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Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

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Old 19th May 2021, 7:45 pm   #101
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

I can only say I'm relieved that all this stuff is passing into the hands of someone who has some appreciation of what it is.

If you didn't mind carefully removing the BPROM you (or we) could make an adaptor which would allow the contents to be read out using a conventional EPROM programmer, so you wouldn't need a programmer / reader with a specific BPROM ability. BPROMs are only 'special' when it comes to programming them, reading them is fairly straightforward.
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Old 19th May 2021, 11:37 pm   #102
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Default Re: Early EPROM programmer. (Softy 2)

I remember Maplin moving away from the Softy-2 and selling the cheaper ART unit instead. I haven't noticed much info on these, on the 'net - but not yey on the http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/ collection
However, attached are Maplin's 1991 catalogue pages with their details, for info. (Cropped + complete-pages also with Gang-of-8+ unit).
Maybe a scan of the manual / copy of the software posted somewhere may be useful for future reference, if not done already.

Regarding reading the Softy-2's firmware EPROM, in worst-case you could just use the unit to copy it's memory to user RAM, which can then be shown on the screen and some screen-shots taken, scrolling from start to finish as required.
If a couple of people retyped this in, then should be able to identify any re-typing errors.

I don't think it would really be worth going to the effort / risk of removing the soldered-in Character Bipolar-PROM, as I can't really see why it would have been any different from the one used in exactly the same way on the Softy-1 that S2 was really a slightly-updated version of.
So I'd be inclined just to verify it's contents in actual use - either by: Capturing the outputs relative to input pattern, with uC (may not have to be too high speed, if it just ran in a loop for a while and built-up the image over many samples)
Or maybe by just capturing a zoomed-in good quality screen shot of the font, and comparing it with that shown here:
http://www.theoddys.com/acorn/PROMs%...racter_rom.txt
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Last edited by ortek_service; 19th May 2021 at 11:48 pm.
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Old 20th May 2021, 12:06 am   #103
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Early EPROM programmer. (Softy 2)

I like the idea of 'crowdsourcing' the reproduction of the EPROM contents from screen shots.

By an odd quirk of fate, although I don't have the ART_EPP2 any more, I DO still have the user manual. I may even know where it is. I loaned the unit along with the original DOS support software floppies to another radio amateur who was using it to programme channel EPROMS for ex-PMR radios. By then I already had two more modern units and when I realised he was using it a lot, I told him just to keep it - the individual in question had done an awful lot for the local amateur community over the years. However I never did remember to forward the manual on to him, so I still have it and I'm sure I will still have the software scattered around on a hard drive or two.

P.S, I still have that 'matching' aluminum cased EPROM eraser, which I still use from time to time.
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Old 20th May 2021, 6:17 am   #104
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Default Re: Early EPROM programmer. (Softy 2)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
I like the idea of 'crowdsourcing' the reproduction of the EPROM contents from screen shots.
I was thinking more of 2 people typing the whole thing in each, and then comparing it each others work - kind of 'extreme programming' - rather than splitting the task up between people.
If it's only around 1KB, that original 2708 was (even if they switched to a more-standard 2716 2KB part), then it shouldn't take too long in Hex - I think Chris O. has re-typed in Assembler listings recently, and re-assembled these.

And probably easier than spending nights typing in long basic listings on Spectrums etc. back in the 80's - Only to often be rather disappointed by the program relative to magazine cover shots (Even if you could sort out all the printing bugs!)

Surprisingly, it seems ART are still around and have manuals etc. downloadable: http://www.artbv.eu/support/programmers/epp2/index.htm
- So probably don't need to worry too much about scanning manual etc, or forwarding it on.

My first eraser was an RTVC Kit, with no case (or timer)! - so had to set it up in a closed room, with long extension cable to switch it from a safe distance. But I've now got a few much neater ones, inc. a Psion Datapack eraser and also picked-up the Dataman strobe-eraser rather loud buzzing 'Flash-gordon stun-gun' cheap from, a rally.

Last edited by ortek_service; 20th May 2021 at 6:36 am.
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Old 20th May 2021, 4:51 pm   #105
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Default Re: Early EPROM programmer. (Softy 2)

Quote:
I was thinking more of 2 people typing the whole thing in each, and then comparing it each others work - kind of 'extreme programming' - rather than splitting the task up between people.
If the checksum is written on the EPROM or if the Softy 2 can checksum the code itself after copying it into the RAM buffer then I think it would be OK for several people to each have the job of reconstructing a specific part of the code - each would save their reconstructed part as Intel Hex and then all the parts would be loaded one after the other into the buffer of another programmer, and hopefully the reconstructed code would have the correct checksum and could then be saved as one file. Sounds like fun.

Or - I wonder if you could actually OCR it from images (photos) taken of the Softy 2 screen. I am sure I have come across software which aims to reconstruct text by picking it out of an already scanned image of text, so maybe the same approach would work on off-screen photos.

All of which is complete (...if ingenious) overkill, if onewatt can instead just drop the SOFTY 2 EPROM into some other programmer and read it that way.
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