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  1. The Heathkit Hero Jr robot came out in 1984 as a more home friendly version of the original Hero 1 robot, but was still equipped with multiple sensors, speech and programming capabilities albeit without a robotic arm attachment. I bought my robot on Ebay and upgraded it with extra memory (24K), an updated ROM, serial communication and a multi-cartridge which combined all of the cartridges produced for the Hero Jr into one master cart, as well as a beefy 10Ah battery and full documentation. The Robot Workshop (https://www.robotworkshop.com/robotweb/) still has most parts, upgrades and documentation for the Hero Jr at very reasonable prices. Manufacturer Heathkit Type robot Release date 1984 Introductory price Kit US$599.95, Assembled US$1000[3] Discontinued Before October 1987 (Assembled)[15] 1995 (Kit) Units sold 4000 (across 8 years) CPU Motorola 6808 1 MHz Memory RAM: 2 kB, expandable to 24 kB Monitor ROM: 32 kB Display 9 LEDs Sound Votrax SC-01 speech synthesizer[5] Input Hex keypad with 17 keys Power Batteries:6 V 3.8 A·h x2, x4 optional Dimensions 19 inches high[16] Mass 21.5 pounds[16] The interesting thing is that all the electronics are located in the "head" of the robot and under the front panel, while the drive mechanism and battery are in the bottom part, leaving most of the mid-section open, which was very inviting for modifications and modern upgrades. And while I dabbled with this idea for a while, I ended up deciding not to modify the robot from its original condition and opting to experiment with using the serial port as the only means of communication with it. The Hero Jr is capable of baud rates from 300 to 9600 with Even parity and 7 data bits. An early experiment I did involved a wired serial connection to a Raspberry Pi Model B where I had a Pi camera recognize a ball using the OpenCV framework running on the Rpi, and the result was communicated to the Hero Jr who in turn verbalized it using its on-board speech synthesizer: This served as a proof of concept, but I really wanted to ditch the serial tether and go completely wireless. I also wanted to use the TI 99/4A computer, and I already had quite a bit of experience with wireless serial communication on it from my previous wireless weather station project: The main problem I ran into was the the Xbee transceiver I used for that project did not support 7 data bits, only 8, and it turned out that almost all available modern transceivers had the same issue!. Luckily, I finally was able to find a very cheap Chinese transceiver called the HC-12 which costs less than $5 per module and supports a wide range of communication parameters. It's really designed for use with an Arduino, but with the addition of a GPIO to serial converter, one can connect it to a standard computer terminal. From there, I went through a couple of experimental tests as shown below. The main difficulty encountered was the very short range of the coil antenna that comes stock with the HC-12 module, and so this required upgrading it to beefier coax antenna. From there I was finally ready to put the project together using the TI 99/4A computer. I opted to use RXB on the TI side because it allowed low-level access to the serial card using the CALL IO command, something not available on other Basics. This was necessary because the HC-12 was not very reliable in its wireless transmissions and communication was frequently dropped, thus requiring a form of communication time-out feature in order to resend dropped data packets. Here's the code for the TI. You might note that there are a lot of repetitive routines which could not be consolidated into subroutines because the ON ERROR command in Extended Basic does not work within subroutines. // HERO Jr remote exploration program // November 2019 // INITIALIZATION CALL CLEAR OPTION BASE 1 DIM MAP(23,32) HOMEX=16 HOMEY=12 PRANGE=0 TCOUNT=0 DIR=1 !1=N 2=E 3=S 4=W OPEN #1:"RS232.BA=9600.DA=7.PA=E.EC",UPDATE CRU=2464 !CRU ADDRESS OF TMS9902 (>1340) DIVIDED BY 2 // CHECK IF ROBOT IS READY PRINT "CHECKING ROBOT STATUS" CheckStatus: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) PRINT #1:65 GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN CheckStatus Status: ON ERROR Status INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF VAL(ANS$)<> 1 THEN CheckStatus ELSE PRINT "ROBOT IS READY!": : PRINT "PRESS ANY KEY TO START" GetKey: CALL KEY(0,K,S) IF S=0 THEN GetKey // SET UP DISPLAY CALL CLEAR // CHARACTER DEFINITIONS CALL CHAR(104,"FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF") !BLACK LEVEL 0-20 CALL CHAR(112,"FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF") !GRAY LEVEL 21-100 CALL CHAR(120,"FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF") !WHITE LEVEL 101-255 CALL CHAR(105,"FFC3A59999A5C3FF") !OBSTACLE CALL CHAR(106,"183C5A9918181818") !UP ARROW CALL CHAR(107,"080402FFFF020408") !RIGHT ARROW CALL CHAR(108,"18181818995A3C18") !DOWN ARROW CALL CHAR(109,"102040FFFF402010") !LEFT ARROW DIRSPR=106 CALL COLOR(10,2,16,11,15,16,12,16,16) CALL SPRITE(#1,DIRSPR,9,(HOMEY-1)*8+1,(HOMEX-1)*8+1) // START EXPLORATION RX=HOMEX RY=HOMEY Explore: TCOUNT=TCOUNT+1 IF TCOUNT>10 THEN Home // GET LIGHT LEVEL LightInput: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:6 !Read light sensor GOSUB BytePresent !WAIT FOR BYTE TO COME IN IF FLAG=0 THEN LightInput Status1: ON ERROR Status1 INPUT #1:LIGHT$ ON ERROR STOP IF VAL(LIGHT$)<21 THEN CALL HCHAR(RY,RX,104) ELSE IF VAL(LIGHT$)<101 THEN CALL HCHAR(RY,RX,112) ELSE CALL HCHAR(RY,RX,120) CALL DELAY(1) // Check for movement in front of robot MotionCheck: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) ! CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:8 !Read infrared sensor GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN MotionCheck Status7: ON ERROR Status7 INPUT #1:HEAT$ ON ERROR STOP IF VAL(HEAT$)=0 THEN RangeInput DISPLAY AT(24,1)BEEP:"MOTION DETECTED!" Speak1: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:9 !Speak CALL DELAY(1) PRINT #1:1 !PLEASE MOVE CLEAR OF ME GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN Speak1 Status8: ON ERROR Status8 INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF VAL(ANS$)<>89 THEN Speak1 DISPLAY AT(24,1):" " GOTO MotionCheck // Check for obstacles RangeInput: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:7 !Read sonar GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN RangeInput Status2: ON ERROR Status2 INPUT #1:RANGE$ ON ERROR STOP IF VAL(RANGE$)>40 AND ((DIR=1 AND RY>2) OR (DIR=2 AND RX<31) OR (DIR=3 AND RY<22) OR (DIR=4 AND RX>2)) THEN GOTO PathClear IF DIR=1 THEN CALL HCHAR(RY-1,RX,105):: MAP(RY-1,RX)=1 IF DIR=2 THEN CALL HCHAR(RY,RX+1,105):: MAP(RY,RX+1)=1 IF DIR=3 THEN CALL HCHAR(RY+1,RX,105):: MAP(RY+1,RX)=1 IF DIR=4 THEN CALL HCHAR(RY,RX-1,105):: MAP(RY,RX-1)=1 Speak2: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:9 !Speak CALL DELAY(1) PRINT #1:2 !OBSTACLE DETECTED GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN Speak2 StatusObs: ON ERROR StatusObs INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF VAL(ANS$)<>89 THEN Speak2 //Back up Reverse: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:2 GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN Reverse Status3: ON ERROR Status3 INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF ANS$<>"89" THEN Reverse IF DIR=1 THEN RY=RY+1 IF DIR=2 THEN RX=RX-1 IF DIR=3 THEN RY=RY-1 IF DIR=4 THEN RX=RX+1 CALL LOCATE(#1,(RY-1)*8+1,(RX-1)*8+1) CALL DELAY(2) //Check for surrounding blocked path IF DIR=1 THEN CALL GCHAR(RY,RX+1,BLOCK):: GOTO Turn IF DIR=2 THEN CALL GCHAR(RY+1,RX,BLOCK):: GOTO Turn IF DIR=3 THEN CALL GCHAR(RY,RX-1,BLOCK):: GOTO Turn CALL GCHAR(RY-1,RX,BLOCK) Turn: IF BLOCK<>105 THEN Go_Right ELSE Go_Left //Turn right Go_Right: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:4 GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN Go_Right Status4: ON ERROR Status4 INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF ANS$<>"89" THEN Go_Right DIR=DIR+1 DIRSPR=DIRSPR+1 IF DIR>4 THEN DIR=1::DIRSPR=106 CALL PATTERN(#1,DIRSPR) CALL DELAY(2) IF HFLAG=1 THEN Home GOTO Explore //Turn left Go_Left: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:5 GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN Go_Left Status6: ON ERROR Status6 INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF ANS$<>"89" THEN Go_Left DIR=DIR-1 DIRSPR=DIRSPR-1 IF DIR<1 THEN DIR=4::DIRSPR=109 CALL PATTERN(#1,DIRSPR) CALL DELAY(2) IF HFLAG=1 THEN Home GOTO Explore //Move forward PathClear: CALL DELAY(1) Forward: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:3 GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN Forward Status5: ON ERROR Status5 INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF ANS$<>"89" THEN Forward IF DIR=1 THEN RY=RY-1 IF DIR=2 THEN RX=RX+1 IF DIR=3 THEN RY=RY+1 IF DIR=4 THEN RX=RX-1 CALL LOCATE(#1,(RY-1)*8+1,(RX-1)*8+1) CALL DELAY(2) IF HFLAG=1 THEN Home GOTO Explore // Go home routine Home: HFLAG=1 IF RX=HOMEX AND RY=HOMEY THEN DISPLAY AT(24,1)BEEP:"AT HOME!":: GOTO GetKey1 ELSE DISPLAY AT(24,1)BEEP:"GOING HOME..." Speak3: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:9 !Speak CALL DELAY(1) PRINT #1:3 !GOING HOME GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN Speak3 StatusHome: ON ERROR StatusHome INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF VAL(ANS$)<>89 THEN Speak3 IF RY>HOMEY AND MAP(RY-1,RX)=0 THEN TDIR=1:: GOTO CheckFacing IF RY<HOMEY AND MAP(RY+1,RX)=0 THEN TDIR=3:: GOTO CheckFacing IF RX>HOMEX AND MAP(RY,RX-1)=0 THEN TDIR=4:: GOTO CheckFacing IF RX<HOMEX AND MAP(RY,RX+1)=0 THEN TDIR=2:: GOTO CheckFacing GOTO Explore CheckFacing: IF DIR<>TDIR THEN FacingTurn ForwardH: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:3 GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN ForwardH StatusHF: ON ERROR StatusHF INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF ANS$<>"89" THEN ForwardH IF DIR=1 THEN RY=RY-1 IF DIR=2 THEN RX=RX+1 IF DIR=3 THEN RY=RY+1 IF DIR=4 THEN RX=RX-1 CALL LOCATE(#1,(RY-1)*8+1,(RX-1)*8+1) CALL DELAY(2) GOTO Home FacingTurn: IF ABS(TDIR-DIR)>2 AND TDIR<DIR THEN TurnRightH IF ABS(TDIR-DIR)>2 AND TDIR>DIR THEN TurnLeftH IF TDIR<DIR THEN TurnLeftH TurnRightH: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:4 GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN TurnRightH StatusHR: ON ERROR StatusHR INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF ANS$<>"89" THEN TurnRightH DIR=DIR+1 DIRSPR=DIRSPR+1 IF DIR>4 THEN DIR=1::DIRSPR=106 CALL PATTERN(#1,DIRSPR) CALL DELAY(2) GOTO CheckFacing TurnLeftH: CALL IO(3,1,CRU+18,0) !CLEAR RECEIVE BUFFER PRINT #1:5 GOSUB BytePresent IF FLAG=0 THEN TurnLeftH StatusHL: ON ERROR StatusHL INPUT #1:ANS$ ON ERROR STOP IF ANS$<>"89" THEN TurnLeftH DIR=DIR-1 DIRSPR=DIRSPR-1 IF DIR<1 THEN DIR=4::DIRSPR=109 CALL PATTERN(#1,DIRSPR) CALL DELAY(2) GOTO CheckFacing // Resume exploration GetKey1: CALL KEY(0,K,S) IF S=0 THEN GetKey1 DISPLAY AT(24,1):" " HFLAG=0 GOTO Explore // Check for incoming byte over serial line BytePresent: COUNTER=0 CheckByte: CALL IO(2,1,CRU+21,BYTEIN) IF BYTEIN=0 THEN COUNTER=COUNTER+1 ELSE FLAG=1:: RETURN IF COUNTER>50 THEN FLAG=0:: DISPLAY AT(24,1)BEEP:"TIME OUT! RETRYING...":: CALL DELAY(1):: DISPLAY AT(24,1):" ":: RETURN ELSE GOTO CheckByte // Delay routine SUB DELAY(DUR) FOR I=1 TO DUR*100 NEXT I SUBEND On the Hero Jr side, I ran a very simple Basic program which accepted coded commands mapped to specific robot functions and executed them, and also sent back sensor data and communication acknowledgments. All actual control and decision making was made by the TI. 1 REM HERO ROAM PROGRAM 10 INPUT C 20 IF C<>65 THEN GOTO 10 21 FOR I=1 TO 100:NEXT I 22 PRINT 1 30 INPUT C 35 IF C<1 THEN GOTO 30 36 IF C>9 THEN GOTO 30 40 ON C GOSUB 500,600,700,800,900,1000,1100,1200,1300 50 GOTO 30 500 REM FORWARD 5 UNITS 510 FWD 5 511 GOSUB 1510 515 PRINT 89 520 RETURN 600 REM BACKWARD 5 UNITS 610 BWD 5 611 GOSUB 1510 615 PRINT 89 620 RETURN 700 REM FORWARD 10 UNITS 710 FWD 10 711 GOSUB 1510 715 PRINT 89 720 RETURN 800 REM RIGHT ROTATION 810 RIGHT 90 811 GOSUB 1510 815 PRINT 89 820 RETURN 900 REM LEFT ROTATION 910 LEFT 90 911 GOSUB 1510 915 PRINT 89 920 RETURN 1000 REM LIGHT LEVEL DETECTION 1010 L=EYE 1011 GOSUB 1510 1015 PRINT L 1020 RETURN 1100 REM RANGE MEASUREMENT 1105 R=SONAR 1110 GOSUB 1510 1115 PRINT R 1120 RETURN 1200 REM INFRARED HEAT DETECTION 1210 I=MOTION 1211 GOSUB 1510 1215 PRINT I 1220 RETURN 1300 REM SPEAK FUNCTION 1305 INPUT C 1306 IF C<1 THEN GOTO 1305 1307 IF C>3 THEN GOTO 1305 1308 ON C GOTO 1310,1340,1370 1309 REM PLEASE MOVE CLEAR OF ME 1310 SPEAK "PLEZHPA1MOO1VPA1KLEERPA1OVPA1MEE" 1315 GOSUB 1510 1320 PRINT 89 1330 RETURN 1335 REM OBSTACLE DETECTED 1340 SPEAK "OBSTAEKLPA1DE1TEH3KTEHD" 1345 GOSUB 1510 1350 PRINT 89 1360 RETURN 1365 REM GOING HOME 1370 SPEAK "GOWINGPA1HO1O1MM" 1375 GOSUB 1510 1380 PRINT 89 1390 RETURN 1500 REM DELAY SUBROUTINE 1510 FOR T=1 TO 200:NEXT T 1520 RETURN > And here's the final result: Another fun one
  2. Our intention is to collect as much historical background to the Why, When, Who and How GPL came to be. Please contribute by commenting to this topic. Things like : 1. When did it all start ? 2. Why ? 3. Who worked on it's development and interpreter ? 4. What was the real purpose ? 5. How does it compare to other languages ? 6. What can we do with it today ? 7. Coding in GPL in the 1980's compared to 2020 the stark difference. 8. What commercial software was written in GPL ? 9. Who were the important people around this language ? 10. Links to important material. If we can collect snippets of information from as many people as possible we can then compile it into a solid web page that will serve as a historical snapshot of this quirky yet beautiful language that time almost forgot. Thanks for your contributions. We will share a link to the webpage that will contain all you need to know about GPL as soon as we set it up.
  3. Sid1968

    WTB: TI-99/4a

    If someone would sell me a working TI-99/4a for a friendly price i would be glad. Alternativly i can offer in exchange for a full working TI-99/4a a full working recapped (New electolytic capacitors) Commodore C64 (PAL) or VIC-20 (NTSC or PAL). Kind Regards from Germany Sid1968
  4. Hey all, I haven't been using my TI much as of late, and I wanted to get back into things with a nice game of centipede. I don't own the game, but I have a ROM of it and in the past was able to play it using the editor assembler cart along with my nanoPEB so that I could assemble and run the game from my CF card. Unfortunately, I cannot remember how to do it now. Everything is set up, I have the editor/assembler diskettes on the CF card as well and they are working just fine. I can load the assembler and everything, I just can't figure out how to get this centipede assembly file working. From what I remember I need a .DSK file, and to copy that to the CF card, then I need to mount it on the TI into disk 3, then I need to call something like DSK3.CENT, but that doesn't seem to be working. Any ideas?
  5. So a while back I bought a 5.25 floppy drive to copy old floppies. I found out my PC was to new and the BIOS couldn't work with it. The other day I rescued a Compaq Deskpro 2000 from the curb and I stuck the drive in there. I popped in an old Lotus 1 2 3 disk and the thing works. Now I want to start copying some 99/4a roms onto some floppies but I'm not sure how to go about it. What software will I use for this? Do I want to use an emulator? This thing is running Win 98 and has no USB or ethernet so im probably going to have to burn cd's to bring files to it so I want to get this right without burning coasters. I'm hoping someone experienced with this can point me in the right direction. Thanks.
  6. Hi, So I'm getting my computer room/office set up and I just got my TI 99/4a setup and now I've run into a strange issue. When I turn on my TI 99/4a with the PEB turned on, the screen flashes for a moment and then turns black. When I turn the TI 99/4a on without the PEB being on, I get the usual ready screen and can access basic or cartridges. the disk drive in the PEB spins the disk with the red ractivity light on for a moment when the computer is turned on. I've tried cleaning out the connectors on the 99's expansion port and the PEB's connector with quick drying contact cleaner, which got a lot of grime out but hasn't change the function. Anyone here know how this is supposed to work/know whats up? I've got a couple floppies that are supposed to be new with games and an auto loader on them as well as the disk manager 2 cartridge.
  7. I've got my old TI 99/4A but can't find the power supply. The CV PS has the same connector. I read that the CV PS is regulated but that the 99/4A PS is unregulated, so you should never use the 99/4A PS on the CV. However, what about the other way around? Can I use the CV PS on the 99/4A without frying the computer? Thanks for any thoughts.
  8. Davvel

    ti99 VRAM 1

    From the album: Repairing TI 99/4A

    A few photos whilst repairing my TI 99/4A

    © None

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