Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

SkydivinGirl

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Hey everyone!

I recently picked up a TI-99/4A computer to play around with. Unfortunately, I don't have any way to transfer programs to the system. I've searched the interweb and found some very old information on a Compact Flash adapter that emulates disk drives for the unit but I can't find anything recent. Does anyone know of something that will allow me to emulate a disk drive either through stand-alone hardware or a parallel port interface or something else? I'd love to play around with this system and be able to do more than some basic programming.

I saw a great video on YouTube of someone using their sound card as a tape drive to save and load programs but he used some custom software and doesn't offer it up to the public.

Thanks for your help!

Heather
 

TheCorfiot

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

I'll look into it for you Heather :wink:

Boring Geek Fact alert.

Did you know the TI-99/4A uses the legendary TMS9929 Video processor, first true VDP that had it's own Video RAM (16K) and was used on the British Memotech MTX machines as well as the Tatung Einstein & on the spec sheet for the first incarnation of MSX.
Quite a powerful little Beasty which I am very fond of. :tired:

TC :LOL:
 

Merlin

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

This is going waayyy back, even for me :mrgreen: .....

I might be corrected on this, but I reckon your best bet would be to parnet or sernet the files to the Texas via the I/O ports, similar to the way files could be sent to the Amiga.

I also think DaZZaBoY cut his computing teeth on one of these machines, I get in touch with him and see if he can add any ideas.
 

Justin

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

my 1st "real" computer was a tatung Einstien, i played "Gronks" on it for months!! aahhh happy days (fade to flickering news real with piano soundtrack) :sigh:
 

SkydivinGirl

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

@TC & Merlin

My Heros! :inlove:

I appreciate any information you can provide.

@TC

I did not know that about the video processor. Off to Google I go to get more info! :-D

@JuvUK

I've never heard of one of those. I see more Googling in my future!

@imnogeek

I had not seen that FAQ. Thanks! Unfortunately, it looks like they are talking about transferring files through terminal software. Of course, I have nothing from which to load the terminal software so I'm outta luck. :) I would like something more like a disk drive emulator like the XA-1541 for the C64.

Thanks!!!!
:yourock:
Heather
 

Merlin

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imnogeek

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

OK SDG I looked harder and found this interesting article which goes through some of the options http://www.fabbnet.net/ti99.htm & http://www.fabbnet.net/delphi.htm
In any event, there are reasons for wanting to transfer data and text between a PC and an old TI-99/4a system, including document recovery and (even) grabbing material for web pages like this one. Without a true networking option, the TI99 - PC connection today boils down to two major options.........

some software http://www.99er.net/sftware.html

Just a thought but would it be easier to transfer between the Amiga and the TI, rather than using a modern PC
 

davideo

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

Start of history lesson :laugh:

More years ago than I care to remember I used my Miggy to store and load programs for my UK101 through the RS232 connections.

The UK101 used to save and load to a tape through the RS232 port at an original paltry 300 buad. A mod would let you double this upto 600 baud.

I wrote a program in Miggy Basic to read this port and save them as text files. That I could then write back out and load onto the UK101 and run it just like a tape load. Without all the hassle of tapes going bad!!

OK - end of history lesson :laugh:

Dave G 8)
 

Merlin

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

Heather,

Sorry, but it's 'Captain Obvious' time again.... just what have you got with the TI99/4A? Just a power supply and a TV lead or do you have some system software and a cassette drive? It helps when we know what we are working with.
 

SkydivinGirl

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

@Merlin

Thanks for the Einstein link! It looks like a very interesting computer. It would probably be a lot of fun to play around with an emulator for it.

To answer your question: I have just the base machine with no additional hardware. I can easily build the cassette adapter for the system but I do not have one as yet. In lieu of a disk drive emulator, I really think using the PC's sound card as a tape drive would be the best way to work with the machine but it would need some custom programming to convert programs to an audio file and record the audio when saving from the TI.

@imnogeek

Thanks for the articles. It seems he had some frustrating times with the TI as well. I know there has been the one project for the CF Drive Emulator I mentioned earlier but it seems to be discontinued. I'll have to see if there has been any kind of Miggy software that will fulfill the role.

@davideo

For all I know, the TI could be doing the same thing. I may have to end up digging into the communication protocol to find out. However, that may be a bit beyond the scope of what I really wanted to do with this machine. I may just have another nice museum piece and have to play around with the OS in an emulator. :(

I'll keep looking!

Heather
 

TheCorfiot

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

@Merlin

The Einstein was a nice effort but designed as a serious machine hence the floppy & OS design but using a Gaming chipset, (where have we heard that before :laugh: ) Too expensive whereas The Memotech MTX was a far superior design with huge expansion capabilities but aimed at the right market, I have an MTX that still runs perfectly after a few repairs over it's lifetime (PAL Encoder failure - very common).
Tbh All these platforms were coming out too late in the day what with 16bit just around the corner, at least the TI-99/4A was one of the originals from the classic 1981 era.

Now Heather :shhh:

Regarding Emulation of the TI-99/4A, this is actually a good place to start as you will also find the necessary utilities for converting WAV files to tape files & Vice Versa.
If you can find the Tape files - Convert them to MP3, drop them onto elcheapo MP3 Player and use that as your Cassette Interface....
Works great with my MTX - Acorn BBC - Sinclair ZX, Out of the 3 systems the MTX & ZX rely on the MP3 player as the main file transfer system, the BBC usually using Disc's.

The 99er.net site seems the most up to date with a good emulator too.

@all

Glad too see the ole TMS9929 gave so much gaming pleasure over the years

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TMS9918

Everything you ever wanted to know about it including a linky to the Texas technical spec sheet in pdf format.

TC :mrgreen:
 

Merlin

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

More info..

I asked the members at Vintage Computer Forums about the TI99/4A and this is the reply I got from Mattcarp at the site.

In general, getting files from a PC (or Mac) to a vintage machine is not a trivial task. If you have the right technical skills it's not hard, but if you don't, it will be a challenge. An achievable challenge.

You can move files from a PC to a TI either through a serial port connection, or, by having the PC write a TI disk if it has a 5.25 inch, 360K disk drive. I'll cover the serial port connection since that's the most likely way you would transfer files.

In short, the process is this -
1. Modify the TI file on the PC to add the TIFILES header
2. Connect the TI serial port to the PC serial port
3. Start the communications programs - the Terminal Emulator II cartridge on the TI, Hyperterminal or equivalent on the PC
4. Make sure the communications speed/format settings on the PC and the TI are set to the same values - 2400 bps, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity
5. Start an Xmodem file transfer on both computers

This assumes you have all the hardware necessary to perform the communications:

1. Have the right TI hardware. You'll need a TI with an RS232 card, 32K card, and Terminal Emulator II cartridge
2. Have a null modem cable
3. Have a PC with a serial port (on recent computers without a serial port, you will need a USB to RS232 adapter device)
4. You may need a DB25 to DB9 adapter to connect the null modem cable between the two machines. This just depends on your null modem cable.

Next, you'll need to find the TI-99 emulator software on the web, V9T9. (For example, here: http://www.99er.net/emul.shtml#V9T9)

You won't be running the emulator, rather this package contains a utility, TI2XMDM, which adds the appropriate header to the file you want to transfer to the TI. Sometimes the files you have will already have this header! If you look at the first 128 bytes of the file and see "TIFILES", you don't need to run this utility.

Note- there are a couple special file formats that you might find on the web. This list is not all inclusive, but some of the more common formats:

*.ark - these files are compressed on the TI using a TI file compression program called ARCHIVER. You'll need the archiver program on the TI to be able to de-compress the file after you've transferred it

*.dsk - these are disk images and can be for either the V9T9 or PC99 emulator. On the WHT site there is a PC program by Fred Kaal named TiDir which allows you to examine PC99 and v9t9 .dsk files and to extract individual files on a PC99 or v9t9 disk image and to create individual v9t9 files. These individual files can then be transferred to your TI but do not have a TIFILES header, so they'll need that first. Use the procedure I explained above first.

This message was from my notes from a few years ago, so there may be better techniques...after a quick google search of a few of the main TI-99 sites, I did NOT easily find a good article on this topic...


I hope that this helps you in your quest.
 

SkydivinGirl

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

@TC

I'll keep searching for a program to convert the binaries to an audio file of some sort. I didn't even think about using the MP3 player as a tape drive! That's pure genius! :D I will go to the 99er.net site and do some searching.

@Merlin

Wow! That is excellent information. I really appreciate you tracking that down for me. So, I'm now on a quest to find a couple of those parts that I don't have. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Thanks guys!

Heather
 

SkydivinGirl

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Re: Connecting a TI-99/4A to Modern Equipment

I found a program for converting TI-99/4A Emulator FIAD files to WAV files and vice-versa. The TI-99/4A Cassette to PC Converter looks perfect for transferring software from my MP3 player to my TI-99/4A computer. I just ordered a cassette adapter cable from eBay so I'll test it as soon as I receive the cable. I could have built my own cable but I wanted a high quality cable. I'll let everyone know how it turns out!

:thanks:

Heather
 

mjnurney

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ahhh my first ever computer in '84....

by then the market had dried up and texas had left the market with massive losses, beaten by the mighty C64.

however with only a few hundreds of dollars or a thousand pounds... you could build a comparable system to the C64, which sold for $200 or so...lol

PEB expansion
32k ram add-on
extended basic module
Editor assy module

(sigh i had all these once )

great machine , crippled by texas instruments! , sold at a loss and then abandoned

:-(
 
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