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Trying to fix non-working Atari 800XL with VBXE/Rapidus


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I had a USB to Atari cable and was using it with a high quality 3amp p/s made my Samsung.


But, it's gone missing.


So now I have this Atari 800XL with VBXE/Rapidus and I'm trying to turn it on, but unfortunately only have a standard p/s available....at least until I buy another solution 4 or 5 times and eventually get one again.


hehe, that was cynical....


Anyway I digress, so what happens now with a standard p/s is I get a blue screen with cursor, but before any text is displayed the atari immediately goes dark and does nothing else.


Would you all suspect p/s? It's just ashame that I already had this solved and have now gone backwards with my p/s situation.


Also I've got a lot of work remaining - to remove a U1MB and install a wizztronics 256k upgrade....


My goal here is to have a VBXE/Rapidus machine but I also want my Side 2 cart to work, I do not use it for loading games, I want to use it only for the built in SDX and to use it as a hard drive. But, from what I'm told SDX FDISK on the side 2 cart must find 128k of old fashioned ram. I know it does require 128k and will work with a 130xe - but what I cannot confirm absolutely is that it does not work with VBXE with Rambo core. And that it does not work with Rapidus.


Can anyone confirm? Cannot work with VBXE w/rambo core? Cannot work with Rapidus ram? Must be old fashioned?


Of course in theory it'd work with U1MB - but I've been told by 2 technicians not to use a Rapidus with U1MB.


Anyway I didn't want a U1MB in this atari anyway, I'm just not a fan of the product. I don't want to change my user experience with menus and configuration screens.








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well, after toying with it for a while, the Atari comes up.


that's nice.


I'd still like it if anyone can confirm about needing old fashioned ram to run fdisk on the spartados via side 2 cart.


Also, can someone tell me really quick how to set the u1mb so that it only acts as a traditional ram upgrade and does nothing else?



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If you want to use SIDE, the best possible place to use it is in a machine with U1MB. But since you're not a fan of U1MB and plan to remove it, you will indeed need some extended RAM in order to use the SDX HDD driver and partitioning tools. The driver lives in RAM and pushes MEMLO up sufficiently high on a 64KB machine that a lot of software won't run. Running SDX under the OS (USE OSRAM in CONFIG.SYS) helps somewhat (see the SDX manual), but SIDE+U1MB PBI BIOS does not suffer from the high MEMLO issue since all the driver code and buffers are under the OS floating point package. You also get ATR mounting and various other goodies you don't get with the stand-alone cartridge.


Of course the fly in the ointment (aside from the fact you don't want U1MB) is the fact Rapidus has issues with U1MB at 20MHz. The VBXE RAMBO core, then, is a perfectly reasonable alternative method of adding 256KB to the machine, although I can't say for sure if that will have any issues with Rapidus or not (unsure if anyone tested that either; best way is to try it).


Turn off the U1MB PBI BIOS and select a stock XL OS make it work solely as a RAM upgrade.


EDIT: I emailed Pasiu regarding the U1MB problems, since it's now two months since I concluded my tests and reported back my initial conclusions.

Edited by flashjazzcat
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For some reason I'm very resistant to flashing the core, lol.


I probably could've done that for years already....and just tried it.


OK, I read the doc's....there is apparently a little program called FC.COM - it'll flash the core.


So, tonight, I flash the core and try it!


wow, I do not know exactly why I have resisted that, I suppose somewhere along the way I got burned by bricking things, and this one sounds scary - probably is not scary at all.


my comment on the U1MB is just about initial impressions...when I'm writing a program, I love options. When I'm in user mode, I jam a cartridge in the port on top and hit fire. U1MB never appealed to me as a user - but I also never used it, and my experience will change my opinion, without doubt.


I'm not such a hater of the U1MB to cut it out of the Atari, as if operating on some cancer....lol

not at all...as long as someone keeps confirming it doesn't work with rapidus, I just want a system that works. If the options are there, I will get into them eventually - and frustrate myself on the non-working aspects. In that case, it is better to remove the U1MB and have a system that simply works.


This is my ultimate atari system - 65c816/VBXE w/some kind of hdd....and I'll add as a requirement, just works.


I can probably manage to remove the U1MB, if the wizztronics turns out to be unnecessary because of the VBXE rambo core, that'll save a step....

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If you hit any problems with FC.COM, let me know.


Understood regarding U1MB. I can't blame you for removing it until there's some solution from the developer(s). U1MB works OK as a RAM upgrade with Rapidus at 20MHz but the HDD stuff is all messed up. But since Rapidus is sold as "Compatible with U1MB", I'll keep getting PMs from people who are installing the two devices side-by-side and wondering why the system locks up: pretty much the situation I foresaw back in May.


Anyway: sounds like a reasonable strategy you have there in the meantime.

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Wizztronics is a pile of shit. If you hadn't been so impatient you would have a modern SRAM based 1meg ram expansion that is not flash-bios/soft-configuration dependant.


You have one of the best VBXE/Rapidus/u1meg installations ever done. I can say that with confidence and certainty. It would be an absolute dumbass move to put something as shitty as a wizz-tronics upgrade in there.


Also, if you have problems with the machine "coming up" its due to something you plugged into it. That thing is rock solid and works exactly the same as my Rapidus machine.


Its a shame that the U1meg is apparently defective in some way and wont take FJC's updated BIOS but its still 100 times better than a wizz-tronics.


If anything you really should consider either a) exchanging the u1meg board to lotharek for another one.. (That would be a "plug-in" replacement. The only thing soldered in is the ground wire.) -or B) looking at another SRAM based upgrade.


wizz-tronics is a cheaply made ripoff of a 30 year old ram expansion design (Rambo xl).


Just my opinion.. But since I did a killer job for you and didn't charge you a dime, I think I'm entitled.. In the end, its your machine. Do what you want..

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK guys this machine.


I've got spartdos X disabled from the U1MB, and have the SIDE 2 cart plugged in.


In FDISK, when creating a new partition I select APT size of 8MB, after that it locks up on a screen that says "reading".


Anyone seen this? It generally locks up at different places in use, not always at this screen.

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Just to give more information, I've got the cart plugged in, turn on the machine. First thing it says is SanDisk SDCFH-004G - Invalid partition table.


This is for a valid partition that will work on another machine.


Then, I type in at the D1: prompt, fdisk.


Then I hit return, then I select "initialize disk"


Then it says scanning bus, then it says Select disk, with 1 choice, IDE1: "SanDisk SDCFG-004G"


Warning about contents will be erased, and continue y/n


Then a screen about disk geometry, disk capacity is 3814 MB, I hit return


Asks me if I want FAT 32, and I am selecting Y


On APT size, I selected 16MB first time, 8MB second time. On this try I am going to select 4MB


This time it simply says "Read error!" but does not lock up the machine immediately, but then I hit return and the machine locks up.



The machine erratically locks up after a short period in fdisk.


Now I can play a game of Donkey Kong and the machine does not lock up...so the expanded ram seems to be the difference.


Btw, I wasn't going to mention MetalGuy at all, frankly he just jumped into my thread. If he's worried about getting a reputation as a thief - he's not a thief.

He has never asked for much money, didn't ask for any in this case - and returned my equipment after 4 months.


I'm not exaggerating in the slightest - have no reason to, as far as I'm concerned this non-working Atari is not the fault of Metal Guy, he certainly didn't have the time to fix it in 4 months - certainly can't be credited with anything, but neither should he be faulted for anything except poor communication.


He doens't communicate his expectations and goes silent for weeks at a time.


In the end it doesn't matter. Doesn't matter if it takes 4 months, if you've got a guy that can do it in 2 weeks, there is nothing wrong with going with another person - nothing wrong with it at all.


I could ship this Atari off and have it working in 2 weeks, but instead I've shipped my 1200xl off, it'll be arriving in a week or so - a mere 3 weeks after the project started, and I've also going to have a 130XE done by Lotharek.


This 800XL is now superfluous, still it has a lot of nice equipment in it, it's ashame it doesn't work...but I'll tinker with it and see what i can do. I just wanted a 30 year old memory upgrade.


I had the original "quarter meg atari" upgrade published in Byte magazine in 1984- my Dad and I installed it on a weekend in a couple hours, it worked great for years.


Whereas just my luck the U1MB that is being recommended for use in my rapidus machine despite the admission it doesn't work with rapidus - in fact, didn't work...wow....it's ok, I thought it would work too, but it doesn't, so it'll be removed. Making it work is for someone that wants the features of the U1MB, I do not....my needs are much more modest.

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How does this atari behave without SIDE plugged in then?


I do not have a solution since i do not have Rapidus, but i know this kind of issues also happen when i have a freezer, u1mb, ide+ and Myide 2 hooked on all at once.


Without wanting to throw oil on fire i agree with metalguy. Forget about the wizztronics. Any DRAM / TTL based ram upgrade is a terrible downgrade. It is the most unstable troublemaker possible for your atari.


Did somebody already answered the question whether the ram in the vbxe is XE compatible and therefore suitable for Dmtry's needs?

Edited by ProWizard
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Dmitry, Yeah. I'll bugger off.. Don't ever ask me to do anything for you again.


Prowizard: Yeah the U1meg in question here has got issues. Warerat and Myself both tested it pretty extensively. It's got nothing to do with the Rapidus, as the freaky behavior is the same with or without Rapidus physically installed in the machine. It's also had all the extra installation "fixes" applied as suggested by FlashJazzCat, but alas with no improvement.


VBXE and Rapidus both seem to work fine, and in the default modes, with the stock firmware, U1meg tests fine in XRAM.. It will not however, take John's Alternate BIOS (bricks the machine until you externally reflash the flashrom).


I was going to do a Hias/Mega-hz SRAM upgrade for him, but he got impatient and started acting like a total squirrel, so I shipped it back to him and didn't charge him a dime..


So.. He knows best.. Let him load the bus down with some crappy 25 year old noisey assed dram chips and TTL logic and see if that contributes to the "concrete stability" that he clearly expects of his heavily expanded Atari 800XL..<condescending chuckle> He is clearly enough of a hardware expert to remedy the situation and it will happen in a much more reasonable amount of time than I was willing/able to accomplish it in..

Edited by MEtalGuy66
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Hias' Sram memory upgrade is an excellent idea too yes. I have built one in a 600XL which kicks ass now. You almost can not go wrong with that SRAM upgrade.


I have killed several XE's (definitely more than 10) in the period 1995-2000 where I learned to do upgrades like this myself. I never killed an XL btw... but although it was a big loss of equipment, now I know how to handle the (de)solder equipment and to built stuff right. It's more like an investment. It's always nice when other people are willing to help, but people seem to forget sometimes it is all spare-time work.... and it's a hobby.


I hope his atari will behave well soon.

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