The device was a modified PC serial mouse designed to be attached to a joystick port supplied with a driver to map the XMOUSE. YMOUSE, BUTTON commands as well as demonstration programs and instructions to patch Flash!.
In BASIC the mouse drove the keyboard input 6,7,8,9 with 0 and 1 for the two buttons which meant in theory that it could be used with games and programs that used Sam/Sinclair Interface 2 mappings but in practice the inputs and rate was incompatible with the gameplay.
There was dissatisfaction with the build quality - the extra circuit board was floating and stuffed in with padding to prevent the case closing due to the increased height. This increase also necessitated the bending of the button microswitch levers up and over in order to make contact with the buttons plastic actuators.
This along with the sale price of £39.99, poor quality of the demonstration programs and reports that it was unresponsive did not help it’s sales.
Hardly any software was compatible or written to support the Joy Mouse's joystick operation and once the SamCo interface was released complete with an off-the-shelf Contrivor Atari ST/Amiga mouse it vanished from view.
Congratulations! You now own probably the most versatile mouse currently available on any home computer. This is because our mouse plugs into the JOYSTICK port of your SAM Coupe, thus making it instantly compatible with any existing software that currently uses the joystick or which lets the user re-define the control keys.
The mouse overlays the keyboard in the same way as joystick 1 (i.e. left,right,up,down on 6,7,8,9, left button as key 0 and the right button on key 1). This makes it compatible with most Spectrum games, Coupe games and also the MIDI sequencer and FLASH (under the joystick option) As FLASH! was written specifically for a Joystick, the action inside FLASH is slightly different to normal, but if you break into the program at the 'Backup?' prompt and then enter these pokes, then backup FLASH, the response improves. The pokes are:
POKE &10CD4,&32: POKE &109F4,&7E: POKE &109FF,0
With any other programs, just select joystick and experience a new lease of life with the Joy-Mouse!
However, most of you probably wish to use the mouse within your own programs. From BASIC, if you load either the program 'Mouse' (or ‘Mouse2’) off the disk supplied, the machine code program will auto run, and then the BASIC functions BUTTON, XMOUSE and YMOUSE will return the state of the mouse buttons, and the mouse position. The mouse co-ordinates are limited to the extremes of the current screen, in whichever mode you are currently in.
Two versions of the mouse driver are supplied because some software is written incorrectly and will just sit itself wherever [in the memory space] it wants to, without looking to see if the memory is first free. If the mouse appears not to work with a particular program, then try the other driver
On the disk supplied you will find various files, the one that auto-runs on booting uses the mouse driver to show you how easy it is to access the mouse from BASIC using the mouse driver. There is another on the disk called 'Auto_v1.1' which was written without the mouse driver, but still manages to scan the mouse using INKEY$. This is provided to give a comparison between the two methods and to indicate how much better the mouse works with the mouse driver.
On the underside of the mouse towards the front, there are two screws. These can be used to adjust the amount of pressure that required to press the mouse buttons. NB. Do not turn the screws any further than half a turn in either direction, as the mouse could open and the sealed components inside damaged.
Finally, we would like to apologise for this brief introduction to the mouse. If you return the guarantee card to us we will dispatch the finished manual and an updated disk to you as soon as they become available.
SamTop by Justin Whitton
1. Loading - The main file on the disk is called 'Auto_V1.1'. Once this file is loaded there is a delay of a few seconds whilst other data files are loaded and then the title page is displayed, and the user is prompted for the time.
2. Main Screen - all operations are performed over a Mandelbrot background, and windows open and close over this, with the exception of the CATALOGUE window, which cannot be closed (see later).
3. Catalogue Window - this window consists of a scroll up bar, scroll down bar and a section of the catalogue. This allows marking/unmarking of files and scrolling the window.
The following menus are selected by moving the cursor to the top of the screen over the menu selection required and pressing one of the mouse buttons. Further selections then appear.
4. SAM menu - this gives a choice of information about the DOS and ROM, about SamTop or to exit this program.
5. Info menu - gives information on marked files (maximum 6), and if MasterDOS is installed, also about the disk.
6. File menu - options to be performed on marked files: only valid if catalogue window previously opened.
7. Disk menu - Basic disk operations, DIR, FORMAT and BACKUP.
There are also subsequent requester windows. The WHAT DRIVE window appears when SamTop requires to know which drive you wish to access. The ARE YOU SURE window is similar to the DOS's own 'Are you sure?’ prompt.
The only time that keyboard input is required is for entering the time, or answering any DOS prompts.
|Sinclair & SAM Computing #3||75%|
John Wase reviews Blue Alpha's new mouse system for the SAM Coupe.
This is the battle of the mice. SAMCO have recently done a mailshot advertising their mouse. It is, if the information is to be believed, neat, tidy SAM-specific and super-sensitive. But it’s not yet here, and Blue Alpha’s is whoever makes it, it is, at any rate nice to see a mouse at last after the long wait.
My review mouse is, I guess, a beta-test version. It's a modified ornery Taiwanese rodent, distinguished from its mum by a rather loose tail which is not typical of them all. I checked John Croghan’s out, and his mouse’s tail is fine (careful how you word it, Wase), so it’s just a quirk of mine. Lurking within the body Is a teeny mouse-size printed circuit board that has a squeeze to be included. So much of a squeeze that on my pre- production model, foam rubber is visible through the expanded crack twixt back and belly: its plimsoll line, as it were. Again, this is a pre-production snag, I'm assured, and Adrian Parker, proprietor of Blue Alpha Electronics, tells me that for production models, there is to be a spacer of thick plastic all the way round, but it’s been delayed. Hence the bulge at the plimsoll line. Oh, that I could find a similar excuse to give to my wife.
Accompanying the mouse is a guarantee card, two printed sheets and a disc marked "Joy-Mouse". One of the sheets, the one folded into two with two A5 photo reduced pages of print contains some information on how it works, along with some misprints. The mouse overlays the keyboard in the same way as joystick 1; left, right, up and down are the same as pressing keys six, seven, eight and nine. The left mouse button corresponds to key zero and the right hand one to key one. That’s nice: it should work with all Dave Tonks’ games and the midi sequencer, for a start.
The instructions also contain an apology: "The proper instruction book should be ready shortly,” it says; "We'll send it when it is".
Accompanying the mouse is a guarantee card, two printed sheets and a disc marked "Joy Mouse".
Alongside are a few pokes. to make the Joymouse, as it's called, work better with. "Flash!”. Adrian Parker explains that, as "Flash" was written specifically for a joystick, the action is slightly different from normal. In fact, it’s worse than that - Bo Jangeborg also used his own programming language in writing "Flash", and that makes things very convoluted at times.
There are two drivers supplied with the mouse on the disc. Some programs are naughty, and just pour themselves over the mouse driver, though they should be written to check if the page is free. But they don’t always; hence you have a couple to try. the Basic functions BUTTON, XMOUSE and YMOUSE will then return the state of the buttons and the mouse positions.
Finally, there’s a program - AUTO_V1.1 which scans the mouse using INKEY$ - not as good as the proper driver, though it still works - just. As a demonstration it contains a utility: which is supposed to act as a disc information provider and organiser. I
O.K. so far? Then let’s see how things pan out in practice. So make a backup of the software, erase SAMdos and put in MasterDOS (nothing but the best) and away we go...
Well, the connector goes in neatly enough into the joystick port, and we boot up. The first program is a short bit of Basic to demonstrate the use of BUTTON, XMOUSE and YMOUSE. All it does is doodle or clear the screen if you press the button. I wasn't terribly excited about those buttons: although it is a neat enough mouse for my stupid fat hand, the button required quite a bit more pressure than those I am used to at work. Ah well, I expect I'll get used to it. You can actually doodle quite reasonably if you hold the rodent with a steady hand - it’s not that bad at all. What’s the next on the menu?
You can actually doodle quite reasonably if you hold the rodent with a steady hand - it’s not that bad at all
AUTO_V1.1 loads a complicated series of screens, ending with an irritating request for the time. Following this, the screen again changes to a sort of studded grey job, with what looks like a Mandelbrot plot containing part of a camshaft near the top. I used the mouse to move the pointer round to SAM (on the bar at the top, along with INFO, FILE and DISK, together with a digital SAMwatch). This is the point at which you find out just how bad INKEY$ is at getting the mouse signals. Movement is jerky but glacial, rather like when my wife asks me to rise, take the coal bucket and fill it (it's snowing outside).
Click on SAM, and true enough, a window opened, telling me I had ROM version 3.0 and MasterDOS 1.3. There we stuck. Eventually, enough pressure on the ESCAPE key elicited the error message "1240 - Basic stack full". It's a big buggy Basic program, and this was one of them. It stuck here because it was calling an error procedure (appropriately named oh_sh) in line 1230 which unfortunately called itself again in line 1240: it’s recursive, so it was just filling the stack up. There’s a similar problem more often than not with drive 2, and it would not always format a disc. but it’s all good clean fun. I understand there will be a further program of this type on your disc but using the proper driver.
However, it’s pretty instructive to play with the INKEY$ version - if you can stand it! And the program, being completely in Basic, shows you exactly how to program the thing - if you avoid the bugs!
Next "Flash". It worked rather well with "Flash", I thought. Instead of coming up with a pretty picture, there’s always that dreaded message in "Flash" "Backup to tape?"
Now we can put it to good use. It’s easy to break into the program at this point (just press "n" for no and keep your finger on the escape button whilst you press "return") and enter the three pokes I mentioned which improve mouse sensitivity. They are: POKE &10CD4,&32: POKE &109F4,&7E: POKE &10CD1, &32. Now here’s a secret. If you change the last poke to POKE &109FF,0 , you'll improve matters still further. I am also told that if you also poke &1013D with 8 and &10138 with 9 before you continue and save the modified (but only with version 1.1 of "Flash" - the one that came with the ROM upgrade), you'll start up directly in joystick mode, but I couldn't get that to work with my version. This is of no consequence: just select joystick mode, if you really must, go and save it from there. Apart from this, the mouse worked very well. You need a steady hand with the rodent and. a bigger area on the desk than - there goes the pile of discs - I have, and-I still don’t like the buttons - hope they'll improve in the final version. But cursor movement was pretty steady and selection of items satisfactory. Overall, they've cracked this bit pretty well.
MOUSE: Input Device controlled by moving it with the hand an on-screen pointer moves relative to the direction and distance the mouse has been moved.
BUTTON, XMOUSE, YMOUSE: Functions used by Basic to give information about the mouse’s current status, i.e., relative position with XMOUSE and YMOUSE and which buttons (if any) are depressed with BUTTON.
DRIVER: A small program which acts as an interface between a main program and a piece of hardware, in this case a mouse. Drivers takes away all the hard work out of using a particular piece of hardware.
Pointer: Usually an integral part of mouse software. Basically, as you move the mouse, the on-screen pointer moves accordingly.
On to the games, now. "Bombed Out" works quite well, though I’m not as quick with a mouse as with a keyboard. In fact, I don’t think I’m very quick at all Frankly I’m old fashioned and prefer the keyboard. but then I would ... Quite fun, now you get used it, this mouse. Now what’s next?
The good bit, of course. All this rodent does is simulate a joystick. So, anything which uses a joystick will work with the mouse. Anything? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I stuffed it in the Kempston Port on the Discovery disc drive. Poor Sweevo ran like a rocket for the wall, and was then glued there. Likewise, Lunar Jetman shot up to the top of the sky, firing profusely, though at intervals he came down to earth, unprompted. I tried it in a Spectrum +2 and promptly jammed the keyboard response solid; the effect was reversed on unplugging it. The Disciple was only fractionally better, the poor rodent was completely ignored by it. All this is because the mouse is wired _ to the plug as a sort of Sinclair mouse (well I think it’s a sort of Sinclair mouse) emulating a Sinclair Joystick. Consequently, a Sinclair Joystick port should do. Except that SAM’s is funny and has a 5 volt line: somewhere which the Spectrum +2 lacks. Or something like that. In other words, small differences cause big problems _ - BUT to make it work, all you need is an adapter! Blue Alpha assure me that they have this under control, and adapters and alternatively wired litters of mice are now incubating.
Although there isn’t much software around at the moment which takes advantage of the mouse Capability of the SAM Coupe, now that two I companies, Blue Alpha and SAMCO, have launched mice, you can expect a flurry of software sporting ‘mouse compatibility’ of some kind.
However, as with other computers which haven't come with a mouse as standard, such as the Spectrum and Commodore 64, we may have to wait some time before programmers start to take full advantage of mouse control in their programs.
The question of which of the two mice will prove to be the more popular is a hard one to answer at this point. On one hand, Blue Alpha’s mouse has already been released and has a head start. On the other hand, SAMCO’s will be the ‘official’ mouse and so may become the dominant Only time will tell.
So, let's sum up. This mouse is here and now, SAMCO's is not. It works, although the button action on the review model was stiff and because of this, it would be difficult to rattle it like you can a joystick. If you're not desperate for a mouse and only have a SAM anyway, it might possibly pay you to wait for SAMCO’'s mouse, which is likely to be more sensitive. If you have several computers, or want a mouse now, then the Joymouse could fit the bill. At £39.95, it's not exactly cheap, but it won't break the bank, either, and currently, at its special offer price of £29.95, it's good value.
The Joymouse, from Blue Alpha Electronics, Ynysforgan Farm, Morriston, Swansea, SA6 6QL. Phone 0792-310865.
Works with Flash and other programs with joystick option.
Theoretically works on the Spectrum too.
Dodgy button action.
Supplied demonstration programs don’t 'show off’ the mouse’s features.
The Joy-Mouse - Blue Alpha , £29.99
At last we have a mouse on the coupe but not from SAMCO, from Blue Alpha Electronics - he of the Sound Sampler fame! SAMCO will still proceed with their mouse and hope to have it ready in a few months but contact them for the details.
Recently Sinclair and SAM Computing printed an article which goes as follows: "it comes with a piece of software which makes it compatible with the SAM mouse system, so you can use it with existing and future software supporting the standard SAM mouse." There is just one problem with such a statement - none of it is true! The Joy-Mouse plugs into the joystick port and uses the standard JOYSTICK keys - 6,7,8,9,0 & 1 as the second button.
This does have certain advantages such as it can be used with existing and future software which supports the joystick and indeed it works on FLASH! as well as all Enigma games -unfortunately the only one it is reasonable on is Sphera. This is the main advantage of the JM because, as yet there is no software which supports the real mouse!!!
The JM itself is a "rounded" cream coloured mouse with two buttons. The only thing which lets down it's otherwise rather "up-market" look is the foam under the buttons to protect its precious intestines from getting infected i.e. keeping it clean inside. But the foam is orange coloured and is easily seen from the outside which is a bit of a let-down.
The reason it is called what it is and how it was produced so quickly is because (confused??? Good) it simply uses the joystick routines which does slow it down a great deal. In fact if you have used the mice on PCs, STs, Amigas etc you will get a big shock when moving over to this little beast (OK, so I had to use that phrase somewhere in the write-up didn't I!) because itis so slow and unresponsive compared to others. The software accompanying the JM has a simple routine for plotting the place on the screen of the mouse, however it is on this our little rodent (groan!) suffers most - it is only possible to traverse the screen in several seconds (compared to as-fast-as-you-can-move-your-hand mice) and signing your name or drawing a circle proves damn near impossible.
Having said that once it's on FLASH! it's not so bad, OK so it's still sluggish but once you get used to it, it is better but not as good as what you would expect. If you are simply looking for something to run FLASH! and the MIDI sequencer from then this will do the job - without any delay! But if you are hoping to get heavily into the WIMP environment stuff etc then you'd do well to stick around a few weeks and see what the reactions are to SAMCO's mouse.
Overall, it is a competent joystick but in the shape of a mouse, nothing impressive but not a waste of money either. If you mention me when you order you can get it for only£29.99 instead of the £39.99 asking price. Get in touch with Blue Alpha at : YNYSFORGAN FARM, MORRISTON, or phone between 2-4pm for SWANSEA, further details on : SA6 6QL (0792) 310865
From David Ledbury
Due to the bulky wiring required for the mouse, Adrian added padding inside the mouse so it would function.
The padding, in fact, originated from a tractor seat :)