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Mariano Rodriguez

Getting started with an 800XL

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I have just bought a 800XL with dataset in a garagesale, but I grow up with commodore so know nothing. I am very exited though!

 

I have 2 main questions guys:

1. Best video and sound: The unit came with the original cable (the one that needs the black small box with the TV - GAME switch) What is the best cable to use to hoock it to a CRT and also to a modern led TV?

2. Storage: I found the SIO2SD on Ebay, and also the Atarimax MyIDE-II CompactFlash, but what is the best option now Jan 2020?

Cheers and I am glad I finally landed on the Atari world

 

 

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Best stock video is composite by the monitor port though the colour signal can be added with a wire+resistor.

The problem in the modern day can be that few TVs have S-Video any more.  The genious thinking sees them include the second best with second worst, ie HDMI and composite.

 

SIO2SD and/or a SIO2PC type are good starters.  SIO2PC has the disadvantage that you're tethered to another computer.

IDE types are great but usage is beyond novice level.

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Welcome to the wonderful world of Atari.

 

Worth having a look at getting an Sdrive-Max as it emulates a floppy drive (and more), you copy

floppy images (.atr files) onto a Micro-SD card and mount them using the Sdrive touch screen.

 

Obviously first you need a screen/monitor, unless you have an old TV with a UHF tuner the cable you have is no

good, it does not connect monitors, for that you need an S-video (best picture) or Composite video cable.

 

As @Rybags says you will need to add a connection to the monitor socket in the 800XL (can't help on that as I don't own one, but lots of info on this forum on how to do it)

 

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15 hours ago, Mariano Rodriguez said:

2. Storage: I found the SIO2SD on Ebay, and also the Atarimax MyIDE-II CompactFlash, but what is the best option now Jan 2020?

I use RespeQT on a Tinkerboard for all my 8bit mass storage - you can emulate single density drives all the way up to these massive pseudo hard disk size drives with Spartdos.  It's a pretty amazing piece of software.  You will need to order one of the SIO2PC adapters from Lotharek (https://lotharek.pl/productdetail.php?id=157).  There are a few other manufacturers of these devices as well but I prefer the above.  Once you get the adapter you plug the other side into a cheap single board computer running Linux or your Windows machine.  You load up RespeQT and tell it what USB port you're using and you're off to the races.

 

That said I also have two 1050s and two 810s...but I haven't had to use them in several years.

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I forgot about that option, I started initailly years ago with SIO2PC, as said that means having at least a laptop hanging off

your 800XL, when I started using my Atari's again many years later the first one I went for was Respqt running on a

cheap Raspberry Pi, some people say they can get it to work on a Pi Zero, but I found it a bit hit and miss, any Raspberry Pi

better that a Pi Zero will be more than capable

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19 hours ago, Mariano Rodriguez said:

I have just bought a 800XL with dataset in a garagesale, but I grow up with commodore so know nothing. I am very exited though!

 

I have 2 main questions guys:

1. Best video and sound: The unit came with the original cable (the one that needs the black small box with the TV - GAME switch) What is the best cable to use to hoock it to a CRT and also to a modern led TV?
 

The game switch will hook up to any TV with a coax input.

For better video, find a composite cable..   the only issue there is many modern TVs are doing away with legacy connections like "composite".   My 1080p TV from 8 years ago still has it, with a dozen other connections, so check your TV

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26 minutes ago, TGB1718 said:

I forgot about that option, I started initailly years ago with SIO2PC, as said that means having at least a laptop hanging off

your 800XL, when I started using my Atari's again many years later the first one I went for was Respqt running on a

cheap Raspberry Pi, some people say they can get it to work on a Pi Zero, but I found it a bit hit and miss, any Raspberry Pi

better that a Pi Zero will be more than capable

 

I've only ever run it with the Tinkerboard and performance has been a non-issue for me.  I'd think you could get a cut running on a PI Zero - it doesn't take much to drive bits over USB cable.

 

I've thought about creating a small touchscreen device purpose built for this but I don't mind running a small linux machine next to the 8bit.

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On 1/22/2020 at 6:48 PM, Mariano Rodriguez said:

I have just bought a 800XL with dataset in a garagesale, but I grow up with commodore so know nothing. I am very exited though!

 

I have 2 main questions guys:

1. Best video and sound: The unit came with the original cable (the one that needs the black small box with the TV - GAME switch) What is the best cable to use to hoock it to a CRT and also to a modern led TV?

2. Storage: I found the SIO2SD on Ebay, and also the Atarimax MyIDE-II CompactFlash, but what is the best option now Jan 2020?

Cheers and I am glad I finally landed on the Atari world

 

 

 

Welcome!! Congrats on your 800XL pickup. Good find!

 

A composite cable that connects to the 5 pin DIN connector on the back does the best stock video output. You won't need to install a wire or resistor for color. However for separate chroma+luma (s-video) you probably will need the wire+resistor mod on the 800XL. Best Electronics sells a great composite only cable. I tried TWO of Lotharek's new composite + s-video cables and they gave identical terrible video quality with hard vertical bars so don't get that one. But a combo cable that does both is most convenient. The reason you want both is for games that do color artifacting, s-video will not show any artifact colors (because the resolution is too high). NTSC machines benefit more from artifacting.

 

You can use RF video on a modern TV with a simple $2 adapter. Won't look very good tho but will work.

 

SIO2SD is popular. I prefer SIO2PC USB and use my main PC for setting up virtual drives, etc.. Personal preference and cost factor here.  The best cartridge solution is probably AVG Cart. Still available here from user 'tmp' at a very reasonable price. A cart can't do everything but they are great to use as well.

 

For the vast majority of games you'll need to disable BASIC by holding OPTION down when powering on the machine. The computer will boot off disk drive 1 automatically. No need to type anything. ATR files are whole disk images. XEX files are a single game loaded from DOS however respeqt (in Windows/Linux/etc) can allow you to boot an XEX (ALT B in respeqt).

 

I'd say most games are better on one or the other platform, C64 or A8. Gyruss for example has better music and color on A8. Fort Apocolypse has a better framerate. Eidolon has a better framerate. Ballblazer is higher resolution iirc. There are games that are better on C64 as well, especially later 80's games. A game's initial, native, platform often dictates which is better. You'll see some graphics on the 800XL that the C64 just can't do (and visa versa).

 

This thread might help you

 

Edited by Sugarland
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Congrats on your score! I too grew up Commodore. The only Atari 8-bit computer I ever encountered growing up was the XE...and I didn't use it for much other than carts.

 

But, years ago I was curious and too got myself an Atari 800XL. Man, you are in for a treat. Honestly if this (or the original 800) was my computer back in those days I probably would never have moved to the C64 at all. Well built machines with excellent POKEY sound and great colorful graphics. Lots of superb games on it and modern creations (such as the excellent Moon Patrol Redux)

 

My 800XL is already modded for S-Video (I didn't do the mod) but you can get away with composite as well. The composite video out of these is quite good. I use a RetroTink2X to get it to a modern HDMI TV and it looks superb.

 

As for a modern storage & disk loading option I went with the SDrive Max. It's cheap ($50-$60 on ebay), looks cool and is super easy to use. You can use the touchscreen but it isn't required as there is an application you stick on the root of the card that will bring you into a file select program when you power on the Atari. Trust me, I know little about this machine and it was ridiculously easy to do.

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2 hours ago, Sugarland said:

A composite cable that connects to the 5 pin DIN connector on the back does the best stock video output. You won't need to install a wire or resistor for color. However for separate chroma+luma (s-video) you probably will need the wire+resistor mod on the 800XL. Best Electronics sells a great composite only cable. I tried TWO of Lotharek's new composite + s-video cables and they gave identical terrible video quality with hard vertical bars so don't get that one. But a combo cable that does both is most convenient. The reason you want both is for games that do color artifacting, s-video will not show any artifact colors (because the resolution is too high). NTSC machines benefit more from artifacting.

 

Do you have a link to the composite + s-video cable? I have one from Atari 8-bit and it does the same with the vertical lines. 

However I'm still testing it because it measures just fine compared to a cable I made myself. So I'm not sure where it goes wrong. My Atari 800 XL doesn't have the modification yet so I don't know how it should look.

Edited by tajvdz

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3 hours ago, BillC said:

8bitclassics offers video cables for Atari 8-bits, depending on the monitor.

https://www.8bitclassics.com/?s=atari+8-bit+video+cable&post_type=product

I have this one:

https://www.8bitclassics.com/product/atari-xlxe-5-pin-din-to-s-video-composite-av-cable/

 

Composite and audio works just fine. S-Video I'm not sure. It seems to give a sharper picture but it has the vertical lines. I'm making a new cable myself and I want to compare that to this one. I will let you know. 

 

What I was asking is a link to the cable on Best Electronics and a link to Lotharek's new cable..

 

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On 1/23/2020 at 12:48 AM, Mariano Rodriguez said:



2. Storage: I found the SIO2SD on Ebay, and also the Atarimax MyIDE-II CompactFlash, but what is the best option now Jan 2020?

Cheers and I am glad I finally landed on the Atari world

 

 

I would go for an SDrive-Max. If you use the disk files it is very simple to use. It has a touch screen but I hardly use it since it can be controlled by keyboard or joystick.

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I second the SDrive max, wonderful bit of kit and enables you to be independent of a PC apart from putting the games on the SD card. Its also loads tape images and some special protected disks  in ATX format.

 

Have fun with the 800XL, you will be able to run almost all games and if you get stuck just ask on here.

 

Most important you remember what Sugarland has mentioned, holding down OPTION for most games, some games will still work but a great many will crash or have corruption if you don't do it. Rule of thumb is unless it says it needs BASIC or says (bas) then hold OPTION down..

 

Having been a Commodore guy as well you will feel at home on the XL, lots of the same games and lots of very new games...

 

Enjoy and as said, just ask if you get stuck, we offer a flat rate fee for most advice starting at $50.00 a minute...

 

 

 

 

Yeah, I'm joking...help is free and given in huge amounts as needed..

 

Paul..

Edited by Mclaneinc
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For a great place to purchase the SDrive Max (and everything you need for it) in one shot:

 

https://thebrewingacademy.com/products/atari-sdrive-max

 

I have ordered from them before and I can say that they sell quality stuff. I also purchased a PSU replacement for my 800XL from them for $20 I believe. Its basically a cell phone power supply with an Atari 800XL style power plug. Works great, runs cool and will not fry your precious internal RAM :)

 

Edit: Actually its $15 now. And well worth it:

 

https://thebrewingacademy.com/collections/atari-800-xl-xe-xel-xld/products/atari-xl-xe-replacement-power-supply

 

Edited by eightbit

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17 hours ago, tajvdz said:

I have this one:

https://www.8bitclassics.com/product/atari-xlxe-5-pin-din-to-s-video-composite-av-cable/

 

Composite and audio works just fine. S-Video I'm not sure. It seems to give a sharper picture but it has the vertical lines. I'm making a new cable myself and I want to compare that to this one. I will let you know. 

 

What I was asking is a link to the cable on Best Electronics and a link to Lotharek's new cable..

 

I don't think Lothareks' cable will eliminate the vertical lines, but here's a link anyways:

 

https://lotharek.pl/productdetail.php?id=198

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6 hours ago, BillC said:

I don't think Lothareks' cable will eliminate the vertical lines, but here's a link anyways:

 

https://lotharek.pl/productdetail.php?id=198

Ok, It looks like a cable I have. But what does cause the vertical lines? I Think I can test a cable I made myself in the evening.. I will share the results then.

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On 1/24/2020 at 5:38 AM, tajvdz said:

Do you have a link to the composite + s-video cable? I have one from Atari 8-bit and it does the same with the vertical lines. 

However I'm still testing it because it measures just fine compared to a cable I made myself. So I'm not sure where it goes wrong. My Atari 800 XL doesn't have the modification yet so I don't know how it should look.

I compared the cable I ordered from 8-bit classics.com (din on one side and s-video, audio L/R and composite video on the other side) with one I made myself. As base for my own made cable I used the cable on the other picture with din on one side and on the other side 4 RCA plugs where each one is matching a pin of the din and all ground goes to the middle pin. The colors are as follows: black = audio, white = composite video, red = chroma and yellow = luma. Composite video has the same result with both cables but S-video act differently. First I have to say that my 800XL doesn't have a modifiaction on the monitor connection so the chroma connection should be missing. I made a short cable myself (the 3rd cable) I cut a s-video cable in 2 and connected 2 female RCA plugs to the 4 wires, one is for luma (black) and the other is for chroma (red). I attach this cable to the other cable so i have din to s-video now. Both cables measure the same but give a different picture compared to when i use the composite video plug. The cable from 8-bit classics gives a picture that is a bit sharper than composite video, seems to have all the colors but has vertical lines. The cable I made myself gives an incorrect picture. It has a bit of red/purple glow. On my cable i can disconnect one of the 2 signals. when i disconnect the luma signal I get nothing and when I disconnect chroma only I see no difference. in my oppinion this is logical because chroma is not connected inside my 800XL. Can someone explain the difference I get? Why does the cable from 8-bit classics gives a color picture on my unmodified 800XL? Like I said both cables measure exactly the same. I can show pictures of both results maybe...

I hope someone can clear this mystery for me!

 

8bit-svideo-av-410x500.jpg

9200000046367418.jpg

20200126_021642n.jpg

Edited by tajvdz

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I can not edit my post anymore but there is something that may be usefull information. I put the chroma and luma RCA plugs of my cable in the composite video input. With chroma of course nothing happens. With the luma I get the same result that I get with the luma+chroma rca to s-video cable I made..

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is it that maybe the rca plugs (impedance) cause a problem with the glow blue/purple effect? I will solder the 4 little wires of the s-video cable directly to a din plug later and try what that does. 

Is it that maybe my 800XL has the chroma pin present and are the vertical lines with the cable from 8-bit classics caused by interference? In that case I should get a better picture with a soldered cable.  I said before that chroma alone doesn't work. Does that have to do with sync and does it never work by itselves? 

 

What should be the difference in picture bewteen a din to s-video where the 800XL (or other computer) has chroma and luma present and one that has chroma missing? what kind of pictures should I get then? I was told a black & white picture? That is not what I get in al situations.. 

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I soldered a cable. I used the other halve of the S-video cable I cut in 2 and soldered a din plug on the other side. It makes no difference in picture with the other cable I made. So I'm wondering what happens with the cable from 8-Bit Classics. Why does that picture look different since it measures exactly the same?

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I have both Atari AV cables that are currently being sold with a Mini-DIN4 S-Video plug.

 

8-Bit Classics 👍

8bitclassics-svideo-av-cable.jpg.881a1b1c16ce609de7ed52cd7415377f.jpg

 

Lotharek's 👎

Lotharek-AV-cable.thumb.PNG.20f49d72c854b1b48e7ec4a9e506af50.PNG

 

And although Lotharek's cable from the outside looks to be of a higher quality (and I had high hopes for it), the S-Video quality was inferior as compared to the 8-Bit Classics cable.

 

The Lotharek cable appears to be suffering from cross talk issues between the Luma and Chroma signals, causing banding (vertical lines) on screen. Whereas the 8-Bit Classics cable rendered a flawless video display.

 

I'm guessing that a common shield was being used for all of the signal lines on the Lotharek cable, instead of individual shielding that the 8-Bit Classics must be using.

 

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HAHA - that Lotharek cable is an old XBox 360 cable with the end cut off and a DIN jack installed.

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48 minutes ago, Stephen said:

HAHA - that Lotharek cable is an old XBox 360 cable with the end cut off and a DIN jack installed.

Yeah, I bought a Wii video cable that looks exactly like that and added a 5pin din connector.  The wires were very thin inside and had similar results as Mytek did with video quality.  

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