Beyond Super Gold Card

A place to discuss general QL issues.
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Peter
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Peter » Mon Nov 18, 2019 4:17 pm

Thanks for the info. Block moves in 16 bit colour are also the first thing that come to my mind. If the routines are optimized and moved to fast RAM, that could be quite an improvement for the look & feel. Even more in combination with cache for an overall speed gain.


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QLvsJAGUAR
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby QLvsJAGUAR » Thu Nov 21, 2019 9:30 pm

vanpeebles wrote:It's a bit like an owning an old car and tuning it up :D People just love using the old stuff.

I'm with you.

For me the QL is like a Lotus Esprit S3, innovative, elegant, iconic, underrated. A real legend. Regarding the ulimate upgrade, it depens on what you would like it to turn into:

- As much orginal and as much maximum power of its original design and technology of that time. Like upgrading the S3 to an engine of the Turbo Esprit HC. For the QL it means to choose the Tetroid Disk Interface (TDI).

- As much maximum power using at least the original chassis, body and mechanics. Like upgrading the S3 to an engine of the 98T. For the QL it means to choose the Super Gold Card or its clone.

- As much sustainable power using at least the original body. Like upgrading the S3 to a Tesla Model S chassis, technology and engine. For the QL it means to remove all electronics and install a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B plus a Tynemouth Sinclair QL USB keyboard kit, install and run Raspbian and SMSQmulator.

QL forever!

Urs


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Szk
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Szk » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:18 am

SinclairSociety wrote:And I am one of these new guys and for sure plan on buying a Gold type card.
QLs are selling like hot cakes on eBay so betting a new legion of QLers would like to expand their BBQLs.

dilwyn wrote:...we are seeing a steady trickle of new or returning QL users appearing on here and the QL-related groups on Facebook, so there would be a ready market for one - Peter may well find that the demand exceeds his expectations like the Q68 did if he decides he has the time and energy to design one. Definitely room for both stand-alone Q68-style systems, plus a plug-in derivative to keep the bbql going...

Like TJ, I've also recently joined the QL ranks.

We the new (or returning) QL users are certainly not "new blood", all having long experience with other Sinclair (or other) retro machines, albeit with varying interests and expectations when we get our QL's and then start looking for user communities, upgrades and some glimpse about the future. With the hope that Peter perhaps can see some new perspectives for his projects, let me tell you a little about my own particular case, which is maybe too unique but still may reflect the individual interests and expectations of many other recent QL enthusiasts.

In the last 15 years having collected (too) many Speccies of all flavors from eBay, having backed the Next KS, having tinkered with the Next board installed and expanded into a ZX Spectrum Plus case, I was ready to finally fulfill the old dream to have a Sinclair flagship QL. Unlike 30 years ago, finding and acquiring an affordable QL today is easy. Even easier and cheaper was to buy a non-working unit, perfect for me as I have no intention at this point to learn Superbasic, QDOS or 68K assembly from scratch, as I have no desire at all to mess with unreliable microdrive tapes, as there's not a single QL game that would excite me, and the 4-color TV picture is frankly disappointing for a former ZX Spectrum hardcore user. But then... why exactly I was so excited to get my first QL?

Well, one motivation is admittedly the collector's addiction, with nothing else of interest (and affordable) left to buy in the Speccy camp. But aside the negative points I've listed above, the modern QL has a few superior aspects lacking in the Spectrums, and that's what motivate me the most: the beautiful Rick Dickinson's case/keyboard, to pair with my Toastrack and Next crown jewels; the beautiful Black Phoenix GUI screens + SMSQ/E OS; and the development of the Q68 bringing the Q40/Q60 legacy in a easily upgradeable, reprogrammable, small enough package to fit inside the original QL case after I get rid of the useless original board; after replacing the useless microdrives with QL-SD boards; and finally my pesonal challenge to modify the QL keyboard's innards with my own design PCB with tact switches in a new matrix wired to a specialized PS/2 & USB driving MCU.

My keyboard project still need some time to be finished, but I'm confident I can make it work, and hopefully by then Peter will have an improved Q68 board that I'll purchase to complete my dream QL. ;)


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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby stevepoole » Sat Jan 11, 2020 2:21 pm

Hi Folks,
I see that one of the main subjects of this thread is that the QL is limited to 8 colours, or 256 if you include stipples. But QL stipples only use two colours, combined in four patterns.

Back in december 1993 Quanta printed a little program I wrote, using 'four-colour stipple' combinations, that is 4096 hues ! The problem I had was how to FILL using the new hues ? Filling rectangular shapes was easy using MOVE_MEMORY, but even that won't work on emulators... such as QPC2, because of the way pixels are stored...

So I have rewritten the demo 'new palette' program to run, all but slowly, using for loops, and will put it on the forum when beta-testing is over.

In view of the current regain of interest in retro QLs, perhaps someone can see how to FILL using these new hues, perhaps via pixel masks. Out of 4096 combinations, only some new 238 hues are essentially different.... (depending on their orientations). But they make a refreshing addition when used in pictures !

How does the QL spread stipples when FILLing complex outlines ?

Steve Poole.


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Dave
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Dave » Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:29 pm

My QL video card supports 2/4/8/16 bpp - if the OS can support it. Just for some colour depths the bit order is wrong for native QL-dom, and it doesn't natively support modes 4 and 8, which is a bummer.

But hey, it's something.


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Peter
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Peter » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:07 am

Szk wrote:With the hope that Peter perhaps can see some new perspectives for his projects, let me tell you a little about my own particular case, which is maybe too unique but still may reflect the individual interests and expectations of many other recent QL enthusiasts.

Thanks, it surely contributes to get a clearer picture.

Szk wrote:[...] perfect for me as I have no intention at this point to learn Superbasic, QDOS or 68K assembly from scratch, as I have no desire at all to mess with unreliable microdrive tapes, as there's not a single QL game that would excite me, and the 4-color TV picture is frankly disappointing for a former ZX Spectrum hardcore user.

That could indeed be representative for others, too. Side note: The QL has an 8 color, not 4 color TV picture. Still a sad hardware desigh flaw, not to provide 16 colors from the 4 bits used.

Szk wrote: [...]and the development of the Q68 bringing the Q40/Q60 legacy in a easily upgradeable, reprogrammable, small enough package to fit inside the original QL case after I get rid of the useless original board; after replacing the useless microdrives with QL-SD boards; and finally my pesonal challenge to modify the QL keyboard's innards with my own design PCB with tact switches in a new matrix wired to a specialized PS/2 & USB driving MCU.

Do you speak about the existing Q68 board to go inside the QL case (with the help of a matrix keyboard adaptor) or a new Q68 derivative that would still have to be designed?


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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby Derek_Stewart » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:54 am

stevepoole wrote:Hi Folks,
I see that one of the main subjects of this thread is that the QL is limited to 8 colours, or 256 if you include stipples. But QL stipples only use two colours, combined in four patterns.

Back in december 1993 Quanta printed a little program I wrote, using 'four-colour stipple' combinations, that is 4096 hues ! The problem I had was how to FILL using the new hues ? Filling rectangular shapes was easy using MOVE_MEMORY, but even that won't work on emulators... such as QPC2, because of the way pixels are stored...
I found my December 1993 copy of Quanta and your programme: "Time For Stipples- The QL Forgot"

The problem with the programme is that you have assumed the QL screen is always located at 131072, which on SMSQ/E the screen base moves depending on the resolution.

Granted that in 1993, there was only Minerva with the second screen, but the screen base address can be easily found in the channel definition block.

DIY Toolkit did a series of articles discussing this issue.

quote="stevepoole"]
So I have rewritten the demo 'new palette' program to run, all but slowly, using for loops, and will put it on the forum when beta-testing is over.

In view of the current regain of interest in retro QLs, perhaps someone can see how to FILL using these new hues, perhaps via pixel masks. Out of 4096 combinations, only some new 238 hues are essentially different.... (depending on their orientations). But they make a refreshing addition when used in pictures !

How does the QL spread stipples when FILLing complex outlines ?

Steve Poole.


I think this needs investigating, but GD2 and high colour seems to make Stipples redundant on High Colour systems.

The Q68 has both High Colour and QDOS colours and Stipples, I will type the programme in, and see if it can run in a modern system.


Regards,

Derek
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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby stevepoole » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:30 pm

Hi Derek,
Yes, I did try using the program using Simon Goodwin's Chans_code extension to get the screenbase address, but to no avail. (I am using QPC2).

The 'new 'hues' might be useful for people with original QLs or GC or SGC .

I still wonder how those machines were able to echo one stipple anywhere on the screen when FILLing ?

Steve.


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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby tofro » Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:14 pm

stevepoole wrote:Hi Derek,
Yes, I did try using the program using Simon Goodwin's Chans_code extension to get the screenbase address, but to no avail. (I am using QPC2).

The Chans_code extension will very probably not work properly on QPC2. I think it was coded without the PE in mind, which shifts channel definition blocks up by $30.

Tobias


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Re: Beyond Super Gold Card

Postby stevepoole » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:24 pm

Hi Tobias,
For the screen base, I tried CHAN_L(0,50) or SCR_BASE or SCR_BASE+$30, and variants, but still no success... except on my SGC (which has no colour monitor!).
My QPC2 is set to 512,256 resolution, but as this is emulated, the mapping onto a high resolution screen must complicate BLOCK x & y addressing. I have no docs on this.

Perhaps if Derek has tried the Quanta 'forgotten' stipples program, he might have had more succes.

I see in the software thread (SCREEN1 etc) there is discussion on stipple handling of vertical stripes. Perhaps we will get details for all stipples ?

I will post the latest 'FOR loop' version of the program shortly... as beta tested it seems OK.

See hue later...

Steve.



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