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Making Headers on your Atari 5200 game images to auto-run in RetroPie



  • Here's a part of a little instruction manual I've been writing for my bro and some of his friends when they couldn't figure out how to put a Pi together properly. It's a WIP. I asked if somebody would like this info, and they did, so I figured maybe I should just share it with everybody here and say hello. So here's an excerpt regarding the thread title. Hope you guys find it helpful. :)

    WTF? WHY DO I HAVE TO GUESS WHAT TYPE OF CART IT IS EVERY TIME I LOAD A GAME?

    Unfortunately, these old emulators don't save that information once you figure it out, and the 5200 hasn't gotten much love on RetroPie. You have two options.

    1. NOVICE: Make a checklist of your games and what settings you used to properly boot up the games and have it handy when you want to play the 5200.

    2. ADVANCED: Use a PC emulator called Altirra to insert an image header that will make the Atari800 emulator auto-load the games so you never have to bother with this again!

    Obviously, I recommend the 2nd method. It's a pain to do it the first time, but the games will load automatically like every other emulator when you're done and save you a lot of hassle.

    1. Download Altirra by Googling it or with the following link: http://www.virtualdub.org/downloads/Altirra-2.81.zip

    2. Unzip it to a folder and run the executable. (No install required)

    3. When it asks during the inital setup for BIOS, direct it to the folder where you put the Atari BIOS files we got earlier and it will have all it needs. (Google it)

    4. When it asks during the initial setup what system you want, make sure to check the Atari 5200 hardware.

    5. Now that we're up and running, your entire 5200 rom library to a folder on your PC. I called mine "ROMS TO EDIT".

    6. Create a folder in the same directory you put the "ROMS TO EDIT" called "EDITED ROMS".

    7. In Altirra, select File, then Open Image, then navigate to the ROMS TO EDIT folder and select the first rom.

    8. Altierra is WAY smarter than the Pi emulator and will tell you the recommended setting, so choose the one marked "(Recommended)", and your game should start. Most games will say that there is an error if you don't "detach" the cart before starting a new one. I just hit "Restart" after Opening the new image and that seems to fix it fine and be the quicker way to do it. Sometimes it will load a game but it's garbled. In this case select "System" then select "Cold Reset" and the rom should load properly.

    (On a VERY rare occasion the recommended cart type isn't right. Just select "File" than "detatch" the cart, load it again and select the next option until one works).

    1. Now that the game is playing properly, select "File", then "Save Firmware", then "Save Cartridge". Then navigate to your "EDITED ROMS" folder and save the game with the same name as the original from your "ROMS TO EDIT" folder, and type ".bin" at the end of every one. Make sure you selected "Cartridge Image With Header" for the save as type. YOU MUST manually put that ".bin" extension otherwise it makes a ".car" extension by default that the RetroPie's Atari 5200 emulator won't recognize.

    2. Go back to #7 and repeat until all of your roms are saved this way.

    When you're all done, enjoy NEVER having to again play the guessing game when loading your Atari 5200 games on ANY emulator! :)

    Let me know if you guys have any problems with it if you use it and tell me if I could clarify anything here. Enjoy.



  • Hey thanks a lot for your effort.

    It's a pain to configure Atari 5200 with atari800 emu in retropie !

    Can you explain a bit more your process ?

    When you've created these new "roms", I mean these new .bin cartridges, what are the next steps for them to run in retropie ?

    Simply copy/paste them in your atari5200 rom folder on the pi ?

    Cheers,

    Mike.



  • @evildindon No problem man.

    Yep. All you have to do is get them into your atari5200 folder on the Pi and you should be good to go.

    You should check out this thread too: https://retropie.org.uk/forum/topic/847/atari-5200-new-version-of-atari800-beta-two-triggers-moon-patrol-hat-start-and-exit-buttons/177

    There's a ton of stuff that has happened, so you should probably just skim it for now. @future.child has done a ton of work to the emulator to update controls. I don't believe that any of that has made it into any official retropie build yet, so you'll want to update it. I've also done a ton of work on configuring controls so the same buttons do the same thing across all of the 5200 games (I didn't really mess with the 800 though).

    I've been really busy with some other stuff, but I got to get back to that soon.



  • Hey, Just wanted to thank you a lot, man !

    I've created modified .bin cartridges with your method for my mere 29 favorites atari 5200 games (except for bounty bob, did'nt work at all, makes altirra crash)

    Then I've installed the atari800 modified emulator on my retropie, as you suggested, using putty and the specific command line.

    And... That works ! Atari 5200 games launch directly from Emulation Station !

    I still have to figure out two things : how can I get bounty bo work, and how can I change button configs in atari 800.

    The second button (need for Hero, moon patrol for example), isn't mapped. And the start and select button are not well mapped.

    I think I have to use jstest to identify each button/direction values, then edit the .atari800.cfg file.

    Thanks a lot again, couldn't find any where else how to finally have 5200 working properly in retropie.

    One thing disappointing is that there's no way to apply a crt/scanline filter in atari800. But I managed to turn black deepers, using the specific parameters (display option, after pressing F1 during game).

    I've noticed something else that's a bit annoying : there's a background noise, since the games launches. It's a low level noise but still a bit annoying. Dunno how to get rid of this.

    Cheers from France,

    Mike.



  • very nice. i will have to give this a try.
    i give the 800 and the 5200 a try but was lost due to what you said.

    so this looks like it will make things a whole lot better



  • Yep this works ; still have to fix this button mapping.

    Can't wait for a kat5200 libretro core though...



  • @evildindon said in Making Headers on your Atari 5200 game images to auto-run in RetroPie:

    Hey, Just wanted to thank you a lot, man !

    I've created modified .bin cartridges with your method for my mere 29 favorites atari 5200 games (except for bounty bob, did'nt work at all, makes altirra crash)

    Maybe you should look for a different image. I don't recall having to do anything special for any Atari 5200 games. Does just playing BBSB make Altirra crash, or trying to put the header on it?

    Some Atari 800 games won't work. If they have an extention like .COM, I believe that you can't make the header image. Of the 100 or so Atari 800 games I had, only like 4 of them wouldn't work.

    Then I've installed the atari800 modified emulator on my retropie, as you suggested, using putty and the specific command line.

    And... That works ! Atari 5200 games launch directly from Emulation Station !

    Awesome, right? :)

    I still have to figure out two things : how can I get bounty bo work, and how can I change button configs in atari 800.

    The second button (need for Hero, moon patrol for example), isn't mapped. And the start and select button are not well mapped.

    I think I have to use jstest to identify each button/direction values, then edit the .atari800.cfg file.

    You might still not have the latest version of the emulator. That thread original was made by a jfraco guy, I believe. If you downloaded his emulator you have the wrong one.

    You want future.child's latest version. That should give you control of the 2nd button on Moon Patrol and Hero, as well as allow you to use both joysticks on Robotron 2084 and Space Dungeon as long as only one controller is plugged in.

    I'm making a bunch of configurations for the emulator here:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VhS4f3RFCzkPeOpyVYaWno3-Ls0EjJnj_I9WjKfvnuI/edit?usp=sharing

    You have to put all of these configs in the emu launcher file (i forget the name right now). Then they will show up as options when you're loading the games.

    Eventually I intend to package all of these up, but there were still some bugs to work out and I've started working on another massive project.

    Thanks a lot again, couldn't find any where else how to finally have 5200 working properly in retropie.

    One thing disappointing is that there's no way to apply a crt/scanline filter in atari800. But I managed to turn black deepers, using the specific parameters (display option, after pressing F1 during game).

    I've noticed something else that's a bit annoying : there's a background noise, since the games launches. It's a low level noise but still a bit annoying. Dunno how to get rid of this.

    Cheers from France,

    Mike.

    I don't know how to fix anything in Atari800. Maybe you should at least ask future.child if he has any ideas. I also don't notice that hiss. Not saying that it isn't there for me, just that I dont' notice it. Different equipment I'm sure, and my ears aren't as good as they used to be.

    Glad somebody got use out of the guide. Thanks for saying so.

    Take it easy.



  • @exarkuniv Yeah. Give it a shot man. @Maybe EvilDindon can help walk you through it as he figures it out. It's working pretty great for me now except for a few bugs on 2 player games, but I'm hoping the other emulator that future.child is working on porting over will handle those.



  • Cool, I installed atari 8 bit (atari 800) computer games, and it works great too !

    One thing to know is that .atr disk images work great, but .bin cartridges are a pain, because you have to tell atari800 emu to remove the cartridge each time you want to load a new .atr game.

    Luckily, almost all my atari 800 games are in .atr format, I had only few .bin cartridges (donkey kong, pengo, james bond, Henry's House), but I found .atr files of these games on the net easily.

    Tried first to create header cartridges with altirra from .atr files, just like the atari 5200 method, but that did'nt work.

    The most simple was to find .atr files of these few games.

    Two minor things :

    • I have to find a scraper that can scrape atari 8 bit games properly (UXS doesn't, maybe sselph ? I'll try tonight)
    • Some atari games requires a keyboard key (because atari 8 bit controllers had only one button) : I'll have to think how to map the spacebar, for example, to a joypad button... Otherwise, I'll never be able to open the aircraft hangar in raid over moscow !! ;)

    Cheers,

    Mike.



  • @evildindon That's good info to know. I really haven't done much with the Atari 800 other than make a bunch of headers for the 100 or so that I did have in an old collection. I've only focused so far on the 5200 since I actually grew up with that system.

    About scraping.....

    That other "major project" I mentioned will hopefully one day make scraping a thing of the past. I was part of a group that put a ton of info and media surrounding most non-computer based consoles before the PSX about a decade ago. Early this year I got back into it after about 8 years away from this stuff.

    It's amazing how much more info and good artwork is out there all these years later!

    I'm focusing hard-core on the NES now because that's the system I think would generate the most interest in the project. I think that the Atari consoles would be my next projects for two reasons. 1. They're generally a LOT smaller, and 2. I don't want to go and do all the big consoles that most people would want first and wrap up with the ones that less people would be interested in.

    So far this year I've easily spent 1,500 hours on this. I'm looking into avenues of crowd funding going forward since I just can't keep up this pace without working (I've been unemployed for quite a while now).

    So far with the NES/Famicom Disk System, I have around 2,200 games including official releases, unlicensed, pirates, translations, hacks and prototypes. I stand by the fact that every game has the absolute highest quality Box and Cart art available online, and hundreds of them have been touched up by me personally.

    Every game has a video as well, but these videos were made nearly a decade ago and intended for the XBox so they're all SD. I hope to be able to re-make all of the videos in HD. I know there are sites out there that already have most of them in HD, but there was no standard so they're all sorts of different lengths and the volumes are all over the map.

    I want to make a standard format for all of the videos, and when one single person makes all of them than you can be sure that they're all standardized.

    It's just a dream right now, but I'm hoping that when I get this NES stuff set up that people will see the value in the work I'm doing and put me to work for you. :)

    I'll be posting a spreadsheet of the NES work so far very soon. It's almost ready, but I don't want to rush it.

    Stay tuned.



  • Hey, good Luck for this crazy project !

    My approach on retropie/retrogaming is a bit differnnt than most of people though, as I Don't want to have full sets for each systems.

    I think it's a mistake to put full sets of thousands games per system, because you spend more time browsing menus than playing.

    I think a top 50/100 games max per system is far enough for a lifetime !

    About scraping Atari 800 : I'll use good quality 3d boxarts from emumovies. And for game infos, I'll edit manually my own gamelist.xml game by game. I'll take m'y Time !

    My set is only 60 essentiels though.

    And emumovies is the most incredible collection of artworks and hd videosnaps. You should subscribe, it really worth it !



  • @evildindon said in Making Headers on your Atari 5200 game images to auto-run in RetroPie:

    Hey, good Luck for this crazy project !

    My approach on retropie/retrogaming is a bit differnnt than most of people though, as I Don't want to have full sets for each systems.

    I think it's a mistake to put full sets of thousands games per system, because you spend more time browsing menus than playing.

    When they look this good though, that's a good thing. :)

    Besides, space isn't really an issue anymore because we can use USB sticks and in a few years we'll probably be able to fit all of this stuff on SD cards without even needing a USB device.

    What you're doing is what favorites lists are for. ;)

    I think a top 50/100 games max per system is far enough for a lifetime !

    About scraping Atari 800 : I'll use good quality 3d boxarts from emumovies. And for game infos, I'll edit manually my own gamelist.xml game by game. I'll take m'y Time !

    I've gotten info for 10,000-12,000 games by hand myself, so I know what you're in for. Won't be too bad with the small amount of games you're considering though.

    My set is only 60 essentiels though.

    And emumovies is the most incredible collection of artworks and hd videosnaps. You should subscribe, it really worth it !

    Yeah... I wasn't trying to insult emumovies or anything, but there is no standard to their videos and a lot of people put them all together. All the videos have volumes all over the map, so when possible I use the emulator's music instead of the preview video audio because of this. Also, the lengths of the videos can be quite different, and many of the videos you can tell that whoever made them didn't really care and were playing the game like crap while filming.

    My goal would be to have a standard length, with a "normalized" volume for all titles. I'd also want about 15-20 seconds of gameplay, followed by 5-10 seconds of the title screen animation, making them all play like the demo mode on arcade machines. This wouldn't be possible for some systems like the atari 2600 which didn't have any title screens, but everything from the NES and up would have them.

    Nobody has artwork like I've got for the NES now. I guaranty that I've got the best set in existence sitting on my drive right now. :)



  • Yeah the favorites menu is very cool, just tried it.

    So simple, to use, too.

    In my case, this favorites menu will contain 15 or 20 games max ! It will be the favorites of the essentiels ;)



  • Speaking of the Atari 5200.
    Did you manage to load Bounty bob with altirra ?

    Some Say it's a 40 k cartridge (and it's the only one).

    And do you know if a libretro port of kat5200 will be Out some day ?



  • @evildindon Yeah. I was able to load and header Bounty Bob with altirra. It was about 3 months ago now though, so I don't remember much. I do remember it was a unique cart, so you're probably right about it being the only 40k cart. I know that when you tried to load it in the Atari800 emulator that it would have a much different launch menu when it came to picking the cart type than all of the other games.

    If you're still having problems, I would suggest just keep trying to find a different version. I know that I didn't have to do anything special to get it working like all of the other games.

    And do you know if a libretro port of kat5200 will be Out some day ?

    You should ask future.child about that quesiton. I know he's ported it over and it's in the experimental packages now. I don't know if he knows anything about putting it under libretro though, or who's in charge of doing that.



  • @Used2BeRX @EvilDindon As far as i know there is no one working on a libretro port, i also doubt someone will attempt it anytime soon as it would take a lot of rework (the original creator said there are no plans for it but welcomes anyone to try).

    And me porting it over to the experimental packages, that would be too much credit for little old me as i only created a rudimentary retropie installer for it.



  • @future-child It's a shame that the Atari 5200 never gets the love it deserves. The problem is that nobody had it.

    It's no big deal today, but for anybody who wanted to play some of the great arcade classics at home it was the only console on the market for a few years there that could do it almost exactly. Pac-Man was freakin' awesome compared to the 2600 version especially.

    I'm just barely old enough to remember it. My youngest brother doesn't even remember we had it growing up.



  • @used2berx

    Yep,

    Even if the 5200 has never been released in Europe, I dreamt about having one !

    And I think 5200 game library is better, overall, than 7800's.

    And some aspects of the hardware too : soundchip was better !

    I read that the 7800 had the same poor soundchip than the 2600 !

    Fortunately I had an Atari 800 xl on which I could play most of the 5200 games and a lot of exclusive and excellent games like encounter, donkey kong, flip&flop, xybex, dropzone, etc. Etc.



  • @evildindon said in Making Headers on your Atari 5200 game images to auto-run in RetroPie:

    Yep,
    Even if the 5200 has never been released in Europe, I dreamt about having one !
    And I think 5200 game library is better, overall, than 7800's.

    Yeah... I never even knew how big computer systems were in Europe until the emulation scene on the internet, especially youtube videos. I had never even heard of Atari computer systems until maybe 10 years ago.

    The 5200 was freakin awesome man... but the controllers sucked. Don't get me wrong, they were actually really cool and I think they were the first controllers with a pause button on them, but they broke too easy.

    At one point they stopped selling controllers when they were discontinuing the system. My dad bought a new system just to get 2 more controllers. Those lasted about 5 more years or so and finally broke and then we were never able to play Miner 2049er again :(

    If you've never played Space Invaders for the 5200, you should REALLY check that one out. To this day I still have yet to play a version of that game that I like better than the 5200 one. It was so unique compared to all of the other versions. I was just testing out NES games earlier this week and the space invaders released in Japan is just like the 2600 version. Even the NES couldn't get it right.



  • @used2berx

    Hey I had Space invaders on my Atari 800 xl (same as 5200)
    It was unique yes, but for me, the 2600 version was the best !
    Actually I even prefer the 2600 version over the original arcade ;)



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