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bluejay

5200 Expansion Slot

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What were the early 5200's expansion slots supposed to do? Perhaps a disk drive interface like the Nintendo Famicom? Or maybe a keyboard add on that makes it atari 8 bit compatible? Or maybe an expansion module that plays CV games, as a revenge?

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Cpuwiz most likely knows what's possible with the expansion port, but there was never a marketed item that used it as far as I know. There are pinouts available for it, and lots of speculation.

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I'm sure "someone" in the 5200 community is smart enough to interface a Raspberry Pi with it.  Maybe we could use a keyboard with the Pi, remap some of the hardcoded stuff and have it behave like an Atari 400?

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On 10/6/2019 at 9:37 AM, bluejay said:

What were the early 5200's expansion slots supposed to do? Perhaps a disk drive interface like the Nintendo Famicom? Or maybe a keyboard add on that makes it atari 8 bit compatible? Or maybe an expansion module that plays CV games, as a revenge?

 

No. And although there was some talk within Atari Inc about doing a Colecovision module - it would've been completely possible to have done so since it used standard chips - it would've been inserted into the cartridge slot like the existing 2600 Piggyback Parasite Adapter and the unreleased 7800 Adapter.

 

CPUWiz has the specs but the 5200 Expansion Port - like the later 7800 Expansion Port - apparently has too low of bandwidth to be useful like that. At one point, Atari planned on releasing a musical keyboard accessory for the 5200 just like Commodore did for the C64 and Mattel did for the Intellivision 2. From what Curt has said elsewhere, the unreleased Atari 5100 [the "5200 jr"] dropped the Expansion Port.

 

It would be cool - and I say this about the 7800 Expansion Port too - if there was enough bandwidth to support a Y Connector to add 2 more joystick ports like what was commonly done with the Atari ST and the Amiga through their Parallel Ports. That way, the 2-Port 5200s could support 4 controllers if certain games were modded to support the scheme. If the bandwidth is there for the joysticks, then that would mitigate the lack of ability to use the MultiJoy adapters that are used in Atari 8-bit land. Not that there's a burning desire amongst the community but everything helps.

 

Before anyone brings up the unreleased 7800 Keyboard to try to refute the low-bandwidth claim, it didn't connect to the 7800 Expansion Port; it connected to Joystick Port 2. Port 2 has high speed bidirectional communication abilities. According to Curt, GCC designed a proprietary chip to power it that handled the keyboard input, the SIO Port, and the pass-thru Joystick Port that the Keyboard featured. Curt speculated that Atari Corp probably planned to do something similar to support their planned port of MIDI Maze to the 7800 because it would've been lame had it only been 1 or 2 player - a la Ballblazer - on the same screen instead of multi-player like the original ST version, the XEGS/Atari 8-bit port, and, of course, BPS' licensed version [FaceBall 2000] for practically every released non-Atari game system on the market at the time.

 

What the 5200 could really use, and I'm sure some will chime in and say "just get an Atari 8-bit computer instead", is an internal memory expansion upgrade. 64K, 128K, 256K, 512K, or above. That would certainly aid in converting more A8 games - and, ahem, demoes - to the platform. Well, that and a 1MB ROM Cart design. And then A8 Space Harrier could be ported. SIO would also be nice for MIDI Maze. Many such hypothetical upgrades would require drilling holes into the case but people are already doing that for video and power mods anyway.

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What I found interesting about the expansion port is that Atari ADDED an extra line or connector pin on the 2 port model that is NOT there, blank, on the 4 port model!

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Gah.  Pulled the trigger too early.  Please ignore.

Edited by x=usr(1536)
Should have checked one more page of search results first.

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On 10/14/2019 at 10:18 AM, Lynxpro said:

What the 5200 could really use, and I'm sure some will chime in and say "just get an Atari 8-bit computer instead", is an internal memory expansion upgrade. 64K, 128K, 256K, 512K, or above. That would certainly aid in converting more A8 games - and, ahem, demoes - to the platform. Well, that and a 1MB ROM Cart design. And then A8 Space Harrier could be ported. SIO would also be nice for MIDI Maze. Many such hypothetical upgrades would require drilling holes into the case but people are already doing that for video and power mods anyway.

I actually put my video mod so it lays where the expansion port is and 3d printed a new door to hold in the RGB out.  But yeah it would be interesting to upgrade it to 64k (I mean are there really any or many games that would take advantage of more?  I really only know of AR that takes advantage of 128kb and that's just to prevent more disk swapping).  What I think would need to happen before people start work on a memory upgrade for the 5200 is to find some software that would A) be beneficial to have on the 5200 (you know something that would just be epic to have access to the analog controls / or even the superior trackball, or games that use multiple buttons.) and B) require the memory upgrades.  Software generally sells the hardware.  That's why the VBXE was kind of a hard bite, not much supports it yet.

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On 10/22/2019 at 4:18 PM, leech said:

I actually put my video mod so it lays where the expansion port is and 3d printed a new door to hold in the RGB out.  But yeah it would be interesting to upgrade it to 64k (I mean are there really any or many games that would take advantage of more?  I really only know of AR that takes advantage of 128kb and that's just to prevent more disk swapping).  What I think would need to happen before people start work on a memory upgrade for the 5200 is to find some software that would A) be beneficial to have on the 5200 (you know something that would just be epic to have access to the analog controls / or even the superior trackball, or games that use multiple buttons.) and B) require the memory upgrades.  Software generally sells the hardware.  That's why the VBXE was kind of a hard bite, not much supports it yet.

 

You want the name of such a title? The homebrew A8 port of Stunt Car Racer [I think that's the name of it]. It takes 128K to fully emulate the Commodore 64 version, and it runs faster. Port that sucker to the Atari 5200 and throw in support for a Paddle Controller mod and you have one helluvuah title.

 

The other thing is there's so much room in the 5200's case for additional mods. RAM wouldn't even take up that much room based upon what the XBoard did inside the 7800. 

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