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Everything posted by TMA-1

  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,...
  15. Since I know the WiFi modem works, (tested in an 8088 environment with XON/XOFF software flow control only), I expect the whole shebang would fly right if the terminal software would only talk to the serial port of the NanoPEB. If a terminal software package were adjusted to suit the Nano, just communicating with the modem (an "ATI" information query for example--traffic in both directions) could prove that out. I've got a FlashROM99 on order with an eye towards firing up Editor/Assembler and a Disassembler. In the meantime I'm trying to learn 99 Assembler using Classic99. If anyone else would make the fix for me, just post/email me the updated package and I could test it all right after this Christmas thing is out of the way. 🙂 Was typing that when your last post came in. THANK-YOU. I'll test as soon as humanly possible.
  16. I'm afraid I'm going to disagree a little bit. Just because one company's rocket flies, does not mean that the competition's rocket will fly too. This is a totally different design, with the emphasis on DIY with an eye towards simplicity and economy of materials and effort time. Oh all right,... cheap. I'm cheap. There I said it. 🙂 Too cheap to buy a $55 USD WiFi modem. I made mine for $6. Maybe I'm just being paranoid because the NanoPEB RS232 thing messed me up, but I won't be happy until (1) someone tests one of these on a standard TI99 serial port, and (2) I find or hack terminal software for the NanoPEB serial port so I can use it too.
  17. It occurs to me that I'm being a snot. 1) I seem to have hijacked this thread. Wasn't my original intent. Sorry. 2) I've been sitting on my very simple design for this RS232 WiFi modem, only because I wanted to test it on the TI99 platform before "releasing" it. What I really need, (while I find a solution for the Terminal Software to NanoPEB dichotomy), is a guinea pig partner with a genuine PEB and "original" serial port, to test my device in the mean time. Those of you with the real deal could be surfing while I wallow in the Nano mud. Any volunteers? Contact me off-line. I would send you the instructions what parts to obtain, how to flash the ESP8266 module with the correct firmware, and how to build the device. Budget no more than $10 in material, and a leisurely hour of time. You would use telecom software of your choice with the WiFi modem to surf Telnet BBS's, and just let me know your results. I wouldn't want everybody doing it all at once, only to find there's some other problem that I didn't experience on the 8088's. Cheers and Happy Holidays, Ian
  18. Obviously this is deeply disappointing news to me, but thank-you for the post. Disappointing because this WiFi modem I have managed to construct, (by standing on the shoulders of giants), and prove in the 8088 environment, can be made in a few minutes with less than $10 in off-the-shelf parts! Further, the ESP8266-based modem configuration uses XON/XOFF software flow control, and does not even connect to DTE or DCE, or anything beyond power, transmit, and receive on the RS232. So close to cruising BBS's on my TI99/4A plus NanoPEB, I'm frustrated at every turn here. Can't use Terminal Emulator II, because it cannot be shaken from E,7,1. Can't use TIMXT, because that requires the F18A video upgrade. Can't use any of the other terminal packages, because they are all incompatible with the quirks of how the NanoPEB RS232 handles hardware flow control, which doesn't happen to matter in this case anyway. Perhaps the shortest-path solution would be to bastardize one of the existing packages to just not care about hardware flow control. Unfortunately they are all Assembler products, (which makes sense), and I don't "do" Assembler. It might be relatively simple, even without source code. If I understand the situation correctly (a big "if"), just snipping out a few instructions would be all that's required. But it's 4:30am now so I'll have to consider this another day.
  19. Update: I scored a copy of Fast-Term, which seem to run well. Still no success in communicating however. Meanwhile I checked the documentation of my nanoPEB, and it says it uses the TMS9902 UART, same as the original. Checked the board and it's true. Both packages should be working! Conclusion: I have a bad chip? I spent a dollar and a half on eBay to find out 6 weeks from now. Correction: I said N,7,1 (twice) previously when I meant E,7,1. Put that down to a senior moment. For clarification, the Terminal Emulator II cartridge communicates at Even parity, 7 data bits, and 1 stop bit. This cannot be changed and therefore requires a flexible communications partner, which the WiFi modem is not. The modern world defaults to N,8,1, by which I mean No parity, 8 data bits, and 1 stop bit. I'll report back if and when I have more news. Cruising revived bulletin boards with these newfangled modems is a gas, and I've been thoroughly enjoying it on both the Commodore 64 and some IBM-ish 8088 machines. The modem itself is dead simple to make, and I'll post instructions if and when I get mine working on the TI-99/4A + NanoPeb.
  20. Aw, rats,... yep--right there in the readme.txt: "** NOTICE ** Be aware that Telco does -- NOT -- work with the Nano-PEB. Please do not waste your time trying to get it to work with that device." Your response is bang on. Not the answer I wanted to hear, but thank-you very much Quadrunner for setting me straight. So I guess the question then becomes, has anyone got another good telecom package that does work with the NanoPEB's serial port? I'd still like to get this modem working on this platform.
  21. Nice video. "What kind of modem is it you're using?" That may take a bit of explaining if you haven't heard of this before,... On the Commodore side of this hobby, some bright spark coded an ESP8266 (an Arduino-like prototyping WiFi device) to act as a substitute smart modem. Substitute, because instead of modulating/demodulating and dialing the telephone system, it connects (using Hayes-like commands) to your household WiFi and uses the modern Internet to Telnet to a destination BBS. Many SysOps of the past have dusted off their archived floppy backups, re-activated their board, and put it on the Internet using one of these nifty "WiFi modems". See this guide. Instructions for interfacing this device/firmware to a C64 can be found here. Following in the footsteps of the C64 version, I created a version that connects to a standard RS232 port. (It is actually much simpler to build than the C64 version, though not quite as robust.) I have used it successfully to contact many a resurrected board using a vintage 8088 machine, and a legacy terminal emulation package. Now I want to try it on the TI-99/4A platform. The firmware of the WiFi modem does not understand Terminal Emulator II's N,7,1, so I need a new telecom package. (Hopefully one that supports XON/XOFF because my RS232 hardware implementation is too simple to support hardware flow control.) I haven't gotten as far as connecting the (proven) modem yet. I was using a DOS laptop and null modem cable to connect to the NanoPEB's RS232. But I don't even get that far,... Telco crashes on launch, even with nothing connected. I never see a menu, a status bar, or anything beyond the initial "Loading" message. He's dead, Jim. Trying the copy of Telco posted in this thread, with Classic99, I get the same negative result. What am I doing wrong?
  22. Okay, what fool thing am I doing wrong? I've downloaded this file, flashed it to my CF card, put that in my nanoPEB, and attempted to run Telco. I get the loading message, and then a totally blank screen with no key combinations responsive, not even reset. This is the second copy of Telco I've found, and they both seem to crash this way, on either my hardware TI99+nanoPEB or in Classic99. I just know I'm doing something stupid. Ultimately what I'm trying to do is use a WiFi modem I constructed, and which has been proven in an 8088 environment. First I tried the Terminal Emulator II cartridge. Hoo boy, what a primitive relic that is! I gather N,7,1 was an emerging "standard" when bicycles had gigantic front wheels. Expensive paperweight. What was "Terminal Emulator I", a Dixie cup on a string? Any help getting this Telco package to run would be appreciated. Thanks in advance,...
  23. I don't think that part of the equation is the difficult one, as it's the AV-to-HDMI converter that is doing the "hard" work of digesting the improper AV signal. Once you have good HDMI I think it's clear sailing from there. But to answer your question,... The HDMI-to-VGA is a "robust connector" type affair, which can be seen in my second photo, connected to the Mini AV2HDMI. It's black so somewhat hard to see. Here are a couple of better pictures. They can be had on eBay for 3 to 6 dollars or so. Note: try to get one with the audio output. Not all of them have that--then you pipe both video and sound into your existing monitor and computer speakers. eBay examples at the time of writing, including but not limited to item numbers: 172695857361 122486456926 162736693760 You get the idea.
  24. I have yet another solution, for probably $10 USD. I had the same problem as the original poster--the output from a cheap AV-to-VGA converter was badly banded black & white. So I sold that eBay converter on Kijiji (for a profit--shhh,...), and used a $5 (eBay) AV-to-HDMI converter, in conjunction with a $4 (eBay) HDMI-to-VGA converter. Double conversion works. The AV-to-HDMI converter does a better job of interpreting the raw signal captured from the TI-99/4A, (which was originally supposed to go to the modulator), than the AV-to-VGA had. The final output is somewhat washed and blurred, but nothing I consider serious. It is an easy solution which saves me having yet another output device on my crowded workbench. And of course it fits my primary criteria: cheap. Ian
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