Purchase an 80-Column Board for the 1090 XL Expansion System Replica (10-15 mins)

Task: Purchase an 80-Column Board for the 1090 XL Expansion System Replica

Needed: Web browser, Atari XL or XE 

Time: 10-15 minutes

Introduction

I recently posted about the newly developed 1090 XL Expansion System replica for connecting devices to an Atari XL or XE computer through the Peripheral Bus Interface or PBI located on the back of the computer. There are currently three boards available for the new 1090 including an 80-column card that allows you to output 80 columns of text to an LED screen via HDMI for a clear signal. This is done by processing the video through an onboard Raspberry Pi Pico computer. This 1090 board is an alternative to options such as the ACE-80 cartridge I have posted about previously.

Newly made 1090XL with expansion cards
Newly made 1090 XL (right) with expansion cards (left)

Instructions

First, purchase the 1090 expansion board from Tindie for $85. Thanks Brian Reifsnyder and Ken Ames for making this possible.

Second, purchase the 80-column expansion card for $75 each. This is an option on the main board page. The card is pictured below as third from left.

Third, installing the main board unit (pictured to right below) is easy. You will need a 9V power adapter (e.g. like the one used for the Atari 800 and 1050) that plugs into the back of the main board next to the power switch. The unit comes with a ribbon cable that plugs into the PBI slot on the back of the 800XL e.g. Pop off the protective cover first.

80 column board plugged into the 1090 XL
80 column board plugged into the 1090 XL

Fourth, plug in the 80-column into a free slot with the HDMI port facing the back of the 1090 main board toward the power switch. Then connect to a modern LED screen with an HDMI cable.

Fifth, power the 1090 board on and then boot your Atari. If all works you should get a blue screen showing text in 80 columns like my 800XL below with BASIC XE in the cartridge slot.

Screenshot of BASIC XE in 80 columns
Screenshot of BASIC XE in 80 columns

Comments

As cool as this card is, it is not without limitations. For example, I could not get it to work with CP/M booted from a modded Indus GT. There seems to be an issue when the software accesses the display registers directly instead of going through the Atari OS. It is also not compatible with FujiNet or any other device or software that has graphics (e.g. I tried AtariWriter). However, it works well with text-based software such as programming languages (BASIC XE worked just fine as did the built-in BASIC in the 800XL). Be sure and let me know what other compatibility issues you find (positive or negative).

Note that you can boot to a regular display through the composite port by holding down the SHIFT key during boot.

BASIC XE running on an Atari 800XL with the 80-column board for the 1090 XL Exansion System replica
BASIC XE running on an Atari 800XL with the 80-column board for the 1090 XL Expansion System replica