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I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:40 am
by Pablos544
Hi Everybody,

Due to hard up / money problems etc.. I had to make a choice about what I can keep this Christmas.

As I'm sure some of you guys will know The BBC Micro has long been one of my pet interests for many years.

Over the last two weeks I made a decision to kill it. :? why wtf

Simple reason. I want the BBC Micro to encourage programming. I got a PS and a keyboard for my other interests but the BBC Micro was what I was wanting to have as the thing that pulls me out of the modern consumer electronics world and into the love of improvisation, experimentation, dreaming up ideas and trying to do them. Problem I was having with 'The Micro' is the amount of memory it gives.

In Mode 2, a mode I was thinking would be great for adventures like Twin Kingdom Valley, the amount of K available to write code and data is total 6 K. It's amazing how the geniouses from the 80's and Tricky of the present day still manage to get playable arcade games with so little memory, but it is very clear that these guys are really gifted.

I remember in the 80's there was a sense of wonder at what 'The Micro' was capable of, with games like Snapper that were practically arcade quality, and the Spectrum was always the target of a lot of abuse. Then suddenly the games dried up on the BBC Micro but steadily the games on the Spectrum just kept going and we Speccy owners had a relatively nice time. Each Christmas would be a new Extravaganza of some amazing Ultimate game that would take our humble Spectrum into new heights.

Now what I think happened is that new recruits came on to the Spectrum camp that were able to start on BASIC and then extend their knowledge to machine code and so the quality of the games was constantly improving. With the BBC Micro the learning curve was steeper out of your basic graph program, or simple number guessing game as you now had to learn to do everything in machine code to use every bit of that memory.

I think this is what the BBC lacked really. So for now, I'm gonna be sticking to just playing games on my PS but later I will be buying a BBC Master. I think this is the machine for me. The BBC Master will give me what I want, I will sell the PS happily knowing that I'll be spending hours if not days coding stuff. It's a very better machine, fixing all the problems of the BBC Micro. And gives you a smooth graduation from simple graph plotting / number guessing game into more advanced stuff and also using a standard way to access extended memory.

So see you on the other side. In the meantime if anybody wants to play multiplayer GTA V?

Cheers, and happy christmas guys! :)
Pablo!

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:49 am
by tricky
Sorry to hear about the beeb, but if this means that your will ultimately enjoy your new "beeb" more, all is well.
When you want to play, you will also get the best experience on all the great new stuff that is Master only.
I have been tempted by the new kid on the block, but I still keep my first love close to my heart.

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:32 pm
by RobC
If you're looking for more memory on the Beeb, one other option would be a Pi co-pro. It would work really well for writing adventures as you get lots of RAM and a really fast CPU. You could use the 6502 core with memory paging or just use the native ARM.

Using a co-pro was Acorn's original plan for getting around the memory issue so it feels like a fitting solution :D

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:15 pm
by Pablos544
I knew this move wouldn't be taste of the day :cry:

But seriously guys, I know the Acorn guys are very clever and the Co-Pro idea is a wonderful way around the issue giving the BBC fantastic clean swabs of memory. The Pablo solution (Pablo being a bit naive and foolish in his ways you see) would be to keep as much as standard as possible with the original product marketed by Acorn at the masses which would mean not the Co-Pro because this would require a special setup. Now not knocking you RobC I think this is an awesome idea but it really depends on what your interests are with the machine.

So take somebody like Tricky, who's a genius at his 6502 assembly language and can make this processor do tricks it was practically never even designed to do, to him this is a playground for his engineering logical brain who's able to make it his baby. And to some extent I am jealous of you guys, because I was never that bright lol :? But at the same time I'm quite creative and can write great adventures, I know graphics painting techniques on the screen pixels like no other so my jealousy is soon replaced by a sort of wonder and this is what I need from my computer.

With the BBC Micro this 'wonder' lasts a few hours and your mind is literally expanding in millions of directions at the same time and you really feel how 'Deep is the love' of the BBC Micro and indeed you can see that certain geniuses like David Braben have really taken it too a new level and for him it's a pioneering journey all the way. That's not to say I'm at least not in a conventional way less intelligent is just maybe my abilities might be a little bit special.

Today I'm 48, and when I remember the days when I got my ZX Spectrum 48K and loved this until the day I was getting on Professional Adventure Writer this is where I found myself. I was creating stuff on that thing that was way above what was out there! And I know the BBC has got this ability but you gotta be realistic. In the next 10 years of my life I doubt I'll be spending them learning how to code in 6502 to access memory banks or Co-Pros that are non-standard anyway so that I could then write such a wonderful gaming engine so that I could then get the opportunity of matching that glory that I did bitd on the ZX Spectrum 48K.

I mean you know the BBC has got this ability with mods and such, but I wanna keep it so that I can press a button at the end that says 'go to market' and literally sell it I mean not necessarily for money that's not what I mean here I mean sell it as a going concern in the same way as your VideoNULA board is which I can see has got a lot of people interested. I think I could do the same with an adventure writing system on par with PAW but I doubt I'll be spending the necessary time learning 6502 assembly to make it happen using ad-hoc extensions for the BBC B to make it have these sorts of capabilities.

Is all relative isn't it. to people who are mathematically gifted natural engineers this thing brings them to the pinnacle of their life and they shine light a bright beacon of hope to everyone. Others who are not to get personal or anything who were in Set 3 or 4 maths with the remedials trying to do the basics struggle to progress beyond a certain level however that doesn't mean there isn't room in this world for both of us to exist. think if we were all the same this world would be boring wouldn't it. I mean imagine if everyone was like Tricky a genius 6502 coder and all day long they were on about how to optimise between using 6502 register indirect using the X register or the Y register :lol:

But that doesn't mean we can't all co-exist. The left-brained people like myself could be shown as truly wonderful genius if we had a certain amount of help getting there. I mean if you look at the evolution of the BBC Micro, first there was 'The Micro' and then this went mainly to the Electron to compete with the other Micros for games market and then much later came out the BBC Master. Now this machine really fixed a lot of the problems of the original design of the BBC Micro and the next successor to this machine was none other than the Archimedes which as you know went on to become the overpoweringly successful ARM design which we all have in our hands today. I know this seems a bit naive but the predecessor of this forward step was none other than the BBC Master. I think the thinking and I may be being a bit naive here but I reckon that the Brains at Acorn started knocking together the ideas at around the same time as the Master that would become that Next Step. Prior to this the machines Acorn were churning out were amazingly clever but ultimately a bit inaccessible to the masses due to of a few shortcomings in the main memory.

Now if I sat with a BBC Master and I'm more than happy to sell my PlayStation 4 with its nice HDMI monitor I've got set up for it to exchange it for a BBC Master and a nice SCART TV with a custom built 'large' desk I'm sure I'll be there for hours on end getting that elusive adventure engine to work which I would then profess to everyone was the ultimate and get everyone to start writing games for it because I'm confident my learning would become focussed because there is a market of BBC Masters out there. And these accept a common way of accessing extended memory, so I'm not gonna get depressed as I have been doing. The BBC Master will take me there.

Anyway my $0.02c

In the meantime I gonna stick with beers and GTA V. Not the same intellectual satisfaction by a long shot :? but sort of sick and funny

thanks!! Pablo.

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 6:25 pm
by BigEd
Just an idle question leading off this decision to buy a Master - do any games (or programs) work by paging in some sideways RAM and using the Master like a 48k machine? (Not a question for you, Pablo, unless you happen to know!)

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 8:14 pm
by tricky
Pablos544 wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:15 pm
...I mean imagine if everyone was like Tricky a genius 6502 coder and all day long they were on about how to optimise between using 6502 register indirect using the X register or the Y register :lol: ...
Hey I don't do that ... Oh, yes I do :oops:

With shadow RAM on the Master or B+ for what Pablo is describing, you get 20K for the display and then 32K minus PAGE (&E00 on the Master I think) you get 48.5K ;)

Pablo, have you tried any of the BBC BASIC for PC/Android/etc or even using one of the emulators until you get your master (maybe not as you didn't list a PC)?

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 8:58 pm
by flaxcottage
The Master is a great machine. I'm sure you'll love it. I do all my 'serious' stuff on the Master.

Mind you I have been a little profligate with it, fitting a Datacentre, Pi Co-processor and Econet. But it is now a proper beast! Having a 6502 co-pro running at about 250Mhz is awesome. 8)

That pales into insignificance, however, compared to a PC running BBCB4W or to a Pi zero running RISCOS pico.

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:21 pm
by Lardo Boffin
I can understand the desire to keep the target machine as standard as possible but you can get a Pi zero based coprocessor up and running for the price of between 10 and 15 beers (depending on where you live!).

Its not like it used to be a few years ago when you had to wait for one to appear on eBay and bid silly money to get it.

From a programming perspective you could still do stuff in BASIC pretty much as normal (except direct screen writes via RAM). And you would have a lot more memory available. And it would run faster even on the slowest speed setting. :D

The parser I wrote in BASIC for my critically acclaimed ‘Send in the Clones’ (well it would be if anyone got past the first room) runs really well on the standard co-proc setting.

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:24 pm
by dhg2
Hi Pablos,

Do you, or have you done, any programming on modern computers/laptops/etc? I'm just wondering because from reading your post, I get the impression that you've felt a bit daunted by the experience of trying to create stuff on the BBC Micro, trying to fit everything in the small memory and needing to use assembly language to get reasonable performance etc.

If you haven't already tried it, I think you should definitely try programming in a high level language (like Python for example) running on a modern PC or laptop. I think you'll find it very easily possible to do the kinds of thing you want to do, and of course there'll be a lot bigger audience for anything you make, rather than the small number of people who still own a BBC Master.

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:36 pm
by RobC
Hi Pablo,

Please don't think my previous post was in any way meant as a criticism of your decision. I was just making a suggestion that a Pi co-pro might be a more suitable (and cheaper) alternative to a Master. However, I can understand why you want to go down that route and the Master is a great machine.
Pablos544 wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:15 pm
But that doesn't mean we can't all co-exist. The left-brained people like myself could be shown as truly wonderful genius if we had a certain amount of help getting there.
Absolutely. I am not at all creative - almost everything I've done is a port or a clone as I lack the imagination to come up with my own stuff :oops:

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:25 am
by Pablos544
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure using a Pi Co-Pro is a decent way to make 'an old dog do new tricks' I just wanna keep my setup standard so when I issue version 1.0 of my Adventure Engine it's gonna have a ready made market of BBC Master owners out there of which I know there are a few.

Also I don't mind learning to code assembler but I don't want to 'have to do it'. In The BBC B's case as soon as you go beyond 'the number guessing game' or the 'throw a stick across the road' or this type of thing you have to learn to code in 100% assembler. This is what really daunts me. And yes I'm not gonna lie it does scare me. :oops:

With the BBC Master I gets the feeling this is up to you. If there's something you think could be done better in assembler then by all means do. Otherwise just live with BASIC.

48K is a nice amount of memory, don't you think? Nice playing field of I think nearly 29k for just code and then extra banks for switching in data you plan to use this is just what I've been dreaming for. What would have made me keep the BBC Micro was a SHADOW RAM card like Steve Picton's 128k ROM/RAM Eiffel Board but with SHADOW RAM as well. I think he used to do this didn't he? If I could have that then I would have happily stuck with my guns with the BBC Micro.

And yes I have to coding in other languages, but I just find them a lot more I don't know less friendly. What I love about retro machines is this naivety they approach life with and I think I relate to that lol :lol:

Certainly playing GTA V doesn't savour my taste buds all that much so I think it won't be long before I sell that setup and get ebaying for a BBC Master.

Cheers, pabs!

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:55 pm
by Lardo Boffin
It looks like the Watford 32K Shadow RAM card is still available here:-

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=16147

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:57 pm
by marcusjambler
I think it won't be long before I sell that setup and get ebaying for a BBC Master.
Hi Pablo
If you would rather get a Master from a forum member, thats tested and PSU sorted out, then send me a PM when you're ready.
We can work a sensible price out.
I've got several working standard Masters :lol:

Marcus

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:48 pm
by dhg2
Hi,
Pablos544 wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:25 am
And yes I have to coding in other languages, but I just find them a lot more I don't know less friendly. What I love about retro machines is this naivety they approach life with and I think I relate to that lol :lol:
If you prefer BASIC, you can still use it on modern computers. If you haven't tried them already, I think you should definitely try out Matrix Brandy and Richard Russell's BBCSDL. I do most of my programming (on modern computers) in BBC BASIC and it's still the language I'm most comfortable with.

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:56 am
by Andrew_Waite
BigEd wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 6:25 pm
Just an idle question leading off this decision to buy a Master - do any games (or programs) work by paging in some sideways RAM and using the Master like a 48k machine? (Not a question for you, Pablo, unless you happen to know!)
Graphics and bitmaps consume large amounts of memory. Spectrum games often had rich bitmaps enabled by the 48k main memory, which the 32k Acorn machines lacked. If you ESCAPE whilst playing Planet Nubium, go into MODE 1 and display the contents of SWRAM Bank 7 by copying it to video memory ( *SRREAD 3000+4000 8000 7 ), as shown in the image below, most of this 16k RAM bank is taken up with sprite bitmaps (there is a lookup table and a small amount of code between &BC00 and &C000). SWRAM bank 6 contains most of the assembler code and bitmaps for the rocketman, bank 5 contains the level data and bank 4 graphics tiles.

The other advantage for me that the Master has over the Model B is the ability to double buffer the 20k video modes. This solves the flicker problem caused when updating the display that is more noticeable with modern LCD displays than it was on the old CRTs due to the longer retention time of the phosphor dots in the old technology.

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 10:13 am
by Pablos544
marcusjambler wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:57 pm
I think it won't be long before I sell that setup and get ebaying for a BBC Master.
Hi Pablo
If you would rather get a Master from a forum member, thats tested and PSU sorted out, then send me a PM when you're ready.
We can work a sensible price out.
I've got several working standard Masters :lol:

Marcus
I might take your offer

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 10:16 am
by Pablos544
dhg2 wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:48 pm
Hi,
Pablos544 wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:25 am
And yes I have to coding in other languages, but I just find them a lot more I don't know less friendly. What I love about retro machines is this naivety they approach life with and I think I relate to that lol :lol:
If you prefer BASIC, you can still use it on modern computers. If you haven't tried them already, I think you should definitely try out Matrix Brandy and Richard Russell's BBCSDL. I do most of my programming (on modern computers) in BBC BASIC and it's still the language I'm most comfortable with.
No this isn't really about BASIC as such no. I've tried all sorts of BASICs, started on PET BASIC / BBC BASIC at school, then tried ZX BASIC (went downhill a bit there) and thereafter it was 16-bit micros with a thing called GW BASIC for AMIGA [ EDIT: GFA BASIC for AMIGA ] that was good again, and that was about it. It's like it never recovered. PET BASIC / BBC BASIC at school were the highest

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:37 pm
by Pablos544
Lardo Boffin wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:55 pm
It looks like the Watford 32K Shadow RAM card is still available here:-

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=16147
The thing about Watford Electronics is they've always had a reputation for doing things a bit quick and dirty !! No don't get me wrong I'm sure this stuff works, but I would prefer to stick with someone I can trust if I can choose between them. Steve Picton's the man for me, or if Mark Haysman of Data Centre fame. These two guys I trust with my life. If they tell me something can be done I believe it. The rest I wouldn't stick my neck out and jump for sorry guys. Watford is just one of these people.

Save a lot of aggro and get something that is designed and tooled up to do this shadow RAM I feel failing that option. Which in this case is the BBC Master.

btw mileage may vary, you may have had a better experience with Watford than myself. I wasn't a happy bunny with mixing Watford in my BBC Micro.

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:27 pm
by Pablos544
I just thought it makes no sense me playing GTA. Some overhang from American chat servers way back in 2002. Sounded way good back then. And that was just version 3, San Andreas. Lots of Gangsterey type dealing going on. oh The Days. When Bruce Willis was still cool. I suppose this is the outcome of an unfulfilled computer hobby turned career. You begin to think so Minimum Wage. Here I am an educated man glamourising brainless violence. :oops: should at least stuck to the BBC Micro loyal Elite Dangerous Community. My only real hope of Salvation now being a New Start Date with The BBC MASTER series. By the way guys I really got nothing against other versions of BBC BASIC is just they are not on the BBC. I love the BBC's graphics, quite pixelated fat and chunky and it's bright and cheerful primary colours, its built in assembler and the overall cleverness of the system. Somehow the thought of BBC BASIC on a modern system doesn't appeal in the same way. Just my $0.02c anyway. P

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 9:04 pm
by tricky
If I'm making up some maths/physics, I often try it out in a beeb emulator as it is just more straight forward.

Re: I sold my BBC Micro now looking at BBC Master

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:19 pm
by Pablos544
tricky wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 9:04 pm
If I'm making up some maths/physics, I often try it out in a beeb emulator as it is just more straight forward.
I agree. When you've got ideas you wouldn't mind sketching or prototyping there's abeeb on an emulator that's ready to go. Most of my best work comes from trying things out and that's exactly how I realised this Adventure Writer could work well on a Beeb.