By Ronald Collins
This file was downloaded from AWAUG BBS. This file is the work of the Akron BBS Sysop - Ron Collins (From N.O.A.H. -- Northern Ohio Adam Hackers).
Well, I have just acquired the "pivotal point" in Adam hardware for the next few years. It's been called a lot of things by a wide range of computer distributors, but it's only now been made available to the Adam Computer owner. It's called a mouse. Such an un-assuming name isn't it? Don't worry! This one doesn't squeek, crawl under your feet or scare the daylights out of your loved ones when seen! It's just another hardware device... or is it?
The basic idea behind the mouse is simple. After you spend a few minutes trying to draw a respectable looking picture with your joystick or arrow keys you tend to wish for something better. The mouse was a natural answer to this issue. It is a small palm sized device with a floating ball underneath (sort of a reverse roller controller on a different scale). You can make any type of drawings from curves to circles, squares, etc. Just a slight movement of your hand is all it takes. When the mouse moves any any direction, so does your onscreen cursor!
This particular mouse is a product of THOMAS Electronics. If you are interested in more information on the mouse, you can write the manufacturer at 151 Devonshire Crescent, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CANADA, S7L 5V6. The mouse can be purchased in the USA from M.W. Ruth and from Orphanware Business Systems. I suggest that you call them for a current price.
I found the mouse to be very well made. It is a fully proportional mouse. This means when you draw with it, your screen representation won't be either elongated or squished. A tiny 8 line SmartBASIC program is listed in the ADAMOUSE installation manual to give you an idea of it's ability.
I received my ADAMOUSE from Orphanware Business Systems. I wanted to do a review of the mouse as well as it's installation.
Not being a hardware person, I figured that if I could do it, then it couldn't be too hard. The advertisements I had seen mentioned that it would only take about 20 minutes to install with normal hand tools. I suppose an experienced technician could do the job in about that length of time. He'd even have the ordinary hand tools (tools of HIS trade) on hand. To do the entire job, I only needed 5 tools..(A) a phillips head screw- driver, (B) a small tipped low wattage soldering pencil, (C) a wire stripping tool, (D) an X-ACTO knife and (E) a small file.
To be honest, it took me more time to get ready to install the mouse than it took to do the installation. I had to remove all the devices I've added over the years such as my modem, PIA2, auto-dialer, 256K memory board and both digital data drives. I also had to disconnect my disk drive and keyboard cables.
The manual stresses the need to ground yourself from static charges. I suggest that you follow the expert advice they give you to avoid a catastrophic disaster in your memory console.
The next step is to take the console apart. It's held together with phillips screws, so the screw-driver gets well used! Next, the game board has to be removed, the solder connections identified and the parts location determined. You are given simple instructions on picking the internal location of the mouse interface.
You will find it necessary to remove 3 of the small louvers in the case to allow access to the port after installation. The X-Acto knife served this purpose quite well and the file was used to smooth out the job. This was for MY machine, and I wanted it to look NICE! The wire stripper is used to remove a small section of jacket from the 11 wires you will need to solder to the game board. The soldering pencil should be low wattage to avoid component damage to your memory console. The tip should be small so that it can solder the points without bridging connections.
After all this is finished, you still have to put the memory console back together. All in all, I spent about 2 hours installing the device. The time was well spent because it looks almost as if it WERE factory installed! I even have an extra joystick port if I ever need it! Now, what can I use it for?
Some Coleco programs such as AdamCALC and SmartWriter which let you use the joystick to navigate the screen will work easy with the Adamouse. Coleco or Adam games that don't rely on joystick key input will also work well. If a game uses the pause feature, it will have problems with the mouse. Games like GYRUS and ZAXXON work amazingly well with the mouse! Under SmartBASIC, the mouse has easily programmable capabilities.
My greatest complaint was the lack of current software support. I guess I shouldn't feel to bad though...as a new device, I couldn't really expect too much support. As a step into the "state of the art", I feel that with user support, our Adam could easily become as effective in such fields as desk top publishing as a Macintosh or IBM. Just think of the possibilities of a patch to PowerPaint that would provide for the simple mouse device requirements. It would be nice to simply use the mouse to move an arrow, let's say, to the SmartKey label, tap the button and see the next menu. Drawing would be easier too!
Dr. Swift has done a fantastic job of making PowerPaint user friendly based on the hardware available. Now, with a mouse driver, the possibilities are no less than astounding! Programming isn't my department, but as an EOS expert, I'm quite sure Dr. Swift could make it work. While were on the subject of DEI, what about using a mouse with GO-DOS? Those pull down menus and such would certainly benefit!
In the meantime, Thomas Electronics mentions an upcoming program called the ADAMOUSE GRAPHIC UTILITY. The manual states that it will have in excess of 4000, and perhaps as high as 16,000 drawing options! WOW! In conclusion, I leave you with a paragraph from the installation manual Thomas Electronics distributes with the mouse....
Well, that sure does spark some interest in me! Until next time, keep using your ADAM! It may be old, but it gets better and better every day!