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On the 2nd and 3rd of July 2016, an interactive workshop on programming games in 6502 assembly language will occur in Bad Oeynhausen in Germany. It will be held by Thomas Schulz, aka 8Bitjunkie, the author of Dimo's Quest, on the Amiga (original version) and the Atari 8-bit. WUDSN IDE is used as the development environment for the workshop. The workshop is targeting absolute beginners and will be held in German. If you are interested, sign up for the event's Facebook page. Many people reading this dreamed of writing their games when they were young. So get up and join the workshop. It's the best chance to make your dream come true finally.
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The original "The!Cart" was delivered with a relatively cheap shell to keep the price low. Sven Pink from the A.B.B.U.C. created the first version of a 3D printable shell in 2015, but it was never officially released. Only one prototype was printed back then, which I own. Sven lacks the time, and I lack the skills and equipment to continue the design. So I decided to release the files in their current state. You can download the OpenSCAD (".scad") and stereo lithography (".stl") files for printing your shell for the first version of "The!Card". If you get usable results and maybe create improved versions of the model, I'd be happy to add pictures of your shells here and update the download accordingly. Visit the new "The!Cart" page for more details. You can also visit the corresponding thread on AtariAge for questions and feedback.
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According to lft, there are three approaches for creating music on the Atari VCS
- Stick to the very few matching notes, or
- Alternate quickly between the very few matching notes, or
- Ignore the problem.
Given that creating music on the Atari VCS nowadays also requires coding skills, the solution is often option 3. But a few weeks ago, a miracle occurred, and suddenly even two trackers for the Atari VCS were released.
- TIATracker by Kylearan - a Qt-based desktop program that comes with a powerful own player that supports self-defined instruments and envelopes
- Slocum Tracker by igorski81 - a browser-based web application that creates output for the most widely used Paul Slocum Sequencer Kit
You can also find more VCS trackers on the battleofthebits.org site. Both new trackers are very interesting and promising projects and are already usable. So get your hands on them, provide feedback to the authors, and get something done for Sillyventure. In addition, Kylearan held an excellent seminar about music and trackers for the VCS at Revision:
"The state of the Atari VCS 2600 music scene is very underdeveloped, despite the fact that it is one of the oldest platforms actively used in the demoscene. In addition to the severe and weird limitations of the hardware itself, there's also a dramatic shortage of tools accessible to musicians. As a consequence, music is hard to come by for a coder, and musical styles are often more uniform and limited than they need to be. In an attempt to improve this situation, we present TIATracker: A new sound routine for the VCS and an accompanying tracker for the PC which tries to support both musicians and coders in dealing with the specific limitations of the platform. This talk will start with a brief recap of the audio capabilities of the VCS. Then, an overview of existing audio routines and tools, both publicly available and proprietary, is provided. This is followed by a discussion and some statistics about how all this might have influenced the culture and quality of music on the VCS. Finally, TIATracker is introduced. It brings ADSR envelopes, variable pattern lengths individual to each channel, funktempo and more to the VCS, and its PC user interface targets non-coder, non-VCS musicians with tools like pitch guides, combined waveform instruments and overlay percussions."
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The Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS) is unique and exciting. This tutorial aims to show interested people the history of the Atari 2600, explain the hardware design decisions, and how they impacted the way of programming - making programming the Atari 2600 a unique experience and challenge. And I show and explain examples that illustrate how programmers adopted the machine's limitations and strengths to create better graphics over 30 years. The following picture from The Argyle Sweater nicely brings it to the point. Thanks a lot to Scott Hilburn for the permission to use it.
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At Revision in April 2015, Heaven gave me his Atari 130 XE and his Atari 65 XE with VBXE 2.0 installed. The first one had broken down at the party. The second one has a VBXE built-in but not an adapter cable to connect it to a TV. While the Atari 130 XE worked fine after cleaning and re-soldering, the VBXE machine had an Atari ST monitor connector and a complex switch built in. I sat down for hours and traced the different signals through the wires, buttons, and connectors. I found that the way the wiring was, the connector could simultaneously serve as FBAS-SCART and RGB- SCART, depending on the switch position. But I didn't have a proper plug for the connector, so I had to order one. I had to learn that there are different types of 8-pin DIN plug with slightly different pin arrangement. None fully matches the Atari ST monitor connector.
Months went by, and finally, I got a working plug. Still, I was frightened by the thought of soldering SCART cables with 21 pins into the damn tiny DIN plug, not knowing where color meant what and which pin is actually which (plug vs. connector, front-view vs. rear-view, ST plug vs. VBXE pinout, before the switch vs. after the button....). And guess what: How right I was.
Today I was in the mood and decided to give it a try. After Three hours of soldering, measuring, desoldering, measuring, re-soldering, and dozens of mapping lists and diagrams, I finally made it. And then, when the cable was complete, I tested it. And it didn't work at all with my SABA CRT. So I started measuring, desoldering, and re-soldering and checked the diagrams repeatedly. Then I tried the 2nd CRT (Goldstar). It gave a very dark b/w picture and no VBXE picture at all. The 3rd CRT (Grundig) showed the same result. Meanwhile, I was 100% sure that the wiring was OK.
CRT number 4 (Schneider) then gave a clear picture with greyscales - in red. IN RED ?!?! Back to the board, did I swap luma with red - no, I'm not that stupid. Phew, no, I'm not. The 5th CRT (Sony Triniton) presented a distorted picture as it didn't detect that the input was on RGB, not FBAS. Finally, I grabbed my (almost) last available CRT: The Phillips that had just left my living room before Xmas. I plugged it in, and WHOA - it f-cking worked. It just worked and looked perfect. The cable had been correct from the start, but it took 2 hours to find the TV that could handle RGB via SCART. Priceless. Merry Christmas, Heaven, you'll get your present soon! Here's what the CRT battlefield looked like.