[stella] Hello Everybody

Subject: [stella] Hello Everybody
From: "Roger Williams" <localroger@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 18:15:26 -0500
I've just joined the list, and I'm delighted to find so much information
on the net about programming the 2600 after so many years.  I've just
built my socketed cart and tested it with the binary of This Planet
Sucks (note to Greg Troutman: TPS rocks on a real 2600), downloaded the
usual bunch of documentation, and begun perusing the sample code.

I've been programming in machine language since the late 1970's but
this is a completely different kind of challenge.  I never had any
idea how primitive the TIA was.  Still, it's such a neat little box
in its own way.  I can't wait to get into it.

My late interest in Stella is less as a game and more as an embedded
controller for projects.  2600's are now cheaper than dirt, readily
available, and offer just the right mix of functions for a lot of
simple projects:  low-power, no moving parts, small, a few
switches available for hijacking, fairly versatile I/O without hacking
the electronics, ability to throw up a simple status display on a
normal TV (again cheap as dirt), and  you don't have to worry about
replacement cost if you leave it on all the time and it gets hit by
lightning.  For a lot of stuff the small ROM and lack of RAM is not
an issue, but the ready availability of cheap assembled boxes is.

Some of the projects I am contemplating...

First will be a stepper-motor controller to raise and lower a rock
cutting saw at various speeds.  This will be mercifully devoid of
video output so I won't have to get too deep into the mysteries of
the TIA.  (I probably will use HSYNC for timing so that later if I
get rambunctious I can add a video status display.)

Next I'd like to implement a serial UART and look at some simple
terminal/scoreboard type applications, using playfield graphics
for display.

Later, I have the idea that Stella would make a really wonderful
burglar alarm controller.  Who would think that you have to disarm
the security system from the video game atop the TV, eh?  This
should be possible with no external electronics.  With a 74154
multiplexer I might even be able to do a home controller that would
flash the lights and so on via X10.  This would require a relatively
dense status display so it's on the "if it still seems possible once
I understand this thing more" list.

I wonder if anyone else has thought of using the 2600 this way?  Of
course these kind of applications mean making carts, as simulation
is pretty useless.  But the sims will still streamline debugging and
I've written quite a bit of software on the burn to test plan in
my time.  Next up, trip to the thrift store to pick up a couple
more 2600 consoles...

--Roger Williams

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