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John Chow Seymour

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  1. Once you start trying to sound like real instruments, I feel like a stylistic line has been crossed, and better success would be had using modern sample-based instrument libraries. I prefer my chiptunes really chippy sounding, and the two I grew up with were the SID and R2a03, so I'll dream of a system with, let's say, 2 of each of those. In fact, I've been trying (well, not very hard, since I'm busy) to rig up a system where I can create music on an actual R2a03 from an old NES. It's tricky since the R2a03 is also the NES's 6502 processor. Unlike most setups where you can just send signals to the sound chip, the R2a03 only ever expects signals from itself; or rather the sound part of it only expects to get signals from the processor part of the same chip. It's too bad because that NES sound is the one I crave.
  2. I've made an upgrade to my physical desktop. When I bought a new Audio Interface recently, my desktop simply became too cluttered, so I built myself a small custom shelving unit out of some spare boards and other pieces of wood from my woodshop. (I am NOT a skilled woodworker at all, and the 'spare bits' were mostly from things I'd butchered.) Front: Sonicware Liven 8Bit Warps (a synth). C=64 to the left. Bottom: the new audio interface, a TASCAM US_4x4HR. Works well but I don't like the physical case design. Takes up real estate, won't sit flat - it's permanently tilted backwards by two non-removable front feet. This was what prompted me to make the shelves. Floor 2: 1530 Datassette for the C=64. At left, the PE6502 kit computer in the Apple-wood stand I made for it. Floors 3 and 4: Region 1 (US) and Region 3 (Korea) DVD players. The computer they're connected to has a built-in Region 2 (Japan). Top: Cheap (Amazon Basics) speaker. I have a used hi-fi for music, but usually YouTube videos and the like sound best on a small speaker like this. Also, the first thing I ever soldered, a digital clock kit. Still works! For Christmas I bought my mother a book on how to crochet cacti and succulents. She then made me the two cactus friends in the pot at left. I've named them Nord & Bert.
  3. Hey, that little clock was the first kit I ever soldered together. (It took me a while to realize it, but you can indeed peel that clear sheet of the front of the display). Feeling confident, the next project I did was to 'pro sound' mod a used GameBoy. And then, the third thing I tried was this oscilloscope kit: https://jyetech.com/dso138mini-oscilloscope-diy-kit/ What's fun about that one is, you can actually use it for electronics projects when you're done with it. I used it to help diagnose the C64 I rescued from the trash, for example, by checking for 'clock' signals at the appropriate pins. (It was also fun to hook up it up to the sound output of the GameBoy and look at the waveforms.) If what you need is an oscilloscope, then this is obviously this isn't the best one out there. But if what you want is more stuff to solder, why not solder something you can use afterward? (The pin header leading to the screen is very small, with not much space between the pins. It was, so far, the most challenging single component I've ever soldered. But I got through it!) Beyond that, I have to give a shoutout to the PE6502, which took me about three afternoons to build. At the end, you have your own little 6502-based computer, which I am still enjoying working with. It'd good prep for the upcoming X16p kit. The official page is here: http://www.putnamelectronics.com/ ...but you might check with @Corneleous Worthington to see what the current buying options are.
  4. Growing up in the 80s my house had an Apple ][e and my best friend's had a C64. But, sitting unused in one corner of the 'office room' at that friend's house were two slightly older computers that I didn't really appreciate until it was too late. One was a HeathKit that, supposedly, his parents had assembled themselves. The other was a CompuColor. When I was 6, my father had bought a decent-quality VHS camera, and by the time I was 10, I was using it to film home movies, usually sci-fi stories starring my stuffed animals. So, when I got word that my friend's family was throwing out their old computers, I asked if I could keep the keyboard to the CompuColor, because it was really cool-looking, and I thought I could use it as a prop in my little movies - as the bridge of a spaceship, or something. Alas, and to my eternal regret, 10-year-old me did not foresee that 40-year-old me would have a hobbyist's interest in old computers, so I didn't ask for the computer part of the CompuColor, just the keyboard! But it is cool looking: Look at all those keys! Although the keyboard unit is as thick as a C64 breadbin, it contains only the keyboard: the guts of the CompuColor was built into the monitor. The 'gimmick' of the CompuColor is that they built the computer to fit inside an already-existing line of color TVs, with the front control panel of the TV replaced with the disk drive. From what I've read, turning the CRT monitor on or off created an EMP that would wipe any disk in the drive, which was positioned right next to the CRT. To counteract this, they simply put a line in the instruction manual telling user not to have a disk in the drive when turning the monitor on or off. Solved! I don't know how I've been getting along all these decades without a dedicated BL/A7 OFF key. The idea to have (apparently) dedicated keys for certain common commands is interesting. Apparently "poke" is too hard to type, so let's give the user a "poke" key? At least this way one can literally poke 'poke' with one's finger. Still kicking myself for not asking for the monitor+cpu unit. It probably ended up in a landfill, what a shame.
  5. I can see how "retro" might mean ''actually old' or 'in the style of something old', but surely "vintage" only ever means 'actually old.'
  6. I get where Matt's coming from, but I disagree in this case. I think you can make an 'engine' for the kind of game you describe, right in BASIC, without really adding another 'layer' of interpretation or slowing things down too much. (Keep in mind, speed doesn't matter much for a text-based game like this.) In BASIC, your 'engine' would be a bunch of subroutines that handle the common tasks of your roleplay system. For example, if your game has combat, you might have some subroutines that handle what happens when a player attempts to attack an enemy. One for handling how the player selects what kind of attack to do, another for handling how the player selects which enemy to target, another that resolves the attack and assigns damage, etc. Other subroutines might handle buying from a shop, equipping armor and changing the player's stats accordingly, branching with dialogue trees, navigating from room to room, etc. Then when you go to write a new chapter of the game, you re-use all those same subroutines, but have new enemies, equipment, room descriptions, etc. Admittedly this may not be what's typically meant by an 'engine'. But it would be a set of tools that you could use over and over to make new games in this genre. Of course, this is exactly how you would do it in Assembly as well, but BASIC will be easier to learn as a programming language. The downside to BASIC is that it will always run more slowly compared to Assembly, but for a text-based game like you describe, speed really won't really matter. Speed starts to matter when you want to have graphical gameplay.
  7. I don't know... yes, there are revisions where the SID is just below the processor (or, from the point of view of the camera, to the left of the processor). But in this case, I think that's probably the PLA. If that's not the PLA, then which one is? Looks like there's an unpopulated spot next to that chip (toward the camera) that would've had the SID. I'll have to watch Robin's video later and see if he mentions it.
  8. A Phase 4? The 'X16h'? (since p for pocket is already taken, maybe h for handheld)
  9. That makes sense. In my case, I never stopped the program to go do something else, I just shut off the monitor and let it run, and checked back at the end of the day. So it's possible that the act of running the clock loop itself is what incrementally bogged down TI$.
  10. Neat, thanks for sharing this. I tried it out on my C64 just now. I'd never worked with either the TOD clock nor with TI$ before, so it was interesting to see the different ways you had to handle them. Incidentally, line 130 as-written is 81 characters long, so I simply broke it up. I also modified line 1090 like so: 1090 PRINT"{CLR}";:RETURN Which clears the time-setting text before running the clocks. Now I'll leave it running for a bit and see how the two clocks do. EDIT: After about 10 hours, they've diverged by about a second. It appears that both have lost time (slowed down) compared to the clock to which I set them (on my modern computer), but the TI$ version has fallen only slightly behind, while the CIA's TOD is now over a second behind. This has been interesting, thank you for bringing it to our attention. I wonder how time like this will be handled on the X16.
  11. What a neat thing to still have around. Was that a free gift when you signed up for their service?
  12. So which setup did the NES have? Its CPU is a 6502 variant, and the other main chip is its "PPU" ("Pixel Processing Unit"). But was the PPU a second processor, or was it more the 'fixed-function hardware' approach? (Based on what I know about NES programming - which is only very little, only from reading - I'm guessing it's not its own processor, since it seems like the main CPU has to spend a lot of time on the graphics leaving game logic crammed into vblank. But I haven't studied it that closely.)
  13. Ugh, I know from past experience that keeping spam off of a forum can be frustrating and exhausting. I'll PM you about that other stuff. In any case, hopefully your comment at the start of this thread will help people think more critically about production. Between this forum and the X16 Facebook group, I've seen a lot of comments, criticisms, or feature requests from people who clearly haven't thought about how their request would impact the cost and feasibility of production. Hopefully reading some advice from someone who's been there will get people to think about that side of it more. That said - it is possible to machine-assemble a board with through-hole components, right? Anyone know more about that?
  14. Hi Jason! Another one of the hundred-and-fifty PE6502 users here. I didn't realize you'd stopped selling them -- hopefully that is only temporary. I'm glad I bought mine when I did, I'm quite happy with it. That automatic serial connection as a storage solution is just wonderful. (I'd get more use out of it if I could figure out how to get the CPU to address the GPIO header; then I could use it for breadboard experiments. But I've been hesitant to ask about it since I know you're getting burnt out on support and I didn't want to bother you.) In any case, it's good to hear from you and I'm glad to see you're a member of the X16 community as well. Anyway, my understanding is that most X16s will be sold preassembled, even the "X16p" model which has through-hole components. We've been told that unassembled kit versions will be available, for those crazy few of us who want to solder together our own computer. (Hey, my PE6502 worked after I put it together! I mean, not the first time I turned it on, but I eventually got it working ...and without having to bug you for support. I'm sure the X16 will go just as unsmoothly, but will be just as rewarding.) But for the majority of the X16p, even with through-hole, assembly will surely be automated, right? (I'm not on the design team, but I didn't picture David forcing his whole family to solder X16s together by hand in their spare time.)
  15. Wow, I've never seen a BASIC with double-underscore keywords before. That's more d'unders than Python! FreeBASIC looks pretty awesome. The world needs a better 'modern' BASIC than MS VBA. For the reasons others have mentioned, it wouldn't be a good choice for the X16, at least not as the built-in BASIC. Porting a processor-appropriate version of it might be a fun challenge for someone, though.
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