I have added a new video on YouTube on my Retro System Rescue channel that gives details on how to disassemble and recondition the Adam controller. In this video I make use of a simple program I wrote that lets you test all aspects of the controller in Smart Basic.
Here is the program for you to type in if you want to test your controller:
In this program I am using the values of the controller to make characters inverse if the controller is being activated. For instance on line 200 I take the value of PDL(5) and compare it to the value of 1. If they match then the result is 1 and I multiple it by 128 and add this to the ASCII value of the letter U to get an inverse U if the controller is being press up. Any other value returned by PDL(5) will cause this formula to show a normal letter U. If you wonder why I use an ‘*’ for the ‘#’ sign on the controller this is because the number sign has the ASCII value of 35 and when you add 128 this actually tells smart basic to backspace on the screen. So I used the ‘*’.
I have been experimenting with MicroFox’s Floppy Disk Emulator, also known as the Virtual Disk Drive (VDD). Using some software I wrote on my PC I was able to create a 64mb disk image that the VDD would open (64mb is the limit it appears) and then initialize it with EOS and it is recognized as a 64MB disk. The AdamEM emulator on the other hand doesn’t like it, but that is ok.
Here is a copy of this blank, initialized disk image. Copy some files to it, let me know how it works out.
In the late 70’s, early 80’s there were many magazines and books devoted to the personal computers of the time that contained programs that you could type into your computer, save and use. Though tedious it was often the only way many people could get new software for their orphaned systems. With this in mind I present DDP Verify, a small type in that will let you non-destructively verify if your tapes are good or not.
Let’s Make a Tape – Squashing a Bug
To begin with you will need a blank tape and a tape containing a copy of Smart Basic. The reason for two tapes is we will be creating a quick booting tape that will be used to verify other tapes. If you happen to run any of the programs with the Smart Basic tape in drive 1 IT WILL ERASE you Smart Basic tape. If you have an original Colecovision Smart Basic version 1.0 you will want to do something before you get started. You will want to squash a bug!
There is a bug in Smart Basic in that every time you load a program with a REM or DATA statement it will add an extra space after the REM or DATA, eventually pushing your code off the line and ruining the code. To fix this is easy:
- Start Smart Basic
- Type the following code:10 PRINT “Data bump bug fix”
20 POKE 15830,8
30 POKE 15831,55
40 POKE 15832,19
50 POKE 15824,216
- Save the code as HELLO on the tape using save HELLO (it is case sensitive)
- Reboot your tape and it should tell you the data bug is fixed, if not then you saved it with the wrong name
If you already have a HELLO program on your tape, load it and add the code above to it in the beginning. You can eliminate line 10 and line 60 if you want and combine all the POKEs onto one line.
Typing in the Program
Now we are ready to start typing in earnest! To create the DDP Verify tape we need to type in the loader which reads the data and the data statements which holds the program. First I will explain the loader:
1 HIMEM :39000: R = 40004: B = 40128 2 DATA 1,0,0,17,0,0,62,8,33,192,156,205,246,252,201 3 FOR K = 40000 TO 40014: READ D: POKE K,D: NEXT K 4 PRINT "PLACE BLANK TAPE IN DRIVE #1": PRINT "AND PRESS RETURN": INPUT Z$ 5 READ A 6 IF A = -3 THEN CALL 40000: PRINT " DONE":END 7 IF A = -2 THEN READ A: POKE R,A: PRINT "WRITING RECORD ";A;: GOTO 5 8 IF A = -1 THEN READ A: FOR K = 0 TO 15: POKE B,A: B = B + 1: NEXT K: GOTO 5 9 POKE B,A: B = B + 1: GOTO 5
How it works:
1 > Tell SB to not touch memory above 39000 and set up the variables R and B. R holds where we will poke tape records and B is where our tape record buffer is.
2 > This is a small machine language (ML) code that we use to access the EOS routines to write a block to tape. The variable R which we defined in line 1 points to the block low byte. Here is the code:
LD BC,0 ;Block High Byte
LD DE,0 ;Block Low Byte
LD A,8 ;Tape drive 1
LD HL,40128 ;Buffer
CALL 0FCF6h ;Write one block
3 > This line reads in the ML in line 2 and pokes it into memory starting at address 40128 which we defined on line 1
4 > This line pauses and prompts you to put in the blank tape we will be turning into a the Verify tape – PLEASE follow this instruction.
5 > This reads in a byte from the data statements. The byte can have one of 4 values:
0 – 255 = This is a byte that will be poked into memory
-1 = This tells the loader that the next byte to be read gets poked into memory 16 times – This saves on typing
-2 = This tells the loader that the next byte contains the record number this block of data gets saved to
-3 = This tells the loader we are done, write the block to tape and end
6 – 8 > These lines process the data that is read as described above
9 > Pokes the data into memory at B, increments B and then loops back to line 5 to do more
Once you have typed in the LOADER program save it. Now we will type in the code:
30 DATA -2,0 31 DATA 243,049,142,211,120,050,255,255,033,050,201,017,088,246,001,003 32 DATA 000,237,176,001,000,000,205,032,253,001,192,001,205,032,253,033 33 DATA 000,000,062,003,205,041,253,033,000,008,062,002,205,041,253,205 34 DATA 056,253,017,000,004,033,000,000,001,128,000,205,023,253,033,192 35 DATA 011,062,004,205,041,253,033,000,056,062,001,205,041,253,033,128 36 DATA 056,175,205,041,253,001,001,007,205,032,253,014,003,006,001,022 37 DATA 000,030,000,033,192,011,025,017,032,000,121,203,007,203,007,203 38 DATA 007,203,007,128,205,038,253,006,031,014,023,022,000,030,000,033 39 DATA 000,008,205,054,252,062,032,017,000,003,033,000,008,205,038,253 40 DATA 062,000,050,053,201,033,054,201,205,041,201,033,187,201,205,013 41 DATA 201,205,108,252,033,005,202,205,013,201,062,028,022,000,030,006 42 DATA 205,057,252,006,255,014,001,017,000,000,197,033,184,201,205,041 43 DATA 201,001,000,000,058,255,255,033,000,001,205,243,252,032,004,062 44 DATA 079,024,020,033,110,202,205,013,201,205,108,252,033,005,202,205 45 DATA 013,201,062,127,050,053,201,205,051,252,193,019,016,204,062,001 46 DATA 185,032,006,014,000,006,001,024,193,033,007,202,058,053,201,183 47 DATA 040,003,033,059,202,205,013,201,205,108,252,024,131,058,166,254 48 DATA 087,058,165,254,095,213,062,028,022,000,030,020,205,057,252,205 49 DATA 041,201,209,062,028,205,057,252,201,126,183,200,205,057,252,035 50 DATA 024,247,000,000,000,000,012,043,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045 51 DATA 045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045 52 DATA 045,045,045,045,045,045,043,124,032,068,068,080,032,086,101,114 53 DATA 105,102,121,032,040,099,041,032,087,105,108,108,105,097,109,032 54 DATA 072,105,099,107,115,032,124,043,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045 55 DATA 045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045,045 56 DATA 045,045,045,045,045,045,043,013,010,032,111,032,061,032,082,101 57 DATA 097,100,105,110,103,032,079,032,061,032,080,097,115,115,032,127 58 DATA 032,061,032,070,097,105,108,000,111,008,000,032,082,101,112,108 59 DATA 097,099,101,032,116,097,112,101,032,119,105,116,104,032,116,104 60 DATA 101,032,116,097,112,101,013,010,032,116,111,032,098,101,032,118 61 DATA 101,114,105,102,105,101,100,032,097,110,100,032,116,104,101,110 62 DATA 013,010,032,112,114,101,115,115,032,097,110,121,032,107,101,121 63 DATA 046,046,046,032,000,024,000,032,078,111,032,101,114,114,111,114 64 DATA 115,032,112,114,101,115,101,110,116,044,032,112,114,101,115,115 65 DATA 032,097,110,121,013,010,032,107,101,121,032,116,111,032,099,111 66 DATA 110,116,105,110,117,101,046,046,046,032,000,032,069,114,114,111 67 DATA 114,040,115,041,032,112,114,101,115,101,110,116,044,032,112,114 68 DATA 101,115,115,032,097,110,121,013,010,032,107,101,121,032,116,111 69 DATA 032,099,111,110,116,105,110,117,101,046,046,046,032,000,032,065 70 DATA 100,106,117,115,116,032,116,097,112,101,032,116,104,101,110,032 71 DATA 112,114,101,115,115,013,010,032,097,110,121,032,107,101,121,032 72 DATA 116,111,032,099,111,110,116,105,110,117,101,046,046,046,032,000 73 DATA -3
This is the code for DDP – Verify. Once you have typed in it save it as VERIFY. DO NOT RUN IT – If you do it will ruin the tape you have in the drive.
After saving VERIFY remove the SMART BASIC tape and put in the blank INITIALIZED one you made. Run VERIFY and follow the prompts. When done you should be able to reset the system and DDP Verify will start. You can then follow the prompts on the screen to start verifying your tapes.
When DDP Verify is running it will show a ‘o’ as it is reading a block, and a ‘O’ if the block passes or the checkerboard if it doesn’t. If you want to know which block it is you can count them on the screen. Each line is 32 blocks long so if you fail on the first column on row 3 then you failed on 2 * 32 + 1 or block 65. I kept things simple to decrease the amount of code and typing in.
If you decide to do this let me know.
- Disk & Tape images to use in an emulator and the DDP Verify basic code VERIFY.ZIP
I do not have an actual disk drive to test this on, I use the emulator of the floppy emulator on my Adam but if you do can you test this:
- Boot up CP/M on floppy
- Type Format
- When prompted put in a blank disk and format it, verify when done
- Boot Smart Basic
- Depending on your setup type CATALOG,D1 (or D3 or D5) to view the catalog of the smart basic disk
- Now remove the Smart Basic disk and insert the CP/M formatted disk
- Type INIT HELLO,D1 (or D3 or D5, again varies based on setup)
- Now type 10 PRINT “HELLO WORLD”
- Save this with SAVE WORLD
- Reboot with the Smart Basic disk
- Put the disk that was formatted with CP/M in and type LOAD WORLD
- Did it work?
This is a very brief post that I will give more information on later:
As part of the first of many new games that I will be selling for the Adam this year I have come up with a way of creating quick data packs to hold these games. My games (and other software) are standalone products and as such do not need a complete 256kb data pack to hold them. So to make it easier I have figured out how to make a data pack in 5 minutes that will hold about 20kb of data. To do this is easy, but before you do you may wish to read this post on making a true data pack as you will be doing the same thing with some minor changes.
What you need:
- An original super game pack, buck rogers, donkey kong junior, or the like. It can not be a normal data pack
- a new blank audio tape – any size is ok
- a compatible tape deck
- a copy of file manager
Making a new tape:
To make a 5 minute tape you are going to do what is detailed in the post about making data packs from audio tapes with the exception that you will need a timer. Set the timer for 5 minutes then start recording side A. When the time goes off. stop both decks, flip both tapes and record side B. Then follow the steps in the previous post about making the holes in the new tape.
Putting software on the new tape:
You can use File Manager to copy up to 23 blocks on the new tape you created. The first block is the code that loads when you reset the Adam and needs to be on block 0. The remaining blocks hold code that you would load with a loader routine that is part of the block 0 code. I will detail how this can be done later.
I have disassembled and commented the Smart Basic (SB) Loader. This is the 1kb block that is loaded when you have a SB tape or disk in a drive and you pull Reset. It is an interesting bit of code.
If you are looking to dump the printer and use a newer power supply you can use this one from Jameco (RQ-50B). I have made a number of them so far. It is very easy to do if you are willing to sacrifice the power cable from the printer (click here for a video on making your own cable). Just cut the two cables off the printer and then wire them up according to the photo on the left. I use a power strip for the on and off switch.
I have uploaded 700+ newsletters that have been archived by James Notini (THANK YOU!) and you can access them at:
If you are using an Adam computer with just a digital data drive you will eventually come to a point where you will need more data packs. There are a few possibilities available, you can purchase used ones and hope they are still good, you can buy NOS (New / Old Stock) (ANN sells them here) or you can make your own!
To get started making your own you will need a few things:
- A dual cassette tape deck, the simpler the better. Those with complicated levels and equalizers will make it hard for you to get it right. I use a $5 all-in-one system (Record, Radio, Dual Cassette) I got at a yard sale and it works flawlessly
- A good digital data pack to use as a master that has a holes in it for the capstan
- 60 minute blank cassettes. I have used Scotch, JVC and Maxwell but others will work too
- A simple soldering iron (or a drill with 1/4″ bit) and a utility knife or exacto-knife
We need to prepare the audio tape as follows:
- Turn tape over so side B is showing
- Plug in soldering iron
- When iron is hot we will melt two holes in the top of the case right below the record enable tabs, refer to the pictures and an original data pack. Do not go through the other side, just the B side
- Once plastic is cool use the utility knife to clean off any excess
Now we want to test if the tape will work in an Adam. Some tapes are made cheaply and they bounce around at high speed. To test it:
- Turn on your Adam
- Press Escape / WP to get into word processor mode
- Put in the new tape into drive A, it should go in easy, if it is hard to get in make sure the holes are big enough and that you cleaned away all the debris
- Press Store / Get
- Press VI (Get)
- Press III (Drive A)
The tape should fast forward to the beginning and back a few times before Smart Write gives up. You want to listen to be sure that the tape is not bouncing around. If it is do not use that tape, if it isn’t then we can proceed.
Step 2: Testing the Master Data Pack
We need to make sure the data pack will work in your tape recorder. Original Coleco data packs will not without doing a little “surgery” to the case. Before we do this check all of the data packs you have and look for ones that have 4 holes in the tape read area. The Coleco packs had 2 next to the place where the read head goes and the markings for the other 2. If you do a side by side comparison of the data packs and the audio tape you will immediately see the holes I am talking about. If you do not have a data pack with the necessary holes you can create them with a drill but you have to be very careful and pull the tape away from the hole.
Once you have located or created a Master Data Pack, put it in the tape record and make sure that it will go in correctly like an audio tape will.
Before copying we need to get the tapes into position. To do this:
- Rewind both tapes on Side A – (on a data pack, Side A is the side without the two holes on top – the side you see when it is in the Adam)
- Use a pen or pencil to slowly advance the tape until the leader is just about ready to go around the roller
Step 4: Copying
I am going to use my tape deck setup as the example.
- Put the audio tape in the record deck. Press Pause and then the Record / Play button
- Put the Master tape into the play back deck
- Press Play on the master, the record deck starts automatically
- Once the master is done playing stop the record deck
- Rewind the master a bit and listen for the high pitched sound of the data. Keep doing this till you find it and then let it play till it stops and go about 5 seconds further. Press stop and flip the tape over
- Rewind the audio tape the same as you did with the master, listening for the end of the data and then go about 5 seconds further. Press stop and flip over
- Press Pause and then the Record / Play button on the audio tape
- Press Play on the master
If all has gone well you should now have a copy of the master on the audio tape. You can try to use it in the Adam now but I have learned that the copies are not faithful. But this is ok, we really only wanted the index marks that the Adam reads on the data pack from the master data pack, not the data. So my next step involves using CP/M to format and then verify the tape. The reason I use CP/M is that the verify actually verifies every block where as the INIT (initialize) in Smart Basic only initializes the directory. You can use Smart Basic if that is all you have, or even TDOS or File Manager.
Good Luck 🙂
P.S. The beautiful woman in the pictures is my wife Heather <3
P.S.S. Let me know if in the comments if you try this and the results you get.