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Tornadoboy

Just bought an Adam console - gazillion questions

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Hi all,

 

A few weeks ago on semi-impulse and for a decent price I bought an untested Adam console minus the keyboard and printer off Ebay, well I finally got off my ass and tested it on a power supply and it came up with Adam Smartwriter so I seem to be good to go, I have a keyboard on order that hopefully will be here shortly and work. I have a bunch of questions so I'll just post them here rather than gum things up with multiple new threads:

 

- Can Adam Smartwriter be replaced with Smartbasic?

I know there's a thread about that but it seems a little ambiguous about whether or not it can actually be done and the details if so. If it can what do I specifically need to do? What type of EPROM? I have the ability to program them. Which sockets do they go in? What file(s) do I use and where can I get them? This frankly is how the system should have been released to begin with, Adam Smartwriter should have been what was included on tape instead of installed internally, even if I had a printer I would want to replace it.

 

- What make/model do you recommend for a permanent internal power supply?

I'm no stranger to soldering so that's not a problem. This is another one of those "they were out of their *bleepin* minds for not doing this" things, but whatever.

 

- The tape drive it came with naturally is the version where the tire melts into the tar from hell. I have the crud-encrusted encoder wheel soaking in acetone as I type, is there a way to replace that assuming it isn't savable and what should I replace the tire with? This isn't critical per se as I plan to build/use a ADE but since I have it if it's possible I might as well make it functional.

 

- What other mods should I consider doing? I'm not great as to understanding or designing how something electronic works but I'm no slouch at building them given a schematic or building things in general. 

 

- Any other suggestions are welcome. I didn't grow up with an Adam and the TI 99/4a was my first computer but did have a Colecovision as my first game console, I'd love to be able to load all the cartridges off the ADE and maybe try all the super games and software indigenous to the Adam for the first time. 

 

 

 

Edited by Tornadoboy

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Welcome aboard. Glad to hear your system boots up into SmartWriter... big first step. How about the ColecoVision side of things when you press the Cartridge Reset? Without a cart plugged in you should see the CV Bios screen.

 

SmartWriter roms can be replaced and it has been done with SmartBasic and CP/M. There are 4 sockets labeled U## on the Adam Logic Board of which 1 is for the EOS romand either 2 or 3 are for the SmartWriter roms depending on the board setup you have. The SmartBasic program would have to be patched and possibly split (2 16K proms or maybe just 1 32K prom) to load properly the U## sockets. Honestly, I would just make a cartridge version or use the AtariMax Ultimate SD Multicart to load the rom seeing as patched rom is available and then you keep SmartWriter intact. Just turn on the system, press the cartridge reset and SmartBasic instantly loads. You can also buy the MicroFox Parallel Interface (slot #2) which provides a Boot Prom socket... turn on the system and whatever is installed in the prom socket instantly boots like the IDE HD driver or SmartBasic. However, some code from the SB rom would have to be patched to make it work properly.

 

Checkout John Lundy's posts on the Coleco Adam Facebook page re all this. He even made a beautiful cart label from the DDP case insert!

 

MicroFox - ann.hollowdreams.com

 

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As far as an internal power supply... William Hicks, John Lundy and Jim Walters have all posted info and pics on the Coleco Adam Facebook page. I don't recall the PS model they used, but all the info is there.

 

ann.hollowdreams.com has the replacement timing wheels and instructions on how to perform the repair. William Hicks and many others have posted about what they use so best to hit Facebook since they don't frequent this Forum all too often.

 

Really not a lot of additional mods to perform besides installing an IDE HD setup or the ADE in one of the Data Drive bays. There is also the VGA mod using Haggerty's FPGA board, but those are sold out and the new HDMI version is in limbo. For sound, to get properly volume output when using the Atari adapter or Opcode SGM for output from the 7-pin Auxillary DIN port, you need to tap into the cap at C88 on the CV board. John Lundy posted all about this.

 

William Hicks... www.retrosystemrescue.com, www.adamarchive.org, smartbasic.net

 

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17 hours ago, rietveld said:

Adam drive emulator by John lundy

Yep, building one! :D

Once I get it working 100% I may screw around with the code to see if I can get it to work with a 128X64 graphical LCD instead of the 2X64 it uses now, not really important and the design is great as it is but I'm trying to learn Arduino code and given how cheap the LCDs are it might make it a little more user friendly. If I get it to work I'll post the code, I also intend to try to design some 3D printed parts and I'll post those on Thingiverse if anything comes of it.  

 

Thanks NIAD!

I've got a couple of controllers so I've been able to play cartridge games, everything seems good other than the colecovision reset switch is a little sticky and the edge connector and cartridge contacts could use a good cleaning. I don't have as many carts as I thought I did :( but again I'm building the ADE and I've got 4 cartridge PCBs that take 27256 EPROMs coming so I can make some if I want, probably a Smartbasic at least.

I have an F18a FPGA so I may use that though I haven't made up my mind, when I had it apart to clean I did put a socket for the video chip just in case I did. I'll check out the other stuff like the parallel card, thanks again!

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18 minutes ago, Tornadoboy said:

Yep, building one! :D

Once I get it working 100% I may screw around with the code to see if I can get it to work with a 128X64 graphical LCD instead of the 2X64 it uses now, not really important and the design is great as it is but I'm trying to learn Arduino code and given how cheap the LCDs are it might make it a little more user friendly. If I get it to work I'll post the code, I also intend to try to design some 3D printed parts and I'll post those on Thingiverse if anything comes of it.  

 

Thanks NIAD!

I've got a couple of controllers so I've been able to play cartridge games, everything seems good other than the colecovision reset switch is a little sticky and the edge connector and cartridge contacts could use a good cleaning. I don't have as many carts as I thought I did :( but again I'm building the ADE and I've got 4 cartridge PCBs that take 27256 EPROMs coming so I can make some if I want, probably a Smartbasic at least.

I have an F18a FPGA so I may use that though I haven't made up my mind, when I had it apart to clean I did put a socket for the video chip just in case I did. I'll check out the other stuff like the parallel card, thanks again!

I use the ADE lite. It's the one without a display.  Works great with the built in menu program and is very small

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1 hour ago, rietveld said:

I use the ADE lite. It's the one without a display.  Works great with the built in menu program and is very small

Yeah true, as I said the designs are fine the way they are, but I just want to mess with it to prove I can :D. Right now I don't have a keyboard so I can't use the on-screen menu so I'm building the one with the LCD, though hopefully I'll have a keyboard this week (and hopefully it works too).

 

One of the things I'm thinking of 3D printing is a full length faceplate to take the place of the tape drives, the ADE would be incorporated into it as well as a power switch, power LED and both reset switches, I don't care for the existing ones much, if I get one of the IDE cards I may incorporate the SDcard into it as well and maybe even the cartridge port if I get really ambitious. I've got good soldering and desoldering tools so moving things around doesn't scare me, and a 3D printed case for a tape drive so it can be hooked out outside the case is also something else I'm considering playing with, assuming I get my drive working. 

 

Fantasies fantasies... we'll see how much of that I actually do, but if I come up with anything I think people might find useful I'll post it. 

 

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1 hour ago, Tornadoboy said:

Yeah true, as I said the designs are fine the way they are, but I just want to mess with it to prove I can :D. Right now I don't have a keyboard so I can't use the on-screen menu so I'm building the one with the LCD, though hopefully I'll have a keyboard this week (and hopefully it works too).

 

One of the things I'm thinking of 3D printing is a full length faceplate to take the place of the tape drives, the ADE would be incorporated into it as well as a power switch, power LED and both reset switches, I don't care for the existing ones much, if I get one of the IDE cards I may incorporate the SDcard into it as well and maybe even the cartridge port if I get really ambitious. I've got good soldering and desoldering tools so moving things around doesn't scare me, and a 3D printed case for a tape drive so it can be hooked out outside the case is also something else I'm considering playing with, assuming I get my drive working. 

 

Fantasies fantasies... we'll see how much of that I actually do, but if I come up with anything I think people might find useful I'll post it. 

 

Your plans sound great.   If I could make any suggestions I would ask for joystick support for the menu system 

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43 minutes ago, rietveld said:

Your plans sound great.   If I could make any suggestions I would ask for joystick support for the menu system 

If I can figure it out, I'll add it! I'm a noob to Arduino though so that might be above my current skill set in regards to, I've added better LCDs to other Arduino projects but I'm not sure how one would detect joystick movements through the Adamnet and incorporate it into the code, or for that matter into the Adam boot menu program which I have no clue how to code.  

Edited by Tornadoboy

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Ok here's another question I'll throw out there: Is it possible to convert original Colecovision carts to another game? Among other things I've got a spare Looping cart which is missing the label anyway and has 2 2764 EPROMs, but the best I've been able to get it to do thus far is boot Pepper II to the point where it gets to the game select screen before immediately rebooting. Not particularly important as I'm building the ADE and have some cart PCBs for 27256 chips coming but I haven't been able to find any info on the subject whatsoever, the cart PCBs are coming all the way from France and I'm an impatient sort so if I can convert some of my spares (which I have tons) to other games that would be handy.

Edited by Tornadoboy

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As far as your tech questions concerning making your own carts, best to ask Jim Walters on the Coleco Adam Facebook page. He was making carts all the way back in the 80s, so can provide all the necessary details foe repurposing old carts. You can also buy new Homebrew cart PCBs from CollectorVision  (full size pcb uses 1 32K prom) and Phillip Klaus Krause (mini pcb and cart shell).

 

Re the F18, do you have the Adam adapter board?

 

A slot #3 Memory Expander will come in very handy for the better 3rd Party software. MicroFox still sells these or you can make your own thanks to all the Micro Innovations designs/info being available.

 

 

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3 hours ago, NIAD said:

Re the F18, do you have the Adam adapter board?

 

 

Do you mean that offset board? Not yet, didn't know it existed until I stumbled upon it the other day, I guess I can always just take it out later if I change my mind but I'm kind of waiting to see what happens with the new F18-type thing he's working on before I use that one I have, though I might get that offset board just for good measure. I'll be sure to check out the other stuff including the memory expansion board, I don't have a lot of money to throw around so I might end up making my own stuff depending. 

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Yes, the Adam Offset Board for the original F18. The new (yet to be released) HDMI F18 does not require the offset board.

 

I posted all the Micro Innovations files here on the forum, so just search the company name or they should be available at

 

www.adamarchive.org

 

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18 hours ago, NIAD said:

Yes, the Adam Offset Board for the original F18. The new (yet to be released) HDMI F18 does not require the offset board.

 

I posted all the Micro Innovations files here on the forum, so just search the company name or they should be available at

 

www.adamarchive.org

 

I haven't had a chance yet but I'm going to have to sit down this weekend and follow up on some of this stuff and start sending some inquiry emails, I knew there was a pretty big Colecovision community but I really had no idea there was for the Adam too, I always figured it was an oddity that never was around long enough to form a base, which is a pity since all problems aside it was a pretty good computer for the time. As far as the offset board I had assumed that it had to do with the metal shield but now having looked at it it's a matter for fitting the case so yeah it's pretty important, I'm going to see if they can still be gotten but if not I should be able to hand-make a substitute. The big thing with the F18a I have I want to see if the new version will indeed be available and for how much, but again I guess I could always just take it out of the Adam later, though I hate modifying classic hardware cases for no reason. 

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THANKS! :D

Anyone still selling the bare PCBs? If not I may add doing these up in KiCAD to my long term to-do list.

 

Got my keyboard in the mail today, other than needing some retro-briting it's in good shape and appears to work 100% :) Oddly enough only a few keys appeared to have yellowed, all I can think is either someone repaired this keyboard with parts from another one or at the factory they assembled it from different batches of keys. 

I've in theory got all the parts to finish the ADE this weekend so now that I'm sure I'll be able to use it I'm all the more motivated to finish it, then I'll have to move on to pursuing the other things like that offset card, etc. 

 

I order a power supply for internal installation, it's a Mean Well RT-50a that appears other people have used for this purpose. It's coming from Taiwan so I may be waiting a bit for it :( 

Once I've got that and the ADE done I should be in pretty good shape!

s-l1600.jpg

Edited by Tornadoboy

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There's never been any rhyme or reason to which keys yellow or not. I have seen so many like your's over the years as well as others that uniformily yellow.

 

No bare boards that I know of, but Adamcon/MicroFox sells both boards on their site (ann.hollowdreams.com). The 256K M.E. can be purchased as a 64K and then later upgraded to 256K if needed.

 

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