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Anyone have an Epson HX-20?


JamesD
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I have one that I picked up at some thrift/estate/yard sale at some point, but it's never worked and I keep it around just because it looks cool. Mine has an expansion box called RealVoice and there's a sticker on the back that warns about properly attaching the unit to a wheelchair so it must have served a disabled person at some point.

 

Beyonds that, not much I can tell you.

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I have the successor called the PX-8. Built like a tank, the screws in that thing could hold up a door frame. Also, if the NiCAD batteries are completely drained it won't boot at all. It cannot run off of A/C power. Also, the micro cassette works like a floppy, and if memory serves can hold 12 files totaling 60K.

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I was interested because of the 6301, which is an enhanced version of the MC6801... which is the same instruction set as the 6803 that I've been spending a lot of time on.
The PX-8 looks like a much nicer machine btw. I'd love one of those. Can't afford it at the moment.

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I had an HX-20 aeons ago, complete with printer and microcassette drive. Unfortunately, it's long-gone, but here're my recollections of it:

 

They're a neat machine from an historical perspective, but overall practicality is somewhat limited. There's almost no original software available for them. The keyboard is better to use than it might at first look with a nicely-readable non-backlit LCD. BASIC is built-in and is a variant of Microsoft BASIC, IIRC. I think there may also have been a monitor mode akin to the one in the Apple ][, but that may be my memory playing tricks on me.

 

They're really a product of their time - and by that I mean that they're representative of trying to figure out what usable mobile computers would look and act like. That's not to knock them, but if you're interested in them I'd recommend asking yourself if you want it because of its place in the history of computing, or because you want something to use and enjoy regularly. If your answer is the former, you'll probably be better off in the long run than if it's the latter.

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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  • 2 years later...
  • 6 months later...

Hello,

 

Yes, I syill have one of these - HX-20.   I bought mine new back in 1983, had it ever since.   Still just about works, but needs some help here and there.   Bit like me, I suppose!

Cassette drive no longer works, so I save/load to the laptop (.WAV files) which works well.   Use 'hxtape' to manipulate the saved files, incl convert to .BAS or .TXT source listing, etc.

Lot of the machines about, and working.   Quite a community of users.

Geoff, Guisborough, England

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  • 3 months later...

There is a YouTube video about the BOMBER (aka BLITZ) game for the HX - I was searching for a copy of this game.

 

Finally contacted the original author Simon Taylor.   He had the game on a microcassette, but the recording was degraded and he could not extract it.   But he kindly sent us the tape, and we were able to 'recover' the program with help from Audacity, the game is now working, and available as a .WAV

https://www.pjspot.com/hx-20/?page_id=322

also on the site some details of the recovery process, plus other info about the HX-20

Geoff

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12 hours ago, Geoff Barnard said:

There is a YouTube video about the BOMBER (aka BLITZ) game for the HX - I was searching for a copy of this game.

 

Finally contacted the original author Simon Taylor.   He had the game on a microcassette, but the recording was degraded and he could not extract it.   But he kindly sent us the tape, and we were able to 'recover' the program with help from Audacity, the game is now working, and available as a .WAV

https://www.pjspot.com/hx-20/?page_id=322

also on the site some details of the recovery process, plus other info about the HX-20

Geoff

I just watched the video on that, that so awesome

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had a HX-20, my mom bought it from a surplus store around 1988, and I remember taking it with me on a class trip and printing out fake biorhythms for everyone.  I've sure it's still around at my parent's house, but I think it wasn't working last time I checked.  It could be a NiCd problem, although I also suspected that I'd zapped the EPROM that's accessible behind an access panel.  Now that I know how to fix such things, I'll have to get it out on my next trip home and see what shape its in.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 3 months later...

Finally I have not been able to repair the HX-20 shown in my last post 😞

 

After replacing batteries, DIN and power connectors, LCD flat cable, capacitors, resolder some points etc.. it does not start. Hopefully a friend of mine gave me another HX-20, and after only repairing the printer and connecting the microcassette module, the "new" one perfectly works now. To the left the "old" one and to the right the "new" one.

 

IMG_1966.thumb.jpg.6b2d82184afa4a64456523f3622296c1.jpg

 

Actually I'm loading the programs throught the RS232C port connected to an PC computer, but I'm trying to use the Flashx20 emulator that allows to duplicate the HX-20 screen on the PC screen and also emulates 4 disk units. I doesn't work at the moment and I wonder if someone uses this software to share experiences...

 

 

 

Edited by Papalapa
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On 2/23/2018 at 8:54 PM, rpiguy9907 said:

Looks like th 6301 has bitfield instructions and a sleep instruction, plus a ton of IO that otherwise would have had to been bolted on externally otherwise.

 

https://www.jaapsch.net/psion/pdffiles/hd6301X_datasheet.pdf

Hmmm... totally missed this back when it was posted.

These chips are microcontrollers designed to control devices without additional external chips, making a "single chip" computer possible.  (it has some internal RAM and was available with custom internal ROM) 
They are kinda like a CPU + parallel I/O + serial I/O + timer + RAM and optional ROM all in one. (6800+6821+add ons, or similar to 6502+6522 for you MOS fans)
Hitachi was a 2nd source for Motorola parts, and they redesigned the chip to be pipelined so that instructions take fewer clock cycles, and it has more bit operations than the 6801.

I've spent a lot of time programming the 6803 (no internal ROM) in the Tandy MC-10, and it's a pretty decent chip. 
Code is typically 20% to 30% smaller than for the 6502, and can be quite a bit faster depending on what you are doing.
The 16 bit D register rotate (LSRD) instruction makes the sprite code for my port of the Arcade Game Designer engine a lot more efficient.  Don't know how many games don't use pre-shifted sprites, but... it's there.
Even the 6809 doesn't have 16 bit shifts.

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To connect the Epson HX-20 to a monitor or TV, you needed the official Epson adapter or the Oval HO-20, impossible to find today.

 

I have found two programs to emulate the HX-20 screen and send the data on the PC screen. They also incorporate disk emulation, so there is no more loading programs via RS232C at 1.200 baud.

The first one I've tried is Flashx20 but I haven't been able to make it work. The HX-20 communicates with the PC, but shows a serial port reading error, even setting the right parameters.

 

The one that has worked the first time is the MH-20 Display Controller. It requires Java 8.0 as a minimum to work. I have installed the software and Java on a retrocomputer with WindowsXP. Both use the null-modem serial cable I used up to now to upload the programs via RS232C, but this time connected to the HX-20's "SERIAL" DIN instead of the "RS232C" one. Here is a picture of the HX-20 connected to the PC. If you have an Epson HX-20 try it, it's worth it.

 

IMG_2031.thumb.JPG.cf85dfa4710e4d60255b474c22008de0.JPG

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