HARDWARE REVIEW: THE TIME KEEPER CLOCK CARTRIDGE
by Richard Karsmakers
I can remember all the hassle I used to have in the early days of
the ST, when I wanted to have the correct time on my ST's
internal clock. Where had I left the Control Panel? Was it on
disk 10, or maybe perhaps it might be on disk x? After quite some
searching I had finally found the Control Panel, BOOTed my system
and came to the conclusion that I had forgotten what I wanted to
do in the first place!
A friend of mine gave my a programm called "DATETIME.PRG" a few
months later, which relieved me of many of my hardships. It was a
program that had to be put in an AUTO folder (it was also
possible to run it outside an AUTO folder, but that would still
be a nuisance) and that enabled me to specify the time of day and
the date, further on to be used in my system's clock. Great was
my surprise and my joy that the clock, once given a specific date
and time, enabled me just to hit RETURN twice and still have the
time I specified in my previous session! But, alas! Great was my
astonishment when I found out that, after I had turned off my
system, the time wasn't preserved! "Stupid people at Atari", I
thought (Sorry Mr. Kilwinger and Cora), "why didn't you build in
a battery-backed clock?". Later I also found out that some
programs messed the time up real bad and I grew irritated the
longer the more even with this handy little program...
About half a year ago I noticed a small black thing in the
cartridge port of the Atari from Mr. Geukens (the chairman - I am
sorry Engel, but I fear this is the best translation I can make
of it - of Computer Club Veldhoven) and - eager as I usually am
when I see things I don't have - I immediately asked what that
strange little thing in his cartridge port might be. He took his
pipe from his mouth, turned around one of the sides of his
moustache and revealed to me that that strange black little
device of his was a clock cartridge . My brain (what I tend to
call a brain anyway, but what some other people tend to call
'stuffing' or 'wood dust') immediately went to do overwork and
wondered what that might be. Engel immediately explained to me
that it was in fact a second clock, but battery-backed (!). That
meant that the time was kept all the time, also when the system
was turned off! I envied him from that day on, and I asked him
many times whether he could be persuaded to sell that wonderful
black thing to me. Unfortunately, he wouldn't.
Well, now I don't envy Mr. Geukens anymore, since I now have
received a review 'copy' of Navarone Industries' "TimeKeeper" - a
battery-backed clock cartridge. Though it isn't as small as Mr.
Geukens' device, it sure offers a lot of nice touches: A further
cartridge can be plugged into the expansion port, for example,
since the cartridge itself just creates an expansion port for
"TimeKeeper" is measured 3½" (8 centimetres) by 5½" (14½ cm) by
1" (about 2½ cm), when looked at that what actually is added to
your system's dimensions. Once plugged in, it doesn't bother the
cartridge port anymore, since it neatly rests on your desktop.
The color is light grey - much like the color of the ST itself.
When the screws at the bottom are taken out and the thing taken
apart, you will find eight ICs, a range of smaller components and
the common coin-type Lithium battery.
The software is supplied on a single-sided disk, and comprises
programs to set the time, the alarm (yes, the alarm!) and to read
the time from the cartridge-clock on system start-up. The
software is very easy to handle, though the user manual has some
minor grammatical and typical English errors (that means, they
are that bad that even I could see them, Lucas!).
Working with the device is very comfortable indeed, and I cannot
mention any drawbacks of the whole system - apart from a
disadvantage that ALL clock cartridges seem to have, which is
that you still have to run a program to transfer the time from
the cartridge to the internal clock. But that's only a very minor
The "TimeKeeper" clock cartridge can be ordered at Navarone
Industries, Inc., 21109 Longeway Road, Suite C, Sonora, CA 95370,
United States of America at a price of $49,95. Dealer enquiries
are welcome, since they don't seem to have an official
distributor in Europe (not in Holland, anyway).
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.