Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Sunday CoCoist 5/27/07

The Sunday CoCoist

[Date fixed 6/2/07. Wacky green bold text fixed. Oops. -CC] It's been two weeks, so what's up with the cheesy little post, you ask? Well, there really hasn't been a whole lot to comment on. heh! While there's plenty of CoCo Good Stuff rolling along out there in CoCo land, including the mentions in the last few Sunday CoCoists, it seems like everyone's quite busy off actually doing it! That, of course, is pretty darn exciting, as is. If I catch anything that breaks suddenly, though, I'll throw up a news post.

Inside the Evil Lab

Of course, I could be writing my own CoCo articles. Ahem. Tonight I'll be having a wee bit of CoCo quality time. With luck, on Wednesday I'll get into the lab and have some Pimpin' to report. Specifically, the 40 pin socket has been sitting there for three weeks just begging to be soldered onto the GloCo's board, an I haven't even looked sideways at it. Sigh.

I'm also going to try to get a bunch of those old tapes I've acquired of late onto floppies. Then try to whack 'em into shape to run properly on an RGB CoCo 3. Over on CoCo Downunder, they guys have an archive of games that have been patched already. I haven't had a chance to peek at them and the site doesn't list the contents, but it might be worth a look if there's one you need. A quick look at the archive doesn't reveal anything I recognize (maybe a Cuthbert game), but you'd really want to dig into the .dsk images. Go on, you know it'll be fun.

Anyhow, the tapes I have include old Hot CoCo Instant CoCo tapes, some utilities, and a game or two. Anything post-able will go up ASAP.


Randy posted an interesting article to the CoCo Downunder blog about Glen Dahlgren of Sundog fame. Good historical and chronological list of games and information about the man behind one of the most successful CoCo game companies. If anyone has any more information about Glen or his current whereabouts, be sure to email Randy.

While you're there, don't forget to stop by the downloads sections. More and more stuff being added all the time.

Darren A. has updated/added his CoCoDisk utility here: The program runs under Windows and adds a GUI based method for making real CoCo disks on your PC. I couldn't test it, on account I don't have a floppy in my PC, but it looks pretty straight forward and easy to use. If you need to transfer files from your PC to your CoCo from .dsk images, this is just the thing!

Sites To See

This week I thought it would be interesting to browse a bit deeper into CoCo super genius Tim Lindner's site, called "frakendirary," at Tim's site is primarily his personal journal, which is a good read and well presented using WordPress. Now my daughter's both want a Tinkerbell room, as well. Thanks, Tim. I love painting.

The CoCo aspect of the site, though, consists of several pages including some excellent technical resources for programmers and hardware hackers. There's information on how to copy the protected Diecom floppy disks, technical information on the Diecom Light Gun, and The Rat graphic system. Of particular interest is the extensive information Tim has written and collected about the Tandy Speech/Sound pak, including the difficult to obtain manual and technical reference.

Additional handy technical stuff include one page printout reference sheets, designed by Tim, on the 6309 and the CoCo's PIAs. There's also a reproduction of several Byte articles from 1979 about the creation of the shiny new 6809. Fascinating reading!

Tim's site is a great not because the volume of content, or attempt there of, but because what's there is complete and infinitely useful. You could spend months playing with this information and it is definitely a site every serious CoCoist should be checking in with regularly.

Angel's Luck,

PS Heh. I hit SAVE as draft instead of PUBLISH, so this one's late, too. Let's just make it a tradition. :)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Buying Cars, CoCo Updates, and Other Fun Stuff

Sorry about the lack of posts, folks. (Although the concern and emails have been greatly appreciated, and no I'm not dead or incapacitated. heh!) My old Ford Escort finally died a horribly death and I've been stressing and scrambling through the process of buying a new car. Which, by the way, is a wholly evil and mind numbing experience. Sheesh! Just looking and price bickering took a four freakin' days! Anyhoo, that's about over...

CoCo-wise, there hasn't been too much to report, though I urge everyone to keep up with the V.R. CoCo 4 project. No website yet, but the message board at is a good place to keep tabs for now. Hopefully we'll see some designs, code and testing soon. Should be a blast! I did pick up a few bits for The Sunday CoCoists, which will be back at it's irregularly scheduled time next week. Probably. :) And I'm prepping a CoCo Collector post for late tonight.

I haven't gotten to get on my CoCo for a week. I know, horror, right? It's hell believe me. But I did steal a couple of minutes to start cleaning up the GloCo's main board where I'd unassed the 6809 and will hopefully get a shot at soldering in the socket for 6309. This will be the B version (2 Mhz) for now, but I'm looking forward to trying it out with NitrOS-9 and anything else I can dig up that will use the chip's advanced features. Also, have to locate (or upgrade) an MPI soon, so that's on the list. Of course, since I just sold my soul to the bank for the next three years, we'll have to see on that one. heh... More as it develops.

Tune in and Stay tuned!

Angel's Luck,

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

5/13/07 The Sunday CoCoist

The Sunday CoCoist
May 13th, 2007

Shall The CoCo C?

Chris Lamont has updated his CoCo page to include a 6809/6309 based disassembler. His work is a step toward building a C/C++ compiler for the CoCo 3, as reported earlier. Also included are his thoughts on the project, pointing out that the compiler would most likely be a C with some C++ like features. Also as reported, this is all way over my head. heh! But it's also terribly exciting. To see just how far over my head, check out this thread on's message forums.

Besides the technical details, however, the development Chris is doing is hugely significant. For a lot of CoCoists, yours truly included, being able to punch out some C++ code easily, in say Visual Studio, would be a massive boon. Many potential CoCo programmers wouldn't even need to learn a new language. Having a modern C++ compiler would also lower the learning curve for many other programmers, at least a lot less than learning assembly. And plenty of applications and games could be ported to the CoCo much easier. The amount of quality software for the CoCo would explode!

Keep your fingers crossed and send extra brain cycles Mr. Lamont's way.

V.R. CoCo Reality

Yup, more on the V.R. CoCo 4. Mainly because the more I hear about it, the better it sounds. Steve Bjork posted a "back on track" message to the message board that goes a long way toward solidifying, in my mind at least, what this is all about. He also took time to answer some specific questions. As mentioned last time, I'm really interested in a new CoCo 3. Or rather, a way to build an old one. As Steve mentions in his post, eventually these old machines aren't going to work anymore. Vintage disks and disk drives, and the CoCo 3 hardware itself, are already past their working life span (about 20 years). The electronics in a well maintained CoCo 3 could last quite a bit longer, of course. But eventually...

So having a CoCo 3 replacement that uses modern components is a pretty good idea. The V.R. CoCo project's idea is: Why not upgrade it a bit while we're at it? Why not build it around an extensible system as well? Sounds like a good plan, actually. Read the threads and see what you think. It should be interesting to see how it develops.

Download of the Week

This week I'm going to give some snaps to the CoCo's little brother, the MC-10. Our link will point us to Charlie's MC-10 Files and Links. The site includes fun programs for the 10er by chazbeenhad, as well as an amazing Pac Man clone by Greg Dionne. Snag an MC-10 emulator while you're there. Did you know that there's a voice synthesizer and an Extended BASIC for the MC-10? Well, follow the links at this site and it shall be so. :)

Tune In & Stay Tuned!

Angel's Luck,

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What?!? No Sunday CoCoist??? (Sorta)

Okay, the timing is a little off this week. I really wanted to post a Sunday CoCoist, but the CoCo Collector reeeeally needed an update, and so did the main site. So Sunday I did the Collector, and updated the Price Guide, and tonight I did some on the website. Heh... So, theoretically and baring, oh, life in general, the plan is to have the Sunday CoCoist on Sunday and The CoCo Collector on Tuesday. These will be late night posts, and yes I'll miss occasionally. If I do miss, I'll try to post something. :)

Changes to the this blog, thus far, are re-adding the syndication feed. (I'll add the feed Collector tomorrow, too tired! But if you want it: The CoCo Collector Atom Feed.) The feed is via Atom's XML syndication feature. Most readers can read this format. If anyone wants it, I'll add RSS as well (might just do it anyhoo).

For those that aren't familiar with site syndication, let me 'splain. A syndication feed let's you pull the contents, or part of the contents, of a website to you. Usually, this is in the form of an abbreviated list of headers, labels, or headlines. You can then read the full article when you're ready. The benefit is, you don't have to keep jumping from site to site looking for updates. If the site has been updated, the update will show up in your feed list. If it hasn't, it won't. Easy. And handy. :)

Making this work is dirt simple. Two examples:

In Firefox, if the site is syndicated, you'll see an icon appear in the address bar. Click, select where you want the link to live in your booksmarks, and you're subscribed. From now on, whenever you mouse over that bookmark, you'll see a list of updates to that site/blog. Click and you'll get the whole article.

You can also feed the syndicated site to an aggregated feed collector. There are many available, both programs you host on your computer, and web based aggregators. I use My Yahoo, since it's my default home page anyhow. Now when I fire up my browser, for example, the latest updates from, say, Curtis Boyle's CoCo Games List site are listed nice and neat in a My Yahoo content box. So as soon as Curtis updates the site, I know it. You can do the same thing with the CoCo Hut blog, The CoCo Collector, Brain's CoCo/Model III Repak blog, etc. If you look to the right pane of this blog, under Blog Feeds, you see that THIS site is acting like an syndication aggregator! Fun, eh?

The point is that it's easier than ever to stay up to date with your favorite CoCo sites and blogs, as long as the authors are syndicating the sites via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) or Atom (an XML API used by which can also do RSS).

If you're currently syndicating your CoCo site or blog via RSS or Atom, drop me a note with the feed URL. I'd love to feed it into this blog, and add it to my own list as well.

[Note: blogger's Add Site Feed feature seems to be down tonight, so I'll try to get more feeds added soon. Do send them in, though! They'll get it working again shortly.]

Angel's Luck,

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A little GloCo action

Okay, I wasn't going to post any more on the GloCo for awhile, but figured what the heck. Nothin' else going on at the moment. The reason for no Pimp My CoCo posts for awhile is pretty simple, by the way. I need the time and guts to attempt the 6309 upgrade again. heh. However, I would like to have some fun with the machine before I attempt to wreck it, so I went ahead and did the 512K thang on it.

This time, the upgrade took a whole three and half minutes. Seriously. If you haven't yet, do this. No excuses.

I thought this was interesting though, because for the GloCo's memory boost, I had to go retro. Really retro. A SIM based upgrade won't fit correctly. So I needed a flat, horizontally oriented board.

This is the PBJ 512K upgrade, one of the first third party boards available in 1986. Yeah, it's pretty much ancient. It's nice, though because it's flat and it fits nice and snug against the RF box there. Doesn't get in the way of the keyboard. Most important for this project, it's low. It does however, run as hot as a firecracker. The fan was definitely a good idea. As it is, with the power transformer out, the fan will blow straight across the memory board. Perfect.

Of course, we have to test the board and make sure all those ancient chips are still good. The proper way to do that would be to run a cyclic memory test on it, such as the one that comes with Cloud-9s 512K SIMM upgrade. But naw, that's the old way. The new way to test a 512K upgrade is...


I made sure to test this for a good half hour, just to be sure. And that monkey just really pisses me off sometimes. He must be destroyed! heh.

This is probably a pretty good test of the memory, though. Sock Master's Donkey Kong conversion/emulator really gives the system a workout.

By the time I was done playing, you could have cooked an egg on that memory board. And that was with the top off.

The CoCo never glitched, though. Not once. Go GloCo, go GloCo, go GloCo!

I did, of course, let the proper memory test run for awhile. A-OK. And fired up NitrOS-9 again, which was more a test to make sure I put the 40-track drives back together (the NitrOS disks are 40-track) properly. Another A-OK.

More soon (er or later). :)

Angel's Luck,

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