EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

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hjalfi
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EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by hjalfi »

I suppose this is at least Atari adjacent?

I've just finished a long project to port EmuTOS to the AlphaSmart Dana, a sort of battery-powered electric laptop word processor thingy (this class of computer doesn't really have a snappy name). It's got a 560x160 touchscreen, full sized keyboard, two SD card slots, lithium battery (removed as I very much doubt my ability to program the battery controller safely), and 8MB/16MB depending on model. Natively it runs PalmOS.

What's more, I did it all on video, so if you're really, really bored, there's 35 hours of me programming to watch!

http://cowlark.com/2021-10-05-emutos-dana

It turns out the EmuTOS is pretty clean and easy to port. The bulk of the time was spent fighting the hardware, in particularly the SD card and the touchscreen. The DragonBall VZ CPU this thing has is 68000-compatible and unbrickable, as it has a built-in recovery mode via an internal UART and AlphaSmart have sensibly broken this out to a debug port on the motherboard.

Sadly I haven't found much ST software for it. Either it wants to talk directly to ST hardware, which of course isn't present, or it insists on a 640-pixel-wide screen. It being 160 pixels high is also a bit of a problem. But theoretically this thing should run FreeMint rather well, with the full 16MB of RAM. It's even got WEP wifi.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by viking272 »

Nice one, sounds awesome. Not sure I'll get round to watching 35 hours of video but the intro was very interesting.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by wongck »

Well done!!
Amazing. Saw some bits of it. Just amazing.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by stormy »

Has the Dragonball CPU ever been considered for either an Atari remake board (like firebee) or as an accelerator?
Last edited by stormy on Wed Oct 06, 2021 2:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by hjalfi »

stormy wrote: Wed Oct 06, 2021 8:49 am Has the Dragonball CPU ever been considered for either an Atari remake board (like firebee) or as an accelerator?
It's a straight 68000 with no FPU or MMU, so I'm not sure what value it would add over a more modern 68000 variant. Also, I don't think they're made any more!

I did run CoreMark on this and it comes up with about 5.5, which is roughly equivalent to a Falcon at 16MHz. It's supposed to run at 32MHz so either it's half as fast as the Falcon for any given clock rate or the clock's running at the wrong speed.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by Cyprian »

@hjalfi cool project
hjalfi wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 8:50 pm Sadly I haven't found much ST software for it. Either it wants to talk directly to ST hardware, which of course isn't present, or it insists on a 640-pixel-wide screen. It being 160 pixels high is also a bit of a problem. But theoretically this thing should run FreeMint rather well, with the full 16MB of RAM. It's even got WEP wifi.
What about adding a support for virtual resolution 640x400?
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by BlankVector »

Wow! Hats off. Excellent hack.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by hjalfi »

I should add that you can see it in action here: https://youtu.be/K49X3I7X4xg?t=1573
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by stormy »

This is kind of amazing! Like Cyprian said with some virtual screen resolution it should enable most apps to work. Freemint running on this thing would be very powerful! The portable Atari we never knew we needed :)
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by BlankVector »

hjalfi wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 8:50 pm But theoretically this thing should run FreeMint rather well, with the full 16MB of RAM.
It should run out of the box. The official FreeMiNT binaries already support EmuTOS for non-Atari hardware.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by Eero Tamminen »

I've tried some virtual screens and I do not think them to be usable with touchscreen / pen. Even with real mouse (where moving mouse pans the virtual screen) they are a bit awkward.

Better would be e.g. doubling of the screen height virtually and having single keyboard shortcut for switching between top and bottom of the virtual screen. Best would be having real mouse...

Btw. by applying this patch to Hatari:
0001-Allow-VDI-mode-to-support-devices-with-smaller-scree.patch.txt
one can emulate the Dana screen size with following Hatari options:

Code: Select all

--vdi-planes 1 --vdi-width 560 --vdi-height 160
This should make finding GEM programs that work well in such screen size a bit easier.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by hjalfi »

Cyprian wrote: Wed Oct 06, 2021 10:25 am What about adding a support for virtual resolution 640x400?
That's an interesting idea and the hardware supports it, but I'm not sure how the UI for this would work. As there's a touchscreen, just waving the mouse around to pan won't work. There are some unused buttons on the keyboard that can be used to, say, flip between the top half and the bottom half but that's kinda ugly.

TBH given how much TOS is based around a mouse it might be easier to bolt on a USB stack (from somewhere?) and use a USB mouse, ignoring the touchscreen. The Dana writing groups recommend removing the touchscreen anyway as the display is much easier to read without one.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by Eero Tamminen »

Another thing you could do with double height virtual screen is having two shortcuts, one for flipping between top and bottom halves, and another for toggling whether only every other line of that virtual screen is shown on screen. User can then easily select how to view the things on screen.

Some GEM programs should be usable as long as screen is high enough, and their graphics could be OKish with every other line missing...

Attached are few GEM games that seem to work fine even in 560x160 resolution (in Hatari):
gem-games.zip
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by Galvez »

hjalfi wrote: Thu Oct 07, 2021 9:36 pm TBH given how much TOS is based around a mouse it might be easier to bolt on a USB stack (from somewhere?) and use a USB mouse, ignoring the touchscreen. The Dana writing groups recommend removing the touchscreen anyway as the display is much easier to read without one.
There is already an USB stack for MiNT and TOS [1], with a mouse driver[2], you would "only" need to write a driver for the host controller present in your hardware [3]. Do you know what kind of controller is inside?

[1] https://github.com/freemint/freemint/tr ... usb/src.km
[2] https://github.com/freemint/freemint/tr ... /hid/mouse
[3] https://github.com/freemint/freemint/tr ... src.km/ucd
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by Eero Tamminen »

Eero Tamminen wrote: Thu Oct 07, 2021 9:32 pm Btw. by applying this patch to Hatari: 0001-Allow-VDI-mode-to-support-devices-with-smaller-scree.patch.txt

one can emulate the Dana screen size with following Hatari options:

Code: Select all

--vdi-planes 1 --vdi-width 560 --vdi-height 160
This should make finding GEM programs that work well in such screen size a bit easier.
That patch is not needed any more. Hatari v2.4.x supports VDI screen sizes down to 320x160.

When running EmuTOS desktop with it, everything else works except that one cannot accept or cancel EmuTOS desktop configuration dialog:
grab0003.png
(When screen height is too small compared to width, like here, Hatari automatically scales it by 2x, as it does for ST med-rez.)
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by BlankVector »

Nice.

BTW, the dialog can be closed using the Return key, as usual.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by Eero Tamminen »

Could the button outline are be changed to be active too? If yes, then user could exit the dialog also using mouse.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by PeterS »

I had a Palm Prism and a Treo and did wonder if the Dragonball could ever run TOS.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by ThorstenOtto »

If i'm not wrong, not even gcc can produce code for that processor. Also a display of 160x160 will make things difficult.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by czietz »

Hm, the PalmOS SDK back in the days came with gcc. Iirc, the core is fully 68000-compatible.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by ThorstenOtto »

Yes, but i think it was a specially patched gcc. According the "info prc-tools":

Code: Select all

   GCC for Palm OS supports the following options, in addition to all
the usual target-independent and M68K-specific options.

`-mpcrel'
     Activate Palm OS-specific code generation patterns.  This is
     turned on by default in the specs file; don't ever turn it off!
...
But the SDK can still be found in the webarchive: http://web.archive.org/web/201412242059 ... mming/sdk/
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by czietz »

I thought we were talking about the CPU? Not about the OS (PalmOS)? Iirc (but not 100% sure), you needed PC-relative addressing (-mpcrel) under PalmOS because the OS would move memory blocks to reduce memory fragmentation. But that's not a limitation of the CPU.

Proof to the point: The AlphaSmart Dana (starting point of this thread) uses a Dragonball CPU, too.
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by PeterS »

I still have a https://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hard ... ringprism/ It needs a minor repair but should still work.

33MHz Dragonball processor
160x160, 64k colour screen
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by Dark Willow »

I've got a Dana sitting in a desk drawer! Never seen many of them over here, but they were pretty cool. The screen is a bit muddy but the keyboard is awesome - used it for Nanowrimo back in the day. I'm tempted to get it out and have a play now :)
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Re: EmuTOS running on the AlphaSmart Dana (more or less)

Post by wongck »

Truly amazing that EmuTOS can be (easily) ported to 68000-compatible devices... even on these specialised products !!
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