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project machine choice?


Bikerbob
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Hello all,

 

I have 3 machines now that I can tinker with.

 

2 x Taiwan 800xl (not all chips are socketed) 1 of which has at least bad ram. maybe more wrong..

 

1 x 800 - which has 48K and otherwise is bone stock.

 

I would like to do some modding.. Originally I was looking to do the mods on the 800xl most generic, and easy to work with.

 

I HATE the keyboard on the 800xl.. I love the keyboard on the original 800.

 

I really wanted to do the U1mb upgrade on the 800xl.. but I am not wondering what does using the older 800 limit me??

 

Incognito is the best upgrade for it.. but none are available anymore. So what can I do? or should I continue to think about the XLs

 

James

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yes I had already considered the transkey idea... and most other mods fit the 800xl better. I will be using the not so working 800xl and start desoldering chips so I can have sockets for upgrades.

 

But was wondering .. what upgrades are 800 compatible? maybe that would be a good info file.. what upgrades are what machine friendly.

 

James

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Well .. update.. I have found stuff to play with.. and I am very happy hardware and software hacking again :)

 

This was one of the things I loved most later about the 8bit/16bit atari scene.. the ability and desire to mod.

 

When you had the soulless PCs come in.. you just swapped parts.. boards.. update.. upgrade.. trash.. start the cycle again. I used to work in the PC industry.. repairing.. yes it was easier and time was money... find out what was bad.. swap out with known good.. write up the bill.. but actually tracing.. FIXING.. I missed that in my working career.. so I find all of the hardware mods.. even finding service manuals and trying to fix some of these.. a real treat.

 

Well.. I did a trade.. and have a 520st and SF314, then in a local find got a 800 and an 810, also got a 800xl(taiwan) with bad ram, XF551 and lots of software, an SC1224(older I think) and an 520stfm. Finally tomorrow I found a local 800xl (Hong Kong) that will be the basis of my MOD computer and 2 Indus GT drives.

 

The ST stuff.. I am going to play with these.. software and hardware.. but not like my 8bit. With the Hong Kong 800xl I now have a socketed board to put my UAV and U1mb in. I am not sure of any other internal mods. I might do a transkey.. but not sure yet.. have to figure out if that will fit with the rest.

 

I am done on the buying platforms.. no 1200xls or MegaSTe.. now the play time really begins.

 

James

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At first I thought the 1200XL would have been my top choice for a project machine, but after installing several mods in one of my XEGS's, this has now become my #1 choice. The reason being has to do with the added height available, which is considerable when the RF shield is removed. The 1200XL isn't bad, but because of the keyboard being in the case, room towards the front is still a tight squeeze. Since the XEGS has no built-in keyboard and was not designed with a sloping front, the entire motherboard has excellent space for double stacking stuff like a stereo POKEY and TK-II (of course the TK-II-XEGS can plug in from outside, so this is only for special cases where you might want two PS/2 keyboards).

 

- Michael

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At first I thought the 1200XL would have been my top choice for a project machine, but after installing several mods in one of my XEGS's, this has now become my #1 choice. The reason being has to do with the added height available, which is considerable when the RF shield is removed. The 1200XL isn't bad, but because of the keyboard being in the case, room towards the front is still a tight squeeze. Since the XEGS has no built-in keyboard and was not designed with a sloping front, the entire motherboard has excellent space for double stacking stuff like a stereo POKEY and TK-II (of course the TK-II-XEGS can plug in from outside, so this is only for special cases where you might want two PS/2 keyboards).

 

- Michael

Have you ever seen this thread about making a 1200XL Pizza box 1200xl with separate Key board.??

 

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/154443-1200xl-pizza-box-wdetachable-keyboard/?p=1890593

 

Project died but still doable..

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Have you ever seen this thread about making a 1200XL Pizza box 1200xl with separate Key board.??

 

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/154443-1200xl-pizza-box-wdetachable-keyboard/?p=1890593

 

Project died but still doable..

 

That's a cool idea for sure! And of course the PS/2 keyboard adapter hardware now exists, which it probably didn't, or wasn't easily available at that time. The problem is that I kinda doubt that there would be enough takers to justify the injection molding costs for that new top cover.

 

So for the time being... the XEGS is still the winner in my book. but I might change my tune if the 1200XL pizza box design were to actually happen.

 

Thanks for posting that Roy :) It certainly shows another good alternative possibility. And I've always liked the 1200's cartridge slot in the side (they just should have made it a bit wider on the inside).

 

- Michael

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speaking of cartridge slot, if there was a way to extend it.. with a card edge to a ribbon cable to a mountable slot, I would for sure mount my project 800xl in a pc case..

 

Anyway to get the slot to the outside? I am not using the RF.. cut that out.. no need for the shield.. just make sure nothing touches keyboard.. and should be much better.

 

James

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The 800XL is by far the easiest to work with. Do you hate both XL keyboards? (There were about 5 types that Atari used, and some are clearly better than others.) OTOH, a 130XE has a memory upgrade already included and unlike the XL's has pretty decent video without mods. But then you may hate that keyboard even more.

 

What do you want to end up with -- do you have specific goals? How are your soldering/desoldering skills? The Ultimate 1MB is great, but I would say not for the inexperienced. Simius new upgrade may be easier to work with, but only betas are yet in the field, so best wait for some user reports. What dos do you want to use? Do you want to use a hard drive or would you be happy with the relatively slow speed of SIO? Do you intend to program or just use it for entertainment (games)?

 

I think if you set down your goals and expectations, it will help guide you as to what you want to get with the fewest missteps along the path.

 

-Larry

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  • 2 weeks later...

In 1987 I made the following mods to my XL:

 

1. Add internal speaker. This way I could use a speaker-less video monitor with it.

 

2. Add a printer port. I think I used the PORTA and PORTB pins for this (so no joystick while printing). I remember writing a tiny (40 byte I think) driver for it which fit in the cassette buffer (which was free for me, I didn't have one).

 

These days the PS/2 keyboard is very appealing because I can type faster than POKEY can deal with.

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These days the PS/2 keyboard is very appealing because I can type faster than POKEY can deal with.

 

If you are typing faster then POKEY can process, then a PS/2 solution won't fix anything because it gets no feedback from POKEY to start buffering. Yes you are correct jhallen, on the TK-II it has a 20 key circular buffer built-in, which if you type faster than the key presses are sent to POKEY, they will begin to back up into the buffer. Then assuming you pause at some point, the keys will be extracted and sent to POKEY. Keep in mind that the key buffer is storing all PS/2 key presses as well as any special codes attached. So for instance when pressing 'SHIFT+INSERT' on the PS/2 keyboard, there will actual be three key bytes involved (one for SHIFT down, one for 'enhanced' key, and finally the one for INSERT down --- and then there's also the release codes for those keys). Do you think you can out type that? If so I can always increase the buffer size in TK-II.

 

Also I believe it's possible to modify POKEY's debounce to allow a faster throughput, and this should allow faster typing without dropped keys utilizing the stock keyboard. Of course the problem with that scheme is that it would need to be implemented before running your application, which might not be possible. Another perhaps better solution would be to use SDX's built-in key buffering.

 

Note: TK-II's key buffering can not take advantage of faster POKEY throughput because it always assumes the 'stock' setup is in play and implements a constant send speed. The built-in buffering only pertains to the PS/2 keyboard side of things.

 

- Michael

 

EDIT: I suffered an early morning brain fart, hence the corrections :skull:

Edited by mytekcontrols
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speaking of cartridge slot, if there was a way to extend it.. with a card edge to a ribbon cable to a mountable slot, I would for sure mount my project 800xl in a pc case..

 

Anyway to get the slot to the outside? I am not using the RF.. cut that out.. no need for the shield.. just make sure nothing touches keyboard.. and should be much better.

 

James

 

I did this with a 130XE, mounted it in a baby/mini AT case. I extended the cart slot using a ribbon cable wrapped in aluminum to a 3.5" floppy bay and mounted a hacked up cart plastic in the slot.

Of course when you go to a PC case you start to do crazy things like adding a transkey, stereo pokey connections mounted on a PCI bracket, joystick plugs on the front, putting an XF551 in one of the bays, an ICD MIO with a HD in another bay.... the power button of course turns it on, the turbo button did something else, the LEDs actually showed me what was going on... oh the days of yore...

Edited by kheller2
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