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1 Meg Super AMS Discussion Thread

TI-99/4A 1MEG SAMS AMS

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#1 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 9:39 AM

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Since Ksarul has been so kind to buy enough components up front to make 40 of these cards, I was thinking a dedicated thread on it's discussion might be nice to have.  This way anyone who has a question on this device will know where to come, sort of like the dedicated thread for the F18A has kept everyone educated, informed and up-to-date.

 

No longer on the "r@re", 'hard to get' list, or priced in the 'beyond belief' category, I see this new affordable 1 Meg Super AMS card bringing the community to a whole new level like the F18A has done for so many of us.   Where will this new card lead us?  I'm not sure anyone can say yet, but I do believe there will be things and new capabilities available to us in the future that no one ever thought possible on a TI, because with the talent I've seen on display here, and all the mind-blowing things I've witnessed over the past year alone, I now know... almost anything is possible.   :thumbsup:   

 

Stuff like the this 1 meg card, the F18A, Stuart's browser, the USB keyboard project, and all the others too numerous to mention are why the TI community is thriving.  It's an exciting time to be a TI'er! 

 

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 I can't wait to plug one of these into my P-Box so I'm ready for the next big thing when it's released.  Also,....if anyone needs a beta tester...  ;)

 

 

 



#2 vectrexroli OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 10:04 AM

Great, is there a preorder list or something like that?



#3 Iwantgames:) OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 10:12 AM

I want one! Even tho I'm not entirely sure what it does :lol:

Edited by Iwantgames:), Mon May 2, 2016 10:13 AM.


#4 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 10:12 AM

Great, is there a preorder list or something like that?

 

 Contact: Ksarul he is the individual who is making them.  He takes PayPal, so that makes things simple, I have no idea if he ships out of the country, but hey, you're Vectrex Roli after all!  I'd ship to you if I was selling anything.



#5 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 10:14 AM

There are a couple of important ponts for those building these boards on their own:

 

1. Don't worry about using 36-pin sockets for the memory chips. Just use a 32-pin positioned to ignore the four pins closest to the 74LS612.

 

2. So far, about one in four of the 74LS612s I've received from various sources were bad. Being able to test LS logic chips (many EPROM burners do this) is a very good thing that will save you a lot of hair-pulling. I've had other chips that were bad too, but the 612s seem to be the most common when it comes to problems.

 

3. The 74LS688 chips can be replaced by a 25LS2521. These are a drop-in replacement for the 74-series chip, and appear to be a bit easier to find.

 

4. Do not try to put these boards into a TI Clamshell. There are traces that will short out because of protrusions on the inside of the clamshell designed to hold TI cards stable. This is one of the reasons you see no mounting or other holes in this board, as it discourages attempts that would damage it. The PEB tabs are another deterrent here.

 

5. The right-angle mounted LEDs that I initially received could only be installed on the bottom of the board to get their polarity correctly aligned. They don't get in the way of any other cards and work fine when installed that way. Other LEDs with standard leads won't have this issue, and neither will vertically mounted LEDs similar to the right-angle ones from my initial builds.



#6 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 10:23 AM

I do ship globally. I'll be building the next batch of boards over the next week or two. I put each board through an extensive burn-in test before shipping. Cost is currently $80 for an assembled board shipped to a US address, with actual shipping added for other countries.

 

One of the items that you can do with it right away is to write programs in RXB that use the additional space. See Rich's "In the Dark" game as an example of a program that does this. TurboForth will also recognize it and can use it for programs, as do the RAG Assembler and the later versions of the small c Compiler (Clint Pulley's version). There are also a smal number of other games and utilities that use it today--and with it available again, more folks may try and target it as a viable hardware configuration.



#7 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 10:40 AM

 

--and with it available again, more folks may try and target it as a viable hardware configuration.

 

Yep!  I can imagine quite a few options, so I know others out there probably have quite a few better ones than me.  Not everything has to be a Mega-program either, there all sorts of small things & enhancements this card could bring to existing programs in the short-term if the authors decide to take advantage of it.  

 

Some small examples:

1 - Larger scroll back buffers for programs like Stuart's Internet Browser or TIMXT.  

2 - Finally, TSR type utilities that would not interfere with existing programs.

 

Then when you mix & match with other hardware like the F18A or an UberCart.... WOW, what a future of possibilities!



#8 BJGuillot OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 11:10 AM

I want one! Even tho I'm not entirely sure what it does :lol:

 

I think I'm the same way.  It looks very pretty.  But what exactly does it do?  Does it replace the 32 KB expansion board?  Or is it used in concert with it?  Are there code samples around that demonstrate how an assembly language programmer might do something with it?  Do any parts of the memory persist upon loss of power?  etc.


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#9 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 11:43 AM

Hey BJ,

   I hear ya about the snippets of code.  I tried to look some up and found...  http://turboforth.net/sams.html  << a broken link.  :_( 

I'd also like to see a cleaned up or modernized PDF manual on this thing.  With this many potential cards available for market, development might scale up faster than normal. 

 

   Yes, it is a direct replacement for the TI 32K card.  Regular program will continue to behave normally, but programs designed to use it will give your TI 'Super AMS Powers'.   :-D

 

P.S.  You might find this >> MicroPendium issue << of interest.. jump down to page 22 in the PDF.


Edited by --- Ω ---, Mon May 2, 2016 12:02 PM.


#10 arcadeshopper OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 12:16 PM

 

I think I'm the same way.  It looks very pretty.  But what exactly does it do?  Does it replace the 32 KB expansion board?  Or is it used in concert with it?  Are there code samples around that demonstrate how an assembly language programmer might do something with it?  Do any parts of the memory persist upon loss of power?  etc.

 

AMS replaces the 32k board. It gives you expanded memory size in a standard bank-switch method documented in this website:

 

http://www.unige.ch/...99/superams.htm 

 

"SuperAMS (Super Asgard Memory System, a.k.a. SAMS card) was one of the first memory expansion card designed for the TI-99/4A. It was designed around 1993 by Asgard Inc, under the managment of Jim Krych. Its elegant simplicity is due to the fact that it's build around the 74LS612 memory mapper, once commonly used in PCs and in Nintendo game cartridges. For some reason, the card never got the popularity that it deserved: I was told that only about 100 were produced. Originally, this may have been due to the high cost of SRAM chips: the card was designed to accomodate upto 1 megabyte, which was quite expensive in the early nineties. Nowadays, the problem is rather with the 74LS612 that became extremely hard to find: most PCs now emulate it in a VLSI chip."

 
Basically we can shoehorn in a crapton of memory this way.  There are two flaws with this board standard.. 
 
1: nobody's got them so almost nobody writes programs for them. (soon to be resolved for pbox owners but still the people with just a console are sOL) 
2: other memory expansion is incompatible, so it doesn't work with any programs written for say the myarc 128/512k cards or the foundation cards or the corcomp cards..  This is really a limited issue since the only real useful thing written for those cards is XBII from Myarc.  Some people enjoy using the ramdisk functionality of those cards but since they were volatile (no power = empty ram) they had limited usefulness for anything but temporary storage. 
 
SAMS is also volatile memory, there's no battery backup or nvram..  and it is not a ramdisk though with software you can have some ramdisk"like" functionality (see below)
 
Supported software from that page: 

A complete development system (assembler, linker, etc) was released by R.A. Green of RAG Software, that lets you write assembly programs in a transparent manner, i.e. without having to worry about page switching.

A variant of C99 was designed by Joe Delekto to take advantage of the SuperAMS card.

Brad Snyder created "XBpacker", an utility that allows to store several Extended Basic programs in the SuperAMS card, or even one huge XB program written in a modular fashion.

 
 
Greg 


#11 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 2:20 PM

What would be real nice...

...if someone who's used one of these cards for decades, and has all the software, would post it here.  Same with documentation, instructions, hints, tips, tricks and anything else that a newbie user to an advanced level programmer could benefit from.  THAT, might really jump-start things... and there would be up to 40 new appreciative and thankful users. 



#12 budz2355 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 2:34 PM

I hope these aren't sold out already? Please put me down if not sold out. I can send the PayPal money friends and family later this evening...
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#13 InsaneMultitasker OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 3:40 PM

Many of the ideas and thoughts expressed here apply to other hardware that has been adopted over the years and decades.  It has always been a challenge to meld the hardware and software - and make both usable.  

 

One of the more recent hardware is Matthew's F18A,  which to a large extent rekindled my interest in doing some programming for the TI (versus solely working on the Geneve).



#14 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 3:53 PM

It has always been a challenge to meld the hardware and software - and make both usable.  

 

On possible hardware issues, the only thing I've come across is a statement that say's, "It is not guaranteed to function with the Myarc or CorComp RAM-disks".

Attached Files



#15 InsaneMultitasker OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 3:55 PM

 

On possible hardware issues, the only thing I've come across is a statement that say's, "It is not guaranteed to function with the Myarc or CorComp RAM-disks".

Those two cards harbored gremlins, CorComp more so than Myarc from my experience.  I can certainly understand why that statement was made



#16 arcadeshopper OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 6:00 PM

 

On possible hardware issues, the only thing I've come across is a statement that say's, "It is not guaranteed to function with the Myarc or CorComp RAM-disks".

 

My "myarc compatible" foundation card does the base 32k, so you can't have both in a machine.. no crossing the streams


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#17 jedimatt42 ONLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 11:50 PM

For the curious, I have an old AMS 128k/512k card, ancestor of this new board. So I thought I'd share some of the literature that came with it. Sadly, most of it is on disks, for which I have no 5 1/4" drives to read them from.

Attached File  IMG_20160502_222213.jpg   106.56KB   8 downloads I don't know if these are 90k disks, or if they are even able to read 23 years later.

There is some software from the sw99ers edition of the boards here: http://ftp.whtech.co.../Hardware/SAMS/

And here is the paper documents that came with my old board... They speak of an Extended Basic III...

Attached File  AEMSv1.2about-disk.PDF   12.02KB   26 downloads
Attached File  AMS128-512.PDF   74.51KB   29 downloads

-M@

#18 LASooner OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 12:10 AM

I'd like one of these as well


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#19 arcadeshopper OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 12:17 AM

For the curious, I have an old AMS 128k/512k card, ancestor of this new board. So I thought I'd share some of the literature that came with it. Sadly, most of it is on disks, for which I have no 5 1/4" drives to read them from.

attachicon.gifIMG_20160502_222213.jpg I don't know if these are 90k disks, or if they are even able to read 23 years later.

There is some software from the sw99ers edition of the boards here: http://ftp.whtech.co.../Hardware/SAMS/

And here is the paper documents that came with my old board... They speak of an Extended Basic III...

attachicon.gifAEMSv1.2about-disk.PDF
attachicon.gifAMS128-512.PDF

-M@

 

I'd be happy to copy these to images and send them back to you.. lmk

 

Greg


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#20 jedimatt42 ONLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 12:49 AM

Hey BJ,
   I hear ya about the snippets of code.  I tried to look some up and found...  http://turboforth.net/sams.html


Turboforth documentation has this word: http://turboforth.ne...word.asp?ID=112
And I think the URL above, has been moved to here: http://turboforth.ne...urces/sams.html

-M@

#21 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 12:51 AM

This 1 megabyte card Ksarul is selling is quite a good deal.  The smalller Super AMS was selling for $119.85 + $10.00 shipping.  

In 1992 dollars that is about $223.00 in today's money.  Now Ksarul is selling the card with twice the memory, shipping included, (at least state-side) for only $80.00.  In 1992 dollars that is the equivalent of only $47.00!  Now we know memory was at a premium back then, but can you imagine how many cards would have sold at that price!



#22 Willsy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 2:02 AM

Hey BJ,
   I hear ya about the snippets of code.  I tried to look some up and found...  http://turboforth.net/sams.html  << a broken link.  :_( 
I'd also like to see a cleaned up or modernized PDF manual on this thing.  With this many potential cards available for market, development might scale up faster than normal. 
 
   Yes, it is a direct replacement for the TI 32K card.  Regular program will continue to behave normally, but programs designed to use it will give your TI 'Super AMS Powers'.   :-D
 
P.S.  You might find this >> MicroPendium issue << of interest.. jump down to page 22 in the PDF.


The correct link is: http://turboforth.ne...urces/sams.html

:-)

#23 RXB OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 5:37 AM

With the 4Meg version we are talking some major graphics for games that can be loaded and swapped out.

Even from RXB using only 128K of the SAMS I made this demo:

 

 

These are multiple Assembly Language programs written by all kinds of people all running from a single RXB Program.

 

 

 

And my primitive IN THE DARK game:

 

 

And the source of how the game IN THE DARK was made:

 


Edited by RXB, Tue May 3, 2016 5:38 AM.


#24 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 6:02 AM

Note: this revision of the board won't work above 1MB. I have to add some components and change some traces on the input side of the 612 to get that to work (major surgery that may show up on a future revision of the board).

 

For all those expressing interest in boards, I'll be building and testing the next 15-20 boards over the next two weekends. I plan to ensure these remain available indefinitely. Note for anyone building the boards on their own: you need to use AMS Test 1.4 to verify the board works. Earlier versions won't detect it properly. . .

 

The schematic in the AMS archive on WHT is pretty much identical to this board, with the exception of the added circuit for the LED and a few changes (a couple of relocated/added traces) on the output side of the 612 to prepare the board for larger memory chips (that side of the board is ready for the larger chips, but I had to do some further delving into what they were doing with the inputs to figure out that they weren't using them the way things initially appeared to be, so I'm rethinking my solution there). 



#25 Iwantgames:) OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 6:15 AM

For all those expressing interest in boards, I'll be building and testing the next 15-20 boards over the next two weekends. I plan to ensure these remain available indefinitely.


SWEET!





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