HA8-3 Color Graphics games - blast from the past

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Les Bird

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Aug 26, 2021, 5:45:03 PMAug 26
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Hey all,

Back in the day in high school (early 80s) I wrote a couple games for my Heathkit H8 computer with the HA8-3 graphics card add-on.

Back story...

One day my dad, who was a hardware technician at the local Heathkit store in Jacksonville, brought home a brand new HA8-3 Color Graphics card. He knew I loved making games. I was excited to jump in and learn with it. In the arcades I loved playing this game called Warlords by Atari so I started working on a version of the game for my new graphics card. After months of work back then I finally completed it. I was 17 at the time and I think it turned out really well. It was written in 8080 assembly language.

Yesterday I put one of the graphics cards into my H8 computer and loaded up some of those old games I made. The YouTube link below is a sample of the Warlords game I made. It supported up to 4 local players and the controller was based on an old Atari VCS paddle controller that I hacked up to work with the graphics card. In the video it is playing itself with the computer AI controlling 3 players and the bottom left player is the human player, but without a controller I can't play it.


If you want to see some of these games on your own H8 with the graphics card you can find them in the SEBHC Collection Volume 1 (CPM_ASSEMBLER120A1.H8D, CPM_ASSEMBLER120A2.H8D and CPM_ASSEMBLER120A3.H8D). The Spacewar and Warlords games on those images are completed but some of the others were in-progress and never completed.

Enjoy! I was quite proud of how this game turned out but I had no idea how to get it published at the time.

Les


norberto.collado koyado.com

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Aug 26, 2021, 6:02:47 PMAug 26
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Very nice and I enjoyed the youtube video. How did you connect from the card to the VGA monitor?

Norby


From: se...@googlegroups.com <se...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Les Bird <les...@bellsouth.net>
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2021 2:45 PM
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Subject: [sebhc] HA8-3 Color Graphics games - blast from the past
 
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Steven Feinsmith

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Aug 26, 2021, 6:17:30 PMAug 26
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Wow, I remembered HA8-3 during my old days, but I never have one. I was an undergraduate at the university at the time.
It may be nice to recreate the HA8-3 along with your Warlords software.

Steven

norberto.collado koyado.com

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Aug 26, 2021, 7:47:26 PMAug 26
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I wonder how easy will be to duplicate such board and if schematics available.

Norby


From: se...@googlegroups.com <se...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Steven Feinsmith <steven.f...@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2021 3:17 PM
To: se...@googlegroups.com <se...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: [sebhc] HA8-3 Color Graphics games - blast from the past
 

Glenn Roberts

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Aug 26, 2021, 8:23:37 PMAug 26
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Les: I recall that there were some HA-8-3 games in the archive with your name on them. Glad to see one in action!

I would like to show this at VCF East. How’d you connect the monitor? The video quality seems quite good!

Norberto: I have the original schematic and can share if it hasn’t already been posted. 

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 26, 2021, at 7:47 PM, norberto.collado koyado.com <norberto...@koyado.com> wrote:



Les Bird

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Aug 26, 2021, 8:51:57 PMAug 26
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Norberto, with your skills you could probably fit the graphics card on the CPU board, haha. The graphics chip was based on the TMS9918 which was also found in the TI99/4a. Additionally it had an AY-3-8910 sound chip on it. My game does have sound as well but I couldn't find an adapter to connect it to the TV.

Glenn, Norberto, the TV I have supports composite video input which is what the graphics card outputs so it was just a matter of plugging in the RCA composite video cable.

Glenn, would be cool to show off the graphics card at VCF. Would be even better if there were working controllers so people could play it. :)

Les

Douglas Miller

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Aug 26, 2021, 8:56:12 PMAug 26
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I'm guessing there must be modern chips/modules that produce HDMI output? That can include audio as well.

Steven Feinsmith

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Aug 26, 2021, 9:22:37 PMAug 26
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These parts are easy to purchase nowadays. Here is an example as follows:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/363474411197?hash=item54a0c35ebd:g:W70AAOSw-0xYNxFF
or
https://www.ebay.com/itm/403008599134?hash=item5dd52f345e:g:aCMAAOSwmg1gNiIw

I am not sure if I may have a schematic for the HA8-3. I have to search for it here or at my storage place. In case I may have it, then I will post it here.

Steven



norberto.collado koyado.com

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Aug 26, 2021, 9:35:41 PMAug 26
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Thanks!


Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2021 6:22 PM

Steven Feinsmith

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Aug 26, 2021, 11:13:58 PMAug 26
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I found information for the HA8-3 from SEBHC's website, https://sebhc.github.io/sebhc/documentation/hardware/H8/H8-3_Op.zip, but there was no schematic.
 
Steven

Norberto Collado

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Aug 27, 2021, 1:04:16 AMAug 27
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Thanks Steven!

 

Based on documentation, it is almost the same as the SSI board that Terry S. put together. It just needed the Video Display Processor. It should be easy to recreate once schematic is available.

 

Norberto

Norberto Collado

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Aug 27, 2021, 3:46:21 AMAug 27
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So this adapter will work fine with it.

 

Glenn, Terry S. is the expert on joystick.

 

A picture containing text, electronics, camera

Description automatically generated

Glenn Roberts

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Aug 27, 2021, 3:53:55 AMAug 27
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I have full schematic and all the documentation and software. Will post schematic when I get home.

I have a few flat screen TVs with composite input so will try those first given the good results Les had

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 27, 2021, at 3:46 AM, Norberto Collado <norberto...@koyado.com> wrote:



So this adapter will work fine with it.

 

Glenn, Terry S. is the expert on joystick.

 

<image001.png>

Les Bird

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Aug 27, 2021, 8:51:33 AMAug 27
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Glenn, if you get a chance can you put the schematic and any additional documentation you have on the SEBHC website?

Les

glenn.f...@gmail.com

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Aug 27, 2021, 6:14:44 PMAug 27
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I can post to the site but initially here’s the update to my google photos account.

 

Schematics:

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/S2Qmorpf48eoMX8a8

https://photos.app.goo.gl/GEYy2xZEpVh7UbvG7

 

board shots:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/uifwGNuShhUvuYjH8

https://photos.app.goo.gl/xPE7J5xrsfpsoJND9

https://photos.app.goo.gl/UgHW8pcVK5bymuxj6

 

the empty socket is for the math co-processor (I have one, it’s just not installed in this shot).

 

I have no additional documentation. The manual on the site appears to be complete (in fact it’s a newer version than I have…)

norberto.collado koyado.com

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Aug 27, 2021, 7:23:20 PMAug 27
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Thanks! What is the value of Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4?


From: se...@googlegroups.com <se...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of glenn.f...@gmail.com <glenn.f...@gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, August 27, 2021 3:14 PM
To: se...@googlegroups.com <se...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: RE: [sebhc] HA8-3 Color Graphics games - blast from the past
 

glenn.f...@gmail.com

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Aug 27, 2021, 8:13:09 PMAug 27
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The second link under schematics contains a table of all the semiconductors.  The transistors are 2N2222As. The ones on my board are in a TO-18 case, e.g.:

 

2N2222A: Major Brands : 2N2222A NPN Switching Transistor 40V 800mA TO-18 : ICs & Semiconductors (jameco.com)

Steven Feinsmith

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Aug 27, 2021, 8:40:54 PMAug 27
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Thank you for providing us with the schematic charts and photos. It will help us to create a clone board.

Steven

glenn.f...@gmail.com

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Aug 27, 2021, 8:46:31 PMAug 27
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Might have to go to the video game hobby sites to track down some of these old chips… (arcadepartsandrepair, quest, etc.)

glenn.f...@gmail.com

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Aug 27, 2021, 8:52:34 PMAug 27
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Also a reminder: the default board configuration uses ports in the 270Q-276Q range, which could interfere with the Z67 in its alternate configuration.  I’m just now getting back up to speed on that.  It may be only the Arithmetic Processor that represents a direct conflict as that uses 274Q by default.  Changing the board is possible but involves cutting traces and soldering wires (no jumpers!)

 

Since the 274Q configuration for the Z67 was not the Heath “standard” I guess this wasn’t an issue back then, but today many of us use 274 so that we can keep 174 for the H17 and 170 for the H37.  It’s all workable but you need to plan the configuration carefully….

Glenn Roberts

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Aug 29, 2021, 5:10:57 PMAug 29
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Well, I seem to be able to reproduce your demo Les.

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/PeJSiXF9Soaa2JFH9

 

do you recall if the controllers are analog (e.g. paddles) or contact (e.g. joystick up/down/left/right) based?  I suppose I can scrutinize the source and figure that out…

 

sound works great.  “gunshot” sounds whenever the sprite hits a wall.

 

From: se...@googlegroups.com <se...@googlegroups.com> On Behalf Of Les Bird

norberto...@koyado.com

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Aug 29, 2021, 6:21:46 PMAug 29
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WOW! Great work! If we can source same IC’s then we can reproduced the board, except the 4116 RAM which can be replaced with a single 32K IC.

 

Thanks for sharing,

Norby

Dave McGuire

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Aug 29, 2021, 6:28:37 PMAug 29
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On 8/29/21 6:21 PM, norberto...@koyado.com wrote:
> WOW! Great work! If we can source same IC’s then we can reproduced the
> board, except the 4116 RAM which can be replaced with a single 32K IC.

I don't think you can actually do that with a TMS9918. It connects to
and controls 4116s directly, including directly driving the RAS and CAS
lines. It would take some logic to put a modern SRAM on it, I think.

-Dave

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Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
New Kensington, PA

Terry Smedley

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Aug 29, 2021, 6:34:11 PMAug 29
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As Steven pointed out, there are sources for the video and sound chips.  There's one eBay seller (Hong Kong) that specializes in kitting chipsets for retro builds.  I have submitted a request for an "HA-8-3" kit with the TMS9918, AY3-8910, AD7574, and AD7501 chips.  Those are all available independently, but we'll see what this seller comes up with for a set.

A chunk of the HA-8-3 circuitry can be replaced with a GAL to do all the chip selects.

Terry

Glenn Roberts

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Aug 29, 2021, 6:54:47 PMAug 29
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The board was interesting in that it put five functions: TI graphics, A/D converter, general purpose digital I/O, sound, and arithmetic processing on a single board. I bought one and tinkered with it, but to my knowledge there was very little software developed for it either by commercial vendors or HUGgies. This was a time of rapid advancement in graphics and gaming and I think the H8 was just never competitive in that space. I remember buying a VIC-20 at Target for $99 in the early 80s and it was a much better investment for this sort of thing. Yeah I still have the VIC …

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 29, 2021, at 6:34 PM, Terry Smedley <terry....@gmail.com> wrote:

As Steven pointed out, there are sources for the video and sound chips.  There's one eBay seller (Hong Kong) that specializes in kitting chipsets for retro builds.  I have submitted a request for an "HA-8-3" kit with the TMS9918, AY3-8910, AD7574, and AD7501 chips.  Those are all available independently, but we'll see what this seller comes up with for a set.

Steven Feinsmith

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Aug 29, 2021, 7:17:10 PMAug 29
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The HA8-3 board was designed back in the late 1970 or early 1980s. The video resolution was limited during the old days. The Texas Instrument 9918 (1979) was advanced and made everything simple and minimum cost as affordable. Nowadays, we are more advanced in video controllers. I assume it is okay to re-create the board. Then, we can seek to create a new generation of video board that use semi-modern video controllers such as Trident TVGA9000i-3. This chip is used on the S-100computers.com board. Please see:

http://www.s100computers.com/My%20System%20Pages/VGA%20Board/VGA%20Board.htm

What do you think?
Steven

norberto...@koyado.com

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Aug 29, 2021, 7:38:44 PMAug 29
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I was thinking in adding two latched buffers controlled by RAS/CAS clocks to create A0-A13 and two more buffers for data-in and data-out.

-----Original Message-----
From: se...@googlegroups.com <se...@googlegroups.com> On Behalf Of Dave McGuire
Sent: Sunday, August 29, 2021 3:29 PM
To: se...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [sebhc] HA8-3 Color Graphics games - blast from the past

Dave McGuire

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Aug 29, 2021, 8:40:57 PMAug 29
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Ah, that's a neat idea. I bet that'll work nicely!

-Dave

Les Bird

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Aug 29, 2021, 8:52:26 PMAug 29
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Glenn, that’s fantastic! I had to order an adapter to connect the sound to my TV, arriving tomorrow, so I haven’t heard the sound and forgot what the game sounded like. Excited to find out tomorrow.

The joysticks were paddle-type analog.

Try my Spacewar game if you get a chance. I recall I had the Blue Danube song in there from 2001. Also another game I was working on was Fuel Depot which I called Fighter.com. Give that a try, it was never completed. I also started work on a breakout game called Break8-3 or something like that but never got very far with it.

Kinda want to start making more games for it now. Probably a Galaga type or Space Invaders type game would be cool.

Les

Glenn Roberts

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Aug 29, 2021, 9:28:08 PMAug 29
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Great!  I’ll try those next.  I’ll also look through the archives.  I see, for example, color graphics references in some HUG disks (885-1098 and 1099).

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Les Bird

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Aug 29, 2021, 9:53:42 PMAug 29
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Yeah good idea. The Color Graphics distribution disk had some cool demos. A kaleidoscope demo was one that I remember along with a few others. It's in the archive as well.

Les

Dave McGuire

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Aug 30, 2021, 9:37:58 AMAug 30
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On 8/29/21 7:16 PM, Steven Feinsmith wrote:
> The HA8-3 board was designed back in the late 1970 or early 1980s. The
> video resolution was limited during the old days. The Texas Instrument
> 9918 (1979) was advanced and made everything simple and minimum cost as
> affordable. Nowadays, we are more advanced in video controllers. I
> assume it is okay to re-create the board. Then, we can seek to create a
> new generation of video board that use semi-modern video controllers
> such as Trident TVGA9000i-3. This chip is used on the S-100computers.com
> board. Please see:
>
> http://www.s100computers.com/My%20System%20Pages/VGA%20Board/VGA%20Board.htm

This is a great idea, but the problem is those chips are difficult to
find.

An alternative might be the NEC uPD7220. It's less capable than the
TVGA9000, but it's a whole lot more capable than the TMS9918. And
they're easy to find, and not too difficult to apply.
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