UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Powered By Google Custom Search Vintage Radio and TV Service Data

Go Back   UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum > Specific Vintage Equipment > Vintage Computers

Notices

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

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 6th May 2021, 12:38 pm   #41
Refugee
Dekatron
 
Refugee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Worksop, Nottinghamshire, UK.
Posts: 5,025
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

When ever I have worked with programmers they have always been plugged into a desktop computer with a hard drive full of .HEX files.
Ports were variable some early ones being parallel while later they were serial and USB.
Refugee is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 4:02 pm   #42
ortek_service
Heptode
 
ortek_service's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK.
Posts: 629
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Yes, once microcomputers started to be become popular that was the way most programmers went. And having the high-level control-software / user interface on a computer, generally allows much-easier upgrading for newer programmable IC's.

Some of these particular non stand-alone but computer-controlled programmer models originally had proprietary interfaces for specific computers, that required a special interface ISA etc. card in PC's or were designed specifically for various home computers like Acorn, Sinclair etc. - Although those directly on a fairly high-speed bus, could allow direct-control of the programmer's timing, so they didn't always need their own internal microcontroller.

However the more professional / industrial end ones like Stag, Elan, Data I/O (and GP Electronics ones that it seems was the original company that was manufacturing the Softy-1 before Dataman produced the S2 etc.) were usually fully stand-alone, with their own Keypad & display for editing its own RAM Buffer - Although usually with a serial interface for transferring data in & out (Data I/O, formed in 1969, even had paper-tape storage integrated into an early one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_I/O), as these were developed before microcomputers so only had very-expensive mainframes & mini-computers. A lot of these can be found on this resources page: http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/
But upgrading these stand-alone ones would usually involve swapping EPROM's (although sometimes in a plug-in cartridge).


Most Parallel-port and all serial-port & USB controlled Programmers did need their own internal micro-controller. But this was basically doing all the timing-critical pin-driving and they were designed to be used in conjunction with a computer running control-software with all the required prog. IC support.

Stand-alone units did still have their uses many years later (and I had originally intended to control my BBC Computer controlled design with a Z80 and Keypad + LCD Display so you didn't need an expensive at the time BBC), particular where a computer wasn't available.

The 'Softy' S3 and then S4 were quite popular, as these were now battery-powered hand-held units that you could load a device library EPROM into RAM to upgrade device support. Plus they now had an RS-232 serial-interface added, for file transferring and still had the ability to emulate and EPROM - Now on a separate connector. So they could be ideal for field-use developmemt / upgrades.
But Dataman 'replaced' the S4 with the 'S6' which was just a small USB-Controlled programmer with no EPROM-Emulation and needed a Laptop etc to use it. So used S4's are still quite sought-after, as it seems no-one else has made anything similar. And Dataman still sell some spares / provide the software online for the S3 & S4.


EPROM's and One-Time Programmable IC's are now generally all obsolete, having been replaced by FLASH. And most of these (Inc. FLASH built into microcontrollers) are now In-Circuit/System programmed with a Standard JTAG or SPI / I2C style serial interface for all devices.
So ultimately it could be the end of the line for programmers that directly program the IC by itself, with many required adaptors. With maybe only mass-production wanting the IC's pre-programmed to save time / needing to attach ISP programmers to the board.

Last edited by ortek_service; 6th May 2021 at 4:26 pm.
ortek_service is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 4:13 pm   #43
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 6,529
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

I have an ICE Tech Micromaster 1000E which has the EPROM emulation facility (The 'E' denoting that it has that feature, the plain '1000' does not) but it is not standalone like the S3 or S4 - like most programmers from its period it uses a DOS program running on a PC as the 'dashboard'.

What we have to realise about programmers like the Softy 1 / Softy 2 is that they needed to be self contained because almost nobody at that time had a computer, or if they did it would be something like an MK14 or if you were well off, a NASCOM. For most users, the programmer itself had to provide the user interface as well as the programming hardware.
SiriusHardware is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 4:47 pm   #44
Slothie
Heptode
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Newbury, Berkshire, UK.
Posts: 825
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Yes, if you look at early "hobby" computers aimed at electronics enthusasts like the System 68 or the Elektor ones they usually had a bus-connected EPROM programmer designed as a peripheral because system software was usually very rudimentary and people would write machine code programs to do whatever they wanted and burn them into EPROM. The SOFTY series were something of a revolution because they were free-standing and cost (comparitively) little, which means experimenters could develop software for their homebrew systems. While I was in school before the arrival of the family PET I designed on paper several computers by simplifying reference designs but was always hampered by the lack of the ability to program EPROMs. There were places that would program an eprom for you for relatively little, but even in the full flush of boyish enthusiasm I knew I'd never get the code right first time!
Slothie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 5:18 pm   #45
TonyDuell
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Biggin Hill, London, UK.
Posts: 4,182
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

I can remember when Farnell offered a device programming service. It wasn't cheap to have a 'master' device copied, but it was even more expensive if they had to type in a hex listing or similar (not surprisingly).

My first homebrew EPROM programmer was a couple of boards of TTL, taking in data via a serial port (OK there was a dumb UART in there too). As I had no way of progamming EPROMs, I couldn't use a microprocessor or microcontroller. Also it could emulate EPROMs, very useful as like others my code was never right first time and so the ability to change it and try again fairly quickly was useful.

If you ever find a GP EP4000 programmer, grab it. Not surprisingly it's similar to the Softy, but does both single and three-rail EPROMs. Yes it's an emulator too. It has a serial port and a cassette interface. And there's an SC/MP inside.
TonyDuell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 6:38 pm   #46
Timbucus
Heptode
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK.
Posts: 923
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

The softy 2 has an in circuit emulation option to be the EPROM to test it. - that is rare today I think as it is so quick to flash a new test - the flash even configures the FPGA hardware! I think I posted before that this EPROM simulation was a function that Sandy White used to create Ant Attack for the Spectrum.

It seem the 8080 code I wrote blind has allowed Ian to get the Triton programmer - it has a board connected to the 8255 PIO that supplies the programming voltage and a timing monostable so is a half way house system to burn 2708's.
Timbucus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 7:33 pm   #47
Buzby123
Hexode
 
Buzby123's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Culcheth, Cheshire, UK.
Posts: 297
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
My first homebrew EPROM programmer was a couple of boards of TTL, ...
My first, and only, homebrew EPROM programmer was a 74121 monostable, a transistor, some resistors, a capacitor, and three PP3 batteries.

The 2716 EPROM sat on the address and data busses of my ZX81. I can remember vaguely how it worked. The 74121 HALTed the CPU while making the programming pulse, so from the CPU's point of view it was just writing data to addresses.

I programmed lots of EPROMs with that little board. I wonder where it's gone now ?.
Buzby123 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 8:30 pm   #48
ortek_service
Heptode
 
ortek_service's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK.
Posts: 629
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
I can remember when Farnell offered a device programming service. It wasn't cheap to have a 'master' device copied, but it was even more expensive if they had to type in a hex listing or similar (not surprisingly).
I also recall RS doing this, and I think they may still do this - but probably have to provide a standard digital file .rather than a printout.
As well as a few people advertising in the back of computer magazines.
The only time I got some EPROM's programmed for me, was for an ETI magazine Testcard generator project, where you had to post some blank ones with a small fee to the author - a certain Paul Stenning, owner of this forum!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
My first homebrew EPROM programmer was a couple of boards of TTL, taking in data via a serial port (OK there was a dumb UART in there too). As I had no way of progamming EPROMs, I couldn't use a microprocessor or microcontroller. Also it could emulate EPROMs, very useful as like others my code was never right first time and so the ability to change it and try again fairly quickly was useful.
Luckily I did at least have a home computer to control mine, via address-range mapped Beeb's 1MHz bus interface to a couple of 8255 PIA's. So could write all the software in BASIC, apart from a bit of assembler to pulse the appropriate pin for the required time - It did 2716 - 27512, so I couldn't just use a fixed-time on-board monostable and wanted it controllable by software as much as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
If you ever find a GP EP4000 programmer, grab it. Not surprisingly it's similar to the Softy, but does both single and three-rail EPROMs. Yes it's an emulator too. It has a serial port and a cassette interface. And there's an SC/MP inside.
I think if I ever spotted any GP Electronics Programmer going for not too much, I'd grab it as I've only ever seen their products in adverts. And not sure what happened to the company in the end, after only selling higher-end models for most of the time before they disappeared.

It would be interesting to see what's inside the P4000 Production Programmer and the later (E)P8000 & 9000-series ones, to see when they moved-away from the SC/MP CPU. From some of their adverts, they did also list quite a range of more obscure Motorola variant etc. EPROM's on these. They also advertised a BP4 TI Bipolar-PROM-Programmer
ortek_service is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 8:57 pm   #49
NivagSwerdna
Diode
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Kingston upon Thames, Greater London, UK.
Posts: 9
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

I have a collection of programmers including a GP P9010 which i'm 90% sure is Z80 based. I don't know why but my favourite is my Stag PP39... probably the colour scheme!
NivagSwerdna is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 11:16 pm   #50
Timbucus
Heptode
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK.
Posts: 923
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NivagSwerdna View Post
I have a collection of programmers including a GP P9010 which i'm 90% sure is Z80 based. I don't know why but my favourite is my Stag PP39... probably the colour scheme!
Ian has a stag PP39 as well (including the service manual he thinks if anyone needs it) but, he really needs anything on the PPZ with a CRT screen...

Click image for larger version

Name:	pp39.jpg
Views:	26
Size:	94.2 KB
ID:	233465
Timbucus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th May 2021, 11:18 pm   #51
ortek_service
Heptode
 
ortek_service's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK.
Posts: 629
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NivagSwerdna View Post
I have a collection of programmers including a GP P9010 which i'm 90% sure is Z80 based. I don't know why but my favourite is my Stag PP39... probably the colour scheme!
It's quite likely that GP moved onto the Z80, as it seems the original designer of the Softy had on the Dataman S3. But not sure if he was involved in the design of the GP Electronics (E)P4000 and then the later series as well - or that they just supplied the Softy-1 units.

The Stag PP39 certainly did use the Z80, from lots of detailed pictures and info, here: http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/Stag_PP39_programmer.htm
Where its quite 70's Brown & Orange can be seen (Rather than Stag's usual Mustard/Yellow)
ortek_service is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 3:41 am   #52
TonyDuell
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Biggin Hill, London, UK.
Posts: 4,182
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ortek_service View Post
It would be interesting to see what's inside the P4000 Production Programmer and the later (E)P8000 & 9000-series ones, to see when they moved-away from the SC/MP CPU. From some of their adverts, they did also list quite a range of more obscure Motorola variant etc. EPROM's on these. They also advertised a BP4 TI Bipolar-PROM-Programmer
There are pictures of the P4000 here :

http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/GP_In..._resources.htm

including the main PCB which contains an SC/MP (INS8060) and a couple of INS8154 chips.

In my opinion, the P4000 is still an interesting device, you can program it from the keypad, you can copy an EPROM to RAM, edit it, and burn the result back into another EPROM, etc. You have the SC/MP bus available on a header at the back too. But alas the EP4000 is more likely to end up raided for its 8154s.
TonyDuell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 4:59 am   #53
ortek_service
Heptode
 
ortek_service's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK.
Posts: 629
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ortek_service View Post
It would be interesting to see what's inside the P4000 Production Programmer and the later (E)P8000 & 9000-series ones, to see when they moved-away from the SC/MP CPU. From some of their adverts, they did also list quite a range of more obscure Motorola variant etc. EPROM's on these. They also advertised a BP4 TI Bipolar-PROM-Programmer
There are pictures of the P4000 here :

http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/GP_In..._resources.htm

including the main PCB which contains an SC/MP (INS8060) and a couple of INS8154 chips.

In my opinion, the P4000 is still an interesting device, you can program it from the keypad, you can copy an EPROM to RAM, edit it, and burn the result back into another EPROM, etc. You have the SC/MP bus available on a header at the back too. But alas the EP4000 is more likely to end up raided for its 8154s.
Thanks for that info on the P4000 - I'd somehow missed finding them on that site (well the 'Indexing' is a bit random, but I would have thought Google would have found info on previous searches I've done on these)

Not only are there pictures of the P4000, showing it's also using the SC/MP etc. there's even a copy of the firmware and scans of reverse-engineered schematics for it (that I presume may have come from you, as they looked a bit like your calculator ones I'd recently seen)

I presume you meant EP4000 in your last paragraph, as it seems the P4000 can only copy to the same single or 3-rail one as the master, so it doesn't have a RAM Buffer as no edit facility or Computer interfaces. And the EP4000 is also on that site, with ((c) GP 1980 text) PCB pictures & the firmware etc http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/GP_In..._resources.htm
The EP4000 board isn't much different in complexity compared to the P4000 - mainly needing quite a few RAM IC's and extra firmware EPROM's, but only needed one INS8154.
I did notice that the BP4 Biploar PROM adaptor for these, as well as TI version (at £195!), there was a Signetics one at £TBD planned - from mid 1983 in the manual. So I wonder if they ever released one / if it ever supported programming NS ones.
I saw the EP4000 had a couple of DIN connectors on the PCB, and wondered if one might be power like the Softy-2
- but looking through the manual, they are just Video-Out & Cassette+RS232, as it seems the power supply is internal in these units.


That website also has many other GP models, like the P9010, P9030 and XP640 (final one) - Which all use a Z80 (and several more common-used than Z80 PIO, 8255 PIA's). And NivagSwerdna may be interested in these details for his http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/GP_In..._resources.htm
- I notice Matthieu has requested a scan of the user manual for the P9010, so not sure if NivagSwerdna has one with his unit.


What did appear to be missing at first from that website was anything on the GP EP8000 and P8000 models. However, whilst the (E)P4000, P90x0 and XP640 have links to each other, I found the P8000 one was only listed in the main home-page index: http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/GP_In..._resources.htm
- Where you can see it did still use an INS8060 SC/MP CPU + just one INS8154 PIA (but now several 8255 PIA's)

Although the EP8000 (the last full-featured for development use unit, with the 9000-series and later XP640 confined to production copying only) isn't on there at all. But it did exist for a while: https://www.seltec.co.uk/products/details/14639.html
- And I assume the 800-series ones were quite similar to their 4000-series models for the Production and full-featured EPx000 ones

Last edited by ortek_service; 7th May 2021 at 5:28 am.
ortek_service is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 5:50 am   #54
ortek_service
Heptode
 
ortek_service's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK.
Posts: 629
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Manuals / brochures etc. at least for the EP8000 did actually appear as a reply to a post on this very forum, 9 years ago!
https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...ad.php?t=77595 (Attached one brochure here, showing EP8000 in use as an EPROM-Emulator)

So it seems http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/ hasn't discovered these / had one yet to take photos of.
Although there is a small external photo of the EP8000 here: https://stardot.org.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2708
- Where someone looking for the manual eventually found them on this forum.

I did find this useful advert that shows the EP8000 is really an enhanced EP4000, that supports larger-memory devices and can also run checks for shorts etc. on the device pins: https://worldradiohistory.com/hd2/ID...-Page-0021.pdf (also attached a copy of this)
- Which also does now list the BP5 Signetics Bipolar PROM add-on, showing it is suitable for both the EP4000 & the EP8000 units.

Last edited by ortek_service; 7th May 2021 at 6:09 am.
ortek_service is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 6:07 am   #55
Mark1960
Hexode
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 459
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
In my opinion, the P4000 is still an interesting device, you can program it from the keypad, you can copy an EPROM to RAM, edit it, and burn the result back into another EPROM, etc. You have the SC/MP bus available on a header at the back too. But alas the EP4000 is more likely to end up raided for its 8154s.
If anyone is considering raiding a programmer for 8154s and/or 8060s let me know

Last edited by Mark1960; 7th May 2021 at 6:08 am. Reason: Edit to correct quote
Mark1960 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 6:41 am   #56
ortek_service
Heptode
 
ortek_service's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK.
Posts: 629
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark1960 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
In my opinion, the P4000 is still an interesting device, you can program it from the keypad, you can copy an EPROM to RAM, edit it, and burn the result back into another EPROM, etc. You have the SC/MP bus available on a header at the back too. But alas the EP4000 is more likely to end up raided for its 8154s.
If anyone is considering raiding a programmer for 8154s and/or 8060s let me know
At least the later EP8000 unit only appears to have one 8154 to potentially pinch from it
- With these still obtainable at not too bad prices for genuine (and ceramic package) ones, from one or two places who still have stocks.
And quite a bit less than INS8060's are, even from far-east online marketplace sellers, that fortunately have turned-out to be genuine ones.

But it could mean that you could snap one up quite cheap, if the IC's were missing and restore these for not too much extra
- Assuming someone didnt just scrap the rest of the unit.

I suppose at least these don't appear to have any ultra-desirable white-ceramic IC's in them, that the mentioned Stag one has 3off 8255's in this package (although not Gold-top) on one photo, here: http://matthieu.benoit.free.fr/Stag_PP39_programmer.htm
- Although all soldered-in, so a lot of effort to remove / swap to plastic ones (sometimes done with 6502 CPU's due to desirability of white-ceramic ones)
ortek_service is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 7:43 am   #57
TonyDuell
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Biggin Hill, London, UK.
Posts: 4,182
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Actually, not just the schematics on that site came from me (you're right, that is my handwriting). The photos are mine too, of the EP4000 and P4000 that I own. And I am pretty sure the dumps are of the firmware in my units. It was easier for me to point you to that site and you get higher resolution photos anyway.

Both units have internal power supplies and they're not simple. I am sure the Softy-2 supply was a lot less complex. The DIN sockets on the EP4000 are indeed composite video (pin 2 ground, all other pins in parallel carrying composite video) and cassette/RS232 (ground on 2, cassette in/out on 1 and 3, RS232 in and out on 4 and 5)

I did indeed mean that the P4000 would most likely now be raided for 8154s (and maybe the SC/MP). But you can be assured that mine remains -- and will remain -- complete and working.
TonyDuell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 10:00 am   #58
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 6,529
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Just to assure onewatt: We haven't lost interest in your Softy 2, and we still looking forward to seeing anything else you can show us with respect to that machine. We are Meanderthal Men - we tend to wander off a bit - but we'll circle back around to the Softy, we promise.
SiriusHardware is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 4:57 pm   #59
ortek_service
Heptode
 
ortek_service's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK.
Posts: 629
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Yes, When he has access to that Softy-2 again it would be great to be able to get a copy of the firmware as this one doesn't seem to have made it on the 'net yet (as with its manual(s) for it).
With the Softy-2 being sold in Maplin etc. for quite a while, and it being capable of programming single-rail EPROMS's, I would have thought there would have been more produced / still in use / still around than the original Softy-1's.
But maybe the lack of easy file transfer to / from it and a PC, with no serial interface, makes people reluctant to having to re-type in hex dumps these days!

I presume TonyDuell never had one, to do his usual reverse-engineering work on.
- As the Softy-2 seems to be one of the few SC/MP based programmers that there isn't good information available on the 'net, now that there is quite a bit published on the GP-Electronics (associated main producer of SC/MP ones) models EP4000, P4000 & P8000, With quite a bit on the EP8000 (Although nothing yet on their even-rarer? BP4/BP5 Bipolar-PROM adaptors for the EP4000/8000 ?)

It may be possible to work-out the h/w changes on the S2 from the S1, by looking at PCB photos. And ChrisOddy had disassembled & was abe to re-assemble this to match the S1 firmware image. So that could be modified to support S2 hardware - But it would be better to get a copy of a genuine version.
ortek_service is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 5:59 pm   #60
TonyDuell
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Biggin Hill, London, UK.
Posts: 4,182
Default Re: Early EPROM programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ortek_service View Post

I presume TonyDuell never had one, to do his usual reverse-engineering work on.
Alas not. And nor do I have the manual for it. I would have posted some definite facts by now if I did.
TonyDuell is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools



All times are GMT. The time now is 2:01 am.


All information and advice on this forum is subject to the WARNING AND DISCLAIMER located at https://www.vintage-radio.net/rules.html.
Failure to heed this warning may result in death or serious injury to yourself and/or others.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2002 - 2021, Paul Stenning.