From: Michael Current (aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 04/21/92-07:49:36 PM Z

From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: Transkey
Date: Tue Apr 21 19:49:36 1992

Reprinted from the A.C.E.C. BBS (614)-471-8559

                             T R A N S K E Y
                            BY: MICRO SOLUTIONS

                    FOR THE ATARI 400/800/XE/XL SERIES

                            - Revised 4/6/90 -


    The  main emphasis of this product, was to provide a means of utilizing
a better quality keyboard with the Atari than the one originally provided.

    Since  IBM  style  keyboards  have  become so plentiful and are made in
numerous  configurations,  it was deemed that this would be the keyboard of
choice.  This gives the added flexibilty of locating the keyboard where you
want  it,  independent  of  the  computer  and  it's  associated peripheral
equipment.  Also,  due  to the additional function keys, cursor keys, ect.,
several  new  features  are  provided  that could not be implemented by the
original  Atari  keyboards.  One  of  the most interesting of these, is the
ability  to  send out full commands (BASIC & MAC65) with a single keypress.
This  and  many  other  features will be covered in greater detail a little
later  on,  for now let's look at what TRANSKEY is from a hardware point of
view and what is involved in installing it.


    TRANSKEY   is   a   microprocessor  based  translater  board  measuring
aproximately  2.5  x  3.5  inches  and is designed to fit underneath the RF
shield on the Atari motherboard. The TRANSKEY board is provided with double
sided  tape  attached  to  the  solder  side and is meant to be placed in a
location where it can be sandwiched between the shield and the motherboard.
The  location will vary depending on what model of computer it is installed
in.  On  the 1200XL it will be necessary to either cut the RF shield or not
use it, since there is virtually no room underneath it.

    On  the  400/800  &  all  XL  models,  the  TRANSKEY  derives it's main
communication  and  power  from the Atari via a small piggy-back board that
attaches to TRANSKEY with a ribbon cable. This piggy-back board is designed
to  be  plugged  into  the  socket  where POKEY (Atari Part# C012294) would
normally  reside,  with  POKEY  then  plugged  into the piggy-back board to
complete  the  installation.  On  the  unsocketed  XE  series machines, the
installation requires soldering directly to the POKEY chip.

    To fully complete the installation and assuming that one wishes to have
START,SELECT,OPTION,RESET  available from the remote keyboard, will require
the  attachment of 4 jumper wires. Three of these wires go to a single chip
called  CTIA  or  GTIA  (Atari part# C014805) to tap into the option select
circuitry. The point where the 4th wire for Reset goes, varies depending on
the  model  of  computer.  Generally  to  install  these jumpers, it merely
requires  pulling a chip out of it's socket, inserting the bared end of the
jumpers into the appropriate holes in the socket, and then re-inserting the
chip  that  was  removed.  Of  course on the XE series it isn't possible to
remove the chips, so these jumpers will have to be soldered in place.

    With  TRANSKEY  installed,  all  normal  operations  of  the  Atari are
unimpaired,  including  the  use of the stock Atari keyboard. However, with
TRANSKEY  and an external IBM style keyboard attached, there will no longer
be any need to use the stock keyboard except for the following conditions:

    When  Cold-Booting  from  cassette  tape,  it will only work by pushing
START from the stock keyboard prior to engaging power.

    On  XL/XE  machines  to  disable  Basic  on Cold-Boot, it will still be
necessary  to push OPTION on the stock keyboard (See section 'Other Special
Keys' page#3 for a way to disable basic after boot-up).

    The  reason for this, is that for the 1st couple seconds after powering
up, the IBM style keyboards usually run a self-test which basically doesn't
allow  for  proper recognition of a key pressed during this time. Since the
Atari  looks  for  these  special  key presses to occur very soon after the
power  is  turned  on,  it will fail to see these with the IBM keyboard and
instead just do a normal Cold Start.

    The  IBM  keyboard  is  connected  by  means of a 5 pin DIN inline jack
attached  by  a  small ribbon cable to the TRANSKEY main board. This ribbon
can  be  routed  through an existing hole or slot on the computers case, by
unplugging  it  from the Transkey board and then reconnecting it when done.
For  those  of  you  that  prefer  to  permanently  mount  this jack, it is
available  as  a  chassis  style  jack with mounting hardware (specify when


    With  either an XL or XE computer, almost full use of all the extra key
functions  on  the  IBM  keyboard are implemented. This includes single key
cursor  movement,  Home cursor, End of page cursor and Insert/Delete modes.
Also  a  special  Cursor Left Page/Right Page is available by pressing Page
Up/Page Down respectfully. On a 400/800 machine the page movement functions
are not recognized, although everything else is.

    These  functions  are  directly  accessable  from  the number pad after
powering  up  the  system  (Default), if you want to use the number pad for
number  entry,  simply press the NUMLOCK key. These functions will still be
available,  but  will  now  require  a  Control  -  Function combination to
initiate. If you want to restore the default condition (single keypresses),
just  press the NUMLOCK key once more (pressing NUMLOCK toggles between the
two modes).

    The  Home  key  has yet another use, when pressed with the Shift key it
will both home the cursor and clear the screen. This is the same as Shift -
Clear  on  a  stock  Atari  keyboard. Pressing the Escape key prior to this
combination  will  still  print  the  curved  arrow  symbol  like the stock

    The  Insert  &  Delete keys when pressed with Shift, will perform whole
line insertions or deletions.

    If a 101 key Enhanced keyboard is being used, the extra cursor control,
Insert and Delete keys will work the same as their number pad counterparts,
unchanged by either Shift, Control or NUMLOCK.

    Perhaps  one  of the nicest features, is the indication of CapsLock and
NumLock  by  led  indicater  lights  on  IBM  style  keyboards, that are so

The Function Keys:

    On  an  XL  or  XE  series  machine  Control  F1  - F5 will provide the
following special functions:

Control F1     Disables the keyboard (both stock an
               external) and until pressed again, all
               keys will be ignored by the computer.

Control F2     Disables DMA. Pressing this will cause
               the screen to go black until any other
               key is pressed. While the screen is
               black, processing time is accelerated
               by 30%.

Control F3     Disables the audible keyboard click
               when a key is pressed, pressing it
               again will re-enable the click sound.

Control F4     Toggles between International symbols
               and standard graphics symbols on the

Control F5     This acts as the HELP key, since there
               isn't one on most IBM keyboards.

    On  all other machines 400/800's included, Control F6 acts as the Atari
Inverse  Video  key, Control F7 is the BASIC macro select and Control F8 is
the MAC65 macro select.

    The  last  two  keys  (Control  F7  &  F8)  control  possibly  the most
interesting added feature of the new keyboard, it's the ability to send out
an  entire  string  of  characters  with but one signal keystroke (Macros).
Built-in  to  TRANSKEY  are  two  predefined  tables  of some commonly used
commands  for  either  BASIC or MAC65 Assembly languages. These are sent by
pressing  F1  -  F8 and depending upon whether Control F7 or Control F8 was
last  pressed,  will  spit  out  either  the BASIC macro or the MAC65 macro
(Defaults  to  BASIC  on  power-up).  Below is a list of the supplied macro

                              --- MACROS ---

                   BASIC                           MAC65

            F1   LIST <CR>                    LIST <CR>
            F2   RUN <CR>                     ASM,#-,#D:
            F3   SAVE"D:                      SAVE#D:
            F4   LOAD"D:                      LOAD#D:
            F5   ?PEEK(                       FIND/
            F6   POKE                         REP/
            F7   SAVE"D:BACK <CR>             SAVE#D:BACK <CR>
            F8   ?FRE(0) <CR>                 SIZE <CR>

    Note:  <CR>  stands for Carriage Return, commands with this as a suffix
will  be  executed  immediately.  F7  is  a way to easily save a back-up of
whatever  you  are working on to disk (under the name 'BACK') with a single

    Function keys F9 - F12 (F11 & F12 available on Enhanced keyboards only)
are used as option select keys.

          F9 = START     F10 = SELECT   F11 = OPTION   F12 = HELP

    The  ALTERNATE  (ALT)  key will also function as the OPTION key and the
SYSREQ key will also act as a HELP key (as well as Control  F5).


    The key with the ($-) and (`) symbols on it (normally on the upper right
corner)  acts as an extra Escape key, thus placing it where most people are
used  to  it  being.  Since these symbols are not directly available on the
Atari, this key now has a practical use.

    The  key  marked  PRINT SCREEN (or Shift *) when pressed will output an
unused  character on the keyboard matrix (Dec #36, HEX $24). This in itself
isn't very useful, but with a little ingenuity on the user's part, this key
could  be  looked  for and caused to activate a screen printing program. To
see  this  key in action, you could type in: 10 ?PEEK(764):GOTO 10 <CR> RUN
<CR>  (or  F2).  This routine will continuously look for any keypressed and
print out it's raw matrix keycode value.

    The  Control  SCROLL key combination will actually be recognized as the
Break  key to the Atari computer (On most 84 key keyboards this key is also
labled as break).

    If  Control,  ALT  and the NumPad DELETE key are pressed together, this
will  result in a System Reset to occur (assuming the Reset jumper wire was
installed).  Releasing  the  DELETE  key 1st prior to Control and ALT, will
usually  result in a re-boot with Basic disabled. Releasing the ALT key 1st
prior to DELETE, will result in a normal Reset with Basic enabled.

    If  you  are  using  a BTC series keyboard, the extra key labeled MACRO
will  produce  a  simultaneous Shift Control action in combination with any
other  key  pressed. Several programs recognize this as a send macro string
function, of course on keyboards without this key, the normal Shift Control
combination would be used instead.

    Keys  not utilized are: SCROLL LOCK and the combination PAUSE/BREAK key
found only on Enhanced keyboards.


    TRANSKEY  is  an external independent device, having it's own processor
and  memory,  and  by  design  is suppose to emulate a piece of hardware (a
stock Atari keyboard).  To the Atari computer, signals coming from TRANSKEY
will be indistinguishable from signals that a stock keyboard would produce.
This  means  that  any  software  ever  written will be compatible with the
TRANSKEY board, the only exceptions are as follows:

    When a program such as a wordprocessor looks at keys in an entirely new
light and essentially reassigns new meaning to these keys, there could be a
conflict.  An example would be where the extra symbols on the arrow keys no
longer  print  to screen, but instead are used for moving the cursor to the
next  word,  or the next line, ect.. Since these characters are on entirely
different  keys  on  the IBM standard, it will take some getting used to to
make  the  same  things  occur in a program of this kind. For instance when
running  from  MAC65's DDT menu, to increment or decrement the memory being
viewed  in  the display window requires pressing either the (-) or (=) keys
on  the  upper right of the keyboard. If you tried pressing the up-arrow or
down-arrow  instead  (as  the  program  instructions  dictate) nothing will
happen,  at  least  not  on  the  IBM keyboard. This way of doing things is
rather rare, since most programs will recognize the keys in a more standard

    Another  side  effect  of some of the word processing programs, is that
many  times  they  are  designed to put the system in lower case when first
booted  up.  Since there is no communication of this to the TRANSKEY board,
the  keyboards  CapsLock  light will indicate an upper case (or CapsLocked)
condition  (this  is  not  the  case  when  using a PC/XT keyboard see next
section  for  details).  This can usually be easily remedied by pushing the
CAPSLOCK key twice which will reinitialize the computer to the keyboard and
put the computer in upper case mode. This particular problem can also occur
if  the  CAPS  key is pressed on the stock Atari keyboard, but the same fix
will also correct this problem.


    TRANSKEY  was  designed  to  be  as flexible as possible and because of
this,  should  be  compatible  with  most  any  IBM  PC/XT/AT  or 3rd party
equivalent  keyboard. Best results will usually be obtained by selecting an
'AT'  configured  (or  dipswitch  configurable)  keyboard  instead  of  the
auto-configuring types.

    Configuring  TRANSKEY  to  the  keyboard is extremely easy, all that is
required  is  to plug in the keyboard with the computer off and then simply
switch  the  computer  on.  TRANSKEY  will  then perform an analysis of the
keyboard attached and auto-configure itself to it. If you have a switchable
PC/AT  keyboard,  be  sure  to set it's dipswitches to 'AT' mode. This will
insure proper setting of the CapsLock light on power up. When using a PC/XT
keyboard,  TRANSKEY will initialize itself to lower case mode (although the
computer  will  be  in upper case, unless a boot-up program has changed the
setting).  The  action  of pressing CAPS LOCK would then place the computer
positively  in  an  upper case mode and indicate this condition by lighting
the CapsLock light. Repeated pressing of this key and the indication of the
CapsLock  light,  would  then  correspond  to  the  actual case mode of the

    The  reason  for  this  difference between an 'AT' keyboard and a PC/XT
keyboard,  has  to  do  with  who controls the indicater lights. On an 'AT'
keyboard  the computer is solely responsible for activating or deactivating
a  given  light, on a 3rd party XT keyboard it's the keyboard that controls
the  action  of the lights ( When powering-up it turns all the lights off).
Since  the  Atari  normally  powers-up  in  upper  case  mode, TRANSKEY was
designed  not  to  alter  this  initial  setting  and if at all possible to
reflect  this  by  turning the keyboard CapsLock light on ('AT' keyboards).
With  a  PC/XT  keyboard  you  will  still  be  in upper case mode from the
computer's  point of view, but the CapsLock light will be off. The state of
this  light after powering-up, will also act as a good indicater as to what
type  of  keyboard  you  are  using  or in what way TRANSKEY has configured
itself when used with an Auto configuring keyboard.

    The  following list is of keyboards that have been tested with TRANSKEY
and are known to work reliably.

         IBM            BTC               KEYTRONICS        MITSUMI

      PC/XT/AT       53-SERIES            EP3435XTAT       KPQ-E99YC

                  TELEVIDEO        QUADRANT          EPC

                  113110 AT           AT          SK88018-1U


                   * * *   O R D E R   F O R M   * * *
                              MICRO SOLUTIONS
               BOX 750396, Petaluma, CA 94975 (707) 763-9103

Name ____________________________ Address________________________________

City ____________________________ State ____________ Zip ________________

  ____   TK01-SD        TRANSKEY BOARD (Solder in Version)         $48.00
                      $(Fits all models 400/800/XL/XE$)

  ____   TK01-PB        TRANSKEY BOARD (Piggy-Back Version)        $58.00
                    $(400/800/XL ONLY solderless installation$)

  ____   CHASSIS MOUNTABLE JACK                        SUBTOTAL    ______

                        California residents ADD 6.25% SALES TAX   ______

                                           SHIPPING and HANDLING   $ 3.00

                     MONEY ORDER or CERTIFIED CHECK enclosed for:  ______
                       (TO BE MADE OUT TO: MICRO SOLUTIONS)

           ***** Please allow 3-4 weeks for delivery *****

 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
     BITNET:{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700

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