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Ben Hecks latest portable A8 build

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Following previous builds, it will likely be a stock-standard rebuild of an A8 - a Basic Unit of Atari, one could say and a smidge bit bigger than the size of one of those specialized Intel boards. I'm sure if he released it, some of our more clever tinkerers could optimize and crunch it down to that, if some crazy desire was there. ;)

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I still think these project can turn in to Frankenstein things, good intentions turn in to taking the hardware and making it not compatible with the old hardware which sort of sinks it FOR ME, making a mini Atari is great but apart from adding HDMI as screens are non scart / lower end connections any more which makes sense although an option for a scart output from some sort of connector would be nice for the old folk who like CRT advantages would be nice. What would be good would be an add on board that allows older hardware to be used but can be removed if you just want to use flash drives / mini / micro USB to keep the size down.

 

Although that in itself may sound a tad Frankenstein I think taking away the history of its add ons while some still work would be a poor taste thing....Having an add on board is size adage but at least keeps it as the kids say "real"..

 

As always, my thoughts only...

 

Paul..

Edited by Mclaneinc

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I'd be happy if someone just did something along the lines of an Atari 8-bit version of the Retron 77. Basically a small, modern HDMI capable clone that can use real carts/peripherals, but which doesn't cost hundreds of dollars.

It'll never happen, not enough demand, but that would be cool. These custom builds are really neat, but way outside my resources.

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I'd be happy if someone just did something along the lines of an Atari 8-bit version of the Retron 77.

 

Retron 77 just contains modern hardware running an emulator (Stella).

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Who's Ben Hecks? :)

I'm glad somebody noticed the grammatical typo. I posted the title quickly from my phone that day. Can admin edit the title please to add the apostrophe :)

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I'm glad somebody noticed the grammatical typo. I posted the title quickly from my phone that day. Can admin edit the title please to add the apostrophe :)

An impeccable reaction, if I may say. Many don't react so well. :)

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I'd be happy if someone just did something along the lines of an Atari 8-bit version of the Retron 77. Basically a small, modern HDMI capable clone that can use real carts/peripherals, but which doesn't cost hundreds of dollars.

 

It'll never happen, not enough demand, but that would be cool. These custom builds are really neat, but way outside my resources.

 

 

 

Retron 77 just contains modern hardware running an emulator (Stella).

 

Yep, and it can't even use all the carts or peripherals. The cartridge interface is a rom-reader so plenty of bankswitching schemes don't work. Pitfall II with it's DPC chip don't work, modern Harmony Carts and homebrews on Melody boards don't either. I gather the roms can be loaded through the SD card but still, it's a limitation. I gather Driving Controllers and Trak-Balls don't work either - not sure if that's a limit of the controller interface they built, or if can be addressed in their "glue" firmware sitting between the hardware and the version of Stella they're using.

 

Anyway, the closest equivalent is an RPi running Atari800. Though Avery recently published his first test builds of Altirra for ARMx64 … I expect it requires a pretty powerful processor (in terms of ARM chips anyway). Tiny, low powered, can be made portable without a lot of trouble, and with the right interface, can even use vintage controllers.

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An impeccable reaction, if I may say. Many don't react so well. :)

 

I'm sorry, i'm still in a troglodyte mental state and yet to evolve enough to grammar check...I blame my parents, Ugg and Dugg....

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See Dr V, that's the Frankenstein thing I mentioned a few posts back....Its an Atari but its not fully......Bit freaky...

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A good part of what Ben Heck is doing is the wow factor of taking the original Atari chips and building up an A8 from scratch, similar to what he did with his point to point wiring of an Atari 2600 some time ago. So substituting an off the shelf modern device would not have the same effect he is likely after. It's a cool project, and I'm fascinated to see his final approach, as in will this be exact copy of an existing A8 circuit, or will he improvise and simplify the glue logic.

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Exactly, mytek.

That Piman crap didn't bother me because we have the ability to skip that part. The meat of the video was the project itself, and it seems a bit petty to whine about piman.

 

Looking forward to part 2.

Edited by 80s_Atari_Guy

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interesting to see that the Freddie chip was intended to combine many of the glue logic chips and some other functions into one package. primarily it saved costs.

i believe sinclair also did this in their 8bit computers - resulting in the "ULA" chip.

it will likely be standard procedure for skilled designers and an easy way to get a 'golden handshake' from the boss hehe

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I forgot about him using the Freddie chip. Yes that in itself gets rid of a lot of glue :) .

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I was the patron for his second portable A8. Still have it, but it needs some rebuild work, as the hot glue has come apart in places.

 

-Thom

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A good part of what Ben Heck is doing is the wow factor of taking the original Atari chips and building up an A8 from scratch, similar to what he did with his point to point wiring of an Atari 2600 some time ago. So substituting an off the shelf modern device would not have the same effect he is likely after. It's a cool project, and I'm fascinated to see his final approach, as in will this be exact copy of an existing A8 circuit, or will he improvise and simplify the glue logic.

It will be interesting to see what Ben comes up with as he has simplified the glue logic with other builds.

 

interesting to see that the Freddie chip was intended to combine many of the glue logic chips and some other functions into one package. primarily it saved costs.

i believe sinclair also did this in their 8bit computers - resulting in the "ULA" chip.

Indeed, the issue 5 and 6 of the original rubber key Spectrum removed six decoder/multiplexer chips being replaced with a Mullard ULA type ZX8401 and a 74LS04 hex inverter provided the six inverters required for the new neater design. The 6C001-7 ULA chip that arrived with the issue 4 onwards was also improved and works in most of the original earlier models.

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I was amazed that he seems to be building a complete A8 from memory from the viewer's POV. I'm sure he edited out any time he spent looking things up.

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Retron 77 just contains modern hardware running an emulator (Stella).

Which would be just fine with me. It'd be nice to have a cheap, functional unit that played carts on an HDMI TV without all the mods, add-ons, converters etc.

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Was going to post about this build but there was a topic already! :)

 

For more details and high-res photos check out my site: https://www.benheck.com/atari-800-handheld/

 

I'd love to continue working on this concept. Ideally it should be an 800XL with modern SRAM and all the glue logic done with a small CPLD (cheaper version of an FPGA) This would avoid the need for the Freddie chip and simply use the common main IC's.

 

A lot more could be added if I was getting real PCB's made but our show is (was) always on a rushed schedule so with a 2 week time limit was faster to make them in-house.

 

Curious to hear your thoughts and ideas!

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Downloaded part 2 for later viewing...

 

Please tell me that thing isn't the portable XL - it looks like some cheap ripoff of a Speak & Spell.

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Was going to post about this build but there was a topic already! :)

 

For more details and high-res photos check out my site: https://www.benheck.com/atari-800-handheld/

 

I'd love to continue working on this concept. Ideally it should be an 800XL with modern SRAM and all the glue logic done with a small CPLD (cheaper version of an FPGA) This would avoid the need for the Freddie chip and simply use the common main IC's.

 

A lot more could be added if I was getting real PCB's made but our show is (was) always on a rushed schedule so with a 2 week time limit was faster to make them in-house.

 

Curious to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Ben check out my 1088XEL project to see a way to use SRAM without the need for a CPLD or Freddie, and very little glue logic. I'm also working on a new project that will substitute a Clock Oscillator IC at 4X the required frequency followed by a 74HCT74 divide by 4 circuit to get it to what we need. This is the same as what Freddie does internally.

 

BTW, I love the way your portable turned out :).

 

And one last thing... ALLPCB.com would have turned around professionally made boards for you in 1 week or less for very little money. I use them all the time with great success.

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