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Marius

Who is still using his/her CSS The BlackBox!

(Still) using The Black Box!?  

50 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you own a Black Box?

    • Yes
      13
    • No, but I did.
      4
    • No, never owned.
      33
  2. 2. Do you (Still) use your Black Box?

    • Yes!
      6
    • No, since I don't own one.
      36
    • No, but I (still) have one.
      8


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Hi all!

 

Since it is, with its initial release date somewhere in 1989 already a retro add on in itself.... but I was wondering... who is still using the Black Box as I/O device (for storage or as printer/rs232 port).

 

I haven't used my Black Box for quite some time, but now with all these new and modern  storage solutions I was like: hey that old black box gave me more the nostalgia satisfaction. 

 

Please let me know!

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Never had a BlackBox, but I feel the same way about my ICD 1MB MIO. It was a killer upgrade at the time and it could compete with the ST and early PC's as far as RAM & Disk specs went! I went for a couple years in the late 90's while by BBS was still running on it without ever using a floppy drive. Backing up was just too laborious to floppy, so got a second hard drive I'd occasionally connect for an evening for a disk-swap free backup session.

 

Last time i actively used it is when I pulled it out a few years ago to archive everything on my 40MB hard drive to ATR's via SIO2PC-USB... Was a delight to feel the full height 5.25" hard drive access shaking the table again. :)

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My cats peed on my Black Box back in 1993, marking it as theirs and causing it to corrode beyond repair. However while it worked, it was the best damn piece of Atari upgrade hardware I ever owned up to that point. Fast forwarding to today, stuff has gotten smaller and more versatile in many ways, but there still isn't a modern upgrade that can do all of what the Black Box did in one device.

 

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Too expensive for a teen's budget at the time (and not that I understood, exactly, what it was in the late '80s) and impossible to find now.

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I always wanted one, but I had an MIO.  I kinda remember the BB and MIO having similar capabilities, but there was some sort of floppy add on for the BB I was jealous of, that's for sure.

 

And I do use my MIO in conjunction with the SIDE2 - I use one to back up the other, and I use the RS232 for a WiModem232 and the SCSI port with an SCSI2SD.  If I had a Black Box I'd likely be doing the same thing with it :)

Edited by tuf

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Always thought about it.  Very expensive for the day.  I did get a second hand MIO that is still sitting idle in the box.  Still don't know what to do with extra memory.  Guess you have to be a power user.  I just run programs. 

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Along with an MIO, it's one of the great pieces of Atari hardware I would like to own some day. I think my chances of finding an MIO are better though.

 

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Great answers so far! Thank you SO MUCH all. 

I have been using my BlackBox for a pretty long time, but then I moved on to MyIDE2 and later SIDE2 and all kind of other peripherals. My Atari 850 is in use for years to do the R: and P: controls.

 

Meanwhile I was thinking of re-starting to use the blackBox. It is not compatible with the APT, so when I use my harddisk (or CF card) on the BlackBox I can not simply use it in SIDE2 or MyIDE2... 

But it was so much fun using the BlackBox back in the day...

 

And... it has the amazing IRQ button that breaks in (almost) any runnning program so you could switch partitions or do some peeking (and pokeing) in the memory.

 

Hmmm... difficult choice. 

 

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Yes, but I only use it occasionally. In fact, I have a Conner 200 mb SCSI hard drive set up for it.  I have the Floppy Boards, too, but I was never really enamored with the FB. Truth be told, the BB is pretty cumbersome compared to the IDE+2.  But I do seem to run across more incompatibilities with the IDE+2. (No, I can't cite any specific examples at the moment.)  I never used the RS-232, and stopped using the printer port when Steve Tucker added the neat Win printer feature to registered APE 3.11, so I converted the BB to +5v only (using a small switching supply), and use it that way currently.  It remains one of the best devices ever created for the A8!  

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At one point in time I'd owned a 256k MIO, a 1Meg MIO and a BB/FB combo.  The 256k MIO went to Ronnie Riche which allowed him to complete the final release of TextPRO.  I can recall him being in awe of the speed of the compile times from the ram disk and that he could keep everything, "right there".

 

A good 12 years ago, I'd lent out the BB/FB, MUX system, some XL's and and XE to a teacher friend that wanted to show off retro computer to their class.  Some how they'd pulled to BB out of the XE and, tried to "Jam" it back in the slot.  Blew the power supply, peeled the PBI off the the mother board and I seem to recall having to replace one chip on the BB.  New power supply is an old PC switching supply, the XE got used to practice soldering skills.  Replaced the XE OS in my 1450xl with a MUX OS and tied it to an XL running the BB/FB and 16meg dive. 

 

The 1Meg MIO still gets used as well, it's currently attached to an XE, several floppy drives, and ATR8000 and two drives:  either the ATR or the attached drives needs work, the A: drive attached to the ATR now just seeks (click o death) while the B: drive boots and reads fine.  got a feeling when I do finally open it all up, I'm going to find a fat cap some place or a diode not doing it's duty.

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Hello guys

 

Looking at the poll, I see that 8 people own a BlackBox and 9 of those 8 people still have one.  Is it me, or....?

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

 

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I found my BlackBox a few years ago at an electronics swap meet. I have it connected to the original 800XL our family got for Christmas ‘84. It talks to my SMM804 and Lantronix UDS-10. My BB has the Enhancer, and the other day I was having fun using it to print ATASCII characters to the SMM804. I was always impressed that Antic magazine listings had printouts of the special characters and wished I could do that, so it was exciting to see the printer crank them out!

 

I have two SCSI drives somewhere, and if I can figure out parity, termination, and parameters, I might try hooking them up.

09DCD6CE-E1D4-44A9-A80C-9A99B0F413B9.jpeg

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15 hours ago, Larry said:

I do seem to run across more incompatibilities with the IDE+2. (No, I can't cite any specific examples at the moment.)

That is kinda pity (that you can't be specific). What kind of incompatibilities, at least?

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The Black Box Has a lot of functions that other upgrades still dont have  such as the abilty to enter a program, say a game, change a location and give yourself unlimited lives. Also you can dump whatever is on the screen to a printer with the press of a button.

 

Sure wish someone would bring it back....like the MIO

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2 hours ago, IndusGT said:

The Black Box Has a lot of functions that other upgrades still dont have  such as the abilty to enter a program, say a game, change a location and give yourself unlimited lives.

 

The Turbo Freezer 2011 can do this.

 

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54 minutes ago, MrFish said:

 

The Turbo Freezer 2011 can do this.

 

But what single upgrade gives you all the possibilities of the BB?

  • Hard Drive interface
  • True RS232 port with concurrent communication capabilities
  • Parallel Printer port
  • 64K Printer Spool Buffer
  • Standard IBM Floppy Drive x 4 expandability
  • Machine Monitor
  • And there's probably more that I've forgotten about

It really was packed with a lot of goodies.

 

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1 minute ago, mytek said:

But what single upgrade gives you all the possibilities of the BB?

  • Hard Drive interface
  • True RS232 port with concurrent communication capabilities
  • Parallel Printer port
  • 64K Printer Spool Buffer
  • Standard IBM Floppy Drive x 4 expandability
  • Machine Monitor
  • And there's probably more that I've forgotten about

It really was packed with a lot of goodies.

 

I'm just answering the post about "features other upgrades still don't have".

 

I'm not knocking the BB. It's a marvelous device and, as I've said, I'd like to have one.

 

Honestly, I think there's definitely a place for a modern all-in-one solution, in the spirit of the BB and MIO.

 

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45 minutes ago, mytek said:

But what single upgrade gives you all the possibilities of the BB?

  • Hard Drive interface
  • True RS232 port with concurrent communication capabilities
  • Parallel Printer port
  • 64K Printer Spool Buffer
  • Standard IBM Floppy Drive x 4 expandability
  • Machine Monitor
  • And there's probably more that I've forgotten about

It really was packed with a lot of goodies.

 

 

Hah well technically that BB has 2 add-ons attached to it (Enhancer + Floppy Board) so perhaps the challenge is to replace it with 3 devices?  :)

 

To keep things period correct I'll go with an MIO + an ATR8000.  Machine monitor I have no clue.

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Instead of a SCSI or IDE interface over PBI, I'd like to see that replaced with a drive or drive image ATR mounted over ethernet. Ie PBI2PC instead of SIO2PC :) Maybe like a future PBI version of Fujinet, since it's software foundation is pretty remarkable as far as peripheral emulation and disk emulation goes.

 

No more need for an intermediary flash card or PC running software like RespeQt. Just have it access your same centralized fileshares/atr repository and networked peripherals directly.

 

/dreaming

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@drac030  for me personally the killer feature of the blackbox (next to some hardware stuff like P: and R: ports) is that amazing button that let you drop into the blackbox menu during the operation of a program, and return to that program. Just like The Freezer it 'breaks in' into a program and then it shows the blackbox menu.

 

I know you and I talked about this a few time, but IMHO the IDE+ definitely should have this feature as well. Especially for people who are not mainly using SDX the ability of mounting/unmounting ATR's or APT partitions during the operation of a program is for me really a feature I use a lot with The BlackBox. 

 

Since I am a huge fan of Stock a8 equipment, I think IDE+ is still one of the best harddisk interfaces for a8. Of course I also like the MyIDE 2 and SIDE2 ... but on stock a8, IDE+ wins the competition (IMHO).

Is there still a chance IDE+ will get that 'button' in the future? And is there a chance the IDE+ menu system will make mounting/unmounting ATR's a little more easy (and more versatile)?

 

Thanks anyway, I still love it!

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37 minutes ago, Nezgar said:

Instead of a SCSI or IDE interface over PBI, I'd like to see that replaced with a drive or drive image ATR mounted over ethernet. Ie PBI2PC instead of SIO2PC :) Maybe like a future PBI version of Fujinet, since it's software foundation is pretty remarkable so far as far as peripheral emulation and disk selection.

 

No more need for an intermediary flash card or PC running software like RespeQt. Just have it access your same centralized fileshares/atr repository and networked peripherals directly.

 

Before all the cartridge emulation we have now (via cartridge devices: AVG, SIDE3, Utimate Cart, ect.), I had thought that some interface from the cart port to the PC would be useful for emulating carts from images on the PC; and to do that somehow in tandem with normal SIO2PC operation, to give an overall solution -- rather than just the XEX and ATR/ATX access of SIO2PC devices/software. On XE's this would work more naturally with some sort of ECI/Cart port to PC type connection; hooking something like that to an XL would be a little more messy. The nice thing about connecting to a PC is that it's power can be leveraged for handling the software side of things.

 

Edited by MrFish

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47 minutes ago, Marius said:

Is there still a chance IDE+ will get that 'button' in the future? And is there a chance the IDE+ menu system will make mounting/unmounting ATR's a little more easy (and more versatile)?

The chances are there, there is plenty of free ROM space inside IDE+, and plenty of RAM. The problem is that ROM and RAM are banked, and one ROM bank is 1.5k and one RAM bank - 512 bytes. This makes coding a bit complicated and when I start thinking about rewriting the existing UI, I am immediately getting a headache :)

 

Also, someone here mentioned that BB has a machine code monitor. So, a disassembler perhaps and ability to edit memory, and all this without interference with program's memory certainly... well...

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