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exxosuk

Cartridge port - keep or improve

Cartridge port - keep or improve  

26 members have voted

  1. 1. Cartridge port - keep or improve ?

    • Keep existing cartridge port
    • Replace cartridge port with "super IO" port.
    • Not bothered.


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In light of cartridge connectors being hard to get and the fact people at least want the RW line on the port.. I put this to a vote.

 

New cartridge port, likely 60 way header (will fit basically the same as the existing cartridge port) which will have more address lines, and /DTACK, /AS and whatever to create a really good expansion port.

 

Or keep the port as it is, no changes. Though possible a GND can be sacrificed to add the RW line in there. Old carts would still work, new carts can use the RW line.

 

The exception is that if a new port is created, a adapter block can be made to convert the new IO connector to the old format, so people could still use the old cartridges. Though this will be hard since the cartridge connectors are near impossible to find now.

 

From the motherboard point, I am hoping to be able to add both connectors, but obviously only one can be used. Then the user could choose to solder the new port, or the old one.

 

In anycase, I thought I would put this to a vote and see what people think about such a change. While I am all for better upgrades, it does beg the question if anyone would even bother to develop or use the new "super IO" port.

 

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i say new port. having retrocompatibility with old cartridges would be a plus, but who among us doesn´t have more than one Atari to use in case the new port was incompatible?

 

the cartridge port is IMO underused due to hardware and speed restrictions. a new one could spur the development of new add ons. the MSTE and TT had their share of upgrades using the limited capabilities of the VME port.

 

the Falcon had numerous hardware upgrades that were even capable of 060 CPUs and supervidel graphics cards because Atari included an expansion port that was flexible and people used it to the maximum they could.

 

remains to be seen the potencial of this new port.

 

good work Chris.

 

P.S. - i think this project would be optimally funded by a kickstarter project.

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The new port with 32MHz CPU can be run at 32mhz as well. So there are future options as well.

 

As mentioned before, Likely kickstarter will have to fund this. I was using profits from my store to fund things, but last year I have lost over £2,000 so I just can't keep doing that :( Then it will be up to the community if the new board gets done or not. I am working on the design with Rodolphe's help. I have done page 1 , about half way through the second page now.

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I think that if there is some universal expansion port, no real need to expand cartridge port.

Of course, it is good to have multiple expansion ports, which support a lot of expansions.

But then need to take care about bus load too - it can not drive lot of expansions attached at once.

I would rather keep cartridge port as is - that will make usage easier for owners of cartridges.

More effort to provide 2-3 universal ports, and reliable work of them.

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i understand the arguments to keep the existing cartridge port and no one is going to remove the port from existing machines or the ones on the market.

 

this is an independent project to recreate the STFM (minus modulator). as such, and considering the difficulty in sourcing the original port, why not use a newer, better option?

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LittleParanoidMan aka Ppera already did expand ROM port so he can use it for CF card harddisk replacement.

I'm sure there is lot of people using cartridge port much more than me - musicians for instance.

Actually, I can make internal version of same CF adapter without much problems. Especially because

for full speed you need to do something inside machine.

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well, i can honestly say i don´t hang around the forum much anymore. i do get the alerts when new topics are started and check when it´s something i might think it´s interesting, but otherwise i find the forum has too much pointless discussions and is really really focused on looking back, not forward.

 

we have so few active developers for our beloved machines and yet we insist on hammering them down. not talking specifically about this topic starter. i´ve seen others giving up before, many times. i may not be the most popular or regular poster on the forums, but i frequent most of the forums for many many years. i remember creating my first email account specifically to be around the (dying) Atari scene in 1995. before that i used to browse the last active Atari vendors before the either closed or stopped stocking Atari stuff.

 

i still have a very fond email exchange when i purchased my copy of ProFlight when Atari had already ceased operations. they were very nice and appreciated that there were still active users.

 

but now, people don´t exchange ideas and listen to what others have to propose, they just want their specific needs fulfilled.

 

others just hoard Atari hardware to sell later at high prices. i just saw a CT60 being sold on eBay for 1,500$US(!!!)... i mean... WTF? i know hardware is worth what people are willing to pay for it, but this is insane. how many CT6x could have been produced for this amount? when was the interest when they were being developed and produced? now that they are hard to find, people are suddenly willing to fork 1500$?

 

this is just depressing....

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Where is "hammering them down" here ? I mean, it exists indeed, but really not much in Atari forums. Exxos asked, and we expose our opinions, view.

Yes, people will always prefer their (own) needs - that's why we have voting.

The prices are high, and will be higher by time. Who wants original, working, 40 years old computer will need to pay it well. It is not easy to keep them alive.

Actually, basic Falcons go now for very high prices. And you forget that accelerators like CT60 were always expensive.

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That must be why you can still buy CT6x´s, CT-PCI, CosmoSex, etc... because the developers felt that people valued they efforts enough to pay 1500$ for what they made.

 

and no, Falcons and TT´s and MSTE´s don´t necessarily go for thousands of dollars or euros and no, usually they need to be recapped, cleaned, etc...

 

i bought my Falcon for 200€, a MSTE for less than that and the TT for less than 300€ because it already had been modded with SD cards and other goodies.

 

 

it´s like art. nobody buys a painters work until he´s dead.

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Always the same though. I can sell something for years and nobody buys it, then the week it vanishes from sale, everyone wants it.

 

This board isn't likely to be any use to people who want a stock machine. My thoughts are that, if you buy a motherboard for £50, then my 4MB kit and CPU booster, then thats £180 easily just for basics. Add re-cap kits etc etc, and a new board could be done for around the same price. Plus rather than me stocking various kits, I just wouldn't need to anymore. If people want a upgraded new machine then they buy this new board, or buy re-cap kits to keep older machines running.

 

It just takes to much time to re-invent kits all the time for various machines, I just don't want to do that anymore. Time better spent just producing a new motherboard then anyone can easily update it. For example, much space can be added for a 030 card. Space is a huge problem in the STF machines, PCB layouts make it 90% impossible to even fit in some such machines. So whats the point it designing a 030 addon where almost nobody would be able to physically fit it.

 

There is also the same problem with the cartridge port as the CPU. Yes the 030 is nice, it has caches, can run fast, I want to add it into the board eventually, but as a option. I'm not going to force people to have a 030 only system as 50% of people want a 68000 system. The 030 can be a option to addon if people want it. So everyone is happy.

 

The cartridge connectors are $10 each from BEST. Pretty high price. I don't want to spend $100+ on 10 connectors. But again mixed views. 50% want new port, 50% don't. But if its something new, which can be backwards compatible with original carts. Then really everyone should be happy. But still that connector will be needed on a adapter board. Or as I i hope, just to add both options on the motherboard and let the user decide which port to add. At least it can be changed for the "Super IO port" if someone designed a cartridge for it. Though as said before, there is basically nobody designing new hardware these days.. other than myself and a few others, even so, I think its unlikely new cartridges would get created. But I don't wan't to rule out the possibility, and don't want to force some new connector onto people where nobody will ever use it.

 

So bottom line, I will likely use original port, it will have to be for beta testing anyway. Then I will try add in option for the "Super IO port" in a way people can just plug in a card to adapt the port.

Edited by exxosuk
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Why don't you do something like the XE series? Its cartridge port is still compatible with the original carts, but there is a gap between the cartridge port and a "mini" cartridge port which adds a few lines to make it compatible with the XL parallel expansion bus. I am sure an Atari 8-bit enthusiast can explain it better...

 

Also, i would recommend making the cartridge port backwards compatible to 8Mhz. I recall the Notator copy protection dongle is highly sensitive to the speed of the cartridge port which is one of the reasons why it doesn't work with accelerators.

Edited by atarian1
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There is no more room to make the port "longer" without case re-design. Considering the quotes I have had are around the £12,000 mark for tooling and £300 per case.. I don't think that is gonna happen.

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i think at this time would could do without 25 pin serial, parallel, RF and other legacy ports barely used.

 

keep MIDI, yes, and ACSI if it´s a must, though i would go instead for a more modern interface like ethernet, USB, etc...

 

we don´t have to make another MiST, but we can take advantage from the fact that we´re making a new case, new board and make away with things that are not useful anymore.

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i think at this time would could do without 25 pin serial, parallel, RF and other legacy ports barely used.

 

keep MIDI, yes, and ACSI if it´s a must, though i would go instead for a more modern interface like ethernet, USB, etc...

 

we don´t have to make another MiST, but we can take advantage from the fact that we´re making a new case, new board and make away with things that are not useful anymore.

Go buy a PC, Retro means retro. I have a PC with all the bells and whistles. Whats the point of buying a clone ST with all the bells and whistles, when IT WILL NEVER BE SUPPORTED!!..

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Go buy a PC, Retro means retro. I have a PC with all the bells and whistles. Whats the point of buying a clone ST with all the bells and whistles, when IT WILL NEVER BE SUPPORTED!!..

 

Exactly..

 

I could easily add a super video chip onto the bus, any resolution any colours.. but problem is, nobody is going to write drivers for it. Even if they did, nobody is going to write games to use the extra resolution, even if they did, only people who had the video chip would be able to play them.

 

We have things like cosmosex with lan, usb etc. So no need to re-invent the wheel again.

 

There are also people who don't want to "upgrade" their ST. If they want super video playback with CD quality sound.. use a PC. Part of the ST's "charm" is having 320x200 with 16 colours with crappy sound :)

 

As I keep saying on a daily basis, over and over, I can't develop every single addon everyone wants. There will be addon ports for expansion, if people want something, then they do the work and add it.

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Go buy a PC, Retro means retro. I have a PC with all the bells and whistles. Whats the point of buying a clone ST with all the bells and whistles, when IT WILL NEVER BE SUPPORTED!!..

 

if you want 100% retro, buy an original Atari, in whatever variant. That´s retro.

 

we´re talking about a "new" revision of STF, where i don´t think there´s added value in spending extra $/€ in keeping a 25 pin serial, LPT, etc. no new ports need to be added, that was just a suggestion. but if the idea is to keep the cost reasonable, i don´t think keeping ports maybe less than 1% of 1% use is a reasonable use of funds.

 

i didn´t suggest adding graphics or sound capabilities. i´m good with the beautiful 320*[email protected] colors. what many would probably appreciate (i know i would and my friends too) in this "new" STF is being able to connect to an VGA monitor without trying to find adapters. Atari vídeo port could be kept anyway.

 

also, could we PLEASE move the mouse and joystick ports to the side? :D

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also, could we PLEASE move the mouse and joystick ports to the side? :D

 

2 problems there... Mouse and joystick are on the keyboard not the motherboard... Secondly, it will need a new case and unless someone has around £15,000 to spare, then its not going to happen.

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2 problems there... Mouse and joystick are on the keyboard not the motherboard... Secondly, it will need a new case and unless someone has around £15,000 to spare, then its not going to happen.

 

I would go for a MB that I could drop in the Atari custom chips, add a megabus port, blitter socket, include all the original ports, paralell, rs232, rom ect.. Add a rgb to hdmi converter to the shifter then be able to drop it into an original Atari case. If it got too complicated it would be too expensive. A more modular design would be nice for processors, meaning easy plugin accelerators. Keep it simple

Edited by Umberto

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I would go for a MB that I could drop in the Atari custom chips, add a megabus port, blitter socket, include all the original ports, paralell, rs232, rom ect.. Add a rgb to hdmi converter to the shifter then be able to drop it into an original Atari case. If it got too complicated it would be too expensive. A more modular design would be nice for processors, meaning easy plugin accelerators. Keep it simple

 

You may want to check out my blog with what I will and won't be doing... I'm not designing any new upgrades, just adding expansion ports.

 

http://exxosnews.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/super-stfm-motherboard-project.html

 

http://exxosnews.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/stfm-rebuild-overview-of-basic-changes.html

 

I'm building a expandable platform for people to design and add whatever they want to easily.

 

All my "free time" is taken up with stocks in my store and my CPU booster projects which I have hardly any time to work on recently. This new motherboard I can use as a platform to design sensible low cost boosters for which people can just plug in a 32mhz 68000 kit, or 32mhz 68030 or whatever.

 

I am actually working on various CPU related upgrades. One thing has to be clear, that will take up ALL of my free time for a very long time. If people want anything else, then they will have to design it themselves. There is no use people making a "wish list spec" of this machine as I just don't have time to do any of it.

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Exactly..

 

I could easily add a super video chip onto the bus, any resolution any colours.. but problem is, nobody is going to write drivers for it. Even if they did, nobody is going to write games to use the extra resolution, even if they did, only people who had the video chip would be able to play them.

Good points. I would add one more, what is in my opinion most important: all it would run too slow on such video extension, even with 32MHz CPU. Better graphic just requires more CPU power, faster bus ...

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ok, sorry, i thought the cases were going to be 3D printed or something. i read the blog entries and couldn´t see where the cases would come from. injection, 3D printed or used from (hopefully) dead STs...

 

i don´t know if the original mouldings from Atari could be sourced or at least the designs. i have friends working in the plastic injection industry, i could even present the project to their boss and see if they could do a moulding for the cost of the materials only...

 

at my company we buy around 200 tonnes of plastic cases a year, so i could also ask our supplier to do some limited productions as the need arises.

 

just trying to help! :)

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Good points. I would add one more, what is in my opinion most important: all it would run too slow on such video extension, even with 32MHz CPU. Better graphic just requires more CPU power, faster bus ...

 

Yes indeed. Double resolution, double colours means machine runs slower. Though if the video was mapped to fast-ram, then it could have access to 32mhz CPU and RAM. Still would need special drives, but in anycase, say goodbye to software compatibility. Maybe OK for desktop apps, and GEM software. But my "mission" is to retain 100% compatibility with legacy software.

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ok, sorry, i thought the cases were going to be 3D printed or something. i read the blog entries and couldn´t see where the cases would come from. injection, 3D printed or used from (hopefully) dead STs...

 

i don´t know if the original mouldings from Atari could be sourced or at least the designs. i have friends working in the plastic injection industry, i could even present the project to their boss and see if they could do a moulding for the cost of the materials only...

 

at my company we buy around 200 tonnes of plastic cases a year, so i could also ask our supplier to do some limited productions as the need arises.

 

just trying to help! :)

 

Well, no harm in asking. I am having hard time just to get someone to make the 3D design.. at some cost that maybe possible.. But getting injection mold made.. I doubt community would be able to raise enough cash to fund it.

 

I am just replicating the motherboard, it will use original cases from STFM (maybe STF) there are variations in the cases which need to be taken into consideration. Of course if a new case could be done, I would start making changes.. For example the 19pin DMA port would get replaced with a 25way one.. and have 5V routed on there also...

 

3D printing of cases, possible, £300 each. Nobody is going to pay that, and questionable quality over proper molding.

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