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About TMA-1

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  1. Ed has gone above and beyond in exploring the capabilities of these intriguing little Arduino-like ESP8266 devices! Thank-you Ed. You've taught me a thing or two about them. The modem emulator document I posted is, I hope, less confusing because it skips all the extra-curriculars. It is designed to get you online as quickly and simply as possible. When Ed refers to the "internal listing", he is referencing the commands help available by typing "at?". It is quite misleading just as he describes. I blame myself for pre-setting the baud rate to 2400 on the unit I sent my old friend. If he had been forced through all of my document, he would have seen the command for this firmware is "at$sb=9600" or the like. It does not require the Arduino SDK to change. Thank-you arcadeshopper for the info on teminal programs. I was using Telco and found it dropping characters after 2400 just as you say. I thought it might be a limit of the TI-99/4A; glad to know it's not. In my case, I have a NanoPEB, which has required terminal software "adjusted" (hacked) by InsaneMultitasker to work with it's quirky RS232. A modified Telco is the one that works for me, so I may be stuck at 2400. That's okay, it even emulates the speed I had experienced back in the day, lol. I'd be happy to see feedback from others who build and try this little toy, but perhaps everyone who downloaded the document is waiting for parts from China? 🙂
  2. Slight update to the document: It has come to my attention that there are more than one Chinese factory churning out these ESP8266 prototyping "breakout" boards. Some are CP2102 and some are CH340, referring to the USB interface chip used. Either will work fine, but they require different drivers. The instructions have been updated accordingly to source either flavor. TMA-1's RS232 WiFi Modem Instructions.docx
  3. The DIY document for constructing and using this RS232 WiFi "Modem" (Modem emulator, really) has been given its own thread <here>.
  4. The DIY document for constructing and using this RS232 WiFi "Modem" (Modem emulator, really) has been given its own thread <here>.
  5. The DIY document for constructing and using this RS232 WiFi "Modem" (Modem emulator, really) has been given its own thread <here>.
  6. Does your TI-99/4A have a serial port, either in the PEB toaster oven or perhaps a NanoPEB? Got another favorite retro-computer with a standard RS232? Got 10 bucks or less, and about an hour's time, all-in? Many Bulletin Board Systems from the past have been resurrected on the modern Internet via Telnet. A list is <here>. "WiFi Modems" (actually modem emulators) exist that behave like the Hayes Smartmodems of old. These devices use your own existing household WiFi to connect your retro-computer transparently to the Internet, Telnet to the BBS, and hand your treasured retro the traffic at a baud rate you remember from old. The Commodore people have been surfing BBS's like the Old Days for some time now. It's about time the rest of us caught up, and beat them soundly in the cost department. This document below has been foreshadowed in the following threads: Telco DSSD <here>; Quest for Terminal Software that Works with the Quirky NanoPEB Serial Port <here>; and, Telco patch for NanoPEB v1 Serial <here>. Here it is. TMA-1's RS232 WiFi Modem Instructions.docx
  7. I'm posting in this thread because I don't quite feel that my "quest" is completely over. InsaneMultitasker, your Telco patch ran like a charm with my NanoPEB and WiFi "modem"! Thank-you so much for doing this! I tested a download with Xmodem, and it seemed to work fine too. Unfortunately however, the speed is still limited to 2400 baud before it starts to degrade and drop characters in this environment. I believe this is due to the complete lack of flow control. Normally, hardware flow control is used, but this KISS-simple 3-wire modem cannot support hardware control. Conversely, the 3 telecom packages that have been patched for use with the NanoPEB, do not seem to support software flow control. (Naturally--why should they when they were designed to work with equipment that did support hardware control?) So I have this quandary, and there are perhaps the following options: Release my DIY document now and just live with 2400 baud. Attempt to patch MT74, Telco, and/or TIMXT to use software flow control (probably prohibitively complicated). Attempt to patch Fast-Term, which already has the option to use software flow control, in the same manner as you have done the others (beyond my pay grade even with the example code generously provided.) Opinions?
  8. I soooo love that last post Kwisatz Haderach! That's exactly what I'm trying to do here! I have a buddy who is going to manufacture a limited number (initially) of RS232 WiFi Modems with a cosmetically improved design. He is also into 3D printing, so there may even be a case option for his modems in the future. Meanwhile, I'm just putting the finishing touches on a paper that documents how to do one up yourself, for the many DIY'ers in the community. Stay tuned!
  9. Something simple, like the option of using XON/XOFF "software flow control"? My understanding is limited, but I think it works by sending a Cntl-S down the main data line when the receive buffer is approaching full. Cntl-Q signals to resume. It can be used instead of, or in addition to, hardware flow control with a respecting partner. The WiFi modem firmware supports it. (I use it successfully in the 8088 realm, because the 3-wire RS232 simplicity of the hardware design demands it.) MT74 doesn't seem to support it at all. On a separate but related note, I tried accessing Heatwave with my newly "working" setup using MT74. 4800 baud drops chunks of transmission due to, (wait for it,...) complete lack of flow control. (No hardware flow control in the hardware; no software flow control in the software. Well darn.) It seems happier at 2400 baud, but I wouldn't rely on it to pay my VISA bill. I haven't tried file transfer to see if I can "get away with that" yet. What about Fast-Term? Fast-Term seems pretty nifty, and already supports the option to use software flow control. Could IT be reverse engineered to support the flaky NanoPEB?
  10. Stuart you're a genius! What a great Christmas Day present. Shorting the RTS and CTS pins worked on my NanoPeb with the customized version of MT74! We're just on our way out the door to family, so I haven't had a proper look at much yet, but I am getting traffic to and from the modem now. Thank-you. I guess this begs the question, "Why does InsaneMultitasker have a different result?" Perhaps the design of the 9902 NanoPEB changed at some point, or perhaps that's the job of 1 of the 2 jumpers that I see on the device but have never known what they control. Likely the latter. Either way, thanks to you both I'm a happy camper. I'll test at an appropriate baud rate and with several of my software packages at the first opportunity. Looking forward to visiting Heatwave BBS on the real deal.
  11. The fact that your experiment works right-off-the-bat has me back to thinking my particular NanoPEB just happens to have a bad 9902 UART chip. Narry a whisper has ever left this port's lips. I have had situations where characters typed on my laptop would appear on the TI's screen. Attempting the reverse, however, brings instant death. I even tried turning on "Remote Echo" in MT74, but then those same characters typed on my laptop crash the TI99 when it attempts to echo them back down the line. "Sending data" is apparently fatal to this machine. I have tried, as "partners" hooked-up to the NanoPEB RS232: The WiFi modem, a 3-wire special which works perfectly well on any PC's RS232 serial port. The WiFi modem piped through a null modem cable, just for the grins because it really doesn't make sense. A serial partner laptop, through a null modem cable. A serial partner laptop through a straight cable instead, again just to get the T-shirt. Nothing at all. (It still crashes the system to try to "send" a byte.) And I have tried each of the above scenarios with: Terminal Emulator II. Fast-Term. Telco. TIMXT ("blind", since the video is designed for the F18A which I don't have.) And now finally MT74, which is now known to work with a suitable (9902 I think) NanoPEB. At NO TIME in the history of this NanoPEB, has 1 data byte ever been sent from this port. At Each and every attempt, the first byte instantly crashes/hangs the TI-99/4A, forcing a power cycle reboot. I'd be happy if someone can talk me out of just waiting for my replacement UART chip, but this is the only conclusion I can come to at this point. Regarding the stated method for LOADing MT74, I unfortunately do not have Editor/Assembler. I have been making do by hacking the LOAD program from Telco to run MT74 instead. I'm not sure how well the shoes fit, but it does seem to launch MT74 successfully. I just hope I'm not creating any address collisions or similar bad karma. By the way InsaneMultitasker, I have visited HeatWave in the recent past. Very nice board--it's what made me want to get this working on my TI-99/4A! Thank-you all for your ongoing support, and have a Merry Holiday. Ian
  12. Not sure if there was a typo in that last post, or how to reconcile it with the previous one. Additional info: The MT74 software crashes upon a data traffic attempt even with no modem attached. The DB9 interface of the modem is connected to a MAX3232 (level converter) chip, which passes ONLY transmit data, receive data, and ground. There is no opportunity to know or respect hardware flow control within the modem. For that reason, software flow control is activated in the modem, and desired of the terminal emulator.
  13. It doesn't seem to work. I've started a new thread <here>.
  14. This is a more targeted continuation of the blatantly hijacked thread <here>. Executive Summary of this go-forward: The NanoPEB being periodically peddled on eBay is a wonderful little device, providing 3 virtual disk drives which map to a Compact Flash card, a 32K RAM expansion, and an RS232 serial port. Unfortunately, the serial port was set up in such a way that virtually all existing Terminal Emulation software packages take one look at that serial port, and promptly throw their dish on the floor. The technical details of that I leave to vaster minds than mine to explain. Meanwhile, I have slapped together what I think is a toy many of us would like to have and use, a WiFi modem that is RS232 compatible and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. The prototype has been proven with several IBM-ish 8088 machines, and I have been surfing Telnet BBS's with it. I would like to test and use it with my TI-99/4A plus NanoPEB, but the terminal software always stops me, since none of them like my serial port. My current quest is to find, make, beg, borrow, steal or barter a package into working with the NanoPEB. The ultimate goal is to publish details of this very simple modem, so that others in this community can make their own for less than $10 and a few minutes work, and go BBS surfing using their household WiFi, Telnet, and a T-99/4A with either an "original" serial port or a NanoPeb. I'll explain how once it's tested, as I don't want folks clamoring to build one only to find that it doesn't work in this plane of existence. The modem itself works in another environment, but I'm a firm believer in end-to-end systems testing. Besides, I have a NanoPEB, so I'm greedy and want it to work with my TI-99/4A. So that's the lay of the land. In our last episode (thread) InsaneMultitasker had generously thrown me a software package thinking it might work. I'm sorry to report that it doesn't. It runs well up until the moment any byte is actually sent down the line, then it crashes. (Cursor stops blinking, and no keys respond.) To be thorough I connected a null modem cable between the NanoPeb and the modem, (they normally dock directly), but the behavior was the same. The quest continues,...
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