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Powertran Cortex

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    #76
    Oooohhhh! Please scan those and if you get them to me I'll put them up with the others. Note that the emulator file there has a CDOS 1.20 image. A scan of the Mark II documentation would be a good thing too, assuming it is any different from the files we already have.

    Send me a PM on the TMS9909 issue, as I do have one of those I could probably part with. They are a bit hard to find.

    Since you mentioned buying one right towards the end, any idea when Powertran stopped selling the MK II kits?

    Also, were there any ETI articles other than the ones we've put up so far? You mentioned having the kit for the 9938 mod--getting data on that one would be nice (as I have a spare 9938 that was looking for a good project--unfortunately, I only have the one).
    Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!

    Comment


      #77
      I have the article for the V9938 board. I was just all 'scanned out' after doing all the other stuff. I'll get to it when I get a chance. I believe there is something in one of the User Group Newsletters that describes the mods necessary to remove the TMS9929 and interface the card in its place.

      As for the CDOS disk image, perhaps you could extract all the emulator files so it's a bit more obvious what's in there?

      I've been working on the MDEX disk images and also making slight mods to the emulator along the way (I'm doing all the disk work on the emulator to give it a run for its money!). I will send them when I can.

      I have some MDEX disks (Forth, Pascal) that don't read well on the Cortex and hence never made it to image form. I might build the improved data separator (also in one of the newsletters). If that's no good I'll have to try and capture the raw data and decode it with a software data separator...

      Good work on the '2001! I know ABEL, CUPL and couple of other languages but not done any Verilog or VHDL. I like the Atmel CPLDs.

      Welcome to Cybernaut! See, we're all coming out of the closet now!

      Comment


        #78
        I fired up the MK2 yesterday for the first time in 14 years, I had to replace a faulty keyboard encoder ic before I could type anything into it. Seem to be working a treat

        I realised I have chucked all my old cassette decks (I unintentionally kept a few cassettes), so I have nothing to load the programs on the Cortex with. I'll have to borrow a tape deck and digitise those programs, so that I can load the Cortex from a PC sound i/f.

        I have an original glossy sales brochure for the MK2 in colour, the original ETI Digest articles, the original Powertran construction notes for the MK1 and MK2 (not much different from the ETI articles), some details on a Video inteface (not v993, details on the RGB interface, details on the E-bus parallel interface, one sheet on E-bus from an RS databook. Some sales bumpth from Powertran and uPE. The TI 9900 family databook and another book on the 9980 (I think). A photocopy of a magazine review (PCW?) and a list of benchmark times against other computers from the same period. Plus some correspondance between me and the the user group. I believe thats all I have.

        Powertran had given/sold their last remaining stock to the user group. When I bought my MK2 from the user group in March 87 for 80, they only had 3 left. A college friend wanted to build one as well but they had sold all of them by June 87.

        Crikey!, Where did I get 80 quid from in 1987 ?, I was a student..........

        I rescued the MK1 years later from a skip at the university where I was studying for my MSc, I believe it was chucked out from a robotics lab. I did go skip diving to see if the was anything else in there such as development software, but I drew a blank apart from the MK1.

        What I really need is to get the floppy interface going, and then i'll take a look at other HW projects for it (memory expansion etc). I wonder how many Cortex kits Powertran
        sold altogether, these must be the one o

        I do remember getting hold of a datasheet for a 74HC2000, but the function of that device was an optical encoder and 16 bit counter. I was thinking along the line of similarity between the 74LS612 and 74LS610, hoping the 2000 wasn't to disimilar in function to the 2001.

        Comment


          #79
          should have left an idiot space (9938 )
          Last edited by Cybernaut; August 1, 2009, 09:08 PM. Reason: I could not spell idiot right, LOL

          Comment


            #80
            On Cortex numbers, I suspect the total isn't very large at all--and the majority of them were probably sold in the Dec 1982 through early 1985 period. I figure sales probably tapered off there, just because a majority of the folks who were comfortable building their own kits would have already purchased theirs, and sales from then to the end point in June 1987 would have tapered off pretty steeply before settling into the slow sales through the User's Group. As Cortex owners were more involved types when it came to hardware, I suspect a significant portion of them were actually IN the User's Group (unlike other systems where such participation rates were in the 1-10 percent range). I read somewhere that there were between 55 and 60 members of the User's Group in 1987--so five to ten times that number is probably the range of all Cortices ever produced. Most of those were probably Mark I machines, which would make the Mark II the truly rare bird. This rarity is actually mirrored in the machines we now know about, though there are probably more machines of both types hiding in lofts. Cybernaut has the only Mark II that came out of the woodwork as a result of this thread, though TMS9995 noted that he also built one for a friend who later trashed it. (Cybernaut, could you put a picture of it up somewhere so that it can be added to the nice file on the Cortex at the Old Computer Museum?) And between the rest of us and other machines that I know of, there are at least 10 documented Mark I machines still out there. Low numbers--but not definitive, as this thread is doing a really good job of finding more Cortices. That said, the lower limit on these machines is probably in the range of 250 or so, with about 50 of those being Mark II machines; and the upper limit is probably about 600, with 100 of those being Mark II machines. I suspect that most of them haven't survived. We'll be pretty lucky if more than 20 Mark I and 5 Mark II machines turn up, though more than that will be a pleasant surprise.

            I'll upload the extracted archive of the Emulator files to WHTech later today, TMS9995. I have also found another easy means to transfer files that aren't too large--you can put them onto your LiveDrive at Hotmail and share them out to specific individuals. Good for files larger than the 10 MB you can send as an attachment, up to 100MB.

            I'll check to see which of the databooks I already have scans of, Cybernaut (most of them are on WHTech too, in one of the other directories). The Color Sales Brochure for the Mark II would be nice to get a scan of, especially if you can scan in color. Scans of the other articles would be good too (we might have the same parallel interface article you mention up already, as there are two different articles on that subject in the issues of ETI we've unearthed to date). One had a dual joystick interface as well. I don't have the foils for that one, so if it's the one you have, a photo of the underside of the board would be very useful (the top foil can be reconstructed from the picture in the magazine article). A scan of the construction manual for the Mark II, the E-bus extract, the other Video Interface, the sales bumpf, and any of your User Group correspondence that touches on the system itself would be good too, as they may have some data we don't already have.
            Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!

            Comment


              #81
              Glad to see you've got the 9938 mod article too, TMS9995! Your help has been invaluable to rescuing the system documentation for the Cortex. I had to stop adding to my earlier post to keep the 4-year old amused for a while. . .and I really understand that you were scanned out after the last batch of things you scanned in. That was a major contribution all by itself!

              Have you tried Anadisk to get good images of the Forth and pascal MDEX disks? That one usually works on almost anything.

              I can put anything else that trickles in up on WHTech too, as the data there is starting to show up on Cortex searches as well. My next task is to give an update to the folks at the Old Computer Museum.
              Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!

              Comment


                #82
                Courtesy of TMS9995, there are now several MDEX disk images for the Cortex Emulator up on WHTech. Please check out the CORTEX_README file to see how to use them.
                Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!

                Comment


                  #83
                  Hello all

                  I hardly ever use forums, so pardon me for being dumb.....

                  I take it PM is Personal Mail, if so how do you do it from this forum.

                  I don't have a problem with creating colour scans of everthing Cortex related so that it can go it the public domain and be of use to someone else.
                  The problem I am having at the moment is no access to an adobe writing software to create PDF's from my scans.
                  I did have adobe on my work laptop, but it seems to have turned into vapourware!

                  The only thing I can't scan without destroying it is the doorstop databook on the TMS9900 family, so I am not going to do that one.

                  I am truly amazed at the Cortex emulator, I had the same program running on the MK2 and the emulator at the same time.
                  Needless to say the MK2 was faster . The emulator was running on an old lab PC the is a P3 clocked at 1GHz.
                  I would be interested in seeing seeing the source on how the Cortex emulation is done.

                  I have beed messing around with FPGA's for the last month and got to wondering about an FPGA replacement for the TMS9995 or even the whole Cortex (inc TMS9909 and the infamous 74LS2001). The are some IP cores avaliable for the TMS9995, but I dare not ask how much they cost for fear of going into a coma.

                  I am looking at building an updated Cortex on a single eurocard, using original TI chips but modern everthing else including a V9958 or the later V9959. The ancient DRAM would be replaced by a single and not so ancient larger SRAM. The "quaint, ancient, rare as hens teeth, expensive as ????? TMS2564's" will be replaced by a "nice, standard, common as muck, cheap as chips 27c512". The cassette interface can go as well..., LOLMA.

                  I have been scouring the internet for traces of a TMS9909 and some suitable diskdrive for it (BBC B ones should do the trick).
                  I have CDOS 1.2 on a 5.25 floppy (I don't know if it is any good).
                  That reminds me, would it be possible inthe emulator to map the Cortex drive to a physical PC drive?

                  I have been offered a TMX9909 by a former work colleague, he says it is a prototype TMS9909 but he can't gaurantee it will work in the Cortex or that the chip is in fact a worker.

                  Regards

                  Danny
                  Last edited by Cybernaut; August 6, 2009, 05:31 AM. Reason: I can't type for toffee :-)

                  Comment


                    #84
                    It really depends on what format your scan saves them to, Cybernaut--but the OCR software I have will likely read whatever you get into an electronic format--I've even converted JPG pictures into documents with it--that was how I received the Cortex BASIC manual.

                    I sent you a PM about TMX9909s, so you should see a link under your name at the top left of the screen that will take you to your Private Messages. They will work, though.

                    The 9995 FPGA cores are expensive, especially when one considers that the chips themselves are still in the $40 to $80 range when they are available (and I have found a number of sources that still have them in quantity). I seem to remember that the cores were in the 3-5K range from the last time that one of my friends went looking.

                    I like the idea of a Cortex on a Eurocard. That would be a major interesting project. . .and if you are good at FPGA programming, you might want to take on the project of doing a CPLD for the 74LS2001, as we do have enough information now to do something on that front. I will get around to it eventually in any event, but my next year or two are getting pretty full project-wise.

                    I'm not sure which application TMS9995 used to create his disk images, but one should be able to take them and restore them to physical disks with the appropriate program.
                    Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!

                    Comment


                      #85
                      Originally posted by Cybernaut View Post
                      The are some IP cores avaliable for the TMS9995, but I dare not ask how much they cost for fear of going into a coma.
                      When I worked for TI a few years ago I wrote a "9900 family member" core in vhdl from scratch, I don't have access to it anymore but there is no real reason that a 9995 core couldn't be written if required, the hard part is verifying it, especially if you want to faithfully emulate the processor when doing strange things, for example:

                      IDT 'TEST'
                      *
                      RORG
                      LI R1,>0481
                      X R1
                      NOP
                      END

                      In a real 9995 you never reach the NOP and even NMI doesn't pull you out (a 990/10 needs powering down!!!) and is non-privileged code.
                      Anyone care to guess why NMI doesn't work?

                      Comment


                        #86
                        Originally posted by Tony Rowell View Post
                        When I worked for TI a few years ago I wrote a "9900 family member" core in vhdl from scratch, I don't have access to it anymore but there is no real reason that a 9995 core couldn't be written if required, the hard part is verifying it, especially if you want to faithfully emulate the processor when doing strange things, for example:

                        IDT 'TEST'
                        *
                        RORG
                        LI R1,>0481
                        X R1
                        NOP
                        END

                        In a real 9995 you never reach the NOP and even NMI doesn't pull you out (a 990/10 needs powering down!!!) and is non-privileged code.
                        Anyone care to guess why NMI doesn't work?
                        My guess is that for NMI (and all other interrupts (excluding Reset)), the interrupt is only acknowledged between instructions and that since the X instruction is executing itself, it never completes.

                        I tried it on my emulator and it bombs out with a Stack Overflow as the X instruction emulation just keeps calling itself I guess this is somewhat acceptable as you have clobbered the CPU at that stage.

                        Comment


                          #87
                          spot on, nasty thing to do to a processor isn't it. A later member of the family made it such that if the target of an X instruction was another X it generated an illegal instruction interrupt to protect itself.
                          Interesting to hear what your simulator made of it.

                          Comment


                            #88
                            Originally posted by Cybernaut View Post

                            I am truly amazed at the Cortex emulator, I had the same program running on the MK2 and the emulator at the same time.
                            Needless to say the MK2 was faster . The emulator was running on an old lab PC the is a P3 clocked at 1GHz.
                            I would be interested in seeing seeing the source on how the Cortex emulation is done.
                            Thanks for the complement. I guess I could put the source up on WHTech if you want to have a laugh at my first C++/Direct X project! It started out in C as a DOS program. I then made it a Windows App using Borland C++ Builder, added Direct X and then converted it all to classes / C++. I'm quite proud of it really!


                            Originally posted by Cybernaut View Post

                            I have beed messing around with FPGA's for the last month and got to wondering about an FPGA replacement for the TMS9995 or even the whole Cortex (inc TMS9909 and the infamous 74LS2001). The are some IP cores avaliable for the TMS9995, but I dare not ask how much they cost for fear of going into a coma.
                            I have dreamt of putting the Cortex on a chip, but I think that's as far as it will go unless I win the lottery and have all the spare time in the World!

                            Originally posted by Cybernaut View Post

                            I am looking at building an updated Cortex on a single eurocard, using original TI chips but modern everthing else including a V9958 or the later V9959. The ancient DRAM would be replaced by a single and not so ancient larger SRAM. The "quaint, ancient, rare as hens teeth, expensive as ????? TMS2564's" will be replaced by a "nice, standard, common as muck, cheap as chips 27c512". The cassette interface can go as well..., LOLMA.
                            On both of mine I swapped out the 2564s for a 29F010 (or some FLASH equivalent) and replaced the TMS4500 & 4164s with a 628128 Static Ram (used with the Memory Mapper for 128K). You also get a slight speed increase as the TMS4500 no longer slows down the CPU during refresh (although removing the automatic waitstate generation on the TMS9995 is really the way to go, but that's another story...)


                            Originally posted by Cybernaut View Post

                            I have been scouring the internet for traces of a TMS9909 and some suitable diskdrive for it (BBC B ones should do the trick).
                            I have CDOS 1.2 on a 5.25 floppy (I don't know if it is any good).
                            That reminds me, would it be possible inthe emulator to map the Cortex drive to a physical PC drive?

                            I have been offered a TMX9909 by a former work colleague, he says it is a prototype TMS9909 but he can't gaurantee it will work in the Cortex or that the chip is in fact a worker.
                            I'm sure Ksarul has told you in his PM, but my understanding of TI at that time was the chips went TMP, TMX & TMS from prototype through production and I don't think the TMX9909 ever made past TMX

                            For your floppy drives, just use a couple of regular 3.5" PC drives. Cover the hole on the diskette so it thinks it's a 720K (ie non high density) and you're good to go.

                            Not sure about mapping a PC drive to the Cortex emulator. It's not like it had a hard drive on it to begin with. I have some utilities that can extract a file from a disk image and save it as a PC file. I suppose the other way would be to hijack the cassette save/load?

                            Comment


                              #89
                              Originally posted by Ksarul View Post

                              I'm not sure which application TMS9995 used to create his disk images, but one should be able to take them and restore them to physical disks with the appropriate program.
                              I use the CDOS Disk I/O routine to read one sector at a time and send it via the TMS9902 RS232 port to a PC that simply writes it to a file.
                              Last edited by tms9995; August 7, 2009, 02:11 PM.

                              Comment


                                #90
                                Originally posted by nige the hippy View Post
                                wow! celebrity! I' just off out now, but I'll be adding my questions to the list!
                                Just wondering if you ever came back ?

                                Comment

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