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Lies in the TI Realm

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2 minutes ago, JB said:

I found the biggest lie in the TI ream:

 

"It's cheap to get into the 4a. Systems can be had for pennies on the dollar next to some of the other old computers."

Fast-forward six months and you've bought memory expansion, RS-232 controller, floppy controller some sort of mass storage, a flash cart because you're already sick of swapping between Disk Manager, Editor/Assembler, Extended Basic, and Parsec all the time, and you're wondering where it all went wrong.

 

"Choose life..."

 

You can get into the 4A for around $100 if you shop smartly and consider shipping outside of your expenses.  A nanoPEB runs $69, a console should run $50 or under if you ask around or grab the right eBay offering, and useful carts can often be had for the taking under similar conditions.  Yes, six months later you have your head deeper into the rabbit hole due too power hunger, but if you keep it simple you can stay inexpensive.

 

I have put a lot more money than reasonable into my 4A gear because I just had to have a DSDD floppy controller, and a RAM disk, and a SCSI controller, and a SID card, and put Speech in the PEB, and I needed to have a system on my work bench, and one out in the living room, and one to carry to the Faire and two for VCF, and some, but not all, need an F18A, oh and I want to learn about the P-Code card and OMG A GENEVE, and all the carts I have collected (E/A, XB, MiniMemory, not to mention all the games) well sod that gibs me an FR99 but that is so last month I need the FG99, and and and and and...

 

What I could have done was been rather happy with my console, a nanoPEB, and the few carts I really needed for what I want to do until several years later I picked up my FG99 and called it a day.  Considering I come from a time when all I had was a console, tape deck, a MiniMemory, and a small smattering of game cartridges, I should have been happy with a meager setup and I now make excuses for not paring down my collage.

 

I could have done that.  I should have done that.  But I wanted my 4A to be just like my other obsessions preciouses hobby/hack/play systems: my Commodores and Amigas, both of which I had 20-plus years to build up but a much shorter time relatively for the TI.

 

I am going to "do it right" with my Atari ST: I have built what my granddad had and nothing more.  Filthy hobbitses.

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You know, if we are talking unusual software and hardware...

 

There is a parallel port based adlib synthesizer out there, and there is a parallel port sidecar for the A4.

https://www.serdashop.com/OPL2LPT

 

One could have both a SID, AND OPL2... (Newer version is OPL3!)

 

That would give you SID music, AND FM synthesis. (EG, you could send and play audio samples without playing silly tricks with the 3 channel tone generators. Just write appropriate data to the parallel port. You CAN get the yamaha chip it is based on to play PCM samples if you set the frequency exactly the same as the DAC, then modulate the volume. ;))

Edited by wierd_w

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11 minutes ago, OLD CS1 said:

You can get into the 4A for around $100 if you shop smartly and consider shipping outside of your expenses.  A nanoPEB runs $69, a console should run $50 or under if you ask around or grab the right eBay offering, and useful carts can often be had for the taking under similar conditions.  Yes, six months later you have your head deeper into the rabbit hole due too power hunger, but if you keep it simple you can stay inexpensive. 

I was partially teasing. The 4a cries out a little more for upgrades than some systems, but a naked console is still a good bit of fun. You don't really NEED the expansions unless you're trying to do something more practical than just old game cartridges. But the system makes expanding so tempting!

 

 

I've not ACTUALLY put a lot of money into mine, but... dad did when it was new. It was his system in the old days, and he loaded it for bear while I played games. I just fished it out of the garage and put current through the circuits again, restoring it to screaming jet-engine life(I really should replace the P-Box fan).

 

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I actually got mine because I had never gotten to experience one of these old micros properly.  Sure I could have gone with the C64, but everyone does that.

 

This one uses a standard cassette player (which was a sell-- I am not going to hunt down potentially broken cassette systems for a commodore product.), and cassette media is making a retro resurgence with audiophiles, so they are available inexpensively again. (and thus, practical.)

 

I havent played with my fancy little toy as much as I would like, because the video is currently limited to an RF Modulator... and it has more snow than a blizzard on Mt McKinley.  When my composite cable comes, I will have more fun.

 

The presence of hardware sprites greatly appeals to me. (I am a pixel artist.) I am put off by the limits on the palette (by the stock VDP) however.  I am compelled to get an F18A when they become available again.

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5 minutes ago, JB said:

I've not ACTUALLY put a lot of money into mine, but... dad did when it was new. It was his system in the old days, and he loaded it for bear while I played games. I just fished it out of the garage and put current through the circuits again, restoring it to screaming jet-engine life(I really should replace the P-Box fan). 

 

Learn from my mistakes :)  (though I will not be disappointed if you buy any of my kit when I list it)

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3 minutes ago, wierd_w said:

I am put off by the limits on the palette (by the stock VDP) however.

 

Nah, take it as a challenge!  I have seen some pretty impressive results within the limits of the 9918A.  Case in point: Dragon's Lair.

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11 minutes ago, OLD CS1 said:

 

Nah, take it as a challenge!  I have seen some pretty impressive results within the limits of the 9918A.  Case in point: Dragon's Lair.

Gets away with it by being pretty simplistic in its program code though (It seems to mostly be a video decoder, with some logic for keypress and or joystick movement.)

 

I have a game concept in my mind that would be more like an NES zelda-like, with some interesting game mechanics.  I really need more colors, without going into bitmapped mode.

 

I really need at least 4 colors per char, and 4 colors per sprite.  I could work with that with some grumbling. 1bpp is just.... bleh. Not even fun to try.

Edited by wierd_w

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36 minutes ago, OLD CS1 said:

 

Learn from my mistakes :)  (though I will not be disappointed if you buy any of my kit when I list it)

I have limited room to avoid your route. P-box came from the garage with a DSDD disk controller and a Horizon RAM disk. And I already want a Geneve, though they live outside my budget.

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Oooh, Ebay says my minimemory cart arrived.  I will have to check my mailbox when I get off work in a few hours.

This will make things much less painful for me until I can save up for either a nanoPEB or a TiPi.

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6 hours ago, wierd_w said:

Oooh, Ebay says my minimemory cart arrived.  I will have to check my mailbox when I get off work in a few hours.

This will make things much less painful for me until I can save up for either a nanoPEB or a TiPi.

Not so sure about that. The MiniMemory is rather painful to use with a cassette deck. On the other hand, it's wonderful for learning TMS9900 assembly language using the Fundamentals of Assembly Language Programming book found here: harmlesslion.com/tibooks . That's how I taught myself :)

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The tape indexer is slightly too large to fit inside its teensy weensie memory.

 

Also, battery is dead. (Shocker! /s)

 

card edges are filthy too...

Edited by wierd_w

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9 hours ago, wierd_w said:

Gets away with it by being pretty simplistic in its program code though (It seems to mostly be a video decoder, with some logic for keypress and or joystick movement.)

 

I have a game concept in my mind that would be more like an NES zelda-like, with some interesting game mechanics.  I really need more colors, without going into bitmapped mode.

 

I really need at least 4 colors per char, and 4 colors per sprite.  I could work with that with some grumbling. 1bpp is just.... bleh. Not even fun to try.

I know you said without bitmap mode. But here is a slight improvement:

 

In bitmap tiles, you get a foreground and background color per row.

If you put a sprite on there you get one extra color on all rows. 

But why waste the bitmap capability on background color?

Use the sprite to mask out the background, and use the two bitmap colors as foreground.

 

This only works up to the sprite maximum; and 5 per column is a problem (so you would rapidly cycle through sprites with some flicker.)

But it gave me more color options for characters and monsters in a tile-based RPG.

 

 

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One of the biggest random problems in the TI realm (Chaser2015) apparently has another recent eBay handle Arcadesale695. It bears many (not all) of the hallmarks of Chaser/Cudasales, and even has a couple of items dating all the way back to his VW Beetle collecting days. . .some of the items for sale right now are listed under both handles. . .buyer beware here, as sometimes his stuff is OK, but more often than not, buyers receive a load of scrap bits instead.

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tangentially related, but the extent of my expansion for my 994A was the PEB (with 32k card, RS232 card, disk controller card, and bog standard floppy drive) and a Speech Synthesizer.  I've kept some of the software packages that had nostalgic value to me, but for daily-driving I use my FG99 cart and the peripherals I have.  I don't know at this stage in the game if I'm particularly interested in any 'new' developments simply because the original stuff works for me.

 

It all runs great and looks great, but some days I'm on the fence whether I want to hang on to it because I like using it or try to clear it out in favor of something else.  The nostalgia is pretty strong for me (plus I like the tactile stuff with using it over an emulator), and it'd be a pain in the butt to ship the PEB anywhere.

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On 9/19/2019 at 9:31 AM, wierd_w said:

The tape indexer is slightly too large to fit inside its teensy weensie memory.

 

Also, battery is dead. (Shocker! /s)

 

card edges are filthy too...

 

Replacing the battery is a good beginner soldering project (yep, the battery has a spot welded contact which is in a big solder glob.) You need solder braid at least.

 

Tursi puts a supercap in there instead. I've put in  the coin battery socket on two of mine.

MiniMemory PCB is a robust beast and unique among carts PCBs.

 

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11 hours ago, Ksarul said:

One of the biggest random problems in the TI realm (Chaser2015) apparently has another recent eBay handle Arcadesale695. It bears many (not all) of the hallmarks of Chaser/Cudasales, and even has a couple of items dating all the way back to his VW Beetle collecting days. . .some of the items for sale right now are listed under both handles. . .buyer beware here, as sometimes his stuff is OK, but more often than not, buyers receive a load of scrap bits instead.

This guy presented himself as a private collector when I was last in Colorado Springs and approached him about my extra 99/4A stuff. He is just a price flipper. It looks like he got one of the recent batch of NanoPEB and is flipping it.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, FarmerPotato said:

 

Replacing the battery is a good beginner soldering project (yep, the battery has a spot welded contact which is in a big solder glob.) You need solder braid at least.

 

Tursi puts a supercap in there instead. I've put in  the coin battery socket on two of mine.

MiniMemory PCB is a robust beast and unique among carts PCBs.

 

Oh lordy, yes and yes. I had trouble sourcing CR2430 holders ... should have just gone with lower profile CR2032 conversions.

Profile is too tall to go back in their shells, but I have so many project carts I don't have cases for so what's a couple more.

Haven't tried the CR2032 printable one up on Thingverse yet https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:635231

P1020910.JPG

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I was gonna measure the battery, and make a holder for 2430.  It's the closest match to stock part.

 

I have some nylon loaded in my fdm, which should be fine. Sourcing conductor is what has me scratching my head. Probably gonna have to do surgery on a pop can, then sand the aluminium. Cans have a coating on them.) I would rather use copper sheet, but apparently that's hard to get on my area. 

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19 minutes ago, wierd_w said:

I was gonna measure the battery, and make a holder for 2430.  It's the closest match to stock part.

 

I have some nylon loaded in my fdm, which should be fine. Sourcing conductor is what has me scratching my head. Probably gonna have to do surgery on a pop can, then sand the aluminium. Cans have a coating on them.) I would rather use copper sheet, but apparently that's hard to get on my area. 

That's the nice part - size is given by the part number. CR2430 = 24.5mm x 3mm (225 mAh), CR2032 = 20mm x 3.2 mm (270-290 mAh) 😉

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7 hours ago, helocast said:

Oh lordy, yes and yes. I had trouble sourcing CR2430 holders ... should have just gone with lower profile CR2032 conversions.

Profile is too tall to go back in their shells, but I have so many project carts I don't have cases for so what's a couple more.

Haven't tried the CR2032 printable one up on Thingverse yet https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:635231

P1020910.JPG

hehe, my supercaps didn't fit either, but a little round hole in the top of the shell adds character, says I! ;)

 

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20 minutes ago, Tursi said:

hehe, my supercaps didn't fit either, but a little round hole in the top of the shell adds character, says I! ;)

 

I got a 6V supercap for $6 in the litttle can shape. Have not tried it yet.

 

I tried to find the exact match but I only see this one now:

https://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=G23379

 

It's 0.33 F at 5.5V, which I calculate is about 1% of the CR2430 capacity. I wonder if that will do the job?

 

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1 hour ago, FarmerPotato said:

I got a 6V supercap for $6 in the litttle can shape. Have not tried it yet.

 

I tried to find the exact match but I only see this one now:

https://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=G23379

 

It's 0.33 F at 5.5V, which I calculate is about 1% of the CR2430 capacity. I wonder if that will do the job?

 

I never did any of the math, but my first one was a 0.1F and my current is a 0.22F. The first one I was very curious about and measured it lasting about a week. This one I had to admit I've never tested. ;) I only cared if it could last a few hours or overnight.

 

Remember you have to defeat the battery's diode before the supercap can charge. I just shorted mine. Again, not scientific, I just did it. ;)

 

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I ordered a VIC-20 from Novia Scotia & eBay one time (about 10 years ago).  The pics and seller said it was in great shape.  When it arrived, 11 keys were broken off.  9 of those keys were in the box.  2 never arrived.

 

I called the guy out and he said it must have happened during shipping.  Well, maybe.  But two of the keys were gone before you shipped!  So he lied on the condition beforehand.

 

I got an Atari 800 once that was thrown in a large box with a couple hand fulls of packing peanuts.  Almost every key had fallen off.  Amazingly, I just had to put the keys back on and it was near mint after that.

 

Another thing that bothers me is when I order vintage IC's and they come wrapped in cling wrap, no ESD protection and in a padded envelope.

 

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"Associating our product with Bill Cosby will be good for business"

Spoiler

NOT!

 

Edited by jrhodes
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