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the official Channel F thread!

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Hi everyone, no major updates but wanted to package up all my 2021 works into one place.

 

Did want to have another crack at Simon but not got time for it so will work on it sometime next year.

 

I noticed my 'signature' wasn't accounting enough bits, meaning 2kb files were turning into 3kb files instead, so I've fixed that too for things like Ghost Chaser and Clay Pigeon Shooting, but otherwise they are no different.

 

There is a WIP example of AutoSlalom which I'm having a bit of trouble with so nothing gameplay available yet other than a moving block for the car, and the beginnings of a 'speed' setting. I've not even got as far as eliminating the road from the screen yet!

 

Bucket Filler now checks for button release, so you can't hold it down anymore, but remains the same otherwise.

 

Shark the only thing I've got round to fixing so far is the fish dead pixels - this is because I jumped to an old label and hadn't replaced it when I changed something else in all circumstances - it should now eliminate completely now. The other couple of issues is still present and I'll try and take a look at them in the near future.

 

 

Mikebloke Channel F 2021.zip

Edited by Mikebloke
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All right, my Channel F/F8 history doc has been published. Put quite a bit of time and effort into this, so I hope you all like!

 

 

As a bonus, here are the documents Richard Olney provided me for this, as he agreed to have it all posted on Archive:

https://archive.org/details/olney-fairchild-documents/

Edited by ubersaurus
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1 hour ago, ubersaurus said:

So I was told after the fact!

Most people do not grow up in the middle of an oil patch. I actually knew how to pronounce it before I could spell it. The first time I saw the name after I could spell I pronounced it the same way you did.

 

I am surprised they came up in the video.

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12 minutes ago, jgkspsx said:

Wait, how do you pronounce Schlumburger? I would assume Sh-lum-burg-er? Is it Shembechler or something?

It is more like slumber jay.

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On 12/31/2021 at 10:30 PM, jeremiahjt said:

Excellent video, but you did not get close to pronouncing Schlumberger right.

Sounded OK to me - just as fine as my name did.  ;)
It feels German so why not:
sma[sh]
[lum]ber
[bir]d

[grrrr]

Maybe shloooomburger/beerger/erjeer? Dutch?

 

Gaming videos are terrible, I'm very sorry you have stumbled upon equipment in such terrible state - or did you run the signal through BetaMax, VCR, Video 2000 and VHS recordings before it was digitized to the computer?  ;)
My 14" late 70's TV has rock solid emulator perfect image at gaming distance, when going for the larger and more modern TV:s you start to see the artifacts but nothing that bad, some wavy lines (if not running composite) slight color bleed.

I'm very sorry if anyone had to experience Channel F gaming that bad.


Love the episode, keep it up!
I'll watch it again from the kids accounts and thumb it up.   :D


 

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2 hours ago, e5frog said:

 

Gaming videos are terrible, I'm very sorry you have stumbled upon equipment in such terrible state - or did you run the signal through BetaMax, VCR, Video 2000 and VHS recordings before it was digitized to the computer?  ;)
My 14" late 70's TV has rock solid emulator perfect image at gaming distance, when going for the larger and more modern TV:s you start to see the artifacts but nothing that bad, some wavy lines (if not running composite) slight color bleed.

 

Thanks! The signal is running directly from the Channel F’s RF feed to an RF demodulator, and then on to an upscaler before hitting the capture card. My particular Channel F has that bad of a signal, though, it does that even hooked up directly to a TV, any tv. I’m hoping to get it serviced in the next few months - I have a feeling if nothing else it needs to be recapped, and I’m sure there’s some other fine tuning needed too.

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Quick question for my fellow Channel F enthusiasts: what are these two Music Carts? They were among a complete collection for the system, which included the recent homebrews, that was being offered on eBay. Are they available for purchase somewhere online?

Screenshot_20211203-090757.png

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@Blazing Lazers

I made them for a Swedish musician, then the auctioneer wanted them as well. 

 

They just play notes from bottom to top of the scale, not even any graphics. I think he just sampled the sounds for his work. 

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1 hour ago, e5frog said:

@Blazing Lazers

I made them for a Swedish musician, then the auctioneer wanted them as well. 

 

They just play notes from bottom to top of the scale, not even any graphics. I think he just sampled the sounds for his work. 

Could you make a few more? Ideally with a box and manual? :)

 

 

While I'm relieved that I didn't somehow overlook an original release and thus still have a complete set, it means my homebrew collection is incomplete. Sure, it's just a chiptunes cart, and a basic one at that from the sound of it, but it makes the Channel F the earliest system to have such a cart at all. I'd really appreciate and enjoy owning a copy! 

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@Blazing Lazers
I don't mind making custom jobs. 

 

I actually made Music-Cart, then Music-Cart 2 to 4, first ones were using the PlaySong-routine and the latter Sleizsa Duo - which has a more distorted sound. 

The payment I got per cartridge then was $172 ($165 in today's exchange rate) - as it's "round" numbers in Swedish currency I guess. 

 

When I made a custom box last (latest) time I got $150, for work and printing, which wasn't fantastic considering the work but I needed the money. 

So... something like $315 for a cart with box if added together...  manual - what would it say - "Music-Cart [#] make beeps X second long Y seconds apart."
I would be willing to go down to $314 or perhaps less depending on the demands on the box.  ;)
 

If it still sounds interesting, let me know via message. 
I currently have a gap on the Multi-Carts as I'm waiting for more PCB:s before I can get them ready for soldering. 

 

Edited by e5frog
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Got another assembly question, I'm finally playing around with using the DC in my own way - I've made a little side scrolling platformer (or at least, the beginning of one) using my own 'blit' process (ok, I still use the plot code, but the rest is mine). Now I can use it quite a bit, but at some point it decides to warp to another address and gives me garble like its reading and plotting another part of my code instead of my graphic data. Going backwards works fine again, so its looping back ok. Now I know that the blit code handles large data bytes as a whole screen takes over 700 bytes. I'm reaching I think about 145 bytes and then its doing something different.

 

Because I usually reverse engineer everything, I cut out what I don't understand until I do. I noticed there is a huge use of registers like Qu and Ql etc, which my code doesn't use yet. Is this why I can't get past 145 bytes when I'm using dci to reference data (apologies for my ignorance!)? I'm stuck in that "well it works just fine until this point!" phase of not understanding why it does what it does, I thought some of it might be because the DC splits its bytes, but doesn't it have 9 bits for address, and 8 would cover me past 145 anyway?

 

My code is really basic but it works up until this 145th byte:

 

	dci level1	; load data
	lisl 1		; using lisu 2 lisl 1 as my offset value
	lr A, S		; moving it to the accumilator
	adc		; adding it to the DC to get the right byte to load

I then increase or decrease the offset based on whether player is moving left or right, for the scrolling. When I look at blit code, it uses K, P and Q (sometimes split into their upper and lower equivalents) - should I be using them? and if anyone has the time can they explain what exactly they do?

 

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ADC adds the accumulator value as a signed binary number to to PC0 - so if you "add" too much it instead subtracts.

Range is -128 to 127, if you go over the fence at 127 you'll drop all the way down to -128. 

 

I have mostly used ADC. You can use Q with DC, I think it's handy as a backup when I need to save an address for later. Let's say in your example you need to fetch data at address "level1" but you already have an address for other graphics in DC that you need to use later, you save in Q and fetch it back when done.
PC1 is also a handy storage space that you reach via the K register, you can reach the address that is stored in PC1 with just a POP instruction in two cycles instead of a JMP that takes 5.5 cycles. Not a bad idea if you need to do a lot of large jumps to the same address a lot. 
I'm not a well trained programmer, there sure are clever things you can do, I can only suggest you look at other people's code and try and figure out what they did, if it's good and then steal it.  ;)
 

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11 hours ago, e5frog said:

ADC adds the accumulator value as a signed binary number to to PC0 - so if you "add" too much it instead subtracts.

Range is -128 to 127, if you go over the fence at 127 you'll drop all the way down to -128. 

 

I have mostly used ADC. You can use Q with DC, I think it's handy as a backup when I need to save an address for later. Let's say in your example you need to fetch data at address "level1" but you already have an address for other graphics in DC that you need to use later, you save in Q and fetch it back when done.
PC1 is also a handy storage space that you reach via the K register, you can reach the address that is stored in PC1 with just a POP instruction in two cycles instead of a JMP that takes 5.5 cycles. Not a bad idea if you need to do a lot of large jumps to the same address a lot. 
I'm not a well trained programmer, there sure are clever things you can do, I can only suggest you look at other people's code and try and figure out what they did, if it's good and then steal it.  ;)
 

Actually this helps and makes a lot of sense, the 145 is probably how far up I was able to track in front from the 127 max before it looped round. The 145 was throwing me off because it didn't make sense in terms of bits. I guess the easy way round is reference more often, it should still allow data to be read but I'll have to take that into account. I need to look at the blit code again and work out how they do it, perhaps Q and K are used to jump ahead in the data to avoid going past 127 with PC0, but reading it makes my head hurt! 

 

 

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You could check if negative and do two additions, first 127 and then what's left. 







There's probably other ways to do it. 

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I had the chance to speak with the director of marketing for the Channel F from 1976 into mid-1978 last week, John Donatoni, which was a very informative conversation. Some of the main takeaways:

 

He said the Channel F was an incredibly hot item at first - even the FCC delay didn't hit them too hard in that regard. To support retailers, they hired demonstrators - usually women in their 30s through their 50s who wanted some extra money with a part-time job - to go to stores and demonstrate how the system worked. Being a cartridge based console he said it took a fair bit of work to educate consumers what differentiated it from earlier ball-and-paddle units. Retailers got on board because of the razor-and-razorblades model, which was the company's selling point for the system from the get-go. This includes selling software year round, so, at least by his memory, that wasn't just because of increased production costs.

 

The key problems the Channel F faced were quality control and production, by his reckoning. On quality control, he said the system's return rate spiked after 4-5 months and never really went down, and almost all of those were because the controllers were failing. Retailers stopped ordering as many units because they didn't want to deal with returns, and despite a few internal tweaks while he was there he said the issue never really got resolved enough to settle the return rate down. Secondly, Fairchild itself managed inventory like a semiconductor company, not a consumer-facing one; what this means is that they'd only produce product to the extent they had orders paid for. As a result stores were chronically low on carts and consoles because Fairchild never had any held back to fill orders quickly. This also hurt the amount of orders retailers were taking. Finally, there was the watch market collapse - this cost a bunch of money to the company, and from his perspective, they also had to deal with a higher return rate due to malfunctions than the company had expected - exacerbating the losses they were getting from the price war. He said by late 1977 the writing was on the wall for the Channel F amid Fairchild's issues.

 

Beyond that, he said they had a pretty good working relationship with the developers - typically the developers came up with a game, suggest a title, and marketing would either keep it or come up with something else to try and sell copies. Interestingly, he said there was a point where the developers and the broader video game group came to a head - the devs wanted credit for their games. Donatoni remembers it being resolved with an agreement to put the authors' names on the packaging, which as far as I can tell never actually happened. I wonder if that was an agreement that just fell to the wayside as the company pulled out of the market.

 

I do have plans to follow up with him on a few more questions, but if anyone has anything pressing feel free to let me know and I can try and add it to the list if he hasn't already covered it.

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7 hours ago, ubersaurus said:

Donatoni remembers it being resolved with an agreement to put the authors' names on the packaging, which as far as I can tell never actually happened. 

Perhaps it was a bit late, the only mention I know is Brad Reid-Selth being in the #26 instructions. 

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I talked to Arlasoft, thinking about making a quadruple titles cartridge with his games 2048-F8, Centipede, Tents and Trees and 3REES. 
Is anyone interested? 
Goal is the usual cart, box and instructions, most likely under $100 depending on the amount.
1779193557_Arlasoft4-3anim.gif.5f87f8be1ba5e2101784f00503b9b69b.gif

 

This is just a request for information if you're likely to get (and can afford) one if it's provided. 
Not sure how I should receive answers so we don't clutter this thread.
Send me a message here and I'll put a list somewhere.
 

If I can edit this reply I'll update it with information. 

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51 minutes ago, e5frog said:

I talked to Arlasoft, thinking about making a quadruple titles cartridge with his games 2048-F8, Centipede, Tents and Trees and 3REES. 
Is anyone interested? 
Goal is the usual cart, box and instructions, most likely under $100 depending on the amount.
1779193557_Arlasoft4-3anim.gif.5f87f8be1ba5e2101784f00503b9b69b.gif

 

This is just a request for information if you're likely to get (and can afford) one if it's provided. 
Not sure how I should receive answers so we don't clutter this thread.
Send me a message here and I'll put a list somewhere.
 

If I can edit this reply I'll update it with information. 

 

   Of course I want one. 🙂

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