[Coco] New Coco3 owner

Joel Ewy jcewy at swbell.net
Sat Aug 5 00:47:31 EDT 2006

Mark McDougall wrote:
> Hi all,
> Having at one time owned an original silver Coco 1 during its hey-day,
> I've
> been a lurker on this group for about 2 years now.
> ...
> More recently I've become more interested in the Coco again, particularly
> since I started my FPGA emulation based on John Kent's CPU09 core.
> I've even
> submitted an article which should appear in the next CocoNutz eZine!
    I've been itching to get into FPGA computing as well, but haven't
managed to save up my pennies yet.  The possibilities are endless.  If
you had a system with a couple of FPGAs you could implement all kinds of
hardware and even special purpose processing right there on the chip. 
With a 6809-ish CPU running at 12MHz, plus the capability to do things
like MP3 or JPEG encoding and decoding in hardware you have the best of
both worlds -- the simplicity of a CoCo-like system coupled with more
modern performance.  With modern FPGAs you can (or so I read) change the
logic functions as fast as you can write SRAM.
> ...o my utter delight I was offered the chance to give a PAL 128K
> Coco3 a new home - which I picked up yesterday afternoon about 2 hours
> drive
> away from where I live. It is in pristine condition and never been opened
> (until last night). Attached was a Tandy FD-500 disk controller.
> ...
> A few questions tho'...
> It doesn't appear to have an RF connector in the back, despite the
> existence
> of the metal can around what would/should be the RF modulator and the
> channel switch. Should it have one? Has someone pushed too hard and
> snapped
> off the connector and pushed it into the can?
    I've never had my hands on a PAL model, but the NTSC CoCo 3 most
definitely has a connector for the RF modulated output.  On the NTSC
model it's an RCA jack.
> What sort of quality should I expect from the composite output?
> Admittedly,
> I've become used to seeing the output from MESS and my FPGA board
> (VGA) but
> I didn't expect washed-out colours and fuzzy text.
    Composite out on the ones I have is marginal.  Games are generally
fine.  32- and 40-column text are quite readable.  80-column text is
pretty blurry.  You can make out the words, but I wouldn't try writing a
novel without an RGB monitor.  In my experience the colors haven't been
washed out.  That might be a monitor issue.  Essentially I would use a
composite monitor or TV for games and similar things, or for programs
designed for the 32-column screen on the CoCo 1 or 2, but for anything
involving 80-column text, such as word processing, programming, et
cetera, I would use an RGB monitor.
> BTW I've since learned that the FD-500 requires a 12V supply and hence
> requires a multi-pak on the Coco 3.
> Anyway, it's quite exciting to have a *real* Coco in my collection
> now. At
> some stage I'll look into getting a compatible disk controller (are
> any 3rd
> party *floppy* controllers considered "better"?) and also a 6309 and
> SuperIDE controller (I need to see what all the fuss is about Nitros09)!
> Would also love to play Nickolas's Donut Dilemma and Pacman Tribute on
> it too!
> Regards,

Have fun with it!


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