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Rambo XL upgrade on 800XL

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Hi,

 

I'm working on an Atari 800XL that has had a rough life. Probably in someone's leaky basement. It has the Rambo XL RAM upgrade inside. What does this do for the average user? Are there any games/apps that take advantage of the extra RAM? Just wondering if I should pull it out and install it in a working 800XL, or will it just be a waste of time.

Thanks!

 

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Go to Fandal's website and type "130XE" on search box to the right and click on "in details".

 

You'll find games and demos that need extra memory.

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Hi,

 

I'm working on an Atari 800XL that has had a rough life. Probably in someone's leaky basement. It has the Rambo XL RAM upgrade inside. What does this do for the average user? Are there any games/apps that take advantage of the extra RAM? Just wondering if I should pull it out and install it in a working 800XL, or will it just be a waste of time.

Thanks!

 

The A8 FAQ, maintained by M. Current has two sections addressing this question (what programs use/require extended RAM).

 

ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/faqs/atari-8-bit/faq

 

Andreas Koch is the expert who contributed that sections of the FAQ.

 

It is sections 8.10 and 8.11.

 

I summarize my opinion here:

 

It really isn't very significant what you miss in A8 by not having more than 64K. Bob Puff Disk Communicator is the only utility that I have encountered that uses, not requires more than 64K.

 

I made a 256k upgrade to my 800XL many years ago and never encountered any problem with the fact that it was a faulty installation and really only had 64K. I just discovered the problem a

few months ago and now have a true 256k.

 

Another thread here has a program that will tell you how much RAM you have. I use 'SHORTEST.COM' for this.

 

My summary is that it isn't worth the time, money and possible installation error to install more RAM. However, I'm not an avid game player/demo viewer.

SHORTEST.zip

Edited by russg
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If you use an Atari-type Dos like MyDos 4.x or Atari Dos 2.5 (i.e. not Sparta or other command line dos) then it will allow you to swap the DUP.SYS menu and your user memory super fast. It is most useful for programming and as a very fast temporary disk. It is roughly 10X faster than a regular speed disk drive. Of course, when you power off, POOF!

 

It is desirable -- keep it.

 

-Larry

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Is the XL not restorable? I had a moldy 400 which I washed in bleach water then rinsed in lots of water.

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Hi,

 

I'm working on an Atari 800XL that has had a rough life. Probably in someone's leaky basement. It has the Rambo XL RAM upgrade inside. What does this do for the average user? Are there any games/apps that take advantage of the extra RAM? Just wondering if I should pull it out and install it in a working 800XL, or will it just be a waste of time.

Thanks!

 

The 'average user' is the key. So many things have changed, the reasons for having a Rambo memory expansion have too. One disk drive is like having a broken leg with only one crutch. The memory expansion was just about a requirement for people with large collections of software i.e. user group librarian, someone who ran a BBS, good programming aid too.

 

Most of the reasons why you needed a memory expansion have been answered in different ways. Most people use or have access to solid state or SIO2PC type drives, lots of people just use emulators. Some people still use real drives and floppies but it is getting hard to even find a clean supply of floppies.

 

I still have a Newell and a Rambo kits installed in a couple of my 8 bits. They are really my go to computers. If your primary use will no involve programming they are the way to go. Everything from MEMSAV to #INCLUDE runs faster from ramdisk. For just running games, not so much.

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When you are into coding then a RAM disk is a pretty cool extra. There are also a nice amount of cool demos and a handful games that require the extra ram.

 

Although all of this I agree with russg... A stock 64k atari does almost anything you probably want.

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@ricortes: harddisk is today faster than RAM disk. Swapping and #including to/from harddisk is lightning fast with 512 bytes/sector.

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I am one of the ATarians, who still use 2 1050 diskdrives (standard / without any modifications except write protect switch)

 

When programming in Atmas II, i use the ramdisk of my 130XE. Its handy and fast.

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Thanks for all of the info everyone! I'll probably swap the upgrade into my working 800XL if I can't get this one going.

 

ClausB - I think this one had a spill into the keyboard, and then they put it in a basement for 30 years. The shield was almost rusted off, and that rust is on a lot of the motherboard. The keyboard connector (on the mobo) has been used to the point of destruction (bent pins, etc) the mylar keyboard connector was rigged up with scotch tape, etc. It seems like if you took the time to install upgrades, it could have been kept free of liquids!

 

I've located the keyboard and connector, but $35 later it's still got a case that's in pretty bad shape - the cartridge port doors won't work because all of the support hardware is rusted off (springs, mounting screws, etc.), and I had to drill one of the screws out because it was rusted in.

 

I suppose I could swap the parts out, but after looking on ebay (I know, not the best source of affordable parts), the parts option ends up being expensive. I've tried bidding on a few of the 'good deals', but someone always steps up at the last minute to pay too much for some untested broken machine. :mad:

 

Anyway, I'm not going to part it out just yet, I can keep looking for a junker for a while and hope for the best!

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Best has complete New 800XL motherboards on sale for $39. Not worth fixing if there's any significant damage.

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Best has complete New 800XL motherboards on sale for $39. Not worth fixing if there's any significant damage.

 

Wow - that's a pretty good deal! Are they populated with IC's as well?

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Wow - that's a pretty good deal! Are they populated with IC's as well?

They look complete to me. Even has the RF shield.

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I picked up one of these 800XL boards from "Best". They come in a nice little box and the board with the RF shield is wrapped in anti-static bubble wrap. Not bad for the price.

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I'll have to check this out! I'm working on this one for a friend, and he doesn't want to spend much $$. A new mobo and keyboard would run $65 before shipping, so I may have to buy the keyboard and mobo connector and work with that. It should be a quick solder job!

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After more searching online, I also found this 'vintage' product review:

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

product reviews--

RAMBO XL
lCD, Inc.
1220 Rock Street
Rockford, IL 61101
(815) 968-2228
$49.95
(installation, $30)
(256K RAM chip set, $28)

Reviewed by Matthew Ratcliff

The RAMBO XL is a hardware modification for the Atari 800XL or l200XL computer that turns your machine into a 256K RAM system- twice as powerful as the 130XE.

RAMBO XL makes your 800XL or I200XL compatible with the 130XE in "CPU mode" for extended memory. Thus the Atari DOS 2.5 RAMdisk and BASIC XE will run on your computer after this installation.

This extra memory will be primarily used as a RAMdisk, "fooling" your computer into using this extra memory as a second disk drive. However, the Atari DOS 2.5 RAMdisk only recognizes 64K of the available 192K. The 256K chip set replaces the 64K chips. It is not added to the originals, therefore the lower 64K of the 256K takes the place of the original chips. The remaining 192K is available as extended bank switch memory

To make full use of the extended memory you will need a DOS that supports it. A utility on lCD's SpartaDOS Construction Set ($39.95) supports the 192K and gives you a true double-density RAMdisk.

Any software that supports the extra memory of the l30XE should use 64K of the extra RAM that RAMBO XL provides. According to the documentation, the following programs have been tested to work with this modification: BASIC XE, OSS; SynFile+, Broderbund; Atari DOS 2.5 RAMdisk; PaperClip, Batteries Included.

One feature not supported is the ANTIC mode, where display memory resides in one bank, accessed by the ANTIC chip while the working memory (program, data, etc.) is accessed separately in another bank by the CPU chip. This feature is unique to the Atari l30XE and its FREDDY chip. However, it is seldom used and will not be missed.

After installing my RAMBO XL, I tested it thoroughly by making club disks for our ACE St. Louis user group. Using the SpartaDOS sector copy utility, with the RAMdisk option, I was able to copy from a master disk to RAM, and then from RAM to multiple destination floppies in no time. I created 15 disks that were perfect mirror copies of their originals.

When used with the Covox Voice Master, which provides full l30XE support, the software automatically set up with a 130XE version. The modification has performed flawlessly since I added it to my old 800XL. Installation is another matter, however.

INSTALLATION
RAMBO XL requires relatively minimal soldering if your computer chips are "socketed"-plugged into chip holders instead of soldered directly to the circuit board.

If the chips are soldered directly to the board-as many 800XLs are- then you should not attempt this modification unless you are an experienced "solder jockey" with access to a good desoldering station.

I think all 1200XL computers were socketed. So after the computer is disassembled, it is a simple matter of prying out the old chips with a small flat blade screw driver. But you can't be sure about an 800XL until you disassemble it.

The eight RAM chips on my 800XL were not socketed on my 800XL, so I had to desolder them and add sockets to the machine myself. (Being an electrical engineer, I had access to a desoldering station.) The installation involves unplugging the old RAM chips, a decoder chip and the PLA chip. Five pins on the PLA must be "bent out" and the chip is returned to its socket. You have to plug in new RAMs and a small circuit board in place of the decoder. You make one to three jumper modifications and solder 5 wires to the PLA chip.

The documentation is a complete guide. Note carefully the recommended 20-35 watt ratings for your soldering iron with a fine point for electronic applications. Don't use one of those heavy duty soldering guns, unless you want to cook some RAM chips or vaporize some etch.

You may wish to purchase your RAM chips from another mail order house instead of from lCD. Complete sets of 256K RAMs can be had for $20 or less, when purchased in quantity lCD does not package them with the kit because "RAM prices change faster than computer prices. Nobody wants to be caught holding a large inventory when the price drops." LCD simply keeps some RAMs in stock for those who prefer the convience of taking care of the entire upgrade in one order. So shop around, or get some friends together to make a group buy from an electronics mail order service.

If you hate to get rid of the old faithful XL in favor of the XE, this kit may be just the ticket. If you are an incessant hardware tinkerer, you will have great fun with this project. If you are a SpartaDOS user, you will find RAMBO XL an invaluable addition. With a full 192K RAMdisk instead of the 64K on the 130XE, I use the 800XL in preference to the 130XE all the time.

I probably find more need for a RAMDISK than most because I develop a lot of software with MAC/65, and .INCLUDE files from RAMdisk make for blazingly fast assemblies of huge source files. I will be using the RAMBO 800XL regularly until I can get my hands on a 512K modification for the 130XE.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hope this helps!

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Although all of this I agree with russg... A stock 64k atari does almost anything you probably want.

 

As it should be. I feel all software should be aimed at the 64K machines, or 128K if need be. But more RAM should be used if your project has no way to realized without it. It's also nice if they can work on 48K, but not at the expense of leaving off programming that would otherwise be used/desirable. I feel part of the reason to develop these days is to right all the programming that was geared towards 48K, and even 16K machines, in a time when so many 64K and even 128K machines were out there. Having said that, it's nice to occasionally see what can be done with bigger chunks of RAM. There are a lot of RAM upgraded machines out there, especially, I think, since the U1MB has been introduced.

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As it should be. I feel all software should be aimed at the 64K machines, or 128K if need be. But more RAM should be used if your project has no way to realized without it. It's also nice if they can work on 48K, but not at the expense of leaving off programming that would otherwise be used/desirable. I feel part of the reason to develop these days is to right all the programming that was geared towards 48K, and even 16K machines, in a time when so many 64K and even 128K machines were out there. Having said that, it's nice to occasionally see what can be done with bigger chunks of RAM. There are a lot of RAM upgraded machines out there, especially, I think, since the U1MB has been introduced.

About 200 U1MB's produced by Candle(plus those by Lotharek), and also about 150 Incognito's as well(plus another 40 on order).

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