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fabrice montupet

TI(ny)-99/4A Computer

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A major selling point of any design is capability, the less capable a design is per the original the less likely to sell.

Next is innovation, which means it has to be much more versatile than the original and thus have more options.

 

The SAMS like the F18 MK2 are going to be the new thing to own so make sure you have room for them.

Edited by RXB

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The 32K ROM expansion is a cool feature, but I would still prefer on-board SAMS even though very few programs are actually using SAMS. I have made a few, e.g. Dungeons of Asgard, but for games it's almost always possible to replace the SAMS with a large ROM + clever use of the 32K, and software that require SAMS seems to attract less attention. I don't think we're likely to see a surge in programs using SAMS unless someone either writes an OS or a high level language that supports it seamlessly (i.e. without software having to do its own page swapping).

 

My biggest concern about the Tiny99/4A is actually the 50Hz VDP, because all my software is written for 60Hz.

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Your messages confirm my thoughts. Thank you for your answers.
The goal of this computer is of course to match it with the actual needs. The recent developments about SAMS tend to lead to integrate it on new TI-99 setups.
And, above all, it's for me a fun challenge to study its integration into this small size motherboard. I don't care about commercial considerations.
I begun the new PCB layout. Hum... There are so many components that we will end to not see the PCB anymore :-)

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If you are looking for features to add, I honestly do not know how much interest and software would be developed for the SAMS card. Me personally, if you were going to add more memory to the system, something like a horizon ram disk equivalent with 8 or 16 MB would definitely make things stand out for the unit if it were embedded. The hard part from what I understand would be maintaining memory backup in the event of a power failure. Maybe some kind of rechargeable battery system that plugs into the motherboard so you can isolate the battery and charging circuit away from the main board so you do not clutter it up. Then, another dip switch that enables/disables the "ramdisk" so if a user did not want to install memory expansion, they could opt out of that feature.

 

My 2 cents.

 

Beery

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And, above all, it's for me a fun challenge to study its integration into this small size motherboard. I don't care about commercial considerations.

I begun the new PCB layout. Hum... There are so many components that we will end to not see the PCB anymore :-)

 

I hope you'll remain true to your decision / principle, to use 'oldschool' components only! :-)

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I hope you'll remain true to your decision / principle, to use 'oldschool' components only! :-)

Why??? Why??? What selling point is something that we already have which is 40 years old?

 

What the hell would anyone have for something duplicated that is not up to date?

Not being able to update is then entire reason for the project?

Do we really want a product that has zero use outside what it can not do historically?

 

Basically this is like the Pet Rock argument. You know use your imagination only.

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Why??? Why??? What selling point is something that we already have which is 40 years old?

 

What the hell would anyone have for something duplicated that is not up to date?

Not being able to update is then entire reason for the project?

Do we really want a product that has zero use outside what it can not do historically?

 

Basically this is like the Pet Rock argument. You know use your imagination only.

 

I like Pet Rocks :P They never complain and so easy to please... Isn't our little TI some kind of Pet Rock anyway? We have to use a LOT of imagination to come up with borderline practical real world uses, but it does look pretty cool (silver console only) just sitting there doing nothing :)

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@ RXB: Because, it is what I like. And HackMac well knows my personal interests.
I like vintage components, and this project I always wanted it as a years 80 computer alike. If I want to use modern technologies, I use my Core I5 /Core I7 Mac & PCs. I think that we are not on the same wavelength. You often talk about marketing, supply and demand but my project if only for fun, I am just developing the TI-99 computer that I loved to had when I was young. And if this computer is appreciated by other people, I will be happy to propose it if they want.
That said, I understand your point of view.

@HackMac: Of course! My decision to use 'oldschool' components leads my choices :-)
All the logic of SAMS use old components. The RAM daughterboard will accept 128Kb or 512Kb SRAM chips. Yes, these chips capacity have be unveiled in years 90 but they just brings new capacity of a years 80 technology. So, I will be OK with this slight infringement :-)

 

@BeeryMiller: I thought about integrating Horizon RAMDISK equivalent but I realized the obvious that I had no room on this little motherboard for this. Anyway, a RAMDISK can be installed on a expansion slot.

I have removed the 32Kb RAM expansion and the extra 32Kb EPPROM circuitry and begun the SAMS integration. You can see the new layout of the motherboard. The purple colored chips are for SAMS, plus the expansion slot the SRAM located beside them.

tiny994a-v3-sams.jpg

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The problem is finding a Horizon ramdisk to install. If it had been built in, a big plus. Would have given hard drive like speeds and in my opinion, used more than the SAMS expansion. Nothing wrong, but would have loved the speed.

Beeyr

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I'm working on a layout to reproduce the HRD 4000 boards, as Bud passed the rights to produce Horizons to me before he passed away. That particular problem won't remain a long-term one. :) I really DO like the SAMS integration to the TI(ny) too. It was probably one of the best devices released for the /4A to really unleash the possibility for large programs (the Geneve did this too). Now there are also large-space cartridge boards, but for old-school power, SAMS is definitely a really good choice.

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>Why??? Why??? What selling point is something that we already have which is 40 years old?

 

I'll take that one for a thousand Alex.

 

Why would someone want to program in extended basic when power shell, python, c++ exist? ENJOYMENT!

 

Back in the 70's TI made a device called the University Board. Basically a 9900, some ram, a small monitor in rom and a modified calculator. You would just key in assembly code on the calculator. Would you want to create Parsec? No, but it was pretty fun for learning assembly and testing yourself by writing small programs on paper and getting them to work. So, would I like to have a brand new University board, YEP!

 

Would I like to have a TI(ny)-4a - To write small XB, Pascal, Assembly, Fortran for my own amusement? You betcha.

 

Dan

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@ RXB: Because, it is what I like. And HackMac well knows my personal interests.

I like vintage components, and this project I always wanted it as a years 80 computer alike. If I want to use modern technologies, I use my Core I5 /Core I7 Mac & PCs. I think that we are not on the same wavelength.

Thanks for explaining!

 

That is the reason why I like your projcets so very much. That makes them so unique. And I think, you like much bigger challenges.

 

@HackMac: Of course! My decision to use 'oldschool' components leads my choices :-)

All the logic of SAMS use old components. The RAM daughterboard will accept 128Kb or 512Kb SRAM chips. Yes, these chips capacity have be unveiled in years 90 but they just brings new capacity of a years 80 technology. So, I will be OK with this slight infringement :-)

You'll run into trouble with your available space on the motherbord. I think you have to start to put components on the bottom side of the board :-)

 

I like to know how you decide if a component is a vintage one or not. Is it sufficient when they have a through hole footprint or must they have matching technology (or both)? In my opinion, components would match that criteria when they where available in the 80th or 90th in principle, even if the mounting form and thechnology (and used voltage) vary. Like static CMOS RAM. They exists in principle back the days, but today they can have a much higer capacity, and their mounting form and technology changes. So if you plan to realize some lage memory devices, will you choose such components like a more modern 64 Mbit SRAM?

Or do you recycle all your old Computers at home and take all parts off them and prevent to buy new components?

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Thank you for your interest :)

 

All the IC that I use have been produced during the 80' years. Except one: the SAMS RAM IC. But, as you said, it is just the condensed of this old technology. So it still matches with my motherboard philosophy. Since many years, when I have the opportunity, I buy NOS components. That permits me to repair my old computers with the original components and to play to realize electronic projects for them. Sometimes, I also take rare components on old definitively dead and useless electronic cards. But I really prefer to use NOS components.

 

SAMS memory is now onboard!
I found the room to integrate all the components. Routing manually the traces with so few free space was not easy, but that's done. :-) That said, I had to remove a expansion slot. Of course, It's always possible to put it again but I shoud increase a little the board size and I am not exited about this idea. Maybe I could bang my head to re integrate the removed slot without changing the board size. But I wonder if this is worth. You idea about that?

Here are two views of the motherboard.

tiny994av2_1f.jpg

tiny994av2_1b.jpg

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A precision: The little green card is the SAMS RAM that takes place on a specific expansion slot. It only contains memory chips, all the SAMS logic is on the motherboard.

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Why??? Why??? What selling point is something that we already have which is 40 years old?

 

What the hell would anyone have for something duplicated that is not up to date?

Not being able to update is then entire reason for the project?

Do we really want a product that has zero use outside what it can not do historically?

 

Basically this is like the Pet Rock argument. You know use your imagination only.

I am sort of in agreement with you on this. It is something I have been thinking about recently. "Modern" computers, even some of the oldest, still can take advantage of the latest tech. The only reason vintage computers are not like that typically is only because support was dropped. If TI99 class computers continued, having new motherboards made, new features added, while still natively (even cosmetically) compatible with the earliest variants, would that matter? It seems like a Ship of Theseus issue. OTOH, it is fun to mess with "era specific" hardware, even if "eras" are just a crude discretization of temporal continuity.

Edited by ClockworkHorror
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Why??? Why??? What selling point is something that we already have which is 40 years old?

 

Why? Well, people have hobbies for different reasons. Their motivations may be different and they may have different goals. I'd ask what difference does it make (to us) if he's having fun? I'm actually following his thread with great interest and am enjoying the heck out of it. Sure, I personally prefer to go a different route, just like I'd never put "my" TI in a PC case, but if others want to do that, more power to them. :) :thumbsup: It's all about what makes us happy... it's a hobby, you know enjoyment, it does not have to be practical, rational or even cost effective, that's not the point.

 

I like adding new capabilities to my TI, so I can understand his goal of packing a lot into a small space with period tech. It's bloody cool!

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Welcome back? ...here we go again! :ahoy:

 

Yes, and no. I'm not wanting to be argumentative, and thankfully it's not as bad here as it is in the political realm, but I personally like that people have different opinions, likes and goals, because you never know when something awesome will come about. Just because we don't particularly understand someone, their idea or care for it personally is no reason to publicly discount or denigrate an idea if it does not personally 'float our personal boats. If we all did that, it could be argued that everything going on here could be ragged on by someone and totally demoralize anyone making anything. In the end no one would want to do much and the excitement would slowly fade away.

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Thank you for your interest :)

 

All the IC that I use have been produced during the 80' years. Except one: the SAMS RAM IC. But, as you said, it is just the condensed of this old technology. So it still matches with my motherboard philosophy. Since many years, when I have the opportunity, I buy NOS components. That permits me to repair my old computers with the original components and to play to realize electronic projects for them. Sometimes, I also take rare components on old definitively dead and useless electronic cards. But I really prefer to use NOS components.

 

SAMS memory is now onboard!

I found the room to integrate all the components. Routing manually the traces with so few free space was not easy, but that's done. :-) That said, I had to remove a expansion slot. Of course, It's always possible to put it again but I shoud increase a little the board size and I am not exited about this idea. Maybe I could bang my head to re integrate the removed slot without changing the board size. But I wonder if this is worth. You idea about that?

 

Here are two views of the motherboard.

tiny994av2_1f.jpg

 

tiny994av2_1b.jpg

Fabrice,

You have done a great job here. I believe the extra slot would not have gone to waste, but if it can't be placed on easily, not a great loss.

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The third slot would have been useful, but not strictly necessary, Fabrice. If someone really does need extra slots, they can always build a daughter board to plug into one of the existing slots that multiplies it to two or more additional slots, raised high enough above the motherboard that the daughter board can be independently supported. . .giving the user a TI(ny) Expansion Box.

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Thank you!

Building a daughter board is a solution but it will increase the size of the computer, I want to keep it as tiny as possible.

OK friends! I listen to your message! I have to put back the third expansion slot :)

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I resume the features of the TIny-99/4A v2:

TMS-9900 @ 3 MHz or 3.58 MHz
RAM: 32 Kb
SAMS RAM: 1Mb, up to 4 Mb
Internal GROM: TI-Basic
VDP TMS-9929A + 16 Kb VRAM (double VDP extension planned, a protoboard tested OK)
RGB video output + pots for colors adjustments
Real Time Clock (MM58167)
Speech Synthesizer CD2501/TMS-5220
Extended keyboard - 74 mechanical keys
Joysticks ports (Atari type)
Onboard TI Joystick connector
3 slots for PEB cards
Cartridge connector
Optionnal tape controller.
Form factor: ATX compatible (size & holes) 8.54" x 9.88"

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