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Thread: VOTRAX Type-'N-Talk

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    I know this is a major necropost but the proper way to get a votrax type n talk working is quite simple: first of all be sure you have the right power supply: a votrax personal speech system uses a power supply quite different to the one used on the votrax type n talk, despite using the same din-5 connector!
    Secondly, the baud rate needs to be set properly; the type n talk uses a rather hacky way to do this: there are 8 dipswitches, and each one connects the clock input of an m6850 ACIA to a different clock rate divdied by a 4040 divider. You must have only ONE dip switch set or it will NOT work! (see the schematic at http://www.kevtris.org/Projects/votr..._schematic.jpg)
    Most people will probably want to set just dipswitch 8, for 9600bps.
    The serial port, as far as I recall, is set to be a 'DTE' device and so requires use of a null modem cable to connect to a computer (which is another 'DTE' device). Flow control uses RTS and CTS lines. serial words are 8 bits long with no parity, and one stop bit, I believe. so the standard (with dipswitch 8 set) is 9600,N,8,1

    As for data sent to the device, it is an unlimited text to speech engine using the "NRL" text-to-phoneme algorithm and a small dictionary of override words (to replace a few common ones which NRL doesn't pronounce properly).
    You can also make it use votrax phonemes by starting a phoneme string with a ~, using ascii characters whose lower 6 bits control the phoneme spoken, and ending with a ?. The 64 votrax phonemes are documented here: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/geog/gess...neme-chart.jpg

    The user manual for the type n' talk can be found here, in html-ized form:
    http://members.tripod.com/werdav/txtospm1.html

    LN
    Last edited by Lord Nightmare; May 19th, 2009 at 07:26 PM. Reason: add link to type n talk manual

  2. #22

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    Glad I'm not the one digging this up from the before time, but I am looking for a modern way to reproduce the sound from either one of these or the earlier SC-01-A. Preferably something that will run on mac. I've been tracking down alternative text to speech voices, but each one seems to be trying to sound more human than the last. I need the authentic retro sounds from the 80s. Any help is much appreciated.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Lallander,

    Does it have to be a reproduction, or would you be satisfied with the real thing?

    On the ground in an abandoned pile of junk at the end of the (rainy) Timmonium MD hamfest this spring I found two Micro Mint parallel "sweet talkers" that use SC-01-A chips. Are you up to the challenge of real hardware hacking?

    Lou

    P.S. Did you ever get the 11/23 system going?

  4. #24

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    The 11/23 needs some internal work that I am not quite up to. I am no hardware hacker as you put it. I need a way to record the files onto a computer (mac in my case). The easier this process the more likely I am to use it. I would love to own one of the chips, I can never pass up retro computing stuff. It doesn't have to be that specific chip, I just need a classic 80s robot sound. I found two possible leads on this. There was a Java based emulator that was on a now defunct site, and apparently there was a SC-01 emulator as part of a pinball emulator. Stripping out only the Votrax bits is going to be a royal pain tho.

  5. #25

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    Ok, I've studied the chip's user manual a bit, and checked out a demo of one a guy has running on his website. I've convinced myself I could get this running with the aide of my Arduino. I would need some help making sure I am supplying the right amount of power to things, resisters and all that, but the actual programming of it looks rather simple. This is not the ideal of course, but a project like this could be fun, and give me a reason to dust off the old Arduino.

  6. #26
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    Mar 2008
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    Lallander,

    Ok then. Send me a PM with an address with where to mail these to. No gaurantees, so invest as little effort as possible with them until you get signs of life. (Don't go designing a whole project around them yet.) Data sheets are around on the internet. I know I printed some out once.

    Lou
    Last edited by Lou - N2MIY; September 14th, 2009 at 05:40 PM. Reason: damn, another spelling mistake....

  7. #27

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    Alrighty then, once I get the chips that are kindly being donated, I will start a new thread specifically for it. I have done some work with the Arduino so I'm not a complete noob there, but I don't have much experience with electrical engineering. I will need people to help look over wiring arrangements to help me make sure I don't fry anything. I have the Arduino Diecimila and a prototyping shield for it. This is a good thing considering I do not know how to solder.

  8. #28

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    I finally just got a USB-Serial adapter in the mail and am trying to get my Votrax to connect. So far I've tried it on both the PC and the Mac with no success. It looks like I'm getting a connection but sending keystrokes has no effect.

    I had the serial adapter plugged directly into the Votrax first, but I also have a breakout box that we can try.

    The terminal application is set to 96008N1, and the Votrax is set to 9600 per the user's manual.

    I'm attaching a picture because I have no idea how to use this box - can someone help?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Västerås, Sweden
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    6,277

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lallander View Post
    It doesn't have to be that specific chip, I just need a classic 80s robot sound.
    Have you considered vintage software speech synthesis? I am mainly thinking about programs like S.A.M, the Software Automatic Mouth for Commodore 64, Apple II and Atari 800. It does a pretty good job at speech synthesis, although it still doesn't sound very much like a real human. I am thinking you could obtain a copy of this program, enter some commands and make it say whatever you like. Then you record these sentences.

    Hey, it may even be possible to do in emulation if you don't have access to the real thing. Please forgive me if I misunderstood your intention, how or for what you were going to use the synthetic sounds. I assumed you will use recordings and mix into something else.
    Anders Carlsson

  10. #30

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    The end goal for me is to have a simple way to recreate as authentically as possible the old robot sound. I then want to be able to save it to wav. On the mac I have the built in say command that I can output directly to a file. I doubt I will be able to find a mac speech compatible module, but that is the ideal. Whatever I can get to work is great, but the easier it is from the user standpoint the better. The hardware chip is not very likely to do what I need. It will however be a fun project, and might even become the basis for a prop.

    I don't know how many people here are familiar with the tabletop RPG Paranoia. It is set in a dystopian underground society controlled by an insane AI. I am wanting to use this as His voice. The hardware version could very likely be used for local in person games. What a prop that would be.

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