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F18A MK2


matthew180
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1 hour ago, Archimedes5000 said:

Hi, is there any chance to get a F18A for my TI99 ? I live in germany. Don't know where to buy it.

Greetings Axel

I do not believe they are available for purchase yet and is still under development.  I am looking forward to purchasing one too when they are available.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There will be multiple programming options, and JTAG is always an option (i.e. you can get JTAG programming for most any computer/OS).  The updater I write is intended to be cross-platform, but it that has yet to happen, so I won't make any promises at this time.  There is also the in-system updater that can be run from the 99/4A or C.V. itself.  Ideally the release firmware will be perfect and never need updating.

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15 hours ago, matthew180 said:

There will be multiple programming options, and JTAG is always an option (i.e. you can get JTAG programming for most any computer/OS).  The updater I write is intended to be cross-platform, but it that has yet to happen, so I won't make any promises at this time.  There is also the in-system updater that can be run from the 99/4A or C.V. itself.  Ideally the release firmware will be perfect and never need updating.

To be honest, I was afraid that the waiting time was related to HDMI licensing issues. But since the TI is already 40 years old, we are happy to wait for the F18Amk2. Is it possible to support the project?

Greetings Axel

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Depends on what you mean by "support the project".  If you are referring to a Patreon or something, then no, I don't have anything like that set up.  Unless I had enough projects like this to support me full time (which I don't, and I don't think is possible), hobby time is the largest factor.  I also don't feel like I can offer enough consistent time on the project to create a Patreon.  My time tends to come in chunks, with longer than desired gaps in between.

 

FGPA projects tend to be solitary, since there are not many people doing them compared to other kinds of hobbies, and everyone is doing their own thing.  I'm not particularly opposed to having help on the actual project, there is certainly plenty to do.

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  • 4 months later...
On 6/27/2018 at 4:49 AM, matthew180 said:

I normally don't like to announce things before they are ready, but I can't keep making excuses to those waiting and asking about the next F18A board run.

 

For the last 6 months, while requests for the F18A were trickling in, I have been working on a new version of the F18A, called the MK2, to solve the problems of the current board. At the point were I had enough requests for F18A boards, I was not quite ready with the new MK2 design, so I continued to avoid the direct question of "when do you think the next F18A run will be?"

 

To not have to keep making excuses, and with apologizes to those who have been waiting patiently for a long time, I'm announcing the F18A MK2 now, about a month before it will probably be shipping. I wanted to do this so people would have some real status, and to help my conscience (Vorticon, I spelled it right this time... icon_winking.gif ).

 

Here is a link to the long version of the story: http://codehackcreate.com/archives/592

 

I'll do the short and sweet version here. The primary features of the F18A MK2 are:

 

* It is 52mm x 19mm, i.e. the same size as a standard 600-mil 40-pin DIP socket, so no tall-pins, short-pins, adapters, etc. will be necessary for it to fit in the host computers.

 

* Digital video output (TBD, probably DisplayPort). No, there is no VGA, sorry. See my post above for the details on that. Digital video to VGA converters are available if you really need/want VGA.

 

* Host audio injection into the video signal for those who can manage to connect one wire internally to pick up the system's audio and get it to a pin on the MK2.

 

The MK2 will run the same core as the original F18A, and I am still committed to supporting, working on, and fixing the original F18A issues (there is a known problem with the interrupt on some systems, etc.)

 

Future features based on the enhanced MK2 hardware. Access to these features will come with future firmware releases (I don't have time to do it all at once, sorry):

 

* The MK2 has 512KiB of 10ns SRAM, i.e. basically 512KiB of VRAM. This VRAM will be available in a 9938-compatible way, and then some.

 

* The MK2 has extra I/O, including the Mode-1 pin to make it possible to do the 9938-update to the 99/4A in a "TIM" manner.

 

* More than double the FPGA resources than the original F18A. This means more possibilities for new stuff in the VDP.

 

Other non-TI related possibilities:

 

* With simple low-cost adapter boards to re-arrange the wiring, plus a firmware change, the MK2 can be used to replace other VDPs like those in the NES, the Master System, MSX2 (i.e. 9938/59 system), etc.

 

* Stand-alone FPGA-based game system due to the on-board 9900 CPU and 14 extra general-purpose IO pins.

 

* General purpose FPGA devboard.

 

* More simple SPI-based host interface to use the MK2 as a video chip for simple micorcontroller projects, i.e. Arduino, etc.

 

I plan to keep this thread updated with status and to gauge feedback. If all goes well, and if I have not just made a big mistake, I hope to have the MK2 shipping by late July. Ironically this will be exactly 6-years after the original F18A shipped!

 

Some renderings and photos of the current prototype:

post-24952-0-21633000-1530092855_thumb.png

post-24952-0-76411000-1530092903_thumb.png

post-24952-0-04751200-1530092920_thumb.jpg

post-24952-0-74702800-1530092948_thumb.jpg

post-24952-0-65174100-1530092962_thumb.jpg

post-24952-0-63716800-1530092979_thumb.jpg

Are any of these still available?

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8 minutes ago, johnph3 said:

Are any of these still available?

"still available" implies they were once available. :(  The MK2 is not finished.  Early on there were some legality set-backs related to the digital-video, and also due to having to rewrite (still in the works) most of the HDL to take advantage of the feature-creep I allowed to happen.  This is slow going, and due to the pandemic induced electronic part shortage, I cannot get a lot of the critical parts to have the boards made.

 

Even though the board is small, it was a big project to bite off, and like a lot of the projects I get into, if I think them through I would probably never start.  I am working on the MK2, and I do plan to finish and release it, but that's about all I can say right now.

 

Update would be:

* the PCB seems stable, but I need to actually build the last revision (getting parts is a problem)

* rewrite of the HDL, on going

 

I was working on trying to get an initial "lots of features missing, but here is the board" release, but then COVID happened and the parts shortage.  So I went back to working on the HDL.

 

Sorry for the less than exciting update.

 

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19 minutes ago, johnph3 said:

What about the original F18A?

The original F18A has proven to be rather resilient.  The FPGA is uses has not been main-stream since 2008, yet it is still in production (despite being nearly abandoned by Xilinx).  I suspect that is why you can still find it stocked, even during the part shortage (probably no one has used it in new designs for over a decade).  Due to this, I might have to consider doing a batch of the original F18A to help with the pent up demand.

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No idea, I have not priced the BOM in years, but I suspect most parts are going to cost more than they did before; due to the shortages, new tariffs, and manufactures getting tired of not making money on passives (like caps and such).  I do not know what the landscape of getting PCBs made and assembled is like right now either.  I would guess an F18A will be $100 or more (without shipping), but I'm not willing to say exactly until I have all the data.

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On 5/26/2022 at 11:29 AM, matthew180 said:

The original F18A has proven to be rather resilient.  The FPGA is uses has not been main-stream since 2008, yet it is still in production (despite being nearly abandoned by Xilinx).  I suspect that is why you can still find it stocked, even during the part shortage (probably no one has used it in new designs for over a decade).  Due to this, I might have to consider doing a batch of the original F18A to help with the pent up demand.

I’m a data point of one, but I would purchase a couple MK1 and a couple MK2 even if they came out in close succession.  Opening up the machine and tinkering is half the fun.

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On 5/26/2022 at 11:29 AM, matthew180 said:

The original F18A has proven to be rather resilient.  The FPGA is uses has not been main-stream since 2008, yet it is still in production (despite being nearly abandoned by Xilinx).  I suspect that is why you can still find it stocked, even during the part shortage (probably no one has used it in new designs for over a decade).  Due to this, I might have to consider doing a batch of the original F18A to help with the pent up demand.

If you do end up doing another run, I'd be interested in one of the original MK1 ones too.

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  • 2 weeks later...
5 minutes ago, aftyde said:

Quick question - is there an F18A supported VT100 / ANSITERM solution for the TI99?  Looking for something a little more industrial grade for use with the TIPI.  Apologies if this is the wrong forum for the question.

TIMXT supports ANSI for a terminal program.  if you have a TiPi then if I recall the MXT does as well.

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5 minutes ago, Shift838 said:

TIMXT supports ANSI for a terminal program.  if you have a TiPi then if I recall the MXT does as well.

Interesting - will definitely take a look and appreciate the pointer.  This all came up when I spotted a FB post about Foundation CP/M cards.  Figured I'd get my PI based CP/M environment kitted out.  Used to do quite a bit on an Apple ][+ with CP/M back in the day - and still have all my documents from back in the day.  Would be super cool to have Wordstar on the TI99!  :)

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1 minute ago, aftyde said:

Interesting - will definitely take a look and appreciate the pointer.  This all came up when I spotted a FB post about Foundation CP/M cards.  Figured I'd get my PI based CP/M environment kitted out.  Used to do quite a bit on an Apple ][+ with CP/M back in the day - and still have all my documents from back in the day.  Would be super cool to have Wordstar on the TI99!  :)

since I have a UDS10 still hooked up to my TI i typically use TIMXT for all my terminal stuff and it looks great at 80 column and ANSI.

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32 minutes ago, aftyde said:

Interesting - will definitely take a look and appreciate the pointer.  This all came up when I spotted a FB post about Foundation CP/M cards.  Figured I'd get my PI based CP/M environment kitted out.  Used to do quite a bit on an Apple ][+ with CP/M back in the day - and still have all my documents from back in the day.  Would be super cool to have Wordstar on the TI99!  :)

Could you link that Facebook post, I'd like to see it. Thanks

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19 hours ago, Shift838 said:

since I have a UDS10 still hooked up to my TI i typically use TIMXT for all my terminal stuff and it looks great at 80 column and ANSI.

I got a Lantronix UDS10 long ago, but never got it working. (FleaBay.)
 

Perhaps it was my homemade cables. I got the weird shells for DB25 to RJ-type, to build on.  
 

Perhaps the device was faulty when I got it. I gave up messing with the operator prompt. 
 

 

It would be nice to hook up the genuine RS232 and never have to string more cables across the room to do an experiment. 

Obligatory on-topic: the 4A involved has an F18A. 

 

 

 



 

 


 

 

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