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TI-99/4A manuals and documentation project

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#1 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 2, 2016 8:57 PM

Hey all,

 

I'm wondering ... how uncommon are the TI-99/4A manuals in good condition?  I ask because I saw some that appear to be in great condition in a currently 0 bids listing on eBay for cheap enough for me to be interested in buying.  They're listed along with some carts that probably few people want which I suspect is why the lack of bids.

 

Anyway, it pains me to see books destroyed, and I consider it almost criminal to destroy books that are hard to come by, but slicing off bindings and putting them in a sheet feeder is the best way to get a good, clean scan.  And I've seen the scans we've got--they weren't done that way and are consequently not very easy to read as a result. And because they're left as basically large slightly askew pictures of pages, things like mobile PDF viewers crap out trying to zoom in enough to even begin trying to read the often not great text.  Rather frustrating, it is.

 

So that's what I propose to do--to slice, scan, and add searchable text.  And it seems like that in and of itself might be a worthwhile endeavor.  But if others are interested in helping, I think we might be able to take it further and actually remaster those manuals.  It's something I've considered proposing in the Apple // community as well, but there's a lot more manuals there and I tend not to see them offered cheaply enough for me to fork over the cash myself (L@@K ***RARE*** !!!STEVE JOBS!!!) so ... that's not real likely.

 

But here at least is what I gather were some of the manuals that would've come with the computer, and they're in good shape, so ought to scan as well as such manuals could.  The text blocks should OCR well for searchability and non-skewed black-and-white graphics tend to compress well without quality loss.  If the layout can be recreated, text reflowed into logical paragraphs and sections, and figures recreated as vector images ... That'd fully remaster the original manuals, and they could be rendered into other formats like ePub as well.

 

Am I the only guy in the world who really wants that enough to do anything about it though?  And am I contemplating destroying something that is rare and in demand because I saw a rare great deal on eBay?

 

Answers to questions like these will inform my decision as to what, if anything, to do about any of this.



#2 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

--- Ω ---

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Posted Thu Jun 2, 2016 9:08 PM

 

Answers to questions like these will inform my decision as to what, if anything, to do about any of this.

 

I think this is an excellent idea, a few books have already done, so you might want to look over << THIS THREAD >> first to make sure you don't waste your time re-creating someone else work.  I look forward to seeing your contributions!



#3 ti99iuc OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 3, 2016 5:22 AM

iKarith 

I am really agree with you. I already started this project on my website DataBase, with books and manuals and magazines in hires (at least 300dpi) with searchable text.

 

you can found all i already worked on the database section (see the sign at the bottom)

 

 

Attached File  1.jpg   132.41KB   7 downloads

 

just you need to choice at least one of the contestual menu voices: Attached File  2.jpg   12.42KB   6 downloads

 

but you can also mix the contestual menu voices adding other: Attached File  3.jpg   42.12KB   6 downloads

 

when you done start the search with the button: Attached File  2016-06-03_130343.jpg   23.9KB   6 downloads

 

if you have some thing to add i will be glad to get help :P i am a bit slow to scan and editing scans because less time at the moment but i will update always in future days :)

 

suggestions will be welcome :)

 

 

also you can check the books already scanned by Ernie Epergrem:  http://www.hexbus.com/tibooks/  very good quality.

 

 

 

 

 



#4 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 3, 2016 7:36 AM

Thanks guys, I'll have a look at stuff and see if these manuals are things I need to pick up or if someone else has already grabbed them by the time I've had a look.



#5 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 7, 2016 7:57 PM

Well, I was not successful in getting the eBait auction with the manuals.  PDFs do exist for them such as http://www.99er.net/...serrefguide.pdf for example, but these online copies would be poor source material for OCR.  The pages are slightly askew as you can tell from the jaggy lines, and the scan resolution is too low for the OCR to be amazingly accurate.  And of course, for the purpose of a technical manual, you want pretty accurate scans.

 

Scanners from the past decade are high enough resolution that you actually can have the opposite problem in that they can see every flaw in the paper, especially lower quality pulp papers used for printing paperbacks and the like.  Scans are megabytes per page, but those crazy high resolutions are useful as subpixel data when you generate a deskewed lower resolution file around 300-600 DPI or so.

 

My preference is to OCR before and after deskewing and compare the text in case the deskew introduced artifacts that make the OCR job harder, not easier.  Any differences can be corrected by hand in the generated text.

 

Before OCRing, I will tend to mask out the page layout in the source material since that is recreated by hand anyway.  The deskewed version of graphics will be inserted into the word processing document at as high of a resolution as I can get away with until they are converted to vector images.  I don't really have a good automated way to trace raster graphics into vector images.  Certainly not one that can reproduce embedded text, but that'd be my goal.

 

I'll keep my eyes open for source material.  These original pack-in manuals don't seem to exist anywhere I found in a high-resolution PDF (which is totally understandable as they'd be CD-sized each) or text-converted formats.  And being a blind guy, I have some little experience converting text from printed page to something a speech synthesizer can read.  It's an involved and imperfect process at times--but it's not like TI can give us the original manuals from 1979 in whatever format they used to typeset them or anything.



#6 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 8, 2016 5:20 AM

I understand the problem there--I do a lot of OCR work myself. Most of what I've done was more restoration work than OCR, as even original copies of many of the documents only exist as light dot-matrix prints (best case) or fourth generation or later photocopies (the latter are actually easier to type in once scanned, as the scan can be blown up large enough to eliminate some of the ambiguous letters and then you have to infer the remaining missing bits from the context and the surviving letters of the word to reconstruct).



#7 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 8, 2016 6:28 AM

I think I just read Ksarul offering to help--everybody else read the same thing right?  :D :D :D



#8 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 8, 2016 12:55 PM

Kind of merging my two documentation efforts with not much to show for either one yet:

 

Github: iKarith/ti-docs

 

So far I've written just a little bit about the TI power supply and the external brick.  Can someone fill in the info about the voltages to help people test their transformers?

 

That'd be the only part of this file that has anything in it.

 

You know what a TI could render even more easily than ePub or PDF?  A strict subset of Markdown that maybe didn't allow HTML tags unless we come across some that we really can't live without.  Might even be able to make it work with a TI-renderable graphics format for figures.



#9 99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 12, 2016 10:30 AM

I can't remember if I scanned that copy of the User's Reference Guide or not, but that definitely looks like a good candidate for re-scanning.  I'll dig out one of my hard copies and scan it in as soon as I get a chance.  I've been slowly re-scanning, or at least cleaning up, the docs I have on 99er.net.  I posted it before, but if anyone is interested, ScanTailor is great for cleaning up document images, and it's free.  I explain how I use it here: http://99er.net/blog...ting-documents/.  I also started a TI99 database with the goal of having a central place where anyone can upload and download information, including books and manuals.  Unfortunately, I did not know about the ti99iuc.it database or I wouldn't have duplicated efforts, especially with what a great job he's done.  Still, no point in deleting it after all the work - it's at http://www.ti99db.org/index.php.

 

-Rich



#10 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:27 AM

Rich, you also have a candidate for some updates over on http://www.99er.net/vidpow.html.  I can confirm that your pin numbering for the power jack matches the voltages given.  (In my case 18VAC across 1,2 and 8.5VAC across 2,4.  Pin 3 as indicated is NC.  Apparently as low as 16VAC and 7.5VAC exists and would power the linear regulators on the power supply.

 

I didn't notice if the other end of that connector was socketed.  The socket connecting the power board to the motherboard has very different voltages on it.  :D



#11 apersson850 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 3, 2016 5:33 AM

Many of us have more manuals than those that came with the computer. Some came with accessories, like the Editor/Assembler or Pascal compiler manuals. But then there are also those extra manuals, like the TI 99/4A Technical manual. It contains some info about the machine and circuit diagrams for the boards in the console and the expansion box.

Now I happened to come across a couple of manuals I've never seen before myself. One is the 99/4A repair manual. It's quite interesting. It does of course contain several flow charts for how to troubleshoot certain problems, but it also contains not only wiring diagrams and IC descriptions, but also theory of oepration for various designs in the computer. Like the 16/8 bit memory conversion circuits, etc.

I also got an Expansion box theory of operation and training manual. It contains a detailed description of the expansion box (referred to as the "Johnny box") and descriptions of design considerations for the peripheral cards. That does include the PAL equations, something I've never seen anywhere else. Frequent references to the TI 99/4B in this manual, without any description of exactly what that is.

 

What do you think, you TI users out there? Is this something rare, or do you already have this stuff on some server or in a drawer?



#12 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 3, 2016 7:35 AM

Some of this is out there, but one thing I have seen is that a lot of the stuff that exists comes in several revisions--or even in one revision that has a whole lot of additional material grafted to it by the TI engineer who originally used that copy of the manual (or the copy that was photocopied and dispersed later). I have several different iterations of some manuals. In the case of the Expansion Box Technical Manual, I went to the trouble of restoring the entire manual by typing it in, using the really poor photocopy I had to suss out the details of each page. If yours is a newer copy, it may shed better light on some of the data than I was able to figure out during the conversion. The link is to the PDF I put up on WHT, which should allow you to compare it to your version. I have three different manuals for console repair--one is for the 99/4, one is an update to that manual for the /4A, but which is both more and less comprehensive than the one for the /4, and the third one is a somewhat different one for the /4. I think I may have one more for the /4A somewhere too. I put the first /4 repair manual up on WHT already. It is in two parts (second part here). I haven't had a chance to scan any of the others yet.



#13 justacruzr2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:35 AM

Another good addition to the collection of documentation would be the "Hardware Manual for the Texas Instruments 99/4A Home Computer" written by Michael Bunyard and released in 1986.  It is generally referred to as the Bunyard Manual.  Michael Bunyard was a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Texas Instruments for 16 years.  The manual is a technical manual and covers all the hardware TI released for the the 4A including the console.  It also includes console schematics.  There was also a "SAMS Computerfacts" Technical Service Data for the 4A which includes schematics and service diagnosis procedures.



#14 Sinphaltimus OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:11 AM

You mean this?

https://archive.org/...nstruments-994a

Edited by Sinphaltimus, Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:12 AM.


#15 RickyDean OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:48 AM

Another good addition to the collection of documentation would be the "Hardware Manual for the Texas Instruments 99/4A Home Computer" written by Michael Bunyard and released in 1986.  It is generally referred to as the Bunyard Manual.  Michael Bunyard was a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Texas Instruments for 16 years.  The manual is a technical manual and covers all the hardware TI released for the the 4A including the console.  It also includes console schematics.  There was also a "SAMS Computerfacts" Technical Service Data for the 4A which includes schematics and service diagnosis procedures.

I have the SAMS schematics somewhere, when I find it I will scan and post it, unless it is already somewhere else available. 



#16 kl99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 4, 2016 1:50 PM

Many of us have more manuals than those that came with the computer. Some came with accessories, like the Editor/Assembler or Pascal compiler manuals. But then there are also those extra manuals, like the TI 99/4A Technical manual. It contains some info about the machine and circuit diagrams for the boards in the console and the expansion box.

Now I happened to come across a couple of manuals I've never seen before myself. One is the 99/4A repair manual. It's quite interesting. It does of course contain several flow charts for how to troubleshoot certain problems, but it also contains not only wiring diagrams and IC descriptions, but also theory of oepration for various designs in the computer. Like the 16/8 bit memory conversion circuits, etc.

I also got an Expansion box theory of operation and training manual. It contains a detailed description of the expansion box (referred to as the "Johnny box") and descriptions of design considerations for the peripheral cards. That does include the PAL equations, something I've never seen anywhere else. Frequent references to the TI 99/4B in this manual, without any description of exactly what that is.

 

What do you think, you TI users out there? Is this something rare, or do you already have this stuff on some server or in a drawer?

 

Hi apperson850!

Did you have any time to compare your documents to what ksarul was pointing to?

If you have some documentation that is not digitized yet, it would be very valuable to archive this.

BR Klaus



#17 apersson850 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 6, 2016 2:45 AM

As far as I could see, what I happened to get was already available on the documentation server.



#18 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 22, 2016 1:51 PM

I've been having fun playing with Visio lately, making A3 sized versions of several TI schematics. I'm attaching the ones I've done over the last couple of months here as PDF files. If you print them out, you have the option of retaining the original size (relatively large, so they would print on several pages that you have to tape together) or printing them in landscape format on Legal-sized paper. They print clearly in the smaller format (tiny print), but the larger format allows you to really see details clearly, especially if your eyesight is a bit challenged (like it is for a lot of us now). I still have to add the LED circuitry to the R4 and R5 SAMS diagrams, but they should otherwise be useful for those with the SW99ER's version of the card and the first release of my updated card. One note on the R5 diagram: if you understand what you are looking at, it shows exactly what changes are needed to update the cards I released earlier this year to make them work as 4MB cards. No traces would need to be cut, but a couple of chips would need to be stacked (to obtain power), a number of pins would have to be raised out of sockets to provide solder points for a bunch of flying wires, and a couple of additional flying wires would have to be connected at other points on the board. No traces would need to be cut for this. . .one note of caution, however: I still have to test this on one of my boards. Electrically, it is correct, but there is no software to test it yet. The PEB Speech adapter is based on one from the Willforth Proroboard manual. R1 matches that one, R2 matches what I'll be doing a layout for in the near future. R2 is set up to decode AMA, AMB, and AMC, so it should work with the Geneve as well. The IEEE-488 schematics reflect both variants of the board (the primary differences are the memory chip used and the number of configurable links).

 

Lastly, I am attaching the beginning of what will be a long-term SAMS upgrade. It is the majority of what will be on page 1 of the schematic--but there will be a lot of changes as I configure the page to link to the second page (which is in process, but not done yet). The final board will still be usable with 512K or 2048K chips, making it either 4096K or 16M, based on the chip configurations. Thierry's ruminations on ways to expand the SAMS board really provided a lot of food for thought when trying to configure the 74LS612. My final circuit here is designed to maintain compatibility with earlier versions at the same time it lets me switch between two possible chip sizes (eight of the 2048K chips cost just a bit over $200 all by themselves, so the large board won't be cheap--which is also why I included the option for the 512K chips, as eight of them are around $60-$70 when purchased in bulk).

Attached Files



#19 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:08 PM

I just tested these for fun by expanding them to 6400%--and they still remain crystal clear. Note: I also discovered a few small errors on the PEB speech board (the grounds look weird, which I have now fixed in my master Visio file). If anyone finds any other issues, let me know and I will update as appropriate. . .



#20 ti99iuc OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:25 PM

Fantastic !



#21 kl99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:35 PM

wow!

"look at the size of that thing!"



#22 fabrice montupet OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:06 PM

@Ksarul: So Great! Thank you :-)



#23 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:29 PM

I plan to eventually take every single PEB card schematic I have and run them through this process of regeneration (or in some cases, drawing original creations to match new things or to recreate older ones for which no publicly available schematics exist). That will take a while though, as I'm doing this between other projects. . .I'll have to check with Michael to see if he finished his investigations into the CorComp controller (and that one will be interesting in any event, as there are at least three different board revisions to deal with). With each new diagram, I end up with a few new Visio IC primitives that will come in handy on other cards. It is actually a lot of fun building them. Eventually, I'll have primitives for all of the 74LSxxxx logic chips used in the TI. . .



#24 HackMac OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 24, 2016 4:41 AM

Jim, great work you do! I know it makes lot of fun to work with schematics. Perhaps you remember my posting to my schematic repository I made for such kind of work.

I begun with the console schematics and I planned to do more with the PEB cards. But for now I like to do other things...

Perhaps we can combine our work?

 

I don't dare to ask, but why Visio? I think it is not usual to use a presentation program for that. Would't it be better to use a software program that does also rule checking and is able to create PCB's?

 

Frohe Weihnachten! :-)



#25 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:01 AM

I have no problem with combining our efforts, as that allws the work to be finished sooner!  :)  I use Visio for several reasons: first, it has graphic primitives for all of the basic bits you need to generate circuit diagrams as graphical objects. You are correct that this does not tie into the CAD programs used to generate boards--but generating boards from the diagrams wasn't my aim. These diagrams don't include all of the power traces or ground traces needed to generate a board--they are the type of diagrams TI (and others) produced as general design and troubleshooting aids. I've just gotten very comfortable with it, especially now that I have suitable graphics made for most of the common chips that I use in the format that I want to present them (CAD drawings don't give me this level of flexibility most of the time, as the focus/use case is different). I really like using Visio for this type of work for one other reason: every computer I regularly use has Visio on it, so it doesn't matter where I am when I have a bit of free time. I just sit down and do a bit of drawing (and some of the machines I regularly use cannot have additional programs loaded onto them, making this the only possibility when I am using one of those machines and have some free time).







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