Programming Basics

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Opcodes and their operands

To be written.


The 6502 processor has six registers. They are 8-bit, with the exception of the Program Counter, which is 16-bit.

Accumulator(A) - The accumulator can read and write to memory. It is used for arithmetic and logic.

X Index - The x index is can read and write to memory. It is used primarily as a counter in loops, or for addressing memory, but can also temporarily store data like the accumulator.

Y Index - Much like the x index, however they are not completely interchangeable. Some operations are only available for each register.

Flag(P) - Seven bits that represent the status of the processor.

Stack Pointer(S) - The stack pointer hold the address to the current location on the stack. The stack is a way to store data by pushing or popping data to and from a section of memory.

Program Counter(PC) - This register keeps up with the processor's current location in a program.

The stack

Main article: Stack

Math operations

Simple operations

Addition and subtraction

To be written.

Bitwise (factor of 2) multiplication and division

To multiply the value in A by two, use the instruction ASL A.

To divide the value in A by two, use the instruction LSR A.

To be written.

Complex operations

Multiplication of arbitrary numbers

The following routine multiplies two unsigned 16-bit numbers, and returns an unsigned 32-bit value.

mulplr	= $c0		; ZP location = $c0
partial	= mulplr+2	; ZP location = $c2
mulcnd	= partial+2	; ZP location = $c4


  ldy #$10	; Setup for 16-bit multiply
  lda mulplr	; Is low order bit set?
  lsr a
  bcc _usmul_4

  clc		; Low order bit set -- add mulcnd to partial product
  lda partial
  adc mulcnd
  sta partial
  lda partial+1
  adc mulcnd+1
  sta partial+1
; Shift result into mulplr and get the next bit of the multiplier into the low order bit of mulplr.
  ror partial+1
  ror partial
  ror mulplr+1
  ror mulplr
  bne _usmul_2

Here's an example of the above _usmul routine in action, which multiplies 340*268:

  lda #<340	; Low byte of 16-bit decimal value 340  (value: $54)
  sta mulplr
  lda #>340	; High byte of 16-bit decimal value 340 (value: $01) (makes $0154)
  sta mulplr+1
  lda #<268	; Low byte of 16-bit decimal value 268  (value: $0C)
  sta mulcnd
  lda #>268	; High byte of 16-bit decimal value 268 (value: $01) (makes $010C)
  sta mulcnd+1
  lda #0		; Must be set to zero (0)!
  sta partial
  sta partial+1
  jsr _usmul	; Perform multiplication
;    mulplr    = Low byte of lower word  (bits 0 through 7)
;    mulplr+1  = High byte of lower word (bits 8 through 15)
;    partial   = Low byte of upper word  (bits 16 through 23)
;    partial+1 = High byte of upper word (bits 24 through 31)

Division of arbitrary numbers

To be written.

Floating-point numbers

To be written.

Gaming: keeping score

To be written.

If you keep score in a binary number, you must convert it to a sequence of digits before displaying it. The article 16-bit BCD lists a subroutine to do this.

Making simple sounds

To be written.

Controller input

To be written.

Graphics (should be covered elsewhere!)

"Hello, world!" program

Since the NES can't easily do something like printf() (or echo for those familiar with scripting), one of the easiest ways to test code is to output some audio. Something along the lines of...

  lda #$01	; square 1
  sta $4015
  lda #$08	; period low
  sta $4002
  lda #$02	; period high
  sta $4003
  lda #$bf	; volume
  sta $4000
  jmp forever