AL-1000: Saved from Oblivion.

The Commodore AL-1000, which is akin to a mini-PET (heavy and boxy). It uses tubes to display the numbers. There was some rough housing with this venerable calculator and it needed some TLC to get going. The calculator was abandoned a long while back and found after someone was cleaning out some buildings near by. A tip from a friend helped save this new addition.

On a Date with Ms. Pacman

I’ve been asked for about a year now to head out to my partners’ brothers studio, where an unhappy tabletop Ms Pacman has been sitting busted.

Three of the ROM’s on the board were loose, one had broken pins (3) and the processor board (z80 :)) cable had been stripped in some spots.

The real monster (after all the chip leg soldering – shaky hands) was the power switches. There are two; one for the main power and the another that shuts off parts of the game if you open the coin door. The coin door one was designed to prevent kids from sticking their hands in (if it was left open) and getting intimate with CRT discharging. This switch was so bad it was intermittent at best and kept the machine resetting or off (Not off, just the screen shut down).

Suggestions to others: remove the power switches, they are often crap and busted. then go to the fuses, then re-seat the chips. I should have imaged the ROM’s for a backup.

Oh, table tops are awesome — they are convertible. Flip the internal latches and it swings open.

C64: First 8K Generic Cart

As of today, I made my first C64 cartridge. Most of my programming experience is either through floppy or tape based storage. Making a ROM/BIN file and getting it to work was a tougher than I thought. It was more problems with getting a CRT/BIN combo into the tool chain for testing in an emulator, than to actually make a cart and burn an EEPROM. My first cart is nothing amazing, but it pumps out the INC $d021’s.

C64 NIC: Networking on the Commodore 64

I have a few of these guys in a box, mostly for a long term project that I have been working on. I haven’t had much need for them in the last while as VICE has great networking support.

Lately, it has been crazy fun doing TCP/IP communications with the IP65 networking stack. It’s definitely the way to go for making games that need updates from time to time. Write a bootloader that fits in ROM, place it in the socket and off you go. Yes there are issues with a ROM update later on and that you need to have internet access to enjoy the software. Oh well, its a connected world.

One of these guys needs to get crossed with a 16 MB REU. It would be pretty awesome combo. But for now; this thing is still great.

Amiga 2000 / PC Side Upgrades and Repairs

YURIPCMK2x300Yuri’s Goldfinger card, was having some really strange issues — the PAS AUDIO 16 ISA card that was handling audio for the PC side of the computer was also throwing up in certain DOS configurations. The PC on a card PEAK650VLB2 ended up having BIOS corruption after finding a surface mounted resistor had popped off the card. I gave the card a hard look to see where the resistor was from, but it was next to impossible (the card has hundreds of them). If I had a card to compare against maybe, but its easier to pickup a new one. I managed to locate a replacement far far away for super cheap, which was a surprise when it actually powered up.

The card itself is a newer revision, PEAK650D4 type. The headsink for the chipset required some ‘Mazzolla’ to let the processor heatsink slide into its spot. Whomever manufactured the card put the chipset heatsink on the wrong way. Oh well, I got it in (the processor) — with a little rough housing.

I found a local source for a Soundblaster  AWE64 ISA card. All my starting computers that were PC’s had a variety of soundcards, but never a real Soundblaster. I have a collection of the best soundcards of that era (PAS16, GavisUltraSoundPro, TurtleBeachOriginal) as I did audio work at that time. Soundblaster, though is the best card for video game support — which is why this machine is setup. Other than some funny hardware warnings from Creatives’ plug and Play loader — the card works perfectly. Doom2, Dune2 and CNC all love the config now. The PAS16 would get one or crash another.

Getting the right memory configs in DOS6.22 is such a pain. I conveniently forget the massive pain it was in that era to actually get different games to work.. let alone mixing in mouse and a LAN stack for multiplayer action. Memories of NE2000 and IPX, smells like burning toast.

 

C64: 64Bites.com (teaching old dogs new tricks)

64Bites

http://www.64bites.com

I will say three things about Michal’s c64 programming series: his video’s are fun, fast and packed with information.

I am not a bad assembly programmer, -not the best- but not bad. After watching a few seasons of his videos I started to notice subtle ways to improve my style.

There is a common problem with programmers in general. We need a problem to learn something and anything else in the way gets filtered out. So when Michal’s videos had Basic language sections, I was going to skip them for more interesting topics. I’m glad I didn’t. In fact, a few assumptions (over the years) that I’ve made were proven wrong (about the DATA statement in Basic). Suddenly, I wanted to know if there were other things that I was mistaken about.

Before you complain about it being a paid service; its worth it. Its a good refresher and its interesting to see how he works and his logic. He even manages to get automated testing into the mix.. on an 8bit 64k machine. It’s worth the money and I’m happy when a new episode appears in my inbox.

Amiga + Gotek Floppy Emulation

GotekFloppyEmuWell, the Gotek Floppy has been running relatively well. I dragged a bunch of of ADF’s over to a USB stick (with the menu ADF) and it was pretty much working.

I wish the drive face was at least the right size, to fit flush with the enclosure.

I’ve noticed a few problems here and there with some images; also when there isn’t a USB mounted you get a dead icon on the screen for DF0:. I’m testing a variety of floppy images to put it through the paces. I’ve even made a 3.x Emergency ADF and mounted it.

Amiga 1020 5 1/4 Floppy

Amiga1020I’ve had this one in the basement for a long time, never got it working correctly — until now.

Device = trackdisk.device
 Unit = 2 /* first external unit */
 Flags = 1 /* important ! */
 Surfaces = 2
 BlocksPerTrack = 11
 Reserved = 2
 Interleave = 0
 LowCyl = 0 ; HighCyl = 39
 Buffers = 20
 BufMemType = 1 /* or 3 if you run OS 1.x */

Drive is formatting 🙂

A3000D: Random problems finally sorted.

A3000DI upgraded the A3000D with as much stuff I had in storage and few things off of Amibay. After the RTC fixes, HD LED, misc capacitors and replacement floppy I started adding:

GVP IOEtxender (high speed serial an LPT)
BigRam+ (256MB fast ram)
X-surf-100 (network adapter)
Picasso IV with Audio add-on.

The mainboard initially had standard original custom chips (Ramsey 4, Super DMAC 2, Super Buster 7), which got upgraded to Ramsey 7, Super Buster 11. The WDC SCSI chip on the board was a type 04, which its now a type 08. The fast ram (8MB) was a mixed bag of chips and speeds, but they were all static column type which gave the 10% boost. A newish SCSI drive, 8.5GB which replaced a 200MB drive I found in it.

After installing the base OS, and the networking adapters — problems started to come out. Random checksum errors, enough to corrupt the drive a few times. After a few Disk Salv 4 sessions, I kept checking all the parts. I removed the all the cards but the NIC and still got the errors. I had already upgraded the SCSI chip, which should have stabilized the SCSI chain. I checked the diode at D800, its direction and the voltage inside, on the port and through the cable. I double checked the drive to supply power and termination already and everything was terminated correctly.

Removing the BigRam+ for the remaining tests yielded a slightly more stable system, but the errors started coming back. I think I formatted the drive and installed the OS  too many times, I was clicking and editing things while doing other things without thinking about it. The system would last a little longer with each tweak, then it would just get worse. It’s really strange, my Amiga 2000 with a GVP Accelerator installed without a problem, ever!. For some reason I thought the A3000D was going to be open shut case once the repairs were done. This was not the case.

I had a batch of 514402AZ-60 ZIP modules, which are supposed to be static column RAM, but are not. I thought maybe a homogeneous block of chips might help the stability, also I had 16MB’s of it. A 10% fast ram speed loss for system stability I can live with.

I was reading though other people’s issues, when an article about problems with Ramsey/Super DMAC revisions. They are paired chips, according to many. Others state that sometimes the mixed bag works. I pulled my Ramsey and returned the original Ramsey. Well +1 to the Paired Chips theory, system is rock solid.

A3000: Amber’s Variable Resistor

AmberSyncThe A3000 was randomly deciding to output a proper signal to VGA. I know the monitor I was using (or LCD) was capable of displaying in the right frequency range — but only 1 out 5 power ups would yield an active VGA display.

It was easy to tell when a good powerup would occur, as the VGA display would have some very dark gray vertical lines in the black screen.

Putting a scope on the VGA port showed signals on the RGB and H/V sync pins. Each signal looked okay from a casual inspection (comparing a good powerup versus bad). I checked all the pins around the board to see if there was anything missing on the way in to the VGA… but if the VGA signals looked ok either way (on or off) then it must be a very slight signal variance.

The variable resistor on Amber was very touchy. I had a spare that would work, but I re-soldered the old part just to be sure.. it looked like there had been some work previously done on it. Using a metal screwdriver, I noticed the signals jumping around on the V/H pins. Removing the screwdriver would change the signal as well. I had a plastic screwdriver for altering TBC signals — TBC’s did the same thing with metal tools.

Without worrying about over turning the resistor, I swung it pretty far. I then noticed it was loose. After screwing it down for a while, I felt a bump and then the signal seemed to tune easier. I found the sweet spot, rebooted — VGA stable. I waited 30 minutes with the machine off tried again, still good. Off for two days, powered it up — still working fine. Nailed it 🙂

A3000 Clock Spagetti

clockspagettiThe A3000 I am working on has a few issues, the first was NO CLOCK reported by SYSINFO and other tools. This is of course true, as the battery had been removed after I unboxed this machine. After the battery was removed, the gross damage to the motherboard by the leaking battery is obvious in the picture to the left.

I cleaned the board as best I could, noticed that the back of the board was OK… somehow. I didn’t want to mess with the area around where the battery was, as there was a lot of damage there and I didn’t want to add to it.

I temporarily jumped a CR2032 in a holder (the BLACK and RED leads),  to get get the clock powered. I then went into the Prefs and set the time. After a reboot, the system recognized the clock — but the time had not incremented while the machine was off.

The clock crystal was not outputting anything which ended up being a connection from C192 to R193 was lost. I jumpered them with the BLUE lead. After checking all the connections out I found C190 was not connected either, so i jumpered it with the YELLOW lead.

clocksignalAs opposed to a flatlined output from the Oscillator, I got a signal.

I loaded up the system, reset the time powered it off and waited a few minutes. Turned it back on and the time was in sync. I went out for dinner, had a few drinks and came back — powered it up, clock still working.

I know the clock is not so important in this day and age, as NTP can handle the time sync. But who wants a broken machine?

Next on the list.. Display warm up… sometimes the display shows something, sometimes it takes a few power cycles to get it going…

A3000T: New friend :) Mouse and Keyboard :(

Well, I’ve got 2 Amiga 3000’s going, which means they are in 30 pieces on my workbench.

One is a A3000D, with 2MB/16MB/256MB of various RAM types. I’ve managed to get the latest custom chips on the mother board, all but a Super DMAC04. This machine has been in the basement for a while, with battery damage and a few blown caps. It now boots with 3.1 KS and 3.9 OS. The VGA port takes a little while to warm up, the machine needs to be on for about 2 minutes and then power cycled to get VGA back up. Working out the VGA is the next major task…

Number Two, is an A3000T. I can’t think of a heavier computer. This one booted right off the bat, but for some reason the mouse and keyboard wasn’t working. Scouring the motherboard for bad components/traces, reading forums and voltmeter came up empty. I could understand why one port would go or just the keyboard… but all three ports? The system would boot to a temp OS disk I mounted, but as soon as the OS was up (or even the KS screen) not keyboard or mouse action. Weird. Even the 3 finger salute on the KS screen..

There is something to be said for computers with a keyhole embedded in its face plate. Yes, when in the locked position — no keyboard or mouse. Funny… I have never had this happen in the last 30 years. The trick that works on old bike locks (Plastic Bik pens, cut in particular way) works on the lock in A3000T. I can see that the lock has been man handled before. When I opened the lock, everything started working.

This machine needs a lot of TLC. The case wasn’t intact, missing the front and top sections. It also has older chips than my A3000D. I was kind of hoping this one was going to have a late revision Super DMAC… oh well 🙂

a3000T_front

 

 

A2000: Business up front, party out back..

YuriFrontPanelWell it might be the other way around. Recently I picked up a really thin/small USB 4 port hub, which would get in the way (the way it was wired). But I found a use for him. The PC side of Amiga Yuri needed USB ports and other interface options.

So we begin with the left side front panel, which are two toggle switches (with LED’s :)), one momentary switch and a USB hub. The first toggle is a red LED, which is tied to the PSU for the system. When the system is powered down, the red LED lights up. The second toggle is for the Amiga’s 030 Accelerator, which can now be disabled (off) or active (on), the blue LED in this toggle is for the PC side’s HD light. The small momentary switch is to reset the PC Card, as this doesn’t have a power off/on so it would be handy to reboot it without having shutdown both sides. The USB is wired into the PC side, to allow me to mount CD-ROM, flash drives etc for the Goldfinger card.

YuriRearPanelIn the rear of the machine, I mounted all the ports that would be needed (but not all, there is not enough backplane for it :)).  From left to right:

1. Amiga SCSI2SD card drive (swap out cads for different setups DH0:)
2. Amiga Rapidroad/Xsurf combo (USB and Ethernet)
3. Ventilator Fan (strong, lots of hot stuff in there)
4. PC Audiotrix Pro sound card
5. PC IDE2CFCARD interface (different PC configs Drive C:)
6. PC Serial Ports
7. PC Goldfinger Card (PS2, 2xEthernet and VGA)

 

YuriFrontCaseI left the machine running doing some speed tests to generate heat and everything worked out great. I was monitoring the BIOS for the PC side, thermal sensors didn’t rise as much as I expected. I put thermal sensor on the Amiga MB and Accelerator and it’s temperatures only went a few degrees higher than normal readings. Amazing!

The case needed some cutting and with a dremel, which turned out pretty clean. I’ve always wanted to use that space for something, it always seems like a waste of front panel. Just have front panel power is great, as when I was done I put it in my rack, along with a cheap VGA KVM switcher. So both machines use the same monitor 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

A2000: Goldfinger – Xsurf/Rapidroad – SCSI2SD

Hardware Changes and Adjustments (Part 1 of 3)

  1. OS3.9 on DH0: and OS1.3 on DH1:  — Easy booting to each OS.
  2. Replaced the AMIGANET 1.1 / Hydra with and XSurf100 using AmiTCP. Networking is going great in OS3.9
  3. Combined with XSurf100, is the RapidRoad USB addon card. I’ve mounted a variety of devices — setup was a little weird but once it was working, it worked well. Was impressed by the device support.
  4. Got 2 more GVP 4MB ram modules, Chip: 1MB, Extended: 16Mb on the 030
  5. With the 030 Processor Upgrades to 50MHrz and an MMU, FASTROM Enabled.

I had two Primary machines in Artschool, one was Yuri and the other was a Pentium 133 in the school lab. Years later, after working at the same school and passing the baton on to another — someone showed up to a house party with my Old computer in tow. The machine had been in storage and I had a disk backup of the machine. The IDE drive was cooked and there was some damage to the machine’s PSU. It was a gift I wanted to get going.

In order to get the rest of the changes completed, I needed to pull out the motherboard from the case.

PEAK650VLBI found a Goldfinger card on Ebay, which if you want to know more about them: Here and Here. The card is a PEAK650VLB, which is basically everything you need for a computer (minus a soundcard) on one ISA card. It’s like the bridgeboard for the Amiga, but a million times better. It has a 1ghrz Pentium 4, with 64 megs of ram, EIDE controllers, USB and two NIC’s (100mb). It’s a 16bit ISA Card, with a PCI edge near the front of the card. So it can be placed in either BUS system type.

The Amiga has ISA slots — 2 8bit and 2 16bit, which are dumb slots. And the PEAK650VLB is a card that takes over the ISA BUS, so I could add a few ISA cards into the mix. Last time I checked, the only 8bit ISA cards I had were a modem and PS2 port. Everything else (including my P133) was 16bit.

The Amiga 2000’s 8bit ISA slots can be upgraded to 16bit, if you solder on the extra connector. The PEAK650VLB is a monster full sized card (the heat sinks add to the girth), but because of the PCI connector it will not fit in the stock 16bit card slots.. only the outer slots (8bit) have the space to take the card. So it looks like some soldering is needed.

*I desoldered two of the 16bit ISA card slots from my old P133*.

ISAI did not know what I was thinking when I did that. It was such a brutal exercise initially. A solder sucker and iron took forever to get the first slot, which I will never get that time back again. Even after the solder comes off, trying to find the pins that had a minuscule amount of solder on them (preventing the slot from coming out) was impossible. Solder wick was faster on the second attempt, but still the connectors were impossible to pull out from the sheer amount of pins.

If you ever have to pull out a lot of stuff from a board, something like a rework station is needed. Sparkfun has one: 303D. There are moments in life where you think: Where was this 10 years ago? The third slot and the remaining two came out in a fraction of the time. I wish I had a 303D from the beginning. Awesome! Chopped off the 16bit part of the slot and solder to the Amiga.

So with the two slot’s upgraded, we get the next round of upgrades:

  1. PEAK650VLB with Pentium4 1Ghrz, 64MB ram.
  2. AudioTrix Pro Sound card (ISA) with Soundblaster Emulation
  3. Compactflash Drive to EIDE Converter. 4GB storage on CF.
  4. Custom made bracket for the CF Card, to load out the back of the Amiga
  5. DOS 6.22, Windows 98 and Debian Linux installed.

DUNE2DOS 6.22, was a pain to get working with a more modern system. PNP and BIOS configs to get the sound card to work in DOS was something I pleasantly forgot.. but after a little brain massaging it worked. I installed DOOM3D and DUNE2, both of which I still have the original install disks. I copied over my original school/work backups from an ISO I made years ago. FRACTINT still looks great 🙂

I still need to make a backplane for the USB and Serial Ports for the PC side.

 

SCSI2SDThe last of the upgrades is SCSI2SD. This device basically is a hard disk replacement for computers with SCSI-2 interfaces. Insert an SD card, connect the device to a USB computer and configure how many SCSI devices and their sizes. Connect the device to the computer’s SCSI chain, boot and partition. It was pretty easy.

I did some speed tests before and after. I was a little sad with the results:

Seagate HAWK: 2.1MB/sec
SCSI2SD: 1.6MB/sec

Maybe a different card choice or configuration might improve the stats. But the real amazing thing about this is that you can take the SD card out, back it up as an image and put it back. Multiple cards, multiple setups. I’m going to try and workout why the transfer loss, but at the moment I am happy with what I couldn’t do that easily before the change.

 

GVP SCSI 4.15 Update for Yuri

GVPROMIt took a little while to locate EPROMS that would work for a ROM replacement/upgrade, but success! I’ve made a backup of my original ROM (ver 4.13) and burned a new one.  I picked up the ROM file from http://babel.de which is a great Amiga resource. Ralph Babel, thanks for the update 🙂

After Brutalizing myself with the PCB45, I found a Canadian company selling UV Eraser and GQ-4X combo. Wow, the difference in setup is night and day… I know that this model doesn’t have clock support for the weird Commodore ROM’s, but as a general purpose ROM burner, this one was pretty easy to use.

A2000: Next batch of upgrades

Well, this has been fun. Lets start with juggling soldering irons is only good for the dexterous — which strapping a brick to my solder station is looking like a better idea every day.

Yuri got a batch of upgrades.

BatteryStarted with removing the battery, which was getting fuzzy. After reading all the debates about coin batteries or cordless phone batteries — I decided to use the original battery type. I made a small metal fold under the mainboard, so the battery could just snap into place, then be removed if needed. Hard to see and its actually jammed in there too. I have never taken the motherboard out of that machine, but after it was on the bench for a while I noticed that its pretty bendy, enough to pop the 68000 out of alignment. Many Yellow boot screens, then push push push.. ahh.

 

PSUBackI had a spare ANTEC PSU around, decided to get that installed. A jumper change on the main board, easy. I cheated this time and bought a power adapter. I had fun building the other PSU — but the adapter was cheap and I ordered a few other little things from amigakit.com (so why not). ATX PSU’s of course have a different component layout — but the ANTEC’s come with a handy metal jig/adapter you can screw on. A few extra holes here and there and the PSU was mounted.Not the most elegant mounting in the world, but not bad either. Fan’s in modern PSU’s seem to vent up not out the back, so I mounted the PSU slightly lower in the case. I’m going to try to find a slot based fan, to help with the heat in the machine. But power up!

DeniseHuggerWho doesn’t hate interlace flicker. My eye’s were dying, along with one of my 1084 monitors. So the next addition was: Indivision ECS flicker fixer VGA adapter. I have to say, that OS3.9 and a reasonable resolution (sans le flicker) is pretty good looking (I used WB 1.3 in 4 colour mode for most of my life). I was always jealous of 2.04 ROM’s (friend had an A3000), but I loved my setup in the day. I wish I had taken the plunge earlier. Anyways, the card plugs into Denise’s slot and then Denise piggy backs on top. A grounding wire finishes up the install. A note to Denise pulling, use a screw driver — chip pullers are not designed for big ones. Just use a small flathead and pop the chip from each side and rock it out. The Adapter card, really really is a tight fit and requires a little bit of man handling. In the end, you can watch from an 1084 and the VGA at the same time. The back and forth is pretty amazing. I keep looking at my WB screen on the LCD — I really do like it.

68030Proc3 parts: 68030 (50 mhrz with MMU), 68882 companion and 50 mhrz crystal. This mod, I have been dying to do for a while — but didn’t have the balls. Who doesn’t want a 20% boost in speed. After getting “Smell the rubber.. I wanted to know what was next :). Yes, burnt PCB 🙂 No not really. Looking at the board, this particular GVP supports 50 mhrz so the base hardware can take it. Getting the crystal off the board (as it was soldered in place) was the worst time I have every had with a PCB and soldering iron. It was impossible to get out. I was trying to save the crystal in case something happened. I have 3 of them (2 x 50’s and a spare 40) but a certain point, a pair of thin side cutters and the snip snip, off  it goes. A new socket, yes 🙂 pop in a crystal and some jumper configs (which some didn’t make sense) — Wham! Power up 🙂

While the board was on the table, I kept screwing with the MegaChip2000 — which is still not working. So that’s going in a box until I can figure things out with that.

Kickstart31The ROM switcher went from 1.3/2.04 ROM’s to 1.3/3.1 ROMS. I had decided to burn a copy of OS3.9 and give that a run. The install for that was slow. Well the CDROM was slow, part of me was wondering it floppy swappin’ would have been faster. Getting the Hydra and the serial port card to go was interesting. The hyperCOM4 card is going to be an eternal pain.. Always keep copies of drivers.

Configuring OS 3.9 was fun, but also interesting to compare modern OS’s versus anything Amiga. AML-C for copy, is annoying to do — who uses left control-c to copy on a PC? I’m sure there is one guy out there, but really.. getting my UI and operation reflexes took a little longer than I thought it would.

SysInfoPost50

Ok, now the sysinfo 🙂

>>>>>Acceleration!

hehe, something to note — this shot it taken from an LCD. Looks great 🙂

Willem PCB45: The Red Head Stepchild of EPROM Programmers

BurnerAndAdpaterMaking ROM’s has been on my mind for a long time. Every so often the need arises, or so I have told myself. A while back I bought a Willem PCB45 EPROM burner, thinking I’ll be burning ROM’s every day till I die. It went in a box and life got in the way. Life got in the way of a lot of my projects.

It seems that in burner market, there are hordes of these guys, well not all these guys. There are PCB4C’s, 5’s, 3B’s and others. Look up PCB45 and its really hard to locate any info. My cheap (serves me right) no manual or power adapter off of Ebay purchase was starting to piss me off.

Download the latest version and you are out of luck. I needed to go back to a version that supported my hardware. Then you get the host of other problems of living in a modern world, software designed for 32bit XP which needs an actual LPT port. You know the first five minutes of plugging in a USB cable and wondering.. is this thing going to detect? Ahh its for power only.

Managed to make a few C64 carts and PETROM’s. Looking into a few Atari Carts and maybe a GVP SCSI 4.15 upgrade for my Amiga.

A4000: Kei up and running OS3.1

A4000-MBThis is a busy week on the Amiga side of things, A4000:Kei is now up and running.

I got this MB as part of a bulk sale of items from someone who was slimming down their collection. It came with a non standard card riser, floppy drive and OS3.1 install disks.

A little while ago, I decided to start cleaning out the collection — items that work or can get working were going to be kept and the rest would be sent out onto Ebay. Getting this machine working was a little bit painful, as there was no PSU and the board had seen better days.

Making an PSU was fun, but getting the MB connector was a pain. I am used to working with A2000/500’s and never owned a A3000/4000 type machine. It would have been a shame if I had to let this one go :). Making a PSU that was compatible required butchering of an old power supply, but after all the work I noticed it didn’t have a power switch. Arg. A little hack job from a dead PSU and everything was good.

Once the power was working and verified, the black screen after all that work was really disappointing. Re-seating everything didn’t help. Spent an hour cleaning everything, contacts and the processor card. I think there is maybe two socketed chips (excluding the KS) on the whole board — not like previous Commodore gear I have worked on over the years.

After the cleanup I noticed I was missing a few jumpers, added them from a dead MB in the basement. Went back to reading about A4000’s and their issues. The original battery was there, and looked like it had some leakage, but nothing that bad (will have to deal with that soon..). After moving cables around one of the PSU cables fell on the processor card and suddenly the KS screen popped up. I took a look inside the processor card and there was a toothpick in the slot, laying flat at the bottom. A little upside down shake and it dropped out. A push of the processor card into place and the KS screen appeared. That was a first.

A4000-INSTThe floppy drive booted the OS3.1 Install disk without issue. It was amazing to see that go. I was surprised that the disks actually worked. Most of my original Amiga disks are questionable at best.

Bitching about SCSI issues over the years, I thought that going to a simple IDE interface was going to be the least of my problems. I have crates of old IDE drives, most of them are 10GB and above. There are reams of IDE cables in a bin. Brought up stack of everything, set the drives to master and went crazy for a few hours. Nothing would work. Black screen, sat there for minutes still no boot from floppy. Unhook the drive, the floppy would boot after a period of time. Swapped out cables, drives and combinations of configurations. Mounted the drives on a PC to verify them. Maybe they were not that compatible, with the IDE in the Amiga.

Back to the basement, more drives must be here somewhere.. maybe something smaller? Ohh, theres a box of DVD/CDROM’s. I’ll grab one of those for later. After a few more hours of waiting for a drive to boot, I went for a walk with a friend. Came back, wondered what would happen if I hooked only a CDROM up. That did it, the system booted to floppy right away, no wait. Weird.

Installing a CDROM at the end of the chain (set to slave), with HD in the second slot (set as Master) allowed the system to boot. HD by itself, no. With the CD, yes.

A4000-OS31Being spoiled by Windows/Apple Partitioning systems over the years — going back to the Amiga partitioning software gave me the old feeling of — I can really screw this drive up. I recalled some of the drive size requirements for various versions of the OS. So the first drive I made 500 MB and then a second partition that was 2 GB. Looking at the space left, the max visible from this OS was ~4 GB. I’ll have to sort that out later, to get the additional space back.

I was pretty amazed with the OS3.1 installer. It actually worked and was painless.

 

Amiga 2000: Kickstart Rom Switcher

RomSwitcherYuri, originally was a KS 1.3 machine. When she got upgraded, I had a spare set of OS 2.04  roms and used those. But nothing says backward compatibility like installing a rom switcher. KS 1.3 is what the majority of games run under, so being able to switch between roms is a good thing.

The guy who makes this, no longer exists on the net (www.amigamaniac.com). I had to go to a web caching site to find a link that would get some installation info. I just had the device and no instructions. It’s pretty obvious what to do, but in the end it wasn’t that straight forward.

Under the roms in the socket is printed ROM 1 and ROM 2. All the chips on the board face one direction. The sockets didn’t have an obvious notch. So I followed the crowd and placed the roms how the rest were, which was wrong. After flipping them around, and looking for pin 1’s around the front and back — I noticed the notch. My coke bottle glasses should have seen it — but it was really small.

So under most circumstances, ROM 1 sounds like the primary/default and ROM 2 is the switchable one. Well that’s another mistake. Thank-you chip pullers 🙂

So after a few careful presses on the chips and adapter, a power cycle later and default KS 2.04 started. Holding down the Amiga three finger salute (ctrl-amiga-amiga) for little more than 3 seconds and KS 1.3 was revealed. Awesome! I dug out my floppies for Shadow of the Beast (originals in that  cool box :)).  While I had her opened, I tried the MegAChip2000 again, no luck (sucker for punishment. hehehe)

 

Amiga: MegAChip 2000/500 Issues

megachip

DKB Software’s MegAChip 2000/500 (NTSC), which when installed will give you 2MB chip ram. I have an Amiga with the 1MB  Angus, which I thought would be a relatively easy upgrade (as long as you have PLCC pullers).

I got this as part of a bulk sale a while back. So its not new; also by the scratch on the Super Fat Angus in there.

Every time I mount this in a machine (doesn’t matter which), I get a garbage on the display when the Kickstart logo shows up. I’ve only tired in 2 A2000’s, due the fact of mounting it in a 500 would require some one way modding.

I connected the trace to either Gary or the 68000, neither works. I looked at the bottom and the connector and housing looks ok, maybeI am missing something obvious (besides it being broken…)

Fun with Turbo Chameleon 64: Minimig Core

xCards2* Update *

It’s not a matter of compatible cards by the looks of things. My TC seems to have some timing issues. I’ve had this problem before with a firmware update — but fixed in a later update.

Speaking with Alastair about what the issues could be it ended up that the latest version of the Minimig core wasn’t working — but older versions did. He mentioned a new build sometime in the future to test out the timings.

* Old News * 🙂

Well as of today, I still can’t seem to find an SD card that will run the Minimig core correctly. A while back I had one, but it got crushed. I threw the card out and started fresh (had backups), but nothing I do seems to work. So these are the cards I have tried, formatted FAT32, FAT16, exFAT, with various clsuter sizes and with smaller partitions (for the 8GB cards) or using the complete size of the SD card.

The same cards will work with MSX core, or load files for the TC64’s C64 file browser. A few other people have mentioned issues with particular cards. I’m looking around for other cards to try…

Amiga 2000: Rise from your grave, then kick ass.

Yuri-Front

It’s been a long time for this computer. I dragged her through high school and all of art school. I wrote my papers, did some video titling, played Eye of the Beholder, composed some MODS and then programmed way too many RPG tools for various paper game systems. On my last week of school she died. I started working at a PC Lab, which got me a 486 DX50 and busy with other things.. “Yuri” got put in storage until I had time to work on her.

Over the years I’ve stacked up a few Amiga parts and then ran into a cache of *many* by fluke (ask Tak). My original 2000 “Yuri”, had a Compsec SA2000 SCSI HD Controller, 2091 ram expander and two floppy drives. This Amiga was a later version, with the 1MB Angus. In the day, this machine was good for everything that I needed. But the day a group of friends upgraded, my 68000 “Yuri” was a little jealous. I always wanted her to kick a little ass 🙂

Yuri had a bad power supply, which was the only thing that was wrong. I pulled one out of a 2000 with a damaged (bashed in more like it) motherboard. So Yuri booted, the 180MB drive started into WB1.3.

So begins the project, upgrade Yuri to the best she can be. (or with what I can dig up)

Starting with :

GVP

I’ve always wanted a GVP Accelerator. G-Force 030 (Impact A2000-030 Combo Series II) is nothing to sniff at either. The problem with this card was the missing jumpers everywhere :). Also, trying to figure out which GVP it was, makes life a little difficult. I got the card working with 8megs of ram.

I knew that the old drive was not going to be an easy port over. Controllers of this era were pretty much tied to the drive and vice versa. So hooking up will not work. Having both controllers in the machine didn’t work. So Old one in, while I figure a way to get all my stuff off.

Yuri’s Old Drive: Fujitsu M2614SA (180MB) formatted 20 Megs DH0:, 40MB DH1: and 120MB DH2:

Ways to get stuff off an Amiga to another machine:

1. Serial off the mother board (slow) or off a Serial Card with a decent Speed (need a cable and/or Card)
2. Network Adapter, TCPIP Stack and some basic Networking. Need OS 2.0+ as well.
3. SCSI Controller in a PC that is physically compatible (SCSI1/2) with Amiga SCSI and Copy Disk Images. (needs a PC with SCSI controller, HD Imagining Software)
4. Throw Amiga Explorer into the mix, great tool.

Serial, motherboard, slow.

You can always fail back to basic serial. It’s nice that it works and often I would just use it to prove that communication was possible while I pulled my hair out trying to get faster methods to work.

I transferred some files off using Terminal software to my lab PC. With the rats nest of cables, trying to find a serial cable that would work was a pain. I even slapped in an HST 19.2 modem (the one I used in Art School) and a 14.4 in the PC to see how that would play out. Slow… but worked.

Transferring data using AExplorer over serial, Amiga motherboard serial was painful. The only thing worse is sneaker net. I had a few other Amigas around that needed to be backed up, so a faster method was needed.

Serial Using HyperCOM4 (has 4 High Speed Seral ports)

Well I found one of these on Ebay, ordered it and it also came with a AmigaNET Rev 1.1A Hydra 10BaseT2/AUI Network Adapter. The network adapter used BNC/AUI which would need some work to get physcially wired up to my home network, so I opted for the serial first. This seemed like a logical decision as I had basic serial working so going from 19.2 to 115.2KBaud would be 5-6x times speed boost and shouldn’t be much problems to achieve.

Wrong!

No matter how I hooked up the card, its ports which port used or driver choice I could get it to communicate. I installed the latest Driver used the DEVS:hyperCOM40.device as part of the AExplorer config. Here is what I used:

Run >NIL: <NIL: sys:AExplorer/AExplorer >NIL: <NIL: SERDEVICE DEVS:hyperCOM40.device SERBAUD 19200 SERUNIT 0

A few things to keep in mind when using other using DEVS: devices,
1. The file name is case sensitive…
2. SERUNIT is for the different ports on the card, the mainboard serial is SERUNIT 0.
3. Multiple HyperCOM’s are differentiated between hyperCOM40, hyperCOM41, hyperCOM42..etc. You can have as many as 4 or 5 in an Amiga.

I figured out what serial port was what on the card, I had all 4 ports wired up to the card and then connected one to the NULL modem cable. Then I cycled through SERUNIT 0-3. 3 out of 4 ports would throw an error on the PC side saying that there was nothing hooked up and to check the connection. The other error that popped up on the one was “COM Error”. So I guess that means that’s the active port 🙂

No setting’s combo on either side would work. I know the cable and PC config works, as the Amiga main board serial works fine. I managed to open a terminal window on the PC side and mounted AExplorer on the Amiga side. The result was some formatted, structural garbage. So something is going somewhere…

After extra gray hair, I moved on to the next option, which was based on the a trip to the basement. A basement which is like the interior of Jawa Sandcrawler. Really, the Ark of the Covenant is down there too.

Mounting an AMIGA SCSI disk in a PC

I found a PCI 2950UW Controller in the basement, dug further into the piles and found parts for a PC to host the controller.

Built a Windows 2003 Server with 2GB of ram, 80GB Drive and the 2950. Dug up a batch of SCSI cables, found three drives from a derelict HP server that were all too large for use in an Amiga but found a 2GB Baracuda that was compatible.

Most of the problems here revolved around SCSI termination, most of the Amiga HD’s are old technology wise and were designed to either be the only device in the chain or the termination was non-existent. My testbed drive was from one of the spare A2000’s which didn’t have stable termination and didn’t provide stable termination power. Besides, screwing around with the drive’s mainboard and jumpers is too much of a pain… I just used the best SCSI trick you can do.

Mount another drive on the end and make sure it has term power enabled and termination resistor packs. One of the HP server drives did the job. The drive mounted on the SCSI chain without any further problems.

I downloaded a disk imaging software that was freeware/trial ware and ripped an HDF image of my test machine (an 2000 with standard commodore controller). I think the drive was going to have a heart attack, it was never probably pushed that hard in its life.. The disk image moved over in about a few minutes. I copied the file over to my PC dev machine and mounted it in an emulator and there was the test machine running on a PC.

Well, I cracked open “Yuri” and noticed the drive was full height 5 1/4 sized drive… and thought about the last time I saw one of those.

It was huge. I pulled the drive and mounted it into the PC SCSI box and about 5 minutes later the entire drive was imaged. But when I mounted it in an emulator, the OS would not boot. A lot of goofing around yielded no results. I looked into the controller I was using, COMSPEC AS2000. It might be an insult to call it a SCSI controller, it had a non standard boot method and disk format. So I guess an image of this is useless if I can’t open it to get files out. I will have to send the specs out to someone else who might be interested in figuring out how to mount this image, but its out of my expertise. At moments like these its time to go…

Back into the Basement…

Found a Hub with a BNC port and Regular Ethernet (4 ports). You never know when these things are useful 🙂

Three Rules of BNC/10base-T2
1. New Cable Always
2. T connectors and proper 50 ohm Terminators
3. Ground one end of the network for stability.

Kickstart

Network Time…

I grabbed a test hard disk from the stack, installed WB and mounted the NIC in a test machine.

I have installed networking stacks on a lot of different machines, but doing it on the Amiga was unique. I upgraded the ROM to 2.04, then tried to get Miami DX to work. I had used WB1.3 for a long time, so moving around 2.04 involved tripping over things and totally not understanding why xyz doesn’t do 123.

Process for installing Miami

1. Install the MUI
2. Install the Network Drivers (me its the Hydra)
3. unpack both the Main and MUI drivers in one folder then install.

Yuri-Inside-AMINET

There is a lot of TCP/IP config to do once everything is installed correctly. I gave the device a fixed IP and configured things manually. I left one of the machines on my network pinging that static IP. As I messed around with settings and configs I kept an eye on the ping to make sure what I was doing was working or not. I am pretty confident with networking, I’ve wired up an entire school once with 10baseT2 and had to work in that lab for about year. So I had pulled some terminators out of the basement tool box some RG8 cable and T connectors.

The hub was working fine, I checked by hooking other devices to it and I could see them still on the network. So the problems was either a config in Miami (port filter/firewall/config) or its at the media level.

After screwing around with the cable enough, I checked one of my terminators and engraved on the end was 70 ohm. I went out the next day found an electronics store on College street that sells some weird stuff (they looked at me funny when I asked for the terminators: Sarah Conner?) and then they give me 70’s.. then I point out they are not what I want and then digging out the box I find two mismatched 50’s with grounding chains. That should have been the give away that there was no grounding chain, hey.. it’s been a while.

transciever
I hate that RG8 cable, really. Nightmares.

So this is our new friend, which means I don’t have to have mixed media types running through the network. Step on RG8 cable and forever watch that segment flap. So lets move into RJ45/CAT5 and be happy. I had a pair of these (see left) for networking  older MAC’s at the school. I knew these would come in handy 🙂

Once the transceiver was connected, I adjusted the router (DD-WRT) dns server and DHCP client to give Yuri a static lease and DNS entry.

AEyuri.sx9.local

Once the network was working, (I totally miss command prompt networking tools) and DHCP was handled correctly,  time for AExplorer.

The speed was amazing, copied the entire drive contents over in the blink of an eye (well it looks like that after sneaker net and MB serial).

I unplugged everything, mounted a CD-ROM, the Accelerator (with RAM), Serial Card, NIC and a 500 MB drive. Yeah, I know what you are thinking. But this drive was in packaging for a while, so it was as fresh as I could get in that class/age of HD.

sysinfo-yuriI re-installed everything from scratch, then copied the contents of my old drive over the network to the new Yuri. Time to see what blows up under OS 2.04 🙂

So after all that, Yuri is now on the network. Running at a decent clip. I installed (over the network!) SYSINFO V4 and checked out the stats, as seen below 🙂

(Click on the image to see the details)

 

 

I love the fact that it gives “Smell the Rubber?” as a comment. heheh.

 

 

Turbo Chameleon 64: Update Woes

*** Fixed with Update Beta 9C 🙂 ***

After a getting my TC64 back, everything was working great. The new firmware came out and I used the update.prg on small SD-Card to update the firmware. Post update, the cart isn’t responding properly. Even after multiple updates via Chaco on multiple computers.

I copied these files, over to an SD card.
Files

I noticed some garbage on boot, so I held down the space bar — this is what I saw. Notice the garbled letters on the left hand side and the 0’s showing up in the bottom area.
Loading

If left un-attended it ends looking like below. The text at the bottom is garbled and it just freezes here.
BootLoader

I didn’t record images of the actual update process, but it reported everything was good and to press a key to reboot the cart. Which I did.

I connected the cart to a PC, opened CHACO and the cart was available. Closed CHACO and I ran the update.exe from the PC. It updated without problem, reporting no errors and the device rebooted to a core (0?). But when hooked up to a 64 or to VGA with/without a docking station same images as above.

I downloaded another package, in case there was a problem with the files (maybe they got corrupted etc). The same process from the PC. Of course I can’t update from C64 mode as it doesn’t get past the boot loader.

QNAP TS-509 Pro: Ram upgrade

QNAPRAMAfter a batch of upgrades software wise, my NAS was starting to gag a little. Then some hardware issues (one of the RAID members SMART status starting complaining) I decided to do some upgrades after disk replacement was successful.

The NAS had 1GB memory, which has been great for the last while — but after some media transcoding and mp3 sync software started bogging things down (their RAM caches). I checked the RAM type and the results of a few others who did the upgrade.

The ram itself is actually quite common if you have some older generation HP laptops around. DDR2 667 SO-DIMM’s were in a few machines that I’ve been keeping around for spare parts. Popped out 2 x 2GB DIMM’s and NAS is really happy. Boot times are faster and the management interface is really moving better. Most of the applications running on the server are JAVA based and it has taken a larger share of RAM than it had before. It’s happy, I’m happy.

C64: Asteroids Emulation on a C64

Link: http://members.aon.at/nkehrer/astc64.html

Well, it’s pretty awesome. A quote from the site, explains the awesomeness of this:

Since the nineties, arcade emulators like MAME can emulate the classics like Asteroids on the PC or the Mac. This program is an Asteroids emulator for the Commodore 64. The “emulation” of the arcade machine’s CPU is done natively by the 6510 processor of the C64. The video and sound hardware is simulated by the Asteroids emulator program. In this way, the original arcade game program is executed and interpreted, and the original game play is (more or less) exactly reproduced.

I can remember the disappointment in the conversions that showed up over the years of this amazing game. It was one of the first games I loaded in MAME to check out. Well Done Norbert!

PET4032: New PET, Amazing Condition…

PET4032

Really lucky, this 4032 Big Screen Model is in such good condition that I had to really look for a scratch. Opening the inside was a surprise compared to my 2001. It was clean. Close to spotless. The keyboard needed some elbow grease, which took all of 30 minutes of pushing keys to get them going.. well the space bar needs a little work.

Hooked up an SFD SD1 and tested the ports, everything works great. Miner on the PET is awesome — still amazed at the condition of the machine, its in better shape than the one I used in school years ago. I didn’t know there was a kickstand inside the case 🙂

The board is one of the FAT40 types, which means it can be bumped to a 8032. 32k of RAM is an upgrade from my 2001. I’ve always been used to metal case PET’s, this one is a plastic and I like the feel of it.

1541-II: Dirty Harry

1541-iiHeadDirty

Backing up the collection, is causing some permanent damage. Every so often the drive just starts gagging on a disk, so I stop the process and open the drive. I’ve actually started to just leave the case off and move my coffee to the other side of the desk. Majority of the disks don’t have issues, but then there are a few that strip large quantities of their magnetic surface off. I ran out of isopropyl, so I switched to booze (something high proof :)). The strange thing is the booze seems to work better. Less disks are getting trashed. might be for other reasons like stronger better made floppies — or ones that were taken better care of. The majority of these disks are from different people, maybe 1/5 are mine and the others are donations from friends and bulk purchases from other equipment buys from ebay. Does anyone have any suggestions for bulk backup of collections to D64?

I’ve written a few scripts in powershell, to handle the bulk of the work. The script does a directory of the disk, if that is successful it takes the header name, uses that as base filename. Then it copies the directory to a txt file, runs D64copy shows the progress. If I type a name after the script command, it will use that name instead of the dir header. I wonder if there is a way to save the error map from D64copy as well?

1571: The Disk Eater of Doom

TastyFloppy Wow. I pulled out the 400+ floppies, a few disk drives and the ZoomFloppy. While I do my day to day programming work, I run a script with Powershell/OPENCBM and started imaging my collection. So do some work, insert a disk, hit enter then continue.

I got through about 100 floppies and started to notice disk errors popping up. I used my newest drive, which was a 1541-II. So I popped the 1541-II’s lid and checked the head. It was filthy. Got the head cleaner, cleaned it off and continued on. The 1541-II’s are easy to clean. But then I thought.. hey the 1571 has warp mode transfers. faster transfer means done faster..

So I hooked the 1571 drive up, tested the transfer. 1571 versus 1541-II. 1571 wins speed wise.

The second disk I inserted, the copy sounded like power tools in use. Which prompted me to stop the process and check the drive. Looking at the Disk after was a shock. I have never had this happen ever.. that’s a solid groove that you can see through. I’m scared of the 1571 disk eater now..

PET 2001: My Pet Monster

Pet2001-screen
Pet2001-Back
Pet2001-mb
Click to Zoom in

This is My Pet Monster, I found him abandoned on the street — left out in the rain, sometime in 2001. He was pretty scratched up and started to rust.. which after a little scrubbing (and some beer for me) he ended up getting a paint job. There are a lot of Pet Enthusiasts out there who will cry when they see the paint job. But after a little cleaning, prodding and solder (recently) he turned on!

Now, looking at the tag on the left it says 2001-8. I live in Canada, this machine was found in Toronto. I also know after pulling out the motherboard — a sticker says : Ryerson Polytechnical College (which is now Ryerson University). But the exterior is not a PET 2001 Series, it has no tape drive and has the graphical keyboard. But all pictures I’ve seen of other pets that are the 2001 series after the Chicklet Keyboard have a different motherboard.

PET Logic Assy : 320132

Is it weird or …1023 bytes free, seem strange?

— After some chats with Mike Stein (TPUG Email List), I’ve swapped around 2114 ram chips, to find the bad one(s). I basically got it down to two chips, then he suggested switching around the video ram, one at a time. If you get garbage on the screen, then the chip is bad. In the end both chips are bad. So I get ~6k of ram working :).

— Arg as I was writing this, the PET just shut down. And its not coming back. Noo….
PetMonster

Well This is boot up…

CH(A) (TOP) is Pin 1 off of the 2114 SRAM in the first bank.
CH(B) (BOTTOM) is 6502 pin 1

Startup

Then goes this post boot.

Running

Well, it’s got a pulse.. hah.

I think it’s actually the display system itself. The monitor is not powering up or showing the signs when it’s powered off.. The Fading white dot..

I really wish this was a ROM problem, messing with CRT’s is deadly if you don’t discharge them properly. I knew a guy at a workshop who died form one of the massive TV’s that were built into furniture. So.. Hmm..

It looks like the tube doesn’t power up at all. With an induction amplifier, aiming it at ANY CRT will be noisy as hell. My 1084 monitor generates a lot of noise, and a PET monitor should be loud… not a peep. I do not want to open the back of the screen.. eek.

Well, as long as I stay away from the end of the Tube, for now I should be ok 🙂

MonitorOpen1

As you can see below, everything looks ok.. nothing obvious..

MonitorOpen2

TubeLit

This last pic is with the light off, to see that the tube is actually got something going on.. The tube is lit when the power is on, just not enough to show something.

C64NIC+: More Networking Fun on the C64

C64NICI was thinking about making a modem file, or hack part of Darkstar BBS to work as Telnet BBS. When I started working with this device, I noticed Leif Bloomquist was working on a network game for the C64. I began thinking of trying to test out burning some ROM’s for this device. I pulled out my trusty EEPROM burner and found out — my laptop doesn’t have a parallel port! Shhessh. I tried various LPT-USB adapters and nothing works. Hmm, maybe I’ll bother someone with a more modern EEPROM burner.

But the idea of a network game seems pretty awesome, I’ve noticed Vice has a networking config… hmm.

Anyways, maybe a mini-mmo type dungeon crawl game might be fun.

Zoom Floppy: CBM 8050 Test

ZoomTestZoom Floppy is a USB to Anything Commodore adapter. I can remember having a X1541, a 386 some a really old ISA LPT port adapter and hours of fiddling, copying and pain with Star Commander. After the setup got hooked up, I ended up slapping an NE2000 and a DOS based TCPIP Stack to transfer files off the disks. The Hacked up 1451 cable always had its issues too.

Move ahead to 2010+ and you have a Zoom Floppy. It was 5 minutes of setup and disk transfers were happening. It’s a great piece of equipment. One of the great other benefits is for the rest of us that have IEEE Devices. I have a SFD1001, CBM8050 and an MSD SD-2. It was pretty impressive to hookup these drives just as easily as an IEC 1541.

Backing up these IEEE devices is awesome, but accessing them without a BUS card on a PC is amazing.

I noticed some weirdness with the dual drive units, I could read off of Drive 0 but not off of 1. I am sure I just need to either update my software or I’m doing something wrong. But flipping disks between drives is not an issue.

C64 ASM: Video Test – Dr. Who Time Tunnel

This segment is from the opening of Doctor Who, (I think Tom Baker :)) and slightly tweaked to allow it to loop better. The output of GIF2C64, is generally just RAW data or a text file with a long stream of .byte(s). I’ve added some ASM output options like a mini player for animated gif’s (in this example) and scrolling code for images larger than the screen of the C64. There were a few video’s out there, in the 80’s that someone made — one of them was of HE-MAN. It was black and white pixels represented by the standard font map. Seeing that video made me a little crazy for video on the C64, even much later I was working in DPaint on the Amiga with ambitions to get the anims over to the C64. I can also remember the first digitized audio I ever heard on the C64, I think it was “stay a while, stay forever!”.. the next was “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen.

C64 ASM: Video Test with Dragon’s Lair

Dirk Dead: Down the street from my house (when I was very young), there was a Dragon’s Lair arcade game. I have always loved that game. I ended up with the real arcade laser disk and a copy of it on DVD. When I got the C64 game, it was a million disks and there were always errors on the various disks (or failed copy protection). But when the C64 game ran, I was thinking *what? this isn’t Dragons Lair!*.. then the first few sequences would run… then crash.

One of the coding projects I always wanted to try was to create a video codec (and transfer process) to bring Dragons Lair properly over to the C64. This was my first segment, which of course is without audio. I know that there are carts out there that can output higher res video with audio, but I wanted this to run on a stock C64.. maybe a little more memory wouldn’t be bad 🙂

This was created by GIF2C64 a C# application I am working on.

C64 ASM: Skull Tumbler V1-4

Skull Tumbler v1-4 [2014]: Coding, GFX and Music by Wolfgang Bochar. This is a long time coming, I’ve managed to the IRQ timing correct, 16 sprite blockers to give the window effect and no jitters. Works on NTSC and PAL machines, though PAL is a little slower on the playback. I used to have closer to 18 rows of text graphics scrolling — but when combined with the audio, sprites and x-y scrolling in the two raster areas.. it got quite jittery. There is only so much raster time to render the image, so I started running frame 0 half image then frame 1 lower half — then the Y scrolling started to look jumpy with the timing. This version has a smaller window, but I like the simple layout better (but full screen video is great too). Something to work at in the future.

I am pretty happy with this, it is the cleanest and most complex IRQ coding I’ve every done. I’d like to thank the crew at Covert Bitops for the ASM Notes and GoatTracker (which I composed the music on), The KickAss Assembler and the Kick IDE guys (makes Dev so much faster), Oliver Achten and Jens Schönfeld for the MMC Replay (makes testing on a real C64 fast and easy) and Takeshi Yano (for all the C64 chats over the years).

The Source graphic (and any video data on this site) was generated by GIF2C64 (C# application), that takes gifs (animated too) and generates custom charsets. I haven’t got all the bugs out, but after alpha is finished I’ll post a beta version for external testing.

MMC Replay: RR-NET MK3 Upgrade

MMCReplayOriginal
MMC Replay gets a powerup 🙂 I ordered a batch of equipment, from www.icomp.de: 2 RRNET3’s and a Chameleon docking station. My Chameleon, for some reason died! And after a few days of back and forth emails with Jens, it got shipped back to its maker. The other RRNET3 got installed in my MMC Replay (on the left). I’ve almost lost a few fingers in the process of cutting through the plastic to make the LED’s and NIC port accessible. I’ve had access to proper tools to make plastic molds and cart cases, but the hack method definitely is a little more pleasurable.

When I got this cart, I had one of those Back to the Future moments — where I wished I could send this guy back to myself circa ’84. Just be able to load everything you have on an SD card is awesome. I like doing dev work with it, but the SD card I was using was starting to warp a bit from continuous inserting. So, move over SD Card and use NIC/TCPIP.

It’s not an obvious process, but I’ve done a lot of networking and related hardware in the past. There is only so much resources that this device can have on board and then rest has to be played out by software. I ended up using the last slot on my MMCRR  and flashing the BIN for “The Final Replay V0.8”. Just loading the BIOS isn’t enough, you need to modify the BIN using a setup to give it an IP and the server IP. Works! As you can see below:

rrnet

PINGTEST

C64 ASM: Skull Tumbler (Gif2C64)

This is my most recent output from my GIF2C64 conversion utility. I made an image in photoshop, that would appear seemless when scrolled. 4 colour gif, converted to a custom multi-colour font, basically dividing the character into quadrants with each possible combination of patterns. The output software also handles font compression, to strip out excess unused patterns, which is how the Letters have been retained in the fontmap. Gif2C64 also can take animated gifs, which with more frames in the video the less space is available for letters. I’ll try to post an example of video later..

The ASM to scrolling code could use some work, this is my first experience with multiple raster calling. At certain points the music starts to kaak, due it fighting with the drawing routines. I’ll get there 🙂