Hello from Italy!

Post here first, tell us about yourself, your interests, your country...
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nippur72
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2022 10:31 am

Hello from Italy!

Post by nippur72 » Thu Mar 10, 2022 11:36 am

Hi, I'm a new user but long time into retrocomputing :-)

In the past years I've been involved in collecting and preserving the Laser 500 from VTech, but I also have interest in Laser 310/VZ300, VIC20, Apple-1 and various 8 bit machines.

I joined the forum because I'd like to learn more about the CreatiVision, it's a peculiar machine that deserves to be (re)discovered! As I know the other VTech 8 bit machines quite well it will be interesting to see if there are any similarities in the design.

My emulators that run in the browser:
- Laser 500
- Laser 310
- GP MODEL T
- APPLE1
- LM80C
- VIC20
- C64

My MiST FPGA cores:
- Laser 500
- LM80C
- Apple1
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Scouter3d
Posts: 517
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:02 am
Location: Wien
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Re: Hello from Italy!

Post by Scouter3d » Thu Mar 10, 2022 12:10 pm

Hi nippur72,

welcome to the forum!

The creativision is a very cool machine! I love to build hardware extensions for it!
The main difference to the other Vtech 8Bits will be the 6502 instead of Z80...
you will find all necessary schematics, infos and emulator here.

If questions arise - feel free to ask :0)

Cheers, TOM:0)
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cheshirenoir
Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Jun 02, 2019 5:17 am

Re: Hello from Italy!

Post by cheshirenoir » Thu Mar 10, 2022 11:30 pm

Hi to nippur72,
You've come to the right place. This is where I began my journey into CreatiVision fandom many moons ago, all because I believed the emulation in MAME was incorrect. (It was and has been since fixed)

Chesh
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nippur72
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2022 10:31 am

Re: Hello from Italy!

Post by nippur72 » Fri Mar 11, 2022 7:50 am

thank you for the warm welcome! I've already downloaded the emulator and started getting acquainted with the machine.

Is there a user manual for the Laser 2001 where to look for hardware details (memory map, I/O etc) ?

@cheshirenoir, when I started with the Laser 500 years ago I had the same issue, MESS was very inaccurate, I tried to help by submitting bugs but in the end I had to develop my own emulator.
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Scouter3d
Posts: 517
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Location: Wien
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Re: Hello from Italy!

Post by Scouter3d » Fri Mar 11, 2022 1:11 pm

Hi nippur72,

sadly there is no original (technical) documentation available for the Laser 2001 / Salora Manager...

I did a rough Memorymap (attached here), and i have "disected" the Laser and the Salora, so i have highres pictures of the PCBs and i have traced and documented the pinout of all the ports on this machines (for when we where building the CSL Cartridge and the emulator), if you PM me your email i can send them to you...

Cheers, TOM:0)
memorymaps.jpg
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@username@
Posts: 217
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:59 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Re: Hello from Italy!

Post by @username@ » Fri Mar 11, 2022 2:35 pm

The Laser 2001 and Salora Manager have additional ROM space at $1200-$1FFF and $2200 - $2FFF.

This is where the DISK ROM sits and hooks BASIC.
˙uʍop-ǝpısdn sı ɹoʇıuoɯ ɹnoʎ 'sıɥʇ pɐǝɹ uɐɔ noʎ ɟı

The creatiVision Emulator 16.04.24
Salora Manager / Laser 2001 BLOAD utility 0.9
CSL Cartridge - Replacement Keyboard - MegaSDCart BIOS
http://sourceforge.net/projects/creativisionemulator
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nippur72
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2022 10:31 am

Re: Hello from Italy!

Post by nippur72 » Fri Mar 11, 2022 5:17 pm

thank you, the memory map is a good starting point, I will try to port/convert some of my 6502 related stuff. In the past months I wrote a Tetris clone for the Apple1+TMS9918 which I think it could be ported quite easily, though I see there is already a Tetris-like game (Block).

Is there a disassembly of the 2K BIOS ROM?
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@username@
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Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:59 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Re: Hello from Italy!

Post by @username@ » Fri Mar 11, 2022 6:58 pm

Here you go - hopefully enough to kick you off.

There is a document too - bios.rtf or similar.
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˙uʍop-ǝpısdn sı ɹoʇıuoɯ ɹnoʎ 'sıɥʇ pɐǝɹ uɐɔ noʎ ɟı

The creatiVision Emulator 16.04.24
Salora Manager / Laser 2001 BLOAD utility 0.9
CSL Cartridge - Replacement Keyboard - MegaSDCart BIOS
http://sourceforge.net/projects/creativisionemulator
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MADrigal
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Re: Hello from Italy!

Post by MADrigal » Sat Mar 12, 2022 10:20 am

nippur72 wrote:
Fri Mar 11, 2022 7:50 am
thank you for the warm welcome! I've already downloaded the emulator and started getting acquainted with the machine.

Is there a user manual for the Laser 2001 where to look for hardware details (memory map, I/O etc) ?

@cheshirenoir, when I started with the Laser 500 years ago I had the same issue, MESS was very inaccurate, I tried to help by submitting bugs but in the end I had to develop my own emulator.
My friend - user guides and a lot of materials can be found on the CreatiVEmu website - go to 'releases/hardware' to find and download user manuals including BASIC etc not just for CreatiVision - but also for Laser 2001. And 'releases/software' for manuals of games and cartridges (including the BASIC interpreter for CV). Lastly, there are a lot of books and articles, and the precious 'fanzine' Wizzdom with a lot of useful pieces of information.
Schematics of the CV are also on the CreatiVEmu main website.

In response to your query re 'similarities' - the CreatiVision has literally nothing at all to do with the other VTech machines (except for the Laser 2001). I have (unconfirmed) information according to which the CV was originally designed in Korea by Oltron, and the design was then sold to VTech.
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nippur72
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Re: Hello from Italy!

Post by nippur72 » Sun Mar 13, 2022 8:58 am

I'm slowly digesting all the info, and it's a lot of fun to rediscover this machine! I don't know how to describe it, but I have this strange feeling like a deja-vu as if I have been teleported back in the '80 in a parallel universe where Creativision was the machine of my adoption :lol:

With the BIOS disassembly I was able to figure out how to adapt my existing toolchain and cook my first program. I use "KickC" as C compiler, for which I wrote a simple target linker configuration file (ROM $8000-$BFFF, RAM $0200-$3FFF plus ZP and STACK).

Anyway I had to use an external script that manually writes the $BFFC cart starting address in the .bin file, because I don't know a better way to do that in KickC directly. I still have to understand how carts are meant to work with the BIOS and how to setup the vectors properly; for now I just jump to my program address and use the BIOS only for the keyboard input routine ($FA00).

But I'll address this and other questions (I have a LOT of them) in separate threads.

Some screens from a program that I've converted from a previous Apple1 + TMS9918 project:
demo_16KROM-004.png
demo_16KROM-003.png
demo_16KROM-001.png
About the "similarities": the disk drive format seems to be the same used in Laser 500 (which is a real shame that I didn't know that before, we did all the reverse engineering from scratch).
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