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Adventures in Paper Tape with a 9830A
05-30-2021, 06:44 AM
Post: #1
Adventures in Paper Tape with a 9830A
Hi everyone, newbie here Smile I'm looking for interesting things to do with my 9830A, and getting it interfaced to a paper tape machine seems like something that would be very fun to show off once it's working. I'd appreciate the affirmation from those who are familiar with this that my research/read of the documentation is correct, and to know of any pitfalls or gotchas, because the last thing I want is to fry 50-year-old equipment.

The first question is about GPIB. Assuming I have a punch/reader combo unit with GPIB, is there any functional difference between the 59405A HP-IB Calculator Interface vs. the HP 11144A ASCII bus interface? The logic diagram in the Programming and Service Manual shows very few differences between them, and a cursory look at the documentation didn't highlight anything else specific about one versus the other. Then, as I understand, I need to find one of these cards equipped with "Option 030" to be compatible with my 9830A.

Next up, I need the HP 11272A Extended I/O ROM in order to send the correct commands to control the device, right?

What if the paper tape machine comes with two ports? Do I need to populate both channels, or can I get away with hooking up just one GPIB cable between one 11144A/59405A to one channel of the paper tape machine?

Does the computer care how fast the paper machine can read/write? Like, I won't run into weird buffering problems or something if it runs slower than an HP 9863A paper tape reader, right?

Finally, is there anyone who happens to want to sell either a 9860A or 9863A? Wink However, that'd leave me needing the correct interface cables even still, not to mention cards for the 9860A, which I'm guessing are a lot harder to track down than paper tape.

Thanks very much for your time! I think this'll be really cool to work on and would love to keep y'all abreast of the updates, but for now I have to get some sleep...

- Stephen
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06-02-2021, 05:23 PM
Post: #2
RE: Adventures in Paper Tape with a 9830A
My plan is coming to fruition! Big Grin I've got a Facit 4042 paper tape punch & reader on the way. All I know is it's a GPIB device, and that it seems to have problems reading tape but can at least punch a test pattern. I also haven't found any documentation on the 4042, but it can't be too dissimilar from other machines they've made. My guess is it's from the late 80s, since it seems quite small & light compared to others out there. Anyway, it'll be a bit of a project.

To interface it with the system, I've actually found an 11272-66520 internal card "Extended I/O ROM" and an 11444A "ASCII Bus Interface", and those are on the way as well. (My 9830 has an 11270, 11271, and 11274, but not an 11272.) By looking closer at the docs, it seems like the 59045 and/or 11144 GPIB devices don't use specific ROMs on themselves to work with a 9820 or 9830, but you need to pair them with the 11272 board on a 9830 (or a 11224A Peripheral Control II board for the 9820) for it to fully work.

In any event, 40-50 years after the fact, there's a lot to gamble on, since you could go one of 3 ways:

- HP 9863 paper tape reader or 9860 card reader, with interface (and you'd still need to find a punch and/or cards)
- A device utilizing the 11202A I/O interface (such as a Facit 4070 and/or HP 2748B)
- A device utilizing the 11144 or 59045 GPIB interface (such as a Facit 4042)

Seems a bit like playing the McDonald's Monopoly game; you might end up with a lot of pieces over time that don't match up! Anyway, lots to learn for someone who started life having 3.5" floppies readily available...
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06-04-2021, 08:41 AM
Post: #3
RE: Adventures in Paper Tape with a 9830A
Interesting project - I look forward to updates, photos and perhaps a video!
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06-05-2021, 04:32 AM
Post: #4
RE: Adventures in Paper Tape with a 9830A
Oh, and actually I forgot to mention one important aspect about all this... the paper tape itself ?

Searching for paper tape in 2021 proves difficult because the search engines all want to sell you adhesive tape, masking tape, packing tape, and whatever other nonsense that would gum up the machine. Changing it to "ribbon" gets you closer but then it's no longer paper, and not nearly an inch thick. Searching for such things as "teletype paper" and "cnc paper" led me to websites from the early 2010s making references to retailers (such as westnc) who seem to have long since gone out of business since their websites were nothing more than sketchy malware. Or, one-offs from eBay or Etsy that wouldn't do me much good if I made mistakes or needed a lot of leeway for experimentation.

Finally, the search term paper roll actually led me to a website paperroll.com (imagine that ?) where, after scrolling through page after page of paper rolls, at last I came across a roll of 1" paper tape that I'm hoping is the right weight to use with the punch, and will be enough length to write a decent program.

Anyway, I had to buy a carton of 100 of these computer paper tape rolls, so if anyone needs paper tape rolls, then we can work something out once I get them!

Now, on kind of an unrelated question, does anyone know if thermal printers care what kind of paper they're printing on? My 9830 has a 9866 printer with just a small scrap of thermal paper that came with it, but I've got a couple rolls of IBM thermal paper (for a 1986 IBM 5140 PC Convertible) that should be the same size, and probably the means to get several cartons of these rolls if I wanted (I already shipped 1 whole carton off to someone else before I got the 9830).
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06-05-2021, 02:13 PM
Post: #5
RE: Adventures in Paper Tape with a 9830A
On my HP 2671G I have printed on thermal paper for thermal fax machines and have not had any issues with print quality, however the paper I am using is very thin and I have had some issues with it wrinkling and jamming. I have some other paper than seems to be a little thicker, but it is very old so print quality will probably not be good.

Paul.
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06-30-2021, 03:33 AM
Post: #6
RE: Adventures in Paper Tape with a 9830A
Update! A few weeks ago, I received the Facit 4042 machine. The seller did an excellent job with packing and speedy shipping. It punches 8 holes out of the paper in the expected manner, so all is well there. In terms of reading, it's probably waiting for some kind of control signal before it attempts to read. I can move the tape back and forth one character using the control panel buttons, but there's gotta be a bent mechanism somewhere because it doesn't hold down the tape very well, and sometimes it gets crunched between the reader and the sprocket rather than going through nicely.

I also received an 11144 (ASCII Bus Interface), which should provide me the interface I need (despite not being the 59405A HP-IB Calculator Interface, the manual says they're pretty much identical). I don't have any of the cassettes or etc. required to validate it by the procedures set forth in the manual, but can't imagine that's too important given my setup and modern equipment.

This leaves me still waiting on the 11272B ROM (which should be nearby) and...the new rolls of paper tape, where sadly the vendor hasn't updated me on the order status at all. At least the Facit has a good amount of blank tape in it.

I also picked up the test/GPIB breakout board mentioned on page 4-1 of the HP 59405 manual, and may end up wiring something to it in order to drive the bus and communicate with the paper tape punch while I wait on the 11272B to come in, or in the event I can't figure out how to program the 9830 to drive. (There are eight completely unknown DIP sockets on the Facit 4042 that I'm hoping are identical to other models, since there's no online documentation on this one.)

Since the 59405-66503 (i.e. the aforementioned breakout board) has a 5V plug on it, hopefully it's all 5V and something fairly easy to drive with modern microcontrollers. This way, with an understanding of the HPIB protocol, I can make a pint-sized toy drive the paper tape machine before getting the 9830 to do it, which is the ultimate goal!
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07-01-2021, 04:40 AM
Post: #7
RE: Adventures in Paper Tape with a 9830A
Well, the 11272A Extended I/O ROM came in today! What a good week for HP parts. I think that should be all I need to start using paper tape as a storage medium. I've got GPIB cables that should be the right gender already.

I haven't popped in the internal ROM card yet because I've been having a bit too much fun testing the 11289B Advanced Programming II ROM I got in the same order. This gives me an all important function, BEEP, plus some extra matrix & string functions. Plus I can't remember if there's a way to get the system to not just hang when I'm executing BASIC with the printer offline. There's gotta be some button I'm forgetting to press, but my 12" long strip of thermal paper is getting awfully full and hard to read Big Grin

Hopefully I can get this working over the next two or three weeks!
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07-16-2021, 04:50 PM (This post was last modified: 07-16-2021 04:53 PM by mrcity.)
Post: #8
RE: Adventures in Paper Tape with a 9830A
Everything has showed up (well, except for my extra paper tape supply)! I finally got the nerve to try punching paper tape yesterday after poring over the documentation. Basically here's the lowdown:
  • I have to turn on the FACIT tape machine first, and then the 9830.
  • If I use the command CMD "U","E", wait a few seconds, then hit STOP, it will punch the ASCII code for "E" onto the tape.
  • Thereafter, it only punches the alignment hole.
  • Sometimes it gets cantankerous and doesn't punch the alignment hole, but still advances the tape by one space.
  • Often times, the machine will freeze up (with a blank screen) and not even respond to STOP until about 30 seconds or so.
  • If I let it sit in this frozen state for more than a minute after running CMD, chances are it'll return me to the prompt (the sideways T shows up and it's unfrozen), but then pressing the STOP key doesn't cause anything to happen with the paper tape machine.

My thought process is that after the calculator is turned on, it should send signals to clear the bus of any addresses and also be unaddressed itself. Thus, I send "U" in command mode because that's the talk address of the calculator, but don't follow it with anything because I don't know what the listener address of the paper tape machine is. (There are 8 DIP switches on it that I'm not sure what they're for, and my best shot at getting documentation closed down a few years ago.) After that, the next string is what you're sending in data mode. If I make it any longer than one character, it seems to just print the one character (or one alignment hole, or move one space).

The thing that kind of makes this a bummer is there's no sprocket under the paper tape punch -- only for the reader portion -- so it's pretty much impossible to check my work by pulling out the tape under the punch and then resetting it and still have future punches line up.

The next adventure would, of course, be reading from the paper tape. I have plenty of tape with all 8 holes per line punched, but as I understand, that often means "I made a mistake here" and might get ignored. I need to make sure it reads into a variable that can show me the numeric value on tape, I guess.
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