Dragon 32

In early 1980s United Kingdom government decided to support popularizing of computer technology and microcomputing. IT teaching program has been introduced to schools and a television series has been broadcasted. But which computers should be used to teach IT?
Generally 2 computer manufacturers have been considered: Sinclair Research and Acorn. Sinclair compurers were the cheapest, but their usability (membrane keyboard) was their biggest problem. Finally Acorn computers have been used in schools. After this contest few more manufacturers started to make their computers in UK.
Mettoy, a toy manufacturer, decided to make computers in 1982 adding another standard to Acorn (teaching) and Sinclair (hobbyists) world. They made computers under Dragon Data brand to deal with financial problems. Dragon 32 was a clone of Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer, but many things have been reworked to avoid patent problems. Color Computer was a big success in USA, mostly because it used Motorola 68C09 processor much faster than Z80, but in UK Z80-powered machines were popular in hobbyists' garages.
In 1984 Dragon Data Ltd. collapsed. This was a result of race with Sinclair in home computers market (Sinclair announced computers with more and more memory, disk drives and Sinclairs indeed had better graphics) and price of the disk drive for Dragon, which was as high as every disk drive these times except Sinclair's "discs" which were... tape cartridges marketed like floppy disks.


Manufacturer Dragon Data Ltd.

Origin UK
Year of unit ca. 1983
Year of introduction 1982
End of production 1984
CPU Motorola 68C09
Speed 0,9MHz
RAM 32kB
ROM 16kB
Colors: 8
Sound: It was :)
OS: Microsoft extended Basic
Display modes: 256x192x2, 128x192x4, 128x192x2, 128x96x4, 128x96x2;
Text: 32x16, 16x16, 16x8.

Generated by 6847 circuit.

 
 

 

Media: Cartridge, tape, possible to connect disk drive  

Power supply:

PSU is only transformer, giving voltages AC. Regulation in Dragon is linear, so voltages may differ a bit.

1+6 - 8,5V AC 1
2+7 - 8,5V AC 2 (1,5A)
3 - 14V AC 1
4 - 14V AC 0
5 - 14V AC 2 (250mA each)

Exact transformer wiring:

I/O: System bus (cartridge connector)
Printer port (parallel)
RF out
Composite monitor out
Tape I/O
2 analog joysticks .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Possible upgrades: Memory upgrade (highly invasive)
   
Software accessibility: Good (TOSEC, World of Dragon)

My unit is in a very good condition. I had no power supply unit, so I had to make one from two transformers: one is 2x16V at 500mA (giving in fact about 22V each) and another is 8V at 1.2A (giving 9,5V). Because Dragon has linear regulators inside, more voltage is radiated as heat, but supply voltages don't have to be exact as in original power supply.
Tested with game "Pedro" I had on original tape - works well :).


Contents: Pinouts Starting, tapes Links

Pinouts:

Composite video, with quite brighter colors, can be found in mainboard as well as audio signal. The exact location of pins with A

Video:

1 - Audio out
2 - GND
3 - Composite video out

Tape:


1 - Remote start/stop.
2 - GND.
3 - Remote start/stop.
4 - Input to computer.
5 - Output from computer.


Starting, tapes:

After powering on BASIC should display on green background. Then you can load softwabe by typing:

LOAD "programname"

Machine-code programs can be loaded by:

CLOADM

To make tapes from CAS files, you should convert them to WAV using

Archiving and making tapes:

First, let's run emulator. Download XROAR 0.32 from here: http://www.6809.org.uk/xroar/
Now the Dragon32 IC17 ROM from here: http://archive.worldofdragon.org/archive/index.php?dir=Roms/Dragon/
Extract and save it as IC17.ROM in XROAR directory.

Now run XROAR by running it this way:
xroar.exe -vo sdl -machine dragon32 -extbas IC17.ROM -nodos -kbd-translate

Now you're ready to write CAS to WAV:
File->Load select CAS file
File->Cassette->Output Tape then type name with .WAV extension, it's important.
File->Cassette->Rewint input tape (this is important)
File->Cassette->Rewrite
Now load the program as you load it, by CLOAD or CLOADM.
Wait until the program loads completely then exit emulator.
Left WAV file is a ready file for the computer.
More information: http://archive.worldofdragon.org/index.php?title=Tape\Disk_Preservation

You can also try DCWIN from here: http://archive.worldofdragon.org/archive/index.php?dir=Tools/&file=dcwin02net35.zip
But it won't write a nice pilot tone in some CAS programs.


Links
 

http://archive.worldofdragon.org/archive/index.php - Software archive
http://web.archive.org/web/20000823035100/http://www.burgins.com/dragon.html - One of the first Dragon-related pages, dating back to early 2000s, some games still downloadable.
http://web.archive.org/web/19980522011954/http://mudhole.ehche.ac.uk/~dragon/ - some archived page winth info from 1998.

http://www.6809.org.uk/dragon/ - Emulator, debugger.
http://www.onastick.clara.net/dragon.html - Documentation and software
http://dragon32.info/info/pinouts.html - Pinouts of Dragon's connectors.
http://www.dragondata.co.uk/ - Site worth mentioning because of gallery, with Dragon Data plant and employees photos.
http://www.binarydinosaurs.co.uk/Museum/Dragon/dragon-history.php - Very good article about Dragon Data history.
http://archive.worldofdragon.org/index.php?title=Main_Page - Many articles.
http://archive.worldofdragon.org/index.php?title=Dragon_32_-_64K_Upgrade - Upgrading memory in Dragon32.

 

Up