Sunday, November 26, 2006

News: Cloud-9 Updated

Cloud-9 is now accepting orders for in-stock items only. They have been for awhile, but I got a couple of emails asking how I got stuff from Cloud-9. Well, there ya go. :) The front web page explains what's available, which at the time of this writing, is just about everything. Limited availability, of course. Get it while it's hot.

Angel's Luck,

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Comment: Still Pimpin' the CoCo and other fun stuff

Posting became a pain over the last few weeks as work intensified. So CoCo time was spent actually with the CoCo instead of writing about the CoCo. :) Even then, there was precious little.

I also switched to Performancing blog add-on for Firefox for creating blog entries. This little tools has tracking metric, so that I can see how many people are visiting the blogs, what day they're visiting most and if they're looking at posts and/or posting. Much nicer. It's also open right there in the browser, so I can browse and type at the same time. Unfortunately, it also has a few foibles, like no safety saves and such. (Says it does, but if it does, there's no way to recover the save.)

There hasn't been a whole lot of news to post. At least, not news that's been emailed to me. I haven't made the rounds myself in a couple of weeks. I've also started using Thunderbird, the Mozilla email reader. It has adaptive email filters and spam catchers that I haven't fully trained yet, so if anyone has sent email and not gotten a response, please post here and let me know! I'll add your email address and make sure they'll get through.

On to the CoCo projects...

I really wanna do a holiday CoCo program, but can't come up with something I could do quick enough. Arg! I'll keep working on it, but would love to hear if anyone else is doing, or has done, something. Here's the ones I've considered:

A Christmas present version of "Bejeweled." Fun!
Something to do with putting ornaments on a tree. Not sure on that one.
A Christmas Wargame. No seriously. :)

I got a nice little order from Cloud-9 including a 512K memory upgrade and a Drivewire package. Can't wait to try 'em. But I'm going to be patient. I am. No, really. So, after the holidays I'll hook 'em up and give a full report. Until then I shall resist the urge...

The CoCo mod project has only made marginal progress. Every time I get one thing done, two other things pop up that require a different direction. Heh. That's the fun part of working without instructions, though. And the experience is providing loads of practical experience, from knowing the CoCo's board way more thoroughly to the constraints and considerations of modifying and adding to the case.

For example, inside the top of the CoCo's case are all these molded plastic supports and guides. Half of them don't really serve any purpose. I'll detail these in more detail some other time, but needless to say, whacking 'em out of there is quite entertaining. Had to make some room and, with the help of Mr. Dremel make room I did.

Another consideration... I decided to switch to SIMMs for the memory, using the Cloud-9 upgrade, instead of using the old PBJ upgrade I had. The latter makes the machine run incredibly hot. I figured the lower temp SIMMs with the 6309 would make it run cool enough to live without a fan, right?

Well, great in theory. However, the Cloud-9 512K upgrade is oriented vertically. The PBJ upgrade is oriented horizontally. The Cloud-9 product blocks where the light bar goes. Never occurred to me that such a thing would be an issue until I'd already installed the lights and THEN purchased the memory upgrade. So I would either have to go sans light bar, or sans memory. Since I'd already made the modifications to add the light bar (and it looks freakin' SWEEEET!), it's back to the flat PBJ upgrade and a fan.

In addition, the SIMMs stick up and basically cut the CoCo in half and restrict the airflow through the case, particularly if you wish to add the fan on the left side of the case (where the power transformer was). So at least two fans are required to cool the case properly, one on the left side and one vent fan on top or out the back (30-40mm fans fit great, by the way). Which was the original design, but I'd already started mod'ing sans fans.

Another misstep example: I bought an old 220W AT/XT supply because it a) had the voltage labels on it (the modern 350W one doesn't and let's face it, me guessing at which wire does what is a BAD idea) and b) had more of the types of molex connectors I could use. Also, the instructions I have were written for this type of PS. Well, great, but the fan I ordered has the PC motherboard power connector, not the older molex connector. So... I either needs to clip that off and add a molex connector (which I'll have to order), or use a fan plug conversion kit (which I would also have to order). I have to order some molex connector supplies anyhow. And the fun continues...

So now we've got a really hot CoCo and the older memory module that we're going to cool with a single intake fan and the original vents. On the plus side, the SIMM upgrade can pop into my current working CoCo (which is still at 128K) and I can start enjoying the benefits right away. Waa hoo!)

Now some folks reading this may think this is more of a pain is ass than is worth it. But honestly, this is the fun part. After it's built, painted, pimped up and running well with matching drives, MPI and flat panel... well... I'll probably stare at it a few days, take some pictures, and then sell it on eBay to get money for the next project. heh :)

Angel's Luck,

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Comment: Fun stuff and a test

I ordered up all sorts of stuff for the CoCo that I probably shouldn't have ordered, so hopefully the Pimp My CoCo project will get some progress here shortly. Waa Hoo! This post, though, is really just a test of PerFormancing blog add-on for Firefox. This might make doing CoCo Collector stuff easier as well. :) So far so cool! (Did I mention how much I love the new Firefox. Oh, well, I do.)

Angel's Luck,


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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Comment: Late Night Bits

Nothing too much CoCoish to report, but felt the need to post something. Actually, I'm having so much fun with the Firefox 2.0 that I've been on the web all night playing with it. I've changed themes about 10 times. And my bookmarks file has doubled in size (have to trim that down... I hate big bookmark files). If you haven't yet (and most of you haven't... remember I can see your browser... bwahahaha!), pop over there and give it a try: I didn't get into the browser wars back in the 90s, and I ain't doin' it now. I'm just saying that Firefox is a supremely sublime browsing experience. Two enthusiastic thumbs up! Fine holiday fun!

As mentioned previously, Mary has posted the newest CoCo Nutz! E-Zine over at If you haven't already, hop on over and get it. Loads of fun! There's also some chatter on the CoCoNutz! message board about doing a holiday issue. What's needed is stuff to put in it! I'm thinking the least everyone could do would be submit one of those old style CoCo screen greetings cards. You know, that displays a holiday scene/message or animation in BASIC with a little cheery tune, or something. Make it an informal (gentleman/lady's) contest to see who can come up with the best one. :)

Of course, there's plenty of time to whip up some mini-games, write review, or do a quick tech article on a particular CoCo subject. What a perfect gift to give to your fellow CoCoists! And it's cheap, too! :)

Speaking of perfect gifts... heh... I also updated the stuff in the CoCo Hut Gift Shop. After several requests, I've done a CoCo Man t-shirt design. It's available in the good cheap seat T-shirt, hooded sweat shirt, and several other apparel items. It's basic and the image is as big as CafePress will allow. Also, by request, I used the CoCo 3 red, green, blue "slashes" instead of the dashes from the CoCo 1/2. The other item is the "Official CoCo Hut Logo Wear" design. It's available on the organic T-shirt, the Women's Tank, and a mouse pad. Fun stuff. Additional items are coming. The proceeds (about a dollar or two per item) go to paying the website bill.

One of the items I'd like to do, but have yet to pull off, is a 2007 CoCo calendar. I'm just not much of a photographer. I've got a couple of nice shots, but the rest have been crap. I want it to be big, full bleed images of CoCo's (and CoCo stuff) in seasonal, or relevant, settings. Kind of a CoCo pin-up calendar. :) So, now I'm going to solicit images from folks. If you have, or can take, some cool CoCo pictures, send 'em along. I can't promise to use all of 'em, but I'll try to use the one's that fit best. (And we'll probably find a use for any others, as well.) Images should be as big as possible. The calendar page is 9x11.5 inches, or 1800x2300 pixels, at 200dpi. Upgrading images smaller than that is dicey, but I can always add a border if that's too big. That size, or larger, is ideal though. If you'd like to send something, email 'em this way ( Can't pay for 'em, but I'll stick a credit in there for ya and get you a calendar at the shopkeeper's price. :)

Let's see, what else... I added and activated the Atom feeds for readers capable of using that format. Firefox can read these easily by default and can subscribe via several readers. I've never had much luck with RSS or Atom feeds from Blogger. They never update frequently enough. But if you're inclined, there it is. :)

CoCo projects continue to plod along. Finished up a cute mini-game for Halloween and then realized I couldn't get it out of my CoCo and into the PC without retyping the whole damn thing in again. Sheesh! So, first, I popped open the PC, ready to install a 5 1/4" drive in it. Then realized I didn't have the right cable. Then realized I forgot to order the right plugs, so I couldn't make a cable. Dammit. So then I broke down and ordered a DriveWire from Cloud 9. That should fix it up. So, hopefully, I'll be able to port CoCo stuff over to the PC soon. Hooray for our side!

Anyhow, still trying to dream up a good mini-game for the holiday season. I'll sit down this weekend and start pounding away at it. I love, and encourage everyone, to do that. I know it's frowned upon in serious programing circles, but constructing a program (or one liner, or anything else) right out of your head is a blast. And ECB let's you do it, no questions asked, and as dirt simple as possible. No you're probably not going to write brilliant code. And yes, it could probably come out a lot better with thorough planing. But what fun would that be? :D

The CoCo mod project is coming along. Finally ordered up the lights. Also acquiring a different power supply, an older 200W AT/XT style that doesn't have a bunch of crap on it that I don't need. Should make that bit a little easier. I also ordered up a 512K SIM upgrade from Cloud-9. I figured since I was ordering anyway, might as well. Haven't heard back yet if they are in stock, so keep your fingers crossed. (If not, I'll stick with PBJ 512K I already have.) Ran out of paint while doing the keyboard, so I have to get some more, and a color print cartridge for the ol' inkjet for making decals. I can buy a new freakin' printer for the cost of the cartridges, though! Geez! Is that a great scam or what?

On the collector side of things, I've been pretty sedate lately. Several huge items I had to let go due to finances. But... then Tony put up that Microneye and, well, how am I suppose to resist something like that? eh? Well, I can't, that's how. Some people's children, eh? :) (By the way, Tony is still posting some of his super rare stuff in the TRS-80 listings... jump on there and get 'em. eBay id: sharkonwheels.) I'm hoping we'll see some really great stuff posted. Now that I can buy again, I plan to go in swinging! Hope y'all will join the fun!

Angel's Luck,

Monday, November 06, 2006

News: New CoCo Nutz! E-Zine Available

Editor and super CoCoist Mary Kramer has released Volume 2, Issue 3 of the CoCo Nutz! E-Zine, now available at:

This issue includes interviews with Brian Palmer (none other than Briza!), and David Dubowski of Classic Computing fame. The interview with Brian is a great look at the Aussie CoCo scene and some insight into the miriad of projects he has going on. His archiving of CoCo software alone probably qualifies him as the hardest working man in CoCo-land. :) David's interview takes us back to the 80s and the beginning of the CoCo boom and the heyday of The Rainbow, and what it was like to produce software back then. And I promise I'll get his amazing voice sythesizer program, Speak Up!, up and available for download ASAP. ;)

Also included is a facinating article on floating point numbers and the madlebrot set by CoCo guru Robert Gault, a flashback report on the last CoCoFest by Richard Crislip, a neat tic-tac-toe program in BASIC by Dale Kramer (former editor of CoCo Friends Disk Magazine and Mary's father), another great BASIC09 tutorial by Bob Devries, another swipe at David Kelly's Wipeout technique by Mark McDougall, and topped off with a handy backup utility for the 512K CoCo 3 by Robert Gault and ... whew... it's a heck of an issue! Throw in some one liners, pictures (there's one of Briza kicking back on the porch... hey, save a spot for me amigo!), and screen shots and this E-Zine just keeps getting better and better!

Kudos to Mary and all the contributors for another great issue. And anyone reading this, get working on stuff for the holiday issue.... it's a short deadline, so hop to it! :)

Angel's Luck,

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pimp My CoCo: Horray! A little progress...

Finally got an hour or so to work on the CoCo again. Hooray for our side. So, since it's been going slow, figured I'd post an update. Sorry, no blood, gore, or burned body parts this time. I'll try harder... :P

(Click 'em for the bigguns)

Okay, after a bit of clean up, here's what we've got so far. Top half of the case is about done. Just needs some sanding (see below) a good scrubbing and paint. The keyboard was pretty easy and looks downright wicked. Solid black. Real men don't need letters on their keys. Grunt, grunt, grunt. heh... Actually, at some point we'll do decals on them. Probably a dark, hard to see grey. Yeah.

Still studying on the power suppply. No idea how this is going to work. The one sitting there I got on sale at and it doesn't have one of those little switches on the back. Not sure how that works. I'm assuming I'll have to locate the lines that hook up to the power button (via the mainboard) on a PC and wire a switch to it. I do have this cool retro metal SPST flip switch that would go nicely. Still, my track record with eletricity, particularly anything that plugs into the wall, is spotty... at best.

The mainboard will be different one than the one I'm working on. I figure I'll have another go at socketing it for upgrade at some point, but for now, I really want to get the machine up and running with all the goodies installed.

The fan is out, for the moment, but it IS going in. A single fan relocated to the left hand side and blowing across the board. Since I've run out of time for the top windows, I'll just leave the grill. I still have another case, so we'll do the big top fan on that one in the Spring. All ready dreaming the paint scheme for that one (two tone, this time) but... let's not get ahead of ourselves... any further ahead, that is.

There's a shot of "casebadge" window, by the way. I still haven't figured out how to put the plexiglass in there without making a mess with glue, but I've got a couple of ideas. Directly beneath that will be a wave light bar in green. Makes it look like some evil green liquid is running through the case (I've used the blue and red versions before on PCs and they're freakin' awesome). Plus a couple of other surprises to make up for dropping a few of the other original plans. ;)

This is the best shot I could get of the keyboard. Heavily edited, but that's pretty close to what it looks like. Though not quite as shiney under normal lighting. Have to note that when I take pictures of the finished machine. No flash. Use big lights.

I really like the way this one is shaping up. True it may be Spring before it's completely finished, though part of that is fundage. Something about buying gifts for the holiday, or something. Sheesh! What greater gift could there be than a hot new CoCo! Kids love 'em! Sorta....

Okay, so tips. One, as the thermometer shows, it's getting pretty darn close to the cutoff point for model work in the outside lab. Paint and glue start getting freaky at about 60F and worthless below 50F. That's the high today, though this week we're s'pose to stay right around there, so I'll be craming in as much as I can.

The Krylon Fusion paint, at this temp (and negligible humidity), took about an hour to set up. That's opposed to 15 minutes normally. Milliput is also acting much slower, though when filling those holes I gouged in the case, I did place it under a lamp to speed it up a bit. I know I go on about temperature and humidity a lot, but... well, I paint a lot. A clean spot and the right weather is pretty much essential for a perfect paint job.

Also, get some of those smaller, but really deep, C-clamps and a nice 12" metal straight edge. The clamp heads shouldn't be more than 3/8ths, with a jam opening at least 2" and about 2"-3" depth. I cut the hole a little bit bigger than the original case badge, at 5"x1/2". Some of the oversized sanding pads for the Dremel tool are handy, too, which makes it easier to get in there (without routing holes in the case by accident like I did). The case is 1/8th of an inch thick. The CoCo 3's front is curved and clamping a straightedge on to sand in a straight line is a bitch. The right clamps will make it much easier.

While I'm at it, thought I'd take a mini-tour of the lab. Well, not so much because it's a mess, but...

Every Spring I clean this thing out and it's spotless and beautifully organized. And by fall there's crap all over the place. Looks like day five of a geek convention (but not as smelly, thank God). So I tried to clean up a bit today, but didn't get too far.

Good power is essential, but household power is just so-so. Actually, where I live, it's been rock solid. No brownouts and only a couple of blackouts during really bad storms. And then only for a couple of minutes. This box is a deluxe industrial breaker that'll stop just about anything. I hate it when things catch on fire, so best to get the best. :D I find all sorts of crap when I'm out and about and it kind of accumulates on the walls. Hmmm... looking at the picture, I forgot to reset that one for the end of daylight savings. Doah. The plaque was given to me by my grandmother, I didn't buy that myself. Sheesh.

Ah, the Evil Lab Men's Room. (Side door to the garage.) Hey, when you gotta go...

The sign I picked up in New Orleans awhile back. Never hurts to warn visitors of the perils they may face.

Recent aquisitions include a giant pirate flag and a Pirates of the Carribean display from the store. Have to hang those soon.

Big pile o' CoCos. There's an Atari 800XL in there as well. Good machine. It's no CoCo, mind you, but some cool games for it. And no, none of the collectible stuff is in this pile. Collectible stuff goes in big rubber bins and is stored indoors. :)

Let's see, there's a busted grey multipak. That 26-3022 disk drive doesn't seem to want to spin up. Ah, and the Tano Dragon is in there. No power supply for it, though, so I've never even fired it up. Have to figure that out at some point.

Part of the model/miniature work shop. What a mess. The B-17 model (The Bit O' Lace) goes in the bottom of a PC case I'm working on. Seriously. A whole B-17 theme going on that one, including a round see-through panel on one side and a big nose art pin-up on the other. Should be fun looking when it's done.

All those paints have to go inside before winter. And I see a nice batch of Games Workshop Space Marines that need finishing off. That vice in the center, by the way, is the ingenius and can't-live-without Panavise. For working on just about anything fairly small. Holds miniatures, models and circuit boards, and you can twist and turn it to any position. Literally. Truely one of the most necessary tools I have.

I'll take a bigger shot of the lab and a better tour in the spring when it's actually presentable. :)

Angel's Luck,