Peter's z80.eu site blog
Finally I managed to re-active my Central Point Option Board... 
Sunday, September 16, 2018, 10:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
It works now, but it was quite a high effort to get it running.
First, I had to figure out that a Compaq Portable has REALLY not much space inside.
I added first a 256KB RAM card, because otherwise some software can't be started with only 256KB RAM (on board).
But then I recognized that the original video (CGA) card was fixed with a horizontal arranged screw, but the hole for this screw was ONLY in slot #2.
In slot #1, the original floppy disk controller resides, and guess, the cables are really short. So to connect the floppy drives to the first version of the Central Point option board, I had to look for much longer cables, but with two old style shugart connectors and with an AT style connector at controller side. Because this was a pain to arrange it, I decided to exchange the A: and the B: drive connector (so the cable didn't crossed itself). Also, the original floppy disk controller is really "full height", so no space to arrange things more flexible.

Finally it runs, at least with older TRANSCOPY versions (2.x):


This is really tricky to arrange:


And this is the resurrected card (a 16MHz crystal was broken, so I replaced it).


It is even possible to copy special Apple II floppies, see related link.

Edited later: TransCopy 4.2 seems to be the last version which works with the first version of the Option Board (not the "Deluxe" one).
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And another CP/M chess program: MYCHESS 2.3 
Friday, September 14, 2018, 02:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Btw. another strong playing chess program for CP/M is MYCHESS.
The latest version is 2.3(b). It comes with a configuration program (MYCONFIG.COM).
At least you can change the cursor positioning ESC sequence, which makes it possible to place the pieces on the right screen position ;-)
Unfortunately the preconfigured MYCHESS.COM uses already very different ESC sequences to show block graphics I guess, see below.

Starting screen:


Game play screen if MYCHESS.COM is started on MyZ80:


Game play screen if MYCHESSN.COM is started on MyZ80:


Game play screen if MYCHESS.COM is started on VirtualKaypro (emulating a Kaypro 4):


Btw.: Using VirtualKaypro (Java based) is a pain. You have to know that it runs only with country setting "English (USA)", not with a german setting, because the class function for converting the time to a string presumes only US date/time format.
Also, you can't use a directory name containing blanks.
And finally, preloading a "blank" virtual floppy disk with files using the java program archive "format.jar" is also chaotic, because there is no description for the parameters you have to use. The "raw" format is NOT a real binary sector-by-sector raw format, instead, it presumes to have a header, too.

Related link points to a ZIP file with all CP/M files of MYCHESS 2.3b.

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Ancient chess programs: Sargon and Sargon 2 
Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 02:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Well, usually chess programs must have a beautiful user interface to be played, as well as playing chess very well (so not only "Minimax" algorithm, but also some openings).
Looking back to these old days of CP/M computers, screen graphics were rare and properitary programmed. Usually the screen output was characters only.

Sargon is a well known, famous chess program for vintage computers. The first version was SARGON for Z80, and runs (adapted already) on *any* CP/M 2.2 computer. The screen output is ... unique (not beautiful at all). But it is playing chess very well, I lost a few games even with Level 1.

SARGON looks like this:


SARGON 2 starting screen:


... and board display (this time, Sargon started first):


Related link offers the CP/M binaries. It was taken from >Udo Munks download page< (the files from the disk image there can be extracted with cpmtools, disk format is 'ibm-3740', use 'cpmls' and 'cpmcp').
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REVERSI - A QBASIC program from 1990 ... playing stronger as you think 
Wednesday, August 1, 2018, 10:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Almost every Windows 3.x user knows REVERSI aka OTHELLO as a 16-Bit Windows game.
But Microsoft published the same game also as a QBASIC game.
QBASIC was part of MS-DOS 5.0, development of MS-DOS 5.0 reached beta level in 1990.
I was curious and tested REVERSI.BAS from that MS-DOS 5.0 BETA (which is quite the same as one year later in the final MS-DOS 5.0 version), and guess what happened...

I lost it several times even with 'Novice' setting. Finally I managed it to win, but hell it was not really easy. And I did not tried the 'Expert' setting...

Just judge yourself about the game playing strength of that program and start QBASIC from DOS 5 again (e.g. with the help of DOSBOX, which is running even with Windows 10).
Or compile it with >QBASIC64< (which compiles it to a native Windows program).

Related link points to the source code ZIPped.
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VGACOPY is running again - but not with the Pentium 200 CPU... 
Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 12:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
It seems that something is very different with the Pentium 200 Board (in a 430FX mainboard).
I exchanged the ASUS P55TP4 with a SOYO SY-5EAS5 board, and plugged in an AMD K6-2/400AFR CPU. Surprisingly VGACOPY is running again (reading a 360KB floppy disk in a 360KB floppy disk drive), but HD-COPY 2.0a is still not working. This is indeed a surprise, because my first theory about it was, a faster CPU makes more problems than a slower CPU. But the AMD K6-2/400 is definitely faster than a Intel Pentium 200 (no MMX).
Will stop with further investigations, also because floppy copy programs aren't really worth to start a one-year project ;-)

Btw.: CCS64 v3.92 (running with Windows 98) is working very well with that AMD K6-2 CPU, fast enough to emulate a C64 with 100% speed and excellent compatibility.
WinVice, even the DOS version, isn't optimized for speed. It's about ten times SLOWER than CCS64...

The DOS version of CCS64 v2.0 is running even with the Pentium 200 with enough speed, but unfortunately without good compatibility (e.g. Bomberman - see picture - isn't working with the v2.0)

(related link points to CCS64 web site)
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