswipe%20(WaveMakers).zip This archive also includes a program modification by Lance Brisee that was submitted to the Arcadian, but never published. See his Lance's letter in the Arcadian area of BallyAlley.com for details: http://www.ballyalley.com/newsletters/arcadian/letters/Lance_Brisee_(1984)(Letter_to_Arcadian).pdf The difference that immediately jumps out in this game modification is that Lance added messages based upon your final score, like "YOU SHOULD BE DRIVING A WHEELCHAIR" or "YOU SHOULD BE DRIVING A RACING CAR". Here are the directions for Sideswipe as they were printed in Cursor: "Your goal is to steer your car through and around the other vehicles on the road at the same time making sure you don't hit the sides of the road. Your car is the one with the broken boxes at the top of the screen. The road moves up toward you from the bottom of the screen as shown in the photograph. Mike as usual has done a very thorough job using very limited memory. This program uses some interesting sounds, and a unique method of movement. Use Hand Control Knob #1." Here are the directions for Sideswipe as they were printed in the "AstroBASIC" manual: "The car appears on the top of the screen moving toward the bottom. Steer your car using knob (1) to avoid obstacles as they approach. Top score is 100 points. You lose 3 points for each sideswipe and 10 points for each collision." Don't be turned off by this game's primitive graphics. In the mid-eighties I used to play a type-in game very similar to this (probably even more primitive!) in typing class on a TRS-80 Model III. I had fun with the alternate TRS-80 version of the game then, and playing a few games of Sideswipe yesterday made me realize, that in some strange way the game holds up to this day. Maybe because it's so simple, or maybe because the game doesn't take long to play-- but I think you'll enjoy it for the brief period that you'll play it for this HSC round. Bonus Points There are many bonus points available this round for both games. Grand Prix/Demolition Derby - Video Review - (1 Point) - Although I found examples of gameplay footage for this cartridge, I couldn't find any reviews. Anyone who makes a video review of Grand Prix/Demolition Derby will get a bonus point. Grand Prix/Demolition Derby - Multiplayer Game - (Up to 3 Points) - This cartridge is a rarity in that up to four players can play at one time. For every additional player who you can round-up to play with you, then you'll earn an extra bonus point. Don't have any Astrocade fans nearby, then maybe it's time that you get your significant other into the incredible videogame system that is the Astrocade. That will be worth one extra point. If you can get that person, plus your trained dog, and possibly your Guinea pig, then that's three points right there! Easy! Sideswipe - Playing Sideswipe - (1 Point) Sideswipe - Highest Score - (1 Point) - The maximum points that can be earned are 100. Whoever gets the closest to 100 points gets a bonus point. If there is a tie, then multiple players can earn this bonus point. Sideswipe - Video Review - (1 Point) - Anyone who makes a video review of Sideswipe will get a bonus point. Summary Someday, I'd like to try a four-player game of Grand Prix/Demolition Derby at a large gaming get-together. I bet this game would be sure to please the crowd. Sideswipe is a very short, 29-line, BASIC program. For such a short program, I'd say that you get a lot of bang out of your buck. Is it a great game that you'll come back over and over again? Nope. Would Sideswipe have been worth the small time investment in time that it would have taken to type the program into BASIC in 1981. Certainly! Enjoy the two main games and the simple bonus game-- and, remember, post your high scores often. Adam
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