1. Not old. Vintage. :)


XEGS New circuit board Build


Deckhand, Male, from Wormley, Hertfordshire, England
Blog Posts:
07/07/2020 Some Changes
I originally created a Media Album to go along with this Blog, however after consultation with both Matt Baker and Tim Kline; going forward I will be adding pictures as I build and test as I go along, these will appear within in the Blog itself, for now the Album still exists

I'll add photos including the original Circuit Diagrams produced by Jerzy SOBOLA
I will gradually build this up with information as to the upgrades included from the start, along with those bits I'll be leaving off of the original board. I'll reproduce the Circuit showing what components have been left out.

The three main upgrades will be –
PokeyMAX for stereo
Sophia or Sophia2 for DVI Video

Possible internal upgrades for later on
TKII PS/2 keyboard interface
MIDI / S2 or X2 Synth
CF or SD Card interface based on 1088 XEL/XLD interface.

The build, will also make use of 64K static memory rather than DRAM, and a replacement for Freddie unless the Sophia2 turns up then I won’t need any PAL colour clock nor any colour adjustment circuitry
Well A few of my Build thoughts.
As I'll be using an SRAM module from Lotharek, Neither the DRAM chips or any circuitry that supports them will be required, I'll be posting modified Circuit diagrams showing the components I'll be leaving out.

Having viewed the Circuit diagrams, the first I looked at was the RAM on 'XEGS4_DRAM' https://atari-owner.com/club/media/xegs4_dram.149/
It appears that none of these components will be used, so saving a bunch of 33 Ohm resistors and the DRAM

Updated 7/07/2020
I'll be using high quality turned pin sockets for all of the components throughout, along with very good quality decoupling capacitors for each IC fitted, I'll be adding those I need initially along with few items recovered from a broken XEGS mother board. I'll be building up the power circuitry first and making sure this has a nice and clean output, most of the parts will be new, however power switch and one of the inductors will be re used. Sockets will be fitted for CPU, Antic, GITA, Pokey, PIA, 74LS138 address decoder and MMU, O.S for connection of U1MB. (https://lotharek.pl/productdetail.php?id=56 )
The 64K Base Memory (Static or SRAM) will sit on a daughter board supplied by Lotharek (https://lotharek.pl/productdetail.php?id=291) in the CPU socket, with the CPU plugged into this.
All of the Video circuitry from the LUM0-LUM 3, Csync, & Colour lines on GITA will for now be left out, as the Sophia will produce its own output on DVI independent of GITA itself. If Sophia 2 is available then I'll not even need to supply a PAL colour clock, as this is inbuilt to Sophia 2 (and replaces GITA entirely)
Freddie is used to provide a clock via a divider chain, along with DRAM refresh signals, I hope to replace this with a custom divider or there is a Freddie replacement to go with Lotharek's SRAM replacement (https://lotharek.pl/productdetail.php?id=233) which has a divider chain built in, along with the DRAM refresh which is not needed and may introduce noise.
Quick note as that as I've been reading and checking Jerzy Sobola's schematics I've found a number of errors, some will be slight different between versions of the XEGS, however some area's appears to be copied from say the 65XE, 130XE with the same component references. I'll try and correct these but I will have to reproduce from scratch.

I'll be adding more to the Blog and the Media Album Soon

Comments: 0 Jul 7, 2020

Is eBay a nice place after all?


Cabin Boy, Male
Blog Posts:
eBay is one of the best places to find vintage material that makes us so happy.

But as everyone here has experienced, eBay also attracts scammers, sellers or buyers, who deliver items that are far from the description that was made, or who buy your equipment, complain that it is not suitable, and do not return everything, or in poor condition ...

However, sometimes it happens that one can meet very nice sellers with good surprises.

here is what happened to me recently:

I had taken over this compilation of games for Amstrad CPC "Arcade Hits", especially for the Durrell's "Lotus Turbo Esprit" game on eBay. I have memories of playing to this game with my best friend on his Amstrad CPC when we were 15 years old.


The compilation was advertised at 15.00 € but I contacted the seller who accepted my offer for 10.00 € (excluding shipping), but only by Paypal payment as friends or relatives. I know the risks of accepting this payment method which cancels the buyer protection but 10.00 € is not a big deal.
So I paid, and the seller quickly sent me a message telling me that he will send the package the next day.

A week later, the package was still not delivered. I tried to contact the seller on eBay but of course ... no response from him.

I then admitted that I had lost 10.00 € since I had no recourse against him, by not having used the classic eBay payment method.

But last week, three weeks after I contacted him, the seller sent me a message saying that he was sorry but that he forgot to send the package! And to apologize, he said he would add a surprise into the package.

The package finally arrived today, and not only there was the "Arcade Hits" disk but also 3 other Amstrad CPC games: "Manchester United Europe", "World Cup Year 90" which is a compilation of football (soccer) game, and "Disk 50" (?) which is a compilation of different small games.




In the end, I thought I was scammed, but the seller was finally sympathetic, despite his oversight, by sending me these 4 game disks for only... 10.00 €!

So, is eBay a nice place after all?

Comments: 9 Jul 7, 2020

Is it real or is it Memorex

Paul "Mclaneinc" Irvine

Chief Officer, Male, from Horrible council estate
Blog Posts:
There is indeed a problem with telling old stories, are they true, are they embellished, has the story changed by memory issues etc etc. Every one of these is possible, and even multiple parts of all of them. Time as we all start to find out isn't kind to our bodies, life's stresses also invade and destroy simple parts of us, memory is usually the first to feel the mental effects. I've started to notice that myself but at the moment I live a very stressful life but I do try to relate what I know as clearly as I can, I make mistakes, usually its because I've heard something and taken it 'as fact' only to be thankfully corrected but when it comes to experiences I personally have had I don't embellish, its simply not my way, If I say I worked for Atari User then there's proof to see, but then again for me telling a pack of lies serves zero purpose, trying to remember what version of the truth I told would drive me insane, if I say something happened then that's the way it happened, I may forget some words from conversations but the event was real and as said.

Me personally, I've had a very odd life, never run of the mill, some parts were shear hell, some incredibly sad and others incredibly great. Trust me, mental health stuff isn't good, stress isn't good and life can be a cruel bastard but I think I've had enough positives to outweigh the negatives. I've met people whom I regard as icons in different fields, I've been in the right place at the right time a lot but also very much in the wrong place too many times. While I still inhabit this world I'll just be the same old me, sure if I win the lottery I'll make my family safe and maybe have a few treats but I'll not change, I'm now sort of set in stone. I was brought up with certain values that I uphold daily, decency, honesty and respect. I'll end with a true story about a guy I once worked with at Maplin, his name was Dave and Dave told anyone who would listen that he USED to be in the S.A.S. but was discharged with an injury that left shrapnel in his shoulder. Now one night all of us from work went out and had some beers (can't stand beer now) now one of the others guys from the shop had his mate whose name I can't remember I think it was Tony. Now Tony was a beefy guy, strong as an ox and very straight forward but became a little argumentative when beered up. So dave is doing the old SAS story and Tony is calling him a liar so Dave says "Well I have shrapnel in the should and I have no feeling in this part of the arm" at which point Tony grabs Dave's arm and sinks his teeth straight in to the supposedly numb part, Dave screamed like a man whose arm was not numb and in some agony to which Tony says "bloody liar"........And that is why I think people should keep their stories to as exact as it was in the first place, there's always a 'Tony' looking to prove a point.

Comments: 0 Jul 7, 2020

A bit about me...

Paul "Mclaneinc" Irvine

Chief Officer, Male, from Horrible council estate
Blog Posts:
Just some background that most of you know anyway, as I head toward 59 this year I look back a how it all started, NO, not the mum and dad and what they did stuff but how I got in to computing etc and what made me the retro lover I am today.

I was always interested in technical stuff, as a kid I took apart the alarm clock, it was one of those flip over numbers types and I just had to know how it worked. I proved I was excellent at taking it apart in to a million bits but then realised I had made no effort to remember how it went back together, I tried and also discovered I was too thick to work out how to reassemble it. My parents were not so happy about my attempts at conquering the electronics industry, so I got a belt on my arse.

It didn't dampen my interests but had to be very selective what I turned my eye to. I left school with a huge 1 O'Level in art and various poor grades in Maths and English, I wasn't about to start making an empire but I wanted to work as soon as possible, there were Hi fi's I wanted, girls, a camera, girls, a car, GIRLS but the money wasn't great but began working in a Special Needs school as a teaching assistant, basically a dogs body but I loved it, no two days were the same and apart from bites, my thumb being turned backwards and all that sort of stuff I actually liked the work and would have stayed but I had started to get the computer bug and the ZX80 was out about the same time I got married so I got one with what little savings I had made. I truly had no idea what to expect, home computers were brand new to the world, the nearest I had to that was a Grandstand pong machine, I had no clue about programming but the idea of a computer was amazing so I struggled with the ZX80 and later went to a ZX81 with wobbly ram pack, the ram pack was my first purchase with my first credit card. After the 81 I saw a Vic20 and its colour graphics, had to have one. I then started going in to Maplins, an electronics retailer who did the Atari line, brand new as it was.

And then an incredible incident happened that would change my life. I'm originally from Belfast and the troubles forced us to leave in the middle of the night but my older brother who was 9yrs older had already left and moved to England to do his education, he was one who got the smarts. So there was many years where I had not seen him but one night Cindy and I went to the cinema in London, the film we wanted to see was sold out so we watched Blade Runner instead, so there me and cindy watching but I notice the bloke next to me is looking at me oddly, now he looked familiar but nothing was said but as we left we were behind the guy and I went up and said "you look familiar" to which he says "Paul?" and yeah, it was my brother. What were the odds of that, wrong film, same cinema, same day, same time slot and sat next to him. We chatted and I told him where we were etc as he had not kept in touch as him and my old man didn't get on. So we plan a meet at our mums flat and he brings over an Atari 400 and lends it to me. I was then hooked. At the same time Maplins needed a salesman and I had teched up on the Atari by then and because I was always in there using the computers and helping others I got the job. The rest is history, I met so many of my idols in person, had dealings in the pirate scene, was best mates with the first computer pirate to be taken to court in the UK and all around had a great time and owned so many machines. I loved my Atari but I went were the games were so had no allegiance to Atari, I got a C64, an Amiga and then the era of the more powerful home consoles arrived, Playstation, Xbox, Gamecube and all the others, I loved them all and own most till this day. The others I emulated but have slowly got the real things thanks to some great swaps with people on Atari sector, in fact just yesterday I put a 1TB drive in to an old crystal Xbox. Like many I have had losses of gear and joys of getting it back, I still love this hobby, its allowed me to meet so many wonderful people on forums like here and swapped stories with like minded souls.

So that's me, I can't say to look at all machines enough times, being a fan boy just leaves you missing out on great games and machines.

Happy playing!!

Comments: 2 Jul 7, 2020

Bakers hardware mods and hacks


Deckhand, Male, from Kellyville Oklahoma USA
Blog Posts:
I decided to get rid of my random thoughts blog and turn it into a blog of all my mods and hacks I've done and will add to in the future. Some of these will be familiar to those of you who saw any I posted on Atari Sector, some will be new and some will be continuations.

AtariLab Interface Mods
The AtariLab Interface is a peripheral that plugs into the controller port(s) of the 400/800/XL/XE machines and as many can be used as you have controller ports for. Originally the Interface came in the 'AtariLab starter set' which was to be the main kit in a series of educational experiment software and hardware modules. The 'starter set' came with one Interface and tools and software cartridge for the first module, the temperature module. Do to poor sales and/or the video game crash of '83/84 which lead to the sale of Atari and the new agenda of Jack Tramiel only one other module for the series was ever released, the light module.

But the AtariLab Interface was made for so much more, and the starter set explains, with minor examples, of musing the Interface for your own experimentation and projects. It's essentially a controller port break-out-box allowing for the easy connection and interfacing to the Atari computer through RCA jacks that use every line of the controller port(s) but for the trigger/fire button line. The Interface can be used as a prototype and experimentation device for anything one can dream up to interface with Atari computers (and any computer with Atari compatible controller ports really) and through it either control or communicate with external devices from the computer or vice-versa. I have no idea why they didn't include all 8 I/O lines (one line is ground) and instead decided to include two +5V outputs on the 8 Interface I/O lines and leave out fire/trigger input.

I was dissatisfied with two things about the AtariLab Interface. One, the missing fire/trigger button input line, and two, a power switch as the interface powers up with the computer or when plugged in if the computer is already on. A pet peeve of mine are devices that only power on and off by plugging them in, when a on/off switch is literally the simplest circuit one can build in electronics and is the basic circuit and basis of all computers. On/off, zero and one, open or closed. Computers are literally made from this simple circuit and would not exist as we know them without it. It's literally what makes up the internals of all I.C.'s and computers work based on which of them are on and off, high or low, one or zero. So why power switches aren't included in every electronic device made is beyond me. But, since it is such a simple and basic circuit, I add my own to devices without them, and the AtariLab Interface is one example.

So after investigating and researching the interface and it's circuit, I added power switches and fire input to the three Interfaces I own. The power switch I installed myself and created the circuit for it. The fire button I implemented trough one of the two +5V lines which are really both connected to the one +5V line of the controller port, and if I need more than one line, it's easy enough to use an RCA splitter to get two or more +5v lines back through the interface. I wanted to make sure that every single controller I/O line is available for me to use for my interfacing projects and experiments.

I have purchased two extra interfaces that are surplus, with no labels, separately from B&C Computervisions (MyAtari on eBay). So why do I want or need more than one? Because I may want I/O possibilities through more than just one port. For example, and the project that caused me to gain interest in the interfaces is the 'Arm your Atari' article from Analog magazine issues 44 and 45, summer 1986. It's a project for connecting a Radioshack Armitron robot arm to your Atari through the controller ports. The full project requires 3 of the 4 ports of an Atari 400/800 and originally requires the user to hack together connectors for the controller ports to interface with the robot arm. With the AtariLab Interface, this is not required and I can connect everything, at least in the research, development and prototyping stages. If needed, the final project can have it's own controller port plugs. I intend, now that I know the interfaces inside and out, to build my own DIY forth interface as I intend to make the 'Arm Your Atari' project merely a starting point that I will expand on, eventually building and interfacing an entire robot through the controller ports and I also foresee the possibility of needing even more I/O lines through controller ports, so I intend to add a second PIA I.C. to my 800 and even more controller ports for this long-term project and others.

So why interface with the Atari through the controller ports (aside from the initial project from Analog doing it that way)? Because the SIO, PBI and cartridge ports on my systems are already clogged with devices that I will need too, and clogging up the plumbing even more for such interfacing could cause traffic jams and interference, etc. with other devices connected to the system. A perfect example of this is the SDrive-Max device that connects through the SIO but will not work with other devices on the SIO unless another circuit is made to allow it to work. I don't want to have to worry about device and communication conflicts when I do my interfacing projects. Also because the PIA chip(s) is a wonderful little chip with all kinds of communication and I/O properties that are hardly ever used and free to use with my projects even with everything else being used.

The pictures below are of what I've modded on my interfaces, and also show how the first interfaces were totally screwed up and Atari had to manually rewire them by hand to make them work correctly, like the center interface, where the green wiring is all Atari's rewiring. Only the yellow, blue and red wires were added to the interfaces by me to create fire button input and power switches. The interfaces on either side are the extras I purchased, which are a later, correctly done revision of the Atari Interface. I scanned the original interface's labeling and printed and cut out two copies for my other devices. They are slightly blurry due to the power switch not allowing the device to lay flat while scanning it, but it's good enough for me, and still better than hand labeling it all myself.

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Atari 800 hacking, modding, upgrading
This section of the blog is all about my adventures in modding my Atari 800. So far I have installed an Incognito board and a dual-Pokey upgrade (less the actual audio output). And I did some repairs on the keyboard and modified a shift key to be more balanced and sturdy by inserting and extra plunger and spring in an empty key spot below it. Hopefully this will solve a design problem that causes the plunger to crack and stop the new plunger from cracking in the outside corners that make the shift key bind.

As I've mentioned elswhere before, all current and future upgrades and mods are from now on going to be installed by me using Dupont connectors as seen in the pictures below, and eventually I intend to retro-fit all my upgrades in this way, for easy removal and installation for trouble shooting.

Below are pictures of these installations. I had her back together already, but the keyboard didn't work, and after rechecking my dual Pokey installation, have come to the conclusion that I used a bad 74LS14 IC, and have now replaced it with a new 74HC14 and am about to power it up, after I finish this blog segment, and see if the keyboard works. The Incognito worked fine.

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To be continued...

Comments: 23 Jul 7, 2020

My Atari 8-bit systems in detail


Deckhand, Male, from Kellyville Oklahoma USA
Blog Posts:
Atari 1200XL system

1200XL internal upgrades:
PBI, APE Warp+ 32-in-1 OS, XL/XE MMU, Internal BASIC, Dual POKEY stereo with pre-amp board and stereo headphone output, SuperVideo 2.1 video upgrade, +5v SIO fix, Hi-speed SIO mod, keyboard fix, Pal GTIA conversion board, PAL GTIA, PAL ANTIC, cartridge port mod, Internal RGB LED lighting.

1200XL external upgrades:
Syscheck XL 2.1 PBI board with custom case: (4 OS switcher, 512K sram (576K total system ram)), Super SDX cartridge (SDX 4.8, battery backed Real Time Clock), MyIDE II cartridge: (full PBI compatibility, 512K sram, MyBIOS 4.9, FAT32 partition, APT partitions for SDX HDD drives 5-15, On-board OSS language carts and diagnostic SALT roms), RIX break-out-box audio/video output.

1088K total programmable memory internally & externally!


1050 disk drive with Happy double density Warp speed x3 57K SIO, built-in 1050toPC and SIO2PC RS232 com ports, front drive # switch and SIO activity LED's, internal LED lighting

1050 disk drive with Happy (see above) and front drive # switch, internal LED lighting.

1030 modem

1020 plotter

1010 tape drive with Rambit Turbo-tape upgrade, Stereo external I/O mod, Power switch mod, SIO activity light mod.

CA-2001 DD 180K Indus GT clone drive with built-in CP/M mode with 64K memory. Custom XL paint job

"1027" R.D. XL/XE eprom burner supporting 2732-27512 eproms with custom XL case.

SDrive-MAX SIO2SD floppy drive emulator w/custom XL case

Panasonic KX-P2023 24-pin dot-matirix printer w/custom XL paint job

CX-40 joysticks x2 with Stick Stand w/modified SpyHunter oil/smoke button

CX-22 track-ball

CX-77 touch tablet

CX-20 driving controller

CX-30 Paddle controllers

Super-Sketch analog drawing board

STFM-1 XL painted mouse

Starmaster Joystick x2

Wico Command Control joystick

Custom XL painted PC speakers

Atari 800 system

Atari 800 internal upgrades*:
Incognito ( CF drive; HDD APT partitions, full PBI compatibility, SDX 4.8 w/RTC on-board, 1MB memory upgrade, 64K flash memory, 4 OS switcher, full XL/XE compatibility), Dual POKEY stereo upgrade, Dual PIA upgrade, audio/video output upgrade, cart port mod for The!Cart, internal LED lighting

External upgrades:
The!Cart w/512K sram, 128MB flash memory.

1088K programmable memory internally, 512K external, total programmable memory 1600K!


810 SD disk drive

Indus GT x2 DD high-speed drives

CX-77 touch-pad

AtariLab Interfaces x3

Tandy mouse

PC speakers

*work in progress

Comments: 0 Jul 7, 2020