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Hextracker by Paulo Simoes [web]

Hi !

In one month, there will be 21 years (!) since the day i did release the Overscan Demos back in 1990.
For sure at that time, i had no idea i would still be releasing some ST application that long time after ...

Well, 19 years, almost to the day, after a preview of this program was shown to some guys at the Megaleif party in Uppsala(Sweden) during Easter 1992 (http://www.demoparty.net/megaleif1992/) where i was invited to by Michael "Daryl of TEX" Raasch, i am (finally) releasing Hextracker to the ST users.

This program was built during 1991/92 (the last date on the original source file points to July 1992) but the core virtual mix/dma is from 1991.
The program idea was to break some of limits existing at the time allowing:
- fast and quality replay routs;
- up to 16 voices mixing on STF with full volume control;
- sample size up to 24 bits;
- 255 samples;
- 256 patterns;
- variable sample base frequency to allow better quality samples;

Initially the idea was to make it a commercial product.
But i was told by several editors, one of them was Marc Rosocha (if i remember right), that there was too much competition from the Amiga and PC trackers and so there was no market chance. Some guys at the Megaleif also told me the same thing in behalf of Marc.
So after a few months, as i started working for a telecom firm, i decided to put this project on ice ...
It remained there for about 12 years.

In 2004, with the cheap internet boom, i discovered the ST community on the net and started having a look at the MOD evolution with the years.
So at the end of 2004, i implemented all the missing Protracker commands that could fit on the replay strategy from 1991/92 and built YM50K.
With a PC, during 3 months, i managed to measure the YM 2149 output levels in order to generate more accurate replay tables that allowed me to release YM50K in March 2005.
But still there was no will finish Hextracker ... so, after including the direct import of Fast Tracker modules, it returned to the ice.

Now in March 2011, again i started looking for some Fast Tracker MODs to at least ear how they would sound on my STF with my program because of course back in 1991/92 there was no Fast Tracker. The maximum i tested were some Oktalyser MODs up to 8 voices: a 6 voices example was shown to some guys in Upsalla.
As i found some little bugs with the Protacker digisynth routine i updated YM50K and published it again here.

That is when i found out that there are some guys like "yerzmyey" still doing some MOD work on STF !
So i decided to try to release something about this project.
So, in less than 2 weeks, i did:
- write a quick reference manual (if you can call it that :) );
- kill one or two known bugs (don't worry there probably still more :) );
- debug the STE output with STeem as i have no STE (not sure if it works on a real STE);
- write a small replay program for anyone to use;

Anyway, here it is now.

Please remember that:

- this is a "FOR EVER BETA" product provided "AS IT IS";
- it should work with a 512 KB STF (hopefully E) but 1 MB is better and can handle from 1 to 16 voices;
- the STE output was tested with STeem (with a virtual ST machine up to 32 MHz :) );
- the virtual mix/dma core was STF built, with the STE mixing on top of it, so it is not near as fast as Lance's one thas was STE built;
- some Protracker features/commands: BPM, finetune, set finetune ($E5), and funk it($EF) are not suported;
- the included code can be used by anyone to replay MODs in Hextracker or supported formats;
- please have a look at the reference text file;
- have a test at it on real HW, if you can;

Some emulator/technical notes:

- The application has some problems on STE mode with SainT 2.14 but Leonard is taking care of that bug ... :)  Thanks ! ;
- The small replay program has some problems with STeem 3.2, both with STF and STE outputs, when synching to the VBL or to one specific scan line works synching on a 50 Hz timer (like for mono mode replay): this is a STeem bug as the main application (using the same code) works and as it works on real STF HW ;
- The application was not tested on other emulators;
- You can push the application in STeem 3.2 to have 16 voices with all options on in stereo at 50 KHz with a virtual 32 MHz STE;

That is all for this version 0.825 ! Will there be any one more ...

Enjoy it,
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