Retrochallenge, Retrochallenge 2016/10

Retrochallenge 2016/10: Prologue

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Every ROM cartridge deserves an exclamation mark.

Goal: Atari 800 / Intellicart! Downloader

My Retrochallenge for 2016/10: use an Atari 800 to select & transfer Intv ROMs to an Intellivision via Chad Schell’s serial-based Intellicart! flash memory cart.

Background

Chad Schell’s Intellicart!, an Intellivision cartridge emulator, was released around 2000 and was the first multicart-like device for the Mattel Intellivision video game console. It connected the Intellivision to a Windows PC via a 9-pin serial connector. On the Intellivision, the Intellicart! initially boots to a communications program awaiting the arrival of data from the serial cable. On the PC, the user would select an Intellivision binary ROM file and upload it to the Intellicart!. Once there, the Intellivision rebooted to the just-delivered executable.

The Intellicart! made it possible for developers to test their homebrew programs on real hardware. For others it made it possible to play unreleased and rare games that had somehow found their way onto the Internet.

I acquired my Intellicart! (#171) sometime around 2001. It is my first retrocomputer device. Since then I moved onto the micro-SD based Cuttlecart and (soon) the just-released LTO Flash. I’ve also migrated away from Windows computers and found the original Windows-side Intellicart! application doesn’t behave well under WINE. So the Intellicart! has been dormant for about 10 years. Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey.

During the month, I want to learn how to program using OSS’s Action! programming system for the Atari home computers. This is a language I never owned or used in my Atari 800XL days. The closest I ever got to it was through the advertisements, reviews, and tutorials that appeared in Antic and A.N.A.L.O.G. magazines. I purchased a copy a year or two ago but so far it’s been sitting on the book shelf. Rise and shine.

Hardware

  • Mattel Intellivision Master Component
  • Chad Schell’s circa-2000 serial-based Intellicart! flash memory cartridge emulator
  • Atari 850 Interface Module
  • Atari 800 48k RAM
  • Rana 1000 double-density floppy disk drive
  • SDrive NUXX SD card Atari floppy drive emulator

 Software

  • The Action! System from Optimized System Software (OSS)
  • @InverseAtascii’s Window Gadget Library for Action!
  • Bewe DOS v1.30 for the Atari 800
  • Atari800 emulator for Linux
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