Z*Magazine: 13-Nov-87 #79From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 07/17/93-08:09:31 PM Z
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From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG) Subject: Z*Magazine: 13-Nov-87 #79 Date: Sat Jul 17 20:09:31 1993 ______________________________________ ZMAGAZINE 79 November 13, 1987 ______________________________________ Published/Edited by: Ron Kovacs Asst Publishers: Ken Kirchner Susan Perry Coordinator: Susan Perry Columnists: Mike Brown Calamity Jane ______________________________________ ZMAG BBS 24 Hours (201) 968-8148 (c)1987 Syndicate Services/Rovac ______________________________________ Xx INDEX 79 ______________________________________ <*> SpartaDos ToolKit Review...M Brown <*> Brain Surgery...........Mike Brown <*> Zmag Special Offer..............CJ <*> Shareware............Calamity Jane <*> XEP80 Review #2 <*> The Talk Box.......Project ______________________________________ Xx_______SpartaDOS Tool Kit__________ a Rhetoric/Review ______________________________________ by Mike Brown Quite some time ago, I heard whisperings about a super accessory pack for Sparta DOS users planned by ICD. The rumors had it that the upcoming "toolkit" would address SpartaDOS needs such as being able to recover files that had been lost to bad file allocation tables, better handle MIO configurations, and a host of other things that "serious" SpartaDOS users have been without from the start. Well, those bright boys at ICD have finally gotten the SpartaDOS tool kit to market; the SpartaDOS user now has professional quality tools to rival the best in the 8-bit world. Just a note of explanation, since SpartaDOS has a structure more akin to MS-DOS than Atari DOS 2.x, most utilities for recovery and manipulation that were written for the DOS 2.x type file structure would not completely work or would not work at all. Another consideration is that SpartaDOS supports such exotica as Quad Density (DS/DD) disks and hard disks up to 16mb per logical device, such utilities that have the Atari 180K/720 sector limits built in, were to say the least, lacking. To give you an idea of what Is included, I'll describe each "module" of the toolkit (after this, called the SDTK) in for you. The first tool is called RENDIR and makes short work of a touchy task for subdirectory users. It performs renaming of subdirectories without having to delete files, subdirectories and then recreate the subdirectory under the new name. Just give the command the old directory name, and the new directory name. Zap! you're done! VDEL will be a welcome improvement in the ERASE command built into SpartaDOS. The ERASE command goes out and IMMEDIATELY erases everything that you said to erase. This can be dangerous if you are using a file name such as *.*! VDEL shows the name of each file that meets the requested conditions, one at a time, and asks you for a "Y" or "N" to delete or not. At the end of the process, a message appears reporting the number of files deleted. Nice! WHEREIS is a little utility that will search (good for hard disk systems) down through all subdirectories and give a report of any matches found for the name you enter. If you only know part of the file name, wildcards will also work; the full path and file name will be displayed for all matches. The number of matches found will be displayed at the end. MIOCFG is a utility that not only allows Floppy disk only system users to back up their MIO configuration (before this utility, you could only save the MIO config to hard disk #1), but also allows multiple backups of the config to be saved in any file that you specify! Of course MIOCFG also allows you to load back in a config that was saved to disk, and even allows an option to bypass formatting of the internal RAM-DISKS. SORTDIR allows you to quickly and reliably sort directories and subdirectories and write them back to disk. This utility is the only one I've seen that will allow you to sort by more than one file "parameter". The sorts supported are by: Filename, File Type (extension), File Size, Date/ Time. There is also a Reverse sort option that will sort in high-low order if you so desire. This sort is quite fast compared to some PD sorters out there, but does not allow you the option to abort the sort before updating the directory- a minor point. DOSMENU is included for those types who just can't bear dealing with a "command line" DOS like SpartaDOS. It will display an almost dead ringer of the DOS 2.x menu. The instructions for DOSMENU say: "If you can't figure out how to use this menu, seek some help". It's really that simple! Some new commands, such as "Z- Reboot System" and "V- View file", as well as a full complement of directory commands, are terribly nice for the first time or casual user. The hot dogs at ICD, not knowing when to leave well enough alone, came up with COMMAND to soup up the SpartaDOS command processor with extra features. First off, it allows reprograming of ctrl-(number key) and ctrl-shift (number key) to any 20-character "macro" string that you desire. They are programmed by just keying "PF (number) <string>" where <string> is what you want put to the screen when the PF key is pressed. When COMMAND loads in, it looks for a file called "COMMAND.BAT" to load in your standard definitions, but any batch file can be used to automate the PF defintion process. Next, you can change the screen color with COMMAND loaded. Just key BLACK, GREEN, or BLUE to get that color background. COLD is a new command that gives a coldstart without having to wait for extended memory systems to "drain down", and the content of all internal RAMDISKS is retained. HELP or ? will give you a brief list of all of the new extended command processor functions and features. PATH is very similar to the PROMPT command in MS-DOS. You can turn the path display on or off as you desire. Path ON displays not only the Drive that is active as a prompt, but also the current "path" is displayed (if any). If you turn on IBM (shame, shame) mode, COMMAND will emulate the use of the cursor keys like MS-DOS does. And adds these special keys: Right arrow- Pulls in the next character from the last line keyed from a buffer and place it on the current line. Left Arrow- Back up one space (just like the BACK SPACE key). Ctrl Ins- Places you in "insert mode", keypresses will be processed without affectin the last line buffer's index. Ctrl Del- will advance the last line buffer's index, deleting characters from the buffer, not the current line. Start- Repeats the remaining characters in the last line buffer. If you are in the first position of the input line, pressing START will repeat the entire last line. And more "last line buffer" magik! CLS tells COMMAND to clear the screen, again, like MS-DOS. I have saved the best for last, DISKRX is a complete SECTOR editor and RECOVERY TOOL for SpartaDOS! There are so many neat features that it would take another whole article to detail them. Here are just a few of them: Edit sectors in either HEX or ATASCII, both translations are always displayed, but edit flips back and forth between the two. The display will tell you a bit about the sector being worked on, if it is part of the BOOT, BITMAP, MAIN DIR, MAIN FAT (File allocation table, or sector map), SUB DIR, SUB FAT, or DATA. Blank the current sector being worked on Show the formatted directory, optionally you may specify a subdirectory. Such useful information as Full File name and Size, Present entry Status, The first Sector Map of the file, and the sector(s) where the entry is actually written. File Mode shows you all the sectors belonging to a particular file (path optional) for viewing or edit. File mode will trace the file sector map for a particular file for you. Override allows you to recover disks where the first sector has been damaged, and the basic status of the disk is not readable or incorrect. Full searching for ocurrances of ATASCII and HEX strings is supported with imbedded wildcards. Toggle allocation on/off of a sector in the current bitmap. Write to the current sector or specify another sector to write to. Read Next Sector in file or next sequential sector, Read Prev. File/Seq. Quick Scan forward/backward. Tag sectors, and write them to a file that you pecify on this or another disk And MORE!!!!! Again, I have glossed over some of the most interesting parts of DISKRX and every time I sit down with it, I find something new and amazing that it can do. "M" gets you a 2-page menu of commands, and information about the commands. Overall, this program is well worth the $29.95 that ICD is asking, just for the entertainment value. Not many dealers have it yet, so call their BBS (815-968-2229) and order it direct. ______________________________________ Xx Brain Surgery for the ST ______________________________________ by Mike Brown This article attempts to let you in on some of the trials and pitfalls associated with "Do it yourself" memory upgrades for the 520ST. This is not a step-by-step "how to do it" article, nor is it a strict product review. Think of it as my opinion on what is viewed by some as an attractive alternative to a new computer. The memory upgrade kit that I am referring to is made by Diverse Data Products, I would give you the address, but I understand that the company has recently moved. The new phone number is 201-780-2019, if you feel like giving them a call. The reason that I became involved with this "surgery" (although I do not, as yet, own an ST) is because the owner became frustrated trying to install the upgrade herself, and asked for help. This was the second upgrade kit that was put in this computer from the same company. The first kit caused erratic memory failures, and may have damaged the original computer, although we have never been able to trace the true cause of the unexplained failure. Suffice it to say, that to the individual that is not technically inclined, these memory upgrades are NOT recommended. There is definitely some skill and creativity required to make them fly. Also, as the instructions note in BIG LETTERS, This upgrade does void your Atari warranty from the factory. Diverse does warranty the product for 90 days due to failures in workmanship. I hope you don't have a failure, as the company was not too responsive to our requests for replacement/credit/etc. What you get for your bux; For the going price of $149.99 (add $20 for the so-called "solderless" version) you get the one-piece memory "daughterboard", a small coil of rosin core solder, and a 4 page (photocopied) instruction manual. It is recommended that (to do a good job) you have the following materials available: Medium Phillips Head Screwdriver Medium Flat Head Screwdriver Needle Nose Pliers Low wattage fine point soldering Iron Duct tape cardboard scraps wire cutters sheet metal shears or hobby tool and last but not least, a cheap IC puller from Radio Shack (or wherever). For the most part, the instructions cover the disassembly of the computer and the installation of the upgrade board in reasonable detail. I wish that some of the Photographs were a bit clearer, and that the drawings of the underside of the system (mother) board were a bit more detailed. I recommend that you READ and UNDERSTAND all of the instructions before beginning work! The big problems with this upgrade are as follows: 1> If you want to maintain the metal RF shield over the video shifter chip and related circuitry, you must cut away about a one square inch area in the upper left hand corner of the shield so that the wiring from the video shifter "piggyback" socket can make it back to the daughterboard. I would defintely urge you to cover any raw metal edges with duct tape before re-assembly. 2> I don't know why it is this way, but the legs on the previously mentioned "piggyback" socket are about twice the length that they can be. I about 1/8" off of them with my wire cutters, and got a much better all-around fit. 3> The IC clip that goes over U30 definitely requires that you remove the two capacitors on either side (C41 and C39) in order to get reliable contact. The instructions mention this, but it should be stressed that it is best to de-solder the Capacitors instead of just clipping the wires. Also, even under the best of circumstances, this clip sits rather loose. I bent the connectors "in" a bit and secured the whole assembly with small strips of duct tape to add reliability. 4> The photographs and instructions seem to assume that you have an ST without the RF modulator attachment. Anyone who attempts this mod to a recent model ST (this one was fairly new) will have to get creative with the wiring routing from the video shifter to the memory board itself. 5> Because of continued problems with the prongs on the bottom of the memory board either putting pressure on the "glue" chip, or shorting, I ended up clipping flush all of the protruding socket and component ends on the bottom lower part of the daughter board. As an added precaution, I taped thin cardboard (any sturdy insulating material would work OK) to the whole bottom side of the memory board with the good 'ol duct tape. 6> Even with all of these precautions, I still could not crank the external case screws down all the way tight without getting unreliable operation. To get around this, I bent the outside RF shield away from the area where the memory board sits, and "bubbled" the shield about where the ribbon cable connects over U30. I also found that the RF modulator moves the memory board out enough that you probably will want to trim the center plastic case attachment "rib" about an inch or so (down to the round part itself) for better clearance. I am not sure if it is necessary, but I felt better after running the trusty duct tape strip from the back edge of the lower half of the ST case and the back edge of the memory board. It seemed to hold things in place a bit better and the memory board "floated" a lot less during re-assembly. For the same reason I put small strips of tape to secure the 3 wires that get soldered to the bottom of the system board on the MMU socket pins. By the way, the instructions fuzzily describe a modification to the wiring that can be made to REV E or higher system boards (The one I was working with was REV H). I tried it and couldn't get it to work; Save yourself some frustration, ignore the section that describes this option. So how much more "usable" memory can you expect after getting things squared away? The instructions claim about 740,000 free bytes in ST basic, a memory check accessory I ran showed over 820,000 bytes free (TOS in ROM) and comparisons with VIP Professional, showed a mere 53,000 bytes free before upgrade, and a more usable 600,000+ bytes after upgrade. As to if this is a good thing for the average person to invest in, I would have to say "no". I think that it is a bit too "messy" for the average person to get running without possibly doing some damage. If you are an adventurer, you might want to consider it, but for the difference in price, the 1040ST looks like a better deal to me. ______________________________________ Xx ZMAG SPECIAL OFFER ______________________________________ ************************************** * FoReM BBS Coupon Offer * *The Most Powerful BBS System for the* * Atari ST and IBM/PC * * Exclusively for Zmag and ST-Report* * * * NEW 2.0! * $59.95 * * * *Fifteen Dollars!Off With This Coupon* * * * Commnet Systems * * 50 Eaton Road * * Farmington, MA 01701 * * (617)877-0257 (Voice) * * (617)877-8756 (BBS) * * Specify ST or PC Please * * * *This Offer May Be Withdrawn Any Time* ************************************** ______________________________________ Your Source for Sales and Service! Flat rate repairs on all Atari 8 bit! Quick turn-around on ST repairs! We also do flat rate repair on 8 bit Commodore equipment, and also can fix your Amiga or Apple computers! We also offer service contracts on all computers, call for rates today! Be sure to take advantage of our flat rate repair on VCR's, Video Cameras, and Camcorders---->$99(covers all parts and labor except heads and Nuvicon) Midtown TV-----------> 27 Midway Plaza Tallmadge, Ohio 44278 (216)633-0997 ______________________________________ Xx <<<< Share Ware >>>> ______________________________________ by Calamity Jane I _love the Share Ware idea... I mean the WHOLE thing. If you like a program and can use it... then send the programmer the money. For the most part, the Share Ware programs I have seen are top-quality stuff... I mean, top quality. DCopy by Ralph Walden, is the first I got involved with. I use it EVERY DAY!! Now with the FoReM BBS program supporting the Doors <the on-line games etc>, we will see more of this spring up. The Mailer that allows FoReM to F-Net, is Share Ware. The Mailer was not a one week job, but several months worth of_very hard work. In my opinion, Dave Chiquelin deserves something. The -=*Space Empire=-* game has taken alot of time and effort... Jon deserves something also. So does every one else who desires/deserves it. I F-Netted a "check" <done in the message base> to Dave Chiquelin for the Mailer program -- have you had much luck cashing that yet? <grin> And, today I sent my ten bucks to Jon Radoff for the -=*SE*=- game, but I went a step further. I have a friend that is, well busted up and busted... <a long story, I shall skip> He wants the game desperately, but ten bucks is ten bucks. It would be so easy for me to get the game for myself and zap off a copy and F-Net the sucker to him, and not care whether HE pays for it. I chose not to do this... I paid for him also. After all, I would rather have HIM owe ME !! Some of you are going to think I am nuts... fine, go ahead, but I think so much of this Share Ware program that I will do all I can to support it. It's one thing for me to pay 40+ bucks for a piece of software, that I discover is a pile of garbage. And of course I don't REALLY know this, till I boot it up and play!! But it is quite another situation for me to play with the software, get to know it, and see that it fits my needs. Then send my money. The Co-SysOp of The Prairie Chip, Byron Cullen, is writing a game for the FoReM Doors... It will be Share Ware. Will I pay him?? HIM?? Probably not, I can get away with just feeding him... <grin> He will take me up on it, even though we are a few hundred miles away... I do not doubt my Co... The Chip will be home base for this new game and I shall attempt to see he gets what he deserves... I know how much work has gone into his spectacular game. I only have so much control though... Another method I thought was a _nice way to pay for Share Ware, was to send the programmer two bucks or two disks... You know this one isn't in it for the money... The disks are for saving all that wonderful data on...If the author of something you use, wants ten dollars and all you have is five -- by all means send it !! He or she will appreciate the fact you even bothered. Support the Share Ware idea... May it Live Long and Prosper... <<Permission granted to reprint>> -=-CJ-=- ______________________________________ Xx XEP80 REVIEW ______________________________________ Living With the XEP80 a Subjective Review by Wally Wong, BRACE Yes, folks, it's finally here, the long awaited 80 column adaptor from Atari, the XEP80. Actually, it's more than an 80-column display module, it's also a parallel printer interface (Due to deadlines, I did not have a chance to investigate the printer aspects of the XEP80 but will tell what the claims are). There are some delights and some plights you should be aware of as well as a plethora of potential programming hacking that could keep some Atari enthusiast awake many a nights. The Atari XEP80 Interface Module is an 80-column video display controller and "standard" parallel printer interface for all 8-bit computers with a minimum of 16K RAM. The XEP80 looks just like the Atari SX212 modem, same size, dimension and color - minus the lights on the front panel. The XEP80 comes with just about everything you need; video cable to connect the module to a composite monitor (monochrome recommended), power supply adaptor (Egads! Another one, that makes six!), the module, a 20 page owner's manual, a warranty card (that no one I know sends in), and a 5 1/4" distribution disk, all for $79.99,list. A nice long cable runs out the rear of the module that connects to your computer via joystick port one or two. Most will probably elect to use port two and keep the other available for a joystick. No problem except one of the demo programs (WINDOW.BAS) will only work if the joystick is in port two and the module plugged into one. The power switch is located in the rear and a tiny diagonal window emits a subtle green light on the front panel when the power is on. The video cable is a simple cable with RCA male jacks on both ends. One end connects to the rear of the module and the other to your composite monitor. The "standard" parallel printer port is a DB25 parallel female connector found on the STs and IBM type systems; not centronics, and not a Atari 850 or P:R: Connection connector. This is one of the reasons why I haven't tried the printer aspect of the module; no cable and not being able to use my 850 parallel cable. The reason for using DB25 connection is for "standardization" which means you can obtain a printer cable from just about any computer store, and not be hand-cuffed to "Atari Only" vendors who would be the only ones carrying 850/PRC parallel cables (but we will make our purchase at our local Atari vendor, right!!). If you wish to use the parallel printer port soley as a printer port, hold down the shift key while booting the disk and continue to hold until its done loading. This will allow output to the printer although you'll be in 40 columns through the computer video port or RF. Here is what the owner's manual says about selecting the printer port: "When you start up your system with the XEP80 Module, the module is prepared to direct output to a printer throught the parallel port(P1:). Specifying P2: directs output to the ATARI 850 Interface Module; P3: outputs to the 1025 Priner; P4: to the 1020 Color Plotter; P5: to the 1027 Printer; P6: to the 1029 Printer; P7: to the XMM801 Printer; and P8: to the XDM121 Printer." There is a "PRINTER.BAS" program on the distribution disk. I haven't looked at it, it may have something to do with configuration and the XEP80. The XEP80 also sports an internal 2K buffer for printing. Nice touch. (Nicer if its easily expandable, that's too much to ask of Atari.) That's all I can say about the XEP80 as a printer interface. Turn on the XEP80, monitor, disk drive(s), insert the XEP80 disk (of course you made a copy of the original, right?) and turn on the computer. The XEP80 handler comes as an AUTORUN.SYS file so it will boot up automatically. If your monitor is adjusted to give you a full screen with a normal 40 column screen (like mine), the first thing you will notice is the bottom half of the last three characters of the "READY" prompt of BASIC in the upper left hand corner of the screen. If you type "DOS" to get to the DOS menu (DOS 2.5 comes on the disk), the first line of the heading is tucked somewhere beneath the top of your monitor chassis. The next thing you will notice is the bunch of tiny characters (relative to 40 column characters) on the screen! Folks, you now have an 80 column display. The characters are quite readable on the BMC and Commodore 1702 composite color monitors. The display looks !great! on a monochrome composite monitor (once I got mine to work properly). The characters are defined within a 7x10 cell (7 wide x 10 high) compare to 8x8 cell used normally. I think this is the reason for the truncated display at the top of the screen; the characters are taller than normal and pushing the top of the display. Now, this is just a guess, I'm no video display wiz. This can be corrected by adjusting the vertical width. Correcting for 80-colums will create a smaller vertical screen when you return to 40 columns. This is okay if the vertical adjustment is located on the front of the monitor or easily accessible, if not, you'll have to decide if you want to make this adjustment and then find someone qualified to do it. The XEP80 can actually display up to 256 character columns but only 80 are available at a time (Hmm, doesn't AtariWriter Plus scroll in 256 columns??!!). The demo program "WINDOW.BAS" and a joystick illustrates this aspect nicely. Remember, the module has to be plugged into port one and the joystick in two for the program to work. If you want to disable the XEP80 but want to use the printer port, hold down the shift key when booting the system. This disables the 80-column and enables the normal video output; composite video port or RF. The XEP80 handler disables the ANTIC chip from displaying and display I/O is directed to the XEP80. There is a document file on the distribution disk that explains all this in detail. The distribution disk comes with DOS 2.5, the XEP80 driver, assorted demo programs written in BASIC, assembly language source code, and a doc file that goes into the hardware and software specifics in detail. The following are some thrills and chills I've experienced during the course of a week since I bought the XEP80. Remember, these are only preliminary experiences and are not conclusive, especially the items listed in "CHILLS." I qualify that because the XEP80 handler is relocatable and compatibilty may just be finding the right spot for the handler. THRILLS: 1)It is compatible with SpartaDos 3.2. The XEP80 handler (the AUTORUN.SYS file on the distribution disk) must be installed through the STARTUP.BAT. I renamed the AUTORUN.SYS file to XEP80.COM and when creating the STARTUP.BAT file, the XEP80 file should be the last item in the batch. I have not tried it with the Time/Date Display (TD) line since I rarely use it because of the conflicts with other programs. Note: If you happen to setup your ramdisk (RD.COM) after installing the handler, you'll get garbage on the screen. I found that by turning the XEP80 off and back on, the screen clears and behaves. 2)ATARI BASIC - you still have a maximum of three lines per line number but now three lines equals 240 characters instead of 120. I would refrain from extending BASIC lines beyond 120 characters to maintain compatibility between the XEP80 and standard 40 column screen. SETCOLOR AND DRAWTO commands cannot be used. 3)MAC/65, yes! 4)The display is good on a color monitor and great on a monochrome. The doc file provides plenty of information to develop some great applications taking advantage of the XEP80. I've been looking at some PD/Shareware text editors written in BASIC that could easily be modified to use the XEP80. Remember to give credit to the author is you plan on using existing programs as a foundation for your programming. I'll leave it to your good programming morals to contact authors before you start hacking someones program and distributing them. 5)The demo programs on the distribution disk are a great source for programming ideas and tips on how to use the many attributes of the XEP80. CHILLS: 1)There are no programs available that uses the XEP80 except for the demo programs. 2)AtariWriter 80, if I may call it that, will be a couple of months before it is released. November, maybe?? Contrary to some rumours that the AW80 was cancelled or shelved, the AW80 is being worked on; confirmed with Neil Harris on GEnie. 3)No ACTION! XEP80 does not like the way ACTION! behaves with the screen. 4)No BASIC XE. Same reason as number (3). Probably the same with BASIX XL. 5)I also found that with the system on, it may try to reboot when turning the XEP80 off and on with DOS 2.5, sometimes. Turning the XEP80 off and on like this is probably not good for your system, so make sure you process the SpartaDos batch files correctly to avoid this. 6)Inconvenience between switching plugs connecting the monitor between the video cable coming out of my XE and the XEP80. You can't have both connected at the same. There are two solutions- a)run out and buy a monochrome composite monitor and connect the XEP80 into this monitor and keep the video connected to the color composite monitor (or vice versa if your present monitor is monochrome) or b)build a switch box that will handle all the different connections. Plans for the switch box I built is simple and I'll submit it to PSAN...next month. Neutral Notes: 1)Be sure you try out the monitor with the XEP80 before you buy. 2)Some monitors have a 40 or 80 column switch either inside or outside. This switch might have to be set to obtain a decent display (as suggested by Darryl, Atari Tech.). 3)If your monochrome monitor looks fine in 40 columns but you get flashes of indecipherable dots, try adjusting the horizontal hold. Again, this adjustment might be internal so think before you jump. 4)The XEP80 supports bit mapped graphics, 320x200. 5)the XEP80 handler replaces the E:, S:, and P: vectors in the Handler Address Table. Personal Touch: I believe this is the single product that will make or break the "only a game machine" mentallity of the eight bit Ataris. If the applications software is done well and released in reasonable time and the advent of the new disk drive and maybe a drop in price, the Atari XE will be the most affordable, versatile and serious computer system on the market. Imagine the day when new computer buyers choose the Atari because it's AFFORDABLE and DOES THE JOB WELL!.... and it has great graphics and games. We know this already, now it's time for the public to find out. ______________________________________ Xx The Talk-Box ______________________________________ by Gene Strojny and Robert Emerick Can we talk? I mean... can we talk? Better yet, can your Atari XL home computer system talk? What? You mean you don't have a speech synthesizer for your computer? Well, now there's no excuse not to. I'm going to show you how to build one yourself for less than $30.00. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Well, it is true, using Radio Shack's SPO256-AL2 IC speech processor chip. The main problems with the speech sythesizers currently on the market is that they cost too much, or use an excessive amount of RAM. The schematics for the "Do It Yourself" kits are usually too technically complex for all except an experienced Electronics Technician. Even the schematics for the SPO256-AL2 are obscure for someone who only knows the very basics of electronics. I have tried to simplify things and have eliminated all but the most essential components. I ended up with a schematic that just about anyone should understand. The SPO256-AL2 Chip The Radio Shack SPO256-AL2 chip is a pre- programmed IC chip. It has all the basic speech sounds programmed into it. This means that no RAM is tied up holding the speech synthesis routines. I won't elaborate too much on how the words are formed from the basic sounds, since the SPO256-AL2 comes with a small user's manual. This manual contains a lesson on basic speech production, a list of the basic speech sounds programmed into the chip and their decimal POKE equivalents, a small dictionary of words and their decimal equivalents, as well as the technical data for interfacing. The Circuit There is nothing critical about the circuit. You may assemble it on a perf board using wire wrapping, or if you like, you may make your own printed circuit board. The parts list is given in Table One. The wiring diagram is given in Figure One, and the pin out configuration for the joy stick ports is shown in Figure Two. When building the circuit, install the 28-pin DIP socket first. The use of the socket is strongly recommended so that you don't have to apply the soldering iron directly to the chip and risk burning it out. Next, install the resistors, capacitors and cables. The wires in the joystick are color-coded, but as far as I know, there is no correlation between the color of the wire and the pin numbers. Check each wire to be sure which pin it corresponds to. Table One: Parts List Qnty. and ID Description Part # ====================================== C1-C4 1 4.47pF 272-121 C5 1 0.1uF 50v 272-1069 C6 1 1.0uF 16v 272-1434 R1 1 100K 1/4 watt 271-1347 R2 1 10K 1/4 watt 271-1335 IC1 1 SPO256-AL2 276-1784 Xtal 1 3.579 MHz 272-1310 1 28 pin socket 276-1997 2 Joystick Cables 276-1978 1 Phone Jack 274-251 1 Plastic Case 270-222 1 Amplifier 277-1008 Attach the wires corresponding to the joystick port's pins to the corresponding pads on the circuit board. These are labelled in the schematic diagram. Install the SPO256-AL2 chip last, after everything else is in place. Leave the chip in its package until you're ready to install it. While this kind of chip is very forgiving when it comes to miswiring, it will give out quite fast when faced with static electricity. This means that you must make certain that you are grounded and aren't charged with static electricity whenever you touch the chip. There are two ways to hook up the audio. You may use a small battery powered audio amplifier like the #277-1008 that Radio Shack sells, or you may take your RS-232 cable end apart and solder a lead corresponding to pin #11 of the CIO port, as shown in Figure Three, to the center pin of a miniature phono jack (Pin #11 is the Cassette Audio pin.). The sound will be channeled through your monitor. If you do use this method, all other computer generated sound will be cut off until the connection is unplugged from the Talk-Box. If you plan to use the speech synthesizer in conjunction with programs that have sound effects, use the first method. Whichever method you choose, don't (I repeat, DON'T) connect your computer to an external, unregulated line powered amplifier. If you do, you will most assuredly fry your computer into Silicon Heaven. Using the Talk-Box All that has to be done to make the chip pronounce a word is to POKE the chip's decimal addresses (via the joystick ports) with the numbers which correspond with the group of sounds which make up that word. For example, the word HELLO consists of four sounds: H/E/LL/O. After you determine the word's individual sounds, look up the appropriate decimal values in the data manual supplied with the chip. The word HELLO would therefore be represented by the numbers 27, 7, 45, and 53. The joystick port must be configured for output before you can POKE data to it. This is done by PEEKing location 54018, subtracting 4 from the value found there, and POKEing the result back into 54018. Then you must POKE a 127 into 54016 and then returning 54018 to its original value. Your program must check to see if the SPO256-AL2 chip is busy before sending any data to it through the ports. This is done by checking bit 8 to see whether it's high or low (viz. 1 or 0). the chip sets this bit low when it's not busy, and high when it is busy. When bit 8 goes low, you must first POKE 54016 with (64 + the decimal value of the sound you wish produced). Next, strobe bit 7 by POKEing 54016 again with only the decimal value of your sound. This lets the chip know there is data on line, ready for it to accept. The chip will then accept the data and simultaneously set bit 8 high again until it is done making the sound. Listing One is a small program to test your Talk-Box. Just type in the listing and RUN it after you have plugged the Talk-Box into the joystick ports. Make sure that if you are using the battery powered amplifier, it is turned on and the volume is up. When the program is RUN, you should hear it say, "Hello. How are you?" If it doesn't, check to make sure you plugged all the cables into the correct ports -- the Talk-Box won't work if they are reversed. If it still doesn't work, re-check your wiring. If at this time you're all confused, don't worry about it. You really don't need to understand how the process works to use your Talk-Box. Just copy lines 100, 130 and 140 into your own program. Listing Two is a small word development program. It allows you to quickly enter words so that you can preview their sound. This is especially handy when you're not sure which of several similar sounds will produce the desired results. When you RUN Listing Two, it will prompt you to enter the decimal equivalent of the first sound in your word. Type in the number and then press RETURN. Continue until all the sounds of your word have been entered. Then press RETURN again. The program will pronounce your word, and will ask if you would like it repeated. If not, just press RETURN to continue. There are many uses for a speech synthesizer. Use your imagination. You might use it to give verbal error messages, prompts, or any other message that would normally be printed to the screen. I hope you enjoy the project as much as I did. If the response is good, I'll see if I can come up with some more easy projects. Did I hear someone mention a Do It Yourself printer buffer? Well, I just happen to.... ______________________________________ Zmagazine Issue #79 November 13, 1987 (c)1987 Syndicate Services ______________________________________
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