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2-XL Simulator

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How to Construct Cartridge Files For the 2-XL Simulator

Basic Steps for Adding a Tape/Cartridge to the Simulator:

  1. Create a subdirectory in the carts/ directory for the tape
  2. Add the name of the subdirectory to the carts/carts.txt file
  3. In the subdirectory create a jpg file 'front.jpg' with an image of the cartridge. it should have a size of exactly 500x400 pixels.
  4. If the cartridge uses a custom button overlay, add a file 'buttonoverlay.jpg' which must have a size of exactly 384x153 pixels.
  5. If the cartridge has an accompanying booklet, create a html file named 'booklet.html' with the contents of the booklet (this is just a standard web page, you can link to images in the cartridge directory as normal). Even if the tape does not come with a booklet, you can still make a booklet.html page with extra info about the tape.
  6. Add 4 audio files 'Track1.mp3','Track2.mp3','Track3.mp3','Track4.mp3', corresponding to the audio tracks from buttons 1-4 from left to right. see below for more info on creating these audio tracks.

Successfully Creating the Audio Track Files:

  1. You can use a variety of software to create the 4 audio track files that the simulator uses; here i describe what i have found is fastest. The files must be in MP3 format and named 'Track1.mp3','Track2.mp3', 'Track3.mp3','Track4.mp3'.
  2. The bitrate of the files is not critical *however* i have found that Macromedia Flash sometimes seems to have a bug where it speeds up mp3 files recorded at too low a bitrate. I have used 64k bps, 16bit, 22khz mono, but you can experiment with quality and size to find a setting you are happy with; i suggest you keep a good quality copy of the files in case you need to edit them later (you can always compress more later).
  3. Double speed:
    Flash can only playback mp3 files with sample rates that are multiples of 11khz. Most MP3?s are encoded at 44khz and should play back fine in flash. However if your mp3?s sound speeded up or like they are playing at double speed, it will probably be because they are encoded at a different sample rate, such as 16khz. If this occurs you should re-encode your mp3?s at 44khz.
  4. I use the Sony (aka SonicFoundry) SoundForge program for recording the audio files; i just place a small mic near the back of the 2-XL, set the volume not too loud, and record all 4 tracks, without stopping the 2-XL, once after the other, starting with begining of tape and button 1 pushed, and pushing subsequent buttons each time he says to turn him off. SoundForge has a nice option to 'drop a marker' during recording, and I push this button each time i change the button. 3b) After all 4 tracks are recorder, i use SoundForge to create regions from markers (menu options), and then rename the regions Track1 through Track4, and extract them with menu command, in .wav format.
  5. Then i reload the .wav files, and trim the beginings to they they are all aligned on the start of 2xl speaking.
  6. Now I have the 4 large audio files in .wav format, *approximately* aligned. I say approximately because sometimes the speed of playback on a tape will hit a snag, depending on the condition of your 2XL and your tapes. The timing speed can slip occassionally; ive had tapes that require no adjustment, and some that required quite a few fixups.
  7. The trick is that the tracks must line up at the points where he says "push push xxxx now..." in order for it to switch tracks flawlessly.
  8. I have found the easiest way for me to fix alignments is to use a multitrack editing program; I use Sony (SonicFoundry) Acid for this. I load all 4 tracks in, and either visually examine the alignment, or jump around playing all 4 simultaneously so that i can hear where the slips in timing are. Its not hard to see the slips and you get experienced with seeing them as you work. The ability to play all tracks simultaneously is the key; any multitrack sound editor should be able to do this for you.
  9. The easiest/best way to fix a slip i've found in Acid is to add a split point in a track where there is some silence, and then drag the slip leftward over itself; in this way i can splice out small gaps of time in order to fix alignment issues.
  10. Once i've fixed any allignment if required, i tell Acid to render all tracks to separate .wav files.
  11. When i have all 4 .wav audio files trimmed and aligned, i load them back into SoundForge, and save them all in .mp3 format (i used 64k bps, 16bit, 22khz mono). I keep backups until i know the files are good.

Become a 2-XL Tape Author(!)
Why not make your own cartridges? Just follow instructions above using a multitrack sound editor and make your own custom audio tracks and images. Imagine how difficult it was to plan out the questions and to keep the audio tracks synchronized in 1978 on mechanical editing equipment.

I have digitized all of the 2-XL tapes that I personally own, but there are many more! If you have other tapes and would be willing to digitize the tapes and send me the audio recordings and cartridge images, I will add them to the simulator.

CLICK HERE TO GO BACK TO THE SIMULATOR.

-mouser (mouser@donationcoder.com)

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