Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Announcements about the Altair 8800 Clone including software and hardware updates.

Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby AltairClone » December 1st, 2015, 12:34 pm

A new firmware release is available for the Altair 8800 Clone on the support page. Version 1.9 incorporates the following updates:

  • Add 600 baud option for serial ports. Delete the 1800 baud option.

  • Upon first entry into the Configuration Monitor from normal (Altair) mode, the run-time (Altair) settings for port 1 are used. Once in the monitor, raising AUX-L again forces the monitor to re-start with port 1 set to 9600 baud, 8N1. This allows, for example, using a Teletype as the Altair console and continuing to use the Teletype as the Configuration Monitor console. However, if a 9600 baud console is then connected for use with the Configuration Monitor, a second AUX-L toggle will properly display on the 9600 baud console.

  • When ROMs are disabled or removed in the Configuration Monitor, a power cycle is no longer required for the change to take effect.
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Re: Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby Caterman » December 1st, 2015, 3:57 pm

Thanks for the firmware update.
Run into a snag! My GNT4604 only wants to punch at 300 on medium speed. I can't get the dip switches to do as the manual.
With 6 & 7 both 'ON', the low should be 110 and fast 600. but can't even get the 110 to work properly.
Tried the Dips 6 'ON' 7 'OFF' should be 150 on low - not punching correctly.
Even Dip switch 2 which controls the leader doesn't do as the manual you should be able to punch full delete, (all holes punched). Dip 2 in either position only punches feed holes.
I've checked the DIP switches electrically and they are all working.
I must conclude that either the DIP switch settings in the manual I have do not correspond with my machine, or there is something fundementally wrong with my machine!
Any help on dip switch settings would be appreciated.
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Re: Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby AltairClone » December 1st, 2015, 4:45 pm

Here's a manual I found on-line for the 4604, but it sounds like the switch settings are the same you've been referring to. If the DIP switches test OK electrically, then possibly the LOW-MED-HIGH switch is at issue? Flood a little contact cleaner in it and slide it back and forth a bunch of times.

ftp://computermuseum.informatik.uni-stu ... manual.pdf

Mike
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Re: Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby toml_12953 » December 2nd, 2015, 12:57 pm

AltairClone wrote:A new firmware release is available for the Altair 8800 Clone on the support page. Version 1.9 incorporates the following updates:

Upon first entry into the Configuration Monitor from normal (Altair) mode, the run-time (Altair) settings for port 1 are used. Once in the monitor, raising AUX-L again forces the monitor to re-start with port 1 set to 9600 baud, 8N1. This allows, for example, using a Teletype as the Altair console and continuing to use the Teletype as the Configuration Monitor console. However, if a 9600 baud console is then connected for use with the Configuration Monitor, a second AUX-L toggle will properly display on the 9600 baud console.[/*]



Thank you, Mike! This is a big help for those of us who use a slower terminal on port 1. Now, is there any chance we could get an update to allow changing disks and uploading software from a device on a port other than 1? That way, we'd never have to unplug anything. I could run the Teletype and still change disks.

Tom L
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Re: Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby Caterman » December 2nd, 2015, 2:29 pm

The GNT4604 all fixed and punching away happily at a full 600 baud.
Traced the problem down to IC6 on the main board which is (was!!) a 1K x 8 resistor array either pull up or down on all 8 dip switches.
It literal had delaminated, 8 x 1k resistors solder in later = perfect machine.
I can now punch and read at 600 without having to delve into any serial setting or switches - brilliant.
Thanks Mike for firmware and help.
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Re: Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby AltairClone » December 2nd, 2015, 4:45 pm

The GNT4604 all fixed and punching away happily at a full 600 baud.


That's great! Nothing feels better than getting some old s%#t working.

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Re: Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby AltairClone » December 2nd, 2015, 4:51 pm

Now, is there any chance we could get an update to allow changing disks and uploading software from a device on a port other than 1?


Someone else just asked me today for the ability to transfer disk images over the 2nd serial port with the option of even higher speeds than 115K.

As far as "changing disks," you can now do that via your Teletype - albeit a slow process, but then again, if you're using a Teletype, that's what you want, right? ;) To actually upload new disk content while connected to a Teletype or read terminal on port 1, yes, that requires the ability to transfer over the 2nd port.

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Re: Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby toml_12953 » December 3rd, 2015, 5:56 am

AltairClone wrote:As far as "changing disks," you can now do that via your Teletype - albeit a slow process, but then again, if you're using a Teletype, that's what you want, right? ;)
Mike


OK, I'm dense, I guess. How would I change the disk in drive 0 from Altair Disk BASIC to CP/M from the Teletype which is on the first serial port? AFAIK (which, I'll admit, is not TOO far!) I'd still need a serial connection to a PC to transfer the CP/M image to the Clone.

Tom L

OIC what you're saying. I could have CP/M in drive 2 and Altair Disk BASIC in drive 0 then use Change Drive Assignment to make CP/M be in Drive 0. I used the wrong terminology when I said "change disks". I should have said I want to be able to insert a disk when the Teletype is on port 1.
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Re: Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby AltairClone » December 4th, 2015, 11:52 am

Please give me opinions on the following potential firmware updates:

If the option to load/save floppy images over the 2nd serial port is implemented (operator interface remains on port 1), then an option must be provided to choose which port should be used. Should this choice be requested 1) each time a transfer is done, or 2) should it be a saved parameter (like floppy transfer baud rate) that is specified/changed in a separate menu?

Higher baud rates than 115.2K are possible for disk image transfer. Unfortunately, the baud rate error at 230.4K and 460.8K is large enough that the transfer typically doesn't work. Based on the PIC24FJ's clock and baud rate generator, the actual baud rates are 235.3K and 444.4K. These rates will work if you can figure out how to get your terminal emulator/USB-Adapter to work at those rates. You cannot choose these odd baud rates directly in TeraTerm, but I have found that if I update the baud rate macro I provided with TeraTerm to specify 444,444 baud, that when the macro is activated, the baud rate is set to 444.444 and file transfer works (using a PL-2303 based USB adapter and their Windows driver). The complete disk image transfer only takes about 10 seconds. However, the same setup doesn't work for me at 235.3K baud due to unknown magic in the Windows driver. Looking at the source for the Linux driver for the PL-2303 this should work, but I've never seen the source for the Windows driver.

Initially, I was wondering if it was worth adding these two odd-ball rates to the floppy transfer rate menu, but now that I think about it, there's probably no reason not to add them. For example, if someone is using a Pi or Arduino, custom configuration of baud rates is more feasible and this might prove handy.

Feel free to chime in with thoughts.

Mike
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Re: Altair 8800 Clone Firmware Version 1.9

Postby toml_12953 » December 4th, 2015, 12:48 pm

AltairClone wrote:Please give me opinions on the following potential firmware updates:
If the option to load/save floppy images over the 2nd serial port is implemented (operator interface remains on port 1), then an option must be provided to choose which port should be used. Should this choice be requested 1) each time a transfer is done, or 2) should it be a saved parameter (like floppy transfer baud rate) that is specified/changed in a separate menu?
Mike


I'll vote for an option in the menus to use port 1, 2 or (if possible) 3 for disk transfers rather than having to specify the port to use each time. That would be consistent with the other options.

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