Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Discuss computers from the Laser series, Time & Fun handhelds, etc.
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MADrigal
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Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by MADrigal » Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:26 am

Why not discussing the VTech Laser 2001 (and its Finnish version, the Salora Manager) here?

I ask all owners to describe it, the programming environment, joysticks, peripherals, etc.

Of course, pictures are welcome too!
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carlsson
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Re: Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by carlsson » Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:36 am

I brought mine out just the other day. I still don't have an English speaking manual and didn't bother too hard trying to decrypt the Finnish one, even if I probably can figure out which commands exist and their syntax.

After a bit of misunderstanding, it turns out the joysticks are Atari-style and software compatible with creatiVision in the cartridge games. I'm not yet sure if the two buttons have different function or not. As I pointed out in another thread though, programs that use the creatiVision keyboard (e.g. Basic, the music program and more) are not compatible with the Laser 2001 keyboard. The tape routines also appear quite different. MADrigal received some recordings, and some day I'm planning to try to modify some existing software for other computers to see if I can read these.

A floppy disk interface would be nice, but I suppose those both are rare as hen's teeth and expensive as well. As long as it would record as FM or MFM, I'm quite confident it would be possible to write a driver for OmniFlop.

I suppose a bit of technical research and some ROM dumps is all it would take to create a Laser 2001 emulator based on the FunnyMu or other emulators. I believe the ROMs are soldered stuck, but I find a way to read them and save to file, I'd do it.
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Re: Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by MADrigal » Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:00 am

carlsson wrote:After a bit of misunderstanding, it turns out the joysticks are Atari-style and software compatible with creatiVision in the cartridge games. I'm not yet sure if the two buttons have different function or not.
Sure they have different functions, otherwise games as Astro Pinball and Choppe Rescue wouldn't work correctly, as they require the use of both buttons. :)
carlsson wrote:MADrigal received some recordings, and some day I'm planning to try to modify some existing software for other computers to see if I can read these.
From my knowledge, Laser 2001 programs on cassette tape are recorded in "raw" format, no "checksum" is calculated. I think bits are read into RAM directly - that's quite different to what creatiVision BASIC does (that's read bits -> calculate bytes -> flip lines right-to-left -> put into VRAM -> update the list of existing BASIC lines).
carlsson wrote:I suppose a bit of technical research and some ROM dumps is all it would take to create a Laser 2001 emulator based on the FunnyMu or other emulators. I believe the ROMs are soldered stuck, but I find a way to read them and save to file, I'd do it.
Yes a dump of the BASIC and BIOS ROMs would be a great start for a Laser 2001 emulator. FunnyMu might also be modified in order to hook the Laser 2001 PIA interface - though I still don't know which model it is.
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Re: Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by carlsson » Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:33 pm

So Luca, did you yet get any action from your Salora Manager?
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Re: Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by MADrigal » Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:38 pm

Sure I tried it a bit, and it's absolutely lovely! :D

About the joystick buttons; yes they have separate functions, and they're SWAPPED if compared to the Creativision joysticks.

Unluckily I had no chance to try any BASIC listings, and I don't have any tape player to test the Sonic Invader wave/tape.
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Re: Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by carlsson » Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:21 pm

You're such a console person, not having a working (preferrably compact) cassette player at hands. :P

As for the joystick, I wonder if the computer in native mode reads it in the same way Kurt wrote about the creatiVision reads its (different) joysticks, i.e. through I/O port calls. Thanks to Google Translate, I figured out the CALL example in chapter 8 of the Salora Manager manual is about reading the joysticks:
A few commands which allows you to use the game controllers in your BASIC program

10 CALL -1536
20 FIRE = PEEK(21)
30 LEFT = PEEK(24)
40 RIGHT = PEEK(19)
50 GOTO 10
Left controller
FIRE = 17 (left button), 34 (right button), 51 (both buttons)
LEFT = 8 (up direction), 2 (down), 32 (left), 4 (right)

Right controller
FIRE = 68 (left button), 136 (right button), 204 (both buttons)
RIGHT = 73 (up direction), 65 (down), 77 (left), 69 (right)

Apparently you can read the fire buttons on the controllers separately:

PEEK(22): FIRE on left controller: 1 (right button), 2 (left button), 3 (both buttons)
PEEK(23): FIRE on right controller: 17 (right button), 34 (left button), 51 (both buttons)

.. if you see the difference from the combined PEEK(21) above.

Hm, I notice Google Translate does a fairly good job with Finnish after all. I would only need to run the PDF through OCR to get editable Finnish text and paste it into the translator paragraph by paragraph, those sections that appear to mention anything important. At least I got another little thing to try now.
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Re: Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by carlsson » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:06 pm

I spotted on Old-Computers that the Salora Manager has custom joystick ports which need an adapter or be hacked to use Atari style joysticks. Is that really so? Since the source was the Finns (tm), I suppose the info is perfectly correct. I haven't tried the mentioned PEEKs on my Laser 2001 but I would assume the joystick ports only are physically different but wired in the same way on the inside?
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Re: Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by MADrigal » Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:24 am

I should open my Manager and shoot pics of the inside in order to reply your question. As far as I remember, the joystick ports are not different to the ones of Laser 2001.
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Re: Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by carlsson » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:44 am

Very confusing. I can't remember if I connected my Laser joysticks to another machine or vice versa, or just assumed the DB9 means they are Atari compatible. I suppose I could use a multimeter and somehow read the signals.
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Re: Laser 2001 & Salora Manager - official thread

Post by carlsson » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:26 pm

Luca just sent me an email regarding a supposedly early revision Laser 2001 computer. We have concluded this model shares the same PSU as the Creativision console does, i.e. the computer gets powered by 9VAC + 16.5VAC. It should be compared to both my Laser 2001 which gets powered by 5VDC + 12VDC and Luca's Salora Manager which has the same voltages.

It gets even more complex by the fact they all share the 5-pin DIN power connector! The power supply on my 2001 illustrates a 6-pin DIN connector but in reality uses a 5-pin connector. The power supply on Luca's Manager has the same model number as my PSU but the illustration displays the 5-pin DIN. The Creativision itself also uses a 5-pin DIN as some of you may know.

I'm looking forward to hear more about this early machine, probably the "missing link" between the Creativision console and the later Laser 2001 computer. It worries me a bit that all of these machines use the same power connector, yet the voltages are radically different. I've tried to trace down if vTech had some other computer or peripheral with 5VDC + 12VDC, but haven't found any match. Does anyone have a clue? It seems very odd to me if they printed labels and assembled the power supplies, then found out the connector is of the wrong kind and needed to be replaced, but labels stayed the same.
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