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Dedicated to99/4A and 9900 Computer Systems 



2.00 

VER1.5 
1985 



BOX 210 MOUNTAIN STREET 
HALI BURTON, ONTARIO K0M ISO 
CANADA 



O ffimf. 

/V U LUI II 



V ITIk HZ 
U I II HO 



NEUhLEl ILK 



Where to start. This past month h 
brought in a series of projects and 
sources of information. This is 32k 
month... Continuing with some of the 
themes from past issues is a bit 
difficult due to the VERY interesting 
ideas coming in. We'll elaborate on 
this later down the line. 

First shot: Randy Holcomb of Computer 
Shopper fame announced the M 32/16" » a 
new memory expansion board for the 
99/4A. This is a 32k memory 'card' 
which fits INSIDE the console for 
portable usage or general expansion ie: 
running Logo II etc. with cassette only 
(no boxes hanging off the side port.) 
Randy explained that this new type of 
expansion works off the 16 BIT BUSS 



8b it multiplexed 
Essentially this 
lines DIRECTLY from 



rather than the 
approach used by TI. 
board uses the 16bit 
the 9900 CPU chip. 

This gives you memory access speeds 20 - 
50% FASTER than the normal 4A response 
time. The wait state generator is 
bypassed completely. COne of the 

reasons the 4A can be so slow running 
under Basic is that it 'waits' between 
instructions to accomodate slow 

memories. Today you can get 150ns chips 
which can run with no wait states. 3 This 
will make various applications which use 
the 32k memory run faster - increasing 
the power of the already considerable 
computing ability of the 4A. 
This board uses 8k x 8 CMOS memory chips 
and installs inside your console above 
the 9900 CPU socket . With each 

expansion board you get a new 9900 chip 
which plugs into the system in place of 
your old CPU. Some additional features 
are being explored for possible 
inclusion at a later date. 

Drawbacks? Well, this approach gives one 
speed and portability (etc.) but it will 
not allow the use of 128k cards. For 
the majority of owners this is not a 
"problem" or a drawback at all... for 
me, I will do this to a new console as 



the others use 128k cards of both 

descriptions. As this board does not 

make use of the MEmory ENable line, it 

does not "see" any other banks of 

memory. Apparently you can even have an 

old 32k card in your system and it won ' t 

collide' with this faster 32k design! 

The 32/16 memory expansion board is 
available NOW, fully tested (24hr. 

burn- in is performed on each board) and 

installed for *125.00 US funds. 

Installation, parts etc. are fully 

guaranteed. Top Radio, in doing the 

installation, will also alter the power 

supply to run cooler and insure 

sufficient power in your console AND 

install a MOLEX connector to ease any 

future changes/ repai rs . 

The board is also available as a kit 
with parts for *75.00 US. You must do 
the assembly and installation inside 
your console. The guarantee is reduced 
to 30days for kit builders. 



For information and orders contact: 
TOP RADIO SUPPLY 

1785 Mt. Elliot, Detroit, Ml 4821^ or 
call (313) 366-9088 



As of this writing the kit or factory 
installation cannot be reported on 
fully. A kit will be obtained for a 
ehensive report next issue. 



ANNOUNCEMENT: DUE TO THE SUPPORT AND 
ENCOURAGEMENT RECEIVED, R/D COMPUTING IS 
COMMITTING TO A YEARLY FORMAT. We feel 
that our favourite orphan really 
deserves a technical upgrade - third 
party i nnovat ion forum . Subscriptions 
are the sole means of support for this 
effort. For the time being product 
advertising is not carried - which can 
offset publishing costs. Please do 
inform other TI owners who may be 
interested! We would like to see the 
newsletter grow into a major force for 
the 3.5 million TI owners all over. 
Currently issues are mailed to several 
countries and numerous users groups. 
The vision is to "cross polinate" all 
the ideas from users and third party 



innovators, give TI owners better 
technical knowledge as well as providing 
certain product input. A technical 
library is being established to 
distribute information, schematics, 

hardware designs & tips to TI users. 
Articles, designs, software, ideas, wish 
lists etc. are solicited for 



pub 1 i cat i on ! 

• 



INTERESTING LETTER: 
Dear Sir; 

I would like to offer you some 
suggestions from things I learned when 
we sold our own compatible computer. 
Believe me, 1 can appreciate your 
d if f icul t ies. 

From 1980 to 1983 we manufactured an 
Apple II compatible computer . We had the 
same problem you seem to have, how to 
economically produce an item in small 
quantities and have enough left over to 
ad ver t i se . 



Our solution was th< 
derived by a number of 



5 an i e 



one 



the other 30 



mot her boar d 
unpopu 1 ated 
In the 
you will in 
own video 
motherboard , 
disk drive 



companies making Apple II compatible 
systems at the time - simply sell the 

either populated or 

[stuffed with chips - Ed . J 
case of a 99/4A compatible, 
fact have to construct your 
board as well as the 
but everything else, from 
controllers to RS232 cards 



have already been built. As long as you 
use a 99/4A bus, you should have no 
problems with them. You could in fact 
make a basic card carriage, put both the 
motherboard and the video processor 
within - with a space for your own 
custom cards - and a bus outlet on the 
back for connecting a PE Box cable so 
you can use 99/4A cards too. You could 
put an IBM standard keyboard connection 
on the front and let users select from 
hundreds of availabale keyboards in all 
shapes, sizes, colors and typestyles. 
If you cnstruct this card carriage out 
of impact plastic with a metal IRF cage 
to meet FCC standards, you could 
probably build it for under $30 in 
quantities of a thousand. 

Additionally, hundreds of software 
companies like my own would jump in to 
fill the void of software for your 
machine, if the initial costs aren't to 
high. It would already have a 

substantial software base if it is fully 
assembly compatible. You would only 
have to write the basics. 

You could begin manufacturing and 
delivery within a few weeks. Once you 



start getting a return on your 
investment, you could worry about fancy 
items like analog/digital cards, real 
time clocks and pascal cards (which are 
available on the 99/4A buss). Once you 
star t making money, you can wor r y about 
making it a real computer. 

Finally, you have a time limit. If 
a new compatible isn't available by 
December, then more than likely, the 
community will have diminished to a 
point where it isn't possible to 
economically manufacture a compatible. 
Selling just the motherboard would not 
only work as a stopgap, it would bring 
in capital, and it would give THOUSANDS 
of user's hope for the long term. 
Morale in this community is plumeting, 
the sooner the release, the larger your 
market will be ! 

If possible, you should reserve the 
first 100-200 for software 

manufacturers. The more software 

available for this machine that will 
ONLY run on this machine, the better 
chance you have for survival. If you 

a single source 
are doomed to repeat 
No one company can 
all people. If you 
machine that is 



intend to become 
manufacturer, you 
the mistakes of TI. 
be all t h i ngs to 
create an open 



compatible... let the hundreds of 
software and hardware companies have a 
crack at it, provide GOOD documentation, 
you will sell a LOT of computers. That 
is really the business you are 
oreintating yourself towards - the 
computer manufacturing business; not the 
software publishing and not the add-on 
market. You will have a monopoly for 
some time, which yo\J won ' t have in the 
other, faster moving industries. 

It is very possible to turn a "dead" 
market into a very successful after- 
life. I sold thousands of motherboards 
and complete systems before I sold the 
rights. I never lost money, except at 
the very beginning. People still bought 
my Apple II mother boards even when 
Apple was selling Apple lie's. You just 
have to know how to play your hand. 

A 99/4A compatible would be 
fantastic. I hope your company can get 
then into the hands of consumers in time 
where it will be meaningful. 

Sincerely, C.B., MD (name witheld) 

Okay, that's fair experience. Why cant 
a 4A clone or upgrade be done this way? 
Are diehard TI users less capable than 
other clone owners? Open architecture is 



2 the key 



A CONFIRMED "RUMOUR"... a note 
about a new module passed this way with 
no real details or address (etc.)- that 
sounded good. The announcement came in 
todays mail- 

UNIVERSAL MODULE FOR THE TI 99/4A 

A powerful static ram module : 48k 
RAM and 3k ROM named "MAX I MEM" 

This module expands the memory to 
96k RAM through two sections of RAM : 32k 
GRAM and 16k RAM (added to the 16k VDP 
RAM fee 32k expansion memory). 

MAX I MEM gives you the ability to 
dump any module to disk and then run the 
program from disk! No additional power 
supply is needed - plugs into module 
port like Widget. 

MAX I MEM starts automatically through 
an 8k GROM that displays choices: 

1. TI BASIC (same old) 

2. MAX I MEM (offers the catalog of 
modules contained on disk) 

3. EDITOR ASSEMBLER (an improved TI 
Editor Assembler) 

MAXIMEM stays plugged in - no other 
modules are needed. MAXIMEM holds data 
even after FCTN QUIT and can load a 
■tries of modules 1»: TI Writer, 
MultiPlan, Extended Basic etc. 

console, 32k, drive & 

Price is set at *199.£>0 
(about $149.50 
insurance k 



u 



you may 



At a this stage, lik 
develop an interest in the computer 
hardware. How it operates, how to fix 
some of the things that annoy you and 
how to provide extra features. 

I Several modifications made were 
noted last issue! include locating 

8k (battery backed) 
8bit data bus. Slowed 
25%, but has some 
potential. These 

by 
this 



CONSOLE ROM ift an 
RAM chip on the 
things down by 
i nterest i ng 
modifications were made possibl 
using the Hitachi HM6264LP- 15. . . 



Requires 
control 1 er 
CANADIAN 
sh i pp i ng, 
CEstimated *6+J 



chip is just made for the TI-99/AT 
hacker. It is STATIC RAM which does not 
need the complex refresh circuitry of 
DYNAMIC RAM and the size is just right 
for the 8k blocks of CPU RAM. 
ON THE DRAWING BOARD: 
We are developing several 
enhancements for the TI-99/4 AT 
components will be mounted on a 
INSIDE the computer. An additional 
external power supply will be required 
later. The projects will include- 

Extensive CRU decoding to allow for 
new facilities. Provision ul" a CRU 
selectable 8k CMOS RAM chip in the DSR 
area of CPU RAM from >40£>0- >5FFF . 



other 
Al 1 
board 



US) plus 
postage. 



ORDERS TO: 
Guy Gournay 
146178 Can Inc 
933 Delorimier 
Longueuil, Quebec 
J4K 3M8 Canada 
(514) 651-/280 



We haven ' t 
excel 1 en t . 



Sounds 
GPL 



seen this yet. 
Coupled with e 
Assembler /Disassembler , source code and 
fcAMDISK cards-TI owners will be free of 
module slavery" forevermore should this 
be wished. 



__ 



3 



NEXT : 32K EXPANSION PROJECT: 
From Bernie Eisner and Phil West 
T.I.U.P - Australia 

tarticle is "edited" tk updated] 
THE ' I SADUDD ' CLUB : Anyone using a 
computer which has been discontinued by 
the manufacturer, automatically 

qualifies for free membership of the 
rapidly expanding Inter national Society 
of Amalgamated Dodo Users and Dead 
Ducks. ( I SADUDD ' s ) 

TI ISADUDD * 5 are luckier than most. 
Despite the 'DODO' image, there are some 
real advantages in belonging to this 
group . 



Console ROM to be hardware swi tenable 
between ROM and battery backed CMOS RAM. 
Installation of an EPROM copier- 
programmer in the computer w/ two Zero 
Insertion Force socked to be mounted 
above the ventilation slots. 

To allow for future projects we have 
decided to mount everything on a single 
piece of STRIPBOARD, 23cm. wide by y 
cm. deep and up to 2.5 cm. high. This 
can be mounted on self adhesive 
NON-CONDUCTING stand-offs on top of the 
metal shielding covering the main 
computer board. (In the empty space 
between the keyboard and the back of the 
computer . ) 

Only a small portion on the board is 
needed for the 32k expansion. You can 
mount the four RAM chips in separate 
sockets and eliminate the "piggy back" 
sol der i ng. 

PARTS REQUIRED: 

4 HITACHI HM6264LP-15 RAM CHIPS 

1 pc COPPER STRIP BOARD 32 strips 
wide and 23 cm. long. °i" ) 

2 - 4 28 pin sockets 

2-4 22uF Tantalum capacitors 

1 edge connector for 30+ lines 
insulating stand-offs or material to 

separate the board from the shielding. 

single conductor wire, mu 1 t i s tr and 

wire or ribbon cable, solder, fine 

tipped iron, etc. 




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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER ( S ) . 

We cannot guarantee that 
modification or enhancement described 
will work on YOUR computer. We develop 
our projects on old equipment and accept 
the risk that it may be damaged. If you 
have never taken your computer apart, 
handled CMOS chips or used a soldering 
iron you should NOT atempt any of the 
projects described (unless you can 
obtain assistance from someone who has). 
By modifying your equipment you will 
void any manufacturers' warranties still 
in force. WARNING* IF YOU ATTEMPT ANY 
OF THE MODIFICATIONS DESCRIBED IN THIS 
SERIES OF ARTICLES YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN 
RISK. !!!!!•! L 

SOFTWARE WARNING* Moving CPU RAM 
into the computer is a major change to 
the TI-99/4A expansion system and may 
cause some software problems. Machine 
language progarms that use SPEECH or are 
dependent on critical timing MAY not 
operate correctly. 

********************^******^***^*^^** 



our knowledge (A show 
Sidney I believe 



down under' in 



had 



strong 



T.I.S.H.U.G. presence this year). 
Saturday, November 2nd, from 10:00 AM to 
5:00 PM in the Ironwood Room. Some 21 
vendors will exihibit TI hardware and 
software - to the (possible) 30, 000 
owners notified through the group 



f f o r t s : 




Which brings us around to beta testers 
again... hello? Are there any console 
only owners listening out there? We want 
you to try something on your systems. 
Drop us a line c/o BETA UNITS. 

As noted above in earlier r amblings, we 
will get back to the home control 
subject Real Soon Now. Another board 
and software system is being interfaced 
over the next several weeks (given a few 
minutes here) . 





This expansion works fine with the 
major software packages: XBAS1C, 
TI-WRITER, MULT I PLAN , TI-LOGO I fc II, 
T I -FORTH , EDITOR ASSEMBLER and the P- 
CODE CARD - RS232, DISK CONTROLLERS 
(TI, CC etc.) all been used without 
any APPARENT problems. 

This project should be regarded as a 
'BUDGET' MEMORY EXPANSION for the 
unexpanded TI-99/4A user rather than 
as a replacement for existing 32k 
expansion cards. If you don't have a 
disk drive and controller, you should 
be aware that the extra memory is not 
fully usable by cassette based users. 
You may only SAVE Extended Basic 
programs up to 12k in size to 
cassette , though the programs will 
have a much larger operating space. 




Flash update: The folks at MPB have a 
security system and weather station 
software which uses the A/D card. This 
note comes from the Ottawa Users Group - 
fortunately an influential, honourable 
and very ACTIVE users group, 
folks! Good input. 



fhanks 




Speaking of which: 

The CHICAGO AREA USERS GROUP is staging 
the third annual TI FAIRE at Triton 
College, River Grove, Illinois. This is 
an exclusive in the users community to 



Dear Bruce, 

A lot has happened regarding our 
RAMDISK since... August. The operating 
system is just about finished. (This) 
is a totally brand new piece of software 
that allows TI's file structures and 
conventions to work with our RAMDISK. 
It is not a rework of TI's disk DSR. I 
cannot emphasize enough the point that 
our RAMDISK works EXACTLY like a TI 
floppy dirve and that it is totally 
compatible with any file type in BASIC, 
X-BASIC, FORTH, PASCAL and ASSEMBLY 
LANGUAGE. Any software that uses a 
standard TI DSRLNK will work with our 
RAMDISK... The only programs that won't 
work with our RAMDISK are CORCOMP's DISK 
MANAGER & MILLER GRAPHICS' ADVANCED 
DIAGNOSTICS. Both of these programs 
ignore CRU >I000 which is one place (in 
my opinion the best place) you can put 
our RAMDISK. The M.G. " EXPLORER " 

program is totally compatible. We 
havebeen using it to debug routines for 
the RAMDISK. 

In addition, we have included a 
number of CALL statements from BASIC to 
enhance the RAMDISK ' s operation. CALL 
DR(drive **) sets the RAMDISK to DSK1- to 
DSK 5. If the RAMDISK is at CRU >i000 
then setting the RAMDISK drive number- 
supplants a floppy drive of the same 
number if it exists. I think the best 
set-up is to have the RAMDISK as DSK1 
and a floppy as DSK2. With this set-up 
TI-WRITER AND E/A load their programs 
from the RAMDISK. CALL MAX (maximum 



sectors) sets the 
sectors avai lable, 
number of chips you 
CALL WP/OFF- set 
protection. CALL 
you to execute a 



maximum number of 
determined by the 

use. CALL WP/ON and 
the RAMDISK write 

EXC (address) allows 
ny machine code from 



BASIC. If you have used CALL CRU/GN 
(turns on and leaves the RAMDISK) you 
can execute routines on the card. There 
is, of course, a CALL CRU/OFF. We will 

for assembly language 



add a loader 
programs . 

At present 
circuit board 



artwork for the printed 
is being done and a 
my to manufacture the boards has 
been contacted. The RAMDISK was 

originally decoded at CRU >1000. Dip 
switches on the card allow you to set te 
RAMDISK to any unused CRU address. 
Since they are unique devices, our 
RAMDSK and Myarc's could be used at the 
same time with no modifications. We 

feel that the flexibility of both the 
hardware and software on our RAMDISK 
makes it a far superior design. 

By the way, the contents of the 
RAMDISK are maintained by three AAA 
ni-cads on the board. When the PE-Box 
is ON the ni-cads are being recharged. 
You can take the RAMDISK to a friends, 
plug it in, and use it like you brought 
over a floppy! 

I think the idea of a clearing house 
for hardware and software information 
from individuals or user's groups is an 
excellent idea. One of the things that 
killed TI was it's attempt to keep 
everything about the machine a secret 
and discourage other than TI development 
for the 99/4a. Since TI bailed out new 
development has come from the user- 
groups. I think a more organized method 
of distributing that information would 
be most useful. I object to the term 
'hacker', however. I think it implies 
'amateur'. While we are not doing this 

profit we do not consider 
amateurs. We belive in a 
open hardware and software 
environment for the 99/4a. Our RAMDISK 
package will include the complete source 
code to the operating system. In 
addition to extensive internal 

documentation we have written a manual 
detailing all of the operating system's 
routines. We encourage people to alter 
our system if they wish or write totally 
new software for it. Since the RAMDISK 
operating system is in RAM it can easily 
be changed. The RAMDISK could be a 
print spooler or the whole card would be 
CALL statements to enhance BASIC... or 



work for 
ourse 1 ves 
total ly 



Mnbly language programs could be 
moved in and out of memory expansion 
like overlays or... the possibilities 
are endless. 

Information about ordering the 
RAMDISK package (printed circuit board 
and operating system for about *40.£>0) 
should appear soon. I will be handling 
the orders. By the way, I'm writing 
this letter using TK-WRI TER loaded into 
a SUPERCART and the Editor and Formatter 
programs loaded on my RAMDISK. Moving 
betwen programs and other functions 
happen in a. blink of an eye... 

S i ncer el y , 

David Romer 

The RAMDISK can be populated with 
360k memory for DS/DD operation 
according to the design layout. This is 
a vast improvement for the TI. How 
about a word processor with ALL the 
goodies on RAMDISK, in memory without a 
separate formatter, saving files to 
RAMDISK at memory speeds and 6ms disk 
access. . . 

How about an operating system to 
allow a full megabyte of memory? 

Even stripping out the GROMs/ROMs 
and installing a bootstrap disk loader 



Unconfirmed rumours: 



My arc 



1 s 



now 



looking at YET ANOTHER video display 
system. We're told by sources that THIS 
has more bearing on release than 
anything else. Perhaps a case of new 
technology working against a high tech 
product. Fairly common occurence to get 
"lost" in all the 'interesting' ideas, 
new components, processors, bells and 
whistles. Oh well. 

As of press time the new operating 
system and the 5I2k card are not 
shipping in quantity. In others words, 
we haven't received them for hands on 
comment . 

Confirmed rumours: We are told that a 
TMS 9995 based computer— on-a-card does 
exist, runs and is compatible with the 
PE Box & TI software. This HAS MOT been 
referred to in previous issues due to 
the fact that no mention was 
made at the tims we talked to the 
loper as to whether or not this 



6 



would ever go into production. We also 
have promised not to tell due to changes 
being made in the system... and the 
fact that THIS "9995 SYSTEM" is from a 
very smal 1 crew of systems techs who are 
NOT in business 



lets 
under 
timer 
5 i gnal 



Ah yes, the Auto-Start Circuit... ; 
prom last issues notes, this one 
the computer "turn itself on" 
certain conditions (like a simple 
or another power— up -on -a- 

appr oach ) . 

The circuit turns the computer system 
on, enters Extended Basic which in turn 
looks -for any file named LOAD on drive 
#1. Now the possibilities here are 
quite endless. A home control system 
could be brought up, initialized and 
operated during certain hours of the day 
or, as this was originally designed 
for, a BBS system could be taken on-line 
for its "operating hours" - or, come up 
with a database to access remotely etc. 
etc. 



> 



Ron Gries sent us this one as well! 
Heard that he might do a hard disk card 
next - on my wish list is a "HAftDCARD" 
like I saw in Byte. 10MB on a card 
which fit into the slots on an IBM. No 
reason that couldn't be done on the TI 
cards! 



One of the things we have considered 
with all the circuit designs is doing 
PCB artwork, parts lists, instructions 
etc. Sound useful? Worth supporting 
with input, designs and subscriptions? 
How about a shareware concept? Kits? 



Next month: An EPROM programmer design 
(one of two!) that works on the TI 
console as the host THROUGH the module 

port. This will let you "burn" custom 
modules - give your console only friends 
a real thrill to see the latest assembly 
program running on their 48k console. >>> 
given a bank switching af-fair, you can 
put 40k of EPROM on the port for some 
truly extensive programs... 

Also: the BBS hardware that lets you use 
a dumb modem as an auto-answer auto-dial 
device. Nice touch! It requires 32k and 
an RS232 interface. 

PLUS a number of items of interest for 
TI owners, users, technical experts, 
hackers (sorry, the work still carries 
the wizardry label in certain circles) 
et al. See you then. Pass the data 
along ! 



■ 




Ml 








V 


t 

■ 



TH£ ZCLAY umLL 
CZ.OSC. 5£U££.AL. 

"TO EHT6JLY& tu PcCT. 



List - Auto Start Circuit tttt 

556 Dual Timer 
14 pin socket 
914 Signal Diodes (2) 
10K Ohm Resistor (1/4 watt) 
1 Megaohm Resistors (2) - 1/4 wati 
10 MFD Electrolytic Capaci 
1 MFD Tantalus Capacitor 
12 VDC Reed Relay 



List - Power Supply tttt 

LM317T Adj. Vol tag© Regulator (+) 

Bridge Rectifier - 1.4 A 50 PIV 

470 MFD 50 V Electrolytic Capacitor 

1.5K Ohm Resistor (1/2 watt) 

220 Ohm Resistor (1/2 watt) 

12 VDC Reed Relay (-for modem power) 

AC Transformer (8 to 20 VAC nominal) 



■ * 




1 



8 



R/D Computing is published monthly by 
Ryte Data in Haliburton, Ontario. 
Copyright 1985. All material contained 
herein is taken from sources believed 
to be accurate. No 
errors, omissions 
assumed. Articles 
with credits by 
publ i cat ion . 



responsibility for 
or misprints is 
may be reprinted 
users groups -for 



Articles dealing with Texas Instruments 
99/4A and 9900 based computers are 
published. Special attention is given 
to data on upgrading and modifying the 
4A console t* system. Information and 
material for consideration is solicited 
from owners, users groups, hardware 
manufacturers, software publishers etc. 
Please send all correspondence to Ryte 
Data R/D, 210 Nountain Street, 
Haliburton, Ont. K0M 1S0 Canada. We 
cannot accept responsibility for 

materials submitted and, unless stated 
otherwise, will assign all manuscripts, 
letters etc. for publication. ONLY 
Manuscripts with sufficient postage and 
self /addressed mailer will be returned. 
Subscription rate is *10.00 per year US 
funds. Overseas add $5.00 airmail 

postage. Back issues, subject to 
availability, are *2.00 each. 

Technical reprints may be published by 
special arrangement. 




BOX 210 MOUNTAIN STREET 
HALIBURTON, ONTARIO K0M ISO 
CANADA