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jaybird3rd

[AQUARIUS] Aquaricart: The Aquarius Album Cartridge

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Jay, I don't know if this is the place to ask, but in your research did you find anything on sales numbers for the Aquarius? I keep seeing on web sites the figures of 20k sold worldwide with 7k of those in the States but no idea where that figure came from. Also that Radofin did release the Aquarius 2 but in Europe only and in small, unknown, numbers.

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That's a good question. I've also seen the figures that you cite, but I suspect that they are just estimates that have been repeated often enough to become "authoritative." I had hoped to include some statistics on Aquarius sales in the Aquaricart documentation and trivia files, but in the absence of definitive data, I decided to skip it.

 

I will say that, even for a system that performed as poorly in the marketplace as the Aquarius did, 20K seems awfully low to me. I suspect that the actual number would be higher, if you were to include the systems sold or given away worldwide under various names by Mattel, Radofin, and their distributors. Given that the Aquarius II was definitely released, complete with printed boxes and manuals, I'm actually surprised that so few of them seem to have survived.

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Welcome to AtariAge! Yes, they're still available; I recently had to replenish my stock, in fact. Anyone who's interested in an Aquaricart or in a 32K RAM module is invited to send me a PM!

 

(I hope to have another Aquarius "project" ready to show toward the end of this year ...)

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Any way to run an Aquaricart and memory expansion without a mini expander?

Not without a hardware modification. With the original Aquaricart (which used repurposed Aquarius cartridge shells), there was enough room in the cartridge to piggyback a 32K SRAM and the necessary glue logic onto the Aquaricart boardI added some extra solder points to the board to make this possible—but the cartridge shells are too low-profile in the version I'm offering now. It's also possible to install 32K inside the Aquarius computer. I've had plans for an internal Mini Expander upgrade which combines 32K and an AY-3-8910, as well as an external keyboard interface, but I haven't had time recently to work on it.

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Not without a hardware modification. With the original Aquaricart (which used repurposed Aquarius cartridge shells), there was enough room in the cartridge to piggyback a 32K SRAM and the necessary glue logic onto the Aquaricart boardI added some extra solder points to the board to make this possiblebut the cartridge shells are too low-profile in the version I'm offering now. It's also possible to install 32K inside the Aquarius computer. I've had plans for an internal Mini Expander upgrade which combines 32K and an AY-3-8910, as well as an external keyboard interface, but I haven't had time recently to work on it.

Interesting, I have a 16k ram cart at the moment with my Aquarius. Initially I want to target a stock aquarius with extra memory. It would be nice to be able to load extended basic etc with the extra memory. If I got an Aquaricart how easy would it be to add the 32k ram internally?

 

Would an other option be to piggyback an (eep)rom internally?

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Interesting, I have a 16k ram cart at the moment with my Aquarius. Initially I want to target a stock aquarius with extra memory. It would be nice to be able to load extended basic etc with the extra memory. If I got an Aquaricart how easy would it be to add the 32k ram internally?

 

Would an other option be to piggyback an (eep)rom internally?

My RAM modules consist of one 32K SRAM and two logic chips. It shouldn't be difficult to add these to an Aquaricart, although it would have to be one of the original style; the new lower-profile shells I've been using don't provide enough headroom inside for the added components. However, if you're looking to use this with a stock Aquarius, an original-style cartridge would be a much better cosmetic fit anyway.

 

I still have a few original SuperCart I boards, so I'm sure I could rustle up a custom Aquaricart+32K module for you. If you're interested, send me a PM and we'll take it from there!

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I'm very excited that John Hancock has posted a new video highlighting the Aquarius computer and the Aquaricart!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HbjOnC-JSE

Thank you so much for the kind words, John! This is one of the most prominent features on the Aquaricart since it was released, and it's very gratifying to see!

(This motivates me all the more to finally make the time to finish the homebrew games that I have in mind for the Aquarius. The games that Mattel released back in the day might be underwhelming in retrospect, but the new games that are possible today will be on a whole other level. You won't believe what the Aquarius can do!)

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The games that Mattel released back in the day might be underwhelming in retrospect, but the new games that are possible today will be on a whole other level. You won't believe what the Aquarius can do!)

 

 

Not as underwhelming as most of the Audio Cassette games. ;)

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Not as underwhelming as most of the Audio Cassette games. ;)

True, most of them were exceedingly simple games to keep the load times to a minimum, and to work within the tiny amount of built-in RAM in the Aquarius (although most cassette games required 16K of RAM anyway). Fortunately, neither of those limitations apply any more: it's easy to make Aquarius program cartridges from 32K up to 1MB in size, and because the program is in ROM, load times are entirely eliminated. That opens up lots of possibilities to be creative with the Aquarius. Despite its limitations, it has a lot of potential.

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post-17869-0-25088800-1555629597_thumb.jpg

 

A big thank you to Jay for my custom Aquaricart with 32k ram 😁

 

Very impressed by the whole package and attention to detail particularly with regards to the accompanying manual.

 

 

 

Now I just need Bruce's microexpander and a way to physically attach both at the same time and a reliable tape recorder 😊

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I'm glad you like it!

 

I'm seriously interested in dusting off my idea of a "Mini Expander" (AY-3-8910 and controller ports) that can be installed internally. It would require opening the Aquarius and socketing the OS ROM, but at least it would eliminate the bulky Mini Expander ... and there might even be enough room for a second 8910 for three more voices!

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I'm glad you like it!

 

I'm seriously interested in dusting off my idea of a "Mini Expander" (AY-3-8910 and controller ports) that can be installed internally. It would require opening the Aquarius and socketing the OS ROM, but at least it would eliminate the bulky Mini Expander ... and there might even be enough room for a second 8910 for three more voices!

 

Sounds like a great idea, thinking out loud anyone that doesnt want to open the Aquarius has the other options available.

 

How hard would it be to implement the USB interface from the microexpander Internally?

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Just got my Aquarius down off my shelf. I was given a loose one for free about 15 years ago. Then I bought a load of extra bits from the US including all the packaging for a full system (I had the seller keep the actual aquarius to save postage as I didn't think I would have much use for an NTSC 120v one in the UK, now I look at the prices and think maybe I should have paid the postage :) )

 

Well thing is I did all that 15 years ago but I never actually plugged it into the wall and TV and turned it on. So I finally did today and it works great. (well it doesn't seem to like the colour white but maybe that's an aquarius thing)

 

So I've got a boxed PAL Aquarius, a boxed Mini Expander, a boxed 4k mem cart, a boxed 16k mem cart, loose Logo & Astrosmash carts. a boxed Night Stalker cart & a Sealed Utopia cart.

 

Tempting to get this cart since it seems to be the be-all-end-all of Aquarius software. Might have a to save up a bit. Also supporting a Vectrex and 7800 habit.

 

Was shocked when I did a memory check and it said it had 1,713 bytes free, that's half the Vic-20!

Edited by siccoyote
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Happy to meet another Aquarius owner! I'm glad that your system still works after such a long time in storage. I've found the Aquarius to be a pretty tough little machine, despite its initially low price point; out of the two dozen or so that I've owned, I can only recall having issues with one or two of them, usually related to damaged power supplies.

 

Yes, about 1.7K is all that is left of the Aquarius's built-in 4K after you take out the character matrix, the color matrix, and the space reserved by the built-in BASIC routines. Fortunately, you don't need much more than that for cartridge games (since the program code is in ROM), but for programming and for cassette-based software which must be loaded into RAM, you'll quickly find a memory module to be useful.

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It had 72 bytes less if you had the extended basic (1652 bytes instead of the 1724) as well.

Good to see there's still a community for it :)

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It had 72 bytes less if you had the extended basic (1652 bytes instead of the 1724) as well.

 

Good to see there's still a community for it :)

Thank you, and welcome!

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Hi Jaybird3rd. I'm from the UK and that probably makes me one of the few people that bought an Aquarius back in the 80's. Fond memories of BurgerTime & Tron and try ing to get the multi channel sound to work on the expander. I would like to buy an Aquaricart please as I'm just putting one back together again to show my son how things have changed.

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19 hours ago, Graley said:

Hi Jaybird3rd. I'm from the UK and that probably makes me one of the few people that bought an Aquarius back in the 80's. Fond memories of BurgerTime & Tron and trying to get the multi channel sound to work on the expander. I would like to buy an Aquaricart please as I'm just putting one back together again to show my son how things have changed.

Thank you, and welcome to AtariAge!  You might be surprised at the number of Aquarius users in the UK; I've shipped quite a few Aquaricarts and 32K modules there.  The Aquaricart is still available, so I'll send you a PM and we'll take it from there!

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25 minutes ago, rietveld said:

Does the Aquaricart need any extra memory or will it work on a stock Aquarius?   I am hoping to get the cart first then the 32k later. Thanks

The Aquaricart itself can be used just fine with a stock Aquarius.  All of the games in the Aquaricart collection, and most of the applications, will also work without any extra RAM, although the programming languages in particular (Extended BASIC and Logo) would benefit from having as much memory as possible.  The only cartridge in the Aquaricart collection which requires extra RAM is FinForm, the spreadsheet, which needs at least an extra 4K.

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6 minutes ago, jaybird3rd said:

The Aquaricart itself can be used just fine with a stock Aquarius.  All of the games in the Aquaricart collection, and most of the applications, will also work without any extra RAM, although the programming languages in particular would benefit from having as much extra memory as possible.  The only cartridge in the Aquaricart collection which requires extra RAM is FinForm, the spreadsheet, which needs at least 4K of extended RAM.

How do I order the Aquaricart. 

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