Forever Floppy

It’s been a while since my last post due to a injury and some other stressy stuff, but I’m still alive as far as I can tell…

About a month ago I bought an Atari 600XL and a floppy drive for it which resurrected the need for 5.25 inch floppy disks.  I still have a few Atari disks back from when I had my original 800 that I hung on to.  And 25 or 30 year later, they all still work! 🙂 And I reformatted some PC disks that had nothing useful on them to Atari also.

Recently I found about about telnet enabled BBS and having run on in the past, in fact when I found the old backups, I found that closed it 20 years ago last month.  So being a real geek, I had to give it a go.  And hunted out the old collection of floppies with the BBS and all the door games and stuff and started coping all the files to one of my PC’s that had a 5.25″ drive in it.  All of the disks worked except a few off brand disks  that really had nothing on them anyway.  They were branded “Steals”,  a short lived computer and office supply store that was like Staples of today, sold low end products under their own label.  (I’m no fan of Staples brand products either, in fact I refuse to shop there anymore.)


The brand name disks I normally bought were all good and read perfectly.  Yes floppies don’t hold much by today’s standards, we’ve become way to use to the bloat of modern software.  I wonder though if today’s USB flash drives will still be readable after 20 or 30 years sitting in a box…  Floppies may be old now, but have proven to me to be a reliable store media.  And there’s something fun about put then in an old drive again and seeing my old files still there waiting for me. 🙂

By the way, yes my BBS is run and running again as a telnet only system.  I’ll post more on it when I get a bit more work done on it.




Feels like Christmas

Last week I got the Atari 600XL that I bought on the evil auction site, and was pretty happy with it.  But wasn’t a lot I could do with just a few game cartridges I bought from another seller (only 3 of the 6 worked..  see my last post about that rant)

Today the Atari XF551 floppy drive arrived!  🙂


Now I can load and save stuff finally!  First thing I did was make a backup copy of the DOS 2.5 disk.  As I write this, I’m trying to format some old floppies, but but seem to be having some problem and noticed the were the old “Steals” brand.  Steals is a long gone computer chain, kind of like Staples, that sold a LOT of marginal quality computer items.  Thanking about it, it was common to have two or three bad disks straight out of the box when they were new.

So I’m going to have to go find some better 5.25″ disks to use, move their files to modern media if need be.  But a couple disks formatted to Atari DOS ok.  So the next step is to try writing some of the disk images I downloaded to my PC to the Atari formatted disks using an format emulator program I found..

So I’ll see how that goes and post about it later, but for now, my Atari is working, talking DOS and chirping away happily, so I kind of feel like Christmas 🙂




What “untested” really means on ebay

A few days ago, I bought half a dozen Atari computer games on ebay.  The seller said they were in good shape but untested..  They showed up fairly fast, I’ll give them that.  But of the six cartridges, THREE will not load.  Two of those three are the ones I wanted the most.  Very disappointing.


I knew I was taking a risk buying them listed as untested, and it will be the last time I but anything untested, since that appears to really mean ‘they are selling off the junk’…

I’m going to do some more heavy cleaning to the cartridge contacts this weekend on the chance I may be able to revive any of them.


I have yet to leave feedback on ebay about the transaction,  just at this point in tine it appears i flushed half my money, I don’t see leaving positive feedback for sure.  I’ll either not leave feedback on the purchase or neutral and detail why..  Ok, this is just a short post/rant to vent a bit…

Weekend game hunting trip

A few weeks ago I manged to hurt my right arm (while cleaning the 2600 Jr I bought…), and it’s been very slowly recovering, at least I think it is, hard to be sure some days.  The pain has been keeping me from play games on my Atari just because of the stress on the muscles moving the joystick, yes it’s that bad.  So I decided to go hunting paddle based game cartridges.


I had seen an ad for a store out of town about half an hour drive that said they had Atari, and other games.  I tried contacting them for details, but the never answered the email, which was the only contact method in the ad other then the address.  Not a very good way to do business..  But last saturday I decided to give it a go.

It was bit rainy, but that doesn’t bother me, however on the drive there I did see a suv on it’s roof in the ditch and cops all over.

So I found the store with no problem, and there was in fact some Atari stuff there, but mostly it was other older console stuff.  So I when though the single box of Atari games they had and found a couple paddle games on my want list, and six others that were joystick games but worth getting to play later.  I left a few games behind that I would have liked to have bought, but they were in such poor condition I figured I could wait until I find better cartridges.

I also spotted a Slik Stik joystick among the handful of controllers they had and got it also.  I figured I may has well make the trip worth while and worth the gas I used getting there.

I cleaned them all up on sunday, some of the cartridges were worse then others, but all worked.  So overall, I count the trip a success.  But I have no plans on making the trip again.

Eight games, one  joystick, and most importantly, got home safely.  Only two were for paddles, but now I have some games I can manage with my sort arm 🙂   My best score in Astroblast so far is 330, probably not earth shattering, but it got me going again 🙂

Triple Blast from the Past

While laying down a while ago giving my sore arm a rest, been hurting a week now, I got thinking about old Atari stuff and recalled I had and old Antic magazine in a box I seen a while back.  So I got up and did a quick look for it.

Surprisingly my memory seems to work some days, and in very good condition, the October 1988 issue on Antic magazine!  YAY!  But not only that, I found an store promo ad for an Atari PC, and the topper, the original owner’s manual for my old Atari 2600 I had way back then, also in very good shape!


What can I say, but glad I found these three gems safe in a box of old papers and books, also found the manuals for my TRS-80 model 1, and Texas Instruments TI-57.  But left them in the box, the Atari papers on on my other desk, and will fine a nice safe place for them later.  The only surprise was the manual for the 2600 was for a 4-switch, and for some reason I thought it was a 6 switch I had before.  But I have a 6 switch now:)  My arm still hurts, but I’m in a better mood now at least.

Homemade game switch

We all need to connect our games to a TV to play, unless your  Atari has been modded, this mean you need a switch box.  Back in the day, the consoles came with a little metal box with a slide switch, that had the RCA jack for the game and the twin flat lead to connect to the old style 300 ohm TV input.  No TV made in the last decade or two have had twin lead inputs on them, everything went to the screw on 75 ohm coaxial cable (“F” type connector) since that type of cable has far lower signal loss.    I’ve seen people put a adapter on the flat twin lead from a switch box to change it back to a 75 ohm connection.  It works, but it is a bad way to do it since there is signal loss, meaning a fuzzier picture.  Those old switch boxes already are taking the 75 ohm output from the Atari and changing it to 300 ohm twin lead with a matching transformer in side the switch, that’s fine if that’s the type of TV you have, but if it’s a modern TV, you end up switching it back loosing more signal.


Since the Atari output is 75 ohm coaxial and the modern TV use the same input, no signal matching is needed, just a switch.  There were some made back in the 80s and 90s, but not as common as the 75 to 300 ohm switches.  So I decided to make my own.  It’s a very simple project requiring basic soldering skilled, a power drill and a few inexpensive parts.  Two F type connectors, one RCA connector, a double throw switch, a metal box, and some wire.


For my project I used the case of an old cable converter and painted it red.


I simply connect the output to the TV to the common center connections of the switch, and the RCA to one side, the other F connectors to the other side of the switch.  Super simple, and works great!   If you are able to make your own, go for it, if not, look for a manufactured one, it will be far better then then a switch and an adapter for the old twin lead stuff.






Happyness is a warm joystick

As I said in my last post, I ordered switches yesterday that the specs were a match to what was in my Atari 2600 Jr.  They arrived today, I quickly open the box and got to work.  I replaced the power, color/B&W, and channel selection switches.  The only real difficulty was with the channel switch.     When I removed it, the center circuit trace on the parts side of the board came up with the switch.   Not good…


Some careful straightening of the trace and some tricky soldering got the new switch in place.  I had one extra switch that I had thought about replacing the left difficulty switch also, but given the issue with the channel switch, I decided to leave the original as long as it seemed to be working ok.   So I have a spare right angle switch, maybe I’ll need it some day.

The end results, the Atari 2600 Jr has three new switches in it, and working properly.   The next project will be the mod for composite video and audio outputs.  Which I know kind of makes the replacement of the channel switch redundant, but it was so gross from the damage caused by the previous owner it just had to go..


Original switches while still installed


New (left) and old power switch (right)


With the 3 new switches installed.