What are you using your machine for?

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What are you using your machine for?

Postby Brutman » Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:00 pm

I'm kind of interested to hear how people are using their machines, with an eye towards possible hardware add-ons. I'll go first:


My machine is primarily used for software development and testing. All of my TCP/IP code has to run well on the PCjr, so I use it quite a bit for testing. I'm also setting up to run a telnet BBS on it some year so disk storage speed is fairly important to me. I rarely use the sound or extended graphics available on the machine - it's mostly used like a poor man's XT. Old games are a distant, second use, and those I often have to boot from floppy because they are booter style games.

In my perfect world I would have a hard drive that I can boot from natively (no boot floppies!) and an Ethernet adapter on board. A second floppy would be nice, but is not strictly required. 640K memory is a must; I haven't done the 736K mod yet because I'm lazy. Parallel ports are nice but the sidecar method is pretty clunky and adds a lot onto the width of the machine.


Your turn ...
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Re: What are you using your machine for?

Postby MikeRM » Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:38 pm

It's a big part of my collection!

So far I have really only used to it to play around with basic as I don't have network functionality yet *cough*Paraport!*cough*, I would like to use that awesome TCP/IP suite from Mr. Brutman on it though for IRC chatting!
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Re: What are you using your machine for?

Postby jmetal88 » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:06 pm

I pretty much used my PCjr as a big experiment, just to see what kinds of stuff I could get it to do. It was fun, too!

When my new motherboard comes in, I'll probably scale back the hardware experimenting and see what kinds of software I can run. I don't really have a clear plan, though, haha.
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Re: What are you using your machine for?

Postby Trixter » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:26 pm

While I have a "superjr" (7.16 Mhz NEC V20, 640KB without use of sidecar, Tandy mod) and a regular stock Jr with a 512K sidecar, I mostly use mine to play Jr-specific games and run Jr-specific programs. Sometimes to check out old techniques and see what is possible (like witnessing the drawing speed of King's Quest or benchmarking the 3d performance of flight simulator), other times to just run bootable games to see what PCjr-specific surprises people put in them (Music Construction Set uses the sound, Pinball Construction Set has multiple color sets, Seven Cities of Gold uses the graphics and sound IIRC, same with Marble Madness IIRC, Rendezvous with Rama has completely undocumented 3-voice music, etc. etc.). And Touchdown Football is really cool if you're not expecting it to do what it does.

The lack of a mass storage device and not being able to hook up a decent keyboard are what prevents me from using my PCjr to develop software, as I desperately wish I could do so (I have some neat demo ideas, including one that utilizes the vertical retrace interrupt unique to the PCjr and early Tandy 1000s). Until I find a way to solve those problems, I develop my PCjr graphics and sound routines on whatever Tandy I have hooked up at the moment. I could use a zip drive I suppose, but I don't know how I'd hook up a regular keyboard to my Jr.
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Re: What are you using your machine for?

Postby Brutman » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:55 pm

I think the answer to the keyboard problem is over at the VC Forum - there was a micro controller based project there to interface AT keyboards on an XT system. The same general principles are needed to connect a PC or AT keyboard to a PCjr. It's all variations of serial communications - there are slight variations in timing and scan codes.

Just another project for somebody to tackle - but like the XT-IDE, most of the hard work has been done. We just need somebody to invest the time for the PCjr.
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Re: What are you using your machine for?

Postby Trixter » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:25 pm

I should clarify that I don't care if it's a 101-key or 83-key -- just any keyboard at all that isn't a jr keyboard.
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Re: What are you using your machine for?

Postby Vorticon » Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:19 pm

My Jr system consists of V20 processor, 640K, RTC, Tandy graphics modification, Xircom parallel network adapter, 2 parallel port sidecars, IBM compact printer and zip drive. I really use it for a wide range of things depending on the mood, from playing classic games to programming in Turbo Pascal to telnetting into BBS'ses. I particularly enjoy downloading old games from various orphan sites (transfered from my PC to the Jr via the Jr ftp server. Thanks Mike!) and try to get them to run on the machine, and I have amassed quite a collection so far.
In contrast to Trixter, I love my Jr keyboard (not the original chicklet one though), especially its compact size. For the very few applications that do require a full size keyboard such as FS3, I have a bulky and super heavy Keytronic 5151Jr keyboard which I dislike. To me, the main attraction of the PCjr is its compact size.
My wish list is a bootable hard drive. If I get that, I will be in Nirvana :)
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Re: What are you using your machine for?

Postby Brutman » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:11 pm

Vorticon wrote:My wish list is a bootable hard drive. If I get that, I will be in Nirvana


You did see the other thread, right? I've got my PCjr booting DOS 3.3 from a 20GB IDE hard drive. I'm trying to figure out the next steps on how to spread the joy ..
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Re: What are you using your machine for?

Postby MattCarp » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:35 pm

Trixter wrote:While I have a "superjr" (7.16 Mhz NEC V20, 640KB without use of sidecar, Tandy mod) a


Hi Jim, you may recall I was the guy who sold you an XT motherboard from eBay (I think it was eBay) in the 2003-2004 timeframe. I stopped by to deliver it and you showed me your 4.77 video demo!

What components are you using to achieve 7.16MHz and the memory expansion?
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Re: What are you using your machine for?

Postby deathshadow60 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:55 pm

I HAD a Jr for a good while, but sold it off when I realized MOST of what I wanted to do with it already existed on a Tandy 1K. I know, I know... traitor...

Since that time (about two years ago) I've become a bit of a junkie on the Tandy's... for some weird reason I seem really attached to the EX and HX models -- I think it's because they remind me so much of the Coco. They're not as expandable as a regular 1k, finding the right cards for them is just as tough as the Jr, you end up playing cabling tricks or doing custom boards to use regular ISA cards just like the Jr.

But at least every single one I've opened up comes with a DS1216 clock chip between the mainboard and the ROM.

As to what I use my retrocomputers for, mostly it's testing code I write... like my recent game release, and my upcoming game releases... and for just playing around with the hardware.

In a lot of ways back then every little thing you did felt like a huge accomplishment -- While I like having my big bad ge560Ti i7 870 rig with 16 gigs of RAM, it's "too easy" now to just order something bigger or to have the IDE and/or RAD do all the work for you; making it feel like no matter what you do you haven't really done anything... special... Or even challenging.
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