8-Bit Software Online Conversion

                                                          To : 4TK + 999 From : 483 (Daniel Shimmin) Re : Choice of Archimedes Considering the number of different Archimedes available, it is probably worth having a detailed breakdown of what makes up an Archimedes, and the pros and cons of both older and newer models. Processor: There are effectively three different types: ARM-2 was fitted to the original range of A3000, A310, A400 etc., and provides a fair turn of speed (BBC BASIC games converted from the Beeb will run so fast you won't see anything). Roughly equivalent to a 386SX PC. It has the advantage that all Archimedes fitted with this can be upgraded later to ARM-3 if necessary (see later). ARM-250 is fitted to A3010, A3020, A4000. It is 50% faster than the ARM-2. BUT it cannot be replaced with an ARM-3. ARM-3 is fitted to A5000 and A540, and now has a new extra-fast 33MHz version. The original 25MHz version is four times faster than the ARM-2. Equivalent to a 486DX PC. All of these types of processors do more or less the same thing, the only difference being the speed at which they do it. Hence even the ARM-2 will not be incompatible with any software for quite some time, and hence is ideal (as is the ARM-250) for those who are not particularly in a hurry or who do not need to do extremely time-consuming tasks (ray-tracing etc.) Operating system: I believe there are currently three main types around (I may be wrong): RISC-OS 2 was fitted to the original A3000, and the A300, A400 and A500 series. It provides an excellent windowing ("WIMP", "desktop") operating system and is (?) bug-free. However it is unlikely to be widely used in the future, and some future software may (?) be incompatible with it. RISC-OS 3 is the same thing but with additional facilities such as the !Paint, !Draw and !Edit utilities being built into ROM (with RISC-OS 2 they had to be loaded from disk). It was supplied with the original A5000. However it contained a number of minor bugs and is being replaced by; RISC-OS 3.1 which I believe is more or less exactly the same as RISC-OS 3 but without the bugs. This comes with ALL new Archimedes computers (I think). Obviously having the latest operating system is preferable, but consider: (i) If you rarely/never encounter the bugs in RISC-OS 3, then 3.1 is not vital. (ii) There are no restrictions in upgrading from one to the next, though it does cost a few dozen pounds for the brand-new chips, so having an old operating system should not count too strongly against a potential purchase. (iii) With the advent of RISC-OS 3.1, many RISC-OS 3 users are upgrading and selling their old RISC-OS 3 chips for as little as ten pounds. (iv) For users who are unwilling/unable to purchase more than 1Mb of RAM, RISC-OS 2 uses much less memory than RISC-OS 3 & 3.1 Memory: Comes in megabytes (Mb), which are 1024K. Varies widely between machines depending on price and supplier (A3010 normally 1Mb, A3020 2Mb, A5000 4Mb). Many new games now demand a minimum of 2Mb, and I would say (from the comments of an A3010 user, and using one myself) that using RISC-OS 3 or 3.1 also requires a minimum of 2Mb. Extra RAM costs (I think) about forty pounds per megabyte, but note that for smaller, cheaper and/or older machines (particularly the A310), there are extra costs due to carrier boards being necessary. Some smaller machines have a maximum limit on the amount of RAM, but since it is always at least 2Mb, it is unlikely to prove a problem except for very expansion-conscious users. Hard disk drives: Are extremely useful in supplying at high speed (and without floppy-swapping) all the software, data etc. that more powerful games, applications etc. will use up. 20Mb or 30Mb is sufficiently large to be very helpful (particularly if you use one of the disk-compression filing systems available), but a larger drive (60Mb, 80Mb or even more) is always worthwhile if you can afford it. There are all sorts of different suppliers of hard drives (as well as Acorn themselves), but internal hard drives tend to be better (?) than external. Floppy disk drives: Archimedes computers all use 3.5" disk drives, and ADFS as a filing system. They need extra software to read DFS 3.5" disks. There are two types of drive fitted: (i) Those that can handle high density disks can read 1.6Mb (1600K) floppy disks, and can also read/write 1.44Mb PC disks as well as the other (smaller) sorts of ADFS and PC disks. These are fitted to A5000, A3010, A3020 and A4000 computers (I'm not sure about the A540). (ii) The double density drives fitted to the original A3000 and the A300 and A400 series can only read 800K (and smaller) ADFS formats, as well as the 720K PC format disks. These cannot be upgraded to the larger size (you might be able to replace them but I'm not sure). Visual output: (i) The normal Archimedes monitor as fitted to most machines, which provides a nice, fairly sharp picture. (ii) Using your television with an A3010, which isn't nearly as good, but is obviously a lot cheaper. (iii) The Multiscan monitors provided with the A5000, and as an option on the A4000 (and A3020?). These provide an even sharper picture, but are a convenience not a necessity. So, having looked at all the components of an Archimedes, lets have a brief look (my knowledge is incomplete) at what's available: Machine/ Original Disk Orig. Still Range Opr.Sys. Drive Proc. Made? A300 2 800K ARM2 N A400 2 800K ARM2 N A3000 2 800K ARM2 Y A540 2 ? ARM3 Y? A3010 3 1600K A250 Y A3020 3 1600K A250 Y A4000 3 1600K A250 Y A5000 3 1600K ARM3 Y "Processor" and "Operating System" are listed as "original", because it is quite possible that, in a second-hand machine, they will have been upgraded - which should affect your decision considerably if the machine in question has been upgraded to ARM-3 and RISC-OS 3.1 (such an upgrade would cost up to one hundred pounds brand new). Similarly I have not listed RAM or hard disk sizes, as these could have virtually any values. "3" under "Operating System" means either RISC-OS 3 or RISC-OS 3.1; all new machines will have 3.1. To return to the original question, what should one buy? And in particular, are the older ("out of date") machines worth looking at? It depends... A new A3000 is not worth looking at; it is very expensive and has virtually no redeeming features. The brand new A3010 is extremely cheap, and hence very good competition for old A300/A400's. However, you might get all sorts of extras with your A300/400, if it has been upgraded, such as extra RAM, ARM-3 processor (which the A3010, A3020 and A4000 CAN'T be upgraded to), monitor, hard disk drive etc. There seem to be lots of second-hand A300, A400 and A3000 machines going VERY cheap because their owners are rushing out to buy the new machines. Bear in mind that the one thing most difficult to upgrade on an older machine will be it's 800K disk drive. If you do NOT intend to buy a hard disk drive this will be a major inconvenience, and gives the A3010/A3020 the advantage. If you do intend to buy a hard drive, only having an 800K floppy drive is pretty irrelevant as you'll only mainly be using it for installing software/PD you've bought (which won't come exclusively on 1.6Mb format for many years yet, if at all), and for transferring data etc. to friends or whatever. Everything on an earlier machine other than the disk drive can be upgraded (at a price); if it has been upgraded before you purchase it, so much the better. But don't go for an old machine if you CAN'T get an excellent deal; the newer machines are very nice as well. e.g. if you can get a second-hand A400 with 2Mb RAM, 20Mb hard disk drive, ARM-2, RISC-OS 2 and monitor for the same price as a brand-new A3010 with 2Mb RAM then it is a much better deal. But if it is the same price as an A3020 with monitor, then it's not. Anyway, I think that's about it. If any of our Archimedes experts disagree with any of the above, please correct me. In particular, I'm not sure if the new (bug-free) version of RISC-OS is called RISC-OS 3.1 or RISC-OS 3.11 (?)  To: 999 (all members) From: 8J4 Subject: General On my BEEB7 there are located on the bot tom right hand corner of the keyboard a series, eight in number of dip switches coloured in blocks of two each colour, they are normally concealled by the cover. Being connected by solder to the undersi de of the keyboard they obviously have a purpose. Can any member with experience of these switches inform me as to their operation if any? all mine are depressed downwards, no mention in the manual. I enjoyed your inclusion Chris of the Snowmen and carols, you had my eyeballs going square trying to keep the handbell s, flashing eyes and turning heads all in prospective. May I propose that members similar to myself who benefit by all the input by the Editor and other contributors help a little by adding to any financial strain by increasing their 1944 subscription in advance by a ten pound note in January this will reduce weight, is a one off and perhaps help Chris on to any other p lans he may have. Obviously younger memb ersand those who do not agree can mainta in the existing format. My kindest regards to all, best wishes for 1994 with more strength to 8 Bit. EDITOR... Since you asked me a while ago 8J4 I discovered what these dip switches were for. There are 8 switches numbered 1 to 8 from left to right. 1 and 2 are unused. 3 and 4 are disc access time settings as follows: 3 and 4 on =4 ms track to track 3 on 4 off =6 ms track to track 4 on 3 off =6 ms 3 and 4 off=24 ms 5 when on will invert the SHIFT+BREAK function (Press BREAK to boot the disc in) 6 High bit of graphics mode at BREAK 7 Middle bit 8 Low bit  To: 999 (all members) From: K2Q John Nicholson. Subject: Fn key strings. Can anyone tell me how to store strings in the SHIFT and CONTROL (and CONTROL & shift) keys? The users guide tells how to put keys in the normal Fn keys, with a command like *KEY0....... But I see several programmes that use control key strings. Any guidance appreciated. 8-Bit Message Board or (0286) 830312.  To: 999 (all members) From: K2Q (John Nicholson) Subject: CUTTING COMPUTERS IN HALF The message about joining computers together made me think of my own project to make a BBC smaller, and help keep it cool too. My desk is normally piled up with letters, and papers needing atte ntion, all around me are shelves full of files, a patch of clear desk space is essential. So I cut my BEEB in half put the main board in a box on the wall and have the keyboard alone in just the front part of the lid, with a pad of ply underneath as a skid. I use a 25 way lead back to the computer with a D plug into the back that takes the 19 keyboard leads. I fitted a new cased speaker (with volume control). So it now takes up about 1/3 of the space and is easy to pick up and hang on a hook, out of the way all- together.  To: 999 (all members) From: K2Q Subject: BBC support I follow with equal concern the sentiments of BBC users about the loss of support as magazine publishers move to promote the current new machines. I have always been pleased with BEEBUG until recently. To me they have been the GOOD GUYS, but Watford Electronics have been the BAD. Everyone I have spoken to seems to have had the same experience. Orders are sent out wrong, or they goods do not work, and they will not give compensation. I bought a twin 3½" 80track drive from Watford, it was quite expensive and has never worked properly. Many hours of program writing was lost in this drive, and years of research data. I have a shadow RAM board from Watford which every now and again makes the whole computer have a fit. Despite sending it back for repair or replacement several times it is still the same. There is a company that I have always found cheap, reliable, trustworthy, and helpful. They specialise in surplus gear so they may not have what you want at the right time. But they did have some super modems, and my most reliable 3½" drive cost only `20. They also sell large capacity memory boards for a few pounds. Their 3½" DSHD (2Mb) discs are from `7.43 to `5.00 for a pack of ten. They are:- GREENWELD 27 Park Road Southampton SO9 1BE. (0703) 236363. I would love news from other members about other companies who can supply hardware for the BBC, or materials cheaply.  To: 999 (all members) From: K1H Subject: SUBSCRIPTIONS I have seen other members comments regarding the costs of the monthly mag and the cost of software from the pool and I agree that they are best around. I have recently been copying a lot of my discs, and it has taken ages I honestly don'know how Chris manages to produce a magazine, bring up a family, and still find time for programming, I, hopefully have just managed to make this issue. Lets face it if Chris's printer etc gave up the ghost, there would be no 8BSoft. I am a relative newcomer to 8BS, so it is'nt for me to make suggestions as to price's etc, but I must say that I for one would be in complete agreement with any decisions made regarding cost.  To: 999 (all members) From: K1H John W Fullbrook Subject: Thanks My thanks to John Ilseley for his article on SWITCHING sideways ram on the Master, and Jonathon Harston for his article on connecting more than one drive, I followed the instructions on both of these articles and all worked well. To Mick Needham for takeing the trouble to buy, on my behalf, several items for the master which came in very very handy, and finally but not least Henry Frost for sending details of his filing system. Thank you all very much. May I take this opportunity of wishing all members of 8BS All the very best for the new year  To: 999 (all members) From: K1H J W Fullbrook Subject: Articles Wanted Has any memember any of the following for sale.............................. EPROM PROGRAMER AND ERASER. MASTER REFERENCE MANUALS. BEEBUG MAGAZINES. VOL.1 issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8. VOL.2 issues 1, 5, 8, 9. VOL.3 issue 10. VOL.4 issues 2, 3, 6. VOL.5 issues 6, 8, 9. VOL.11 issues 8, 9. FOR SALE............................ OKI MICROLINE PRINTER................ with manual, model 182, new ribbon fitted, and one new spare. It can be used with single sheet, or fanfold paper, a tractor feed can be fitted but is not included. I bought this about six weeks ago with a master and monitor, and as I already have a good printer I don't need this, I have printed with it to test it and it works OK. The carraige knob is missing but should be easy to replace from Maplins, It has a line feed button so this won't be a problem. Measures 10"deep by 14"wide by 3" high weighs about six pounds. I need the space so 35 pounds. Minaltafax 150, as new small slim type. Has auto button that allows it to be used on a single line, makes a very good photocopy, comes with full manual same size as the printer. 95 pounds. Both + postage. Please write or phone to........ J W Fullbrook 77 Chestnut rise Plumstead London SE18 1RJ TEL.081 317 1490 after 8pm please  To: 999 (all members) From: 3SQ Subject: M128 Overlay Board Replay Rom Again, through the pages of Micro Mart, I purchased a Vine Micros Overlay Rom Board 3, my purchase of this recomended Add On, came with a Replay Rom which I have no need for, this version of the Replay Rom can only be used with a Rom Overlay Board 3, would anybody like it ? it also comes with an optional extra of a BBC OS 1.2 and a switch etc. this little extra (for which I have no info supposedly gives you more compatibility with BEEB programs. To recap:- would anybody want this Replay Rom add on, (only) for a Vine Rom Board 3 !.  Press BREAK for part 4