PDA

View Full Version : Making Tapes from Downloaded Files Using a Modern Computer



tempest
September 30th, 2015, 06:22 AM
Recently I got my hands on a Exidy Sorcerer computer. Now that I have it fixed and running, I want to get some software to run on it. Unfortunately actual Sorcerer software seems to be nearly impossible to find, ranging from 'you'll see it on Ebay once every 5 years' to 'Bigfoot owns the only copy'. Thankfully some of games have been dumped and are available online for use with emulators. However I want to use these files with my actual Sorcerer. What I need help with is making real tapes from these downloaded files.

I understand how to do this in theory. All I should have to do is:

1. Download the file
2. Turn it into a .wav or .mp3 if it's not already in that format (not sure how to do this)
3. Plug my tape deck (a TI-99 Program Recorder) into the output jack on my sound card
4. Hit record and then play the file

This *should* get me a working tape, but in reality it isn't that easy. There are variables like volume, tone, and speed to deal with. So I'd like some advice/help on how to do this. As I mentioned earlier, not all the files I've found are in the appropriate format (.wav or .mp3), some are in weird formats that aren't sound files but rather files for emulators.

Tezza wrote some very nice write ups on how to do exactly what I'm looking for (one for SV-318 and one for the Sorcerer). Unfortunately the one for the Sorcerer uses an old outdated version of MESS that I can't find (it's merged with MAME now and I can't figure any of it out), while the one for the SV-318 uses a program called SVI to WAV that I can't find anymore. If anyone can help me figure this out I'd appreciate it. I'm sure it's not too difficult once you get into it, but I need help with these first few steps.

Also, if anyone has these files already converted to the proper format and specs for recording I'd really appreciate it as it would save me a lot of time fiddling with them on my own.


SV-318 Instructions: http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/blog/2009-08-11-stocking-up-a-spectravideo318.html
Sorcerer Instructions: http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/blog/2011-06-18-sorcerer-software-stockup.htm

vwestlife
September 30th, 2015, 06:49 AM
You don't necessarily need to record the programs to tape. Once you get them converted to WAV or MP3 you can play them directly from your PC or iPod, MP3 player, etc. into the vintage computer. You could even burn the tracks to a CD-R and play them from a CD player.

tempest
September 30th, 2015, 06:52 AM
I want to record them to tape though. Not only is it the 'authentic' way to do it, but some systems like the SV-318/328 have a special tape drive connector so you couldn't hook it up directly to your computer.

SomeGuy
September 30th, 2015, 08:00 AM
For volume, you will probably just have to experiment. Each cassette recorder is different. And most consumer audio cassette recorders had crap recording capabilities. If you happen to have any factory original program tapes at all you can compare how they sound. Some computer-specific cassette recorders had slightly better recording abilities - I used to get excellent recordings from a Tandy CCR-82. That also had a nice feature where you could listen to what was being recorded while it was recording.

Also, make sure your tape recorder's drives belts are in good condition, or you can wind up with "wobbly" audio recorded on the tape.

When you output from a modern computers audio card, you will also need to adjust the bass, treble, and any other output processing settings. (usually turn down bass and turn up treble).

For stuff in an emulator format, you may have to load it up in an emulator and then re-save it as an audio file.

Due to compression in MP3s and such, you might actually want to load it from the "modern" computer and then save it back directly to cassette from the real computer.

Chuck(G)
September 30th, 2015, 08:34 AM
I figure it's a good thing that folks don't want to practice "authentic" 19th century dentistry just for the experience... :)

tempest
September 30th, 2015, 09:05 AM
Thanks for all the tips, I'll fiddle around with those settings and see what I can get working. It sounds like it's really just a lot of trial and error.

I really should check the belt on the tape player as I've have 3 different Atari ones die on me due to melting belts.

Are there any brands of tapes I should stay away from? Will modern ones (made in the last 10 years or so) work just as well as ones made in the 80's?

vwestlife
September 30th, 2015, 09:19 AM
Most "shoebox"-style cassette recorders have automatic level control, so the input level into the recorder is not critical (nor is it affected by the recorder's volume or tone settings). Modern PCs don't have a very high audio output level, so you could probably just turn the volume in your PC's mixer all the way up and leave it there. The tape recorder will automatically reduce the level if it needs to.

Use good quality, brand name Type I tapes (not Chrome or Metal). Avoid tapes from dubious no-name brands, as they are likely to have lots of dropouts. Also avoid really old tapes, even if they are "new old stock", as they could start shedding oxide and gum up the mechanism. You can still get new 10-minute cassettes intended for data recording, but the are expen$ive: http://www.ebay.com/itm/151808239508

The playback level from the recorder into the vintage computer is critical and requires some experimentation. Generally, set the volume and tone controls to their middle position and see if that works. If that doesn't, gradually increase the volume and tone controls until it does.

tempest
September 30th, 2015, 09:26 AM
You think these would be ok? http://www.ebay.com/itm/351304081914

vwestlife
September 30th, 2015, 11:05 AM
You think these would be ok? http://www.ebay.com/itm/351304081914

Any ordinary Type I tape will work fine. Many drug stores and office supply stores still sell blank cassettes (as well as Radio Shack, if there's any still left in your area).

tempest
September 30th, 2015, 11:24 AM
I actually never thought of that. Thanks for the tip.

mwillegal
September 30th, 2015, 12:12 PM
I've been doing software development on Macintosh OS/X using emulators and downloading to real Apple 1 and Apple II targets using iPods as cassette replacements for a few years. It works so well that sometimes I don't even bother with attaching floppies or other mass storage to the real target systems.

The trick is to develop code that will transform your assembler output into some kind of sound file. I use AIFF format. My Apple conversion routine takes Intel hex files as input and creates the AIFF file. Move the AIFF to iTunes and it will automatically be synced to your portable music player. An Apple 1 version of my conversion utility can be found on this web page.

http://www.willegal.net/appleii/apple1-software.htm

I also just posted on my blog, source for a non-trivial utility that goes the other way (AIFF to Intel Hex) for the 8008 based SCELBI. This may be an adaptable starting point for other system tape formats. I'll be working on the Intel Hex to SCELBI compatible AIFF utility very soon. I hope to soon be using AIFF files as my personal standard digital file format for the SCELBI, as I'm working on upgrading my emulator to read and write these files, as well.

http://www.willegal.net/blog/?p=7410


regards,
Mike Willegal

tezza
September 30th, 2015, 04:22 PM
Tezza wrote some very nice write ups on how to do exactly what I'm looking for (one for SV-318 and one for the Sorcerer). Unfortunately the one for the Sorcerer uses an old outdated version of MESS that I can't find (it's merged with MAME now and I can't figure any of it out), while the one for the SV-318 uses a program called SVI to WAV that I can't find anymore. If anyone can help me figure this out I'd appreciate it. I'm sure it's not too difficult once you get into it, but I need help with these first few steps.

Also, if anyone has these files already converted to the proper format and specs for recording I'd really appreciate it as it would save me a lot of time fiddling with them on my own.

I've dropped my own sorcerer WAVs onto my public dropbox folder. Feel free to download. I'll just be keeping them there until you get them as I'm a bit short on space.
sorcerer-wav-mess-slowed.zip (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5399598/temp/sorcerer-wav-mess-slowed.zip) are the ONES I originally converted from the MESS package. I found I had to slow them down to get them to load on my machine.

I normally load these in from the sound card on the PC. Even now though loading is hit and miss. The sorcerer seems so very sensitive to volume and tone.

sorcerer-wav-mess.zip (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5399598/temp/sorcerer-mess-original.zip) are the original files I converted from the MESS archives, before I reduced the speed. If the others don't work, maybe these ones will (however, none will load on my machine).

Re the Spectravideo 318, this cassette manager might help

SVICasMan202.zip (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5399598/temp/SVICasMan202.zip) or maybe this cas2wav.zip (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5399598/temp/cas2wav.zip)

Let me know when you've got the files.

Tez

tezza
September 30th, 2015, 04:41 PM
Also a comment on my software for Sorcerer article by Paul van der Spel. He says...

"Also I found that saving the WAV in MAME using 300 baud (SE T=1) will produce a WAV that loads on the Sorcerer without issues. Of course the WAV will be bigger and loading will take longer than using the default 1200 baud."

That might be useful if you ever get your head around MAME and try to convert the original software collection (http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/blog/files/exidy-software.rar) to WAV yourself.

Tez

tempest
September 30th, 2015, 04:50 PM
Thank you! I got the files. Did the SV-328 games have to be slowed down as well? If so, do you have those wav files?

tezza
September 30th, 2015, 04:58 PM
Here are the SVI-318 cassette WAVs I made (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5399598/temp/sv318-cassette-files.zip). No, these didn't need to be slowed down BUT I did copy them onto real cassettes first, then read the cassettes into the SVI318 using its tape deck. The SVI-318 has a non-standard cassette deck interface which means hooking it up to the PC soundcard is not straighforward.

Tez

tempest
September 30th, 2015, 05:39 PM
Got them. Thank you.

Trixter
October 1st, 2015, 12:15 PM
Also avoid really old tapes, even if they are "new old stock", as they could start shedding oxide and gum up the mechanism.

Aren't all cassette tapes sold today essentially "new old stock"? Are they still actively manufactured?

vwestlife
October 1st, 2015, 12:28 PM
Aren't all cassette tapes sold today essentially "new old stock"? Are they still actively manufactured?

Yes!

This Company Is Still Making Audio Cassettes and Sales Are Better Than Ever

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-01/this-company-is-still-making-audio-cassettes-and-sales-are-better-than-ever

tempest
October 1st, 2015, 12:35 PM
I knew there was still a company making them, I just couldn't remember the name. I think there's also one company still making 3.5" disks (and possibly 5.25").

tempest
October 3rd, 2015, 08:04 AM
I got it to work! Astro Attacker is now playing on my Sorcerer!

tempest
October 4th, 2015, 12:46 PM
Does anyone have .wav files of the other Sorcerer games?

tempest
October 10th, 2015, 01:06 PM
If not, can someone tell me how to use MAME/MESS to make the .wav files? That or point me to that older version of MESS so I can follow the tutorial? I'd really like to get the rest of those games onto my Sorcerer. Especially that Centipede clone.

tempest
October 10th, 2015, 01:51 PM
Also, I seem to be having problems making the SV-318/328 games work. I think my problems are threefold:

1. I used the .cas to .wav program then I used the Normalize and Amplify functions in Audacity to make a playable wav. I sort of got this to work, as the 328 will recognize the file if I type CLOAD but errors out pretty fast. I'm guessing something was wrong with the wav. Although it could have been the game itself (Alien-8) because when I look at the wav file it seems to have a bunch of pauses in it. Maybe I was supposed to type something at that first OK prompt to keep loading?

2. I don't know when to use CLOAD or BLOAD. If I need to use BLOAD then I don't know the file name. Is it always CLOAD on these games?

3. The counter on my 'recording' tape player seems to be different than the one on my 328 tape player. This makes it impossible to put multiple wavs on the same tape. Any way to fix this?

tezza
October 10th, 2015, 08:21 PM
Yes, it's really fiddly doing this. A great deal of experimentation is required as so many factors come into play...sound card settings...your tape recorder...the SVI tape recorder etc. I spend ages trying different volume and settings.

Did any of my WAVs work? At least you know these are WAVs that have worked for someone. You shouldn't need to alter these...just record them to your own tape recorder, then load them into SVI via it's tape deck. You do need to get the right volume settings when outputting from the sound card though.

My WAVs are simple games for the SVI -318. As you have a SVI-328, you'd probably want to get some which are more complex.

Are you sure your SVI tape deck is working well. Try typing in a long program, saving it, then reloading?

Tez

tempest
October 11th, 2015, 06:36 AM
I got it working. I found a list of which games were BLOAD and which were CLOAD. Now I just need to figure out the file names for the BLOAD games (any way to figure that out?).

EDIT: Figured it out. It's BLOAD "CAS:",r


BTW do you have the .wav file for Kilopede? I noticed that was the only non-Basic Sorcerer game that you didn't include in your zip file.

tezza
October 11th, 2015, 01:37 PM
BTW do you have the .wav file for Kilopede? I noticed that was the only non-Basic Sorcerer game that you didn't include in your zip file.

You mean for the Spectravideo 318? No, I don't seem to have that one.

Tez

tempest
October 11th, 2015, 02:14 PM
No for the Sorcerer. It was the only machine language game missing from your zip.

tezza
October 11th, 2015, 04:38 PM
No for the Sorcerer. It was the only machine language game missing from your zip.

Hmm. I don't think I ever had that one. When you say it is "missing" from the zip, what repository are you comparing it with?

Tez

tempest
October 12th, 2015, 05:48 AM
I'm not 100% sure, I thought it was from your archive. I had found two or three sources for Sorcerer games and put them all in a holder on my PC. I basically have all the games you converted except for the ones that require BASIC. I assume you didn't convert those because you don't have a BASIC cart or just didn't care for the BASIC games? However there is one machine language game that wasn't converted called Kilopede (a centipede clone). I can upload my roms tonight, but you can also get it from here: http://www.retroroms.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?post_id=36158#forumpost36158 That zip file has Kilopede and Amazing Maze (which I think needs BASIC).

If you look at the JSorcerer online emulator (a really nice Java based Sorcerer emulator) you can see that there are several games that you did not convert. However as I said earlier, I think the ones that you didn't all require BASIC with the exception of Kilopede: www.liaquay.co.uk/sorcerer/. I wonder if they can be run from the Model II BASIC that is available on tape? I need to try that.

If you have the ability to convert those other games I'd really love to have them. Either that or if you can post that older version of MESS you were using so I can follow your instructions exactly.

tezza
October 12th, 2015, 03:25 PM
I'm not 100% sure, I thought it was from your archive. I had found two or three sources for Sorcerer games and put them all in a holder on my PC. I basically have all the games you converted except for the ones that require BASIC. I assume you didn't convert those because you don't have a BASIC cart or just didn't care for the BASIC games? However there is one machine language game that wasn't converted called Kilopede (a centipede clone). I can upload my roms tonight, but you can also get it from here: http://www.retroroms.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?post_id=36158#forumpost36158 That zip file has Kilopede and Amazing Maze (which I think needs BASIC).

Thanks, I'll pick that up.


If you look at the JSorcerer online emulator (a really nice Java based Sorcerer emulator) you can see that there are several games that you did not convert. However as I said earlier, I think the ones that you didn't all require BASIC with the exception of Kilopede: www.liaquay.co.uk/sorcerer/ (http://www.liaquay.co.uk/sorcerer/). I wonder if they can be run from the Model II BASIC that is available on tape? I need to try that.

If you have the ability to convert those other games I'd really love to have them. Either that or if you can post that older version of MESS you were using so I can follow your instructions exactly.

The Sorcerer is packed away at the moment so it's not a focus of my activities. I might stock up the software library at some stage though. I would imagine most BASIC programs would work quite well, with a bit of tweaking. The biggest incompatibilities in these old BASICS tends to be graphics commands and PEEKS and POKES. Try it and see.

Tez

tempest
October 13th, 2015, 06:42 AM
I don't suppose you still have that old version of MESS you were using?

tempest
October 16th, 2015, 09:34 AM
I got it to work. I was able to make playable wav files from those two new games.

How does one load a game in BASIC? I want to see how compatible the Level II BASIC is with the Exidy BASIC.

tezza
October 17th, 2015, 01:23 AM
I got it to work. I was able to make playable wav files from those two new games.

How does one load a game in BASIC? I want to see how compatible the Level II BASIC is with the Exidy BASIC.

I can't remember specifically, it's been a while. Try LOAD or CLOAD.

Tez