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Noelio

Proposal for an 8Bit ***ATX*** system ("Octopus")

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While this is my first post, I've been lurking around for years.

Imagine our lives without Atari. I can't.

 

I'm not an engineer, but I am a super techie and a sufferer of the world's most complex mental disorder that no psychologist in history could begin to crack. I have "Atariism", the worst kind. Lately I've been topping up my 8-bit collection to try and double or triple each model + broken systems for mod projects etc. My current project includes a mini itx pc into a 1200xl shell. :)

 

What I've stumbled upon is my own need / want, and therefore perhaps some of us in the Atari community, as well as many 8-bit communities might be interested in contributing / incorporating and, eventually, selling a system that is now a figment of my imagination called "The Octopus"...:

Once I know exactly what I need to accomplish the mainboard described below, I'm sending the design in for a quote to the major manufacturers.

If the price is right, I'm going to fund a limited manufacture of said boards.

 

Basically I can only describe it this way... A 6502 multiplatform, hardware emulator with real platform i/o modules.

 

6502 compatible core, possible just a custom chip that works with the bios and loads a java based virtual machine allowing standard pcs to dual boot, hardware level to another flatform?.

-Flashable interpreter to change I/O modes between defined platform hardware handlers and add new ones as project continues.

-User selectable default platform on powerup

 

I believe, with the respective communities involved, we could design an ATX board that uses standard keyboard / mouse / controller / usb

but with hardware 6502 / platform i/o / rom along with Atari (full line)/ Apple(IIx) / Commodore(Vic / 64) / NES.

Perhaps a separate module (5 1/4 bay) with platform specific i/o? Or a series of USB modules or an all out USB breakout box.

 

I know there are many good emulators out there, but I think a hardware level - plug and go system that you can plug in your chosen platform's devices would be of interest to the gadgetry, retro markets. God knows most consumers out there now know how to build a standard ATX form factor computer.

Maybe the emulators out there contain usable interpreter code that could be employed in the flashable ROM interpreter.

 

My desk is FULL of sketches already. Depending on costs etc, I could probably handle the funding myself.

However, I would like to see something that takes on a life of its own with feedback from the communities etc.

 

The main thing is a ATX form factor, chosen platform right from bios beep, standard USB keyboard/mouse/joystick,memory(stick/flash),ide/sata protocols. When you hit power, system select menu - default user definable, then rom selection and bammo!

 

I should shut up now but I feel compelled to define further the platform selection...

you know when you power up a standard PC, the option to go into bios is there. When you hit delete (on most) you are sent to the bios to define defaults. Maybe a custom BIOS chip would be all that is required really, then the 6502 could be emulated from boot.

 

This is only an idea right now, but if someone comes along that can see how the project could succeed right to market, I would love to hear from them.

THOUGHTS??? There is much to discuss indeed. I can see already that this project could become a universal hardware java platform.

The possibilities are endless really. Let's get some threads going!

 

Noel in Newfoundland

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well, i'm super UNtechie, but I think I get the general idea, and it sounds cool. Of course as with everything it depends on price.

can we see the "mini itx pc into a 1200xl shell. icon_smile.gif" :D

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Your enthusiasm is great! Welcome to posting :)

 

As for the project, I don't think it will generate much excitement. There's a long history of exactly these ideas in any number of combinations. It's nice to speculate, but very little usually comes from it. A 6502 just cannot support the kind of IO you are inferring. There was also an effort to do 6502 based virtual systems completely in FPGA...computer one or something, I forget, I think it was mostly the commodore community.

 

Also, there's the attitude that something modded that heavily really wouldn't be an atari any more. Part of ( most of? ) the fascination with these computers is in their limitations...specifically, overcoming them in clever ways.

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You could just put a PC DOS or text-based Linux on a USB thumbdrive, then put a batch menu to achieve much the same thing.

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You could just put a PC DOS or text-based Linux on a USB thumbdrive, then put a batch menu to achieve much the same thing.

 

Well these are the thoughts I want! :)

 

The commodore community is pretty strong, yep.

I think the only other brands that come close to the Atari cult status is Apple / Commodore.

 

If you combine the 3 in the one system, look out! :)

 

Another idea, much like the thumb drive that was mentioned would be a retro i/o box that

includes hook ups for Atari / Apple / Commodre / NES computers and consoles etc.

Maybe that would be the way to go.

 

I would just love to put a 1 x 1 FUJI on a case, hit the power and hear that one-hour-after-sunday-dinner sound.

 

As for the 1200xl pc... Its not started yet, in terms of the case mod, but I do have everything torn apart. :)

Some people might get a little mad, but the keyboard had to go (was broken anyway) to accommodate a very small pc keyboard.

That will be mounted up on the 1200 keyboard base.

 

I'll certainly post pics once I really get into the guts of it. What I would like to do is have it use the original atari 1200 / 800 / 400 power supply.

Can be done, but the itx power supply hasnt been decided on yet.

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I would prefer an A8 core inside the C-One Board, which already has C64, AmstradCPC, ViC20 and some other cores.

 

See

http://c64upgra.de/c-one/

 

It's an ATX board, and it's real 8bit Hardware with an 6502 FPGA core or an real 65816 CPU (can be used in 6502 emulation mode).

 

This is an already running project, and to provide an A8 core would be less work than designing a new hardware from scratch.

 

Carsten

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I would prefer an A8 core inside the C-One Board, which already has C64, AmstradCPC, ViC20 and some other cores.

 

See

http://c64upgra.de/c-one/

 

It's an ATX board, and it's real 8bit Hardware with an 6502 FPGA core or an real 65816 CPU (can be used in 6502 emulation mode).

 

This is an already running project, and to provide an A8 core would be less work than designing a new hardware from scratch.

 

Carsten

 

Put one of these in, as the CPU. It's fast enough to emulate the older CPU's, has it's own 32KB of RAM to execute from, loaded from an EEPROM, at boot time.

 

All of it's pins can be input or output, after the program has loaded, thus making it look like a CPU. There is graphics capability on board, if you want it.

 

http://www.parallax.com (Propeller chip)

 

I've got one of these and am currently learning to program it.

 

It's about $12 in single chip lots. IDE + a lot of programs are free to download.

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well, i'm super UNtechie, but I think I get the general idea, and it sounds cool. Of course as with everything it depends on price.

can we see the "mini itx pc into a 1200xl shell. icon_smile.gif" :D

 

Sure! But remember its a work in progress. Some parts are still on order, namely the PICO PSW & Slim DVD Writer.

Memory & 3.5" Hard drive won't be installed until the other items are in.

 

http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?a...m&album=176

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I would prefer an A8 core inside the C-One Board, which already has C64, AmstradCPC, ViC20 and some other cores.

 

See

http://c64upgra.de/c-one/

I'd REALLY like to see an A8 core there along with some others. Seems like the C-One is floating up sh*t creek without a paddle these days though :(

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I wonder what ever happened to the 'propossed' upgrade's to the XL/XE systems that Chuck Steinmannm (dataque, originators of the stereo pokey upgrade 'gumby' and also originators of the 65816 proccy/os u/g) was hinting at

 

See some of the issues of the A8 disk mag 'The grim reaper' other wise known as 'TGR', dataque mentions these new computer models in there

 

i think that TGR disks are archived at mr bacardi's webpage (don't know it's address)

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Hrrrm...

So it looks like the C-1 & A8 projects are doing just what I was getting at.

Goes to show the mother of invention works out of necessity.

 

What's the hold up on these projects? Financial or is it technical?

 

What would be really cool is a full 8 bit compatible on a single chip.

It's been done with the 2600 / nes etc.

Something that can interface with USB.

 

I still think something with a 6502 compatible instruction set, selectable, flashable os / i/o rom would rule. FPGA for the audio / video maybe would work.

 

Any board designers in here? :)

 

I think i'm probably just dreaming!

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Hrrrm...

So it looks like the C-1 & A8 projects are doing just what I was getting at.

Goes to show the mother of invention works out of necessity.

 

What's the hold up on these projects? Financial or is it technical?

 

As for the C-1 and A8, it's neither financial nor technical, it's time and resources (at least for the A8 hackers that I know). We all need to finish our current projects until we start new ones, and there are a lot of them (interesting projects in the pipeline). It seems all the people capable of doing such an design are already hooked up by other projects. And free (hobby) time is (very) limited for most of us, as we have day jobs and sometimes even a real life.

 

Carsten

Edited by cas

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welcome on board ! you have some nice ideas !

 

years ago i was thinking of some sot of isa cart, which emulates the a8, on 1 cart. when you plugged it in, the only thing the pc could do is emulate (by a isa hardware cart) a atari 8 bit. no dos/windows loading, emulator, just turn it on, and use the atari (pc)

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Hrrrm...

So it looks like the C-1 & A8 projects are doing just what I was getting at.

Goes to show the mother of invention works out of necessity.

 

What's the hold up on these projects? Financial or is it technical?

 

What would be really cool is a full 8 bit compatible on a single chip.

It's been done with the 2600 / nes etc.

Something that can interface with USB.

 

I still think something with a 6502 compatible instruction set, selectable, flashable os / i/o rom would rule. FPGA for the audio / video maybe would work.

 

Any board designers in here? :)

 

I think i'm probably just dreaming!

 

No reason to give up your ideas - it's always good

to have new ATARI hardware in the making. The more,

the better.

 

You could use the existing C-1 system to make an A800 core

which does not exist yet (as far as I know). Or you could

improve the idea, make it cheaper, better, easier to

build. AFAIK the C-1 is rather expensive and many

ATARI users can't afford an expensive system.

 

I'd really like an ATARI 800 on a chip that could be used

for an ATARI-800-in-a-joystick like the Flashback 2 or

this Commodore DTV joystick or on some sort of PC-card.

 

If done right, this could be a real "remake" of the classic

ATARI 800. I think it should be someting that could be

afforded by most of the ATARI users who can't spend

hundreds of dollars for new hardware.

 

LC

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