Master 128

discuss both original and modern hardware for the bbc micro/electron
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English Invader
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Master 128

Post by English Invader » Fri Aug 21, 2020 4:32 am

Is this worth having if you already have a model B?

I was intrigued by a 128 exclusive port of Stunt Car Racer in the internet archive collection but is there much else for the 128?

I enjoyed this video from ChinnyVision but one of the key things he said was that he got the most out of the system when he added a switchable ROM to turn the 128 into a model B as and when required. Having to downgrade a system that was intended to be an upgrade doesn't seem like a good sign:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I86s8cWfRso

What are the features and benefits of the 128 that make it worthwhile? I would like you to discount backwards compatibility with the model B and tell me more about software that's exclusive to the 128.

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richardtoohey
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Re: Master 128

Post by richardtoohey » Fri Aug 21, 2020 5:31 am

I think it really depends on what you want it for.

If the biggest set of games - go for the BBC B.

If you want to explore what's different - well you need both! :D

The Master is a better machine in terms of RAM and expandability (think I'm right in saying that) and it has DFS/ADFS built-in, as well as View.

So the "better" machine ... unless you want to play lots of games, in which case the BBC B has more chance of running them.

But, really, don't force yourself to choose just one ... :twisted:

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danielj
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Re: Master 128

Post by danielj » Fri Aug 21, 2020 6:59 am

Richard,have to disagree! :D The Master will run 99.99% of the games the beeb will run. If you add one of the switchable OS ROMs even more. Most things were updated to run on the Master if they didn't, certainly the good stuff. There might be some things from very early in the beeb's life that don't. You're not downgrading when you switch the OS, just making the software environment the same as the BBC B so games which were hackily written and use bits of ROM directly don't get confused.

I use an M128 exclusively and my BBC B sits idle mostly. It's a better machine. More available memory, two TUBE sockets, cartridge slots, 1770 disc controller? Plus it runs stunt car racer, prince of Persia and all the bit shifters demos ;)

d.

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Rich Talbot-Watkins
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Re: Master 128

Post by Rich Talbot-Watkins » Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:24 am

danielj wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 6:59 am
and all the bit shifters demos ;)
* As long as you have a Master with a Hitachi CRTC in it :wink:

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Rich Talbot-Watkins
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Re: Master 128

Post by Rich Talbot-Watkins » Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:28 am

The Master is certainly the better machine. However the "purists'" choice might be the Model B if you wanted to be able to run 100% of its original back catalogue on a machine of the original spec.

I had a Master back in the day, and it made development much easier than on a BBC B. But you always came across games which didn't work properly on it.

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1024MAK
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Re: Master 128

Post by 1024MAK » Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:18 am

Do I need to say that generally, Master 128 systems are more reliable than model B systems?
Of course, the downside is that because nearly everything is soldered, when they do go wrong, they are harder to repair.

Master 128 systems also are slightly more energy efficient and hence run cooler.

The biggest advantages are IMHO:
  • Shadow RAM means that the screen memory and the workspace for the disk filing systems don’t use up main memory, so there’s more free memory for your programs.
  • Built in 1770 FDC, DFS ROM (with Format command as standard) and ADFS ROM, all as standard. Just connect a disk drive (I use 3½” drives with mine) or a Gotek and off you go.
  • Built in banks of sideways RAM. So you can load ROM images from disk into sideways ROM. Then use CONTROL-BREAK and then the ROM image runs as if you plugged in a physical chip. Some games also make use of the sideways RAM.
  • Internal TUBE port. So no need for additional desk space for an Acorn cheese wedge (although modern developments mean a second processor can now fit under either machine).
  • A better version of the OS, better version of BASIC and the functions of the GFX ROM built in.
  • Can be upgraded with Econet by just plugging in a module.
Mark

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tricky
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Re: Master 128

Post by tricky » Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:24 am

BITD, the Master was a big upgrade (but I never even heard of it):
Productivity software built.
More memory for BASIC.
Built in floppy disc controller.
Four banks of sideways RAM.
ADFS (which I have never found a use for).
Real Time Clock.
Cartridge Slots.
Shadow RAM allowed double buffer a full screen to avoid tearing and flickering of graphics, but I don't know of anything that used it.

Most of these won't mean much if it is mainly games and only a handful of titles used the extra Sideways RAM.

The B/B+ can have a speech processor, but was very poorly supported.
Nowadays, you can add sideways RAM very easily and cheaply.
With Bitshifters trying to get everything possible out of the beeb family, the proper Shadow RAM (not the B+ version) on the Master is a huge draw as it is for a couple of other current developers. I always put the B first, but am not afraid of Sideways RAM as more than half of people had it a few years ago and it is even easier now. All my games run on all beebs, but my Astro Blaster can only play a few samples on the Master, so you don't get the speech that really makes that game.

If you are going to make games and want to make your life easier and be able to put more in, the Master is the way to go.

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LordVaderUK
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Re: Master 128

Post by LordVaderUK » Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:18 pm

I’m selling mine, if you’re interested!
Loving my BBC Master 128

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Master 128

Post by Lardo Boffin » Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:04 pm

I think Strykers Run on the Master may have used the extra RAM for flicker free graphics?

I have a Master that I either use as my Econet server when I want to use a model B or as a development machine when I don’t want to use a model B. Options like Mode 128 where you can list large BASIC programs in the same resolution as Mode 0 are really useful!

I would say yes go for it! But they do take up even more desk space than a model B.
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Atom, issue 5
Elk
A number of econetted (is that a word?) Beebs
BBC Master, Datacentre + HDD, pi co-proc, econet, NULA

English Invader
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Re: Master 128

Post by English Invader » Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:40 pm

LordVaderUK wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:18 pm
I’m selling mine, if you’re interested!
Just spotted your auction on eBay. Looks good and ticks most of the boxes for what I would want from a 128. There is another auction I'm looking at that's still at a favourable price point but my attention may turn to your system if that falls through.

At the moment, I'm still not entirely sure if I'm going through with it. This is the Pros and Cons list I came up with:

Cons
- will take up an insane amount of space that I will have to conjure out of thin air
- little or no software support for the 128 hardware
- will need to be modded to attain the compatibility I already have with my model B
- not a good time moneywise
- only just bought a model B and have still to remove the PSU to send it off to be recapped

Pros
- I want one!

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danielj
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Re: Master 128

Post by danielj » Sat Aug 22, 2020 12:07 am

Loads of support for the 128 hardware, and the "mod" is literally just swapping the OS rom :) I'd not look at that as particularly onerous.

The rest of your cons are legit though :D

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Master 128

Post by Lardo Boffin » Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:12 am

You can buy a switchable ROM kit from Mark at Retroclinic. You just switch it off, turn a dial and select the ROM you want and switch it back on again. Great stuff!

I sent my Master off to Mark to be pimped. He sorted the PSU, fitted an internal Pi co-proc, a data centre (with all the LEDs nicely fitted), a switchable ROM, sorted the battery and socketed the ULA so I could fit a NULA! Not cheap with all the components and labour but worth every penny. I think I also got a gotek from him at the same time (ready to go and fully loaded with software).
Adventure Language on GitHub
Atom, issue 5
Elk
A number of econetted (is that a word?) Beebs
BBC Master, Datacentre + HDD, pi co-proc, econet, NULA

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