Dumping Cartridges

Did you ever wanted to dump your cartridges to a ROM file without opening the cartridge case!?, and if you did manage to 'crack' open the cartridge case you will find that most Atari cartrides has custom ROM chip inside that would not read on a normal EPROM programmer without modifying the chip pin-out...

There are several methods to copying the Cartridge ROM information without opening the cartridge case, one of them is to use an alternate Operating system instead of the original ATARI O.S. such as Omnimon or QMEG which has Monitor (debugger) capabilities... (You can also use the Black Box monitor) Enter the monitor tool and simply copy the Cartridge area to a file.

an 8K cartridge would be mapped on address from $A000 to $BFFF while a 16K cartridge would be from $8000 to $BFFF. But what about those XEG, OSS, or other Bank Switching cartridges? How to dump them?... well in this case you need to know how the cartridge Bank Switching works.

In General cartridge that are more then 16K does Bank Switching: by writing a value to $D500 or by addressing $D500-$D5FF that cartridge will map another section of its ROM to $8000-$BFFF. more detailed information on Cartridges and how the work you can find on: Jindroush Cartridges information page

Jindrich Kubec made a neat utility that can automaticly dump those 8k, 16K, OSS & XEGS cartridge. it also has a manual mode that allow you to change $D5XX registers to switch between the cartridge banks



The Cartridge Dumper utility requires a 'pass through' device (such as the one that is shown on the picture below), this device will allow the Cartridge Data and Address lines to pass into the Atari cartridge Port while you can select to enable or disable RD4 / RD5 lines.

Below is a top-view of the Atari Cartridge Port, Pin 'A' is RD4 while Pin '14' is RD5


To dump cartridges follow this simple process:
1) Insert the Cartridge Dumper software into the disk drive
2) Turn off Atari.
3) Insert the pass-thru device, insert the cartridge ontop of the device, turn RD4/RD5 switches off.
4) Turn on Atari, wait until the Cartridge Dumper tool finish booting.
5) Turn on the RD4/RD5 switches.
6) From the Cartridge Dumper tool Select the correct mode (using TAB or Arrows keys)
7) Press Return to save the cartridge image to disk.
8) Turn off Atari.

You can download the Cartridge Dumper software from here: Cartridge Dumper Utility


If you dont have the tools to build the 'Pass-thru Cartridge' device there is an alternative solution, its a hardware modification of the computer (XL/XE only). Locate the MMU chip CO61618 (U3) and bend up the pins 7 & 8, attach two micro switches between the pins and the corresponding socket holes. These switches will act the same as the RD4/RD5 switches on the cartridge pass-thru device.


If you have a SpartaDos X cartridge you can use it as the 'Pass-thru' tool as well, almost all SpartaDos X cartridge ROM are on a socket, you can replace its ROM with the custom Cartridge Dumper utility ROM that will convert your SpartaDos X cartridge to the ultimate Cartridge Dumper tool


You can download the SpartaDos X ROM replacment from here: SDX Cart Dumper.sdx and using an Eprom burner burn it on a 27c512 Eprom that will replace the original SpartaDos X ROM.

More information on different Atari Cartridge can be found in the: Atari Cartridges Dumping Project