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Misc Info

XF551s

Today is a mismash of things.  I partnered with mytekcontrols to bring to simi-mass market his creation TK-II Stereo Bundle.  Essentially it is a PS/2 keyboard/Atari 8bit interface with the added feature of a stereo Pokey feature.  With the price of Pokeys rising  to new heights I decided not to include the necessary 2 Pokey chips, but otherwise the bundle is complete.

Also I am testing the 3D printer files for the Ralf David reimaged Eprom Burner board.  Surprisingly the XYZ Printer Pro is behaving itself for now.    There’s two files, one for the bottom and one for the top portion.  I’ll be printing both today (I hope) for a preliminary fit test.   The bottom should take about 5hrs.  Not sure how much the top will take, hopefully a few hours less since it’s only about half a inch tall.  Same size as the bottom, but not as tall.

I’m also doing some testing of smaller projects that have been sitting, waiting patiently on the side.  Maybe I can finally get the XF551 track display project done, a 2364 2in1 adapter.  and when the board order arrives a couple of other cartridge adapters for the 1200XL and 130XE.   I’ll also be working on a software/hardware mod for the eprom burner project that I hope will allow moving the disk-based software to rom.  We’ll see.

On the website arena, I will begin the process of upgrading and modernizing the website theme.  It’ll go on behind the scenes until it’s ready to be activated.  I’m shooting for Nov 1st.  That’ll be the three year anniversary.

I doubt there’ll be any major projects the rest of the year.  Refinements and small projects only.

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New Hardware, Continuing Work

XF551s

Well another summer has come and almost gone.  Just have to get through the dog days of August.  🙂

Today I get to announce new hardware for sale.  It’s literally amazing what the Atari 8bit computer was able to do some thirty years ago.  And the ability of some genius  engineers to pull the most out of her.   I’d been looking for as much info as I could on CSS products, specifically the Super E and Gang E programmers when I ran across this gem.  I didn’t even know it existed.  I got to know it well, at least the hardware side.  It may not be a polished as the Thompson Pro Burner or as well known as the CSS product, but this Atari 8bit computer based eprom burner rocks.  Check out the product page for the Ralf David XL/XE Eprom Burner Bundle.

After spending so much time on the burner, I almost forgot the other smaller projects I was working on too.  In the coming weeks I should have several more new hardware pieces to offer.  So stay tuned.  :))

 

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Wizztronic 256k Memory Board Cease and Desist request

XF551s

I have been sent a cease and desist request from a Steve Cohen.  He is claiming he owns the copywrite on the Wizztronics 256k memory upgrade boards for Atari 800XLs and that he has licensed the rights to an unnamed third party.   He is demanding I discontinue offering my reimaged boards for sale immediately.

While I have no way to know if this is true, it doesn’t matter.  I am in no position financially to resist.  I have taken the product from my website.  I will still offer the memory chips necessary to actually upgrade the memory until my stock is exhausted.   Also I will offer the additional three chips necessary to upgrade the version of the board for the newer Antic to work with the older Antic (CO12296) until the stock is exhausted.

I wish I could say I made any money on this, but I didn’t.  The items did not sell very well.  I still have 75% of the boards made.   Still it wasn’t my intention to make money anyway.   From all appearances this board appeared to be abandonware.    I didn’t want it to only be available to a few collectors and a museum or two.

This Steve Cohen should get with this third party he claims has licensed the rights and find out why the product is not being actively produced and supported.    The only other place I ever found original boards was Best Electronics.  This was about five years ago now.  At that time I was told I had purchased the last one in stock and the owner did not expect to recieve any more stock as the item was no longer being made.  This may have changed, but I don’t see the item on Best website for sale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year-New SDX cartridge design

XF551s

Well….. it’s a new year now.  Hopefully a better one than last year.   🙂

I’ve started a short sale of some of my older works.  Unless there is considerable demand I don’t plan to restock once I sell out.  Eventually I’ll post the schematic and board files to reproduce them, but I’ll hold onto them for awhile longer.

I’ve also settled on an Super SDX pcb and cartridge design.  At least it’s in beta.  I guess I’ll have to get my 3D printer up and running again to test it.  :0   I’ll also release it for dl.    You should be able to find it as the last dl link to the right.

I may also redo the first two cartridge designs.  But I’m gonna work on some other things for awhile.  🙂

 

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Warning: XF551 board write/format error

XF551s

Just when you think you are riding high and taking no prisoners.  (Yea, I shoulda known)  I have discovered a fatal error on my XF551 boards.  I believe it affects both versions, modern and original.*

It’s not that it can’t be fixed, but it’s the loss of trust and extra expense I hadn’t counted on that’s going to hurt me most.  Not to mention the hassle to my customers.  I have posted on AtariAge.com and will try to send notification to those who have purchased via the email used when they purchased.

Any new boards sold will include the fix.

Damn….

*Update…..  At this time it seems to be only affecting the original power supply boards.  Possibly a consequence of the anemic power supply design for the original Atari XF551.  Anyway some people are reporting the problem, others are not having a problem.  To date noone has reported the problem with the modern power supply model.

 

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Sea Change update

XF551s

Well one chapter of my life is ended and another is about to begin.  My last day at work was this past Sunday.  It was a strange feeling. Not to many people were there. There usually isn’t on a Sunday. The usual irritable customers were though. A customer that thought that she was the only person alive that should be able to surf the net and a tech visit that afternoon was unacceptable. I should be able to fix her dead data modem remotely and have her up and running right now. A customer that wanted to get a good deal on his current services without adding another service to qualify for the current promotion. He didn’t like it when I also had to reminded him that he was 30 days overdue on his current bill and I would have to collect before I could change his service anyway.

The severance package was reasonably good.  The company has a hard to find nowadays defined retirement package and I was vested. So it looks like I’ll get a early retirement check in a few months. It won’t be much, but every little bit helps. I might not have to liquidate my 401k afterall. Finding a job in this environment is not going to be easy. I’m just at that right age that I’m too young to retire and most people won’t hire me because I’m too old. Age discrimination laws not withstanding.

To quote a saying I don’t know who said  “It’s been real, sometimes it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun.”

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Sea Change Update

XF551s

Well,  it’s been almost a month since my last post.  Perceptions have changed, expectations have risen and fallen with the tide.  I am still employed, but the countdown has begun.  On or around May 4th I will cease being an employee of my current company.  I have applied for another position in the company.  It would involve relocation to Phoenix.  So far there has been no job offer after the interview.  My hopes are beginning to fade.

 

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Major sea change happened today……..

XF551s

Went into work today, expecting it to be just like any other day of the week.  I was so wrong.

It was the first day back after my ‘weekend’ off.  Funny…. I haven’t had a weekend off in so long I’ve forgotten what they are, at least the traditional ones.  But I digress.

I noticed the increased security presence, but thought maybe it was just the changing of the shift.  The call center seemed to be missing some people even at the early hour I start.  Again I didn’t think to much about it, the night crew is not very big in numbers anyway.  I sat down at my desk and began logging in, prepping for the first call of the day.   Since I had been gone two days I usually go to my email to catch up on what has been happening.  Most of the time it’s minor policy changes and silly contests to see who can sell the most this day or week.

All of a sudden I started to see emails from VP’s and GM’s popping into my inbox about some VERY important meeting that was going to take place that day.  Everyone in the call center was required to attend.  Well that meeting took place yesterday.  Finally the last high profile email from the GM popped in and I opened it up.

Now understand I am a veteran of losing jobs.  Some through no fault of my own and some because someone thought I’d done something wrong.  It comes with the length of life.  And it comes to all of us at some point or another.  I reached a zenith (or rather the pits) about twelve years ago during the dot com crash.  I had started a new job with this webhosting company, monitoring their servers and dealing with hiccups on an as needed basis.  I’d been on the job about a month working the graveyard shift.   It was New Year’s Eve.  I was at home just a few hours before going into to do my shift.  I get a call from my boss.  She was calling me to tell me not to come in, not that night and not ever again.  Oh and by the way the company had filed for bankruptcy that morning.   What I didn’t know at that time was the paycheck that had been deposited into my checking account just that day from the previous two weeks of work would be yanked out and returned to the bankruptcy court.   Effectively I not only didn’t have a job, but now my checks for rent and utilities were bouncing because of that.

Fast forward to now.  I’ve been with this company for nearly twelve years.  It’s had it ups and downs, but I am not ready to quit just yet.  Not my choice anymore.

The company is restructuring.  All billing and tech support positions in the local call center are going to be eliminated.  Sorry, but that’s what we decided to do.  Oh and by the way please continue to take calls and do not mention any of this to the public.  We’ll get back with you with more details.

Not quite as bad as that New Year’s Eve, but certainly not one of the better days of my life.

What does that mean to you?  All development of the XF551 and other products are on hold immediately.  If I want to stay with the company it means relocation and all the chaos that goes with it.  Right now I need to focus on surviving.  I will continue to sell what I have in inventory, but I don’t know if I will be able to replenish any time soon.  If it becomes clear that I will not have the financial resources to continue I will hand off the work and parts.  Maybe someone else can continue after me and bring this project to completion.

The shock still has ahold of me.   Be thinking of me.  Hopefully I will return.  Be thankful if you have a job.

 

 

 

 

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Another use for MMU Adapter (Cart Dump Hardware)

XF551s

While perusing the internet recently I came upon this old gem.  https://sites.google.com/site/ataripal/cartdump

Interestingly of the methods talked about to create a hardware cartridge dumper one of them is possible with my MMU Adapter by simply connecting four wires and a DPDT switch.  I have tested that the hardware modification works, but then it becomes a question if the software(The Cartridge Dumper utility) created by Jindrich Kubec to dump to a file will work.

So far I have had little success in operating the software as is claimed in this internet article.  A thread on AtariAge seemed to indicate that the little utility was never really meant for public use and therefore left much to be desired as far as user friendliness.  I would have to agree.  Perhaps someone can tinker with it and/or create a utility that will be more friendly to use.

There are other means to dump a cartridge to a file, and little reason to now as most carts have been dumped and are available for download.  But the tinkerer in me likes to make my own just to see if it will work.

I have added the schematic to the MMU adapter documents.