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How do I check the Weather on my Atari?


Xebec
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D.E.L. CompuCable Systems, later Display Systems International (DSI) had a HeathKit Weather Station interfaced to Ataris (mostly 256K 800XLs and 130XEs) through the joystick ports.

 

It worked with their SpectraView-1 cart. That one banks BASIC in and out, and requires that the BASIC (EP)ROM be replaced with the third 8K chunk of the Spec-1 code.

 

This would display live real time weather info to cable TV customers who watched the channel they were broadcasting the Atari from.

 

IIRC, the specification for the Weather Box is published, so should be able to write any kind of software for it.

 

 

Edit: If anyone gets an Atari that boots to a rainbow screen, you may have a Spec-1 ROM in there. I want a DUMP!!!

 

Same goes for the EPROMS in a Spec-1 Cart.

 

Post here or PM me.

 

(I used to work for them and I lost all of this stuff in a HD crash.) :(

 

We already have Spec-2, but more dumps wouldn't hurt so we can see if anything has changed.

:)

Edited by Kyle22
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I vaguely remember there being one of the 80s Atari magazines that taught you how to build a circuit you plugged into a joystick port that would download weather maps and data from satellites and HAM radio. Pretty cool. You could save the downloads to disk as well, always wanted to put one together. Then my dad threw my magazine collection away.

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I tried this on my Atari last night using APE over SIO2PC. I can't get past the "Press Return to Continue:" screen. There is a note above it stating:

" If you cannot get past this opening screen, you must use a different version of the "telnet" program--some of the ones for IBM compatible PC's have a bug that prevents proper connection. "

I was using ICET128 and ANSIVBXE terminal emulators.

Has anyone had success getting through the first screen?

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It definitely works from my linux box:

[simon@xanadu ~]$ telnet rainmaker.wunderground.com
Trying 35.160.169.47...
Connected to rainmaker.wunderground.com.
Escape character is '^]'.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*               Welcome to THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND telnet service!            *
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*                                                                            *
*   National Weather Service information provided by Alden Electronics, Inc. *
*    and updated each minute as reports come in over our data feed.          *
*                                                                            *
*   **Note: If you cannot get past this opening screen, you must use a       *
*   different version of the "telnet" program--some of the ones for IBM      *
*   compatible PC's have a bug that prevents proper connection.              *
*                                                                            *
*           comments: jmasters@wunderground.com                              *
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Press Return to continue:

Press Return for menu
or enter 3 letter forecast city code-- SJC
Weather Conditions at 07:53 AM PST on 07 Mar 2018 for San Jose, CA.
Temp(F)    Humidity(%)    Wind(mph)    Pressure(in)    Weather
========================================================================
  53          66%         SE at 7       30.03      Overcast

Forecast for San Jose, CA
600 am PST Wed Mar 7 2018

.Today...Mostly cloudy in the morning then becoming partly
cloudy. Highs in the lower 70s. South winds 5 to 15 mph. 
.Tonight...Partly cloudy in the evening then becoming mostly
cloudy. A chance of rain. Lows in the mid 40s. Southeast winds
5 to 10 mph. 
.Thursday...Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of showers. Highs in
the upper 60s. Southeast winds 5 to 10 mph...becoming northwest
10 to 20 mph in the afternoon. 
.Thursday night...Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of showers. Lows
in the mid 40s. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph...becoming south
10 to 15 mph after midnight. Chance of showers 20 percent. 
.Friday...Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of showers. Highs in the
upper 60s. South winds 5 to 15 mph...becoming northwest 5 to
10 mph in the afternoon. Chance of showers 20 percent. 
.Friday night...Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of showers. Lows
   Press Return to continue, M to return to menu, X to exit: X
Connection closed by foreign host.

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The September 1986 issue of Antic also had that Wefax program for the A8 and ST written by Charles Jackson. It did, if I recall, also detail strategies for acquiring frequencies and images directly from satellite. Perhaps it’s worth taking a look?

 

 

My dad and I built the circuit described in that Antic issue. We were all ready to go, but then we got stuck because we didn't have a radio that could receive SSB. I think I still have the circuit somewhere, and now I do have a nice shortwave radio. I wonder if these signals are still being transmitted?

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I tried this on my Atari last night using APE over SIO2PC. I can't get past the "Press Return to Continue:" screen. There is a note above it stating:

" If you cannot get past this opening screen, you must use a different version of the "telnet" program--some of the ones for IBM compatible PC's have a bug that prevents proper connection. "

I was using ICET128 and ANSIVBXE terminal emulators.

Has anyone had success getting through the first screen?

Try CTRL-J instead of Carriage Return. If prompted take a guess at city code (I used BOS for Boston). What you type won't echo. Don't forget to use CTRL-J

 

This works with each of my NodeMCU based wifi modems. One has Strikelink firmware and one has Zimodem firmware.

 

-SteveS

 

Sorry, I don't currently have a means to get screenshots from my real Ataris.

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Abbuc has several schematics and programs for that topic, some in english and some in german language (translated from english source):

 

- Wefax, weather from space, Antic September 1986, by Charles Jackson, additional material by Patrick Bass

Antic, V05, Nr. 05: https://www.atarimagazines.com/v5n5/weathermapsspace.html

https://www.atarimagazines.com/v5n5/wefaxdecoder.html

 

- measuring the temperature with Atari and one NTC resistor, Page 6 magazine

 

- digital thermometer interface by Ron Levy

 

Do not know for sure how up-to-date these schematics and programs are and if the electronic parts are still available. If you are an Abbuc member you can download these schematics and programs for free, if not try Google (since all of them are based on english and american sources they should be out there somewhere)...

Edited by CharlieChaplin
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My dad and I built the circuit described in that Antic issue. We were all ready to go, but then we got stuck because we didn't have a radio that could receive SSB. I think I still have the circuit somewhere, and now I do have a nice shortwave radio. I wonder if these signals are still being transmitted?

 

Yes, according to NOAA (as of January).

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I remember building that circuit BITD. It was one of the first electronics projects I tried. I failed. Never managed to get a signal or an image on my screen :) Just ordered 5 XR2211 for $3.30 from China. Let's see if I can do better this time :) Wefax signals are still being just by ships etc...

Edited by ivop
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I remember building that circuit BITD. It was one of the first electronics projects I tried. I failed. Never managed to get a signal or an image on my screen :) Just ordered 5 XR2211 for $3.30 from China. Let's see if I can do better this time :) Wefax signals are still being just by ships etc...

 

 

It's not quite that simple, IIRC, at least if you're trying to get the feed from the satellites direct. The XR221 is just a tone-decoder, it needs a decent signal coming in, and the receiver itself needs to satisfy some requirements:

 

  • It needs to be an SSB-capable (single-side-band) shortwave receiver, which can tune the upper side-band
  • If you want good results, you need to be able to select a 30kHz -> 50kHz bandwidth when tuning in
  • You'll want a decent antennae - a quadrifilar helix antennae is recommended.

The second is because (as well as the signal requirements) you need to be able to cope with the doppler shift - those satellites are moving darn fast, orbiting the earth several times per day. Most receivers will select either 15kHz or 230kHz bandwidth, neither of which is ideal. You can try anything, of course, but the combination of a mismatched receiver *and* a poor antennae is not a great solution :) The best bet for low-cost selectable-bandwidth these days is a software-defined radio (SDR), they go for <$50, whereas an AOR AR2300 that can select the bandwidth will set you back ~$4000. On the other hand, you're not going to do the computation required for an SDR with an 8-bit atari...

 

If, instead, you're trying to go for the ground-relay services, you still need an SSB-capable radio that can tune the upper side-band, and you still ideally want to be able to tune > 15kHz of bandwidth for good data reception but it isn't moving any faster than you are (being ground-based), so there's no doppler shift; additionally your antennae choice isn't as crucial, since it's a stronger signal (again, being ground-based).

 

The simple solution for doing it on the atari would seem to be a dedicated APT receiver (which has the correct bandwidth-selection of ~50kHz) and a home-made antennae, linking through to the tone-decoder, and then the software on the atari creating the image from the digital output. Dedicated receivers cost ~$200-$300 or so and are a dying breed :(

 

The other thing to remember is that the satellite signal is analogue. The low tone (1500Hz) represents black, and the high tone (2300Hz) represents white. With a tone-decoder you'll get just that, a black and white image. It might be better to put a micro-controller in there which can do an FFT on the incoming data, get the dominant frequency, and obtain a grey-scale image. On the other hand, if you're displaying it on a graphics.8 screen, perhaps black and white is best :)

 

You'll also need to look for start-tones (300 Hz) and end-tones (450Hz) if you want this to be an automated thing that happens every evening (say).

 

I did look into this because I was thinking it'd be a pretty cool add-on card for the expansion box I'm designing. I'm torn between doing the whole thing (ie: building in an SSB receiver) or saying you need to have an external receiver. There's a receiver design I could probably crib from that uses direct digital synthesis to create its frequency range in an old Elektor Electronics mag I have lying around. It's based around the Analog Devices AD9581 [PDF] chip which is the major cost at ~$30 each or so. I'll have to see. There's plenty of water to go under that bridge before I have to make that decision :)

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I did look into this because I was thinking it'd be a pretty cool add-on card for the expansion box I'm designing. I'm torn between doing the whole thing (ie: building in an SSB receiver) or saying you need to have an external receiver. There's a receiver design I could probably crib from that uses direct digital synthesis to create its frequency range in an old Elektor Electronics mag I have lying around. It's based around the Analog Devices AD9581 [PDF] chip which is the major cost at ~$30 each or so. I'll have to see. There's plenty of water to go under that bridge before I have to make that decision :)

 

That sounds pretty freaking amazing. I'll be customer #1! :)

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It's not quite that simple, IIRC, at least if you're trying to get the feed from the satellites direct. The XR221 is just a tone-decoder, it needs a decent signal coming in, and the receiver itself needs to satisfy some requirements:

 

  • It needs to be an SSB-capable (single-side-band) shortwave receiver, which can tune the upper side-band
  • If you want good results, you need to be able to select a 30kHz -> 50kHz bandwidth when tuning in
  • You'll want a decent antennae - a quadrifilar helix antennae is recommended.

 

You're a bit mixed up here.

On Shortwave Bands you use SSB where you only use 3khz bandwidth and use a long wire antenna.

On VHF Bands above 30 Mhz, you use a 30khz to 50khz filter when decoding FM Wefax.

 

The XR221 works just fine for HF use...

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You're a bit mixed up here.

On Shortwave Bands you use SSB where you only use 3khz bandwidth and use a long wire antenna.

On VHF Bands above 30 Mhz, you use a 30khz to 50khz filter when decoding FM Wefax.

 

The XR221 works just fine for HF use...

 

 

Fairy nuff :)

 

I'd really been looking into the satellite-direct route. I don't have a receiver that works on either band (yet) so I figured going direct to the source would be better.

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Check out these images of Wefax: https://www.google.com/search?q=wefax&nord=1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_0530tN3ZAhVjh1QKHaTSC8wQ_AUICygC&biw=1184&bih=822

 

For Hi-Rez Color or B/W images you would use a VHF receiver.

The Lo-Rez B/W navigational / Marine Wefax images is what you'll decode on HF / Shortwave.

 

I'll post some active frequencies of HF transmissions in a few hours.

Edited by AtariGeezer
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