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Bruce Tomlin

2600 red box demo

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Okay, so now I've added some graphics to it to make it look good. Now I need to come up with some instructions and label/overlay art.

 

Any comments or suggestions? I'd like this to be a demo for AGE.

 

(Use keypad controllers.)

 

Keypad layout:

  Left keypad  |     Right keypad
  1   2   3   |   A    coin      coin-collect
  4   5   6   |   B  dialtone    coin-return
  7   8   9   |   C    busy    operator-release
  *   0   #   |   D  ringback       2600Hz

redbox.zip

Edited by Bruce Tomlin

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Red box is a term for a modified tone dialer to fool payphones into believing that coins have been inserted, hence allowing for free phonecalls to be made. Most if not all payphones no longer work this way AFAIK. These red boxes were highly illegal and people even went to prison over them. :ponder:

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Red box is a term for a modified tone dialer to fool payphones into believing that coins have been inserted, hence allowing for free phonecalls to be made.  Most if not all payphones no longer work this way AFAIK.  These red boxes were highly illegal and people even went to prison over them.   :ponder:
I just read about it on Phone Losers of America. Red Boxing is now dead.

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Yes, red-boxing is dead, and it took the phone company way too long to get rid of it.

 

A proper red box is a phone dialer with its crystal changed to create the signal that used to be used for coins dropping in a pay phone. Amazingly, replacing the crystal in those things with an (IIRC) even more common value than the original one caused one of the keys to change tone to almost exactly the correct PAIR of frequencies as the coin drop tone. As in these pairs of frequencies, which were chosen to avoid harmonics with each other, had the same ratio in two completely different sets of tone signals.

 

Often, a red boxer could be identified by a savvy phone operator because he wouldn't know the proper cadence of the tone. A single short tone for a nickel, two shorts for a dime, and a long one for a quarter.

 

And since I had 24 keys to work with, I added some of the "green box" tones (the operator-side tones for controlling pay phones), assorted phone sounds (dialtone, busy, ringback), and the venerable 2600 Hz tone. Basically, using the formula ((f/(15700/256))*256) I can make each key generate any pair of sine waves.

 

The 2600 Hz tone was the gateway to "blue boxing". When used on an active phone call, it would disconnect your call and terminate phone company billing, while leaving you in communication with the phone company computers. A different set of dual-tone signals from touch-tone was used to send a phone number. I'm not sure if this was the origin of the name of the Atari 2600, but it was definitely the origin of the name of 2600 Magazine.

 

While red boxing worked through most of the '90s, blue boxing was dead by the early '80s (with long distance code abuse replacing it).

 

One thing that let blue boxing go as far as it did was the Bell System's arrogant attitude that nobody would be able to generate the tones, because they had to have big (as in a couple of feet tall) coils to generate perfect tones, and would distribute those tones by wire to all the telephone operator stations. What they couldn't see was that nobody needed to generate tones that perfect, since their detection filters had good tolerance for slightly off-frequency tones.

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that sounds like a very cool idea

 

this is the kind of history that fascinates me, underground stuff that you will never hear about on the six o clock news. steve jobs and steve wozniak made blue boxes in their pre apple days. It amazes me it took over 20 years for the phone companies to build up its defenses from simplistic phone phreaks.

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I plan to scan the Star Raiders overlay as a template, but will probably scan a touch-tone phone for the overlay artwork. In the past I made a few replacement SR overlays by simply copying the overlay and putting self-stick lamination plastic on both sides.

 

Hmm, I just checked, and the heat-press badge lamination things are 1/8" too short to be used for Star Raiders keypads. I think the "baggage tag" lamination plastic may be big enough, though.

 

I'd like to come up with some kind of label art which has cheezy stereotypical "bad guy hacker" overtones. After all, the "red box" part of this is mostly a joke, and was esentially a no-brainer to add when doing touch-tone dialer tones, so the label art should keep with the joke.

 

Maybe I could even come up with another demo from this... the Atari 2600 wardialer! :-)

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Hehe, that's awesome. Too bad they don't use this system anymore. This would have been the most scandalous cart of its time back in the 80's. You sshould insert some graphics to go along with it, like a little dud at a phone booth. :)

 

- Adam

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You sshould insert some graphics to go along with it, like a little dud at a phone booth. :)

 

- Adam

 

LOL, with a TV and a reaaaaalllly long extension cord. :lol:

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As far as graphics go, what you see is about all I can do. It takes about 70% of the CPU cycles on every scanline to make the sound, because I'm doing an AUDV0/AUDV1 sound kernal. Pitfall II does this too, but it has a chip to provide the audio data, and it probably only does one channel like this. It also takes nearly 50 scanlines just to read both keypads, and 7 more scanlines to change the sound.

 

This code is the reason I added macros to my 6502 assembler. Every scan line does a 54 cycle macro starting with STA WSync. (It used to be 58 cycles, but I found a way to use the undocumented LAX opcode.) I haven't looked at the Pitfall II code, but the most efficient way I can think of with an external chip would take 7 cycles per voice per scan line, plus 2 more for the WSync.

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That is an excellent label!

 

I haven't checked out the ROM yet, but if you could add support for the A, B, C, and D tones, that would be cool. IIRC, they aren't really used for anything anymore, but they used to be used on obsucre voicemail systems, to use on the military Autovon phone network, and drop you into the ACD from directory assistance. :)

 

I can't wait to see someone with their VCSp held up to the phone. How funny.

 

I'd definitely buy one of these carts, just for nostalgic value.

 

Joe

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very interesting. Funny how things like this and the synthcart are kind of throwbacks to the non-traditional "game programs" of the old days, like Basic Programming and the like.

 

Very very cool. :)

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When I first saw this thread I didn't realize it acutally worked. :)

 

I just put it on my cuttle cart and tested it out and I dialed the phone number for the time and it went thru.

 

Great homebrew :D

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When I first saw this thread I didn't realize it acutally worked. :)

 

I just put it on my cuttle cart and tested it out and I dialed the phone number for the time and it went thru.

 

Great homebrew :D

Oh ye of little faith. If it didn't work, why would I post a ROM? :-)

 

Thanks for the confirmation that it actually dialed a number. I would have tried that myself, except I couldn't think of anyone to dial at the time.

 

The really sad part is that when I first wrote it like three years (or more?) ago, the sound code was perfect. (Although I think the extra 4 cycles per line from using the LAX instruction made it slightly more perfect, with some of the tones sounding better.) It was the stupid keypad scan code that needed debugging, and no way was I going to do EPROM burn-erase debugging cycles to figure out what was wrong. This is proof enough to me that the CC2 is an excellent development tool for 2600/7800 code.

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The really sad part is that when I first wrote it like three years (or more?) ago' date=' the sound code was perfect. (Although I think the extra 4 cycles per line from using the LAX instruction made it slightly more perfect, with some of the tones sounding better.)[/quote']

Talking about your source code, where is it? :)

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I finally finished it. I even managed to shake out 250 more bytes than I needed to put in my last feature, which was red/blue box selection using the SELECT button. I had it on a difficulty switch which was a lot easier to read, but is never obvious.

 

In the final work on it, I also used macro-fu to separate the frequency table into four separate tables (which really saved a lot of cycles and code space), and to specify the frequency in Hertz in the source code, letting the assembler do all the math. There's also at least one point in the code where the extra cycle from a LDA abs,X crossing a page boundary will screw up the timing.

 

I came up with some lame label art, then since I couldn't find a proto board lying around, I went and built a fresh board.

 

Anyhow, now I need to come up with some instructions for it.

redbox_2005_01_01.zip

post-4828-1104739956_thumb.jpg

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I finally finished it.  ...  Anyhow, now I need to come up with some instructions for it.

 

Great! When you write the instructions .. some of us would appreciate an intro summary about the history of these devices.

 

Rob Mitchell, Atlanta, GA

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I finally finished it.  ...  Anyhow, now I need to come up with some instructions for it.

 

Great! When you write the instructions .. some of us would appreciate an intro summary about the history of these devices.

That's the plan.

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I was wondering what happened to this project! Very exciting! Will this be available through the AA store?

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I was actually going to make a cart like this, with the keypad controllers and everything...but, my lack of programming skills stopped me... :sad:

 

PP is (was) cool, I was really into it for a while about 3 years ago, (I never did it, but I looked up information about it on every website I could to learn more...)

 

 

Is there any other cool underground stuff like this? (you know, just cool underground stuff in general... I know about the other boxes,)

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