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Just picked up a Coco2: NOOB questions


Brutha
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I was a C64 & ATARI guy back in the day but getting back into it now, I've just picked up my first Coco 2 and it came with NOTHING. So, a few questions before I go out looking for add ons...

 

1. The model number of my machine is 26-3134 which I read means it was made in Korea and likely with 16k. How can I confirm the amount of memory in my machine? I understand some game carts need more so I want to make sure I know what to look for.

 

2. Joysticks... I don't have any. Until I do, is it safe to assume that most game carts can be played using the arrow keys on the keyboard? If so, what keyboard key is used for the Fire Button?

 

3. I understand the original Tandy joysticks are hard to use. Is there an inexpensive, relatively easy to come by self centering joystick available online? (link?)

 

4. Is there a relatively inexpensive "multi cart" or SD cart available for the Coco 2? (link?)

 

Thanks in advance. Cheers!

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I was a C64 & ATARI guy back in the day but getting back into it now, I've just picked up my first Coco 2 and it came with NOTHING. So, a few questions before I go out looking for add ons...

 

1. The model number of my machine is 26-3134 which I read means it was made in Korea and likely with 16k. How can I confirm the amount of memory in my machine? I understand some game carts need more so I want to make sure I know what to look for.

 

2. Joysticks... I don't have any. Until I do, is it safe to assume that most game carts can be played using the arrow keys on the keyboard? If so, what keyboard key is used for the Fire Button?

 

3. I understand the original Tandy joysticks are hard to use. Is there an inexpensive, relatively easy to come by self centering joystick available online? (link?)

 

4. Is there a relatively inexpensive "multi cart" or SD cart available for the Coco 2? (link?)

 

Thanks in advance. Cheers!

1. Type "PRINT MEM". If it comes up with less than 20K you have a 16K machine. The upper 32K of RAM is only accessible through machine language, and some is reserved for video RAM, keyboard input, etc... But I don't remember the exact # that is supposed to come up with a 64K machine.

 

The other think you want to look for is if it says EXTENDED COLOR BASIC in the sign on message when you turn it on. If it doesn't say that, it's probably 16K. You need EXTENDED COLOR BASIC for a lot of things including a disk drive. The upgrade just involves plugging in a ROM chip, but I'm not sure where to get one these days. You'd probably need to have someone burn an eprom.

 

 

2. The fire button on the keyboard would depend on the game, some only work with joysticks. There was no common standard.

 

 

3. The only joysticks that fit all those criteria except inexpensive, are the deluxe joysticks. ebay. You can build your own but I don't have a link for you.

 

 

4. There is a multicart and an SD disk interface. The multicart is mentioned in another topic on this forum, as is the SD interface. There are also some links to sites with documentation pdfs, magazine scans, games, and other programs.

 

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I was a C64 & ATARI guy back in the day but getting back into it now, I've just picked up my first Coco 2 and it came with NOTHING. So, a few questions before I go out looking for add ons...

 

1. The model number of my machine is 26-3134 which I read means it was made in Korea and likely with 16k. How can I confirm the amount of memory in my machine? I understand some game carts need more so I want to make sure I know what to look for.

 

2. Joysticks... I don't have any. Until I do, is it safe to assume that most game carts can be played using the arrow keys on the keyboard? If so, what keyboard key is used for the Fire Button?

 

3. I understand the original Tandy joysticks are hard to use. Is there an inexpensive, relatively easy to come by self centering joystick available online? (link?)

 

4. Is there a relatively inexpensive "multi cart" or SD cart available for the Coco 2? (link?)

 

Thanks in advance. Cheers!

1. What JamesD said. Although FWIW the level of Color BASIC isn't necessarily indicative of the RAM size--I have a 16K Extended Color BASIC CoCo 1, for instance--but there's probably a good chance that if you have an Extended CoCo 2, you probably also have 32K+ of RAM.

 

2. Again, what JamesD said. Some games supported the keyboard, others did not. Control is unfortunately one of the TRS-80 Color's Achilles Heels, particularly with Radio Shack cartridges (redundant term; practically all CoCo cartridges were published and sold by Radio Shack)--many otherwise excellent games are marred by arbitrarily convoluted control schemes. Exhibit A: Polaris, where you aim with the joystick but fire with the keyboard; works fine if you have three hands! Exhibit B: Bustout, where you determine the speed of the ball by how hard you hit it with the paddle, which is about impossible to do accurately with the joystick.

 

A lot of third-party games (usually on tape or disk) seem to have been designed with a bit more sense, fortunately.

 

3. Your best bet is probably the Radio Shack Deluxe Joystick, which is centerable. (The Tandy-badged version has an additional fire button for use on the CoCo 3, as well.) There are some third-party alternatives as, well, but not many. I recently scored a nice Tandy-compatible Advanced Gravis Analog Joystick, which I'm really liking (we had one for our PC back in the day). I didn't know Gravis even made one for Tandy systems!

 

As bad a rap as they get--and if I'm being honest, mostly deserve--the original Radio Shack joysticks are actually really nice...for certain and specific games and applications. The kinds of things you'd use a mouse or trackball or paddle for, essentially. Like aiming the cursor in the aforementioned Polaris. It works very well with Project Nebula, Doubleback, Popcorn, and Clowns & Balloons, and the like. When you get the hang of it, it's not bad with Space Assault or Galactic Attack, either. Other games, meanwhile, are unplayable. But the standard Radio Shack joysticks are common, cheap, and just useful enough that it's good to have at least one, even if as specialty controller. I'd recommend the kinds with the silver sticks instead of the black ones, though--the sticks are longer and a little less squirrelly IMO.

 

4. What JamesD said. :-D Although if you want to do things really old-school (and free, aside from the cost of a cassette cable), you can load games from .wav files straight from the headphone jack on your PC/laptop/phone/device. There are tons available at colorcomputerarchive.com. :)

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FWIW, you can build or buy an Atari style joystick adapter.
There are plans out there for it. I know it was published in a CoCo magazine.
It won't work for games that expect the analog rage of input, but it can make the twitch type arcade games easier to play.

I have owned the original joysticks, Deluxe Joysticks, Gravis joysticks, and an Atari joystick adapter.
I wasn't impressed with the Gravis.
It looks big and beefy, but if you hold the handle where you are supposed to, it slows down your response time because you have to move the stick further.
You are better off with the Deluxe model.

The originals are okay, but they bend easy, the cable won't take much abuse, and I didn't like the button on the front even though it's more ambidextrous that way.

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FWIW, you can build or buy an Atari style joystick adapter.

There are plans out there for it. I know it was published in a CoCo magazine.

It won't work for games that expect the analog rage of input, but it can make the twitch type arcade games easier to play.

 

Wico produced an Atari/Commodore-compatible joystick adapter, didn't they?

 

Many CoCo games feel like they were really designed with digital control in mind, so this wouldn't be a bad thing to have, buy, or build.

 

I have owned the original joysticks, Deluxe Joysticks, Gravis joysticks, and an Atari joystick adapter.

I wasn't impressed with the Gravis.

It looks big and beefy, but if you hold the handle where you are supposed to, it slows down your response time because you have to move the stick further.

You are better off with the Deluxe model.

The originals are okay, but they bend easy, the cable won't take much abuse, and I didn't like the button on the front even though it's more ambidextrous that way.

Overall, I agree that the Deluxe is best. Well-built, functional, versatile, and common enough that they aren't obscenely expensive (yet).

 

The Gravis isn't a bad controller by any stretch, though. Most CoCo games run slowly enough that there's some margin for error in response time anyway. ;) :-D And it makes for a nice pseudo-flightstick for titles like Firecopter or Project Nebula. If nothing else, it's a great arcade(ish) stick for Space Invaders/Galaxian-type games IMO.

 

I haven't heard about the standard sticks bending easily, though I do see bent ones from time to time--makes me wonder what in the heck people were were doing to them. :| The weird thing about the cable is that it comes out the side of the controller box (only Radio Shack could have come up with this :lol:), although I don't find them particularly damage-prone. But then, I treat my equipment very gingerly, so I suppose mileage can vary.

 

(IMO and FWIW, the best of the three versions of standard joystick is the earliest version, with the thicker, tapered silver stick and thicker gray cable. Still doesn't beat a Deluxe, of course, but it's the best of a pretty rough bunch. :-D)

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Hey, I'm a noob, too! I recently got a CoCo Model 1 for very cheap with a composite mod. Some things:

 

#1.) If you load games from a .wav file/cassette, if CLOAD doesn't work, CLOADM will.

 

#2.) After loading, 'Run' for CLOAD programs (BASIC Programs) and 'exec' for CLOADM programs (Machine Language Programs.)

 

Cassette cables can be had for a relative cheap price on Ebay. I got mine for about 5 bucks.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wico produced an Atari/Commodore-compatible joystick adapter, didn't they?

 

Many CoCo games feel like they were really designed with digital control in mind, so this wouldn't be a bad thing to have, buy, or build.

 

 

<< SNIP >>

 

Yes, Wico made Digital Joysticks for the C64/C128 and Atari..

 

There are a few options available today for the Color Computer..

 

1) John W. Linville/Neil Blanchard's "SEGA Genesis Joypad Adapter for CoCo3".

 

2) Richard Lorebiesky's "Joystick CoCo Atari Adapter" ( Contact Info at https://boysontech.com/and https://www.facebook.com/boysontech )

 

3) Ed "Zippster" Snider's CoCoPSG with Two Atari/Sega Adapter Inputs.

 

 

MarkO

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  • 2 weeks later...

Page 141 of this PDF (p. 139) of the magazine) shows the circuit for making a DIN to DB9 adapter so that you can use Atari joysticks on the CoCo.

http://www.colorcomputerarchive.com/coco/Documents/Magazines/Color%20Computer%20Magazine%20%28Clearscan%29/Color%20Computer%20Magazine%20-%208402%20-%20February%201984.pdf

 

As mentioned, Wico made an adapter. So did Spectrum Projects (like this over-priced listing):

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Spectrum-Projects-TRS-80-Atari-2600-Joystick-Controller-Adapter-5-Pin-to-Wico-9/152872642459?hash=item2397eb679b:g:VT8AAOSw~3paYgTr

 

A fellow is actually making these joystick adapters for the CoCo 3. I recently purchased one and it works great. I'll have to see if it works on the CoCo 2 as well.

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<< SNIP >>

 

A fellow is actually making these joystick adapters for the CoCo 3. I recently purchased one and it works great. I'll have to see if it works on the CoCo 2 as well.

 

Which Adapter did you Buy?? Neil's or Richard's???

 

MarkO

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I don't suppose you could post a link to each of those could you?

 

If I saw them, I could tell you which one I have.

 

 

The only links I could find, I posted above...

 

There might be some photos on facebook...

 

 

MarkO

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  • 2 weeks later...

Actually, I was thinking that the ultimate Color Computer joystick adapter would be just like the Blanchard/Linville box with the serial connection so that you can use a second fire button on CoCo 3 games -- with the addition of two DIN ports so that you don't have to plug and unplug the adapter every time you need to switch between Atari-style controllers and the original analog sticks.

 

I spend a lot of time plugging in the adapter so that I can play stuff like Galagon and Lunar Rover patrol using a 9-pin D-shell controller like an Atari stick and then unplugging the adapter to re-connect the analog DIN joysticks to play stuff like Varloc or Doubleback. An adapter that had both types of ports on the box for a total of four ports (two for joystick interface 1 and two for joystick interface 2) would be a dream come true for me. Heck, even an adapter like that without the serial cable would be awesome (since I spend most of the time on the CoCo 2 anyway and two-button games are rare on the CoCo 3).

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 years later...

Saw a couple Advance Gracie sticks at a flea market Sunday and noticed that they had DIN connectors. Told my brother that I think it's for Tandy but I didn't know for sure and couldn't find any examples on Google. One of the DINs was smashed and I hadn't even looked at the other DIN so I offered the guy $2 each, which is what I usually pay for controllers that I buy as a curiosity. He declined, saying he wants $6 each.

Oh well. I wasn't going to spend $12 on two damaged sticks for a computer I don't even own. Still, glad to see them mentioned here since it confirms my suspicion that they were probably for a Tandy computer. I hadn't guessed it was a CoCo and assumed it was for one of their early IBM clones which I recall also used a DIN for joysticks (likely used to work with the CoCo joysticks they already carried).

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Congrats on gettin a CoCo! It's a really fun computer to mess with. I hope you have Extended Color BASIC; if you do, then finding thr original manual(either in paper or pdf form) doesn't hurt at all. It's one of the best computer manuals in the history of computer manuals.

1) What the others have said. Having just 16k (like I do) isn't that big a problem but if you want you can just order 8 4164 RAM chips and easily upgrade the computer yourself.

2 and 3) Some games support keyboard controls, some do not. The non centering standard sticks are rubbish for some games but plenty usable for others. But Deluxe sticks work much better and would be highly recommended.

4) There's the CoCoSDC which to my knowledge emulates a CoCo disk drive. I've never used one so I don't know if it can handle cartridge images as well but either way it's miles better than using the cassette interface.

Speaking of cassettes, although slow, it's an easy way to have programs transferred from the web to your CoCo. You can simply plug in the cassette input into your PC's earphone jack, type CLOAD(M), then play back the WAV file. It doesn't work at all for me but theoretically it should work.

Good luck!

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  • 1 year later...

Mmm-didn't process all the info on this thread yet(or even really any of it...), but Thanks to everyone contributing, I recently picked up a CoCo2 myself, @JamesD 's first comment was/is clearly helpful, so when I get to being serious about it it looks like you all have me covered, much appreciated!

Was my first PC ever as a kid-I was PISSED, I wanted a C64 like my best Friend, so I could use his floppys and stuff, haha.

I suppose realistically, brat or not, I already knew how to use a C64 pretty well, and didn't want to start over with an entirely different PC, I think.

coco.jpg

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