Signetics 2650 & 2636 programming/Getting started

Tutorial — Getting started


The objective of this tutorial is to gently introduce the mechanics of assembling, running and debugging a simple piece of code using WinArcadia. We'll be using the debugger to step through the program instruction by instruction, both to learn about using the debugger and also to gain a better understanding of how the processor works.

If you haven't done so already, instructions for downloading and installing WinArcadia can be found at WinArcadia.

Tutorial program


The code for this tutorial can be found at Tutorial code - getting started. Copy & paste this code into a text file and append the standard label definitions file Tutorial code. Save the file as intro.asm in the Projects folder.

Open WinArcadia. If the emulator screen is not displaying INTERTON VC 4000, use menu items: Options > Machine > Interton

In the emulators command line, enter bp 0. This sets a breakpoint to stop execution of the program as soon as it starts.

Again in the command line, enter asm intro. This assembles the program we just created and opens a WinArcadia Output window which, if the assembly was successful, should include the message 0 warnings, 0 errors. It will also have created an assembly listing and a binary file in the Projects folder. Open the list file, intro.lst . The first column shows us the address where a line of program is stored, and the second column shows one, two or three bytes of the machine code. The rest of the line is the program we wrote.

WinArcadia will have automatically started to execute the program, but has been stopped straight away when it hit the breakpoint we entered at $0000. In the command line enter s. This will Step through the next instruction and display the state of the processor in the output window. The only thing that the first instruction — bcta,un reset — will have done is set the Instruction Address Register IAR to $0004, the address equivalent to label reset.

Step again (enter s in the command line). The instruction lodi,r0 $20 has been executed and we can see that r0 now holds $20.

Step twice again. These two instructions set up the Program Status Word. Our goals here are to disable interrupts, set the return address stack pointer to zero. See Reset.

The next instruction, eorz r0, is a single byte instruction that has the effect of setting r0 to $00, and then we save that in the 'effects' register. This turns off the audio and clears the invert bit .

We then take a branch to the subroutine InitPVI. Notice how the stack pointer SP has been incremented to 1, and the first location in the Return Address Stack is $000F.

The first two instructions in the subroutine set r0=0 and r3=$CA in preparation for setting all the PVI registers to 0. R3 will be used as an index register.

Step the program so that you are viewing the instruction stra,r0 object1,r3-. Notice that the debugger is showing us that index register r3 has been auto-decremented to $C9 and that r0 is going to be stored in SCORE34, the last address in the PVI that we can write to. Open the Tools menu and turn on the UVI/PVI(s) monitor. You should see that SCORERT is 00. Step twice more and SCORELT will also be set to OO.

We could go on single stepping through the loop if we needed to debug something, but in our case we are going to skip to the end of the loop we are in by using the r l command. This runs until after the next BDRR/BDRA/BIRR/BIRA/BRNR/BRNA instruction which does not branch. Note that this does not work for BCTR/BCTA/BCFR/BCFR.


The next line sets R3 up as an index ready to load shape and position data for object 1 which is fetched from a data table one. As you step through this loop, you can see the X and Y coordinates of object 1 being set in the PVI monitor. There is not a great deal more to see now, so click the Pause button at the top of the emulator window and the program run to its end. The emulator screen should be showing a black screen, four white score digits and a small magenta box.

One feature of the debugger is the Guide ray which shows where the TV beam would be as each instruction is being executed. It is turned on and off from the command line instruction gr. The picture here shows the guide ray as our program overwrites the default Interton display. If you watch the beam as you single step through the program you can see just how few instructions can be performed on each horizontal line of the scan.

To run the program again, select File > Reset to game and the program should once again hit the breakpoint at $0000. Note however that the emulator is still showing our black screen and magenta box. It is probably fairer to start again by selecting File > Reinitialise machine. Note that the emulator must not be Paused for either of these to work.

Once back to the green Interton screen, type bl in the command line. This will list all breakpoints in the output window, and it should say None as they were cleared when the machine was reinitialised. So the breakpoint will need to be set and the program assembled again. You can now repeat all the above, or type h in the command line to see all the commands that can be used in the debugger and perhaps try some out.

One final and powerful feature of the debugger are conditional breakpoints. These enable a breakpoint to be set if a particular condition is met. As an example enter bp 001e r3 eq 1 in the command line and let the program run. It should stop in loopIS when the index register r3 reaches 1. There are many other conditional options including testing memory data or any register including PSU, PSL, SP, CC, RASn. For full details see Help > Manual

See also


Other features of WinArcadia are explored in various tutorials elsewhere in this book: