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PC to TI99/4A interface?

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In my quest to use as much original hardware as possible when playing all of the games I now have access to from the web, I pose the question -

 

Is there any way of loading TI99/4A ROM files from PC to the TI?

 

I am using one of my PCs as a file server for my C64 and Apple II's, to load flash carts for my CV and Vectrex, plan to start experimenting with downloading cassette images into my Speccy using the soundcard and am building the interface for my XEGS and would love to be able to do something similar with one of my all-time favourite machines.

 

Any ideas out there?

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Is there any way of loading TI99/4A ROM files from PC to the TI?

 

I would think the simplest approach would be to connect a PC soundcard to the TI's cassette port. If you can load and run machine-language code from cassette, you should be able to get a decent data rate by loading a small bootloader at "normal load" speed, and then using the bootloader to read everything else. Not sure what's required to be able to do that, though.

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Is there any way of loading TI99/4A ROM files from PC to the TI?

Not really. There are a number of TI modules that will load using the GPL simulator boot menus (floppies) and a 32K expander and Extended Basic. Not exactly convenient on the requirements side, and I have no idea how/if missing modules could be added. One day I will get around to looking at that stuff ;)

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I have an idea!

 

There's programs to pass disk data back and forth between a PC and 4a.

http://nouspikel.group.shef.ac.uk/ti99/download.htm

Problem is you're pretty much limited to disks. I think we all know you want cartridges.

 

There were cartridge emulators, such as the GramKracker, that substituted for cartriges.

Problem is they were intended to load from floppy disk or original cartridge(yeah, sure, uh-huh...).

 

 

But if you combine the 2... you've just got to find a way to convert the ROM images you have into GramKracker format(or whatever your cart emulator takes). Then copy them to TI disk via the RS-232 adapter. Then load the disk into your cart emulator, and game on.

 

The only problem left now is that GramKrackers and the like are harder to find than, say, RS-232 adapters.

Edited by JB

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I have an idea!

 

There's programs to pass disk data back and forth between a PC and 4a.

http://nouspikel.group.shef.ac.uk/ti99/download.htm

Problem is you're pretty much limited to disks. I think we all know you want cartridges.

 

There were cartridge emulators, such as the GramKracker, that substituted for cartriges.

Problem is they were intended to load from floppy disk or original cartridge(yeah, sure, uh-huh...).

 

 

But if you combine the 2... you've just got to find a way to convert the ROM images you have into GramKracker format(or whatever your cart emulator takes). Then copy them to TI disk via the RS-232 adapter. Then load the disk into your cart emulator, and game on.

 

The only problem left now is that GramKrackers and the like are harder to find than, say, RS-232 adapters.

 

Good luck getting a Gram Kracker. They're pricey beasts if you can even find one.

 

Tempest

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Maybe a relative, like the PGRAM?

 

I admit to being less than familiar with the current market for peripherals.

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Good luck getting a Gram Kracker. They're pricey beasts if you can even find one.

Exactly. I really need to look further into the operation of the GPL simulator.

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The TI-CF adapter has a lot of promise as a disk drive (and furthermore PEbox) 'substitute'

 

I'll be looking into this rather neat item, and I'll post here when I get some results. It is still however only dealing with floppies, and not the stuff that a normal command module needs (GROM/RAM/GRAM, etc). So no loading modules directly to it.

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The TI-CF adapter has a lot of promise as a disk drive (and furthermore PEbox) 'substitute'

 

I'll be looking into this rather neat item, and I'll post here when I get some results. It is still however only dealing with floppies, and not the stuff that a normal command module needs (GROM/RAM/GRAM, etc). So no loading modules directly to it.

 

Now that is a piece of kit that gets me very excited (sad, I know)! Is it available anywhere other than on eBay? It just looks to be a lot of fun mucking around with.

 

From all of the responses so far, it looks as though a Flash Cart would be the only way to modules, that or find every module I want in the "wild". It is just so much easier getting one flash cart by the wife rather than boxes of carts!

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Okay, so I blew off what I was supposed to be doing, and gave the TI99CF adapter a spin. :lol:

 

WOW this thing is COOL! :lust: :D

 

Here's some pics of it. It has a custom ROM onboard that adds a few commands in BASIC for mounting the disk images on the CF to floppy drive 'slots'

 

eg

 

CALL MOUNT(<drive number>,<volume number>)

 

So far everything sees all the supported "virtual floppies" (1-3) on the CF very nicely! Check out that massive Scott Adams Adventure floppy - all of the games on one 'disk' :-o :)

 

Also tested with one of my top five games of all time - Tunnels of Doom. Now you can load the game data to the cart in an instant from CF. Instead of waiting 280 seconds from tape. :lol:

 

post-5887-1160087895_thumb.jpgpost-5887-1160087903_thumb.jpgpost-5887-1160087910_thumb.jpgpost-5887-1160087918_thumb.jpg

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That does look cool! $40 is a good price for a replacement for the PEB. I've got a PEB, but that's a lot smaller, and it would be nice to back up all of my floppies to one single memory card.

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There must be a way to load carts from this thing. In fact, I think emailed the seller/builder of this thing that exact question long ago. I could swear I've seen TI disk files that were cart compilations. They've done it on every other compter system, (ADAM, A8, C64). What about Tigervision carts that plugged into that side port like Miner 2049'er?

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There must be a way to load carts from this thing. In fact, I think emailed the seller/builder of this thing that exact question long ago. I could swear I've seen TI disk files that were cart compilations.

Yes there are a bunch of module dumps on disk - they use the GPL Simulator (which I was talking about above) and require 32K expansion memory and Extended Basic to run.

 

I have a bunch of the module dump disks, but they represent a small fraction of the total modules. When I get time, I'm going to see if there's a way to add modules to the GPL Sim disks, but it would be far better if someone could find the original utility that generated these...

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I thought about getting one of these, but I just don't have room for my TI-99 to be out at the moment. Besides, the PEB is just so cool. What says 80's like a huge metal expansion box? Besides, where else are you going to put your monitor?

 

Tempest

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There must be a way to load carts from this thing. In fact, I think emailed the seller/builder of this thing that exact question long ago. I could swear I've seen TI disk files that were cart compilations.

Yes there are a bunch of module dumps on disk - they use the GPL Simulator (which I was talking about above) and require 32K expansion memory and Extended Basic to run.

 

I have a bunch of the module dump disks, but they represent a small fraction of the total modules. When I get time, I'm going to see if there's a way to add modules to the GPL Sim disks, but it would be far better if someone could find the original utility that generated these...

 

That settles it. Atarimax MUST make a TI-99 flash cart. The people demand it.

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All right, that thing rocks the house. Modern flash cards on a classic computer? I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

 

I demand an SD slot and USB port for the VIC-20! It'd be fantastic for backing up all my old cassette tapes... if any of them still work!

 

JR

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Well, with a little help from an added 32K SRAM:

 

TI.CF.32K.jpg

 

We officially have some CF (GPL sim/disk) based TI99 module goodness. OH YEAH! :lust: :D

 

CF.mod1.jpgCF.mod2.jpgCF.mod3.jpgCF.mod4.jpg

 

COOL!!!!

 

Tempest

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How many games can each disk hold? How many disks can the card itself hold? What are the load times like?

 

Tempest

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Ok I see that there's another one of these up for auction on ebay. I was thinking about snagging it, but I wanted to know more about what it can do. So here are my questions:

 

How many games can the CF card hold? You can get up to 2GB cards fairly cheaply these days, so even with the weird TI sector size one card should be able to hold the entire library. I know Remowilliams got it working with disks and some of the carts that were dumped to disk files, but what about the rest of the library? Could I potentially put the entire TI library (disks and carts) onto one CF card and use this thing to play them all? If I did dump 100+ games onto the card, do they have to be broken up into 20+ disks? I noticed that the simulated disks only held 5 carts or 10 disk games. Is this a design limitation or just that you didn't have any more carts to put onto the disk?

 

Speaking of which, what percentage of the TI cart library has been dumped to disk?

 

Tempest

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Ok I see that there's another one of these up for auction on ebay. I was thinking about snagging it, but I wanted to know more about what it can do. So here are my questions:

 

How many games can the CF card hold? You can get up to 2GB cards fairly cheaply these days, so even with the weird TI sector size one card should be able to hold the entire library. I know Remowilliams got it working with disks and some of the carts that were dumped to disk files, but what about the rest of the library? Could I potentially put the entire TI library (disks and carts) onto one CF card and use this thing to play them all? If I did dump 100+ games onto the card, do they have to be broken up into 20+ disks? I noticed that the simulated disks only held 5 carts or 10 disk games. Is this a design limitation or just that you didn't have any more carts to put onto the disk?

 

Speaking of which, what percentage of the TI cart library has been dumped to disk?

 

Okay, let me see if I can answer some of this without confusing the hell out of everyone. ;)

 

The CF implements three virtual floppies at a time. Each of these three virtual floppies can be loaded with a 'volume' stored on the CF. The volumes are very large (1600 sectors). The number of volumes you can have on a CF depends upon it's size.

 

That being said, you can copy as many 'games' (originally floppy based) as you can fit files per volume, and volumes per CF. For instance, I was able to put all of the Scott Adam's games (a whole bunch of floppies) into a single volume.

 

The only carts that can be run from floppy are on the GPL simulator disks that were previously dumped at some point. The menuing code for each GPL disk is unique to that real floppy. Therefore you can't cram them all onto a single CF volume. I have not been able to obtain any further information about the program that created these GPL simulator disks (as there definitely was an automated one). Therefore even though I have all the module ROM binaries, I cannot create more bootable module disks. As far as the percentage of overall TI modules vs. the number on the GPL disks, it's not so good. There are many missing.

 

The CF load times are extremely fast. My guess is the speed is as fast as the TI is capable of.

 

From the CF manual:

 

The ROM implements the original TI file system. It simulates three disk drives and

multiple 1600-sector “virtual floppies” called volumes. Each volume’s content is similar

to a TI diskette. Each volume is enumerated and is fixed in size. Volumes are “mounted”

into a simulated drive (still called DSK1, DSK2 and DSK3) after they have been

“formatted”. Volume settings are saved on the Compact Flash and are restored each time

the console is restarted.

 

The number of volumes a

compact flash can contain it derived by dividing the size of the compact flash by

819,200. Thus, a 8mb compact flash can contain 10 volumes. Note: the actual

capacity of compact flashes may differ from its published value. The best way to

check is to format the highest number volume the compact flash should handle,

and then mount it and attempt to save a file to it. If an error occurs or if the

console hangs, then the compact flash may have less capacity than it specifies.

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