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TransKey-II in development

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So based on this information, there really is no reason why the piggy-back version couldn't be wired to a single PS/2 port, and then broken out externally with the "Y" cable. It would just take a different harness connected through the J1 header. So good news is no PCB or Firmware changes required.

 

Good to hear no PCB or firmware changes would be needed.

 

 

Thanks for the great info!

 

No problem; glad I could add something useful.

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Well like I have said many times before, I am simply developing this product, and have no intention of producing any beyond the few prototypes that I recently had made. At the conclusion of this development cycle, it is my intention to upload everything that would be required to duplicate what I will have done to that point. The PCB Gerber files will be available through OSH Park, and the rest of it will be unloaded to my 'Public' DropBox folder with links posted in this forum thread. This will consist of Firmware, ExpressPCB files, Schematics, and possibly an installation doc. Anyone that wishes to, may go ahead and grab on to this for their own production and profit. I will put this out there as public domain with no restrictions or compensation.

 

For me, this was just a personal thing I wanted to do, and have been thinking of doing for quite a few years. It's all FUN for me, and nothing more.

 

-Michael

Whoa, as Joey Lawrence used to say. I must have missed the "I am doing this for fun" thing at the beginning of this venture. Darn, Darn, Darn...and I had a really cool Mechanical PS/2 Keyboard picked out. Oh well, the Atari standard keyboard will have to do for me as I am not technical. Anyone out there willing to build some for the public? (once development is all done, that is)

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Hello Michael

 

Let me first say that I've never been interested in connecting a PC keyboard to an Atari 8 bit computer and probably never will be. But having said that:

 

- PS2 mice and keyboard are relatively easy to find, even in a few years. Y-cables probably are not. And if you find them, you put them somewhere and then after a while you can't find them. When I talked to HardwareDoc years ago about his (plans for a) MIDI Interface, I talked him out of putting only two MIDI-connectors (and using Y-cables) on the interface instead of three for the same reason. "Y-cables" means extra hardware to buy, extra hardware to carry with you when you visit a meeting and extra stuff that can get lost. Ever dragged your computer to a meeting? Each cable you do not need is a cable you can leave at home. And doesn't get tangled in the other cables during transport/storage.

 

- Looking at you XEGS PCB, I notice that the connectors for mouse and keyboard are pointed slightly to the back of the Atari. That would mean, that both the mouse cable and the keyboard cable have to practically make a U-turn. Which in effect "shortens" the cable and makes them more prone to damage. Wouldn't it be possible to turn the stuff on the PCB (except of course for the XEGS plug) 90 degrees anti-clock wise?

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

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I think every PS2 mouse and keyboard cable ever connected to a desktop PC had to make a sharp u-turn, since the connectors were commonly on the back of the computer. ;)

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Hello Michael

 

Let me first say that I've never been interested in connecting a PC keyboard to an Atari 8 bit computer and probably never will be. But having said that:

 

- PS2 mice and keyboard are relatively easy to find, even in a few years. Y-cables probably are not. And if you find them, you put them somewhere and then after a while you can't find them. When I talked to HardwareDoc years ago about his (plans for a) MIDI Interface, I talked him out of putting only two MIDI-connectors (and using Y-cables) on the interface instead of three for the same reason. "Y-cables" means extra hardware to buy, extra hardware to carry with you when you visit a meeting and extra stuff that can get lost. Ever dragged your computer to a meeting? Each cable you do not need is a cable you can leave at home. And doesn't get tangled in the other cables during transport/storage.

 

- Looking at you XEGS PCB, I notice that the connectors for mouse and keyboard are pointed slightly to the back of the Atari. That would mean, that both the mouse cable and the keyboard cable have to practically make a U-turn. Which in effect "shortens" the cable and makes them more prone to damage. Wouldn't it be possible to turn the stuff on the PCB (except of course for the XEGS plug) 90 degrees anti-clock wise?

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

 

 

Not really enough room to have them both facing out towards the front as you are suggesting. But it was a valid point and something I had originally thought of doing myself, well at least until I fully accessed the situation. And flashjazzcat also makes a good point that most of this kind of stuff needs to bend around in the normal applications, so hopefully they build the cables with that in mind. Usually the cables are fairly long, so it might be better to take the longer journey around the XEGS which would result in a more gradual bend.

 

Thanks for the feedback :)

 

-Michael

Edited by mytekcontrols

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Whoa, as Joey Lawrence used to say. I must have missed the "I am doing this for fun" thing at the beginning of this venture. Darn, Darn, Darn...and I had a really cool Mechanical PS/2 Keyboard picked out. Oh well, the Atari standard keyboard will have to do for me as I am not technical. Anyone out there willing to build some for the public? (once development is all done, that is)

 

I suspect that someone will pick this up and run with it, assuming that I've done my job right. And if all you need is just a keyboard interface, check out Steve Cardin's KRH board at RealDos.net. Although I think he only has the KRH-II in stock presently, which will still require some soldering. Or you can wait and see how this plays out.

 

Funny when you mentioned Joey Lawrence, instantly the image popped into my head, even after all these years.

 

-Michael

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I picked up a couple of these PS/2 optical mice from eBay the other day, and got them working great with the TransKey-II. In fact it is the best mouse I've tried thus far with my board.

 

$_12.JPG

 

Logitech SBF96 Optical Mouse

 

Only cost $6 (this price includes shipping). These are NEW, and from what I have seen there are plenty of these available from multiple sellers. Heck one guy is selling them in bulk at $2.75 each (100 for $275 with free shipping), and apparently he has at least 5 boxes available.

 

So based on the availability, the compatibility, and the low price, this will be the mouse I will directly support with my interface board (well its the one that I will tweak the firmware to best take advantage of that is). The mice are bit trickier to deal with from an interface point of view, and I am finding that not all of them give consistent results. So I figure it's best to pick one and target the firmware to best work with it, while still trying to provide support for other mice as well. Keyboards on the other hand are much easier to deal with, and I have been getting good results with a wide variety of them. It is only the mouse code that really needs to be massaged into its final form at this point.

 

-Michael

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I will probably build a couple of different mechanical version of this, but custom a-few-of-a-kind are expensive. If we can get Michael to add a bunch of cheap parts to this, maybe we can charge more. Nobody is going to pay $149 for that dinky little thing.

 

:>)

 

Bob

 

 

 

 

I suspect that someone will pick this up and run with it, assuming that I've done my job right. And if all you need is just a keyboard interface, check out Steve Cardin's KRH board at RealDos.net. Although I think he only has the KRH-II in stock presently, which will still require some soldering. Or you can wait and see how this plays out.

 

Funny when you mentioned Joey Lawrence, instantly the image popped into my head, even after all these years.

 

-Michael

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I will probably build a couple of different mechanical version of this, but custom a-few-of-a-kind are expensive. If we can get Michael to add a bunch of cheap parts to this, maybe we can charge more. Nobody is going to pay $149 for that dinky little thing.

 

:>)

 

Bob

 

What Bob really means to say by "I will probably build a couple of different mechanical version of this..." is that he will be building something similar to this (imagine a 1200XL instead of an iPad).

 

il_fullxfull.330369083_grande.jpg?v=1395

Image Courtesy of USB Typewriter

 

 

Wow only $149 for this, what a great deal !?

TransKey-II-XEGS.JPG

Actually I was thinking more like $149.99 :-D

 

Realistically even in the limited prototype run that I did, these cost me $22 each to build.

 

-Michael

Edited by mytekcontrols
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Hello Michael

 

Let me first say that I've never been interested in connecting a PC keyboard to an Atari 8 bit computer and probably never will be.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

 

This part of your message didn't register with me when you first posted it, and it made me chuckle. Mathy how can I entice you over to the Dark Side of the Force? What would it take to get you to wear the TK-II banner, and embrace the external IBM style Keyboard and Mouse?

 

Just kidding with you :lolblue: :lol: :rolling:

 

I get it that you don't want to ruin the Classic Atari 8 experience, or do irreversible damage like drilling holes in the case. Like a classic car you just want to keep it in "stock" condition. However if you ever get an XEGS, you can upgrade it by just plugging in the TK-II-XEGS interface board, no damage done, and reversible in a matter of seconds. And I gotta tell you, in my opinion the XEGS has the absolute worse keyboard I have ever used on a computer, other than the 400 membrane. In fact I have one up for grabs if anyone is interested (just PM your address).

 

No pressure, stick with whatever floats your boat, and enjoy. And thank you for your feedback, it is appreciated :)

 

-Michael

Edited by mytekcontrols

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Hello Michael

 

I own two XEGS's, one of them is upgraded to 64kB + 1MB, with full software control over BASIC, OS RAM/ROM, selftest and Missile Command. Plus separate Antic and CPU access. It's not that I don't like modified Atari's, I just don't like PC keyboards and mice on an Atari computer.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

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I'm generally of the same mind, as in not being interested to use a PC keyboard with a straight-up Atari system -- especially with one that already has a built-in keyboard. But one thing I think would be cool is to put an Atari into a PC style case and have a PC keyboard to use with it, which would have a few potential advantages.

 

BTW, how hard would it be to modify this type of device to work with a MegaST keyboard, or to be used in a setup where an Atari would be transplanted into an ST that has a built-in keyboard?

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TransKey-II-XEGS

 

TransKey-II-XEGS.JPG

 

TK-XEGS_installed.JPG

 

-Michael

Well, I never really wanted an XEGS until now ...

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Hello Michael

 

I own two XEGS's, one of them is upgraded to 64kB + 1MB, with full software control over BASIC, OS RAM/ROM, selftest and Missile Command. Plus separate Antic and CPU access. It's not that I don't like modified Atari's, I just don't like PC keyboards and mice on an Atari computer.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

 

Hi Mathy,

 

Obviously the PC keyboard would take some getting used to because of a lot differences in where certain symbols and such are located, but because you included the PC mouse into the not being used on an Atari, I think its probably more than that. And hey that's ok.

 

Cheers :thumbsup:

 

I'm generally of the same mind, as in not being interested to use a PC keyboard with a straight-up Atari system -- especially with one that already has a built-in keyboard. But one thing I think would be cool is to put an Atari into a PC style case and have a PC keyboard to use with it, which would have a few potential advantages.

 

BTW, how hard would it be to modify this type of device to work with a MegaST keyboard, or to be used in a setup where an Atari would be transplanted into an ST that has a built-in keyboard?

 

Hi MrFish,

 

Yeah I originally developed TransKey in the '90s for the idea of putting it all in a PC case. Because once you started looking at having two floppies, a black box & attached hard drive, transporting or moving this around gets to be a real pain. Also the fact that with a little bit of clever rewiring to the PC's power supply, you can get rid of all the power bricks as well.

 

As for making this work with a MegaST keyboard. I'm sure it's possible, just need to look at the actual situation, since I've never thought of doing that. Can you link me to a schematic?

 

 

Well, I never really wanted an XEGS until now ...

 

Yes this is probably the very best implementation of the TK-II, and something that hasn't been done before (or at least not in this way). My inspiration for this began when I was looking for a relatively cheap Atari computer that had an XL/XE type OS for doing initial develop of the TK-II, and I found the XEGS's to be the ticket. Also the first day I powered it up and tried out the keyboard was when the light bulb lit up :idea: , and I knew I had to target this machine with a special version. It has got to be one of the smallest PCB's I've ever designed or built.

 

-Michael

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Yesterday I got my new PICkit 3 Microchip Programmer.

09973-_03.jpg

And a ICSP20 18/20 pin ZIF Adapter.

$_12.JPG

 

IMPORTANT: This requires jumper configuration for the PIC16F1847 as follows: Group D - 18 pin VPP=4, VDD=14, VSS=5, PGD=13, PGC=12

So basically anything that has a 'D' gets jumpered (this also includes the two positions marked as 'DF').

 

 

Both of these items can be purchased together at: Joshua 1 systems eBay Store for just under $60. This appears to be a genuine Microchip version (not a Chinese clone, which there are a multitude of). I decided to go with the Microchip one just to be on the safe side.

 

Despite all the stuff going around the internet talking about PICkit 2 vs PICkit 3, saying that the PICkit 2 was better, blah, blah. I found the IPE programming utility used with the PICkit 3 to be very easy to use, reliable, fast, and very flexible. The only problem is that you need to download a 400+ meg installation file called MPLAB X IDE (ver 3.50), but if you don't need the programming IDE suite (which you don't if all you want to do is burn PIC chips) there is an option as part of the installation to only install the IPE. The cool thing is they have Windows, MAC, and Linux versions. I have only tried the Windows version thus far in a WinXP SP3 VirtualBox under Linux Mint 17, due to the fact that my FlowCode program also resides there.

 

How to get started:

  1. Install MPLAB X IPE software
  2. Plug the PICkit 3 into a USB port on your computer
  3. Run the IPE program from the shortcut on the desktop
  4. In the dropdown selector choose the PIC16F1847 (not the LF version), and then click APPLY (this will likely initiate a firmware download)
  5. Go to Advanced Settings POWER tab, and select the check box for the PICkit to supply Vdd
  6. LOAD the TK-II hex file
  7. Click PROGRAM
  8. If you receive a confirmation message you are done!

Possible problems: If you get any message in RED while attempting to program, it indicates a possible problem occurred. Only two things popped up while I was first trying to figure all this out. First one was about the Vdd being too low, which I resolved by putting a powered hub between the PICkit 3 and my computer (it was a laptop, which presumably has very little current available on its USB ports). The 2nd message said something to the effect that the chip ID didn't match. Well this was because I hadn't installed the jumpers on the ZIF socket adapter (very important step). after these two issues were addressed everything worked like a champ.

 

And the best news of all: I tried a burned chip in the TK-II-XEGS board and it worked just fine :thumbsup:

 

-Michael

 

Edit: Ohh yeah did I mention that I needed to use a different PIC chip for this project? Originally I was intending to use a PIC16F88, but due to space constraints and a few other small issues, I have now switched over to the PIC16F1847. It is a much newer chip, and wont be found supported on too many programmers, hence the reason I bought the PICkit 3.

Edited by mytekcontrols

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New Video uploaded (sorry for the poor video quality, still working on adding the ClearPic 2002 to my 1200XL, so this was composite out of my XEGS onto an LCD monitor).

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xDBd7sGloU

 

So what's this about?

 

I just got done implementing a routine that parses and translates ASCII strings into POKEYnese for automatic screen display via the keyboard interface. The main use for this routine was so that I could have some canned macros such as LIST, RUN, ect. but I figured it would also be nice for creating a built-in Help screen feature. So this video is demonstrating the end result of todays work on that feature. Kinda reminds me of visiting an old BBS on a 300 baud modem (its been so long that I've done that, I'm not even sure how this compares speed wise to a modem).

 

-Michael

 

Edit: If you read the Help screen you'll notice that there have been some other changes, such as 8 recordable macro keys instead of the original 4.

Edited by mytekcontrols
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It's going to be really nice, especially the mouse.

 

Sorry to be dense, but what am I looking at in the video -- e.g. what is going on ?

 

I don't think you can type that fast... ;) And conversely, the Atari can write to the screen faster than that even without Bob's accelerator...

 

-Larry

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The device is writing to the standard display by sending simulated keystrokes, which is how macros are accomplished.

 

A very precise an accurate description (thanks flash) :thumbsup:

 

Adding to that; TK's only way to communicate to the Atari is via POKEY's keyboard interface. Which for lack of a better word, will require that TK speak POKEYnese. And yes as Larry pointed out the Atari can certainly write to the screen much faster than that, but only because it doesn't have to go through the bottleneck of POKEY. However unlike a human, at least TK can do it at a substantially faster rate as demonstrated in the video. Think of TK as being one of the best typist's in the world.

 

So why does TK have this limitation of having to pass through POKEY? Because just like all the other keyboard interface boards (AKI, KRH, ect.) the idea is to be completely transparent to the Atari OS. So as far as the Atari is concerned, stuff being typed by the TK is no different than if it were coming from the native keyboard. And this is the single biggest advantage in taking this approach, since it means anything and everything ever designed to run on your Atari 8 can do so as if nothing has changed. Of course the only downside is that trying to use this method to create an onscreen menu as the video shows, is a tad bit slower than we are used to. Luckily that is not the real focus of the TK-II, but just an interesting twist on using the TK's macro engine for something other than originally intended. This is suppose to be a keyboard interface after all.

 

And last but not least, I think I can go a bit faster (still testing the boundaries).

 

BTW; there is a method provided when recording your own macros in TK to slow the send rate down for programs that don't respond as quickly to keyboard entry.

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Here are some pictures of the TK-II-XEGS motherboard modifications required for the optional START, SELECT, OPTION, RESET connections. To reiterate, this part is "optional" and not required to use the TK-II board.

 

Desoldering the Keyboard connector to allow some trace cuts directly underneath

Z7DeSdJ.jpg

 

Keyboard connector removed

K2a7Csn.jpg

 

Ctting traces. Funny thing is the silkscreen is wrong, what is shown as 9 is in reality pin 15, silkscreen image needs to be mirrored

7HgGFAO.jpg

 

Checking continuity to be sure I fully isolated the pin

9sAZrxM.jpg

 

Wiring in this order: starting at the left OPTION-SELECT-START and I was able to pick up RESET over on the right side of the board

UcvdUa5.jpg

 

Close-up of connections added to Keyboard connector (notice that PIN 11 also needed to be isolated on the bottom as well)

XRhjW4f.jpg

 

And to speed up firmware development, I added an ICSP programming connector to one of the TK-II-XEGS boards

HBr92Rq.jpg

 

Here's my complete development set-up

TglA7vj.jpg

 

 

Let the fun continue :P

 

-Michael

Edited by mytekcontrols
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I set up a new website at: www.AtariBits.com

 

Not a whole lot there at the moment, but I'll start fleshing it out over the next few weeks. basically this will be the home of TK-II and any other Atari related projects I start working on. I also updated the website link in my profilel, so don't worry about remembering it, just click on my avatar.

 

-Michael

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Hello all,

 

I am trying to determine if there are any programs that use the 2 key Control+2 combination for anything important. Any ideas?

 

Would like to use this for embedding macro pauses if possible.

 

Thanks,

 

- Michael

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Ctrl-2 is the bell. Is it was processed by the computer it would be noisy, if it was intercepted by the TK-II, then I couldn't type ?"<esc><Ctrl-2>" in a program.

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