Monday, February 27, 2006

Site: Ooops

Yes, I keep changing the template for the blog. Sorry about the confusion, but I think I've got it now. Well, maybe. I goofed up the template and haven't had time to dig in and fix it. I'll get around to it, but I figured having the news was more important. ;)

The Hit List Feb 2006

For the curious. These are the sites I hit once a week or so. Mainly it's CoCo sites that have been updated recently, or may be eventually, or are maintained by active CoCoists. There's plenty that aren't here, though, so if you know of one, or run one, that I'm not hitting regularly, let me know!

Much of the news for the blog comes from people emailing me information. Please feel free to send any items of interest. Email to Usually best to put the word CoCo or Color Computer in the subj somewhere. ;)

Monday, February 13, 2006

News: RGB to SVGA Scan Converter Available!

RJRTTY has created what sounds like an amazing scan converter for the Color Computer 3. The device takes the CoCo's normal RGB output (that little plug thingie on the underside of the case) and turns it into a SVGA signal. Read: You can hook your CoCo up to any PC CRT or LCD monitor! Too cool, or what? :)

Here's the details from the creator himself:

My device is an upscan converter built exclusively for the coco3. It transforms the RGB video output from the socket under the coco3 into SVGA video that can be displayed on any modern CRT or LCD monitor.

It uses the Averlogic AL875 analog to digital converter and the AL250 scan doubler video chips. The unit has an I2C interface and an on board ATtiny12 microcontroller. It activites on power up or external reset. The coco3 can also bypass the microcontroller and program the components directly through the video cable via the I2C interface. Features include graphic overlays, border colors and custom video signal timing adjustments.

The asking price is $48 which is just enough to cover the cost of the components including a power supply. The price is so low because it is my first time producing a product for sale and I want the experience and because the device is badly needed in the coco community with compatible monitors becoming increasingly hard to find.

I don't have a website yet but that is coming as soon as I get the time to look into it. Right now I am concentrating on assembly to meet current demand.

The quality of construction and output of the device is very good. It is approximately 6 inches square and 1.5 inches high very compact and neat design and the video quality is comparable to an emulator screen. Ask on the list for the opinion of anybody who currently has the device. There are approximately 10 people who have it. I have a waiting list of about 20 people right now and I can assemble 3 units a week ( and still have a life).


Can' wait to see what can be done with the programability of this device, though I'm sure we'll be seeing some creative uses soon.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

News: Backup Magic Arrives!

Carl J. England has announced that Backup Magic for the Color Computer is now complete and ready to ship! Reports are that this wonderful piece of code will copy anything CoCo. I'll purchase it ASAP and have a review up on the Hut after a thorough evaluation. Don't wiat, though. Reports I've received from testers indicate it works like a charm.

Mr. England reports the following:

Besides backing up disks on a "real" coco, there is also a utility that allows you to transfer the disk to files that can be loaded on an emulator running on a PC. I have found no software titles that won't copy on the coco, but there are some that won't transfer to the emulator.

The program alone sounds like it is worth the price of admission. That it will backup to DSK image is a huge bonus. You can now back up those near impossible copy protected disks, convert them to DSK and store them on your PC, memory card, or other more reliable media for safe keeping. Imagine putting your entire CoCo collection onto a single DVD. While this has been possible for some time, getting those copy protected 5 1/4" disks in there has been a major problem. No more!

You'll need a two drive system to use Backup Magic. Perfect incentive for us single drive hold outs to get around to actually building a two drive rig. ;) (Seriously, slap a couple of 360K 5 1/4" drives together, add a cheap PC power supply, hook 'em up to a CoCo disk controller and you're good to go. Easy as pie.)

Pricing is US$25.00 for the email version. For that you'll need to use it in an emulator or have a way to port it over to the CoCo.

Also available is a 5 1/4" CoCo disk version for US$35.00. The price inludes the disk, some printed documentation (not much needed, of course), and includes shipping and handling.

Contact Mr. England for ordering information.

Get 'em while they're hot folks! And help preserve that CoCo software library well into the future!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Site: Correction Stuff

After posting the CoCo Collection for February, I received an email from CoCoist Frank Swygert, of the American independent Magazine, regarding the 26-3029 disk controller and why it's special. You'll recognize Frank from his numerous and informative contributions to the maltedmedia list. And if you dig AMC vehicles, you really need to check out his web site at . Many thanks, Frank!

“Ah, but there IS something special! This is the only controller that can be modified to work with high density (1.2MB, and I think 1.44MB) disk drives. This feature is only useful for OS-9 users and requires some modifications. You're probably aware that the controller chip used in the 26-3029 requires 12V to operate, so it has to either be hacked for an outside power source or used with a Multi-Pak.”

Frank didn't have the conversion article handy, but I'll certainly keep an eye open for it as I go through my CoCo mags and post the technique if I stumble across it.

The article has been updated to reflect this information. As I post this, by the way, there a 26-3029, with ribbon cable, up for grabs on eBay in the TRS-80 listing. Go get 'em! ;)

Couple of these references I still have to hunt down and correct, but just for the record...

The CoCo 1 I use, with the Micronix keyboard, is a 26-3003B, not a 3004. I also said somewhere it was an F-Board, but I really have no clue since I was thinking of a completely different CoCo. Ah, so many CoCos, so little brain cells. I don't know why anyone would care, but there ya go... :) That'll teach me to look at the bottom every once and awhile.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Comment: Survey Results

Some interesting results from the first CoCo Hut Survey are now available. For this first run at it, I wanted the questions to be pretty broad. We'll run these again from time to time just to see what's up. Over all the response was better than I expected. 22 visitors responded. Judging by the site traffic reports, though, we can do better. :) The new survey is up, so I hope everyone will pop in there and take it. Only takes a moment or two.

The first question was about whether or not Hut visitors would be interested in participating in Color Computer programming contests. 66.7% said yes. I think there is an interest in this sort of thing, it's just figuring out how to pull it off so that the maximum number of people will and can participate. I'll chat with a few people, think on it some, and maybe we can get something fired up this Spring or Summer.

The second question was for Color Computer vendors and whether they would be willing to sponsor such an event (with prizes and such). Only two respondents, one yes and one no. That's not bad. Any sort of programming contest would be oriented toward hobbyist programmers (not necessarily professional), so we're talking about the main prize being bragging rights, sense of accomplishment, the warm fuzzy glow of victory and that sort of thing. A prize would be nice, of course, but something small and useful or fun would do the job. It's something to ponder and ask around about, anyhow.

Next was a general question about what people wanted to see on the Hut and about the Color Computer. The breakdown went like this:

What would you like to see the Hut focus on next?

News about CoCo happenings: 25%
Modern Uses for the Coco: 25%
Games, games and more games: 18.8%
More history and reviews of CoCo stuff: 18.8%
PDF Docs for the CoCo: 12.5%

I kind of expected games to take a commanding lead, but News and Modern Uses topped the list. This was a choose as many as you like type of question.

News I understand. I really think there are a lot of CoCoists out there that just want to know everything they can about their beloved machine. Thus, this blog and at least an attempt to post some newsworthy stuff as I come across it. Several programmers, hobbyists and web masters have been very obliging and forth coming with items. It is greatly appreciated, and I'm certain not just by me. :)

Modern uses for the CoCo is a harder one to lock down, so the next survey digs into it a little deeper. I've been curious about this for awhile. I know what I like to do with my CoCo, but what are other people doing with their CoCos? What do CoCoist want to see? What games do they like? What kind of hardware do they want to hook up to it? I could probably come with dozens of questions like this, but we'll start simple.

I think some neat project type stuff would be fun. Something like a testing lab, or weather station, or robot control. Stuff like the electronics projects that used to be published in Hot CoCo and The Rainbow, but assembled and ready to play with. Is there a market for that sort of thing? Well, probably not. Not exactly, anyhow. But I'll bet an enterprising individual could sell a few for fun (and maybe a smidgen of profit).

I just don't see a lot of database management, personal finance, or word processing being a driving force in the CoCo community. But I could be wrong! So, the new survey asks for some more specific feedback.

Games, history and reviews scored in second place. I'm not sure how much I can do in the games department, not being a particularly sophisticated programmer (I'm a dunce, really), but I could probably put more features into the site that point the way to some great "modern" games for the CoCo still available for download and/or sale.

Reviews are coming, so hang in there. And of course, the primary focus of the Hut, collecting CoCos, will remain front and center with more history and photos and retro reviews being added as quickly as possible.

I did think PDF docs of CoCo documentation would be high on many people's list, but it scored the lowest. Not that there isn't interest or need, but in this case I think it has more to do with what folks would prefer. There's several sites to get some docs online now, with at least one ongoing project with that aim. There are no plans, at the moment, to include these at the Hut.

Overall, the surveys gave me some interesting things to think about, and I hope they do the same for you. I mainly hope that they'll encourage people to jump in there and contribute to the CoCo community. There's plenty of venues, from the fine message forum at, The CoCo Nuts Newsletter, shopping at the CoCo Lounge, pimping out your CoCo at Cloud 9 and just emailing and participating in mailing lists. Upcoming surveys will tackle other subjects and get more specific on these subjects. Jump on in and give it a few clicks. Tis great appreciated.

And drop email with your thoughts, questions and comments anytime. No format expected. No survey needed. :)

Angel's Luck & Electric Dreams,