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A TI-99/4A Laptop Computer!


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#1 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 7, 2018 7:05 PM

After seeing the magic that Fabrice can do, I was wondering, after seeing the Atari 800 and Commodore 64 LAPTOPS below, why the hell can't we TI'ers have one!

 

Can you imagine being able to shoehorn an old TI, and TIPI/Rpi components into an old laptop.  The question is, what old laptop computer would have a suitable starting point?  Of course it would have to have a stout enough battery to last at least an hour.

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#2 JB OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 7, 2018 7:44 PM

It'd actually be fairly easy to tuck a 4a into a laptop-style case.
I'd assume a custom-designed case, either 3D-printed or old-school machined.

Edited by JB, Wed Nov 7, 2018 7:44 PM.


#3 unhuman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 7, 2018 8:30 PM

I had an old compaq R3000 which was black and silver. 



#4 Tursi OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 7, 2018 10:29 PM

Well, it won't be that trivial - the motherboard is just shy of 15 inches wide. So if you want to use that, it's going to be big.

 

You might be able to chop it in half at the video section... still looks like a lot of work. I don't have an open QI to see if that one looks any easier. (If you an F18A, you might also be able to discard a lot of the circuitry on that side of the PCB... though not all. The 9901 is there, along with the joystick and keyboard inputs.)

 

But, that would get you down to about 9" x 5.5", which seems a bit more reasonable. ;)



#5 jaybird3rd OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 7, 2018 10:34 PM

I think it would be much more fun to design a new board for the old TI chips. Is there any such thing as a laptop case for system builders? If there is, and if there's one that's a good cosmetic match for the 99/4A, it might be worth exploring.

#6 JB OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 8, 2018 12:18 AM

Well, it won't be that trivial - the motherboard is just shy of 15 inches wide. So if you want to use that, it's going to be big.

 

You might be able to chop it in half at the video section... still looks like a lot of work. I don't have an open QI to see if that one looks any easier. (If you an F18A, you might also be able to discard a lot of the circuitry on that side of the PCB... though not all. The 9901 is there, along with the joystick and keyboard inputs.)

 

But, that would get you down to about 9" x 5.5", which seems a bit more reasonable. ;)

 

My thoughts were more that our board isn't very deep, so there's a lot of room in the keyboard area for additional stuffs, we only have one chip that needs heatsinking, and the power supply board being separate means we don't have to hack things as much to get power from a new source.

 

I guess it WOULD be a bit of a wide portable by modern standards. But think of how much space we have for a battery! We could throw in enough lithium cells to run for DAYS!



#7 Tursi OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 8, 2018 3:04 AM

I guess it WOULD be a bit of a wide portable by modern standards. But think of how much space we have for a battery! We could throw in enough lithium cells to run for DAYS!

 

haha, it's true!!

 

But I would cut it. ;)



#8 RickyDean OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 8, 2018 6:57 AM

You could always use a Dell XPS M2010 for the case then there would be plenty of room for things. Remember when Pepper went into Tony's office to steal his stuff back on the ghost drive.

I have three of these.

DELL-6632L0289A.jpg



#9 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 8, 2018 9:35 AM

You could always use a Dell XPS M2010 for the case then there would be plenty of room for things. Remember when Pepper went into Tony's office to steal his stuff back on the ghost drive.

I have three of these.

DELL-6632L0289A.jpg

 

Interesting!  If the monitor is compatible with an F18A and the keyboard can be adapted for Tursi's adapter it could remain looking fairly stock.  With the TIPI/RPi maybe the touch pad could be isolated from the rest of the keyboard and used with TI-Artist or other things that will come out eventually.

 

From the looks of things, it might not be so easy...

 



#10 RickyDean OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 8, 2018 10:29 AM

Well, I have tore down and rebuilt these laptops, not incredibly hard, not easy though. Still it is a possibilty. The keyboard is bluetooth, though.



#11 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 8, 2018 11:07 AM

Well, I have tore down and rebuilt these laptops, not incredibly hard, not easy though. Still it is a possibilty. The keyboard is bluetooth, though.

 

I suspect the screen is an addressable display, as well, not composite or VGA.



#12 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 8, 2018 8:27 PM

Well, as a kit someone could come up with some 3D printed parts so everyone could build one.  :-D



#13 jonecool OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 8, 2018 11:51 PM

Well, as a kit someone could come up with some 3D printed parts so everyone could build one.  :-D

 

The same RPi that we use for TIPI (not the disk image itself, but the RPi hardware) could be used.  We could simply burn RetroPie to the RPi microSD and install 99Sim and you now have the TI in a very small single board computer that you could easily connect via HDMI anywhere.  Granted, you wouldn't have the expansion port but you would have pretty much everything else in a form factor you could put in your front pocket (plus the ability to copy dsks/roms over your WiFi to the RPi).  Wouldn't take long to build an image that we could download to a microSD and have it up and running in no time.  Just a thought.  It would be much more portable than using an existing TI gutted and re-mounted.


Edited by jonecool, Thu Nov 8, 2018 11:52 PM.


#14 jonecool OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 8, 2018 11:59 PM

Well, as a kit someone could come up with some 3D printed parts so everyone could build one.  :-D

 

The same RPi that we use for TIPI (not the disk image itself, but the RPi hardware itself) could be used.  We could simply burn RetroPie to the RPi microSD and install 99Sim and you now have the TI in a very small single board computer that you could easily connect via HDMI anywhere.  Granted, you wouldn't have the expansion port but you would have pretty much everything else in a form factor you could fit in your front pocket (plus the ability to copy dsks/roms over your WiFi to the RPi).  Wouldn't take long to build an image that we could download to a microSD and have it up and running in no time.  Just a thought.  It would be much more portable than using an existing TI gutted and re-mounted.  You also wouldn't need an F18A or any other hardware.  Speech would be emulated as would disks/CSx.  As for TIPI, likely not unless it was something that the TIPI devs wanted to support in 99Sim (or other emulator).

 

If your intent is to use specialty cards, then this definitely wouldn't be an option.  Otherwise, no reason not to (IMO).  I'd be happy to make a How-To video if there is any interest?


Edited by jonecool, Fri Nov 9, 2018 12:03 AM.


#15 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 9, 2018 12:47 AM

...I hear what you're saying, but if it's not real iron, why not just use Classic 99 on a laptop?



#16 jonecool OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 9, 2018 2:04 PM

...I hear what you're saying, but if it's not real iron, why not just use Classic 99 on a laptop?

 

I guess it depends on the use case, if you want to have a portable TI to take somewhere but don't need to attach any expansion devices then a RPi is cheaper than a laptop.  You can also use the Pi with a Lapdock and turn it into a laptop or you can remove the Pi and plug it into the living room TV with USB keyboard..  If using it for programming, simply copy any code from the PI (99sim) to your TIPI via WiFi  on the "real iron" to test on actual hardware.  Just some thoughts, but just really depends on the intent of the solution.



#17 fabrice montupet OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:15 AM

Building a real vintage TI-99/4A laptop should not be very difficult, using the work made around the TIny-99/4A v2.3.

I could remove two pebox slots on the motherbard and the speech logic. The remaining slot could be used to place an horizontal daughter board above the motherboard.
This daughter board could integrate all the buffers and speech logic, and could also integrate a floppy disk controller. And dispite of these components integrated, it will be less larger than the motherboard, that could permits to add an other feature (to be define)
Sure,  this kind of computer will lack of pebox expansion slot and an external floppy disk drive will have to be plugged if we want to use disks.
So, we obtain a parts set mesuring L x W x H : 215mm x 205mm x 30mm. Sure, these dimensions are not the ones of the motherboards placed in modern laptops but they are truly acceptable for a vintage laptop. That turns out well, it is what I would like :) Note that the height is due to the use of IC supports. We could obtain much less height by soldering all the chips but I'm not sure that is a good idea. The maintenance will be difficult.
That said, by thinking more deeply about a such project, I'm sure that it will be possible to improve the concept.






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