Task: Purchase and Assemble a SpartaDOS X Cartridge
Needed: SpartaDOS X cartridge circuit board, battery, and cartridge shell
Time: 15-30 mins
I have previously posted about SpartaDOS and its modern successor SpartaDOS X (SDX). This is an incredibly powerful and flexible DOS for interacting with Atari 8-bit computers and some of their modern devices. A useful way to run SDX on original hardware is through cartridge. Fortunately, you can purchase an SDX circuit board with the software and assemble a cartridge using a 3D-printed shell. The nice thing about this cartridge configuration is that it comes with a battery for remembering the date and time and also includes a slot in the top to plug in an additional cartridge such as a BASIC or assembly programming language so they can be used with SDX.
Remember that you need an Atari with at least 128MB of RAM to use this effectively (e.g. U1MB or 130XE). It is a big program!
I recommend first watching this great YouTube video by 8-Bit and More. This may be all you need to complete this project.
The first step is to purchase the SDX circuit board from Bits of the Past. This will set you back $50. Battery is included. Mine came with SDX version 4.49 which was released in 2020.
The second step is to purchase the 3D-printed cartridge shell from Corei64. These run about $28. You can choose the color of the plastic.
The third step is to assemble the cartridge. This is pretty easy.
- Insert the battery into the circuit board slot with the writing facing up. One part of the battery gets inserted under two pins at the top and on top of the pins at the bottom (see photo below).
- Remove the two small screws from the back and the four from the top holding the guide. Take apart the cartridge shell. Note the orientation of the top piece before removing it (flat guide piece forward).
- Insert the circuit board into the back of the case with the male end of the circuit board pointing down. My had “Top/Front” printed in the circuit board (see photo below).
- Reassemble the shell.
The fourth step is to boot it and give it a try! Below is my first boot screen. You can set the date by typing DATE and set the time with TIME. Another neat trick is to type TD ON which will create a banner at the top with the current dat and time. These will be remembered as long as the battery has juice. You can also trying plugging in a cartridge such as Basic XL or Mac/65 in the top of SDX. You can access the cartridge by typing CART.
There are endless things to do with SDX! Here are the manuals. Thanks to everyone who develops the SDX code base and the hardware covered here.
Note that I paid extra for the finer 3D printing and clearly from the photo above did not get it. Corei64 owes me some $!
This is not a cheap project. The circuit board and cartridge shell will cost you around $80 plus any additional taxes and shipping. In other words, this is a $100 project! Might only be worth the cost if you are a heavy user on original hardware.