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curious mod - alphalock mod on mainboard?


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#1 dphirschler OFFLINE  

dphirschler

    Moonsweeper

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Posted Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:26 PM

I was just poking around the internet and found an interesting photo of what appears to be the TI99 joystick port with a mod made to it.  I am curious about this because I think it could be an alpha-lock mod made on the main board instead of on the keyboard.  I prefer this method if it is possible.  Can you experts determine if this is the case from the photo?

 

Attached File  ti joystick mod.jpg   86.9KB   4 downloads

 

I tried to navigate to the webpage and read about it myself, bit I could not find reference to this photo.  Didn't think to try the wayback machine...  I'll be right back.  In the meantime, can somebody analyze the photo?

 

Darryl



#2 dphirschler OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:33 PM

OK, found the picture, and a short writeup about the mod here.  I believe it is referencing a mod for analog joystick support.  Oh well...

 

Darryl



#3 Meddler OFFLINE  

Meddler

    Star Raider

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:41 PM

OK, found the picture, and a short writeup about the mod here.  I believe it is referencing a mod for analog joystick support.  Oh well...

 

Darryl

Hi, you are referencing the Great Doctor's work that I consider the knowledgebase!

 

You are right - "Adapter for PC-joysticks":

"The adapter board could be powered by a small battery, but I found easier to modify the joystick port, so that the two currently unused pins (#1 and 6) now provide groud and +5 Volts respectively."

 

Good luck, I mean to make that diode mod. someday; it is strange that with all the quality engineering in there the diode was not fitted as standard and so avoiding the countless references to ensuring alpha lock is off!?


Edited by Meddler, Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:42 PM.


#4 unhuman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:32 AM

I performed the diode mod when I was a kid on my TI...  it worked for a while and then failed after about 10m.  Then, when caps lock was on, it would do all lowercase letters.  I don't remember if if it would work on reset or I had to let my TI cool off.  I tried adding multiple diodes both in parallel and serially b/c I was a kid just experimenting...  Didn't help.



#5 mizapf OFFLINE  

mizapf

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:12 AM

Good luck, I mean to make that diode mod. someday; it is strange that with all the quality engineering in there the diode was not fitted as standard and so avoiding the countless references to ensuring alpha lock is off!?

 

My guess is ... they were just surprised about that, and it was too late for a PCB redesign. The world is full of assumptions like "let's take the software from Ariane IV; it is proved to work" and then, after the failed launch of Ariane V, notice that just by its bigger size and higher wind pressure, one movement parameter caused an overflow.

 

Alpha Lock was added to the 99/4 keyboard to form the 99/4A keyboard; it occupies a 9901 line of its own (P5), and in the matrix of the keys, it has its own column, and shares the row with other keys and Joystick Up (leading to INT7 of the 9901 as input). You can see that it was a kind of add-on. Alpha Lock is the only key that is supposed to be depressed all the time.

 

This could have worked, but obviously some physics got into their way. Normally, the columns are activated one after another, which means set to 0, and the 9901 just needs to sense whether that 0 is on the INT7 input, which would mean a depressed key. While the column is not selected, a resistor pulls up the line. When Alpha Lock is in the down position, as just stated, it connects the INT7 line to its pull-up resistor until it is selected, in which case the P5 line pulls down the line, and the keyboard routine detects it.

 

Now when one of the joysticks is selected (columns 6 and 7 ), and you push up, and Alpha Lock is depressed, the joystick column line is 0, going through the joystick, and then "competing" with the pull-up resistor from Alpha Lock for the state of INT7. Obviously, the resistance of the joystick with its cable, its internal contacts, and the port, add up to a resistance that yields something noticeably above 0 V, and the 9901 fails to detect a low level.

 

For that reason, a diode is a perfect solution: It blocks the positive voltage of the unselected Alpha Lock column.

 

[Edit: Since I somewhat missed that thrill when you start a game and wonder why that dam*** joystick does not move up, I added this glitch to the MAME emulation of the TI some years ago, but you can always "fit the diode" in the OSD menu. I felt something was missing without it. :)  ]

Attached Files


Edited by mizapf, Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:20 AM.





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