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ralphb

The FinalGROM 99

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You... and I dunno how many others!

 

About 2 weeks after this thing hits the world market, I'm planning on another poll. I'm thinking we'll get some new and returning people, but I bet even some of the lurkers will come out of hiding for a while as well.

The very idea of this device, the F18A (80 column/sprite enhancement), the TIPI (remote/Internet access/storage), and dreams like a possible new OS/DOS, actual easy to setup GNU GCC compatibility (soon I hope), make the TI an amazing ever changing and resilient platform. The TI is a good Hobby. I am glad I bumped into it when I was a young man. This is fun.

 

How about some USB fun?

Anyone for a waterfall SDR# interface with an RTL-SDR? http://www.rtl-sdr.com/

Ok, OK, it takes WAY too much horsepower. That's IMPOSSIBLE... Wait... Unless we compile Forth into...

(Stranger things have happened)

post-43938-0-14380700-1494443309_thumb.jpg

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I won't be able to distribute DL as a freebie anyway, I need to report and pay royalties on each copy distributed. So to have a flash cart support it isn't high on the priority list. :)

 

Sell the ROM to people and tag the ROM with payment info. :evil: If someone puts it up for download, you'll KNOW who they are. And if someone compares the pirate ROM to their own, they'll likely be able to deduce where you've encoded the details, if not how.

 

Depending on what you'd be asking for a copy, I doubt there'll be much incentive to pirate anyway. We're all retro collectors--dropping a few bucks on a game as cool as Dragon's Lair for the freakin' TI-99/4A is not a major drain on the finances, comparatively. How many of us just dropped $50-60 on the FR99 and will do it again for the FG99, plus custom cases for each, etc, often despite having most of the things on cart already anyway?

 

Besides, if the capacity is there and we've got the means to use it, who's to say that I won't start developing Last Daydream? I can already see the opening text in my head...

 

 

The world is veiled in

darkness. The wind stops,

the sea is wild,

and the earth begins to rot.

The people wait,

their only hope, a prophecy...

 

'When the world is in darkness

4A Warriors will come

from TEXAS...'

 

After a long journey, four

young warriors arrive,

each holding a CONSOLE.

 

This must now be made to exist. I guess I need to start learning assembly on the TI. :rolling:

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From the documentation:

 

Reloading

Although 1024 KB is plenty of space for a TI 99 program, the FinalGROM 99 enables programs to reload and start other programs from the SD card. Any program type may load any program type.

To initiate the reload of a new program, the sequence >99, "RELOAD", >99 must be sent, followed by the program file data. To detect when the new image has been loaded, the program must watch addresses >6000->6200 for a non-zero word to appear. (For a reloaded ROM program, watching >6000suffices.)

Since the new image will overwrite the running image, the reload code must be relocated to RAM before it can be run.

 

So this makes some sort of practical DOS, well, practical and fast.

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So this makes some sort of practical DOS, well, practical and fast.

 

I like the wavelength you're on right now! :thumbsup: :-D

 

Being that the FG99 can load other programs from cartridge, any potential DOS could be written in small blocks. For instance a simple framework could come first, then individual programs and utilities later. Many individual programmers could contribute in this fashion if they wanted to. Where will this take us? Who knows, but that's what makes the ride so exciting!

 

I guess it's all up to ONE currently unknown Uber-programmer to set stage by authoring the first framework block. :grin:

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Here's another probably a stupid question and even if not it's probably too late in the game for it, but would it be possible for it to say run XB or Tunnels of Doom and then allow loading files from the flash card like a disk or cassette? My guess would be no, or at least not without a TON of additional work anyway.

 

Boy, I'm loaded with ideas for other people today! :D

 

Edit: Then again someone is working on making a Raspberry Pi interface to be a file server, so it might not be important at this point.

Edited by Tornadoboy
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Here's another probably a stupid question and even if not it's probably too late in the game for it, but would it be possible for it to say run XB or Tunnels of Doom and then allow loading files from the flash card like a disk or cassette? My guess would be no, or at least not without a TON of additional work anyway.

 

Not as far as I know. A cartridge cannot provide the DSR for the disk access you would need. You'd need to hack XB and TOD to do what you want.

 

Besides, it is very much out of scope. The FinalGROM 99 is still a cartridge, so disk operations should go to a possibly enhanced disk gadget. Introducing new technology is all fine, but for me at least it should keep the spirit of the original.

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Here's another probably a stupid question and even if not it's probably too late in the game for it, but would it be possible for it to say run XB or Tunnels of Doom and then allow loading files from the flash card like a disk or cassette? My guess would be no, or at least not without a TON of additional work anyway.

 

Do you suggest to emulate a cassette storage system by a flash card device? That is, make it possible to do a OLD CS1, and the data comes from the flash device?

 

The problem is that you would have to provide a new cassette routine and replace the console ROMs. Cassette reading is quite close to physics; you have delicately timed loops. For disk access you typically need a level-2 access on the sector level, so you can easily emulate this just by providing sector read/write routines that are backed by the flash device. Cassette support requires level-1 support (bit level), though.

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Do you suggest to emulate a cassette storage system by a flash card device? That is, make it possible to do a OLD CS1, and the data comes from the flash device?

 

The problem is that you would have to provide a new cassette routine and replace the console ROMs. Cassette reading is quite close to physics; you have delicately timed loops. For disk access you typically need a level-2 access on the sector level, so you can easily emulate this just by providing sector read/write routines that are backed by the flash device. Cassette support requires level-1 support (bit level), though.

 

Perhaps a flash rom device that plugs directly into the Cassette port? Would probably need an external power source.

 

I leave that to the brains.

 

I hope this seed sprouts. It would completely do away with the need for cassettes or tape drives.

Perhaps even a push button system to select wav files with a display (like a Lotharek drive or Modded GoTek).

Edited by Sinphaltimus

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Perhaps a flash rom device that plugs directly into the Cassette port? Would probably need an external power source.

 

I leave that to the brains.

 

I hope this seed sprouts. It would completely do away with the need for cassettes or tape drives.

Perhaps even a push button system to select wav files with a display (like a Lotharek drive or Modded GoTek).

 

You can do that right now, with a smartphone. It's exactly what I do with the TI and a C64 (using a line-out to cassette adapter in the C64 case)

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Just a small update, while the FinalGROM 99 is in production.


First of all, I'm afraid I need to move the availability date from early June to late June. :(


You may remember that I'm using a 1 MB x 8 SRAM chip by Cypress on the latest cart. After my first prototype, I was looking for a replacement for the old 512 KB SRAM to tackle the instability problems. Luckily, I found an inexpensive 1 MB SRAM at my favorite domestic supplier, which I adopted successfully for later prototypes.


But when I submitted my small trial run for assembled boards, the quote for the Cypress SRAM by the board manufacturer was just outrageous. At that time, I decided to provide my own inexpensive ICs from my domestic supplier to them for the big run. Beginning of May everything was ready to go, but when I called my domestic supplier to order 200+ ICs, they said they had only 3 ICs left, and wouldn't get any more. :-o


So I looked internationally for alternatives again, and found a cheap drop-in replacement by Cypress using 3V instead of 5V. I ordered some samples, just to make sure that they work flawlessly in my (modified) board. I then ordered the ICs and turned them around to China, which was slightly stupid in hindsight, as their quote for the new ICs probably would have been lower as well.


All these antics took some time, so I will receive my carts a bit later. :skull:


But in addition to replacing the SRAM, I also made two improvements to the latest board. Those are untested, but again, what could possibly go wrong? ;)


I also implemented the help viewer that shows matching help text files ending in .TXT when the user presses AID and <letter> in the menu. Help texts must be DIS/VAR 38 files (in other words, lines must not exceed 38 characters) and can contain up to about 150 lines.


I'll keep you posted on the progress.

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I also implemented the help viewer that shows matching help text files ending in .TXT when the user presses AID and <letter> in the menu. Help texts must be DIS/VAR 38 files (in other words, lines must not exceed 38 characters) and can contain up to about 150 lines.

 

The D/V 38 TXT file routine is a brilliant idea! :thumbsup: But now it has me wondering... would it be feasible or possible to also implement a routine for D/V 78 text files for F18A users?

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The D/V 38 TXT file routine is a brilliant idea! :thumbsup: But now it has me wondering... would it be feasible or possible to also implement a routine for D/V 78 text files for F18A users?

 

I thought about it, but I'll probably have to postpone this until later. Also you need to make sure this is compatible, but two text files is a bad idea.

 

Kudos to sometimes99er for suggesting this originally: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/260917-the-finalgrom-99/?p=3694157

 

I had totally forgotten about his mock up, but I independently picked the 99/8 font as well. :)

 

Edit: corrected name :dunce:

Edited by ralphb
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Late June is no problem! The timing may be fortuitous and help mitigate the dreaded 'summer slowdown'. People are going to be all over this cartridge, so I expect online activity to explode because of it. It may be a decent summer after all! :grin:

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Honestly if you could, please try to keep it mostly SMD. It would be harder to solder, but nothing compared to drilling lots of tiny holes in the PCB (with a hand drill nonetheless).

 

P.S. I doubt it would be hard to make a cassette reader. I made an audio-to-binary converter in C a while back for my T.I. and you could do the same with the help of a MOSFET. I'll test out a circuit and get back to ya

Edited by Gip-Gip
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Hi all,

 

Just declaring my interest in purchasing this card. I've just picked up a t99 from eBay and am looking forward to starting my Texas adventure.

 

I take it the official purchase details will be announced on this thread?

 

Thanks

 

Funkychimp

Edited by funkychimp
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Now, this sounds as though it will be everything I've been wanting my FlashRom99 to do - folders, GROMs. Some sort of way of having the disks that go with the modules would indeed be great if possible. I always found it inexplicable that they bothered producing a command module which appeared to do nothing other than ask you to put the disk in. So everything's on the disk, right? What's the module for? So TI can make me pay for a module?

 

At the least, I should be able to have the accompanying disk stored on the Simm card with the .BIN so I don't have to fish about for 35 year old diskettes :)

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I'm sure the thinking at TI at the time was that requiring both the module and the disk was a pretty effective form of copy protection. You had to buy the module to get the disks, and the disks are useless without the module.

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