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MrFish

Big Five - Activator Cart

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Has anyone seen one of these before, or know what it's supposed to do?

 

The shell is the same kind used on the Bounty Bob carts.

 

When I insert the cart and turn the machine on, it shows a rainbow type Atari screen, but the screen is rolling. So it makes me think it's not functioning how it's intended, whatever the function's supposed to be.

 

 

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Got a dump?

 

Maybe they had some sort of DRM idea where future software needed routines on the cart to be able to work, then thought better of it.

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No dump, I'd have to get the hardware to do that. I'll get a Maxflash USB Cartridge Programmer if it can dump it. Didn't BB use an odd ROM configuration?

 

@ DRM

Yea, I thought the same thing.

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No need to go that far - dumps can be done by hotswapping the cart.

 

filecopy.zip

 

This is my old Basic + asm file/cart copy program. It can dump normal 8/16K carts.

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I never liked the idea of hotswapping carts. I know it works most times, I'm just concerned about the occasions when it doesn't.

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Got a screenshot then? This thing sounds kinda interesting.

 

Does it allow disk boot to take place, or respond to key inputs?

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It doesn't do anything with a DOS disk inserted. I couldn't get it to respond to any keyboard/console key input either.

 

I'll take a screenshot...

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What if you hold Start when powering on?

 

Long-shot theory - maybe they sent it to early reviewers with BBSB and made a special version of the game on disk/tape which needed the cartridge present. Easy way to stop the software leaking into the pirate channels before releae.

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Yea, I tried holding down each console key during startup.

 

@ Theory

That possibly could be a reason. I don't see any disk access happening during startup though.

 

The screen is constantly rolling north -- not color cycling.

 

 

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Weird. What happens when you press Reset, I suppose same thing?

 

Maybe it needs a dongle. Not really much way of telling what the thing's supposed to do without being able to look at the code.

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Yea, it just resets as expected.

 

I have no problem ordering a cartridge programmer from Atarimax to dump it. It's a nice device to have around anyway.

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That would be great if you don't mind doing it MrFish, very interesting cart you have there, how did you come about having it?

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I have got Bill Houges email if you would like me to ask if he has any recollections about the cart

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BBSB is a bank switching cartridge using a custom masked ROM. Maybe this is some kind of development cartridge to emulate the banking functions.

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It's probably something devious... BBSB is about the only game ever to use region lockout, plus it used "mirrored" references to some hardware registers to try and throw the crackers off track.

Edited by Rybags

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That would be great if you don't mind doing it MrFish, very interesting cart you have there, how did you come about having it?

 

I got it locally with some other carts yesterday. There was a Bounty Bob in the lot too. The seller was the grandson of the deceased owner, but the grandson didn't know anything about Atari computers.

 

I have got Bill Houges email if you would like me to ask if he has any recollections about the cart

 

Yes, if you don't mind, I'd appreciate it. He could be a big help here.

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Long-shot theory - maybe they sent it to early reviewers with BBSB and made a special version of the game on disk/tape which needed the cartridge present. Easy way to stop the software leaking into the pirate channels before releae.

 

Sounds very plausible.

 

A second unknown cart in 24hrs. Very cool!

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well, Bill got back to me,

 

Mike,

 

Hmmm. Wow. Looks old-ish. I wonder if that's something I made when we

were coming out with the game. Possible. But I really don't remember.

But that typewriter output does look familiarŠ

 

Bill

 

so good luck!

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well, Bill got back to me,

 

Mike,

 

Hmmm. Wow. Looks old-ish. I wonder if that's something I made when we

were coming out with the game. Possible. But I really don't remember.

But that typewriter output does look familiarŠ

 

Bill

 

so good luck!

 

Given it was 28 years ago, I guess I can understand his recollection of it.

 

At least he responded. Thanks anyway Bill and Mimo.

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Shame, with Bill's word it could have been either ultra collectable or worth a pretty penny.

 

Still a nice bit of history and I'd imagine pretty / very rare.

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Shame, with Bill's word it could have been either ultra collectable or worth a pretty penny.

 

Still a nice bit of history and I'd imagine pretty / very rare.

 

Well, at least he didn't say "that's nothing of ours".

 

Hopefully the code itself will reveal something. I'll be focused on getting a dump soon. I'm really just interested in finding out what it is more than anything else.

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I ordered a MaxFlash cartridge programmer today, so I should be able to get a dump of this soon.

 

Steve recently updated the MaxFlash software (Version 1.2) to include dumping BBSB carts, which is a plus too.

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