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Everything posted by Strider

  1. June 27th (today as I post this), marks 50 years since Atari was founded by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Technically speaking, the Magnavox Odyssey was the first console I ever got to play around on, but I have very little memory of it outside of photos and stories from my parents, and most of what I personally remember about it comes from years later, once I was old enough. I knew the Atari name before we had a 2600 thanks to our local arcade, but the 2600 is where it really started for me. Like so many of us, the Atari 2600 was the first console I really remember, and gave me countless hours of entertainment. I remember absolutely loving games like Pac-Man, Combat, Adventure, Pitfall, Yars Revenge, Frogger, Missile Command, Asteroids, Space Invaders, the list goes on and on. The system and it's games are iconic, even 50 years later. Heck, I even played the crap out of ET becasue I was too young to really realize how "bad" it was. I have many fond memories playing on the 2600 with friends and family, and even sneaking out of bed late of night, taking a small portable B&W TV into my walk-in closet, hooking my 2600 up to it, and staying up all night playing games. Do you have any fond memories of Atari , the 2600, or any of Atari's others offerings? Did you really think ET was so bad to deserve all the hate it gets? I even owned and loved another of Atari's failures, the Jaguar! Edit: I've been playing Atari Vault over on Steam far too much today.
  2. I was looking at the "Classic II" version. I really liked the "out-of-box" support for MS Basic, and the $85 price for the full kit isn't all that bad in my opinion. In fact, I am still considering it, but the Z80-MBC2 crept to the top of the list becasue I already have most of the parts, and the ICs are still pretty cheap and easy to find. I can build the thing easily and cheaply, then maybe look into something like the Classic II if I like the Z80-MBC2. Like I said, this is all to scratch an itch I never got to scratch, I don't want to spend too much time and money on it until I know what I'm getting into. Also, truth be told, this is something to keep me busy until the X16 becomes available in a form I can get my hands on, something to play with.
  3. "Blue Screen of Death" orbiting the "Red Planet". In all seriousness, no matter what OS and hardware they use, it's vetted and tested to meet requirements and stability that those in the consumer market could only dream about. That's one reason the hardware they often send up is inferior (in terms of raw performance) to what most of us use, that process is long and complex, for good reason. Like @desertfish said, it's often specially designed or modified to withstand the conditions it's going to be exposed to, as well as longevity, stability, power consumption, etc. I always thought it was cool how that process works.
  4. I have been seriously looking at building a Z80-MBC2 to play around with for a few different reasons. I never had the opportunity to really play with CP/M, and I always wanted to. It's an inexpensive "retro" computer you can build yourself. It just looks like a lot of fun to play around on. Watching Adrian's SWTPC 6800 videos rekindled my interest in computers of that style and era, and the Z80-MBC2 is cheap modern "DIY homebrew" way for me to have some fun and scratch an itch I have had for some time. Yes, you can do it in an emulator, but this is one case where having actual hardware, getting to put it all together yourself, just makes more sense to me. I mean, I like to build things, so why not? My question is, has anyone here built one yet? If so, what do you think? If not, do you plan on it? I know @BruceMcF mentioned the Z80-MBC2 a while back. I have everything downloaded, the PCB's are on eBay for $9. Or I could order a set of 5 of PCBWay for under $20 if I really wanted to, but, I don't really need 5 boards. I already have most of the supporting electronics and connectors, and tracking down the necessary ICs is pretty simple. The only things I need to figure out yet are the RTC, USB serial, and SD modules. Any suggestions? UPDATE: I'm documenting the full build on my blog! https://theclassicgeek.blogspot.com/
  5. 38911 is for common folk, not the hacker that owns that beast.
  6. Good point. Still, they could have at least rendered some cables and made the floppy a 5.25 disk. I guess a "C64" filename is OK, but nothing else.
  7. So, I stumbled across this new game on Steam, "American Theft 80's", and decided to watch the trailer for it because the thumbnail showed what looked like a 1541 disk drive. Then it got to the part with the "Pet 64", for lack of a better name, and I couldn't help but laugh. I mean come on... How hard is it to get it at least close to right? I never knew the 1541 was a 3.5 drive, or wireless, or that the PET was really a C64 running MOSDOS! At least they paid homage to these classic systems, even if they did a totally inaccurate hodgepodge just to look 80's enough for the game. lol I thought it would be fun to share those times we noticed when games, television, or movies got it wrong when referencing retro tech. When someone decided that little bit of extra effort to make it accurate wasn't worth it. What jumps to your mind?
  8. Update I am abandoning the "old site" idea. See the original post for details.
  9. Mine is not all that impressive, but it works for me. I have a few 30,800mAh battery packs, a portable "camping" 204Wh power station with a built in solar maintainer/charger, and a 1000VA UPS here at home on the modem and router for the most common short outages. I also have a rather large stock of AAA/AA batteries on hand for projects, radios, and flashlights. That's enough to power our "portable entertainment" devices quiet a long time. Plus, we have plenty of board and card games on hand. lol If I am desperate, I do have two power inverters I can take down and plug into my car to charge up devices. Living in northern Wisconsin, I don't often need much in terms of AC, but for long periods with no power for heat, I have a nice kerosene heater and enough fuel on hand for several days of running. Though you really don't have to run it much, this place holds heat well, so it would likely last a couple weeks. In all reality, the longest outage we have had here in 18 years was about 14 hours, and I slept through most of it. What would I do differently? If I really needed them... 1. I would like to buy a couple nice solar panels for long-term charging of devices like phones, tablets, and portable battery packs. 2. Find the largest 5V, 9V, or 12V LCD display for running the a Pi3 or Pi4 off battery for as long as possible, purely for entertainment. The lower the power draw the better obviously. 3. Invest in a small, but good, gas generator.
  10. Not gonna lie Tom... I'm a little jealous. Lovely Amiga inspired beige case, and the MiSTer is one thing I haven't had the time or money to mess with yet. The more I see and read about them, the more I want to do something like this. It just looks like fun, and it looks amazing! On a side note, every LED I use in a 5V circuit is behind a 220 or 330 ohm resistor (mostly 330 since I have so many on hand) in all my projects. lol Forgive my ignorance, but what does the MiSTer run off of?
  11. This ZBox CI320 is surprisingly useful, I kinda want another one... With 8GB of RAM and an SSD, it's actually a snappy little system. With the included 2GB, it was hitting the swap file far too often for my liking, not only for speed but SSD longevity. Now, that's no longer an issue. Picked up an 8GB stick of Team Group DDR3L 1600 on Amazon and it works flawlessly, even if it only runs at the systems max 1333. Plenty fast for my tasks. Just for fun, I installed some "retro" games on it to see how well it performed, if the Pi 4 can handle it, this should do better, and it did. Source ports for Doom and DN3D, OpenRCT2, ScummVM running old Lucas Arts DOS games, all run great, as expected. OpenRCT2 runs much better than on the Pi 4, actually able to hit 60FPS, where on the Pi 4 is tops out at about 20FPS, still playable but so much better on the ZBox. It also handles sites like YouTube and image heavy sites much better than the Pi 4 obviously. If I get a second one, I would likely set it up as a small HTPC since it has a VESA mount and fill slap right on to the back of my TV. It can handle local and online streaming easily, but it also works great using Steam Link. The Pi 4 does will with Steam Link as well, but the ZBox is a bit faster at it. I'm glad I went down this road.
  12. I admit, I liked my C64 Mini, purely for the "Nostalgic" look and feel of it. I will likely pick up one of these as well, after prices drop like the did on the C64 Mini once the "Maxi" was released. I assume the same thing will likely happen to the A500 Mini. I know they're basically just cases for emulators, but darn it if I don't like them! lol
  13. Yeah, MSRP will rise on some goods I'm sure, so I don't expect everything to drop back to pre-craziness prices, but for what I'm interested in, it should still drop significantly compared to the height of the craziness. Gas I am not so sure on, only time will tell, but even that should still drop below $3 for what I use, regular. At least I hope. lol During all of this, I have spent more time on eBay than I have in years. It also makes me thankful I have a good paying job in a profession that's in no danger of disappearing.
  14. @TomXP411 The NUC is the one mini PC that actually sparked my interest when it was introduced, just not enough to make me want to invest in one. Now that I've actually had time to play around with this ZBox, I may very well look into getting one. I have no issues buying used on eBay, that's where this one came from. I'm thinking of getting one as an HTPC/Steam Link/Emulator replacement. @hardrockhero I did look at the chromeboxes, some were even cheaper than the ZBox. What stopped me is my unfamiliarity with them, not sure they could run what I wanted. Also, I wanted as much USB connectivity as I could get without using a hub. Lastly, I would want one that uses traditional SODIMM's and SSD storage that can be swapped or upgraded. I don't care of eMMC or running off SD cards on anything outside of a Pi3 or older. Still, for the price, one would be fun to play with.
  15. I got it setup, just as yet another bench computer configuration. Works like a charm. Fits well on my desk. I bought a 19V 3.4A 65W power supply off Amazon to run it, though like most of these cheap power bricks, it only outputs 18.84V, but the ZBox runs stable under load so no complaints as of yet. Now I just need to pick up an 8GB stick of DDR3L RAM, the 2GB it came with works, but I don't want to rely on a swap file on the SSD.
  16. The chip shortage has pushed me to look at alternatives for some of my projects, needs, ideas, and just for fun. One such change was really looking at older used x86 hardware, more specifically, SFF PCs. I never had any interest in them in the past, too slow for my needs, or so I thought. I used them at work like most people, and they never impressed me, but I also never had one I could mess with. For about $50, you can buy a quad-core (AMD E-Series, Atom, Celeron) SFF PC and bypass many of the shortcomings of ARM based computers. So, I did just that, buying a Zotac Intel Celeron N2930 (ZBOX-CI320NANO-P), it only came with a 2GB stick of RAM and no HDD or PSU, but that's more than enough to get me started. Now I just need to buy a proper PSU for it, I'm currently using my buck/boost converter to play around, stable but not ideal. I dropped a 120GB SSD in there, Ubuntu 20.04 again, and so far so good. https://www.ebay.com/itm/185278053607? (Was $45, they went up.) I'm not sure what I'll be using it for exactly, maybe Bench PC 3.0, or higher end emulation, we'll see. For now, I'm just having fun seeing what it can do, and getting a lot of practice in Linux, and that's always a good thing. While it runs off 19V, much more than anything else I am playing with (the Pi's) obviously, I was shocked to see it drawing such low amperage. This was during heavy load, installing Ubuntu. I have yet to see it go much over .500A, but I also don't want to over-stress it with my current power delivery, 12V 3A being boosted. Do you use/like SFF PCs at home? Do you use it for something other than daily computing? Oh, and I love the way they make it easy to get inside, the 4 feet are thumb screws, so convenient. Note to self: Dust my PC side panel.
  17. I know you can run Linux on an original XBox, maybe later units as well, I don't follow any of that anymore. If you Google XBox Linux, you'll find all you need. A buddy of mine did that several years ago, he was running some form of servers on them, I can't recall now. Still, it worked, and it worked well at mimicking a basic desktop for the time. On the Atari front, forgive me my memory isn't what it used to be, but I do recall the VCS being used as basically just a video source, like @TomXP411 said, there was an external cart or something that did everything else. I wish I could remember where I was reading about that. It wasn't all that long ago... Stupid memory.
  18. Well, my 3D design skills are not up to such a large task just yet, so I went with an old project enclosure I had lying around for now, but it works! Not the prettiest thing, but at least it's all self contained and I can call it done! For now... Once my skills have improved and I can actually design something that I like, I will move it all over. Right now this good old rectangle box and some hot glue will do the trick. More info: http://thisoldgeek.epizy.com/projects/atomicpi.htm
  19. Yeah, these shortages, extending well beyond technology, are a result of multiple "things" coming to a head. I also think many people just don't realize how interconnected everything really is. I have several ATMega projects on hold, where I made working prototypes, but that's as far I got before I couldn't get reasonably priced chips anymore to make more units. So it's just an irritating inconvenience. In the meantime, I have been exploring the used market for some types of hardware for various reasons, and spending more time playing with the Atomic Pi than I probably would have otherwise, I would use it in other projects if it wasn't so large and cumbersome compared to a Raspberry Pi.
  20. It's absolute madness.... No Pi's, no controllers, those EEPROM prices are outrageous! Makes it hard to get excited for new projects when you know it's either going to take forever to complete, or cost well over original estimates. I do find it funny I can go on eBay and buy a used ZBOX for about $50 and have so much more computing power than a Pi, but a Pi can't be found, and I could use a couple more 4B units. Though I am considering buying one those ZBOX PCs, so cheap and convenient, can add up to 8GB of RAM and I have some DDR3L lying around. Would make a great little Linux box.
  21. So, we all know about the shortages, and they affect everyone a bit differently. Delaying projects, sending prices through the roof, etc. I thought it would be interesting to see how it's impacted the hobbies of others, if at all. What are some prices on items you use that have gotten out of control, or maybe put projects on hold, or maybe you just can't get what you need or want. For me, the largest impact was putting my Arduino/ATMega & Tiny projects on hold, as well as my Raspberry Pi plans. We all know Pi's are either impossible to find or being sold by scalpers at crazy prices, but I got a real shock today looking at getting a few more Arduino Nano units. I bought my last set about a year ago, and it cost me $14 for a set of 3. Then I went to look today, same item, same "official" seller (ELEGOO), and holy cripes! $49.99 before I went to work today. I look when I get home...$54.99!!! https://www.amazon.com/ELEGOO-Arduino-ATmega328P-Without-Compatible/dp/B0713XK923 Thankfully there are a few other lesser known brands still available for somewhere in the mid $20 range...if you really really want them, but still, that's madness. Sadly, I much prefer to just get the ATMega328 itself, but they are impossible to find from licensed distributors and only available via 3rd party sellers at fantastically inflated prices as well. So what about you? Any similar stories?
  22. Excellent! I love a good podcast.
  23. I watch all Star Trek, been a fan since watching the original series in reruns with my dad, great memories. I have really enjoyed all the Trek shows and films over the years. Though I will admit Discovery is my least favorite of the lot. I do like Picard, but that's becasue it's TNG based, I love Patrick Stewart, and they just brought back John de Lancie! Q was one of my favorite recurring characters! Heck, I even love it when shows and film pay tribute to Trek like Galaxy Quest and The Orville.
  24. Well, all that's left is to make a case for it all to go in. I have it running like I want, all the software has been loaded and tested, and only have two more modifications to make (add a momentary power button & speakers). I got rid of the expansion board and made my own power board and supply to save space (wasn't going to use it anyway). Attached a USB 2.0 port and hub. Added Wifi and Bluetooth antennas. I was going to re-task it as an SDR PC, but decided to keep it as my "bench computer" becasue it just works so well with this configuration. It's getting there, slowly.... It sucks having so little time to do things.
  25. I did that, and the best I found so far was maybe one of these... https://fccid.io/RAYVHFNRS2A Or maybe a timing or locator signal of some kind. Just a guess. I really need to stop and go to bed... Whenever I start to learn something new, I tend to feel like a kid in a candy store, and thus spend WAY too much time on it.
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