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digital storage device to replace tape recorder?


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So just wanted to explore the other options here for storage other than tape. I'm aware of tape's history and that these days tape is more or less just a nostalgia concept. Going forward for me, from the times I have used it again recently, I've come to the conclusion that I want to put tape in the rear view mirror as much as possible, as I find it's still too unreliable of a format for data storage and retrieval. So I am starting from square one here as I head in the direction of modern devices to see what digital devices can come into play.


I'm looking for something more direct...in a nutshell, a digital direct replacement storage device for my tape recorder to save and load any programs I write or type in from old books I have before I trash them.  Aside from programming in extended basic and the occasional Parsec and TI Invaders game, sadly to many of you, I won't be doing much more than that with the TI.  

 

Thus, for me it's basically... what do you do if all you want is a more reliable storage source and all you have is a stock TI 99 4/a with speech snyth and Axiom paralel printer interface (because printing to hard copy is important in my case) and the tape drive... your basic set up, sans expansion? 

 

  • Is there something as close as I can get to the Sdrive Max in the TI world, both concept wise and price range, without going full blown into TIPI-land and all its grandeur or Finalgrom territory?
  • Can anything come close to what I am describing above, or even be custom made, so it just acts merely as a data storage and retrievable device usable from the tape drive port?

 

It could be that there is no other way, and I would have to get the 32k Ram expansion and all necessaries for that, but why would you if you didn't have to?  But maybe that's just it, I'd have to. I honestly wasn't 100%  sure here, or if someone could think of another way to achieve this, as I am not the tinkerer.  Again, in the Atariworld, what I am describing here would be the data-saving-and-loading-portion of the Sdrive Max I use, so I understand what goes on there, but not as much here.

 

Please go gentle and I will listen.

 

 

 

Edited by newTIboyRob
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Your best bet would be to get with @arcadeshopper and purchase a sidecar memory expansion and a tipi that mounts to it with a raspberry pi zero. that would give you a bunch of storage possibility at modest costs, compared to a full blown PEB box with even all the regular goodies inside. then you could even download games from the gamebase as well as other programs in XB format to use to your hearts content. TI items like many other vintage stuff is expensive outside of the basics, as some of the old stuff is not being built anymore, or unobtainium. The new stuff is not real expensive for the most part, like the tipi, finalrom99, and others, but they do have a costs, even if you build it yourself. Parts are double or triple what they were just few years ago and it costs money to have pcb's created and it takes manhours to build something, especially SMD populated items like the IDE card for the PEB Box. 

I say that, to say this, if you want to just tinker with the TI, then its probably cheaper to use the various emulators out there, Mame, Classic99, Js99er, V9t9, Ti994aW, or others. Then you have as much storage as you PC or Mac allows and no cash outlay, and you don't feel the pinch. But if you want to get the "nostalgic" experience, then it may cost a few bucks to get there. But if your willing to pay out for Apple, Amiga, or many other systems, it won't be much different going the TI99 way. Of course you can also design and build your own peripherials and sell them to us if they meet our needs. Off my soapbox now. Hope you get something that meets your needs.

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I actually do want to stay with the "nostalgic" experience instead of the various emulators. There is still something magical, at least to me, about hearing that TI "click". Maybe someone else can relate?  So yes, the emulators would be off the table for me, albeit being way cheaper, as you mentioned.  True, costs all around are much much higher than recent years from what I can see, but I'm in a way I'm surprised that something like I described wouldn't have been done by this time, something more like in say the $75 range for a less intense user like me.  Then again, I suppose the people who want the whole enchilada are the people who are super into it, will get super use out of it, and certainly would love to have a ton of software at their disposal, thus warranting their purchase. I can see that. I'm also aware that my situation really is one more outside the circle whereby I'm not the heavy user needing and wanting that whole enchilada, yet still needing something to preserve the classic console experience- but not at the price of having to feel skeptical every time I go near the tape recorder after typing in what may be a potentially long program in TI basic!

 

I don't know about your comment though of : "Of course you can also design and build your own peripherals and sell them to us if they meet our needs.." hmmm and also, I am a guy who soldered only once in my life, an XLR audio cable, and that was 23 years ago. In short, today, if I would build it, it would probably would blow, both literally and figuratively.  

 

So after a visit to the aforementioned store, unless someone can come up with another idea to fit my noted narrow confines, I'm likely out of luck here, because what remains for me is actually about the $50-$75 price range for the device I describe, and doesn't look like it can be done?  If I followed you on your first sentence, (and join me in some math here to make sure we are on the same page):

 

The best way for those would be the here-you-go-it's-all-ready-to-go $261 TIPI package #1 of: 32k sidecar PI Zero?  As great as all that is... but for my needs above?   

In short, I might be at a dead end?

 

Still nothing available in a smaller price and smaller scale concept, (in a different device) that can take the TI basic data coming out of the cassette port, store it, then read it back in the TI, or even convert it to say a WAV file that is then decodable, loadable and readable back in the TI?

Edited by newTIboyRob
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Of course there are other ways to record from the cassette port, a few here have done that using Ipods, digital recorders and such and if you search this forum you can find those articles and follow along. I started in the early 90's with a cassette player and TI99 from a Goodwill, and my sons and I soon grew tired of the wait times on loading something in and dealing with many associated problems, I got my first PBox a few months later with a FDC and never looked back.

 

I can't answer your questions on the other sound storage devices, as I do Scsi, MFM Hardrive, CF+, and Floppy storage, and Ide, using a myriad of device emulators like, real drives, SCSI2SD, MFM emulators, Gotek and HxD floppy emulators. Some of these I built from bareboards or kits up to keep costs down, but that's the cost of maintaining a hobby, and I do have some hobbies that eat a bit of cash, each man to his own desires. 

 

I do believe you'll find something to help you out, but if you spend any time trying to do coding in extended basic only to have the work you have been coding disappear due to a electrical outage or a child or a cat pulling out the cassette cord from the side of the unit losing that important data, and you have to start again, you'd wish that you had better storage.

 

There used to be a couple of devices that a seller would put up on ebay called the CF+ or a NanoPeb occasionally for around 60-70 bucks, that you could use a Compact Flash on, but when the Tipi came out those sort of stopped. You can find them sometimes on Ebay, and maybe someone here has an extra that they'd sell. But since they're not being made anymore, they'll be collector items soon enough too. A couple of people are working on some other storage devices too. But those prices, for the reasons I stated in the other posts, will likely be above the hundred dollar range. FYI.

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4 hours ago, newTIboyRob said:

... any programs I write or type in from old books I have before I trash them.

Can I just say... DON'T TRASH THEM! I've done this over the years and I bitterly regret it 😢

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Interesting... oh yes now I recognize that NanoPeb. I remember hearing that term, but never actually knew much about it.

 

Wow, I just watched a You Tube video on that... 32K memory expansion, plus 3 emulated drives and a serial port all in that thing. And even better, its set up is a cinch. That sounds exactly like what I need and since that was 2018, and since the TIPI has since eaten into that market, maybe there still is a used one for me still floating around out there like Charlie Bucket's elusive golden ticket. It sounds like it just might fit the bill here, as I assume whatever programmed in TI Basic could be saved and loaded on one of the 3 emulated drives.

 

Doing the math... IF I can find one for say $50 or so, an auxiliary regulated 5V power supply can't be more than like $10 on Ebay,  If CF card =  Compact Flash.. I am thinking a 256mb CF card (more than I would ever need) is another $8 putting me around $70 total and still keeping me in the $50-$75 window. Thanks for that tip Ricky. 

 

Other than actually finding one, the other issue I can see here is... I have the Axiom Parallel printer interface hooked up to the speech synth. But from what I heard, the NanoPeb accomodates a serial port... so does this mean... I also now will need some kind of parallel to serial printer adapter connecting from the NanoPeb's serial port to the Axiom, or is there another viable way to include my Star parallel printer. Someone here has got to know about this.

 

Don't see one at arcadeshopper, but hopefully someone will read the thread title, think of the NanoPeb, see where we are, and maybe I might just get lucky if they would/could sell to me, super lucky if they have some of those other things. Might be harder, but another thought is maybe someone could even build me one or equivalent, that is, if they can still still get the parts and not lose the ranch at the same time.  (Again, those costs!) 

 

 

@dasch I feel your pain.  But in my case, it's more likely that if the program didn't interest me once, it has a more than good chance of not interesting me in the future. As you probably know, you could find quite a few online the IA.  But should you not, to you, and also if @chris36, there is a specific title you really miss, I can check my personal library and see if I have what you need.  Chris, you deserve a shout out :) 

Edited by newTIboyRob
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Also, I would be open to some kind of trade or defrayment in a PM and operating on the buddy system here... as I have another silver TI 99 4a/ with speech snyth and working power supply whose box here shows that all that was wrong with it was a broken space bar when I packed it away within the last 8 years. I could always dig it out and run tests.  

 

Edited by newTIboyRob
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Let me think here a minute. If my PC is upstairs and my actual TI is downstairs, you are saying I could record a WAV file to my PC up here using a USB sound card? (My PC has its own sound card)  Now I would go back downstairs to my TI. I could then get that WAV file from PC back into TI the without an actual tape?  I don't quite follow, could you explain a little please?

 

I think I tried something similar to what you said on page 3 of my other post, the one you asked me about yesterday called "I/O error 66=?"   

Edited by newTIboyRob
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3 minutes ago, newTIboyRob said:

Let me think here a minute. If my PC is upstairs and my actual TI is downstairs, you are saying I could record a WAV file to my PC up here using a USB sound card? (My PC has its own sound card)  Now I would go back downstairs to my TI. I could then get that WAV file from PC back into TI the without an actual tape?  I don't quite follow, could you explain a little please?

If your TI is near your PC, you plug the TI's tape cable into the PC's microphone and headphone jacks. Record to a wave file when the TI is saving, and play that wave file back when the TI is loading.

 

Since(unlike Atari or Commodore) the TI tape interface is just two audio lines*, theoretically anything that can record and play back audio will work. You don't need a tape player, just something that can record from a microphone jack and play back through a headphone jack.

...

In practice, it wants a LOUD signal and a lot of modern playback devices lack the ooomph needed.

 

 

 

 

*Incidentally, this is also why there's no tape drive emulators for the TI. As we lack any special tape interface, any tape replacement we can make is just... reinventing the MP3 player.

 

Our lack of custom floppy drive replacements is a similar situation. Our floppy scenario wasn't a proprietary drive, it was a controller card with a connector for standard drives. No need to create a replacement. By the time flash RAM was interesting, the Gotek existed, so... why reinvent it?

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I have used this model(made in china) with consistent results. The MADE IN VIETNAM, models have different parts/layout.

 

image.thumb.jpeg.d441b535b40da26b3553dd6f8f519426.jpeg

 

...But this may not improve your results, if the issue is caused by electrical noise/RFI.

 

  P.S. These are available on ebay, for under $20.
 

Edited by HOME AUTOMATION
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Since you have an Axiom Parallel printer interface it may be possible to use something from Fred Kaal's projects. He has several ways to transfer files via a variety of methods, some of them possibly adaptable to your Axiom. you can type in the address showing in my photo, go to the projects and browse thru his selection. some of it may be as simple as making a cable, as you've stated you've done in the past. Look into the projects with the Hdx in it.

 

 

 

Hdx.jpg

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Thank you Ricky, will look into that. First just want to explore @HOME AUTOMATION's suggestion and unit in conjunction with the previous mentions of the others. I see that particular model has both choices of mic and ear on top.  So you yourself use the TI's cassette cord with the red black and white wires and:

 

1) do you connect both the red (mic) and white (ear) parts of the TI cassette table into both ports of the Olympus, or what do you find is the best connection/s?

2) then in TI basic, just do the standard SAVE CS1 to save and OLD CS1 to load that file back? 

3) Have you found a particular setting combination, e.g. volume, position, etc consistently works best? 

4) Just curious, what file type does it save it as?

 

My Ti is in the basement. Regarding the RF interference, all I can say is I usually get very nice results on my flat screen HP monitor down there with my TI's modified DIN cable and a video-to-VGA converter box, (see the last photo in my other post: I/O Error 66=?) though I don't know if RF interference is different when talking about monitors or RF interference is just RF interference regardless. 

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Ok, yes, I would get the Made In China one if I need to, thank you, and would only use Duracell or Energizers. Would you be able to answer my questions above though?  (They are just so I could try to have the same success that you have consistently have had, as you say, and I would like to do it in the best way that would give me the best chances of it working correctly?)

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6 hours ago, newTIboyRob said:

Ok, yes, I would get the Made In China one if I need to, thank you, and would only use Duracell or Energizers. Would you be able to answer my questions above though?  (They are just so I could try to have the same success that you have consistently have had, as you say, and I would like to do it in the best way that would give me the best chances of it working correctly?)

Sorry, I managed to convince myself that you were asking Ricky.:-D

 

While trying not to seem impertinent. Instead attempting to offer only the more progressive excerpts of my experience... I didn't get to the point where I can repair a TV, VCR, TELEPHONE ELECTRONICS, or work with SIGNALS, MODULATION, PROGRAMMING, and the like, by answering these kinds of questions.:twisted: I got here by doing just that, than, after learning the real solution, going back to the construct where I initially considered these questions, and using negative reinforcement to ensure that I would NEVER consider them again!:grin: By this method/conditioning, the remaining questions point directly to the answers. So, in the spirit of pragmaticality, I try to cherry-pick the questions that I believe may bear fruit, while avoiding those where my response may seem unreasonably hostile or contrite to others! Not to berate your questions!|:) ...This is how motivate!:o

 

1) Don't sweat the small stuff! The chances that your device has negative grounding for one jack, and positive for the other, are next-to-none. I've certainly used one plug at a time, probably used both(on occasions).
2) That's how I SAVE/LOAD from TI BASIC(excluding MINI MEMORY/EA/XB, CALLS).
3) It's been some time since I used that particular method. Can't say for certain. I seem to recall using full volume for SAVEing/LOADing. I do recall using a setting of 24 on some occasion(s), can't recall when/why though.
4) Internal/Unknown, as there is no USB port.


Have you tried switching the monitor off, several seconds before SAVEing/LOADing? Once when I couldn't get CS1 to work, it turned out to be as simple as that, the way things were laid-out, the cassette cables ran to close along the monitor. It seems that the vertical deflection pulses from the yoke-coils, were introducing clipping-type pulses into the audio channel. Having the cassette cables, or the record/playback device, too close to the monitor, or power adaptor, can introduce noise.

:cool:

 

    P.S. The OLYMPUS unit(above) has mono record/playback jacks.

Edited by HOME AUTOMATION
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On the issue of interference, also consider moving the cell phone away from the area.  Recently, I was gaming online and using Discord with a microphone.  I was coming through very garbled.  Eventually found that my phone was the problem.  I can't have it anywhere within a few feet of the microphone.  I imagine the same could happen between a microphone and a TI connection.

Edited by chris36
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