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Turgen System 8.4.14 Released - Bits with RAMBIT

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After long time of silence, new version of cassette-oriented utility named Turgen System is available.

Download from: https://sourceforge.net/projects/turgen/ and try with your RAMBIT upgraded data recorder.

 

Support for Rambit turbo system
New Rambit plugin allows you to convert monolithic and segmented binary files to the Rambit system from UK.

 

The new plugin comes with two sets of loaders - original and modern. The modern loaders were updated to increase probability of successful loading of segmented binary files with INIT segments while sacrificing the fancy screen effect of the original loaders. With modern loaders, you can load modern games like Ridiculous Reality.

 

Rambit experience is not limited to data recorders with Rambit upgrade.

Owners of data recorders with Czechoslovak Turbo 2000, Polish Turbo 2000F, Turbo ROM, Atari Super Turbo (and clones), or Lower Silesian Turbo can try RAMBIT too if they connect DATA IN and INTERRUPT pins in their SIO connector.

 

Source code of the modernized loaders was released in the updated loaders package (now 1.12)

 

This plugin is brand-new. Please report bugs using the Tickets section.

 

Tape Image Extractor
Selection of non-extractible chunks does not prevent extraction of a boot file. This increases convenience when extracting boot files

 

 

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So I've given this a try seeing as I own a data recorder with the Rambit mod installed.

 

The only files that Turgen likes are XEX files. I have recorded about 5 or 6 onto tapes and tried to load into real Atari. All seems to go well but nothing happens at the end of the loading sequence. It either just hangs or gives a boot error. Is this an issue with the Turgen system or is it just that some XEX (if any) will work?

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So I've given this a try seeing as I own a data recorder with the Rambit mod installed.

 

The only files that Turgen likes are XEX files. I have recorded about 5 or 6 onto tapes and tried to load into real Atari. All seems to go well but nothing happens at the end of the loading sequence. It either just hangs or gives a boot error. Is this an issue with the Turgen system or is it just that some XEX (if any) will work?

 

Hello djmat,

thank you very much for the testing.

 

1. You are right, Turgen accepts only binary files (.xex). It doesn't accept (and never will) .atr files.

2. There can be some .xex files that will not work with RAMBIT, but this shouldn't happen often

 

To determine what could be wrong, I would have to ask few questions and make few requests

 

0. Please re-download and re-install Turgen 8.4.14

1. What .xex files did you try. Can you attach them to your reply?

2. Does the slow (standard part) loads OK ?

3. Did you try modern or original loaders ?

4. Does the original loader display changing colorful GRAPHICS 2 characters on the screen? Does the modern loader display colorful stripes in the background?

5. Can you please try the attached monolithic binary file with original loader and try the "Monolithic binary..." conversion type to test bare minimum functionality?

There is a video that display how the loading process (with original loader) should like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usEe7-Yd9dg

6. Are you able to load the same .xex file converted with the "Standard" plugin.

 

Thank you very much

River Raid (1983)(Activision)(US)a3.xex

Edited by baktra

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OK. Tried the River Raid file you attached and won't work. Goes through the whole load procedure just fine but then just gives a boot error at the end.

 

In response to your other questions....

1. please see attached below some of the files I tried.

2. All parts seem to load as they should

3. Tried both loaders....no difference

4. Both loaders display the graphics or stripes as you described

 

Mat

3-D Tic-Tac-Toe (1979)(Atari).xex

Action Quest (1982)(JV).xex

Alley Cat (1983)(Synapse).xex

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UPDATE!!!

 

Tried River Raid again but this time I ticked "Invert polarity of pulses" in RAMBIT config and also ticked "use harmonic pulses" in audio generator.

 

Tried original and modern loaders and both worked first time !!!! PROGRESS !!!!

 

Going to try a few others now....

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Thank you so much for your attempts. I am glad to hear that everything is working.

 

I have two final notes:

1. Invert polarity of pulses - This indicates two things 1. RAMBIT is sensitive to the polarity of pulses 2.An element of your cassette recording chain is probably changing the polarity. It is harmless to music, but can be deadly for computer data.

2. Harmonic pulses - It appears that frequency range of your cassette recording chain is limited and rectangular pulses do not pass in a good shape (it is usually the cassette recorder, cassette, or MP3 compression). You can keep using harmonic pulses or you can try reducing ampltude of the signal.

 

I added the two options to deal exactly with these two situations. It was a good idea after all.

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Couple of things....

 

When using the modern loader I've noticed that sometimes the coloured bars fill the screen and other times just the border. Is this normal? Personally I prefer just the border as its not so "in your face" so to speak.

 

Also, are there any plans to make any alternative loaders? What would be great is if a screenshot could be added during the conversion stage so this picture loads at the beginning before the main data. May be asking a bit much but would look great.

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There are in fact two modern loaders (and two original as well).

One for monolithic binary files - this one fills just the border, and other one for segmented binary files that fills whole screen.

 

The reason for the difference is lack of CPU time to spare (or slow speed of the Atari's CPU).

In general, all turbo systems similar to RAMBIT are very CPU intensive - the signal is decoded without assistance of any hardware.

 

The CPU time is very limited, therefore the turbo loaders are forced to take two steps:

1. Disable interrupts (except the one that they use for signal decoding - if they use interrupts. RAMBIT does.)

2. Disable DMA. Try some long delay loop in ATARI BASIC with POKE 559,0 and without it. There will be noticeable difference.

 

Both original RAMBIT loaders disable all interrupts except one and use GRAPHICS 2 screen display (240 bytes - compare with 960 bytes of GRAPHICS 0), therefore

the loaders manage to decode the signal on time.

 

The modern loader for monolithic binary files uses GRAPHICS 0 screen display (960 bytes) and also manages to decode the signal on time (but just barely).

 

On the other hand, the modern loader for segmented binary files (performs more complex calculations - it is processing segments of binary file) cannot use GRAPHICS 0. I've tried and it just failed. Therefore I was forced to disable DMA completely, hence the coloured bars on whole screen. Keeping GRAPHICS 2 is not a good idea, see below.

 

The only thing I can do is to find some less "annoying" color scheme for the bars (two alternating, dimmer colors). Such color scheme is used by turbo systems popular in Poland and Czech Republic. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-u_ahauMKM

 

As for the loaders that display screen shots...

the answer is no, but you deserve an explanation

 

For monolithic binary files, it would be possible. However the screen display would be limited to about 960 bytes (for the reason stated above). This would allow some low-resolution and low-color pictures. Another question is how the title screen would be stored. Possibly in one extra high-speed block. I don't think it is worth the effort.

 

For segmented binary files (most of the binary files available in internet game/program archives), it is out of question.

  • A good universal loader of segmented binary files must refrain from any activities that can disrupt the loading process or the loaded program.
  • Displaying pictures or text during the loading process is one of such activities (because you do not know if the loaded program uses the screen memory for something else, for example executable code). This also prevents any progress bars.
  • It is also not good idea to switch graphics modes, because some programs presume that they are started in GRAPHICS 0.
  • There is no guarantee that the screen shots would remain on the display. Segmented binary files can execute any code during the loading process (change display list for example). Yes I am talking about INIT segments. This is also why some program fail to load - they destroy the loader (for example by decompressing data to memory occupied by the loader's executable code).
  • There are no CPU cycles to spare for displaying the screen shot. This is the main reason.
Edited by baktra

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Thanks for the great explanation.

 

I think what you suggested about losing some of the colours of the flashing bars would look better - something similar to how the Spectrum loads (blue and yellow bars of something similar) if this is possible.

 

But all this aside, you have still done a great job with this program and am going to try making some more tapes. Never really took advantage of the Rambit system as using the Atari to convert tapes was so time consuming and very hit and miss.

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Thanks for the great explanation.

 

I think what you suggested about losing some of the colours of the flashing bars would look better - something similar to how the Spectrum loads (blue and yellow bars of something similar) if this is possible.

 

But all this aside, you have still done a great job with this program and am going to try making some more tapes. Never really took advantage of the Rambit system as using the Atari to convert tapes was so time consuming and very hit and miss.

 

I will most certainly try to change the color bars.

 

Thank you again for testing TURGEN on real Rambit hardware and for your suggestions.

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I will most certainly try to change the color bars.

 

Thank you again for testing TURGEN on real Rambit hardware and for your suggestions.

 

No Problem. If there's anything else I can help you with, testing wise, then please let me know......always glad to help.

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Hello again,

 

I tried a different color scheme - dark and bright green (possibly a reminder of the fact that I am a mainframer).

I think the new color scheme is not that annoying although it is not a visual art masterpiece. The CPU time is limited....

 

Also behavior of both monolithic and segmented binary loader was unified. The loaders display the program name for two seconds, then DMA is disabled and loading continues.

 

Please try if you wish (this time just .jar file only). https://sourceforge.net/projects/turgen/files/experimental/

 

 

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Hi Baktra

 

Liking the colour change of the loading bars. Working well. Just tried 3 games and work fine.

 

Just one thing (and sorry if it seems picky!) but is there a possiblily of putting more than 2 loading screen bar colour options into Turgen and allowing them to be selected during the wizard process or set manually? Just would be nice to have some more to choose from to make each conversion different. I.e. green, multicoloured (the current and previous colours) and maybe black/white, red/yellow (like Spectrum), etc etc.

 

Mat

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Hi Baktra

 

Liking the colour change of the loading bars. Working well. Just tried 3 games and work fine.

 

Just one thing (and sorry if it seems picky!) but is there a possiblily of putting more than 2 loading screen bar colour options into Turgen and allowing them to be selected during the wizard process or set manually? Just would be nice to have some more to choose from to make each conversion different. I.e. green, multicoloured (the current and previous colours) and maybe black/white, red/yellow (like Spectrum), etc etc.

 

Mat

 

Hi Mat,

 

Too many different color variants would result in many versions of the loaders. This would be difficult to maintain.

I will keep two colors (one for even byte values and one for odd byte values), but I will allow both colors to be freely selectable for each playlist item. This will provide enough color diversity for those who need them.

 

Thanks again for testing.

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Cheers Baktra...that sounds great.

 

Just out of interest....can a tape player with the Rambit mod such as mine be used for any of the other turbo loaders?

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Cheers Baktra...that sounds great.

 

Just out of interest....can a tape player with the Rambit mod such as mine be used for any of the other turbo loaders?

 

Not without some changes.

 

!!! DISCLAIMER !!!

You do this at your own risk. There is nothing more dangerous than a programmer with a soldering iron or giving advice on electrical circuits.

 

You can try to open your SIO connector and connect the INTERRUPT pin with the DATA IN pin using a short wire (no soldering needed). This shoud allow you to use all Czechoslovak/Czech turbo systems (Turbo 2000, Super Turbo, B-TAPE).

If you try the Czech/Czechosloak ones, you must set the respective plugins to "Prepend universal turbo loader" (see the Preferences dialog).

 

I am not sure if the trick with the wire will prevent you from loading standard tape records or not.

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New experimental version is available. This time it allows to select the colors displayed by both modern loaders.

Whether the colors are worth it I don't know, but learning how to use JColorChooser was fun.

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UPDATE!!!

 

Tried River Raid again but this time I ticked "Invert polarity of pulses" in RAMBIT config and also ticked "use harmonic pulses" in audio generator.

 

Tried original and modern loaders and both worked first time !!!! PROGRESS !!!!

 

Going to try a few others now....

In light of this, Turgen System 8.5.1 allows to select a waveform. You were not the only one experiencing problems with the square waveform. Square waveforms do not go along with cassette recorders with limited bandwitdth.

 

There are four waveforms to select from:

1. Square (rectangular pulses, as if the "use harmonic pulses" was not ticked). Good for MEGA-CD interface or a8cas-enhanced atari800 emulator, or cassette adapters. Worth a try with a good tape deck.

2. Quality tape (Approximation of rectangular pulses with Fourier series expansion, 7th harmonic). Good for HQ tapes, worth a try also with normal tapes.

3. Normal tape (Approximation of rectangular pulses with Fourier series expansion, 5th harmonic). This is the default now. Good for normal tapes.

4. Pure sine wave (as if the "use harmonic pulses" was ticked). For worst kind of equipment

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