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atari 400 incognito like upgrade

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1 hour ago, Spancho said:

I don’t know how strong the 400 shielding will be, but maybe a concept using WiFi SD cards is a way to go.

In that context have a look at that project: https://github.com/ardyesp/ESPWebDAV

Maybe an external antenna could be connected.

 

9 minutes ago, mimo said:

It's a massive thick aluminium anvil. It'll survive ww3 

Yep. Unsurprisingly, it’s exactly like that of the 800, only smaller to fit the smaller board layout and lack of the 800’s additional RAM board slots. 

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52 minutes ago, mimo said:

Maybe a really cut down version just giving ram upgrade and selectable OS? Then let some other device like sio2xx or AVG cart etc do the file shifting? My guess is that the 400 will be used as a games machine rather than anything heavy duty .

Just my 2ç

This is exactly what I would be using a device like this for in my 400.  I would actually prefer to have some other exterior device like the SDrive-MAX or FujiNet to handle the software loading side of things and for the interior board to just do OS switching and RAM upgrade.  400s are such beautifully designed machines and I'd love to get mine to be able to jump through a few more hoops. 

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Could an ”Incognito Lite” be a two-part concept? The internal board for OS swapping and additional memory, plus a new or modified cartridge device to plug in and allow hard disk emulation and ATR/XEX loading? Basically a versions of SIDE2 or SIDE3 but in a case that could fit into the 400? Adding any missing cart slot signals shouldn’t be a problem - after all, installing the internal board will already require disassembly and likely a few jumper wires anyway. 

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Someone with 3D printing design skills could duplicate the top metal shield in plastic, adding a slot under the door for an SD card.

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5 hours ago, candle said:

schematics for incognito-lite as this is codenamed have been sittin on my disk for about 8 years right now. they need massive lifting before i could start with pcb design, and i need to refresh my memory on how this suppose to work. the biggest issue ther is that every expansion card 400 has is internal, and this is a problem for sd card access. i know ribbon cables with sd slots exist, but this is good for low speed interfaces - if any of you have some ideas on how to go about this, im open for discussion

Many(most?) such extensions use FFC cables, which are also used for inter-board connections in laptops, they normally need more speed than an SD card does. The  image below is an IO board from an 12" ASUS laptop, the audio/ethernet/USB ports on it connect to the main board via an FFC cable.

 

ASUS 1215N IO PCB.jpg

If the speed issue is caused by a long extension there are versions as short as 10cm(~4"), as long as a short cable gets out of the RF shield but still isn't externally accessible a WIFI SD card/adapter could be used. The following Amazon listings are available in multiple lengths from 10cm to 48cm. 

https://www.amazon.com/OUSHE-Extension-Flexible-Raspberry-Monitoring/dp/B07DSXGZ1L/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=sd+card+flex+cable+10cm&qid=1611426882&s=electronics&sr=1-3

https://www.amazon.ca/OUSHE-Flexible-Extension-Raspberry-Monitoring/dp/B07DPBC3JV/ref=sr_1_23?dchild=1&keywords=sd+card+flex+cable&qid=1611423432&s=electronics&sr=1-23

Edited by BillC

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two-part = expensive (twices the chip count, as you will need two logic devices)

densier device will cost only a fraction of $ for bulk orders, whereas two smaller devices will just double the coest

 

3d printed - although i do have 3d printer (and a cnc mill) i don't see this comming - it is very time consuming to print anything, and bringing it up to the molded part quality takes forever

if that would be a print-it-yourself option that's fine, but i fear that most would just skip that because of extra money involved

 

how about using vertical slots in 400 case - they fit sd card perfectly, and all we would need to have is fancy shaped board to hold it

 

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1 minute ago, candle said:

how about using vertical slots in 400 case - they fit sd card perfectly, and all we would need to have is fancy shaped board to hold it

That sounds like a very elegant solution

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FFC cables connector have a lifespan of 30 cycles - that is not that much, belive me

and although i do use them in profesional designs with signaling above 1GHz, i fear that anything densier than 1mm pitched cable will be too much to handle by most of the folks around here

as for these sd card expanders - they are pretty expensive considering they are just a piece of plastic

 

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23 hours ago, gobo said:

Stumbled across this older thread doing a web search. God I would love one or two of these if they are ever made. I'm probably in the minority here but I think the 400 is just awesome. Probably because it was my first computer. Even back in the day I thought I'd want it over the Atari 800. I thought the 800 looked more like a typewriter, the 400 just looked more futuristic. Not that I had the money for an 800. I didn't even mind the keyboard back in the day. I do have an Incognito 800 now though. I actually got my 13 year old son an Atari 400 for Christmas and he loves the way it looks on his desk. He frequently jumps on it with friends for some quick gaming. They are intrigued by it. He's always very impressed by that solid block of metal you see when you open the cartridge door. (I was too:). Unfortunately it can't play all the latest software releases, which would impress his friends. My son points out that it's 1979 tech!  Something about the Atari 400 being able to run the best stuff would be so cool and make it more useful as such a great game machine. Put me down for 2 if they are ever made! :)

 

Ditto.  My first Atari was an Atari 400.

 

I have a strong connection to the Atari 400 of 1979, because in 1979 it was one of the best computers you could buy and was cutting edge, and if you owned one, you were 1 in 1000 since home computers hadn't proliferated so much yet.  And the possibilities were all ahead.

 

I'm a huge fan of retro computing, but I haven't purchased an Atari 400 (sadly don't have my original).  Simply because I will not use an Atari 400 today, if that means RF output, 8k or 16k of memory or a membrane keyboard.

 

I have considered from time to time, if I could get modern output (minimum s-video, but in my dreams it's vbxe rgb, or sophia w/hdmi), 128k or more of RAM, and a decent keyboard, then rocking an Atari 400 would be so cool for me personally.  So much fun...I'd finally be home again :)

 

I find tf_hh's stuff that is already available to be somewhat tempting, the SCCU brings you to s-video, memory to 48k/52k.

 

The Atari 400 didn't have internal basic.  Later machines required users to hold down option to disable basic.  That's such a chore, that I won't buy a machine with that requirement.


Fun thread. If I know me, I'll buy an Atari 400 at some point, ha...

 

 

 

 

Edited by Mark2008

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 I messed with my 3D printer in order to fit my SIDE 3 in the Atari 400. So yes....it at least fits and works in a limited fashion. Be awesome to see it's capabilities expanded.

 

 

400.JPG

400A.JPG

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10 hours ago, candle said:

schematics for incognito-lite as this is codenamed have been sittin on my disk for about 8 years right now. they need massive lifting before i could start with pcb design, and i need to refresh my memory on how this suppose to work. the biggest issue ther is that every expansion card 400 has is internal, and this is a problem for sd card access. i know ribbon cables with sd slots exist, but this is good for low speed interfaces - if any of you have some ideas on how to go about this, im open for discussion

My first computer (ever) was the 400, as a kid. My life started there...

 

It did not start, however, where I really wanted. It only took typing on the 800 and opening the top "hood" to see why the 400 may not be that interesting, after all (it was the consensus, back then, between friends and customers of the shop I ended up working, a bit later).

 

I remember getting my beloved, half-assed AXLON 32KB expansion for the 400... but I do not have that much love for the ordeal it meant installing it (again, after seeing the 800's tool-less expansion bay). 

 

Based on the above experience, it is easy to say the 400 is definitely not designed with expansions in mind. Too close, too cumbersome to work with. HOWEVER, and here are the good news, that turns out not that much of a problem with today's expansions.

 

In my humble opinion, the best solution for both vendor and users, is a U1MB-like core expansion for the 400 (that will not required external user access except for battery replacement), and an external SIDE-3 plugged permanently on the Cart-port (which the user will be able to manipulate very easily). It will cover new RAM and ROM expansion and management, permanent storage, cartridge emulation, SIO, .ATR or .EXE loading, and. most importantly, there will be no need to put the end-owner through the ordeal of performing extensive internal or external surgery just to get access to the damn SD/CF card (among other things). And you will also be able to put the machine back into one piece, as it came from factory (no need to de-gut it). The only problem left there will be s-Video output, but I would advice to jump straight to Sophia-2 (if the 800 version works). It makes more sense, especially in the case of the 400.

 

Anything else turns out messy, pretty quickly, on the 400's internal architecture. It is pretty much a one-way street, but it is certainly doable in the above fashion. And that chiclet-keyboard is quite durable and cool-looking after all.

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Great ideas, but I must confess to absolutely despising 3D prints.  The quality of even the best is just so amateur / junk looking 99% of the time.  I'm sure the technology will keep on improving though.

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16 minutes ago, Stephen said:

Great ideas, but I must confess to absolutely despising 3D prints.  The quality of even the best is just so amateur / junk looking 99% of the time.  I'm sure the technology will keep on improving though.

I wonder if one day people will look at early (todays) 3-D printed things like some of us look at dot-matrix printing today?

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I really like the idea of the cut down version with the 1mb ram upgrade,  selectable OS and XL/XE compatibility with something like the SIDE-3 plugged permanently on the Cart-port.  Most people here probably have some sort of multi cart already. It wouldn't change the case or keyboard at all, that would take away from the Atari 400's charm. :)

 

>It's a massive thick aluminum anvil. It'll survive ww3

 

LOL Not sure what it is about that but the way that looks is one of the things that make the 400 so cool. :)

 

 

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Regular 3D prints are grainy, sure. But there's also the acetone-cotton ball trick to smooth out ABS. And there is resin printing.

 

I skipped over 8 years of updates.. is space the real issue blocking an Incognito 400?

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On 1/24/2021 at 2:00 AM, Allan said:

I wonder if one day people will look at early (todays) 3-D printed things like some of us look at dot-matrix printing today?

Most probably so. My first Epson FX-80 was a perfectly working piece of professional equipment while our 5 year old factory assembled 1500$ 3D printer is a hobbyist device requiring regular to constant fiddling around with. After installing a heat bed reliability improved quite a bit, but it is still far from a 100% success rate which the Epson managed easily.

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On 1/23/2021 at 7:42 PM, Stephen said:

Great ideas, but I must confess to absolutely despising 3D prints.  The quality of even the best is just so amateur / junk looking 99% of the time.  I'm sure the technology will keep on improving though.

I'd agree for extracted prints, but the resin prints are a whole different animal. It's like dot-matrix (as someone said below) compared to inkjet.

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10 minutes ago, spamh8r said:

I'd agree for extracted prints, but the resin prints are a whole different animal. It's like dot-matrix (as someone said below) compared to inkjet.

Yeah - I finally broke down and got a resin printer - an Elegoo Saturn.  Quite a step up from the old Davinci XYZ printer I had previously.

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On 1/23/2021 at 11:03 AM, DrVenkman said:

Could an ”Incognito Lite” be a two-part concept? The internal board for OS swapping and additional memory, plus a new or modified cartridge device to plug in and allow hard disk emulation and ATR/XEX loading? Basically a versions of SIDE2 or SIDE3 but in a case that could fit into the 400? Adding any missing cart slot signals shouldn’t be a problem - after all, installing the internal board will already require disassembly and likely a few jumper wires anyway. 

Out of curiosity, I looked at the 400 blueprint.  I think this is feasible.  The memory slot is missing /s4 and /s5 so that adds some complexity.  If a little board is made to plug in to the 74LS42 and a 74LS42 were to be moved to the upgrade memory card this would work.  This would even add a14 and a15.  So, adding some sort of 52k board and/or Axlon RAM banking would be quite feasible.  Using the cartridge slot for other options should be possible.  Upgrades wouldn't be as easy as with an 800, but if there is enough space for the ribbon cable to go between the 74LS42 socket and the board, no soldering would be required.

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Thinking more on this, add a board like I previously posted:

 

 

"Out of curiosity, I looked at the 400 blueprint.  I think this is feasible.  The memory slot is missing /s4 and /s5 so that adds some complexity.  If a little board is made to plug in to the 74LS42 and a 74LS42 were to be moved to the upgrade memory card this would work.  This would even add a14 and a15.  So, adding some sort of 52k board and/or Axlon RAM banking would be quite feasible.  Using the cartridge slot for other options should be possible.  Upgrades wouldn't be as easy as with an 800, but if there is enough space for the ribbon cable to go between the 74LS42 socket and the board, no soldering would be required."

 

Then, install a special cartridge that takes up all of bank 2 from 8000-BFFF.  From 8000-9FFF have SRAM.  From A000-BFFF have either BASIC or SRAM depending upon the position of a switch on the cartridge.  

 

Problem solved without soldering.  48k base memory (minus BASIC, if enabled) plus whatever setting on the memory board.  (The memory board could be software configurable.)  Maybe have a special cartridge, with SRAM, for SpartaDOSX?

 

 

 

Edited by reifsnyderb
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