Frequently Asked Questions

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This FAQ page is currently being reorganized after moving from another web site into ninerpedia. Most parts are not properly formatted, duplicated, or need to be put together.

Contents

Getting started

How can I expand my TI-99/4a?

The simplest of expansions included joysticks, the speech synthesiser and the cassette recorder.

The speech synthesiser, when used with programs that take advantage of it, is used to create/simulate human speech. Parsec is a very famous program for utilizing the speech synthesiser. The cassette recorder allows you to store and retrieve data from standard audio cassettes. The next major upgrade for the TI-99/4a is the addition of the Peripheral Expansion Box, or PEB for short. This is a large rectangular box that has 8 slots for plug in cards as well as one 5.25" full height drive bay. A standard/stock PEB would have flex cable to connect to the TI, a 32k memory card for larger programs, and RS232 card for communications, a Disk Controller to access drives and a standard 5.25 SSDD floppy drive (180k). There are lots of other additions for the PEB. The following is a run down of the most famous upgrades:

  • DSDD Disk Controller - to support DSDD 3.5" or 5.25" drives.
  • DSDD Drives - for the DSDD controllers
  • Corcomp Triple Tech - a clock, printer buffer and speech synthesiser (all in one)
  • Myarc HFDC - support for an MFM hard drive
  • SNUG SCSI - support for a SCSI drive
  • Expanded Memory - cards with more than 32K of memory
  • P-Code - support for USCD Pascal
  • Rave99 Speech - allows you to plug in your Speech Synthesiser in the PEB
  • Myarc Geneve - essentially a replacement system

How do I run programs from a diskette or cassette?

Programs will be either TI BASIC, Extended BASIC (XB) or Assembly programs. I will talk about Basic/XB programs first.

Whether they are coming off a disk or cassette you are going to have to load them first and then run them. If you are not sure whether or not it is a Basic or XB program, give it a try in Basic first and if that fails switch to XB.

To load a program from a cassette do the following:

  • Rewind/Fast Forward the cassette to the start of the progam.
  • Make sure the cassette player is attached properly to the TI.
  • In TI BASIC, type:
OLD CS1 
  • If you are controlling your tape manually then hit play.
  • Once it is loaded stop the cassette player.
  • Type
RUN
  • If it doesn't run then repeat these steps with XB instead.

To load a program from a diskette do the following:

  • Start up the TI into Basic with the PEB on.
  • Insert the diskette into a drive (dsk1).
  • In TI BASIC, type:
OLD DKS1.filename 
  • Type
RUN
  • If it doesn't run then repeat these steps with XB instead.

Now on to Assembler programs. Since a pre-requisite for E/A on the TI is a disk drive and 32k memory I'm going to assume you have a PEB and this is coming off a diskette.

To run and Assembler program from diskette do the following:

  • Start up the TI with PEB and the E/A cartridge.
  • Insert the diskette into the drive (dsk1).
  • Go into the E/A Module (#2)
  • Choose "Run Program File" (#5) from the menu.
  • Type in the filename:
DSK1.filename

Of course there are other ways to get things launched but this covers the basic methods you will need to know.

I want more than the minimum TI, what would a more complete system consist of?

Here is what I would view as a more functional system. The key part of this system is its ability to connect to a PC so you can transfer files from the Internet, to the PC and then to the TI.

  • TI-99/4a console with power supply
  • TV and RF Modulator or a Composite Monitor and cable
  • PEB with 5.25" floppy, 32K RAM, Disk Controller, Flex Cable
  • Speech Synthesiser
  • Parallel Printer and PIO cable
  • Extended Basic, Editor/Assembler and TI-Writer cartridges
  • Barry Boone's Archiver program
  • MagicFM transfer program
  • PC with WinTerm and a straight thru serial cable

Is there a glossary of terms for the TI-99/4a?

Originally there were some entries in this FAQ that contained glossary terms and definitions. It looked a bit awkward so a text document was compiled. The location is no longer available. Watch this space and some kind person will put an active link here either to an external glossary or to an article on this wiki!

What are the minimum components I need to play around with the TI-994a?

Luckily enough it has gotten to the point where you do not need any original TI equipment to play around and even develop on the TI-99/4a. You can use emulation software like PC99 or MESS.

Assuming you cannnot or don't want to use emulation software, you will need the following:

  1. TI-99/4a console with power supply.
  2. A composite video monitor and cable for the TI or the RF Modulator and a TV.
  3. TI Cassette recorder and cable - to save and load programs.
  4. Some TI cartridges (games, programs and such)

Why would I even want to use a TI?

Most people that are still using TIs are folks that have owned one all along or are coming back to it from days long past. But what about people who never used it before? Is there any value in using it?

Here are some reasons I could imagine the TI being useful:

  1. Kids and education titles. There are great number of educational cartridges available for the TI that would be great for younger kids.
  2. Hardware and low-level programming. If you want to learn about working with hardware or programming at low-levels the TI is a good stepping stone. While not a simple machine it is not too complex when trying to start out learning.
  3. Electronics and project work. You can use the TI to teach yourself the fundamentals of electronics includng circuit board design.

While I can't imagine too many people trying and picking up the TI if they never owned one, it's still nice to know that there are useful tasks for the TI.


Cassettes (not cartridges)

See the section on cassettes.

Disk controller and drives

As for information about diskette handling, please refer to the diskettes section.

Can I modify the TI Disk Controller to support 80 tracks?

Yes. There are two great sources of information to perform this modification and both are on Mainbyte.com. You can find information on the actual upgrade, including photos and diagrams at the following link: http://mainbyte.com/ti99/upgrade/upgrade.html. If you would like to perform the upgrade and want to purchase the EPROMS, you can get those from Bob Carmany. For more information please visit the following link: http://mainbyte.com/ti99/store.EPROMS.html

Can I use a Combo 5.25 and 3.5 drive with my TI system?

The short answer to this question is no. The longer answer is along the lines that these are both HD drives which are compatible. The drives operate at 360rpm and the TI needs 300rpm. The line that manages the speed is twisted between the drives and this causes complications. Don't try it, it's not worth it.

How do I get a floppy drive for my TI system?

The easiest and most common method is to purchase a Peripheral Expansion Box (PEB). The stock PEB comes with a single 5.25" full height drive that holds 180K per diskette (Single Sided). Inside the stock PEB is also a TI Disk Controller card supports up to four drives.

If you don't want a PEB then you could try and find a Disk Controller that came in other side-car formats. TI made an external disk controller that is the roughly the size of the cassette player and plugged into the side port of the TI. Then you would get an external floppy drive to use with it.

How do I connect a 3.5 drive to my TI?

Drive Number Modern 3.5 drives do not have a jumper to set the drive number. By default these drives are coded to be B: on PCs which equates to DSK2 on the TI. You can modify a Floppy cable to hardwire and override the drive number.

To make the drive DSK1 you would cross the #10 and #12 wires. To make the drive DSK3 you would route the #14 wire to the #12 pin and drop the original #12 wire.

A picture of this can be found on Ron's Mainbyte site at: http://www.mainbyte.com/ti99/hardware/cables/35drive.html Drive ConnectorThe TI disk cables have card edge connector while 3.5 drives have pin connectors. Purchase a 3.5 to 5.25 adapter kit for cheap off of eBay and make sure it has a card-edge connector. These kits should be less than 5.00.

What are my options for upgrading the disk drive in my PEB?

The standard PEB comes with a full height, 180k 5.25" floppy drive. This is a Single Sided, Double Density (DSDD) drive. The typical questions are either "can I fit two drives in the system" or "can I use a drive with more capacity".

There are three major constraints you have to work with when answer these questions; power, controller, compatibility. Power is important due to what the standard PEB power supply can provide. The controller is important because it has to support large capacity drives. Finally there is compatibility that certain drives have to operate at certain speeds.

On Mainbyte.com there is an upgrade project where you can upgrade the power supply from 12V 1A to 12V - 2A. If you are running into power problems then this is your answer. The upgrades can be found at: http://www.mainbyte.com/ti99/upgrades.asp

To use the higher capacity drives you will need a disk controller that can support it. If you have a Myarc or Corcomp disk controller then you are set. If you have a TI controller then you will either need to replace it or upgrade it. Once again the upgrade page at Mainbyte.com has information about performing the 80 track upgrade for the TI controller. Also, there is an entry in this FAQ for it as well.

I also started to find drives in older computers systems that had internal floppy drives. For example, I found an old Kaypro 2X which has (2) half-height drives that are 360 or DSDD for about $15.00. It had a broken screen so I gutted it for the drives.

No matter what you choose you will only be able to use either SSDD (180k) or DSDD (360k) drives. Do not even try using a 1.2mb drive, it will not work. Also, you can skip the idea of using a Combo drive that has both a 3.5" and 5.25" drive in it. Combo drives are all 1.2mb and they don't work with the TI.

Cartridges

See the section on cartridges.

Emulation

See the section on Emulators.

Programming

See the section on Programming.

GRAM Kracker

See the section on GRAM Kracker.

SuperAMS

See SuperAMS section.

HSGPL

See HSGPL section.

Resources

Are there any publications for the TI available?

I'm not aware of any publication that is available for the TI. Your best source of information will be found on the Internet, user groups and faires.

I need detailed information regarding the inner-workings of the TI-99/4a for development, where should I go?

I will warn that this information source is not meant to teach, it's meant to present technical facts. If the site of HEX, pin-outs, memory-address, assembler and other mathematical/technical items is scary then don't go here! :)

Seriously, Theirry Nouspikel has a great website that details out the inner-inner workings of the TI system and peripherals. If you are thinking of creating devices, coding DSRs and other low-level stuff then this is the place for you.

You can visit the site at: http://nouspikel.group.shef.ac.uk/ti99/titechpages.htm

If you want a copy of the entire site you can download the following components that make up the site:

1) Webpages: http://www.nouspikel.com/ti99/webpages.zip 2) Software: http://www.nouspikel.com/ti99/softs.zip 3) Pictures: http://www.nouspikel.com/ti99/pics.zip

Is Micropendium still around for the TI?

Unfortunately Micropendium, the last printed publication, is no longer being produced. It was produced for 16 years and played a major part in the continued success for the TI-99/4a computer. If you are lucky enough you have some of the issues in your collection to use.

If you don't then don't worry, all of the issues have been scanned in and are available online at WHTECH. Of course search for a particular kind of article is hard to do and Mainbyte.com has taken care of that too!

On Mainbyte you can access a searchable database that will return you what issues and articles matched your search criteria. Once you know that then you can go to WHTECH and get the issue and even print it out. To access it just go to the following location:

http://www.mainbyte.com/ti99/micro/micro.html

What and when is the Chicago TI Faire?

The Chicago TI Faire is held annually and is usually on or around the first Saturday in November. The faire is held in Evanston, IL and the Evanston public library and is free of charge.

Beyond meeting some the folks in the TI community it is a great chance to see some demonstrations on current TI topics. In addition to this there are vendors present selling a variety of TI hardware/software that ranges from common cartridges, full systems and such all the way up to rarer items like Geneve cards or SCSI cards.

There is typically a get together dinner the Friday before the faire as well as one after. Evanston is just north of Chicago and it makes for a great trip for the family if they want to see downtown Chicago while you are at the faire.

What are my best sources for information regarding the TI?

The most interactive source for the TI is the ti99-4a user group list on Yahoo. It is the most active and many of the most talented TI individuals actively participate.

The next stop for information is websites. You will find a lot of information if you know where to look.

If you are looking for software, the holy grail of sites is WHTECH. You can find publications, pictures, manuals and software for the TI there. It can be accessed at: ftp://ftp.whtech.com

Stephen Shaw has put his book and a lot of TI articles on the web at http://shawweb.myzen.co.uk/stephen/TI.htm

User groups are a great source if you are fortunate to be near an active group. For example, Chicago still has an active user group.

Last but not least are the TI Faires. Each there is one Europe called TI-Treffen and one in Chicago. These are great places to meet other TIers, trade information, stories and even purchase/sell equipment.

What are the various awards given out in the TI community?

There are (4) major awards in the TI community and each one addresses specific contributions. The awards are as follows:

Birdwell Award - a yearly community service award where the plaque is funded by fairware funds from the Birdwell DSKU proceeds.

Jim Peterson Award - covers (4) categories of contribution to the TI community: Community Service, Hardware, Software, Myarc 9640 Geneve.

TI-99 Hall of Fame - recognizes those who have contributed to the success of the TI.

Rob Tempelmans Plat Award - yearly award to honor those with the best website for the TI.

What is the best way to store diskette based software for safe keeping and preservation?

I treat my diskette and cassette software collection like I would comic books. I store them in acid-free zip-lock baggies. Another step that I take is to put a silica-gel packet in each baggie to absorb moisture.

Everytime I purchase something and it has a silica-gel packet, I save it in seal-tight container. If you need a lot then head on over to eBay. I purchased a bag of 200 for a couple of dollars.

Beyond this, I can't think of much more you can do besides keeping the stuff in a climate controlled area but that's a bit overboard for most folks.

Where is the SNUG website?

You can find the snug website at: http://home.arcor.de/system-ninety-nine-user-group/index.htm

Because it's in German a little bit of help is offered. Click on the translate to English link on the bottom right.

Who's who

Barry Boone

See Barry Boone

Laura Burns

See Laura Burns

Software

Is there any software that can help someone learn Morse Code?

There is an XB listing of a morse code trainer in Micropendium; April 1990 - Vol 7, Number 3 - Page 14.

The book "Programs for the TI Home Computer" by Steve Davis has a programmed listed on page 72.

The book "Learning TI/994A Home Computer Assembler Language Programming" by Ira McComic has a source listing of a program on page 203.

Answers were pulled from Yahoo List (R.Reuter, J.Groslouis)


Can I use the Course Designer Authoring System without a Video Controller peripheral?

Yes. You can actually play around with the software except for funtions that required communication to the Video Controller.

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Ben Yates, Bill Gaskill)

What are ARK files?

ARK files are compressed archive files that are like today's modern ZIP files. They were created by Barry Boone's ARCHIVER program. You will need this program to create and extract these files.

What is a DF80 file?

DF80 is a Display, Fixed length, 80 character file. Display means the characters can be displayed, but does not mean the data is in human readable format. Fixed length means that every line of the file has a set length. 80 means that the set length of every line is 80 characters. Data that does not go up to 80 characters gets padded with blanks or zeros. Random access is faster when working with DF80 files.

What is a DV80 file?

DV80 is a Display, Variable length, 80 characater file. Display means the characters can be displayed, but does not mean the data is in human readable format. Variable length means that each line of the file can varying lengths (like a paragraph). 80 means that the maximum size of any line is 80 characters.

What was the last version of TI-Base?

As shown in Micropendium, the last version was 3.0.? It is available on WHTECH in the PC99\utils folder. The full address is: ftp://ftp.whtech.com/pc99/utils/tibase.dsk

Where can I get a listing of cartridges for the TI?

There are a couple of lists floating around the internet that are useful. Brian Roppolo's list is great in that it has the most complete and up-to-date information regarding entertainment cartridges. There is also a list that focuses on all cartridges, including information from Brian's list and it is available at: http://www.ti-994a.com/wiki/pmwiki.php/TI/L001-Software

PC Communication

What is the "PC Communication" category for?

This category was added to document questions and answer on how to have your TI computer talk/communicate/transfer information to and from a modern computer. Most of the discussion will revolve around an IBM compatible but references for either Linux or Mac based machines will pointed when applicable. I should point out that this category does not cover Emulators to the PC, only the real TI computer.? Emulators are already running and communicating with your PC.? If there are specific features, like printing to printer and such, they will be describe in the Emulation section.

Can you connect to the internet with the TI99/4A?

Yes - but text only. Lantronix makes a product called the UDS-10 which is a serial to ethernet converter. In short, it allows you to communicate via your RS232 card to your network and out on to the internet.

You can access text only versions of websites or telnet into Internet based BBS that have an open telnet port. A couple of guys on the TI Yahoo mailing list are doing this and can probably help you out.

The interesting question though is why you would want to do this?

How can I tell if a file on my PC is a TIFILES?

Open the file in TextPad, NotePad or some other text utility. It will come up with garbabe but in the the very front of the document you will either see or not see the actual word "TIFILES". If it is there then it is a TIFILES. If it is not there then it is not.

How can I transfer files from my PC to the TI?

This topic is huge! There are a lot of different ways to do this. Some methods are easier then others and some methods require more equipment. I took a stab at this because I need to do it for myself. You can find a complete article about how to do this the forum pages at:

Internet to the TI

What is "TI Disk Drive" (TIDD)?

TI Disk Drive (TIDD) is a PC program that communicates with the TI via the serial port. It allows you to load a program that resides on the PC, into memory on the TI. This subtle tool is great for solving the "bootstrap" problem for the TI.

The bootstrap problem is occurs when you want to download files from the internet to your PC and then transfer them to the TI. If you don't have the right software on the TI you can't even transfer the programs that you need.

What is a "TIFILES" file?

If you were to take a file and send it over to a PC or some other computer via a modem or serial cable it would arrive on the other end but lose some information. It would lose information like what kind of file it is, protection status, how large it is, etc. In order not to lose that information, proper communication programs on the TI prepend (stick on the front) a 128 byte header to the file that captures this information. So now when the file arrives on the other computer it is actaully a little bit larger.

When the 128 byte header is prepended to the file it becomes a "TIFILES". So by definition, a TIFILES file is a regular file with a 128 byte header. Now if you were to send that same program back to the TI, the 128 byte header gets read so the file is created properly on the TI. Of course, the 128 byte header is removed when it is back on the TI. The 128 byte header is small set of information used to properly rebuild the file once sent back to the TI. If you send a NON-TIFILES file (one without the 128 byte header) to the TI it will get built but more than likely it won't work properly.

What kind of cable do I need to connect/communicate with a PC?

In order to direct connect to a PC you do NOT need a null-modem cable/adapter. The TI-RS232 card already has its pins switched.

If your PC has a DB25 serial port then you will need a 25-pin Male to 25-pin Female cable. If your PC has a DB9 serial port (laptops and modern computers typically do) then you will need a 25-pin Male to 9-pin Female cable.

If you have an older Macintosh computer with the DIN-8 serial connections then you will need a Macintosh Modem Cable with is a 25-pin Male to DIN-8 Male cable.

What software do I need on my TI to connect to and share files with my PC?

First and foremost you will need a communication program on the TI that can operate at a decent speed and send/receive files. MagicFM is an easy to find program that does the trick. It allows you to operate at faster speeds and sends/receive files using XModem protocols. All you will need is a straight-thru serial cable and something like HyperTerminal on your PC. If you are using a older Mac then you can use a Mac Modem Cable and something like ZTerm.

A copy of Barry Boone's Archiver is essential on the TI as well. Many files will come in an ARK package off the net and this utility can open and uncompress them. This is the TI version of a ZIP program. If you have these two programs you are in business and can start to transfer files back and forth. This means you can start to download and use stuff off of WHTECH! :)

Rave 99 keyboard

My keyboard for my Rave99 isn't working properly, how can I trouble shoot it?

First thing you have to identify is whether it is the keyboard, the adapter or the user that isn't working correctly. :)

Remember that when you startup your TI with the Rave99 Keyboard adapter you have to hit the escape key on the keyboard to activate it. This is commonly overlooked by newer users. Also make sure the keyboard is properly plugged in. :)

On to the keyboard. If it is a switchable AT/XT keyboard make sure the switch is set to XT. This switch is typically on the bottom of the keyboard. Sometimes it is located under one of the feet that lift up. On some keyboards it is located on the top of keyboard, under the label.

Is anything on the keyboard working at all? I had a problem with my keyboard where the 'C' key would not function while the rest of the keyboard was fine. This was clear indication that I had to fix the keyboard rather than adapter.

If you are confident that it isn't a user or keyboard problem then you need to look at the adapter and console. Is everything plugged in? Are there any loose connections?

My keyboard is plugged in but doesn't seem to be functioning, what can I do?

A common mistake with new users is that they forget to hit the ESC key on the keyboard right after the console is powered up.? Hitting the ESC key essentially wakes up the keyboard and makes it active.? This is documented in the Rave99 manuals as well. If that doesn't work then you are on to more technical problems.? The problem may be one of the following: 1) Wrong type of Keyboard - is it an XT type keyboard? 2) Connectors for the Rave99 enhancement are loose? 3) Is your keyboard plugged in? 4) Console is damaged - let's hope not... 5) Rave99 is damaged - let's hope not.. If you are stuck then email someone on the TI Mailing list on Yahoo.

What are the latest ROMs for the Rave99 Keyboard Enhancement?

We still are not sure about this. We have three different people with different versions of roms. Here are the roms that we know of:

1987 - v1.2x for U1&U2 1988 - v1.3x for U1&U2 1990 - v1.2x for U1&U2 1992 - v1.2x for U1&U2

As you can see the revision go up and then down. The only thing we can think of is that there may have been problems with v1.3x and so they bump back down to v1.2x but this is only speculation at this point.

Please lets us know if you have different roms or other information.

What is the difference between the Rave99 models?

Based on information taken from the 99/84 manual that is on the ftp.whtech.com site and information from a copy of the 99XT manual that I have and a copy of a Rave catalog that I have, the following information was derived:

  • There seems to be 5 different models of the Rave99:? 99/84, 99/101, 99/105, 99XT and the XT/101.
  • The first three models (99/84, 99/101, 99/105) seem to be part of the original production run that started in 1986.
  • The last two models (99XT, XT/101) seem to be next in the series and replaced the first three.
  • The 99/84 was sold with an 84 key XT type keyboard. You can recognize this keyboard because it has the 10 functions keys down the left side. The 99/101 was sold with a 101 key XT type keyboard. This one included 12 functions keys across the top plus other keys like the arrow keys. The 99/105, reportedly but not confirmed, was like the 99/101 model except that it had 4 key modes that allowed the keyboard to be used for TI Writer, Multiplan, E/A and Standard Console.
  • The 99XT was sold without a keyboard and left it up to the buyer to supply their own. The XT/101 seems to be the same as the 99XT except that it comes with a 101 XT Keyboard.

What is the Rave99 Keyboard Enhancement?

The Rave99 Keyboard Enhancement is an upgrade that replaces the keyboard on your TI console with a circuit board that allows you to plug in an IBM XT type keyboard.? If you work on modern keyboards and then switch to your TI you know what a pain it can be without a backspace, arrow keys, etc.? This enhancement allows you to use a full functioning keyboard to get around those pains.

What kind of keyboard can I use with Rave99 Keyboard Enhancement?

You need to find IBM XT type keyboard with the larger DIN-5 connector.? A good starting place would be eBay and search for "XT keyboard".? Here are some models that are know to work: IBM XT Keyboard - sold with the IBM 5150, 5151 PC Chicony XT/AT Keyboards - they must have the XT/AT switch and DIN-5 If you see a keyboard with a PS/2 connector, it won't work.? Any modern keyboard (USB, Wireless, etc) will not work.? You need to look for vintage keyboards.

Where can I find a manual for the Rave99 Keyboard Enhancement?

WHTECH, of course....

You can find a manual for the 99/84 model at the following location:

ftp://ftp.whtech.com/datasheets%20&%20manuals/Hardware%20manuals/rave%20keyboard%20ma nual.max

You can find a manual for the XT99 model at the following location:

ftp://ftp.whtech.com/datasheets%20&%20manuals/Rave_99XT.zip

Where can I find more information about the Rave 99 Keyboard Enhancement?

You can find some of the manuals for the product on the WHTECH FTP site. In "datasheets/hardware" you will find a 99/84 manual. In "datasheets" you will find a 99XT manual. You can find a very nice photo of the Rave unit on Ron's Mainbyte website at: http://mainbyte.com/ti99/hardware/rave/rave_keyboard.html

Consoles

How do I connect my TI to work on a modern TV with no RF Terminal?

You can use a 300 ohm RF to Coaxial adapter along with the TI Video Modulator to accomplish this. Another option is to purchase the TI Video Cable (find them on eBay or 99er.net) and it goes from the TI Video Port to two RCA connectors (mono audio and video) and plug it into the RCA inputs on a TV or Monitor.

How easy is it to open and work with the console?

You just need a smaller phillips screw driver and you are on your way. Basic screws are on the bottom and inside where you can fully dis-assemble a console within five minutes. Once again Thierry's TI Tech Pages and Ron's Mainbyte site provide excellent information on doing this.

What are QI consoles?

QI stands for "Quality Improved".? At one point TI redesigned, or improved the motherboard in the TI-99/4a.? Sometimes you will here people refer to these as v2.2 motherboards which is not always the case.? V2.2, which is visible on the TI startup screens, were an attempt by TI to lockout 3rd party cartridges.

For more information regarding QI consoles you can visit Mainbyte.com at the following address:? http://www.mainbyte.com/ti99/computers/ti99qi.html

What are the specs for the TI-99/4a console (computer)?

CPU - TMS9900 (16-bit) Clock - 3.3Mhz RAM - 16K ROM - 26K Video - 256x192 Dot Density - 24 lines with 40 characters each. Video Chip - TMS9918A (the A is where the A in TI-99/4a came from) Sound Chip - TMS9919 Keyboard - 48 key QWERTY Ports - Cartridge, Expansion, Joystick, Video, Cassette, Power

What are v2.2 consoles?

These consoles were created by TI to lock out 3rd party cartridges like Atari. This was very annoying and there were even 3rd party devices sold to circumvent these types of consoles. You can tell if you have a v2.2 type motherboard as it will say it on the startup screen.

Whats the difference between the Beige and Silver/Black consoles?

Functionally they are identical except that there are certain Beige consoles with a 2.0 ROM that does not allow it to run 3rd party cartridges like Atari games. Otherwise the only difference is cosmetic.

TI, based on the prototypes of future systems, were moving toward the Beige color scheme. Whether it was a cosmetic coloring choice or cheaper/easier materials to work I'm not sure but it was going to be the direction until it was pulled from production.

Where can I get detailed specs on the operations of the TI console like memory mappings and addresses?

For a detailed technical analysis of the TI Console you should visit the TI Tech pages hosted by Thierry Nouspikel. For a graphical representation of the console, including a great deal of photos, you should visit the Mainbyte website hosted by Ron Reuter.

Which beige consoles were v2.2 or QI models?

It seems that there were three major production runs of beige consoles. This does not include the special run that was produced at the very end for Control Data.

The first run of beige consoles were around June 1983 and these were v1.0 OS and NOT QI. The second run of beige consoles were around Aug/Sep 1983 and were v2.2 OS and NOT QI. The third run were created between Oct 1983 and Mar 1984 and these either v1.0 or v2.2 and QI models.

Summary: xTA2283-2983 - 1st Run - v1.0 - not QI xTA3083-3983 - 2nd Run - v2.2 - not QI xTA4083-1384 - 3rd Run - v1.0/v2.2 - QI ** NOTE **: replace "x" with either 'L' for Lubbock TX or 'A' for Abilene TX.

Not all of the QI models came with QI Power Supplies. If the expansion port on the console has silver colored fingers/grips then it is a QI model. If the power supply has 2-pins then it is QI if it has 4-pins then it is old/regular style. This information was pulled from the Yahoo Mailing List - Bryan Nicalek.

Myarc

What is the Myarc HFDC card?

The Myarc HFDC is a Hard Disk and Floppy Disk Contoller card. While it does support floppy disks the main feature is that it support MFM based hard disks.

Getting a HD on your TI is one of the more difficult tasks; this is not for technical reasons but more of availability. The Myarc HFDC, SCSI cards like the SNUG ASCSI and the IDE project card are the three main options. The Myarc HFDC and SCSI cards seem to be the better of the three.

How many drives can the HFDC support?

The HFDC can support up to (3) MFM hard drives with capacities up to 134mb each. The card can also support up to (4) floppy drives that are either 40 or 80 tracks and either single or double sided. This includes both 5.25" drives and 3.5" drives.

The HFDC will control 720k, 3.5" floppy drives. There is a 36 sector per track option for the HFDC that if installed will allow the card to control 1.44mb 3.5" drives. If you install another FDC along with the Myarc you can control up to (8) floppy drives.? The additional FDC would control drives 1-4, the HFDC would contorl drives 5-8.

Is there a way to use MFM drives larger than 134mb?

I found this information while reading an article written by Barry Boone in December 1991 issue of Micropendium, on page 36.

CAUTION: The work describe in this article refers to modifiying your HFDC and though it is written here you shoulder any risks. In short, don't cry foul to anyone but yourself if something goes wrong.

The HFDC is setup to work with ST506 type drives but mmost drives use an ST504 interface. Everything appears to work until you use drives with more than 8 heads (larger capacity drives). Barry performed some modifications on his HFDC and reportedly it now allows him to use an MFM drive with any number of heads.

Modifcation Steps:

1) Cut trace from pin 5 of U9 to pin 5 of U17. 2) Jumper pin 12 of U9 to pin 5 of U17.

NOTE: This modification affects the cards compatibility with ST504 drives but will not affect ST506 drives.

What are some of the known problems with the Myarc HFDC?

I found this information while reading an article written by Dan Eicher and Jeffrey White in January 1996 issue of Micropendium, on pages 7 & 8. The article is about trying to upgrade the 9234 disk controller chip to a 9224. While the upgrade/modification was not succesful there were some valuable lessons learned.

  1. Cables, cables, cables... Always check and make sure you have a good working set of cables. This is the easiest thing to replace but often causes many headaches and hours of pointless troubleshooting. In my tech support days I learned the following: start and check the basics first.
  2. AM26L32PC chip is buggy and can cause 'quirky' system problems. If you have one of these chips it is suggested to replace it with a AM26LS32AC.
  3. A design flaw on the HFDC card layout. The part of the HFDC that sticks out the back of the PEB has control lines that run from the AM26LS32x chip to the hard drive connectors. This control line can be easily scraped and rubbed against the back plane of the PEB causing shorting problems. Take a piece of electrical tape and cover those traces.
  4. A 45 second delay on the HFDC while it waits for the HD to activate its ready line. This isn't really a trouble point but it can either be very annoying or cause people to think something is wrong but they just haven't waited long enough. You can override this power-up timer by Pin 1 of the LS251 chip at U21 to Ground. Pin 8 on the same chip works well for this. It may be prudent to put a toggle switch on this modification so you can turn it off and on. This modifciation information was provied by Tim Tesch.
  5. The standard HFDC comes with 8K of memory, the 6264 chip. You can upgrade this chip to the full 32K by replacing it with a 62256.
  6. There is a 9216 at U16 can be upgraded to support 1.44mb, 3.5" drives. The FDC9216 chip is overclocked to 8mhz and will support DSDD drives. If you have an FDC9216B or upgrade to it the card can support 1.44mb, 3.5" drives in a Geneve system. IMPORTANT: you will also need to have the 32K ram upgrade that is noted in item #5 of this list.

What are the ST504 and ST506 interfaces referenced in HFDC materials?

The ST504 and ST506 are interfaces created by Seagate and used as standards for MFM drives and controllers. The HFDC was designed to work with ST504 interface but works with ST506 drives with less than 8 heads.? Here is some background information for both of the interfaces.

ST504 • Equivalent to the ST416 interface. • Earliest interface for IBM XT. • Supported 5/10 MB drives. • Drive control on the interface card. • Very slow response. • Very spastic. • Mostly used MFM data encoding. • Separate cables for control and data.

ST506 • Equivalent to the ST412 interface.. • Standard interface used on XT and AT drives and controllers. • Originally developed by Seagate Technologies to support their ST506 (5 MB) and ST412 (10 MB) drives. • The entire controller mechanism is located on a controller card and communications between the drive and controller flow over 2 ribbon cables - one for drive control and one for data.

What hard drives can be used with the Myarc HFDC?

The HFDC can use any MFM drive that is ST506/412 compatible and it can be up to 134mb in size. You CANNOT use RLL drives.

What is the 36 Sector per Track option and what does it do?

The Myarc HFDC can be upgraded so it supports 36 sectors per track which means it can host 1.44mb, 3.5" floppies.

Before you get to excited there is one major constraint; this will only work with Geneve based systems. It is important understand this upgrade even though it does not expand the TI-99/4a. I stumbled across the mentioning of the upgrade and spent some time trying to figure it out and even though it won't help me it will help other avoid having to search for this information.

The upgrade option is as follows:

  1. If you have an FDC9216 in U16 then it is replaced with a FDC9216B.
  2. If you have an 8k memory chip on the card (6264) then it is replaced with a 32K chip (62256).

Will a Syquest 10mb MFM cartridge drive work with the Myarc HFDC?

Prior to ZIP drives Syquest was the king of removable storage devices. They even produce some MFM based cartridge drives.

The Syquest SQ312RD is a 10MB, MFM cartridge drive that does seem to be compatible with the HFDC. This Syquest drive is ST506 compatible, which is a requirement for it to work with the HFDC.

I've located a working SQ312RD drive and it was accessible with my HFDC. Unfortunately I don't seem to have a good working cartridge for it so I can't fully test it. After a lot of searching I found the setup specs that you need to know if you are going to use it:

17 Sectors, 2 Heads and 615 Cyclinders

It should be noted that finding one of these drives in working condition will be tough. Find a good cartridge will be even tougher. Is it worth it? In my estimation it isn't since you can find larger MFM drives much easier and I would trust the cartridges even if I got them to work.

Peripheral Expansion Box

Can I replace the PEB Power Supply?

Yes. You can purchase a PC based power supply that is 200W or larger. There is some extra wiring that you have to do so make sure you pay attention:

  • Remove the PEB case
  • Remove the PEB power supply
  • Install the PC power supply
  • Wire the +12v PC power supply lines to the +16v and +8v PEB lines.
  • Wire the -12V PC power supply lines to the -16v PEB line.

These instructions are a bit simplified but you get the picture.

Note: I heard that this may as well fail as the PC power supply may not be able to supply the 16V DC, so do it at your own risk. --Mizapf 16:41, 21 January 2010 (EST)

I have a lot of PEB cards and multiple drives and I'm worried about the power drain, is there a way to increase the power in the PEB.

There are actually two methods that can done. One method is to upgrade the internal PS from 12v-1A to 12v-2A. This upgrade is explained in the project pages of the mainbyte.com website. You can also replace the power supply and that is explained in another FAQ entry here.

I have a TI-99/4 PEB, with the push button switch and the switch is broken. Can I get a replacement for it?

When you see one of these questions you know it's because someone felt this pain. That someone is me but the good news is that you can still order a replacement.

Mouser.com has the part and here are the details:

Mouser PN: 611-NE182UEEX Manufacturer: ITT Cannon Power Switches MFG PN: 130220 Description: DPDT Push-Push 6A

Is there a way to replace the fan in the PEB?

You may have noticed that the fan in the PEB is very noisy. If you ever looked inside the PEB or saw a picture of it you will know why. The fan itself has no cowl to contain the noise along with 5 hard angled blades. These fans were meant to cool, not be quiet.

There is a simple modification that can be done to replace the fan and you can find it on the mainbyte.com website. The trick is that the stock fan operates on 110 volts while modern PC fans operate on 12 volts.

The project will show you how to remove the current fan, replace with an 80mm PC type fan and then wire it to an easy 12v spot on the power board. This project requires a tiny bit of soldering (2 points) and is really easy to do.

The fan on my PEB runs but nothing else works, what should I do.

If you look at the back of the PEB you will see a screw-cap for a fuse. This is one of two fuses in the PEB. Inside the PEB, actually buried in the main transformer is another fuse that can blow. If this internal one does you may see symptoms where the fan works but nothing else.

Mainbyte.com website, in the uprade section for power supplies has notes about how to get at and replace this hidden fuse.

About this FAQ

(Note that this text originated on another location and was slightly adjusted for inclusion in ninerpedia. Some parts may still be there which are not fully applicable.)

Do you, as the owner of this FAQ, plan to contribute to the FAQ.

As this is a Wiki, there is no "owner". Anybody is encouraged to contribute. I, as one of the admins, will sometimes apply some reformatting.

How can I contribute to this FAQ?

Please use the discussion page of this FAQ page for new questions. If you know more about some topic already listed, just add your text. Remember this is a Wiki, so there is no guarantee that your contribution will remain unchanged, especially when it turns out that the content is wrong or otherwise inappropriate.

How is the FAQ portion of this site related to the rest of ninerpedia?

The FAQ is intended to capture questions and answer while the rest of ninerpedia is used to capture information and descriptions for specific aspects of the TI and Geneve world. There are some grey areas but for the most part if something needs to be talked about I will put it in the site and leave a reference from here to there.

Is it possible to get a text download of the FAQ?

You can save the page content with your browser.

What about the other FAQs that exists for the TI?

I know of two documented FAQs and both have only 12 or so entries. While this is good information it does not start to cover the depths of the TI. I will be pulling the information in from those FAQs into this one. I will make note and give credit when this is done. There is also the case where other FAQs will be started/created after this one has been created. If that is the case then hopefully it will stir healthy competition where both FAQs are striving to grow without simply cannibalizing each other. In the end, the users choose what they want use and all I can do is strive to provide them with orignal and quality content that is on topic with the TI-99/4a.

Why create another FAQ for the TI-99/4a?

As an owner of a TI System I found that locating information about the TI in one central location was tough to do. There is a lot of good information out there but it's just not captured very well. On a personal note I want to contribute to the longevity that the TI has experienced and this is a great start at doing that!

Expansion cards

IDE Project Card: I need the latest DSR for the IDE board, where can I get it?

There are actually two DSR available for board. One you will find on Thierry's TI Tech Pages and is the original DSR developed for the board. The second one is from Fred Kaal and it has some great features you may want to look at. Both of these websites can be found at the following address: http://www.ti-994a.com/wiki/pmwiki.php/TI/Links

IDE Project Card: Is it possible to load an IDE drive on a PC with information from disk images (V9T9, PC99) and then move it to the TI with an IDE controller for use?

I don't believe a tool or program exists to do this. This is speculation here but in order to do this one of the following must ocurr:

1) There must be a program written on the PC that understands PC99/V9T9 images and a driver that supports the TI formatted version of an IDE drive (essentially a PC equivalent of the DSR).

2) One of the emulators must be aware and be able to use a TI formated version of an IDE drive which would still require a driver to be written.

So from those two possibilities the need for a driver (DSR like program) for the PC to understand and to be able to work with a TI formated IDE is requried. Also, the driver would have to either work with an TI IDE system based on Thierry's DSR and/or Fred Kaal's DSR. All in all this is a big effort.

IDE Project Card: With Fred Kaal's DSR how many directories off of the root directory are supported. Also how many in each subdirectory are supported?

Fred's DSR supports 127 files per directory and 114 subdirectories. This and other information about the DSR can be found on his site at: http://home.wanadoo.nl/fgkaal/ide_dsr.html

IDE Project Card: Where can I get an IDE card?

The IDE was a project card where various people joined together and had did a group buy to get lower prices on the parts. The schematics and files for the board are available on Thierry's TI Tech pages which can be found at: http://www.ti-994a.com/wiki/pmwiki.php/TI/Links In addition to that there is a list of parts needed. If you are skilled in soldering (small parts, surface mount chips, etc) then you could build one on your own. Otherwise you would need to have someone build it for you. Prior to doing this you might want to ask if anyone has a spare board they'd like to part with on the Yahoo mailing list.

Serial Cards: Can the TI RS232 card handle speeds faster than 9600bps?

Yes (mostly). The ROM on the card can be replaced with an EPROM that allows you to have higher speeds like 19.2 and 38.4kbps. Programs like Extended Basic or TI-Writer cannot utilize the newer codes. Programs like Telco, that program the card directly, can take advantage of the new speeds coded into the EPROM. The following link to Mainbyte.com provides information for this and other upgrades. Bob Carmany is still providing these EPROM upgrades for a fair price.

http://mainbyte.com/ti99/store/EPROMS.html

Serial Cards: Does anyone know of any articles where a TI99/4A was ever used to control a model train setup through its RS232C cards?

I am a member of Bruce Chubb's C/MRI yahoo group that deals with an interface that has been around since the 80's on controlling model railroad layouts with the computer. Here is the link to the yahoo group:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CMRI_Users/

All the equipment can be built in kit form or pre built and ordered from JLC Enterprises, Inc.

http://www.jlcenterprises.net/

I have a copy of the C/MRI User's Manual V. 3.0 that Dr. Chubb has published. Also in many back issues of Model Railroader Dr. Chubb has written many columns on his interface and how it is so easy to get working.

There are a few articles back in the 80's that started all this C/MRI and Dr. Chubb had it all working from a Heath kit computer. Also there wereversions for all the older computers, C-64, IBM PC, etc.

It is a really neat system. There is even a Java version of it. I hope this points you in the direction you are look for.

Question by Eric Bray and answer by Emory Lehman.

Memory Cards: Does anyone still repair RAMdisks?

Yes. Richard Bell still performs these repairs and if you don't have an email address you can contact him throught the TI mailing list on Yahoo.

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Richard Bell, Hal Shanafield)

SNUG Cards: How do I load or change the DSR of my SNUG card?

The DSR for SNUG cards are distributed as a collection of files that load into specific banks of memory. The HSGPL card has 8 files called HSGPLDS0 - HSGPLDS7 that comprise its DSR. In addition to the DSR files you will need the SNUG DSR Loader. I found a v2 an v3 version of the DSR Loader (DSRLDR2, DSRLDR3) and I started out with v3. When it was acting funny I tried v2 and it worked fine. Find out which one you should use and use it. You can run the DSR Loader by using E/A option 5. The DSR Loader is German. If you don't know German then use babelfish.altavista.com to translate. I will provide a brief description of each funciton here. (D)ateiname [dat-eye-nam-eh] means "Data Name". This is referring to the name of the file you want to work with. If you are working with the entire set of files just start out with first one. For the HSGPL it is "HSGPLDS0". (T)est is used to test the data files to make sure the format is good and all the required information is there. DO NOT LOAD something that fails this test and always test! (V)ergleich [fair-gl-eye-kh] means Compare. This is used to compare the data files to what is in the card you are using. If they are the same then either you were successful or you don't need to load anything. (L)aden [lah-den] means Load. This is the command that will take data files and load them into the card. If for some reason you want to work with individual data files, loading or testing, then you can FCTN-L, FCTN-T and FCTN-V. This way you don't have to cycle through all the files. To do this you have to explicity name the file you want with the (D) option.

SNUG Cards: What are SNUG cards?

SNUG cards are third party cards created by the System Ninety Niners Users Group (SNUG). This is German based users group that started to make high quality cards for themselves after vendor support disappeared. Some of the cards were variations of existing cards (controllers, memory) but had enhanced features. Other cards were totally different and offered new functionality to TI systems (80 column, SCSI support, advanced CPU, etc).

Too see more about these products and what they can do visit the SNUG site at:

http://home.arcor.de/snug-ab/

SNUG Cards: What are the ".p99" files on the SNUG website?

These are TI Program files. You can download them to your PC and them transfer them with a communication program to your TI. They are "TIFILES" so they will transfer appropriately.

SNUG Cards: What cards has SNUG made?

• BwG - Diskette Controller • • • • SGCPU - Second Generation CPU • ASCSI - Advanced SCSI (licensed clone of WHT card) • HRD-16 - High Speed RAM DSR • SPVMC - Speech and Voice Memory Card EVPC - Enhanced Video Processor Card EVPC2 - Enhanced Video Processor Card - 2nd Gen HSGPL - High Speedl GPL Card

P-Code: How do I turn on/off the P-Code card?

There is a switch on the back of the card that sticks outside the PEB that toggles the card on/off. When the card is off the TI operates as normal. When the card is on it takes control of the TI at startup and places you at a command prompt.

Corcomp TripleTech: How do you hook up a printer to the print buffer on the Triple Tech card?

Very easy. There is a patch cable that comes with the Triple Tech card. The cable goes between the Triple Tech and the PIO port on your RS232 card/device. Your printer then plugs into your Triple Tech thus putting the card in the middle to perform buffering: RS232/PIO ---> Triple Tech ---> Printer

Corcomp TripleTech: Is it true that there were/are problems with the Lithium batteries in Triple Tech cards?

An article published in the July 96 issue of Micropendium advised of a fix for this issue. While I personally have not experienced this I would guess that some people did. The article mentions that there seems to be a current going to the battery (charging it) which can't/shouldn't be done.

The fix for this problem is to remvoe the 100-Ohm resistor at R7 and replace with a diode. It notes that the annod side must face the battery holder.

As I stated, I have not experienced this personally but what the heck, I'm sure I don't want experience it either!

Corcomp TripleTech: The Copy and Reset buttons on the Triple Tech are tough to get at, is there a way to move/extend them?

There is an article in the March 1986 issue of Micropendium that describes moving the buttons.? The Triple Tech card that I purchased 2nd hand has for pins off the back of the card and the previous owner created a two button box with wiring that hooks up to it. The little box sits in front of my PEB box and I activate those two buttons now without reaching behind my PEB. This is great for cancelling big print documents.

Corcomp TripleTech: What are the Copy and Reset buttons on the back of the Triple Tech card for?

The Copy button allows you to resend what's in the print buffer to the printer effectively creating another copy.

The Reset button allows you to clear the buffer. If pressed during printing it stops the printing.

Speech: What is the CorComp Triple Tech card?

The Triple Tech, as the name implies, is a 3-in-1 card for the TI-99/4a. The card has a real time clock/calendar function that is accessible via BASIC or XB through file commands like Open, Print, etc. The card also has a 64k print buffer that helps in freeing up your computer faster. And finally it has a port, like the Rave99 Speech Adapter, that allows you to take the circuit board from your TI Speech Synthesiser and insert it onto the card and in the PEB.

An interesting side note is that this is one of the first cards that shipped bare, without a clam shell.

Other Cards: What is the Myarc 9640/Geneve card?

A few years after TI dropped the TI-99/4A, a third party supplier of peripherals (Myarc) completed a design for a replacement computer which had many enhancements over the 99/4A.? This machine was originally to be called the "Myarc 9640 Family Computer", but Myarc suddenly decided to use the name "Geneve" which is not universally liked.? The computer is a card for the 99/4A Peripheral Expansion Box which replaces the interface card used to connect to a 99/4A console. In its standard configuration, the 9640 is 3-5 times the speed of a 99/4A and comes with 512K of CPU RAM, 128K of video RAM, a battery-backed clock chip, joystick and mouse ports, and an IBM PC/XT keyboard.? The video processor provides significantly better graphics, as well as 80 column text display, with an analog RGB (not VGA) monitor.? The native operating system is an MS-DOS clone called MDOS, and 99/4A software is run with an emulation utility called the "GPL Environment".? In either MDOS or GPL, some of the system RAM can be used for print spooling and/or a RAMdisk.

Original information from comp.sys.ti FAQ by Jim Reiss

Other Cards: Which is better, the PGRAM+ card or the HSGPL card?

I would rephrase this question as which is more functional as opposed to better. Having either one is great.

The HSGPL is more capable than the PGRAM+, as it will support the MBX modules while the PGRAM+ cannot. It also supports up to 16 banks of cartridge space and includes 4 banks of ROM at >6000 for each bank of cartridge space GROM (G>3000->7FFF). It requires that GROM 0-2 (the Opsys & TI BASIC chips) in the console be removed (all 3 chips are in sockets) as these 3 GROMS should always be loaded into all GROM banks (the Opsys is special, not version 2.2).

The HSGPL also includes 2 banks of cartridge GRAM plus the necessary 8 banks of >6000 RAM for supporting MBX modules. These GRAM/RAM banks can be loaded normally with the loader, but can only be accessed after mapping these banks into the first two banks of GROM/ROM space (easily done with built-in CALL's). Any module image files loaded into these GRAM/RAM banks will be lost when the PEB is powered down.

Be aware that the built-in loader does not support GramKracker style saved modules, but there is software available that will convert GramKracker style image files to HSGPL format.

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Bill Sullivan)

Serial Cards: What's the difference between the CorComp and TI RS232 cards?

Functionally these cards are equivalent to each other.

Serial Cards: What do I need to hook up a printer to my TI-99/4a?

You will need some type of serial interface that allows your computer to talk to the printer. The most common interface is the RS232 card in the PEB. It has a PIO port and a TI printer cable has a connector on one end for it and a centronics connnector for the printer on the other end.

There is of course other ways to hook up a printer. There were external RS232 devices that plugged into the side of the console and functioned just like the PEB card. Axiom and other manufactures made a printer interface that plugged into the side of the console and then went directly into the printer.

Last but not least, there were certain cartridges that even had interface connections built into them. The printer would then plug right into the cartridge.

Memory Cards: What is a RAMDISK?

A RAMdisk in the functional equivalent of a physical disk drive without the moving parts. A physical disk drive system stores data on a mylar disk with a coating of iron oxide. The data is retrieved by a read/write head that is controlled by a stepping motor as the disk spins in its protective cover.

A RAMdisk stores data on a series of static RAM chips that have been divided into sectors similar to the arrangement on a physical disk. However, since there are no moving parts, the RAMdisk is much faster than a physical disk drive and the data is available almost instantaneously.

Loading a RAMdisk The two surviving modern RAMdisks (QUEST and HORIZON) are battery-backed to ensure that the data is maintained even after the computer and P-Box are turned off. Each is powered by three 1.25V NI-CAD batteries that charge whenever the computer and P-Box are turned on.

Both come with a software package that allows the user to initialize, partition and assign drive numbers to the RAMdisk. The first step is to load the generic DSR (Device Service Routine) into the RAMdisk. This allows the computer to find the RAMdisk. Each of the configuration program is menu-driven and very easy to follow. The only limitation is that a single disk drive cannot exceed the maximum size of 1600 sectors (ie. 400K). Let's assume that we have a 512K RAMdisk installed in a system with a TI Disk Controller.

Once the RAMdisk has been initialized, the configuration program will ask for a drive number and size. It is wise to assign a drive number greater than the maximum number of drives that your physical controller can handle (ie. 4-9 for a TI Controller and 5-9 for a Corcomp Controller) to avoid any conflicts.

We can designate part of our RAMdisk as DSK4 (1600 sectors) and the other part as DSK5 (448 sectors) which fill up the entire 512K (512*1024/4 sectors per kilobyte = 2048 sectors).

Each of the RAMdisks come with a menu-type program (MENU for HORIZON and AUTO for QUEST) that are variants of the John Johnson BOOT program. These can be configured to allow for the loading of both XB and A/L programs available when the system first boots. In each case the menu program intercepts the TI startup routine and slaps the user-defined menu in place of the title screen. They come with full instructions.

In addition, there are user defined CALLs that can be invoked to either directly load A/L programs from the command mode or CALL them from a running program. There are simple instructions for there use as well.

When you are through, the generic DSR has been modified to the users configuration and installed into the RAMdisk. It should now be saved to disk under a different name than the original.

At this point, you are ready to load whatever programs you wish into your RAMdisk. This can be done with ANY disk manager program. Oh yes, you can write protect either or both parts of the partitioned RAMdisk and enable or disable the MENU/AUTO program.

Common problems There are two problems that arise with RAMdisks that can be perplexing at times. They are easily curable.

If the RAMdisk will not load programs and a check with a disk manager indicated that the RAMdisk is "not there", the DSR has been corrupted. The easiest cure is to go back to the configuration program a reload the saved version of your customized DSR.

If the RAMdisk will not hold programs in memory, the problem is with the battery circuit. This can be a loose battery or a cold solder joint. The easiest way to check to with a voltmeter. Check voltage and continuity.

Original information by Bob Carmany. Original listing in TI FAQ by Dan Eicher.

Corcomp TripleTech: What is the CorComp Triple Tech card?

The Triple Tech, as the name implies, is a 3-in-1 card for the TI-99/4a. The card has a real time clock/calendar function that is accessible via BASIC or XB through file commands like Open, Print, etc. The card also has a 64k print buffer that helps in freeing up your computer faster. And finally it has a port, like the Rave99 Speech Adapter, that allows you to take the circuit board from your TI Speech Synthesiser and insert it onto the card and in the PEB.

An interesting side note is that this is one of the first cards that shipped bare, without a clam shell.

P-Code: What is the P-Code card?

The P-Code card is a card for the PEB that provides and emulation environment to support and run P-Code. When the P-Code is active, via a switch on the back, it takes control of the entire TI environment and replaces it with one to edit, run and assemble P-Code.

The P-Code card along with the documentation and software is more like a environment as opposed to a a piece of software or a peripheral. P-Code software that is developed is transportable to other platforms that support P-Code.

Rave: What is the Rave99 Speech Adapter?

The Rave99 Speech adapter is a half-height card for your PEB box where you can plug your TI Speech Synthesiser into. Basically you take the circuit board out of the synthesiser and plug it into the adapter. The adapter and the circuit board then go into your PEB. There is no software to load or CRU switches for it. You just simply plug and play. The main advantage is you no longer have to have your synthesiser hanging off the side of your TI console. Of course you are taking up 1 of the 8 slots in your PEB but most people have the spare room.


Not yet categorized

Modems: Can I connect to the Internet with my TI and a Modem?

Yes, but with some caveats. First and foremost you need an ISP that provides dial-up, shell access. This is basically a UNIX account that you can connect to with a modem and work from the terminal. You can access text based resources like text based email and web browsing. For most people it is not very useful. The problem is finding an ISP that will provide you with this kind of account and then there are the costs.

Modems: Did TI produce a modem that I can use?

Yes. TI produced the "TI Coupler Modem" and it is still usable. The trick is that a coupler modem does not have any dialing mechanics so you have to manuall dial the telephone.

Coupler modems require you use an older handset telephone, the ones with the round mouth and ear pieces. You dial the phone by hand and then you set the handset on the coupler modem which has 2 suction cup like connectors to listen and speak with phone. If you saw the movie War Games, it's the same type of modem they used.

One thing to note is that the TI modem only operates up to 300bps, which for all intent and purposes is beyond usable. Because of that it is more of a nostalgic piece of equipment.

Modems: What can I do with a TI and a modem?

There are essentially three things you can connect to: 1) ISP/Shell Account, 2) BBS, 3) Another TI/Computer.

There is another FAQ entry about connecting the internet with a modem that you can refer to for #1. There are some BBS still out there but the long distance chargers will make this prohibitive. Direct dialing to another computer, for what ever reason, is possible but will not be a main reason for communicating. As you can tell by the options and their limitations, the use of a TI and a Modem is not really that useful.

Modems: What kind of modem can I use with my TI?

This assumes you have an RS232 device to communicate with the modem. These came as side-car peripherals that plugged into the side of the TI or they are card that go into the PEB.

You can use any modem as lon as it is Hayes compatible and can operate at a speed your software and the RS232 card supports. The standard TI RS232 card operates at speeds from 110bps up to 9600bps. Terminal Emulator II operates at either 110bps or 300bps. Other emulator programs, like Telco, can operate at higher speeds.

The modem should have a serial connection and typically they are db-25 pin connectors on them. You will need a serial cable to connect the modem to your RS232 device.

Utility: Can I see the contents of an ARK file on my PC?

At first this may seem an odd question for a TI FAQ but it is relevant since most people download files with their PC for either emulation purposes or to transfer to their TI.

Fred Kaal's TiDir program will allow you to do this. Here is the the short blurb provided on his website:

"TiDir is a Windows program to browse through TI-99/4A files (v9t9 format), Archive files (v9t9 format and created with Barry Boones archiver) and .DSK files (v9t9 and PC99*) on a PC. From version 4.2a it is also possible to view monocolor and multicolor TI-Artist files and to view GIF87 files with an external viewer (like Irfanview)."

TiDir and other software progams can be found at the following address: http://shawweb.myzen.co.uk/stephen/pc99dsk.htm

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Jacques Groslouis)

Utility: Is there a way to convert MultiPlan files to MS Excel?

Yes, you can save a MultiPlan file as SLYK and MS Excel can read and open that.

Question by 'Susie and Deck'' and answer by Jacques Groslouis

Utility: What are ARK files?

ARK files are compressed archive files that are like today's modern ZIP files. They were created by Barry Boone's ARCHIVER program. You will need this program to create and extract these files.

Utility: What are the passwords for DU2K?

DU2K prevents you from accidently doing something destructive by prompting for a password. There are three operations that require passwords and each one is different. • Partion: SAVEPT • Initialize: INITIALIZE • Format & Initialize: FORMAT

Utility: What is Funnelweb?

Funnelweb is a descendant of the TI-Writer word processor, but has gone far beyond it. Funnelweb provides a menu-driven environment into which you can integrate all sorts of software. Among the many features of the environment is the ability to catalog a disk without loading a disk manager, the ability to run all sorts of machine language programs with the Extended BASIC cartridge plugged in, and bundled utilities like a disk editor and a disk manager. There are word processing and programming versions of the editor portion, and there is support for 80 column cards. There's far more to say about Funnelweb than is appropriate for a FAQ, but hopefully this will be enough of an overview to give some idea. Original information from comp.sys.ti FAQ by Jim Reiss

Utility: What is the latest version of the ARCHIVER program?

3.03G and 4.0 are the latest versions. 3.03G supports both the TI and the GENEVE computers. The 'G' was an update to fix a bug when running it on Geneves.

4.0 is an update created by Tim Tesch to handle hard-drive paths. This feature works only for extracting, not creating archives.

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Barry Boone, Ben Yates)


Buying and Selling: Can I still buy TI related merchandise?

There are a couple of people who have opened or in the middle of opening TI related shops on the cafepress.com website. The nice thing about CafePress is that it allows individuals to open stores for free and they manage all the production and ordering processes. For the owner it can be as simple as creating some graphics, applying it to stock merchandise and setting prices.

Here are some known TI merchandise stores:

Buying and Selling: How do I make sure that I'm not paying too much for a TI related item?

This is subjective and the answer depends on who you talk to. Even then it could change from time to time from the exact same people.

For example, I'm almost done with my Micropendium Collection of magazines. The magazine ran from Feb-84' through Jun-99' and had just over 150 issues. All I have left to collect are the very last two issues and I'm done. If some one said I will sell you the two for $30.00, I would probably buy it just to finsih the collection. While 1 year ago I would only spend $30 bucks for about 30-40 issues.

The change in value and why I'm purchasing has changed. It has gone from buying many to build the collection to very specific and narrow to finish it. The same thing applies to you and your purchases.

Here is what you can do though. Watch eBay and see what things sell for. Ask questions on the Yahoo list and see what people will pay for. Read the collecting lists and information on the forums page of ti-994a.com, it has some good information too. No single source is ever right, look at various sources and try and triangulate a target price. Don't forget to factor yourself into the equation too. Don't buy anything unless you are comfortable and feel that you are getting a good deal.

Buying and Selling: Is there a buying guide to prices for TI equipment?

I am not aware of any pricing guide for stuff in general. Pricing is very subjective to buyers and sellers.

Buying and Selling: Where do I go to buy/sell TI related equipment?

There is actually a healthy bit of TI related equipment out there to purchase, you just need to know where. The following are the actual places I go to purchase my TI equipment:

1) eBay - search on "ti99*" or "ti 99*", you may want to exclude some items as well. For instance, "ti 99*" return items like Nike shoes and such so I use a search string "ti 99* -nike".

2) TI Mailing List on Yahoo - if you haven't joined, join! If there is something you need just politely ask. In fact, I just purchased some Micropendiums magazines from one of the other members.

3) Chicago TI Faire - I live in Chicago and the faire is hosted on a Saturday each November. Great deals, great prices and some hard to find items. Plus you get to meet some fine folks.

4) There are some folks who supply/sell items on a regular basis. You can find them on the Yahoo list. The following is a list of items I know of, forsale:

  • Upgrade Eproms for TI, Myarc and other cards * TI Monitor Cable - connecting TI to a Video Monitor * Console RAM upgrades - put 32K in your console * PC99 Emulation / Cyc CD - Commercial emulator for the TI

5) Rumage, garage and antique sales - this stuff has a habbit of turning up. There are numerous stories of folks finding stock piles of TI stuff from estate sales and such.

In addition to these places there are many other places you will find.? Some of these will only have a couple of items but you never know which one will have something you need.? Check the various TI Websites because some of them have either classified sections or auctions, though a lot of the information is old/stale there some bargains to be had.

Hardware: Can I use the Rave99 Speech Adapter to plug in other peripherals than the Speech Synthesiser?

No. The Rave99 Speech Adapter does not use all connectors and there is specialized PAL for speech access.

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Tony Knerr, Ben Yates)

Hardware: What are the known CRU addresses for the TI and its peripherals?

This information was posted by Eric Bray from an article of his from 1990. The following are the assigned CRU adresses used by the TI:

1000 NOT DEFINED 
1100 DISK CONTROLLER 
1200 HOME SECURITY CARD 
1300 RS232 1ST CARD 
1400 MODEM CARD 
1500 RS232 2ND CARD 
1600 DIGITAL CASSETTE 
1700 HEX BUS 
1800 THERMAL PRINTER 
1900 EPROM CARD 
1A00 STUDENT TYPING CARD 
1B00 NOT DEFINED 
1C00 VIDEO CARD 
1D00 IEEE CARD 
1E00 NOT DEFINED 
1F00 P-CODE CARD

Hardware: What peripherals were there for the Course Designer Authoring System?

The peripherals consisted of a Video Controller unit and a cable to connect it to a VCR/Video unit. The following is a list of the parts and prices:

PHP1290 Video Controller $399.95
PHA2310 Video Cable-Panasonic $99.95
PHA2320 Video Cable-Sony $99.95
PHA2330 Video Cable-Pioneer $99.95

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Bill Gaskill)

Joysticks: Do I have to use the TI joysticks or can I use some other brand?

No but you need an adapter. TI's wired controllers have the same type of plug as an Atari 2600 joystick. The only difference is the wiring of the pins. If you buy an adapter or build one then you can use any joystick that works with the Atari 2600.

If you can't locate a joystick adapter and have some basic electronic skills you can build one for yourself. Mainbyte.com has an excellent project page with diagrams to do this. You can find this information at: http://mainbyte.com/ti99/hardware/cables/joystick.html

Joysticks: I can't find an Atari adapter, what else can I do?

The adapter is a relatively simple device with a couple of d-sub 9 connectors and some diodes. With a quick trip to Radio Shack you can find all the parts. Information about this project can be found on Mainbyte at: http://mainbyte.com/ti99/hardware/cables/joystick.html

Joysticks: What would you recommend for an Atari based joystick?

This is very subjective topic but I can speak from my own experiences. First of all the original Atari 2600 joystick is a lot better than the TI wired controller so you could start with that.

If you don't like the Atari brand joystick then there are two others I can recommend. First is the Epyx 500XJ for Atari joystick. This is a great joystick because it is ergonomic and fits into the palm of your left hand so you your finger can wrap around it. Your index finger on your left rests comfortably on the fire button. Your right hand, the free one, operates the joystick. The joystick is tactile and clicks.

The second joystick that I would recommend is the Suncom Slik Stick. It is a smaller joystick but it had a great feel with precision for the most complicated of moves. Either of these joysticks are great but the Epyx 500XJ is considered to be the cadillac of Atari type joysticks by many gamers.

Games: Does anyone know of an editor available for Tunnels of Doom?

There is an editor for Tunnels of Doom called the "Tunnels of Doom Editor". You can find a PC99 image of the diskette on WHTECH at the following link: ftp://ftp.whtech.com/pc99/games/tod-edit.dsk

If you don't have PC99, you can use V9T9 and there is a utility program to convert PC99 disk images to V9T9 format.? Both MESS and Win994a use the v9t9 format as well.? This utility can also be found on WHTECH at the following link: ftp://ftp.whtech.com/v9t9/Convert%20PC99%20disks%20to%20V9T9/Pc992v9.zip

System Information: I need detailed information regarding the inner-workings of the TI-99/4a for development, where should I go?

I will warn that this information source is not meant to teach, it's meant to present technical facts. If the site of HEX, pin-outs, memory-address, assembler and other mathematical/technical items is scary then don't go here! :)

Seriously, Theirry Nouspikel has a great website that details out the inner-inner workings of the TI system and peripherals. If you are thinking of creating devices, coding DSRs and other low-level stuff then this is the place for you.

You can visit the site at: http://www.nouspikel.com/ti99/titechpages

If you want a copy of the entire site you can download the following components that make up the site:

1) Webpages: http://www.nouspikel.com/ti99/webpages.zip 2) Software: http://www.nouspikel.com/ti99/softs.zip 3) Pictures: http://www.nouspikel.com/ti99/pics.zip

System Information: Is the TMS9900 big or little endian?

The TMS9900 is Big Endian.

Displays: If I bought an old TI 99/4a monitor, would it use the RF modulator and cable, or was some other cable type used?

The TI Monitor does not use the RF Modulator, it is a separate and different cable. The TI Monitor Cable has the same large round 5pin connector as the modulator but ends in two RCA style plugs (like the ones on a stereo).

One RCA plug is for video and the other one is for audio. Please note that the TI Monitor does not have an RCA plug for audio, it has a headphone jack. You will need to go to Radio Shack or other electronics shop and buy an RCA-to-Headphone adapter which is pretty cheap.

Displays: Is it possible to use a modern LCD monitor with the TI-99/4a?

Yes, you can use certain LCD panels with the TI. The trick is finding one that support composite video input or buying a special adapter that converts composite video to VGA.

The Samsung "MP" series of monitors is great for this purpose. Essentially these monitors have the following input connections: Composite Video (RCA), S-Video, VGA and Coaxial (antenna/cable). I have a Samsung 150MP which is a 15" version of this monitor and have a TI coming into it.

Displays: What are the types of displays I can hook my TI up to? VGA, TV, etc...

There are essentially two directions you can take with TI, a TV or a composite video display. The TV is a bit easier to tackle so let's start there first.

Every TI system shipped with an RF Modulator. This modulator allowed you to connect your TI to a television set on a VHF channel. The problem you will run into is that the modulator connects to the older, two screw terminals, that were made for antenna conneciton on older television. Modern televisions will not have these. You can go to Radio Shack and buy an adapter that goes from Coaxial (cable) input to these screw terminals.

TI made two versions of a monitor for the TI-99/4* series of computer. The first one was a repackaged 13" TV modified to accept input via composite connections (RCA plugs). The second one was a 10" color monitor. Any display you own that has composite video inputs (RCA inputs) can be used.

Here is a short list of ways to hook up a TI to different displays. RFM stands for RF Modulator. TVC stands for TI Video Cable.

RFM -> Older TV RFM -> Coaxial Adapter -> Modern TV TVC -> TI Monitor TVC -> Composite Video Monitor TVC -> VCR -> Modern TV TVC -> Composite Video Adapter -> VGA Monitor TVC -> Composite Video Adapter -> LCD Panel TVC -> Composite Video Adapter -> PC TVC -> LCD Panel with built-in Composite

UDS-10: What is the Lantronix UDS-10 adapter?

The UDS-10 allows you to connect a serial device to an ethernet network. This opens up possibilities for equipment that cannot be directly connected to modern networks.

The TI, with an RS232 expansion card/device, can be connected to a UDS-10 and then placed on the network. The result is that the TI can communicate with other devices (like a PC) over the network. In theory you could actually have two TI's communicating with each other over the Internet as well.

UDS-10: Where can I get a UDS-10 adapter?

You can buy these items new from various companies and they retail for over $100. I found mine on eBay and got it for the low price of $35. So do some hunting and get one for cheap.

Trivia: What is Black Friday?

Black Friday refers to October 28, 1983 when Texas Instruments publically announced that they are leaving the home computer market.

Trivia: Not Polyoptics Trivia

NOT-POLYOPTICS TRIVIA ANSWERS

01/06/2007

Match the numbered description with the lettered product name:

A. 99'Vaders (15) 01. The adventure of CETI
B. Addvance (09) 02. Graphic Adventure Game
C. Ant Wars (06) 03. The Investment Game
D. Bankroll (03) 04. Flight Simulator
E. Cars & Carcasses 2 (20) 05. Air Traffic Controller
F. Cosmolopy (10) 06. Insect World Combat
G. Crosses (17) 07. Guerilla War in Viet Nam
H. Hordes (11) 08. Medieval Japanese Warfare
I. Khe Sanh (07) 09. Computerized Board Game
J. Laser Tank (13) 10. Space War
K. Maze of Ariel (18) 11. Game of Global Conquest
L. Ophyss (12) 12. The Serpent Game
M. Sengoku Jidai (08) 13. CIREV Showdown
N. Ships! (14) 14. Battle for the High Seas
O. Starship Pegasus (01) 15. Kamikaze Aliens
P. T-Shirt (21) 16. Strategy Soccer
Q. Texas Light Shooter (22) 17. Original game of Juxtaposition
R. Tickworld (19) 18. Lantern and Grenades
S. Tower (05) 19. A Forest
T. Treasure Trap (02) 20. City invaded by Monsters
U. Waldoball (16) 21. Navy and yellow on silver grey
V. Winging It (04) 22. Plugs into the Joystick port

01. In which product would you find the use of a 'randomized earth simulacrum'? A: Winging It

02. Which product required that you specify Civilian or Military in order to use the program? A: Tower

03. Which product provided news headlines to help assess the future? A: Bankroll by Arthur P. Jacoby.

04. Which product featured the Builders' Planetoid? A: Treasure Trap

05. Which product plugged into the joystick port of the 99/4A? A: Texas Light Shooter

06. Which product sported navy blue and yellow colors on a silver-grey background? A: Not-Polyoptics T-Shirt

07. Not-Polyoptics, founded in 1981, was a division of what Co/Corp? A: Syncronet

08. What product had Androids pitted against Robots? A: Waldoball.

09. What product was created/programmed by three teenagers from Suffolk County New York and marketed to Not-Polyoptics by Timothy Trapanotto and accepted by Not-Polyoptics under their Author Co-Op Program? Page 178/333 A: 99'Vaders

10. The names of the three partners in Not-Polyoptics were? A: Gene Harter, David Harter, Michael Copobianco

This trivia was created by

computerclassics2000.

Trivia: What was the most expensive cartridge for the TI?

TI LOGO (PHM3040) was offered for $299.95 in the TI 1981 catalog CL581B.? It was on page 6.? This tidbit was provided by Bill Gaskill.

Trivia: What was the most expensive diskette program for the TI?

Course Designer Authoring System (PHD5068) was offered for $199.95 in the TI 1982 catalog 1049706-1.? It was on page 10.? This tidbit was provided by Bill Gaskill.

Electronics: What are the basic tools I need for any of the projects?

I'm no electronics expert, I've just learned by doing so this just my opinion based on what I found useful.

1) Low wattage / pencil tip soldering iron. 2) Desoldering Pump Iron 3) Various size 60/40 solder (thin, med and thick) 4) Wire cutters (sharp) 5) Wire stripper 6) Various size DIP Sockets 7) 22AWG wire 8) 24AWG wire 9) Electrical Tape 10) Digital Multimeter 11) Helping Hands w/Magnifying Glass 12) Latex gloves 13) Anti-static work mat 14) Various screwdrivers 15) Various small screwdrivers

Electronics: What kind of EPROM burner can I use to burn chips for the TI?

This is not my area of expertise but I have found out that there are two major chips that are used for the TI. The TMS2532 can be used as a replacement for TI Peripheral ROMS and the 2764/27128 can be used for EPROM cartridges.

The standard WILLEM burners (~$35.00) will support the 27xx series of chips. Most burners will support them. The problem one seems to be the 2532. If you are looking at burner be sure to check the device list.

I found a commercial programmer that supports the 2532 is the EETools ChipMax Device Programmer but unfortunately it costs around $300 dollars. If you are technically inclined you may be able to build a burner on your own and save the money.

Electronics: What other tools beyond the basics are useful for projects?

Once again I state that I'm not expert with electronics but these are some of the additional items I have added to my workbench.

1) Some type of desk/bench dedicated to the work. Sharing a desk with other stuff gets to be a real mess.

2) Storage cabinets. I just bought a $16.00 multi drawer plastic cabinet from Target. It has about 30 small drawers and about 12 larger ones. The cabinet is roughly 22"W x 16"H x 8"D.

3) DC Power Supply with variable voltage and current controls. I bought a 0-30V, 0-5A regulated power supply for about $80, new on eBay.

4) Bread board and wires for prototyping. A large board, about ~3200 tie points, cost me around $25 on eBay. The smaller ones cost around $15. These are not powered and I use my Power Supply.

5) Digital Multimeter. I got mine from Radio Shack because I knew the owner of a store. It cost me around $50 and it was one with a PC interface.

6) Books, books and books! I'm a self taught person so I have books all over the place. Some are the simplest ones explaining the basics, the others are more advanced and on specific topics. Don't buy new, go through Amazon's used book stores.

Electronics: Where is a good place to buy parts for the modification projects?

At the direction of many people in the community I have found that these three places are a good selection:

Real Stores Radio Shack - can be pricey but great for quick pinches. American Science & Surplus - for the Chicago/Milwaukee crowd, it's a fascinating place with lots of odds and ends.

Internet DigiKey - www.digikey.com Mouser - www.mouser.com Jameco - www.jameco.com Unicorn Electronics - www.unicornelectronics.com

I have ordered from all of these and not had any problems. Their websites are great information sources for parts and pieces. Unicorn Electronics came as a recommendation for the SuperAMS parts and it very cheap and has a lot of hard to find parts.

Communication: What is MagicFM (MFM)?

MagicFM (MFM), not to be confused with MFM hard drives, stands for Magic File Manipulator. This is a TI Extended BASIC program that allows you send and receive software via X-Modem protocol. This means you can download a TI file from the internet on to your PC and then transfer it to your TI with this program. On the PC you will need a term program to send the file and HyperTerm comes with Windows and does the trick. If you have a Mac then you will need something like ZTerm or White Knight. Magic FM was shown, including a complete listing, in the Vol 13, No 6 issue of Micropendium. It was pointed out that MagicFM has some embedded Assembly code so you can't type it in from the listing. You can get a PC99 image from WHTECH at: ftp://ftp.whtech.com/pc99/micropendium/961112.dsk

Speech: What are the valid words for the TI Speech Synthesiser?

The TI Extended Basic manual, in appendix L, has a complete list of the built in words for the synthesiser. Copies of this manual and many others can be found at the following site: http://99er.net/docs.html

Speech: What is the Rave99 Speech Adapter?

The Rave99 Speech adapter is a half-height card for your PEB box where you can plug your TI Speech Synthesiser into. Basically you take the circuit board out of the synthesiser and plug it into the adapter. The adapter and the circuit board then go into your PEB. There is no software to load or CRU switches for it. You just simply plug and play. The main advantage is you no longer have to have your synthesiser hanging off the side of your TI console. Of course you are taking up 1 of the 8 slots in your PEB but most people have the spare room.

Speech: Why won't my Compact Flash Adapter work with the Speech Synthesizer?

The CF7 draws its power from the side port and some side peripherals like the Speech Synthesizer block this. If you have a CF7+ with the power plug then you can supply your own power and use it with the Speech Synthesizer.

Printers: What do I need to hook up a printer to my TI-99/4a?

You will need some type of serial interface that allows your computer to talk to the printer. The most common interface is the RS232 card in the PEB. It has a PIO port and a TI printer cable has a connector on one end for it and a centronics connnector for the printer on the other end.

There is of course other ways to hook up a printer. There were external RS232 devices that plugged into the side of the console and functioned just like the PEB card. Axiom and other manufactures made a printer interface that plugged into the side of the console and then went directly into the printer.

Last but not least, there were certain cartridges that even had interface connections built into them. The printer would then plug right into the cartridge.

Printers: What printers did TI produce for the TI-99/4a?

To my knowledge there are two printers that TI sold in relation to the TI-99/4a; the TI Solid State Thermal Printer and the TI-99/4 Impact Printer.

The TI Thermal Printer is a small thermal printer that prints on 3.5" wide thermal paper rolls. It prints an average speed of 30cps and each character is 5x7 matrix. It's casing matches the silver/black consoles and it is a little bit larger than the Speech Synthesiser.

The TI-99/4 Impact printer was OEMed from Epson and is equivalent to an MX-80 printer. It is a 9-pin dot matrix printer that has both a serial and parallel port.

Printers: What third party printers can be used with the TI-99/4a?

Your safest bet is to purchase a printer that is compatible/comparible to the Epson MX-80. The MX-80 supported 96 ascii characters plus 64 block graphic characters. Also, the printer should have either a serial or parallel (centronics) port.

Printers: Where and what ribbon should I buy for my TI-99/4 Impact Printer?

You can purchase an Epson MX-80 equivalent for the printer and these are available at most office supply stores. We are fortunate that Epson made some of the most durable and long lasting impact printers and they are still in heavy use today.

CF7+ Compact Flash: Why can I only use half the size of my Flash memory?

The compact flash cards are made up of 512 byte sectors. The original TI disk system used 256 byte sectors so half of the sector is unused. This is why you can only use 8mb of a 16mb compact flash card.

CF7+ Compact Flash: Why won't my Compact Flash Adapter work with the Speech Synthesizer?

The CF7 draws its power from the side port and some side peripherals like the Speech Synthesizer block this. If you have a CF7+ with the power plug then you can supply your own power and use it with the Speech Synthesizer.

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