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HP-41 "Halfnut": patching the ROM for full lower case character set display

Posted by J-F Garnier on 28 Dec 2012, 12:25 p.m.

This article describes a simple patch of the HP-41 OS ROM to give access of a full lower case character set on the "halfnut" LCD.

Warning: using these patches on a "fullnut" HP-41 would give unexpected results: the lower case 'a' to 'e' characters may not be displayed at all any more!

These patches are to be used on an emulated HP-41, either by software or hardware. There is no way to modify the internal OS ROM of a standard HP-41.

The latest version of the HP-41 hardware (the "halfnut" version) includes several hardware enhancements (see ref.1). One is the support of the full lower case character set on the LCD. Unfortunately, the system ROM have not been updated by HP at the time to manage these extra characters, resulting in that all lower case characters above 'e' are actually displayed as the "fullstar" character.

The internal routine which manages the LCD display is the MASK entry point ($2C88). The purpose of this routine is to convert an ASCII character to LCD character form (not including comma, period and colon), see ref.2.

The patches are indicated below in bold .

2C88  016          A=0    XS
2C89  130 020      LDI    020  (32)
2C8B  306          ?A<C   X          ascii < 32 ?
2C8C  097          GOC    2C9E       yes, special char
2C8D  130 05F      LDI    05F  (95)                         ***
2C8F  0A6          ACEX   X                                 ***
2C90  306          ?A<C   X          ascii > 95 ?           ***
2C91  0DF          GOC    2CAC       yes, new char          ***
2C92  3D8          CSTEX                                     
2C93  144          ST=0   6          mask 6 bits only          
2C94  3D8          CSTEX                                     
2C95  106          A=C    X
2C96  1B0          C=STK
2C97  330          CXISA
2C98  170          STK=C
2C99  0A6          ACEX   X
2C9A  346          ?A#0   X
2C9B  3A0          RTNNC
2C9C  006          A=0    X
2C9D  31B          GONC   2C80
2C9E  04E          C=0    W          check special char table
2C9F  15C          PT=    6
2CA0  090          LC     2          table entry at 2C00
2CA1  310          LC     C
2CA2  01C          PT=    3
2CA3  330          CXISA             load 1 char from table
2CA4  366          ?A#C   X          match a special char ?
2CA5  033          GONC   2CAB       yes
2CA6  222          C=C+1  PT         point to next word
2CA7  3E3          GONC   2CA3       go on !
2CA8  130 03A      LDI    03A  (58)  all segment if not found
2CAA  35B          GONC   2C95
2CAB  03C          RCR    3
2CAC  056          C=0    XS
2CAD  236          C=C+1  XS         C[2:0] has the special char
2CAE  323          GONC   2C92       replace it              ***

A side effect of these patches is that characters above 127 are no more displayed as the "fullstar" character, they may be displayed as various characters and may even include the colon symbol. This affects only the LCD display, not the ALPHA register which still holds the correct characters.

1. "Halfnut - An Internally Improved HP-41C,CV,CX", by Richard Nelson & Jeremy Smith, CHHU V2N4 p9 (July/August 1985).
2. Coconut mainframe VASM listing, HP NOMAS, 1985.


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