Hercules Clone Card Upgrade
Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:22am

So I've been half-assed working on a version of Wry that runs on Monochrome so I can play it on my IBM XT. My main XT only had the IBM monochrome card in so the star field in the background and screen 12 calls caused the game to crash. (There is a surprising number of them!)

For some reason I remembered that Qbasic looked different on my back up XT. Instead of the black background and green text it was a dark green background with a lighter green text. I figured that the backup XT must have had some different video setting even though both were monochrome and using a 5151 monitor.

I decided to swap cards tonight from my spare XT to my main XT to get the extra video modes. I'm glad I did. It really helps add to what is available to run having some sort of graphics ability. Unfortunately DOS Shell becomes a blinky mess in this mode... What's weird is it doesn't let you pick color settings at all (there's one specifically for monochrome). I'm guessing it's acting as it's displayed in gray scale so DOS Shell doesn't feel like a color option should be available? Weird. ..oh well.

I still plan on releasing Wry Monochrome this month just for the hell of it (all modified on the XT even though it takes forever to save and bind when running). There's no additional game play tweaks except that it will run on an original IBM MDA video card.

IBM MDA card that has now been put in my spare XT:

Closer image of the main chip:

STB "The Chauffeur" Hercules Clone Card:

Close up of the 6845 chip that's used in the Herc cards:

Like I said, it works really well except DOS Shell. Everything else seems okay. It's nice to be able to load things with some basic graphics even if, IMO, CGA is the most disgusting looking graphics possible on IBM 8-bit. Low res is super low and when you have a CGA monitor and the colors are able to be represented, they're always gross. Being able to handle some form of graphics is better than nothing though..

Edit: Qbasic lets you switch between monochrome mode and color mode with "/B" for monochrome or "/G" for graphics/color mode at launch. I was curious how to switch back to monochrome mode after switching cards (it autodetects I guess the best one by default).

    • Wow, imagine all those discrete chips! - Puckdropper, Fri Mar 27 2020 12:15am
      No wonder the cards were as big as foreign license plate! I forgot such a thing existed... I'm just not used to GUIs implementing command line switches like QB did. I seem to remember having an interesting switch or two, but the doc I found on the Internet doesn't show anything.
      • has a couple in the 3.x days - Erik_, Wed Apr 15 2020 4:33pm
        For Windows 3.0 the ones I remember are: /r - start Windows in real mode (640kb ram only, runs on 8086/8088) /s - start Windows in standard mode ("286" mode) /3 - I think it was a 3 for 386 mode. Full operation mode with virtual memory and stuff Windows 3.1 had the same switches except t... more
        • /n might have been the only really usable switch - Puckdropper, Thu Apr 16 2020 1:31pm
          For what I was doing, anyway. I had the XT then 386 and was doing most of my online stuff during the time with a slightly older Pentium or something with a Cyrix chip? As my wife says, "it's been a journey."
          • I didn't even know about it until the late 2000s. - Erik_, Thu May 07 2020 4:11pm
            Forever that computer was Windows 3.1 with just a 14.4k dialup connection. I didn't upgrade it to Workgroups and LAN until sometime in 2006 or so. For a while I just dealt with the long wait times because I didn't think to check if there was a command line switch. haha The only "computer" like th... more
            • I remember trying to start XWindows on a 486 - Puckdropper, Sat May 09 2020 11:20pm
              or early Pentium one night. I typed "startx" and waited. I went to a dinner, came back two hours later and it still hadn't come up to anything useful. I think after some 5-6 hours I finally gave up. Windows managed to load in 5 minutes. What is wrong with those Linux guys? It was around 20... more
              • What window manager were you starting? - Erik_, Wed May 13 2020 3:54pm
                I've run Linux on 486/PI hardware before (I had an old Sparc Station 2 among other random things [even though the Sparc station wasn't an Intel processor...]) and never really had an issue with performance in that sense as long as I kept it to a simpler one. KDE or Gnome would be overkill but someth... more
                • I don't know. - Puckdropper, Wed May 13 2020 5:13pm
                  Probably KDE, I think I was using a version of linux called Pygmy Linux at the time. Window Managers are kinda a 20-teens discussion, back in the early 00's there was just xwindows. FREESCO looks to have pretty much run its course. The site is still up, but there hasn't been much development. ... more
                  • I know my IBM Thinkpad for college back in 2004 I swapped to XFCE as my WM on Debian while at home I was using PWM. KDE was way too bloated for the systems I was running things on and usually opted for a more lightweight window manager whenever possible. I also used CDE wherever possible on older sy... more
                    • I think XFCE is what the Pis ran before they found something - Puckdropper, Sat May 16 2020 2:27pm
                      they liked better. It's not a bad WM at all. There's even a form of Raspbian that you can run on Intel PCs because the Window Manager is so nice. Maybe the setup script asked me what Window manager I wanted to use but I didn't even know there was an option.
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