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As the 'classic' TI-99/4A home computer has been getting more and more popular over the past couple of years, the TI community is quite literally exploding with new users, hardware and software. Now has never been a better time to join the community or to 'come back home' from a long absence. In the past there were a few limitations that held some people back from taking the plunge of getting in, or returning to the TI-99/4A. Some of those limitations were: 1 Limited space for huge legacy peripherals. 2 Limited incomes to purchase the bulky legacy equipment. 3 Ways to easily get FREE software over to the TI from the Internet. All three of those limitations have now been TOTALLY ELIMINATED. This short blog entry shows one popular entry configuration that is bringing people back into the TI world with limited investment and hassle... will you be another one? HOW IT'S DONE First – Obtaining a console is easy << CLICKING HERE >> will take you directly to Ebay where you can pick and choose from an assortment of readily available consoles. Prices vary greatly, so choose wisely. Second – << CLICKING HERE >> will connect you with a source for an inexpensive sidecar 32K memory expansion interface. Third - << CLICKING HERE >> will get you a FinalGROM 99 cartridge capable of running most the programs available, assuming you have the 32K memory expansion. Fourth - WHERE to get all those FREEBIE programs to use on your new system? << CLICK HERE >> to download them ALL! When your system arrives, just slide them onto an SD card, plug it into the FinalGROM 99 and you are good to go! Once you have all the 'operational hardware', you might consider protecting your investment by getting a couple of cases, one for your 32K memory expansion and one for your FinalGROM 99, the ones I recommend are linked below. 3D Printed Case for the FinalGROM 99 Cartridge Case for 32K Memory Expansion If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. The Register Article.pdf
You want to use your F18A enhanced computer, vintage game machine or other VGA equipped classic computer on your fancy new big screen television set? Think again, most new affordable TV’s no longer support VGA or S-Video inputs. Don’t you just love planned obsolescence and cost saving methods? What’s a hobbyist to do? There are many different VGA to HDMI converters available for sale. The Sewell Hammerhead is on the upper end of the price scale, but there are other more reasonably priced devices that will not ‘break the bank’ and still do the job quite well. Items that you will need 1) VGA to HDMI converter (comes with power cable) 2) HDMI video cable 3) Optional power supply if you don’t use the USB power on the TV. There are numerous lower priced knock-off units out there, some in the $6.00 -$11.00 range. I cannot guarantee results with any of those as I do not have any first-hand experience with them. One, like I purchased is listed in <<THIS LINK>>. This unit sells in the $23.00 range and is confirmed to work quite well with the F18A in my TI-99/4A. Thanks to Atari Age user JediMatt42 for bringing this specific unit to my attention. If you do not already have an extra HDMI cable, you’ll probably want to purchase one at the same time. Be aware that if your VGA output is only 640 X 480, like with the F18A, you’ll have to adjust the setting on your TV to display it at the full or proper size. This thing is a snap to install, however the audio output on many different devices varies, so no matter what converter you end up purchasing, you may have to purchase or make your own converter for the audio plug. INPUT WANTED If you end up purchasing a device in the under $10.00 price range, I'd like to read your comments and a review. Thanks.
The F18A Video Enhancement Board Retro Computing on the TI-99/4A can be a blast from the past for many of us, but nothing can ruin the experience faster than blurry, distorted or snowy images. Were we really going to dump hundreds of dollars into re-acquiring old equipment, as well as the cool new toys coming out, only to view a crappy picture over some lousy old TV or monitor? Heck NO, and we didn't have to, because as many of us in the community learned, before it was discontinued, Matthew Haggarty came to our rescue with the truly affordable F18A Video Enhancement board. UPDATE --- 02/02/2019 --- At one point, among Atari Age users, the F18A was the most used video output device for the TI-99/4A. After being discontinued, the 9918 has regained that spot as more new users have entered the TI community. Of course, the F18A MK2 will probably change that again after it's release. There were so many reasons to get one of these video upgrades, some of the most obvious were: 1) Crisp and sharp video 2) Ability to use modern HDTV's and computer monitors 3) Ease of installation 4) Reasonably priced However, there were more not so obvious reasons as well: With age, numerous TI systems developed different video issues, the F18A card fixed all of these problems without the owners having to waste literally hours, days or weeks trying to diagnose and identify the specific video chip at fault. They also avoided the hassles of removing the old broken components. Since this is a socketed device, it was a fix even a newbie with no soldering skills could perform. It was only advertised as a functional 9918 replacement, but quite frankly, it had a few tricks up it's sleeve that went above and beyond a crisp, clean, and flicker free picture. This board had HUGE additional benefits that many people, myself included enjoy... ...80 COLUMN MODE... Yep! The F18A displays 80 columns in programs like the Multiplan, BOOT, 4A/DOS, Force Command and the Tursi modified BA-Writer and many more. With the sheer number of F18A's out in the wild, it had become the de-facto standard. I'm hoping more stuff becomes available for it's replacement in the coming years. Here are a few screenshots taken from my system.... The attached PDF file below contains all the known programs to currently take advantage of the F18A's 80 column mode or enhanced graphics capabilities. (As of 1 January, 2015) You can download a few of the major 80 column compatible programs << HERE >> This was the #1 upgrade for the TI-99/4A. Everyone gained from this device, from the lowly newbie or returning user with only the basic console, to the rabid TI zealot with a totally over-blown and radically expanded system. As we wait patiently for the F18A MK2, Another Atari Age user, Vectrex Roli made a neat little You Tube video about this card, take a peek here... *** UPDATE -- 09/21/2016 If you want to use this device on a modern flat screen TV that only has an HDMI connector << CLICK HERE >> for more information about VGA to HDMI converters. TI-F18-Extra.pdf
For decades, graphics on the TI-99/4A sucked by contemporary standards. As time marched on, so did the world of static images, leaving the aging TMS9918 all but abandoned for active work. Working with graphics on the TI became slow and cumbersome, compared to modern machines. This 'dual combo' is real easy to use together, and makes using graphics on the TI a viable alternative again. Click on the video for a short example. CONVERT9918 The last two video modes in Tursi’s Convert9918 program take advantage of the F18A video enhancement by Matthew Haggerty. This VGA card can display graphics never before possible on the TI… photos that can actually be recognized for what they are! If you don’t care to use the Slideshow99 program with an F18A, you can still easily use this program to obtain graphics off the Internet for use in older programs like TI-Artist, Page Pro 99 and others. SLIDESHOW99 Features: Supports any file device real or emulated, up to 12 paths allowed, as long as it can give a directory. For instance you can load all your floppy drives with images for a larger slideshow, or use the HDX, or a CF device, or whatever comes next. Number of images allowed is very large, 65,000 per path and 65,000 total. It would be slow with that many pics to sift through though. It supports three modes on the standard TMS9918A: - 2 color monochrome bitmap - 15 color standard bitmap - 225 color half-multicolor (flicker) It supports two modes on the F18A: - 16 color paletted bitmap - 3072 color scanline paletted bitmap (16 colors per line) It automatically detects each image as it's loaded, so feel free to mix and match. IN CLOSING Some of you guys might have wives that don’t relate to our little black & silver object of desire. One might actually hear, “Oh, more crap from eBay” when they see your latest addition(s). Well, the Slideshow99 program might change their feelings. Imagine what your honey will say when she walks into the room and sees photos of the children, grandchildren, your wedding photos or even… her parents cycling through on the TI's screen! She just might warm up to the old TI once and for all! Now even, if you personally think you have no use for graphics, try this program anyway, just to please the 'old lady'. LINKS Tursi’s “Slideshow99” is available at : << THIS LINK >> TI program Tursi’s “Convert9918” is available at: << THIS LINK >> PC program Tursi’s orginal writeup on the slideshow program is viewable : << HERE >> For more information on the F18A video enhancement go : << HERE >> UPDATE: 10/05/2016 Atari Age user Shift838 converted the program for use in the FLASHROM 99! You can get that version: << HERE >> THANKS CHRIS!