Tag Archives: atari

Retro computer museum in a cabinet

31 May

I finally found some time to get my collection out of the boxes, they still need a clean up or a retro bright treatment to make them a bit whiter again.


I try to collect the early eighties 8-bit microcomputers, still missing some essential hardware of that time:

– Apple II


– Acorn ..

– Oric Atmos

– Dragon

– Jupiter ACE

That last one, recently had the whole brand on sale at ebay for 10000 pound, if I had the money, … euromillions please !!! See http://www.thejupiterace.co.uk/

If I find some place in another cabinet I can display my collection of early 8/16 bit cartrdige based consoles, for the time being they are still in the boxes…

I’m becoming like my wife using closet space for retro stuff and she collects… dresses, shoes…. ūüôā


Installing and running an Atari 800 XL emulator on Ubuntu linux.

31 Jan

After reading a lot lately about some Retro Atari games, I decided to search for an Atari 800 xl emulator for Ubuntu. Yeh I ditched win7 this summer after numerous problems with my new core I7 laptop. So this happy Ubuntu user only had to type ‘atari’ in the Ubuntu Software Center to find Atari800 an Atrai 800, XL, XE, 5200, … emulator for linux systems. (See http://atari800.sourceforge.net)

So what now, the installation doesn’t put a launch icon in the Ubuntu launcher ? But wait before doing that we still missing something, the Atari ROMS, these are copyrighted so are not in the install archive. Luckily you can find the ROMS here http://pleasantfiction.ipower.com/ps3linux/xf25.zip unzip the archive on your computer.

Open a terminal window and type: atari800 -width 800 -height 600 -dsprate 48000 -windowed


This should fire up the emulator, the emulator will show a message that it needs the ROMS. So we give it some ROMS, press F1, in the menu navigate to emulator configuration. Press ENTER, for each ROM in the zip archive you unzipped in the previous step set it’s path in the Emulator config.¬† When you restart the emulator (cold restart) it should find it’s ROMS,¬† You can resize the Atari800 emulator¬† just by resizing the window.

The emulator supports different kind of atari files like rom, atr,… But don’t forget the remove the cartridge (rom) if you want to load disk or cassette files after, as the cartridge will boot first, hey it’s an emulator of the real machine…

Here’s a screenshot of the classic pengo running on the Atari.


I could be running these on my real machines, I have a boxed Atari 800 XL and an Atari 130 XE but sadly only a taperecoder and no tapes… Luckily I found out that some Atari fans have created an Arduino based sio2sd device but that’s another blog post.

Connecting old school joysticks to the Arduino and Gameduino

30 Dec

So you’ve got some old school joystick with a DB9 connector lying around, time to connect it an Arduino board.

The pin out’s for the joystick connector (male connector) I took from the original Atari pin out, as we see later on this pin layout is the most generic one and works with joysticks from Atari, Commodore, Sega, Quickshot, …

Pin’s 1 to 4 are up/down/left/right

Pin 6 is the fire button

Pin 8 is the GND

If you need to support more button’s then there’s some bad news every manufacturer seems to did his own extra button wiring, so for simplicity I took a one button configuration. We simply need to connect these pins to the the Arduino digital pins. I choose pins 3 to 7, you can choose other configurations but for me it was more easier to choose 5 pins next to each other as I reused an old serial switch box to recuperate the DB9 male connector on it, so I simply cut the wires from it.

Next I soldered the wires comming from the male DB9 to the  pins as in the picture. Pins 7 -> 3 Up/Down/Left/Right/Fire

A soldered 1 pin to the GND wire.

Then it was time to test this setup, I used an Arduino Decimilla for the test, with a small sketch.

 Joystick test Sketch

 Reads the digital direction and button state from Atari compatible joystick.
 Some code reused from the Sparkfun joystick shield test sketch.
//Variables for the buttons
char buttonUp=7, buttonDown=6, buttonLeft=5, buttonRight=4, buttonFire=3;
void setup(void)

 pinMode(buttonUp, INPUT);
 digitalWrite(buttonUp, HIGH); //Enable the pull-up resistor
pinMode(buttonDown, INPUT);
 digitalWrite(buttonDown, HIGH); //Enable the pull-up resistor

 pinMode(buttonLeft, INPUT);
 digitalWrite(buttonLeft, HIGH); //Enable the pull-up resistor
pinMode(buttonRight, INPUT);
 digitalWrite(buttonRight, HIGH); //Enable the pull-up resistor

 pinMode(buttonFire, INPUT);
 digitalWrite(buttonFire, HIGH); //Enable the pull-up resistor 

 Serial.begin(9600); //Turn on the Serial Port at 9600 bps
void loop(void)
 Serial.print(digitalRead(buttonUp)); //Read the value of the button up and print it on the serial port.
 Serial.print(digitalRead(buttonDown)); //Read the value of the button down and print it on the serial port.
 Serial.print(digitalRead(buttonLeft)); //Read the value of the button left and print it on the serial port.
 Serial.print(digitalRead(buttonRight)); //Read the value of the button right and print it on the serial port.
 Serial.println(digitalRead(buttonFire)); //Read the value of the button fire and print it on the serial port.

 //Wait for 100 ms, then go back to the beginning of 'loop' and repeat.

Then I did  some testing with joysticks and gamepads I had lying around:

Quickshot standard, original from my C64 works exactly like the Atari.

Atari joystick

Atari gamepad with button 1 & 2 both buttons trigger the same fire button but can be wired different to get both working.

Sega Master System gamepad, only button 1 works.

Sega Mega Drive gamepad, only button B works.

We can conclude that all support the directional buttons and fire button but the extra button’s are a different story maybe for another blog post ?

Finally I hooked the joystick up to my Uno/Gameduino setup, that’s why I didn’t used pin 2 as it’s used by the Gameduino.

I remapped the pins in the Gameduino Asteroids sketch and the whole thing runs perfectly. Although the Asteroids game doesn’t use the fire button.

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