Atari 130XE Setup and Modern Add-Ons
8-bit is back on the menu!
It’s been offline for a few months due to lack of space in my office, but I finally have my Atari 130XE set up again for use.
The 130XE (repaired by 8bitAndMore) is working great and I’m eager to start using it again.
For now, I have it hooked up to an LCD display via S-Video. Here you can see it running the Miner 2049er cartridge.
The 130XE is also connected to an Atari 1050 5 1/4” floppy drive. I have a lot of floppies to investigate, some of which are my actual floppies from the mid 80s!
Here is a short video of the Atari booting from a floppy, in case you missed the soothing beep, beep, beep that the POKEY chip made during disk IO. In this video I’m loading Turbo BASIC XL and running a quick graphics demo:
Other than investigating the floppies I have, I probably won’t actually use the 1050 all that much. Floppies are slow, awkward and take up a lot of space. It is easier to work with digital files that I can download from the internet.
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In a prior post, I wrote about configuring the SD card in the Side3 cartridge to work as a giant hard drive. In this video you can see my 130XE booted into SpartaDOS X from Side3. There are several hard drives available starting with D5. Each one has 65536 free sectors. For reference, a standard 90K floppy has 720 free sectors!
I’ll be copying stuff over to these hard drives to make them easier to access, which is what I did as a test with the Amaze game in the above video. I should have plenty of room!
How to get stuff onto the Side3, you ask? I can copy files from floppy easily enough.
But I can also use the SDrive Max instead. This great gadget acts as a floppy drive except that it uses ATR drive images from its SD card. I copy a bunch of disk images to the SD card and then using its small touch screen, I can choose images and set them to be specific drives. Then I can boot from them as if they were real drives.
To copy stuff to the Side3, I just need to choose ATR disks in the S Drive Max and then I can copy from them to the “hard drive”. It’s all easy and fast with SpartaDOS X.
Lastly, there is FujiNet. This amazing bit of tech gives the 130XE access to my wifi network, among other things. With its wifi capability, I can connect to FujiNet servers and then mount ATR images from across the internet, booting from them and otherwise using them as if I had them here. And because the files are so small and Atari IO is slower than most internet transfer speeds, it all works seemlessly.
And again, I can copy stuff around to the hard drive if I want.
In addition, FujiNet has a SD card that can be used for local files. One cool feature of the FujiNet is that it provides an "N:” device that gives you access to some network protocols. This means I could make a BASIC program that accesses a web server or something, such as this user that made an Atari Weather Terminal!
This is just an overview of these gadgets. I’ll be covering each of them in more details in future posts.
Of course, I still have some classic things to use with the 130XE as well. I have a nice collection of game cartridges, plus I have BASIC XL and Action! cartridges. I also have a cool OSS 4-in-1 cartridge with BASIC XL, BASIC XE, Mac/65 and Action!
I also have another floppy drive, a Rana 1000 that you can see under the 1050 in the pictures at the top of this post. Rana first made drives for Apple II computers, but started selling the Rana 1000 drive for Atari in 1983 or so. At the time, the only Atari drive was the 810, a single density drive that stored 90K per floppy.
A common thing people did back then was to create “flippy” disks by notching a floppy so that you could flip it upside down and write more information on the back. This mean you had 90K on the front and 90K on the back, so a total of 180K per disk. Nearly all of the disks I have in that big collection of floppies are flippy disks.
The Rana 1000 was a double density drive so it could store 180K per floppy, all on one side. I did not have a Rana 1000 back in the 80s, so I don’t know if it ever worked with the flippy concept, but right now I am unable to use it to read the back side of any of the floppies I have, all of which work fine with the Atari 1050. If any readers out there now of a solution to this, I’d love to hear it, because I’d rather be using the Rana 1000.
Are there other upgrades and add-ons for the 130XE that I am considering? Not really, at least not yet.
If I start using it more, having additional RAM could be handy I suppose. There are upgrades to improve the quality of the video output, but it looks good to me at the moment. There are other things available, but most things seem to require soldering skills that I don’t have. If you’re in the US, I encourage you to check out The Brewing Academy site for their collection of Atari 8-bit enhancements.
No it’s your turn. What Atari 8-bit enhancements are your favorites? What do you recommend? What should no one be without? Let me know in the comments!