8-bit Hardware Upgrade, Modification and Add-On FAQFrom: Michael Current (aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 07/14/96-05:27:37 PM Z
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From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current) Subject: 8-bit Hardware Upgrade, Modification and Add-On FAQ Date: Sun Jul 14 17:27:37 1996 The Atari 8-bit Hardware Upgrade, Modification and Add-On FAQ ================================= | | | | | | / | \ Version 0.1 Dated February 18, 1995 Maintained by: David A. Paterson Mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org INTRODUCTION This is a very basic version. I intend to add as people give feedback to what they want to see, and how they want to see it. Any info you have is more than welcome! PURPOSE This FAQ exists to describe the various hardware modifications available to the Atari 8-bit user. It does not teach you how to do them. It definitely doesn't take any responsibility for the results if you do try them. But it will try to give you some information about where to find more information, which upgrades (or "hacks") are best, and who to consult if things go wrong. For addresses and phone numbers of any of the companies listed, consult the Vendors and Developers List, posted at or about the 15th of each month. It also exists to describe the many wild and wonderful products that have been produced for the Atari 8-bit. Many are unique, some may be apocryphal. Mainstream items like printers, modems, disk drives and cassette decks are all excluded. Temperature gauges, combination printer buffer/ramdisks that run through the joystick port, and other such are fair game. POSTING FREQUENCY This FAQ is posted whenever I remember to post it. It is posted to comp.sys.atari.8bit. INDEX Part I RAM Upgrades listed by computer Part 2 Video Upgrades 80 Column devices Genlocks Part 3 Operating Systems Part 4 Other Neat Stuff stereo sound, add-ons Key to abbreviations ANL - Analog Magazine AC - Atari Classics Magazine ANT - Antic Magazine AIM - Atari Interface Magazine PART I - RAM Upgrades General The 6502 microprocessor at the heart of every Atari 8-bit has a sixteen bit wide address bus. What this means is that it can access up to 2^16 memory locations. That's 65536 bytes. Some people, wanting more memory, came up with a variety of techniques to use more memory. Most were built around the idea of bank switching. Bank switching means that you swap chunks of memory around so that the CPU can see them when necessary. Most schemes use 16k banks, though 4k and 32k have also been tried. Atari 400 The original Atari 400 had either 8k or 16k. Atari produced a board with 48k. Mosaic produced a 32k board, as well as a 64k board with 48k RAM plus 4 4k RAM banks. (ANL 13, IFC) Atari 800 The Atari 800 came with three memory slots. Each slot could contain Atari 8k or 16k RAM boards. Mosaic produced 32k and 64k boards. Three 64k boards could be combined for 192k. Axlon produced the 128k RAMdisk board. It banks 16k, using $CFFF as a control register. Banked memory appears from $4000 to $7FFF. David Byrd created the "800 PLUS 288K UPGRADE" which rewired existing 16k RAM boards, but required additional work to become fully Axlon compatible. A nasty sort of flame war erupted between David Byrd and Jay Torres of the Windhover Project over who invented the upgrade. Magna systems produced 256k, 512k and 1M boards which followed the Axlon standard. (ANL 65, 68) Atari 1200xl See 800xl. Atari 600xl As shipped, the Atari 600xl came with 16k RAM. Atari released the 1064 memory module which expanded the 600xl to 64k. MPP, now Supra, produced the Microram 64k Memory Board (ANL 19, 28) RC Systems produced three expansion modules for the 600xl, raising memory to 32k, 48k or 64k (ANL 26, 12) Richard Gore produced the Yorky, a 256k board which plugs in to the PBI. It provides full compatibility with 130xe type banking. It is for use on 600xls upgraded internally to 64k, or on 800xls. (AC 3/2, 10) Atari 800xl The Atari 800xl came with 64k RAM internal. To access RAM hidden under the OS ROMs, the PIA chip was used (PORTB, used for STICK(2) and (3) on the original 800). Claus Bucholtz published plans for a 256k upgrade which banked 32k at a time using PORTB for control in Byte magazine. (Byte Sept 85) ICD released the RAMBO upgrade, providing 256k in 16k banks, using PORTB. Newell came out with the 256k XL, which would work on a 1200xl or 800xl, providing 256k total memory, . The two upgrades used different sequences to access their banks. (ANL 44, 115) Charles Bucholtz updated his upgrade to use 16k banks after the release of the 130xe. Most of the 800xl upgrades can be made compatible with Antic banking. The only possible problem would be when Antic and the CPU are supposed to be using different memory banks. The Yorky will also provide 256 on an 800xl (see the entry under 600xl). Newell released 1Meg and 4Meg upgrades for the 800xl. These banked 16k as well, and required disabling internal BASIC to properly access the memory. Fine Tooned Engineering, having bought the rights to ICD and Newell's products, is bringing out a third method in the Mars 8. Though not yet released, it will use SIMMs for 256k, 1Meg or 4Meg RAM. Atari 130xe The 130xe was the first "official" method of banking memory. It too used PORTB, but with an added twist: ANTIC and the CPU could access different banks. This provided headaches for some owners of "older" upgrades, but few programs took advantage of this feature (SpartaDos Wedge and VideoBlitz demo only). Upgrades for the 130xe include replacing one set of 64k chips with 256k chips, raising the RAM to 320k. Adding another 256k for 576k total has also been done. These were designed by Scott Peterson, as was a 1088k upgrade. PART II - Video Upgrades The most common video upgrades are the SuperVideo series, described in AC 2/6. Plans were provided for the 600xl, 800xl, 1200xl and 130xe. The SuperVideo upgrade provides the forgotten chroma signal on the monitor port. It corrects a number of errors in the parts in the Atari video circuit, resulting in a clearer image, particularly on monitors. Providing TTL output was also covered in AC 2/6. Bob Woolley provided plans for the circuit, as well as instructions for getting TTL output from an XEP80. Be warned that the output is not in the standard Atari colours; on a CGA type screen, the sixteen possible shades are translated into eight colours. 80 column devices Since the 400/800 were released in 1979, people have been clamouring for better text displays than the default 40x24. Two products were released for the 800: The Austin-Franklin 80 column board and the Bit 3 80 column board were both for use in the Atari 800. They replaced the third memory module. The Austin-Franklin board came with a "Right Cartridge" which provided the drivers. Removing the cartridge disabled the board. Some software would not run with an 80-column board installed. Ace 80/80xl was a cartridge released which provided 80 columns by using bitmapped graphics on an 80 column screen. A similar technique was used in the Newell Omniview, an add-on for their Omnimon. Atari's entry into the 80 column field was the much maligned XEP80. For maximum compatibility, the XEP80 attaches to the computer via a joystick port. It includes three character sets, 8k internally, and a parallel printer port. The software provided by Atari supports a 320x200 graphics mode. This mode only supports direct bit images. Hacks have been released which hook the XEP80 on via the parallel bus. Genlock In October and November of 1991, Michael St Pierre published articles in the SLCC Journal describing plans for a monochrome Genlock. A genlock is a system to synchronize live video with a computer image. Graphics can be overlaid, faded in or out, or used for titling. In 1994, Michael announced Prism Studio, a full colour genlock. It is sold by Mytek. PART III - Operating Systems Computer OS -------- -- 400/800 Rev A. No self test; Memo Pad mode. Rev B. Fixes several bugs in Rev A. 1200xl XL OS. Some incompatibilities with 400/800 OS 600xl/800xl Revised XL OS. Includes parallel bus handlers. Internal BASIC. 65xe/130xe Revised XL OS. (as above) xegs Modified XL OS. Self-test mode changed. Internal Missile Command and BASIC. Operating System upgrades UltraSpeed + OS : from CSS. Supports high speed disk communication. Drives 1 through 9. Any RAM upgrade. Includes three modes: standard xl/xe OS; 400/800 OS; UltraSpeed+ OS. For XL/XE systems. Omnimon: from Newell. M/l monitor for 400/800. Installs into $C000 page of memory, otherwise unused. RAMROD OS: from Newell. Replacement for 400/800. Includes accelerated floating point math package. RAMROD XL: from Newell. OS speed-up routines, fast math, and Omnimon. Includes option for second OS. XL Boss: from Allen Macroware. OS replacement for XL model computers. Includes m/l monitor. 400/800 OS compatible. TurBoss: available from KP and Best. Fast math and fast screen routines. For XL/XE computers. PART IV - Other Neat Stuff Zucchini In ANL 59,60 and 62, Dr. Lee S. Brilliant provided plans and software to turn a surplus Atari into a printer buffer for another Atari. He called it "The Atari Zucchini". The Printer Buffer Routine (PBR) and Disk Emulator Routine (DER) came from B.L. Enterprises. They were cartridges and cables which worked in a similar fashion to the Zucchini. The PBR provided a buffer, while the DER emulated a disk drive on the remote computer. Stock XLs gave 403 free sectors; a 130xe would give 914. (ANL 65, 67) Voice Master Covox sold the Voice Master and Voice Master junior. These would capture and record speech. Bundled software attempted recognition of commands, with limited success. (ANL 47, 44) Parrot The Parrot was a sound digitizer sold by Alpha Systems. Resembling a paddle, the device had phono jack for input. Antic provided plans for a similar project, called the Antic Sampling Processor. (ANT 8/8, 11) SoundMouse Among the more esoteric products ever released was the SoundMouse, which interpreted sound to provide a reading on a paddle register. It did not act as a digitizer, like the Voice Master and Parrot did.Bundled software made the lava lamp look mainstream in its appeal. No commercial applications taking advantage of this unique device were released. Gumby Chuck Steinman of DataQue created this set of plans for building stereo sound by installing a second Pokey chip (Pokey and Gumby, get it?). Once installed, the second channel has all its addresses 16 bytes higher in memory ($D210 - $D21F). A small number of demos have been released in stereo. ftp://atari.archive.umich.edu/Atari/8bit/Sound/gumby.arc PIA2 With the use of PORTB for RAM banking, hackers were looking for more parallel outputs. This plan, for adding one more PIA chip, includes notes for adding two more. It was intended as a means to control large RAM upgrades. (AIM 3/2, 16) Critical Connection A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, was a mystic operating system known as CPM. A company named USS Enterprises produced the Critical Connection, a device to permit a CPM computer to emulate disk drives for the Atari. It was a cable, plus software for the CPM end of the system. The CPM system could also act as a printer buffer, and the CPM keyboard could be used in the place of the Atari keyboard. (ANL 39,103) SIO2PC With the demise of CPM and the rise of the IMI cartel (IBM-Microsoft-Intel) a new system similar to the Critical Connection arose. Nick Kennedy developed the SIO2PC hardware and software, which permits any PC with a serial port to act as up to four disk drives for an Atari. It can also act as a printer buffer. Computer Eyes Computer Eyes was a video capture system which plugged into two joystick ports. It could render images in a variety of modes. It required a composite video source. (ANL 35, 53) Easy Scan Take a cartridge, add a fibre-optic cable, and hook it onto a printer, and you've got Easy-Scan, an image scanner for the Atari 8-bit. Innovative Concepts produced this item. (ANT 7/6, 43) WIMA Radio, Lima, Ohio This radio station, when automating 6 broadcast hours daily, created a hardware and software package built around a 130xe for control. Control was via joystick ports and tone decoders. (ANT 8/7, 30) Comp-U-Temp This provided 8 or 16 channels and 2 or 4 sensors. It would monitor the temperature, with options to log results to disk or printer, or to sound an alarm if the temperature strayed out of set boundaries. The software was described as "cumbersome". (ANL 48, 35) Turbo 816 Released by DataQue, this provided a replacement OS as well as a replacement for the 6502 CPU. A 65816 was substituted, providing new opcodes and a 24 bit address space (16Megs vs 64k with the 6502). Sweet 16 Released by Fine Tooned Engineering, this provides a 65816 CPU to replace the 6502. MIDIMATE MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It is a system for computers to record, replay and control musical instruments. MIDIMATE, when combined with MidiTrack software, permits an Atari 8-bit to take control. (ANL 33, 26) MicroNet Supra provided the Atari community with its first networking product. MicroNet provides nine SIO connectors. Eight are for computers. The ninth goes to whatever peripherals are to be connected. The system served to isolate the computers electrically. It did no software checking, meaning that two or more users attempting to print or save at the same time could trash each others output. (ANL 51, 76) MultiPlexer CSS provided a better way to network. The Multiplexer system requires one host system which has all the disk drives and printers for the network. The slaves are connected via the cartridge port to the host, and all their disk and printer i/o is rerouted to the host. All the systems involved require their OS replaced with a special multiplexer OS. MIO ICD manufactured this wonderboard in 1987. Connected to the PBI or ECI, it provided either 256k or 1Meg of RAM, two RS232 ports, a parallel printer port and a SCSI hard drive port. MIO II Currently under development by Fine Tooned Engineering, this PBI/ECI board will provide an interface and power supply for an IDE hard disk. It may also include extended memory support for CPU upgraded computers, as well as a parallel port. Black Box CSS manufactures the Black Box, a PBI/ECI device that offers an optional 64k printer buffer. Its main attractions are its m/l monitor, 19200 baud RS232 port, parallel port, and hard disk interface. The parallel and serial ports do not use standard DB9 or DB25 connectors; custom cables are required. Floppy Board This is an add-on to the Black Box, also from CSS. It permits standard floppy drives, 360k, 720k, 1.2M and 1.44M, to be attached to the Black Box. Since they are connected to the PBI, these drives operate extremely quickly. Supra/KP Hard Disk Interface Supra released one of the first hard drives for the 800xl. It hooked up via the PBI. KP bought the rights to the interface from Supra. R-Time 8 This is a clock cartridge for any Atari from Fine Tooned Engineering. It includes a pass-through connector so that any other cartridge can be plugged in as well. Though primarily intended for SpartaDos, software for other DOSes is included. Mars-8 This is still under development from Fine Tooned Engineering. For 800xls only. Memory expansion of 256k, 1M or 4M. Install internally Action, Basic XL/XE, MAC/65, SpartaDos X, R-Time 8. Atari 850 This device hooks into the SIO line, and provides 4 9-pin RS232 ports and a 15-pin parallel port. The RS232 ports are NOT IBM PC standard. The MIO and PR Connection use the same pinout. P:R: Connection This device plugs into the SIO line, and provides 2 9-pin RS232 ports and a 15-pin parallel port. It is powered by the SIO line. The Atari 1200xl requires an internal modification to work with this device, or with the Atari XM301 300 baud modem. Voice Box II Manufactured by the ALIEN Group, this speech synthesizer even nade it into TIME Magazine in their "Machine of the Year" issue in 1982. Plugging into the SIO line, this device would produce speech of the traditional computer variety. R/128 RAMdisk Printer Buffer Spooler Protronics of California announced this 128k RAMdisk/printer buffer which interfaced via the joystick ports, offering it as a replacement for the 850. A 512k upgrade was promised. (ANT 2/8, 106) N1858-32 Newell Industries announced this 850 replacement in 1983. It offered two serial and one parallel port, along with an expandable 8k printer buffer. (ANT 2/8, 106) Oscar Model 1 This bar-code scanner was from the Databar Corp. The intent was to permit the speedy entry of computer programs which would be encoded in magazines. (ANT 2/8, 107) 1200XL PBI Hackers love the 1200xl for two reasons: because of all the space available within the case, and because of the great keyboard. Bob Woolley came up with this set of plans for adding a parallel bus interface to the 1200xl. ftp://atari.archive.umich.edu/Atari/8bit/Modifications/pbi1200.arc === End === -- Michael Current, 8-Bit Atari FAQ & Vendor/Developer Lists maintainer User groups: CAIN, SPACE, NWPAC / mailto:email@example.com
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