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Some Atari 800XL Questions/Issues

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Good morning all! I hope you're all doing great.

I kind of let off of Atari stuff for a couple of months due to work, school stuff, girlfriend, and relapsing back into my Final Fantasy addiction.

Anyway, I've been doing some major work with my PC these days, and haven't been able to use it much due to doing resource intensive tasks, so I have returned to the realm of retro computing.


I have several questions and what not, so I'll divide it all into spoilers because this is a long post...



Background Information


So it turns out my Dad had a manual for learning Atari BASIC, so lately I've been reading into that (I've had experience with programming in C# for the past few years, and although I'm not perfect, I can do many tasks with ease, and I've also been reading a JAVA book [which turns out to be almost the same as C#...] and I've also learned a bit of SQL for school...although I forgot it in these few months of gaming work). I've been learning a bunch of BASIC commands and programming techniques that I didn't previously know were available. But I've also run into some snags with my ATARI use.

Today, I was writing a program that I've been authoring lately (that plays the Final Fantasy Prelude, talk about addictions). I've been saving it as "D:PRELUDE.BAS" on my floppy (a floppy that had a program for the COMMODORE 64 if I'm not mistaken, but we don't have that...and she has a bunch of floppies with software...), and I haven't had any problem. Recently I learned that I could install DOS (although I have some other DOS around on other floppies, such as RainbowDOS and SmartDOS, I preferred to stick with the Atari DOS 2.0) to a floppy and have other programs on it...and I also learned about the marvels of MEM.SAV. So I customized my new floppy with DOS, MEM.SAV, and some of my loose BASIC programs.

MAIN PROBLEM - BASIC Program Save Corrupted Floppy?

So anyway, I saved the program today after making some changes to it (probably increasing its size). Unfortunately, it came up with some error (I think that it was 163...not sure)...

Error-163 Unrecoverable system data I/O error.

This error appears to act a, a catch-all for any I/O error not covered by the other I/O error codes, and for which the cause cannot be determined. It appears to be a very rare error. Suggested causes are malfunctioning equipment, corrupted DOS, and damaged disks (though there are presumably others).

So after it caused that error, I tried saving it again, and it worked...so I decided to go to DOS to see if the file was actually there. But when I attempted to load DOS, it wouldn't boot correctly...so I turned off the Atari and turned it back on. Then, it started loading DOS like it usually does, but for some reason when it got to Track 2 (can read track number on the Indus GT drive), it stopped loading, and wouldn't continue from there. On the screen, there was the blue background, but no ready prompt.

So I loaded DOS from another disc and verified to see if all of the files were there on my floppy; it turned out that everything was there, but whenever I tried to boot DOS, it wouldn't work, doing the same thing I mentioned earlier. However, when I would try to load my PRELUDE.BAS, it would begin reading in the first tracks (2-4 about), and from what I remember, it used to be farther down (especially considering the presence of DOS and MEM.SAV, it should be). Anyway, I successfully recovered my program (has over 100 lines of code!) and copied it to another floppy, reformatted the original (losing a few other programs I was too lazy to copy over again...and then I read about the * wildcard...), installed DOS and MEM.SAV to it, so it now boots fine, and I copied my PRELUDE back to it and it works and everything. So what caused all of this in the first place? Fragmentation? What could it be?



Second Question - How to AUTORUN DOS?

That's my main issue at the moment, but I also have some other issues. For example, I would prefer DOS to autorun instead of having to type DOS. How could I do that? I've read about the AUTORUN.SYS but have no clue how to create or modify it. Also, would it be possible to autorun BASIC programs?



Third Question - .PB?

Next question, I found a floppy that doesn't boot, but it had some DEMO?.PB files on it (? being replaced with numbers; there were 4 I think). How do I load or run PB files? What are they? That's all there was.

Fourth Question - Faulty Keys?


Also, I have a few keys that don't work on the keyboard...the left shift key (hate pressing the right shift all the time), the CONTROL key, and the BREAK key. I think they are all important. Is there anyway to fix the keys? Would I have to disassemble the Atari? Buy a new keyboard?



Fifth Question - Folders on Floppies?


Is there such a thing as "folders" or "directories" on floppy disks? One of the programs I saved, just as a test to see if such a concept does work, I saved as "D:FOLDER\TEST.BAS". It saved it fine, and I was able to load it with the same parameters. However, in DOS if I list the files, all of my files come up as normal, and there is a FOLDER with no extender/extension, but the TEST.BAS is not there. Is there a way to browse that folder?



Sixth Question - Recover Seemingly Bad Sectors?


Is there a way to recover bad information from floppies? I still would like to get boulder dash to work. I found a program (and manual) called Disk Wizard...or maybe it's impossible to recover faulty sectors? Unfortunately, I'm too cheap to buy a PC-Atari peripheral, and living in Ecuador nowadays doesn't help the matter much, what with the shipping and all. Also, I had Lode Runner, but for some reason, when I list the files, it says it's empty...



Seventh and Thankfully Last Question - List Files on Disk?


Is there a relatively easy way to make a simple program in BASIC that will show files and filenames and sizes (like DOS when you press the 'A' key)? I would like to do a program that allows me to load my programs without having to go to DOS and look up the name every time...although I could write it in a notebook or something, I'd rather program the computer this way.



Anyways, I think that's enough for now. I'll be glad for any and all help, and I would like to thank each of you for reading.

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Also, would it be possible to autorun BASIC programs?


http://www.atari.org.pl/forum/viewtopic.php?id=13898(useful Google translate)



10 DIM DR$(20)
15 CLOSE #5:OPEN #5,6,0,"D1:*.*"
20 INPUT #5,DR$ DR$
35 IF DR$(1,1)="*" OR DR$(1,1)=" " THEN 20
40 CLOSE #5


10 DIM DR$(20)
15 CLOSE #5:OPEN #5,6,0,"D1:*.*"
20 INPUT #5,DR$
25 ? DR$(1,10);:IF DR$(1,1)="*" OR DR$(1,1)=" " THEN ?".";
30 ? DR$(11)
35 IF DR$(1,1)="*" OR DR$(1,1)=" " THEN 20
40 CLOSE #5




autorun bas&tbxl.zip

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10 DIM DR$(20)
15 CLOSE #5:OPEN #5,6,0,"D1:*.*"
20 INPUT #5,DR$ DR$
35 IF DR$(1,1)="*" OR DR$(1,1)=" " THEN 20
40 CLOSE #5


Thank you very much feather! I have finally "perfected" (with your help) a little program that lists only the BAS program files, and it assigns a number for each one (also adding DOS at the end), and whichever number you select, it will immediately load that BAS program file into memory (or DOS if it's selected). Your help is very much appreciated (I had fun spending most of the afternoon coding).




Unfortunately, I have absolutely no way of making my computer or any other device I have communicate with the Atari :'( Therefore, I don't think I'll be able to apply these instructions (if I read them correctly).


Thank you though, for the time in helping me.



Topic not closed, if anybody else would like to take a shot at any of my other questions, please feel free! :)


Another Question! - Interference with TV set?


My TV set (big, CRT) is pretty close to the floppy disk drive when in use, so the question is if there is interference that may be affected the quality of the magnetically recorded floppy media? I read somewhere that that can happen, but maybe it was just with older TVs? It's a Sony TV about as old (or older) than I am, so it's over 20. It's literally like a foot or two away (less than a meter) from the TV.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Keep it at least 2 or 3 ft away at all times... including cables and devices. I have a JVC that will blank a disk (degaus) when initially turned on and if the cables are too close adds interference to the video etc etc...


When I take an UN-shielded Atari anywhere near them bad things happen. I had a Panasonic just like that in the past.... The larger the tube... the bigger the degaus and noise it would seem.

Edited by _The Doctor__
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