[Coco] CoCo/PC hybrid....

Steve Bjork 6809er at bjork-huffman.net
Wed Sep 16 21:19:51 EDT 2009

I've been watching the exchange on using PC hardware for a hybrid CoCo 4 
and do have a few comments since I’ve been working on this type of 
project for over a year now. (The current state of the project is dead 
or on long term hold.)

The CoCo 4 project was to use low cost NEW PC hardware. With complete 
system boards (with memory) starting at $200.00. Why play around with 
old hardware that does not get the job done?

This is the case with trying to use old PC and running DOS. DOS is only 
16-bit OS with a max of direct memory of 640k or so. With 32-bit Windows 
and Linux you have just under 4 GB of addressing. Lots of room to code 
great stuff for the CoCo 4 system like better graphic and sound.

I had posted a lot of details on the project at CoCo3.com but it was 
wiped out by a hacker. Maybe you could use my work to help your project 
if Roger ever gets those post back.

By the way, the CoCo 4 project also had a USB interface board for 
Joysticks, cassette player, Multi-Pak, floppy disk controller and other 
CoCo hardware devices that could be plugged into PC for use with the 
CoCo 4 software. To run a Game Pak, just plug it into the 40 Pin Slot 
and CoCo 4 boots it. Both the USB I/O board and an ION based PC would 
have fit inside a CoCo 3 case.

Oh yes, there was even a hook-up for the CoCo’s keyboard on the USB board.

So, how fast was the CoCo 4? BASIC programs ran about 5,000 times faster 
in tests. So fast that you write very good arcade types game in BASIC. A 
full Zaxxon arcade type of game written in BASIC would have been a 
breeze on a CoCo 4 system.

I will try to post some of the CoCo 4 data over at CoCo4.com for you to 
use. It may take some time because I'm busy with other projects.

Steve Bjork

### End of Line: ^^^^ TRON Legacy ^^^^ Reboot on 12-17-2010 ###

And Frank Swygert wrote:
> It should be fast enough to send/receive commands for something like a 
> relay board too. I've seen a relay or generic I/O board for a parallel 
> port on a PC before. I'm looking at the maximum use of existing, 
> inexpensive hardware. Even a P4 small form factor computer goes for 
> under $200 with 512MB and a 20-40GB hard drive. Drop to a standard 
> Pentium or a P2/P3 class processor and it's even less -- but running a 
> DOS based CoCo emulator from flash memory or a USB drive would make 
> even a P1 one heck of a fast CoCo! Once that was up and running we 
> could look at expanding the capabilities of the hybrid machine to 
> create more or less a "CoCo4". That is if we can get the source code 
> to one of the DOS emulators, or the author to tweak it some. I'd think 
> it should at least have a CC2/3 mode, even if the advanced 
> capabilities had to be locked out, even if it required rebooting the 
> system. I still like the idea of having it boot up to a simple menu 
> screen that had several options, one being the capability of creating 
> a real CoCo disk (provided an acceptable drive is present) and 
> transferring files. Would be even better if CoCoNet or Drivewire were 
> built into the emulator.
> I'd really like to see SECB expanded as well as OS-9 capabilities, 
> only because SECB is so easy to program. The only problem is any 
> expanded functions would only work on the "CC4", but if the "CC4" 
> concept described above could be packaged on a "live cd" like some 
> Linux distributions (oh if it could be done with a small linux instead 
> of DOS!!), or on a USB drive, then there should be no problems. Nitros 
> would just need some new drivers...
> jdaggett at gate.net wrote:
> Frank
> EPP interface is used in configuring FPGAs. So being able to send and 
> read data from a ROM cartridge should not be all too tricky. Only 
> thing if I remember correctly EPP/ECP port speed in not all that fast. 
> Still fast enough to move it from the cartridge to a virtual ROM in a PC.
> An interesting idea.
> james
> On 14 Sep 2009 at 21:44, Frank Swygert wrote:
> Okay, I never have been much of a programmer, and really done little 
> more hardware than a few kits and mods to existing hardware, but I've 
> been thinking too much!

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