VGA Editor-Launcher

The VGA Editor-Launcher is Pere Serrat's suite of tools for using CoCoVGA to improve existing software through the use of custom palette and character sets and making programs available to launch from an easy-to-use menu. This project was inspired by Nick Marentes' CoCo 3 game menu system for configuring palette prior to starting a PMODE 3 game.

Pere has made this suite available over 3 disk images:

  1. PALTM59 - The menu-based program launcher
  2. CFGVGA59 - CoCoVGA palette configuration and program launcher data management tools
  3. CHREDT59 (or CHREDIT59 on Dragon) - CoCoVGA character set editor

PALTM - Menu

The PALTM disk image contains one main program. RUN "MENU59C" on a Color Computer or RUN "MENU59D" on a Dragon.

The program will first ask if this system can support the double-speed poke. Type either Y or N.

Once the menu opens, the following options are present:

  • A-L selects, loads, and executes a particular program
  • O toggles between the custom configured CoCoVGA palette or the standard 6847 palette
  • S toggles between normal speed (0.895MHz) and double speed (POKE 65945,0) modes
  • R toggles between using a CoCoVGA custom character set or the standard 6847 character set
  • W and U enables access to multiple pages of programs
  • X leaves the menu and returns to BASIC

CFGVGA - Palette Configuration

The CoCoVGA palette configurations may be converted from existing CCVCONF .DAT files, if available, or be newly created or updated using Pere's palette editor. Either of these create a single palette configuration at-a-time. These individual files can be merged, or packed, into a single configuration file for use with MENU59C.

For manipulating palette configurations, the CFGVGA disk image contains sveral programs:

  1. TST3259C (or TST3259D on the Dragon) - 32-column text mode palette editor
  2. TST6459C (or TST6459D on the Dragon) - 64-column text mode palette editor (requires version 0.92 or later of the CoCoVGA FPGA)
  3. PACKERC (or PACKERD on the Dragon) - CoCoVGA configuration data packer
  4. SEEPACKC (or SEEPACKD on the Dragon) - CoCoVGA packed configuration data reader
  5. SEEPALC (or SEEPALD on the Dragon) - CoCoVGA unpacked configuration data reader
  6. DAT2PALC (or DAT2PALD on the Dragon) - CoCoVGA CCVCONF .DAT converter to unpacked CoCoVGA data
  7. SEEDATC (or SEEDATD on the Dragon) - CoCoVGA CCVCONF .DAT reader

The palette editors share the following options, which show up as a menu at the bottom of the display:

  • Arrow keys - select a color to edit
  • E - edit the currently selected color
  • D - show a directory listing
  • L - load a single palette configuration .PAL file. Use an 8-character filename. The .PAL extension will automatically be appended.
  • S - save a single palette configuration .PAL file. When saving, you will first be prompted to embed a 24-character description of the game in it which will show up in the menu. After that, enter an 8-character filename. The .PAL extension will automatically be appended.
  • R - reset all colors in palette
  • Q - quit palette editor. You will be prompted to acknowledge that you really want to exit or not. Press B to go back and make more edits or save or press C to continue exiting the program. The CoCoVGA palette configuration will be displayed and wait for you to press C once again before returning you to BASIC.

When editing a color:

  • E - enable this color to be changed from the default 6847 color
  • D - disable this color change and revert to default 6847 color
  • Up and down arrow keys - select red, green, or blue components (each appears as a value from 0 to 7 on the left-hand side of each palette color swatch) to change
  • < and > (greater-than and less-than keys) - increase or decrease currently highlighted red, green, or blue value
  • O - go "out", or leave editing this particular color and return the main manu and select another color if desired

More information about the other palette maniupulation tools will be provided later in a section covering how to build your own CoCoVGA configuration and program selection menu.

CHREDT - Character Set Editor

The CHREDT disk image contains one main program, used to edit a character set. The program will always ask for a character set to load. If you wish to make a new one, copy one of the existing .CHR (CHaRacter set) files to your new filename. Then RUN "EDTFONTC" on a Color Computer or RUN "EDTFONTD" on a Dragon. Enter the name of the character set you wish to edit.

Once the editor opens and displays the character set on a non-artifacted PMODE 4 (RG6) screen it allows you to navigate the character set repository using the following keystrokes to perform operations:

  • Arrow keys - select a character to edit
  • E - enter the single character editor
  • BREAK - leave the repository and optionally save character set changes

When editing a single character, use:

  • Arrow keys - select a pixel to edit within the character
  • 1 and 2 - set or clear a pixel
  • A - leave the single character editor and return to the repository and KEEP changes
  • BREAK - leave the single character editor and return to the repository and DISCARD changes

Build Your Own Custom Menu and Configuration

To create your own custom menu and palette and character set configuration, follow the steps below:

  1. RUN TST3259C/TST6459C/TST3259D/TST6459D to edit existing or create new .PAL single palette configurations for the software of interest.
  2. LOAD PACKERC/PACKERD and edit the DATA starting at line 1000 with the name of the .PAL file (without extension) each paired with a 0 for machine code (LOADM binary) or 1 for BASIC (LOAD). Use an entry of 9999 to terminate the data.
  3. Optionally SAVE and then RUN your updated PACKERC/PACKERD. When it is done combining all of the .PAL single palette configurations into a single image, it will ask if you want to use S to save it, in which case it will be necessary to enter a pack filename or E to exit. If you save the combined palettes into a single file, it will be named with a .MUL (for multiple configurations) extension.
  4. COPY the .MUL file to the MENU disk.
  5. RUN EDTFONTC/EDTFONTD to edit a custom character set, if desired. Use the same filename as the original .PAL file (but of course, the program will append .CHR instead).
  6. COPY any new custom character set .CHR files to the MENU disk.
  7. COPY the .BIN and .BAS software of interest to the MENU disk if you haven't done so already.
  8. LOAD MENU59C/MENU59D and edit the DATA on line 660 to update the name of the .MUL file to use.
  9. SAVE and then RUN your updated MENU59C/MENU59D.