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Posted (edited)

Yes, it's another "please help me with old hardware" thread from me.  Hopefully someone here can be helpful. 

 

So, I have long had an interest in the TI99, and have made a few threads about it before.  A few months ago though I decided to finally take the plunge and buy a PEB instead of only having the base computer with a tape drive.  I thought about getting a modern nanoPEB sidecar thing, but... I want to be able to use real disks.  (I got a collection of most of the issues of 99'er/Home Computer Magazine cover disks a few years ago, I want to use that stuff on a real system.  I've got volume 2 issues 1 to 13 and volumes 4 and 5 disks 1 to 5 or 6, which seems to be all of the disks apart from the six disks of volume one, which I do not have?  What happened to volume 3, were there no disks at that point or something?  I know the magazine apparently changed names, but that's odd.)

 

So, late last year, I got one.  These things are expensive.  It came with the card with the "firehose" cable and some untested disk drives, but didn't come with a disk controller or 32K card, so it wasn't tested to actually fully working status.  I should have known better... argh.  I got a disk controller on ebay in December.  It's a regular single density only one.  I didn't get a 32K card because I wanted to get a SAMS, but I missed my window on those -- they sold out on Arcade Shopper, and still have not come back into stock.  Frustrating, I hope he gets more chips so I can buy one.  After doing some research I concluded that the thing should work without 32K, for testing it and regular Basic programs and such, before I got a RAM expansion.  This PEB is the first model, with the push-button power switch and the fuse on the back. 

 

However, it didn't work.  The PEB turns on when you hit its power button and the fan whirs up, and the light on the card connecting the PEB to the TI99 lights up when I turn on the computer, but nothing else happens, I can't get it to see a disk at all.  Drive-wise, the only thing that happens is the red light on the drive blinks when you turn off the power to the PEB.  That's it.  I suspected the disk drive or controller, or thought that maybe you actually do need a 32K card?  There isn't much out there I can find about using a PEB with no RAM expansion card.

 

Additionally, this PEB came with several disk drives.  First, there's the regular full-height SSSD drive that came with the PEB.  This disk drive, while functional, has a broken front latch -- the two round parts that hold the latch onto the bar that holds disks down into the drive are broken.  You can use the drive if you are very careful when putting disks in or out, but it's annoying.  The seller included two other 5.25" disk drives with the system as well.  They came, oddly, in the metal sheath that goes around the disk drive in the TI99 PEB.  It's not the one from this PEB, though, that one's in the system. Also, both drives' jumpers were set to 1, not 0 like you would need to to use one as a first drive on a TI99 (as I believe the research I did here says), so I don't know if these were actually used on this TI99 or not.  I tried them singly and can't get either one to work on the TI99, which is annoying.  I mean, it's great that the SSSD drive works, but at minimum I'd like double sided support!  Anyway, of these two drives, one is a Newtronics D509V and the other a Fujitsu M2551A.  The Fujitsu drive sounds like it's kind of trying to work, but makes loud squeaking sounds; it probably needs to be taken apart and greased or somesuch.  The Newtronics (Mitsumi) drive doesn't get past just lighting up the light for a moment, at least as far as I got; maybe I should test it again. I found an old table on this website about TI floppy drive compatibility, but I think both of these drives had a ?.  Hmm.  I still haven't gotten around to testing them on my older PC to see if they work there or not; I will try that soon and report back.  It'd be great if there was a way to use these drives on the TI99 so I don't need to buy even more floppy drives.  Or maybe just having a SSSD drive along with a TIPI would be okay?  I'm not sure.  That depends on how many disks for this system need double density or double sided drives, probably... which I know is some.

 

But anyway, the main issue is that on this PEB I can't get disks to work at all.  It's kind of a problem.  Maybe there is a power issue?  I mean, the power supply turns on, but maybe some power rail is faulty or something?  Or maybe there's an issue in the board connecting the expansion slots, even though nothing looks wrong from the outside?  Those are my only two guesses, though I am most certainly not an expert.  I'd really like any suggestions that might help bring this PEB back to life. 

 

 

But at an impasse while still wanting a working PEB, earlier this month, I... spent a whole bunch of money again and bought a second PEB.  This time, I got a tested one with a 32K card and a CorComp RS232 serial card, along with a disk drive and controller.  The disk controller is another regular single density one I'm pretty sure, but otherwise this one does indeed fully work, thankfully.  However, this is the second model of PEB, the one with the fuse inside of the power supply.  Given that, I'd far rather use the first model one if I can... but I can't, because, again, it doesn't work.  I have spent a while testing parts, and all of the cards I have work fine in the model two PEB, but don't work on the model one one.  So that's good news for that first disk controller I bought, and also the floppy cable I got; they do indeed work fine, I just didn't know it because something else is the issue on that first PEB.  This disk drive is fully working too, with no issues... but it's also one of the regular full height Shugart SSSD drives, meaning no double sided support for me.  Bah. I will use this PEB for now despite that, of course, though I'm not thrilled about that fuse inside the power supply.  This PEB is missing one of the five feet from the bottom of the case too, while the first one has all of them.  Does anyone have any ideas for repairing the other one?  It's probably a power supply issue I will be unlikely to be able to fix, but I'd love to hear any suggestions.

 

(A few years ago, I made a thread asking about what could be wrong with what was then my only working TI99.  Someone here suggested that it might be the video chip, the 9918ANL.  I took a ridiculously long time to actually get around to trying to fix the issue, which is why I didn't respond to that post, but I finally did get a new one some time ago and yes, that was the problem.  I swapped that chip and the system works fine now.  While I was at it, I looked through my extra TI stuff and found... I had an Alps keyboard for the TI, probably the best kind.  It had been sitting around loose for many years so I wasn't convinced it would work, but it does!  After switching keyboards all of my failing key issues went away.  I should have done that years ago, I've had that keyboard for a long time... heh.)

 

Tests I've done:
- Try all cards [system connection, disk controller, 32K] on both PEB's (except for the RS232 card since I haven't used it yet; its light turns on though so it probably works?).  They all work on the second model PEB but not the first one.
- Try both of the full height disk drives on both PEBs, and both disk drive cables as well.  Same results -- all work fine on the model two one, nothing other than a momentary power light blink when you turn off the PEB power on the first model one.
- Try those other two disk drives - no function (so far anyway) on either PEB.
- Try several power cords for the TI99 and PEB, and two different TI99 computers.  Same results either way.  The issue isn't on the TI99 side, I don't think.

 

But anyway, my questions.
1. What could be wrong that is causing the first system's inability to see that a disk drive is attached to the system?
2. Does anyone know if there is any hope of getting those two higher density floppy drives working on the TI?  Or do I need different ones?
3. What I have is great, but I'm just wondering, is there any timetable for if SAMS cards will become available for purchase again somewhere?  (I have Realms of Antiquity, it'd be cool to be able to play it on real hardware if I get a TIPI...)

 

Whether or not anyone can help with any of this, I am pretty glad to have a fully working TI99 PEB with 32K and a (single sided single density) disk drive, it's pretty cool.  There's some interesting stuff on these magazine disks.  I have been trying some of those disks, they all seem to work fine, surprisingly enough!  I don't really need two PEBs though, one is fine... one fully working one, preferably the first model.  I don't usually sell anything but I do NOT need as many TI99 computers and PEBs as I now have... heh.  If both PEBs worked, that is.

 

Oh -- I now have Extended Basic and Disk Manager II carts.  I don't have Editor/Assembler though.

Edited by A Black Falcon

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7 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

I suspected the disk drive or controller, or thought that maybe you actually do need a 32K card?

Use of disks does not require the 32K expansion, no.

 

 

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You don't give a lot of details on the errors you get and what you are trying to it's difficult to guess.. but the first thing I'd say is check the voltages on the floppy power connector as they are the easiest to check.

 

Make sure there is 5v on one side and 12v on the other.  Ground being the 2 center wires. 

floppypower.jpg.94c7c54ea4d7fcfceea8860cd3337fac.jpg

If you don't have a multimeter they are available at the local harbor freight 

 

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On SAMS cards--I'm the guy who usually builds them for Arcadeshopper--but I haven't had much in the way of hobby time since November. I actually have a dozen boards mostly built--but I've run into some component issues on them that I haven't had time to run to ground yet.

 

One note on the two types of PEB. Both of them have TWO fuses. The early ones have a fuse in an obvious fuse holder, and a not-so-obvious fuse deep inside the transformer windings. The later ones have a not-so obvious fuse holder on the back (the square plate that lets you select voltages is also a fuse holder) and the aforementioned fuse in the transformer. If the fan works, the main fuses on either model are good.

 

On the rest of the PEB, the transformer fuse controls the application of power. Since you have mentioned that the Flex card lights up yellow when you turn on the system and that the original disk drive will light up (and operate?) tells me you are getting power to the bus. Have you tried to put the other Flex cable card in the older model PEB? Everything you have identified as symptoms so far tells me that there are potential problems in that card or its cable. There are buffer chips at both ends (in the cable foot and on the card), and your symptom may be a bad 74LS245 at either end. You could also have broken wires in there or even shorted/broken pins in the foot connector.

 

Good news is that most of your PEB is definitely functional.

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You mentioned the drive select pins. 0 is DSK1. If set to drive select 1 it becomes DSK2 and DSK3 would be drive select 2.

 

SSSD is the standard for commercial software, DSSD is also used but I'd guess far less often. DSDD would be used by those owners that have one of the few controllers that can handle it, mostly for their own collections.

 

 

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30 minutes ago, Ed in SoDak said:

DSDD would be used by those owners that have one of the few controllers that can handle it, mostly for their own collections.

Basically all controllers except for the standard TI controller: Myarc (HFDC, DDCC1), CorComp (various kinds), BwG, ...

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Yeah, I misstated on that. TI with only DSSD is in the minority of available cards, but what's in most people's PEBs? Or, more to the point for a new user, what format is used for most software distribution?

 

I'm out of touch, having made all my software purchases back in the day when SSSD was the baseline norm.

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TI disk controllers far outnumber all others in the wild. The people who bought the larger capacity controllers knew what they were doing and tended to keep them.

 

I've personally never seen the others, except in other people's systems and jealously guarded ;)

 

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I know, I was pretty surprised to learn that the standard TI controller was so popular. When I got one of these DSDD controllers back in those days, I seem to remember that I actually did not even wait that my original TI controller broke; I eagerly did the upgrade. There may have been differences between the US and Europe and other regions, concerning the availability of third-party controllers.

 

The false assumption that everyone threw out the old controllers is actually the reason why double density is the default choice for new disk images in my TIImageTool.

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Many people complained about the prices for SNUG cards, but SNUG built the very best cards available and I knew if I amortized my purchase over 50 years, it would be a heck of a bargain!

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This should not be understood as blaming anybody, but what surprised me was that there were actually a bunch of third-party cards and gadgets in use, but so many people obviously swore by the original "vanilla" controller (in terms of features). Missing trust in the other controllers?

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5 hours ago, mizapf said:

Basically all controllers except for the standard TI controller: Myarc (HFDC, DDCC1), CorComp (various kinds), BwG, ...

Note: the Percom Data TX-99 is also a single density controller, but it is a sidecar-style device with the drive and the controller in a single case.

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21 hours ago, mizapf said:

This should not be understood as blaming anybody, but what surprised me was that there were actually a bunch of third-party cards and gadgets in use, but so many people obviously swore by the original "vanilla" controller (in terms of features). Missing trust in the other controllers?

They came with the PEB, didn't they?

 

I always wanted an expanded controller, but never had the opportunity to get one. (Cost and availability both featured.)

 

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Could be; at the time most of us got a PEB, there were not really many alternatives. I got my PEB with a TI controller as well, but I remember that the controller was listed separately on the bill. That is, I don't know whether the box was also sold empty.

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On the PEB and cards, it was sold two ways: as an empty box with just a Flex Cable Interface or as a bundle with PEB/Flex Cable, 32K, Disk Controller, RS-232, Disk Drive, and your choice of either Multiplan, TI Writer, or LOGO-II. The bundle came out during the summer of 1983, and was a serious deal when compared to buying the cards, PEB, and the application package separately.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for all of the replies!  I've learned some things from your posts.  It was frustratingly hard to find any mention of using a PEB without the 32K card or some other RAM expansion, so it's good to know that you can indeed do that.  I also did not know that both PEBs have that second fuse inside the power supply.  That wasn't the problem here though, the fans on both have always ran fine.

 

And... I fixed it.  It was such a dumb, simple problem, I should have found it some time ago.  Ugh, wish I'd found the issue before spending a bunch of money on stuff I already have... heh.  (I mean, I did need a 32K card and that second one also came with a Terminal Emulator II cart, the RS232 card that I may find a use for, and the Shugart drive without a broken latch, but that doesn't cover all of the cost...).  But hey, that's how it goes.    This stuff is pretty interesting and I'm glad to have it.

 

So, what did I do today?  First I did some testing.  I tested the flex cable interface cards on both machines again, and they both work fine on the model two system, that was not the issue.  Then I tested the various other cards again, and found that yes, none of them respond at all on the model one PEB, but all work fine on the model two.  I also made sure to test both PEBs on two different TI99 computers, in case something as wrong on the computer's end; it was not.  Then I tested the power rails on the floppy drive's molex connector, as was suggested here.  I have a little calculator-sized Micronta (Radio Shack) multimeter from the early '90s.  The thing still works and registered 11.95 and 4.98 volts for the two rails, only barely below 12 and 5, so that should be fine.  So the drive is getting power, which makes sense -- after all, as I said in the first post, the one thing that the model one PEB WAS doing was that when you turned it off, the drive's access light would blink red for a moment.

 

So, with the problem reduced down to "either something is wrong on the bus connecting the cart slots or inside the power supply but not on the part going to the floppy or flex cable light, and those are not things I would be able to fix with my limited skills at this kind of thing", I looked at the model one PEB's expansion slots again...

 

And saw that one of the empty slots had a pin bent inward, so it was probably touching the pin on the other side.  Apparently this disables all of the slots, shorts them out or something I assume.

 

After snapping that pin back to where it should be with a small screwdriver, now the PEB works great.  Lol.

 

 

Well, I guess I have two working PEBs now.  Yay?  Maybe I will sell one like I was thinking, it's a somewhat valuable thing...  though that broken latch on that floppy drive is a pain to deal with.  If I'm using the Shugart drive I definitely want to use the one with the good latch.

 

As for which one to keep... well, the model one one is missing the power switch -- you just have to push in the button where the switch would be -- but is otherwise fine condition-wise.  Meanwhile, the model two is missing a foot on the bottom (one of the five is missing) and the metal is bent in the bottom back corner by the floppy drive bay.  So, its damage is not as visible but is more annoying.

 

(I also now am up to three fully working TI99 computers.  Yeah, I don't really need three.  I could see keeping a second one as a backup but certainly don't need three.)

 

Oh, here's an interesting thing -- while one of my TI disk controllers is in the regular heavy metal case, the other one is in a very light black (plastic?) case.  Functionally they are the same though.

 

It looks like next I need to try those other two (half height 5.25") floppy drives on my old PC and see if they work there, huh.

 

On 3/21/2022 at 6:00 PM, mizapf said:

This should not be understood as blaming anybody, but what surprised me was that there were actually a bunch of third-party cards and gadgets in use, but so many people obviously swore by the original "vanilla" controller (in terms of features). Missing trust in the other controllers?

As someone who has been checking ebay stuff frequently recently, it is clear that the TI card is what most people bought.  Other companies may have made cards, but they must have had pretty poor distribution

 

compared to TI because their cards come up for sale very rarely.  A DSDD controller card was on ebay recently for a bit over $500.  I thought about getting it, but didn't because of how much I have spent on this already... and yeah, it sold quickly.  Regular TI controllers are a bit pricey, but cost far less than that -- more like $80 to $180.

 

On 3/21/2022 at 12:35 PM, Ksarul said:

On SAMS cards--I'm the guy who usually builds them for Arcadeshopper--but I haven't had much in the way of hobby time since November. I actually have a dozen boards mostly built--but I've run into some component issues on them that I haven't had time to run to ground yet.

 

One note on the two types of PEB. Both of them have TWO fuses. The early ones have a fuse in an obvious fuse holder, and a not-so-obvious fuse deep inside the transformer windings. The later ones have a not-so obvious fuse holder on the back (the square plate that lets you select voltages is also a fuse holder) and the aforementioned fuse in the transformer. If the fan works, the main fuses on either model are good.

 

On the rest of the PEB, the transformer fuse controls the application of power. Since you have mentioned that the Flex card lights up yellow when you turn on the system and that the original disk drive will light up (and operate?) tells me you are getting power to the bus. Have you tried to put the other Flex cable card in the older model PEB? Everything you have identified as symptoms so far tells me that there are potential problems in that card or its cable. There are buffer chips at both ends (in the cable foot and on the card), and your symptom may be a bad 74LS245 at either end. You could also have broken wires in there or even shorted/broken pins in the foot connector.

 

Good news is that most of your PEB is definitely functional.

Thanks for all of this information.  I hope those SAMS cards get finished eventually, I'll need to make sure to not miss the next batch...

Edited by A Black Falcon
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23 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

As someone who has been checking ebay stuff frequently recently, it is clear that the TI card is what most people bought.  Other companies may have made cards, but they must have had pretty poor distribution

That's what I'd expect. The thing is that TI had quite a higher volume on sales than all the third-party sellers. Those advanced controllers usually showed up after TI left the market, around 1985 and later. A lot of stuff remained at its state before, with the classic controller.

 

This is again a sign that the more prevalent kinds of hardware are not necessarily the better ones. As I said above, the original disk controller is inferior in every aspect you can think of, maybe except for quality, as TI hardware was always known for quality and robustness. But the original controller had the weakest WD chip on board (FD1771) only supporting single density, while all other chips from WD offer double density. Hence, all later controllers support DD. Second, many of the newer controllers offered more ROM, organized in banks, and some even buffer RAM. The bigger ROM allowed for integrating useful tools and programs: The Myarc controllers, for example, include the CALL DIR subprogram that list a floppy directory without losing the program in memory. As I mentioned above, I had an original controller at first, but when the better ones showed up, I just invested the money, and it really paid off.

 

I seem to remember that in those years of 1985 and later, many of the popular computer magazines in Germany still showed advertisements for TI hardware and software, and there in particular many kinds of the then available third-party hardware. This is what I meant above; I can only speak for our situation here; in Germany we had the SNUG (system 99er user group), the Wiesbaden group, Atronic, Mechatronic, and some more, and all threw their stuff on the market for those people who stayed with their TI systems. None of them had the chance to offer such a volume as TI did in their active time. And hence, you will encounter masses of original TI hardware on ebay from systems that stopped their evolution after 1983, and only rare occurrences of those third-party cards that were so important for us after 1983.

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On 3/21/2022 at 11:35 AM, Ksarul said:

…On the rest of the PEB, the transformer fuse controls the application of power. Since you have mentioned that the Flex card lights up yellow when you turn on the system and that the original disk drive will light up (and operate?) tells me you are getting power to the bus. Have you tried to put the other Flex cable card in the older model PEB? Everything you have identified as symptoms so far tells me that there are potential problems in that card or its cable. There are buffer chips at both ends (in the cable foot and on the card), and your symptom may be a bad 74LS245 at either end. You could also have broken wires in there or even shorted/broken pins in the foot connector.

 

Good news is that most of your PEB is definitely functional.

I had the same issue with a PEB I bought on Ebay - the disk drive light even came on but I kept getting device errors (x6) and the 32K memory was not found (though the light came on briefly). When I tried my old firehose cable/interface card, everything worked fine. Glad to hear the assessment that it might be one of those chips at either end of the cable. (Then I  managed to fix the existing PEB that my son had started to tear apart after I put it away, including replacing the hidden fuse in the transformer, so I have a spare).
 

Funny thing was that my old firehose (that still works) had had ten years of daily use and moving around, and the one I bought (that doesn’t work) had (according to the seller) never been out of the box that the PEB came from the factory in. I took it apart because people had commented that some of those were assembled poorly, and I did find that a screw that was supposed to ground a voltage regulator wasn’t tightly grounded because it was assembled carelessly. But fixing that didn’t solve the problem so I assume it’s one or more of the depressingly large array of chips in the card or plug end…  there were no visible bent or broken pins or other obvious problems. Who knows what kind of conditions it had sat in for 35 years.

 

I’m one of those people with just enough knowledge to get frustrated when things don’t work, but not enough to fix them, if it takes more than a multimeter and a soldering iron…

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On 3/21/2022 at 11:00 PM, mizapf said:

This should not be understood as blaming anybody, but what surprised me was that there were actually a bunch of third-party cards and gadgets in use, but so many people obviously swore by the original "vanilla" controller (in terms of features). Missing trust in the other controllers?

I can only speak for myself (plus my original TI Disk Controller that is), but I left the TI world on February 1st 1985 when buying an Atari 800XL. When I came back about 10 years later, the TI was no system for daily use but much more a vintage computer with fond memories attached. When I got my PEB later in the nineties it was clear, that I wanted to keep the hardware original. And it took another 20 years and a global pandemic to get really active ob the system, writing TiCodEd, Extended Parsec etc. Until then I went to yearly TI Treffs and played some modules once in a while. @publicarni may confirm ... 😎

 

You wouldn't change the radio in a vintage Volkswagen Beetle to a satelite radio (but perhaps add a second radio in the glove box).

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4 hours ago, SteveB said:

You wouldn't change the radio in a vintage Volkswagen Beetle to a satelite radio (but perhaps add a second radio in the glove box).

In 1994, I put a CD player in the dash of my 1979 Chevy Monza. :D

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Posted (edited)

So, a little update.  First, I got a SAMS from Arcade Shopper recently in one of their restocks.  It's installed and working, which is great, I just need more software for it now.  I don't really have anything right now I can use with it other than Realms of Antiquity, but that'd require a TIPI or two DSDD disk drives and controller to work.  Which I don't have.

 

I have some non-SAMS TI99 disk software, though.  That's pretty cool, and I've been playing around with some of them.  But it'd be great to be able to make my own disks.  From what I've read it is possible, with an older computer, a 360KB 5.25" floppy drive, and the TI99-PC software, but while I have all of those things, I only have one 360K 5.25" drive and it's in my TI99 now.  Taking it out of the PEB and attaching it to my WinME PC every time I want to make a disk would be ... quite annoying to say the least.  That PC does have a 1.2MB 5.25" drive in it (a newer one than either of the drives I describe below in this post), but I guess that wouldn't make compatible disks.   Yes, I know that would be much much easier with a TIPI.  I really should get one of those next, it would solve this problem.  That and a double density disk controller are the two big things I need... and the double density controllers are rare. TIPIs aren't.  A TIPI is surely the best solution to this question, but I'm mentioning the issue anyway.

 

But in the meantime, I put some more effort in to figuring out a bit more about those two old 5.25" disk drives I got with that first PEB, the beige-front Newtronics D509V and the black-front Fujitsu M2551A.  I plugged both drives into my old WinME PC, and they both responded and were able to read PC floppy disks, though the Fujitsu was still making horrible noises while trying to run.  But while looking at it, I realized something... there was a small capacitor bent so that it was touching the spinning platter on the bottom of the drive!  After bending that cap away from the platter, the drive now works perfectly.  It read disks great and doesn't sound any louder than a drive should.  Simple and easy fixes that I don't notice for months are the order of the day in this thread, huh.  Heh.  As for the Newtronics, it also seems to work on my old PC without major issues.  It's a smaller and lighter drive than the Fujitsu.  Looking them up, the Newtronics D509V is a 1.2MB drive, while the Fujitsu M2551A is apparently a 360KB drive.  Based on that I would think the Fujitsu would work better on the TI than the Newtronics, given that the TI doesn't support high density, only double or single, but at least both do work on PC.

 

So, knowing that they both should work on my PC at least, I tried them again on my PEB.  I've gone with the model 2 PEB, tipped up on end and with some pads on the bottom as feet because that fits the space better.  The PEB is working great, SAMS card and all.  Remember I only have the regular single density disk controller, though.  After testing these two half-height disk drives on the PEB, the Fujitsu drive works without any problems, which is fantastic.  At least I now have a DSSD drive in the system now, no disk flipping required unless it's a flippy disk software collection or such.  That's great.  And it's really a double density or higher drive, so it'd support DSDD if I had the right controller card.  However, ideally you want at least two drives in this system.  Some things require two.  

 

However, I've had issues with the Newtronics drive.  When I connect that drive, as the only drive and with the drive select jumper in the 0 position, I can read the disk catalog with the Disk Controller 2 cart.   It correctly shows the disk catalog on screen.  However, when I go and try to load anything, either an auto-boot disk or a disk that doesn't autoboot and you need to load from Extended Basic or such, it doesn't work and just gives error messages every time.  I have never gotten it to load a disk on the TI99.  Does anyone know what could be wrong here?  I just don't know.

 

I have one additional question.  Once I do get it working (or get a different drive that works better with this system instead), I know how to set the drive select jumper in a 5.25" disk drive and have done so with these drives while testing them, but I have no idea about termination power or what that means.  What would I need to do to make both of these drives, or the Fujitsu drive and some other drive that works better on this system, work connected together to my TI99?  Power-wise, I don't know exactly which drives can safely work with just a splitter and not separate power, but if separate power was required I could do that, I don't have a separate molex power supply but could get one.


On an unrelated note, since I have a working PEB this is not particularly important anymore, but I also have a tape cable I got a while back.  I have two tape recorders.  One is a Panasonic one I've had for years.  It does not have a remote jack, so the system can't control it remotely.  Additionally, the counter reset button is broken off and can't be pressed.  The player does work otherwise with the TI99, and I have loaded and saved software using it, but those two limitations are pretty big.  So, I got a TI program recorder, the official one, sometime last year... and while it plays audiocassettes no problem, I have not been able to ever get it to load a program on the TI99, it always fails.  I've tried quite a few different settings for the volume and tone dials on the player, but nothing has worked.  Should I just get another one sometime and give up on this one, or is there anything I might actually be able to do myself?

Edited by A Black Falcon

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On the Newtronics D509V, as noted by you already, it is a 1.2M drive. The TI really chokes when trying to use any 1.2M drive. It is expecting the drive to rotate at 300 RPM (normal for DD drives), not 360 RPM (normal for 1.2M drives). That introduces all kinds of uncertainty, even without the difference in track width, the fact that you would have to double-step the heads to get an appropriate track geometry, and differences in the coercivity of the media.

 

On older drives, the original single-sided TI drives will also work as DD drives with an appropriate DD controller. Using them that way increases their formatted capacity from 90K (SSSD) to 180K (SSDD). As you have already discovered, the DSDD 360K drive will format nicely as a 180K DSSD drive. DD controllers are a bit HTF, but they do turn up somewhat regularly.

 

Not sure what to say on the cassette deck. I've never had one do that. You could try cleaning the heads though, as it is possible the head is gummed up enough that it isn't passing enough of a signal to the TI.

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3 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

I have some non-SAMS TI99 disk software, though.  That's pretty cool, and I've been playing around with some of them.  But it'd be great to be able to make my own disks.  From what I've read it is possible, with an older computer, a 360KB 5.25" floppy drive, and the TI99-PC software, but while I have all of those things, I only have one 360K 5.25" drive and it's in my TI99 now.  Taking it out of the PEB and attaching it to my WinME PC every time I want to make a disk would be ... quite annoying to say the least.

 

Rube Goldberg Approach for TI File Transfer in a Pinch (STEPS 1-5 ONLY NECESSARY THE FIRST TIME):

(requires XB, RS-232 card, a "straight-through" serial cable, cassette cable, and possibly a USB-to-RS232 adapter)

  1. Download MagicFM, a file transfer program written in XB, available on WHTech and elsewhere (Note 1, see below)
  2. Use Fred Kaal's Ti99Dir to extract the LOAD and MAGICFM files from the above disk image to a directory on your PC (Note 2)
  3. Use CS1er to convert the extracted LOAD and MAGICFM files (they're in FIAD format by default) to .WAV format
  4. Connect the TI to a PC/smartphone with the cassette cable. Start the TI in XB
  5. Play back both of your converted .WAV files, one at a time, load them on the TI, then save them to a blank disk, once again as LOAD and MAGICFM. You now have an auto-booting MagicFM disk.
  6. Connect the TI to your PC via a straight-through serial cable (a null modem cable will NOT work), using the USB-to-RS232 adapter if necessary
  7. Reset the TI with the XB cartridge & MagicFM disk still in
  8. Transfer files (in TIFILES format) as needed with XMODEM mode in your PC terminal emulator of choice

NOTE 1: Arcadeshopper already has a MagicFM disk in stock, which saves an incredible amount of hassle

NOTE 2: Several members have reported success transferring MagicFM from an emulated TI (MAME) to a real TI over RS232, rather than using a cassette cable. I was never able to get this to work, however.

NOTE 3: Getting an HDX or TIPI will save you an even greater amount of hair-pulling. The most difficult part of the above method is finding the right terminal settings to use on the PC side by trial-and-error. If you're doing this on a semi-modern Mac, be prepared for a USB-to-RS232 driver nightmare.

 

The above mess is how I prepped my TI for file transfer when I first got my PEB. I'm drawing this from several-year-old notes, and posting it here mainly in case future passerby already have most of the above hardware and want to transfer files with the least additional expense possible.

 

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Oh, yeah, and on writing TI disks using a PC with a 5.25/3.5" floppy drive: I've tried three different PCs manufactured between 1991-1999, and not one of them had a floppy controller capable of writing the SD disks required by the stock TI disk controller. AFAIK standard density/FM encoding was never really a thing on the PC, as such YMMV.

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