Sunday, October 13, 2019

20th level Commoner - Constable Remmy

Constable Remmy has been the chief law enforcement officer of Freehold for the better part of 20 years. Remmy is a veterans of the last great orc war, but does not really like to talk about it. He is serious about his job, but is a kind hearted man who has been know to give a guy a break every now and again.
This was one of the characters I built while expanding the Commoner Class. He is no match for a proper 20th level character, but he could take a 5th level character and might give a 10th level PC a run for his money.

Expanded Commoner Class


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Commodore 64 Update

Commodore 64 Update. I pulled the PLA from my working C64 and tried it. I still got the black screen. So I dropped in my dead test cart and I started getting memory error codes. I have compatible RAM chips in an old Commodore 128 I scavenged for parts, so I de-soldered 5 of those and started replacing them, I ended up replacing 3 before the memory error codes stopped. Now when I run the dead test, I get normal startup border, but screen full of garbage characters. The tests are running, they are just not displaying properly. At this point, I am thinking it is either the VIC II or the character ROM. My next step is to drop in my VIC II from my other system and see if that makes it work. VIC II's are about $40. If it turns out to be the character ROM, those are only about $10.

Basic Program for making a D&D Character

10 RANDOMIZE TIMER
20 GOSUB 150
30 STRENGTH% = TOTAL%
40 GOSUB 150
50 INTELLIGENCE% = TOTAL%
60 GOSUB 150
70 WISDOM% = TOTAL%
80 GOSUB 150
90 DEXTERITY% = TOTAL%
100 GOSUB 150
110 CONSTITUTION% = TOTAL%
120 GOSUB 150
130 CHARISMA% = TOTAL%
140 GOTO 200
150 DICE1% = INT(RND * 6) + 1
160 DICE2% = INT(RND * 6) + 1
170 DICE3% = INT(RND * 6) + 1
180 TOTAL% = DICE1% + DICE2% + DICE3%
190 RETURN
200 PRINT "STR: "; STRENGTH%
210 PRINT "INT: "; INTELLIGENCE%
220 PRINT "WIS: "; WISDOM%
230 PRINT "DEX: "; DEXTERITY%
240 PRINT "CON: "; CONSTITUTION%
250 PRINT "CHR: "; CHARISMA%
260 PRINT
270 PRINT "Choose your Class:"
280 PRINT " 1 Cleric"
290 PRINT " 2 Fighter"
300 PRINT " 3 Magic-User"
310 PRINT " 4 Thief"
320 INPUT CHOICEC%
330 IF CHOICEC% = 1 THEN CLASS$ = "Cleric"
340 IF CHOICEC% = 2 THEN CLASS$ = "Fighter"
350 IF CHOICEC% = 3 THEN CLASS$ = "Magic-User"
360 IF CHOICEC% = 4 THEN CLASS$ = "Theif"
370 PRINT "Choose your Race:"
380 PRINT " 1 Dwarf"
390 PRINT " 2 Elf"
400 PRINT " 3 Halfling"
410 PRINT " 4 Human"
420 INPUT CHOICER%
430 IF CHOICER% = 1 THEN RACE$ = "Dwarf"
440 IF CHOICER% = 2 THEN RACE$ = "Elf"
450 IF CHOICER% = 3 THEN RACE$ = "Halfling"
460 IF CHOICER% = 4 THEN RACE$ = "Human"
470 IF CHOICEC% = 1 THEN HITPOINTS% = 8
480 IF CHOICEC% = 2 THEN HITPOINTS% = 10
490 IF CHOICEC% = 3 THEN HITPOINTS% = 4
500 IF CHOICEC% = 4 THEN HITPOINTS% = 6
510 IF CHOICER% = 1 THEN STRENGTH% = STRENGTH% + 1
515 IF CHOICER% = 1 THEN CHARISMA% = CHARISMA% - 1
520 IF CHOICER% = 2 THEN DEXTERITY% = DEXTERITY% + 1
525 IF CHOICER% = 2 THEN CONSTITUTION% = CONSTITUTION% - 1
530 IF CHOICER% = 3 THEN DEXTERITY% = DEXTERITY% + 1
535 IF CHOICER% = 3 THEN STRENGTH% = STRENGTH% - 1
540 DICE1% = INT(RND * 4) + 1
550 DICE2% = INT(RND * 4) + 1
560 DICE3% = INT(RND * 4) + 1
570 DICE4% = INT(RND * 4) + 1
580 DICE5% = INT(RND * 4) + 1
590 GOLD% = (DICE1% + DICE2% + DICE3% + DICE4% + DICE5%) * 10
600 PRINT: PRINT "What is your Name"
610 INPUT NAME$
620 PRINT
630 PRINT "D&D Character Sheet 1.0"
635 PRINT "------------------------------": PRINT
640 PRINT "Character Name: "; NAME$
650 PRINT "Character Race: "; RACE$
660 PRINT "Character Class: "; CLASS$
670 PRINT "------------------------------"
680 PRINT
690 PRINT "STR: "; STRENGTH%
700 PRINT "INT: "; INTELLIGENCE%
710 PRINT "WIS: "; WISDOM%
720 PRINT "DEX: "; DEXTERITY%
730 PRINT "CON: "; CONSTITUTION%
740 PRINT "CHR: "; CHARISMA%
750 PRINT
760 PRINT "Hit Points: "; HITPOINTS%
770 PRINT
780 PRINT "Gold: "; GOLD%
790 PRINT "------------------------------"
800 PRINT: PRINT "Save Character?"
810 PRINT "1 Yes"
820 PRINT "2 No"
830 INPUT YN%
840 IF YN% = 2 GOTO 1060
850 OPEN NAME$ + ".TXT" FOR OUTPUT AS #1
860 PRINT #1,
870 PRINT #1, "D&D Character Sheet 1.0"
875 PRINT #1, "------------------------------": PRINT #1,
880 PRINT #1, "Character Name: "; NAME$
890 PRINT #1, "Character Race: "; RACE$
900 PRINT #1, "Character Class: "; CLASS$
910 PRINT #1, "------------------------------"
920 PRINT #1,
930 PRINT #1, "STR: "; STRENGTH%
940 PRINT #1, "INT: "; INTELLIGENCE%
950 PRINT #1, "WIS: "; WISDOM%
960 PRINT #1, "DEX: "; DEXTERITY%
970 PRINT #1, "CON: "; CONSTITUTION%
980 PRINT #1, "CHR: "; CHARISMA%
990 PRINT #1,
1000 PRINT #1, "Hit Points: "; HITPOINTS%
1010 PRINT #1,
1020 PRINT #1, "Gold: "; GOLD%
1030 PRINT #1, "------------------------------": PRINT #1,
1040 PRINT #1, "EQUIPMENT:"
1050 CLOSE #1
1060 END

Retro Battle Stations: The Twins

So at lunch today, I setup both the Mac Plus and the Mac SE on my desk in the bedroom, this is where I plan to work on them, away from cat supervision.

The Plus does power on, but as I was unpacking boxes, I found the floppy for it had been removed, the previous owner said it was bad, so this does not bother me much, although I may put it back in just test it myself. I also found an Apple 300 external CDROM, I plugged it into the Mac SE, it powers on and takes discs, but the system did not see it. All I have is a startup disk rather than the complete operating system. so it may mean I just need drivers for it.


I also found an unopened copy of HyperCard, this was an early attempt at a way to collect and present data, sort of a precursor the the World Wide Web, minus the network support. I do not know if I have the heart to actually open it and try to use it.

Edit: The events described in this post occurred Friday Oct 11th 2019. 

Retro Battle Station: Commodore 64

So I did a slight bit of testing on the Commodore 64 I picked up. When I power it on, the TV gets a signal, but the screen is black. This can be caused by one of three things, the CPU, the PLA (Programmable Logic Array) or the VIC II video chip.

I took my multi meter to the board to make sure I was getting the correct power throughout the board, everything checked out, I seemed to be getting power to all the places power needed to go. I put my dead test cartridge in and still got a black screen. The cart will usually run even if the memory is bad or the VIC II is not working. This kind of narrows it down to the PLA or the CPU, of the two, the PLA is far the most likely to go bad than the CPU. Fortunately there are some cheap replacements out there for around $20 so I have ordered one. In the meantime, there is a key missing, so my plan this weekend is to repair the keyboard, I already have everything I need for that.



In this picture, I have pulled the PLA. Looking at it, I probably need to clean the board as well.

Edit: The events described in this post occurred Wednesday Oct 9th 2019.  

Retro Battle Stations

A few days ago an acquaintance at work, who shared my hobby of restoring old computers, told me he had moved into a smaller apartment and needed to get rid of some stuff and offered to sell me some of the stuff he had not gotten a chance to restore. Seeing a long cold winter ahead, I jumped at the chance and bought a Macintosh Plus, a Macintosh SE and a Commodore 64 from him for $50.

On the night I first had my projects, I booted up the SE. It booted fine from the floppy drive, but the SCSI hard drive is not being recognized.



I looked on Ebay and some other places, I can probably replace the drive for $50 to $60. The problem of course is any drive I put in there will likely be 20 or 30 years old and prone to eventual failure. I have a couple of options, like a SCSI2SD adapter or a Floppy EMU, both of those options will probably cost me $100 or so.

Edit: The events described in this post occurred Tuesday Oct 8th 2019.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Don't Panic, I moved my hosting

I have been hosting my own server for several years. It was fun, but maintenance has just gotten to be too much of a pain. Plus it was costing me $100 a year. If I were doing more than running my blog, it would probably be worth it, but lets face it, I am barely blogging these days, so the cost and trouble was just not worth it.

I moved everything to Blogger and for $12 a year, google can do all the maintenance. I did my best to move everything, there are still some broken links, but I think I fixed most of them yesterday. There are still some YouTube links that need to be updated, but otherwise everything should be good to go.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Fall Vacation

I have been on vacation this week, as I stated in previous posts this week. I painted the living room and made a cake for the wife's birthday. On Wednesday and Thursday, I tried to get some writing done and I did, although not nearly as much as I wanted to. I started out thinking I could punch out 5000 words, but it became really obvious to me that I was just not in the right mood and brought my bar down to 2000-2500. Well, I did not even make that, I think I finally got 1000 at some point.

One of the things I did accomplish was I made a cable for my Commodore 128 that allows me to access 80 column mode. To do this you have to be able to plug a monitor into the RGB connector on the back of the computer. The problem with this is, no RGB monitors have been made for probably 25 years. You can buy them on ebay, but they cost a couple of hundred dollars with no guarantee as to how long it will last. There are basically three ways to convert this output to something a modern screen can display, a $15 solution, an $80 solution and a $200 solution. Someday I may invest in the more expensive solutions, but considering I actually use my C128 only very rarely, it seems a waste of money to use those methods. The $15 solution does require a bit of work and will only display in gray scale, unfortunately, no color.

For this project, you need two things, DB9 Male D-SUB Adapter Plate Connector RS232 Serial to Terminal Board Signal Module and an RCA video cable. Both of these things can be had on Amazon for less than $8 each.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071ZLNDYT/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B6J8TJK/ref=twister_B07B62BSWS?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1


The first thing you will want to do is cut off one end of the cable and strip the insulation off. With these cables, you have two layers of wire, so genitally strip off the first layer of insulation. There will be wire wrapped around an inner wire, covered with more insulation. Twist up the outer wire, so it is out of the way, then strip the inner insulation and twist the inner wire. Make sure these two wires are separated and not crossed with each other.

The next thing you are going to do is connect the outer wire to pin 1 (or 2 if you like) of the DB9 connector and then connect the inner wire to pin 7. This picture shows the solder side of the connector, I would suggest using the connectors I linked to above, it uses screw contacts instead of soldering, it just saves time and energy.

That is pretty much it, plug it in to the monitor and the C128, depress the 40/80 Dis[lay button and turn your C128 on, if all went well, you should have a monochrome boot screen.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lancelot and Genevieve


I like this picture, I am not sure if it is meant to be Lancelot and Genevieve or not, but it certainly invokes that feeling for me. The world has turned against the lovers, the happy times are behind them and the road ahead is nothing but darkness, but still he protects her the best he can for as long as he can.