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#1 marc.hull OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 27, 2010 12:49 PM

So does OPA have any plans for re producing any of it's hardware/software projects ? I've done some research and from what I can tell (and see) you stuff was/is pretty cool.

My system runs from A HRD using ROS 8.14F and I believe you had a big hand in that. Maybe it's time to get back into the TI business Gary ;-)

#2 Gary from OPA OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 27, 2010 1:50 PM

So does OPA have any plans for re producing any of it's hardware/software projects ? I've done some research and from what I can tell (and see) you stuff was/is pretty cool.

My system runs from A HRD using ROS 8.14F and I believe you had a big hand in that. Maybe it's time to get back into the TI business Gary ;-)


I been slowly working on it. -- Looking at various possible hardware projects.

Yep, ROS series 8 was basically my complete baby, having taken over the original source code from the previous ROS series 7 and below, I re-wrote it almost 100% to produce one of the best coded 6K DSR's in history. -- Then later added another 2K of code and the RAMBO device which was the first addition to the limited TI99 memory space.

Their was a ROS9 which was finished, but sadly it has been lost in time, but it is still fresh in my mind, I might recoded it into working order from notes on paper and stuck in my brain. -- I still have the new boot-up MENU program for it called RAMOS and it is amazing piece of work I might say.

I am planning to launch a major new TI site within the next few weeks with tons of info, pictures, and I will be releasing alot of my previous work there. -- It can be reached at http://ti994a.info -- Look for it soon.

I need to also update my OPA site at http://o-p-a.co.cc and while as my web hosting business at http://o-p-a.biz

I also been slowly rebuilding a complete series of various TI99 equipment, so I can do some work again once I have more time, so much to do.

Thanks for the kind words.

#3 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 27, 2010 1:51 PM

What is OPA and who is Gary?

Never mind. We posted at exactly the same time... I should have remembered from the chat the other night.

Matthew

Edited by matthew180, Thu May 27, 2010 1:52 PM.


#4 Gary from OPA OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 27, 2010 3:34 PM

What is OPA and who is Gary?


Well, OPA stands for "Oasis Pensive Abacutors"

And me, well, my first love was the TI99, when my dad bought me one in 1979 when I was TEN.

And then by 1986, I started OPA at age 16, and released my first TI99 program called TASS,
a slide-show program, that was able to display a full color 12k 256x192 bitmap graphic,
and then load another one and switch the screen without it redrawing or going blank, hard
to do since you only got 16k of video memory, and 12k of it is used up displaying the first picture.

And history after that was short-lived but with a series of great software products, and
then a blast of great hardware products, like TIM, SOB, RAMBO, POP-CART.

But sadly it ended in a battle of words, outstanding orders, and too much demand, not enough
money, and fighting between users groups and remaining TI developers over the ever shrinking
TI world, by the age of Windows'98

So the last 10 years, OPA has been doing embedded technology (at times using 9900cores without
telling the end-user) and getting into the web-hosting business and using our experience in
designing hardware and building it, to repair other high-end electronics like PS3, 360, etc,
that fail like crazy in today's world due to the switch over of lead-free solder in 2005.

There you go, a short review of the good, bad, ugly of OPA. -- Hopefully the next 20 years will
be more great history for my still most loved machine the TI99 and the wonderful 9900 assembly!

#5 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 27, 2010 7:46 PM

Cool. Great story! Kind of parallels my own sorted past, except I didn't get into 99/4A hardware until just recently. I was 12 when my dad bought me my 99/4A in 1982. I used the blue "Beginner's BASIC" book to learn how to program, then XB, then finally assembly when I got the PEB and E/A package.

It is good to have you hanging around on the forum and I'm really looking forward to your new site!

Matthew

#6 retroclouds OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 28, 2010 4:37 AM

And history after that was short-lived but with a series of great software products, and
then a blast of great hardware products, like TIM, SOB, RAMBO, POP-CART.


I was out of the TI scene for a very long time. I have to say I don't know any of these products (sorry).
Do you mind explaining what each of the hardware products are.

Thanks :)

#7 Gary from OPA OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 28, 2010 9:21 AM

And history after that was short-lived but with a series of great software products, and
then a blast of great hardware products, like TIM, SOB, RAMBO, POP-CART.


I was out of the TI scene for a very long time. I have to say I don't know any of these products (sorry).
Do you mind explaining what each of the hardware products are.

Thanks :)



TIM: TI-Image-Maker
===================

A small board about 4"x3" that contain a V9958 (very improved video display processor), and 192K of RAM
plus all the circuit need to interface to various high-res monitors (at the time), and a pin header type
socket, so it built directly into the old TMS9918A socket found on the TI99/4a console.

This gave you high-res graphics up to 524x424 and of course 80col text mode, and lots of other fancy features.

The V9958 was the chip produced by Yamaha, and you can talk to it the same way as the TMS9918A, so it runs
all the existing software (without almost any problems, see SOB below) and was the chip used in the MSX2 machines.

The Geneve used the V9938 chip, a little earlier model before the V9958, but it had "bus mouse" support,
whereas the V9958 lost that in exchange for YJK (a mode to display up to 19,268 colors on screen at once).


SOB: Son-Of-A-Board
===================

A very small board about 2"x1" that contain a GROM emulation design and a 16K eprom, replacing GROM 0 and
GROM 1 on your TI console, which allow for the first time a real operating system replacement that fixed
all the problems running older software on the new V9958/V9938 chips, before this other attempts of adding
improved graphics, used a messy auto-power-on patching system loaded via DSR, which didn't solve all programs.

And besides fixing the original bugs in the TI OS, it also contained 4K for new GPL code which added a neat
little two column file loader of sorts, for display all the modules found, and all devices found, and allowing
XB / EA5 and other formats of programs to be loaded directly from the new menu system.

SOB also talk to you if you had "speech", saying things like "ready to start", "please wait", "getting data",
"loading" -- I thought it was silly at the time that TI designed a machine and push the speech part of it, but
the OS built-in next even used it once, so it was added.

One of the unique things of the SOB at the time, it was the first re-complied licensed TI OS, OPA had the full
original TI source code with all the notes, and rights to re-assembly and make changes and at that time, TI was
still hard-lineing and very little information was available to outside third-party developers even tho they had
pulled out of the "home computer" market.


RAMBO
=====

A small add-on board for the Horizon ramdisk, then allow combined with a new ROS written by us, to partition the
ramdisk into two parts, one for your files and the rest for 8k bankable memory overriding the >6000 space (even
if their was module plugged in using it), and written set of docs to allow programmers to call banks of memory
and branch to it, etc.

Sadly it was ahead of its time, and most programmers had no clue how to make use of page-bankable memory, and their was only a few programs that make use of the RAMBO memory.

I also never released the new TI9900 assembler which had directives and commands to allow assemble large programs directly into code that would run in multi-page-bank memory without the programming thinking about it.


POP-CART
========

This was complete cartridge design, with 512k of ROM, and 400k ROMdrive call "CART.", and 2megabytes of GROM.

It allow you to basically have up 16 different full 80K modules, along with a bunch of files burn into the ROMdrive.

Because at the time, large EPROM's were costly, we offered smaller sizes of the module, plus not everyone had EEPROM burners at home, so you could mail us the info and we would burn it for you, and we even had ordering system for modules that we had license to reproduce.

Their was small sample run also made containing the RXB which was in development at the time, but the author was so busy adding and improving it, that it never got locked done code wise to start mass-production run, the later version of POP-CART which used flash memory would have been great for this, but it was very expensive as the time.

There also was huge production order of XBIII+ modules produced using the POP-CART design under contract for Asgard, but due to lack of return payments from them, only a few were shipped, the rest sat in warehouse for many years, and might still be there but I had falling out with owner of that building because we were business partners at one time, and even tho that was resolved I have not been able to get him to go thru all the storage boxs to find them.


AMS
===

OPA also did the original PCBoard layout for the "Asgard Memory System", and produced the first production runs of them, but again due to the falling apart of Asgard, the rights to the great design fell back to original designers (since we only do the artwork layout, and production) and it was picked up by the SW99'ers and they re-produced it as the SAMS

This card was great in that it open up the TI99 memory space the way TI was planning to on the 99/8, and alot more programs we written for it then compare to our RAMBO design, and their is still versions of the SAMS card available online.


WIP = Works-In-Progress
=======================

There was alot of various other neat things designed by us, some way to costly at the time to produce, and some never left the drawing pad, but maybe in the future parts of it will be re-produce or at least the info will be release and others if they so wish can finish it or produce it.

Only if their was enough money and time in the world!

#8 adamantyr OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 28, 2010 12:55 PM

There also was huge production order of XBIII+ modules produced using the POP-CART design under contract for Asgard, but due to lack of return payments from them, only a few were shipped, the rest sat in warehouse for many years, and might still be there but I had falling out with owner of that building because we were business partners at one time, and even tho that was resolved I have not been able to get him to go thru all the storage boxs to find them.


Do you remember how many actually were shipped? I got one, mainly because I pre-ordered from TM Direct. I made a set of copies of the manuals for another 99'er a few years ago who managed to score a cart on eBay, and I later put PDF scans of the manuals up on WHTech for everyone to have access to. (At ftp://ftp.whtech.com/programming/Extended%20Basic/ExtendedBasic3.pdf)

An excellent cartridge, although sadly, the lack of them in the market meant writing anything to run on it was futile. How many cartridges do you think were in that production order that are probably rusting away in a landfill now?

Adamantyr

Edited by adamantyr, Fri May 28, 2010 12:59 PM.


#9 Gary from OPA OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 28, 2010 1:12 PM

Do you remember how many actually were shipped? I got one, mainly because I pre-ordered from TM Direct. I made a set of copies of the manuals for another 99'er a few years ago who managed to score a cart on eBay, and I later put PDF scans of the manuals up on WHTech for everyone to have access to.


What is the number display on the first title screen of your cart:

On mine it is V3.11.9305.14 #2121772

The initial shipped order was between 25 to 50 units, and another 500 were produced and assembled but no payments so those hopefully if my ex-partner has not threw them out are still sitting there in storage boxs in Toronto. -- As for the first shipment, I know Asgard use it to fill I think the first lot of pre-orders, so most I hope are happy using them, if not sitting in an attic to be found by someone and end up on ebay at super-high price.

But of course since I am the original hardware maker, I can easy re-produce them at any time, just have to figure out what the market will accept price-wise, and the cost for them, and if I can contact the author of XB3+ in Germany and arrange a software license for it and what he wants in payment.

Thanks for doing the PDF scan of the manual, I had not seen at any time the manual before.

#10 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 28, 2010 1:29 PM

But of course since I am the original hardware maker, I can easy re-produce them at any time, just have to figure out what the market will accept price-wise, and the cost for them, and if I can contact the author of XB3+ in Germany and arrange a software license for it and what he wants in payment.


IMO, anyone making new hardware should charge the cost of materials, manufacturing, packaging, etc. plus 75% to 100% margin. Hardware is a lot different than software, and with a limited market we have to make it worth while for people to do hardware.

Matthew

#11 Gary from OPA OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 28, 2010 2:38 PM

IMO, anyone making new hardware should charge the cost of materials, manufacturing, packaging, etc. plus 75% to 100% margin. Hardware is a lot different than software, and with a limited market we have to make it worth while for people to do hardware.


That is normally the way to do it, if you wish to make some money or continue to make more.

The great thing today in producing hardware, is marketable is ten times easier, you can do small production lots, and sell them one by one on places like ebay, similar to how the CF7+ units have been marketed towards the TI99 world by their designer.

Before the web, it was ten times harder, larger production had to be done, and shipments out to other retailers which had their own price-markup, etc. and it was much harder to market before the web, we traveled to many trade-shows and had tables, and ran printed ads, and had to wait for personal cheques to clear, etc. -- Alot of the profit was eaten up by olden days of marketting, or had to be factor into the price to the end-user.

#12 retroclouds OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 29, 2010 1:10 AM

Thanks for the explanation :)

Seems it inspired some of the SNUG products that appeared later on.

The initial shipped order was between 25 to 50 units, and another 500 were produced and assembled but no payments so those hopefully if my ex-partner has not threw them out are still sitting there in storage boxs in Toronto.


500 ? Would be a shame if these got thrown away and lost in time. With the interest on atariage, yahoo online groups and selling on ebay,
guess you would for sure get a big enough audience. That again makes it interesting for coders.
Don't forget many of these users have the CF7+ with 32K memory.
Plus we now have emulators that "run" these modules, making the development process a lot easier.

hhmmm, the features built into RXB look very interesting. I wonder what XB3 has to offer.

#13 Mad Hatter OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 29, 2010 11:34 PM

What is an "abacutor"?

What is OPA and who is Gary?


Well, OPA stands for "Oasis Pensive Abacutors"



#14 humeur OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 30, 2010 8:12 AM

hello

i search a schematic to connect the rambo opa option to the hrd

thank

jean louis

#15 Gary from OPA OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 30, 2010 8:20 AM

What is an "abacutor"?


When I started my company I wanted a "unique" name, and decided to combine the words "abacus" and "computers" together, much like the later new name for a type of cpu's design called the "transputer".

The good thing (or maybe it's a bad thing) with a totally unique name, and now that we are in the age of the 'net, you can find everything about OPA from google, by just typing in the word "abacutors", and bang all the good, bad, and ugly appears at one glance.

Edited by Gary from OPA, Sun May 30, 2010 7:49 PM.


#16 Gary from OPA OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 30, 2010 8:28 AM

i search a schematic to connect the rambo opa option to the hrd


This piece of info seems to have been "lost in time".

I will over the next few days re-build the info, since I still lucky have an Horizon Ramdisk with my RAMBO installed.

The later design of the Horzion (4000+ series) had the RAMBO mode built-in, no soldering of thin wires needed.

#17 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 30, 2010 9:38 AM

Hope you HRD battery is still good!!!! Mine went bad during the development of Lemonade Stand and I lost a weeks worth of work!!! Then Marc Hull said something like "Hey a-hole!!! back up your HRD files to floppy!!!". Which I learned the hard way. :)

#18 marc.hull OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 30, 2010 7:02 PM

Hope you HRD battery is still good!!!! Mine went bad during the development of Lemonade Stand and I lost a weeks worth of work!!! Then Marc Hull said something like "Hey a-hole!!! back up your HRD files to floppy!!!". Which I learned the hard way. :)


It was "hey d-bag" try and keep it straight ;-)

#19 humeur OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 31, 2010 5:14 AM

i search a schematic to connect the rambo opa option to the hrd


This piece of info seems to have been "lost in time".

I will over the next few days re-build the info, since I still lucky have an Horizon Ramdisk with my RAMBO installed.

The later design of the Horzion (4000+ series) had the RAMBO mode built-in, no soldering of thin wires needed.


just a photographie for the RAMBO optional

Posted Image

Edited by humeur, Wed Jun 2, 2010 3:36 AM.


#20 humeur OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:45 AM

i search a schematic to connect the rambo opa option to the hrd


This piece of info seems to have been "lost in time".

I will over the next few days re-build the info, since I still lucky have an Horizon Ramdisk with my RAMBO installed.

The later design of the Horzion (4000+ series) had the RAMBO mode built-in, no soldering of thin wires needed.


just a photographie for the RAMBO optional

Posted Image


excuse me have find the schematic for connect the rambo option

thank

jean louis




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