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Look at All These New Toys!


FujiSkunk

1,634 views

I've been on a tear lately, picking up all sorts of new hardware for working on the Games of Atari website. And every new grab has a story all its own.

 

During a recent archaeological excavation (and by that I mean "cleaning the garage") I unearthed a Macintosh LC I had been given by some church friends a long while back. This Mac was especially nice to have, because it included the Apple-IIe-on-a-card and all the peripheral cables originally bundled with it. At the time I was thrilled at the possibility of easily downloading Apple II software off the Internet using my other Macintosh, then getting the software moved over to real Apple II floppies. That project fell by the wayside, and so did the LC, lost in the garage for several years. Then, miracle of miracles, the LC appeared again, only now with a slightly deader motherboard. Foo. eBay came to the rescue (I don't say that very often), and I picked up another LC for some parts-swapping. Thankfully, despite the fried motherboard, everything else in the original LC still worked, including the IIe card and the 80MB hard drive. And with the website project again in full swing, now I could see about actually getting some new games onto the Apple II.

 

A lot can happen in a few years, and I soon discovered there are a lot more options for getting Apple II programs off the Internet. I didn't need the Apple IIe card after all, just an actual Apple II. Thanks to the magic of ADTPro, just about any Apple II is capable of downloading software. It just takes the right cables. ADTPro even knows how to talk through an Apple II's cassette data ports, so really only a pair of audio cables is necessary. However, I now had dreams of using an Apple IIc as the transfer machine. The IIc is a lot easier to set up and dismantle than the IIe, especially with my limited desk space, and I was already spoiled by the IIc for doing screen grabs and audio captures (the IIc actually boasts an audio jack, something all previous Apple II models sorely lack). Unfortunately the IIc also needs something slightly more exotic than audio cables. More specifically, it needs a cable that can connect the Apple IIc's modem port to a PC's serial port. At first I thought I had such a beast, but serial cables are anything but standard, and the cable that came with an Apple II modem I had sitting on the shelf just wasn't going to work. Thankfully, exotic cables are another specialty of the Internet, and RetroFloppy had just the thing. A few days later, I was all cabled up and introducing my Apple IIc to a much larger world!

 

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Sharp-eyed viewers will note the Apple IIc is being screen-capped by one PC while ADTPro runs on another. That first computer apparently has a flaky serial port, and so ADTPro's bootstrapping process kept failing. Ahh, the joys of trying to get 10-year-old hardware to cooperate with 30-year-old hardware... But then it was done! The first order of business was to download a copy of Sierra On-line's release of Frogger, to go with my corrupted original disk. Google, how I love thee.

 

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So, with this rig in place, I'm playing catch-up with the Apple II, adding a few more games' worth of stuff to the website. I try not to create entries for games I don't yet physically own, so there isn't too much more to add. Maybe some modern homebrews, if there are any to be had on the Apple. Once those are done, I will move to the heart of the website, and the granddaddy of all consoles. Oh! Did I mention I have some new toys?

 

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Freshly modded Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 consoles, thanks to AtariAge forum recommendations and Electric Sentimentalities! And there's also this little beauty, as created by AtariAge's the.golden.ax:

 

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This is an Atari Advantage, cleverly disguised as a Nintendo Advantage. With this I can control two players with a single joystick, perfect for getting good shots of 2-player games like Combat, Joust and Double Dragon.

 

The only remaining problem is, I have some apparent ground-loop interference in my system, to which the 2600 and 7800's relative weak video signals are particularly susceptible. Currently I'm working around this by touching up some of the screen caps in Gimp. Maybe it's a bit of a cheat, but I think the results still look much nicer and much more authentic than simply dumping shots from an emulator. With that in mind, here's a little taste of website additions to come:

 

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It's gonna take a while, but it's gonna be fun, and of course any excuse to buy new toys is a good thing. Stay tuned!

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