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Portable Plus - Additional RAM
03-16-2015, 12:07 AM
Post: #1
Portable Plus - Additional RAM
A question for the Portable Plus experts: ( Hi Dave? )

I would like to have more RAM than 1.5 Mbyte in my machine ( 512kB internally and 1 MB RAM drawer ).
How could I achieve that? Can the RAM drawer be upgraded to 2 MB?
If there is a way, can anybody provide a link to a documentation of the procedure?
( Certainly I lack the skills to accomplish that by myself, but I hope to find someone who could do that ).
Thanks in advance!
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03-16-2015, 01:18 AM (This post was last modified: 03-16-2015 01:37 AM by Dave Frederickson.)
Post: #2
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
I'm not an expert, but I recall reading about having 4.5MB in a Portable PLUS. I found an ad in The Portable Paper, V3N3, p26.

You can also install a 1MB drawer in both locations, but you lose your ROM's doing this. It might be possible to replace the chips in a 1MB drawer. Martin was looking into memory upgrades last Fall. Maybe he can provide an update.

Dave
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03-16-2015, 04:27 PM
Post: #3
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-16-2015 01:18 AM)Dave Frederickson Wrote:  ...
Martin was looking into memory upgrades last Fall. Maybe he can provide an update.

Dave

Well, I read the accompanying article in the Portable Paper and understand basically how it can be done on the Portable. But this would require quite some soldering work.
For the Portable Plus there were 3rd party RAM extensions e.g. sold via H. Goldstein's company. I think they went to up to 4.5 MB which (today) is still a small amount for a RAM disc. One could probably design a new large capacity drawer with today's technology, and talk to it via an MS-DOS block device driver. However this is a relatively large and very specific project.

For now, it might be more useful and more universal to follow the "HP-IL to PC" or "HP-IL to SD card via Filbert" way to add a larger working disc to avoid the 9114 disc drive. This could probably be similar in speed to a RAM disc.

Martin
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03-16-2015, 06:13 PM
Post: #4
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-16-2015 04:27 PM)Martin Hepperle Wrote:  
(03-16-2015 01:18 AM)Dave Frederickson Wrote:  ...
Martin was looking into memory upgrades last Fall. Maybe he can provide an update.

Dave


For now, it might be more useful and more universal to follow the "HP-IL to PC" or "HP-IL to SD card via Filbert" way to add a larger working disc to avoid the 9114 disc drive. This could probably be similar in speed to a RAM disc.

Martin

With a PILBox and the latest ILPer, you can create and use up to approx 10MB emulated Drive, however HP-IL disk I/O on the Portable Plus is extremely slow, making a RAM disk seem incredibly fast by comparison, but it depends on what you're reading and writing of course.

--Bob Prosperi
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03-16-2015, 08:17 PM
Post: #5
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-16-2015 04:27 PM)Martin Hepperle Wrote:  For now, it might be more useful and more universal to follow the "HP-IL to PC" or "HP-IL to SD card via Filbert" way to add a larger working disc to avoid the 9114 disc drive. This could probably be similar in speed to a RAM disc.

Martin

Well, despite of the relatively low speed of such an external RAM disc I would be quite happy with that solution (HP-IL to SD card ), especially if it's small and battery powered.
Is there a chance to buy such a thing from anyone? Unfortunately I lack the skills to build my own.
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03-19-2015, 04:39 PM (This post was last modified: 03-19-2015 04:43 PM by Martin Hepperle.)
Post: #6
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
Michael,

you might want to read this

http://www.hpmuseum.org/forum/thread-1023.html


Technically this is a reasonable solution - how fast it is and what the current status of the Arduino software is, I don't know.
I am also interested in such a setup, but do not have an PIL-Box.
An even better solution might be to combine the (P)IL-Box software interface into the Arduino with LIF and SD-card libraries or the other way round to integrate the LIF and SD-card software into the PIL-Box (if Flash-memory permits).

Martin
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03-20-2015, 01:19 AM
Post: #7
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
Thank you, Martin,
I've read that thread meanwhile; its a fascinating projekt, I plan to assemble such a device myself.
But for the PP interface speed is really a matter: The transfer speed via PIL Box ( and this is also the IL-interface within the Arduino project ) is approx. 1 kB / sec. Imagine you place a development environment like Turbo C on virtual disk ( it doesn't fit onto the 1MB RAM drawer ); now you start a binary, let's say a linker or compiler from there, it might be 60 kB in length ( which isn't a huge file, of course ) - you would have to wait one minute just for the file to be loaded! Development cycle times would become ridiculous. Access to internal RAM or electronic disk (RAM drawer) is orders of magnitude faster, of course.
But nevertheless the SD-card project is great; especially when accessing a LIF disk using a HP 71b or 41C, speed is not a problem; the files are much smaller, and the calculators' IL interface is the bottleneck anyway.
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03-20-2015, 01:47 AM
Post: #8
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
Hi Michael,

Have you tried burning your own ROMs? Lots of programs can be offloaded to the ROM drawer.

Dave
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03-20-2015, 09:31 AM
Post: #9
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
Hi Dave,
until now I only made a copy of the BASIC ROM. I guess I would have to learn something about the correct ROM format, just burning an .exe - file won't be enough, correct?
Or is that easy?
And I would be restricted to 128 kB per EPROM-pair when using 512kBit EPROMs; I know there have been special 1Mbit Eproms in 28 pin housings according to an ad in the Portable Paper, but of course I have never seen such a thing.
But of course this solution is much better than nothing.

What is your favorite ROM configuration for the PP?
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03-20-2015, 10:13 AM (This post was last modified: 03-20-2015 10:16 AM by Martin Hepperle.)
Post: #10
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-20-2015 01:19 AM)Michael Fehlhammer Wrote:  ...
Imagine you place a development environment like Turbo C on virtual disk ( it doesn't fit onto the 1MB RAM drawer ); now you start a binary, let's say a linker or compiler from there, it might be 60 kB in length ( which isn't a huge file, of course ) ...

Michael,

I placed the command line tools for Turbo-C 1.5 on my Portable Plus (the GUI would not work anyway). It fits on the RAM disk (1MB memory drawer) and allows to compile and link small programs using Makefiles. I used it for some small HP-IL exploration programs.
I can create a ZIP archive or a file list with the tree structure on my system if it helps.
The only problem is that I use the VDE editor and this seems to have a memory resp. file handle leak so that I have to revert back to PAM and then start a new DOS command interpreter after a few edit/compile/link cycles.

I agree, that a larger RAM disk would be preferable. This would require some static RAM chips with a decoding logic and an MS-DOS block device driver which controls the I/O. The device driver part could be derived from MS-DOS RAM disk source code. However, the hardware would require someone with more knowledge than me to design such a system with minimum power consumption. The interface to the hardware is well documented.

Burning Turbo-C with a decent editor into a ROM set would be very useful.

Martin
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03-20-2015, 02:05 PM
Post: #11
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
Thank you Martin for the helpful information about Turbo C 1.5.
I was not sure about the IDE, I didn't test it yet, now I know that it won't work; it is a pity, obviously Borland made use of BIOS calls.
But of course a command line version is better than nothing, and it saves RAM disk space.
An EPROM set of two 512 kBit EPROMs only provides 128kByte. I guess Turbo C 1.5 command line version needs a lot more? A zip file of your config would be nice to have.

Perhaps one day someone will design a RAM extension for the RAM drawer. You mentioned that the hardware interface is well documented. Do you refer to the PP service manual and technical reference manual, or are there additional sources?
(Just in case I can find a hardware guru who would be willing to dive into the project. :-) )
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03-20-2015, 03:07 PM
Post: #12
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
Since you both seem to be eager to actually accomplish some "serious" work on the 110 Plus (instead of just having fun "playing" with old technology), did you consider using a 200LX instead? It's smaller and has no HP-IL interface, but it also has a good and very usable keyboard with numpad and extremely long battery life. But it provides better PC compatibility, uses a significantly more powerful version of DOS, has better built-in applications, is considerably faster, has lots of RAM, and is easily expandable through its (early-)PCMCIA slot (f.e. to use CF cards, printers, a dialup-network etc.). This might be a cheaper and even more convenient solution than developing a RAM extension for the 110 Plus...

Greetings,

Matthias


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03-20-2015, 03:24 PM (This post was last modified: 03-20-2015 03:25 PM by Dave Frederickson.)
Post: #13
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-20-2015 09:31 AM)Michael Fehlhammer Wrote:  Hi Dave,
until now I only made a copy of the BASIC ROM. I guess I would have to learn something about the correct ROM format, just burning an .exe - file won't be enough, correct?
Or is that easy?
And I would be restricted to 128 kB per EPROM-pair when using 512kBit EPROMs; I know there have been special 1Mbit Eproms in 28 pin housings according to an ad in the Portable Paper, but of course I have never seen such a thing.
But of course this solution is much better than nothing.

What is your favorite ROM configuration for the PP?

My PP is basically a showpiece. It's loaded up with every ROM I have including Emu41 and a custom set. The custom set is a 128kB pair as you've described. It includes a full-screen editor that works with the PP and a few other utilities. It wasn't difficult to burn using the tools on J-F's site.

Regarding the TurboC IDE - many programs didn't play well with the PP. Sometimes you had to change the Console Mode and/or run the PCRUN utility, which improves compatability, from the '88 Subscriber's Disk.

Matthias' suggestion is also worth consideration. After all, the HPLX palmtops were the successors to the Portables. My only issue with the 200LX is the screen is rather small and my eyesight isn't getting any better.

Dave
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03-20-2015, 03:57 PM
Post: #14
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-20-2015 01:19 AM)Michael Fehlhammer Wrote:  But for the PP interface speed is really a matter: The transfer speed via PIL Box ( and this is also the IL-interface within the Arduino project ) is approx. 1 kB / sec.
...
But nevertheless the SD-card project is great; especially when accessing a LIF disk using a HP 71b or 41C, speed is not a problem; the files are much smaller, and the calculators' IL interface is the bottleneck anyway.

The 1kB/s transfer speed with the ILPer/PIL-Box pair is actually limited by the USB link, which is no effcient for HP-IL byte-per-byte communication.
With the Arduino/SD-card-reader and the PP, the speed should be higher, maybe 2-3kB/s.

The PIL-Box/ILPer were designed for use with the HP-IL calculator family, the compatibility with the Portable Plus was not initially considered and was a nice surprise, since for years I though the Portable Plus required the SS/80 disk protocol until I found that the "Filbert" protocol (coming from the HP82161 cassette drive) was supported too and usable with volumes up to 16MB.

Anyway, even with the poor 1kB/s transfer speed, there is now a way to easily exchange files between the PP and a PC. I'm using DOSBox to access a 640KB MS-DOS volume shared with ILPer for this goal. It's not perfect because DOSBox has limitation, and doesn't always work as expected, but it is usable.

J-F
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03-20-2015, 09:55 PM
Post: #15
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-20-2015 03:24 PM)Dave Frederickson Wrote:  Regarding the TurboC IDE - many programs didn't play well with the PP. Sometimes you had to change the Console Mode and/or run the PCRUN utility, which improves compatability, from the '88 Subscriber's Disk.

Dave

"PCRUN utility improves compatibility" - seems to be a useful tip, thanks, Dave!
But what does "change the Console Mode" mean? How is this accomplished?

@Matthias: Yes, agreed, the 200 LX is a cute little machine. But I like the PP more, maybe due to its display, keyboard, IL-Interface, size, or just because of fond memories or the fact that it was more sensational back in 1985.
And, to be honest: Altough I was complaining about the poor RAM configuration of the PP - to overcome such difficulties and limitations, find solutions, work-arounds, is part of the fun, isn't it?
Otherwise I could easily use a more modern machine that is even much better ( read: quicker, more memory) than the 200 LX.
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03-20-2015, 10:53 PM (This post was last modified: 03-20-2015 10:56 PM by Dave Frederickson.)
Post: #16
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-20-2015 09:55 PM)Michael Fehlhammer Wrote:  what does "change the Console Mode" mean? How is this accomplished?

There's a setting on the System Config screen that allows you to change the Console Mode between HP and ALT (IBM). See section 10.4.9 in the Technical Ref Manual.

Dave
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03-23-2015, 03:30 PM (This post was last modified: 08-05-2015 06:49 AM by Martin Hepperle.)
Post: #17
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
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(03-20-2015 02:05 PM)Michael Fehlhammer Wrote:  An EPROM set of two 512 kBit EPROMs only provides 128kByte. I guess Turbo C 1.5 command line version needs a lot more? A zip file of your config would be nice to have.

Michael,

for a minimum Turbo C 1.5 installation on the Portable Plus I use the directory structure listed below.

Command line tools are best driven using a Makefile. Alternatively a batch file could be constructed.

With my memory setup (about 400 KB RAM, rest for RAM disc) the compiler reports about 15 kB free, so that large files may not compile. However, programs can be broken inth smaller units, which is better programming style anyway. The linker does not need much memory, he reports something like 150kB free.

The path must contain A:\TC so that the system can find make, compiler and linker.

The best is to install TC on a DOS machine, DOSBox or VirtualBox first and then copy the desired files to a diskette for transfer to the Portable Plus.

The following list contains only the files as needed for compiling applications using the SMALL memory model. More memory models could be added/replaced as needed. Just add/replace them in the LIB directory.

The whole installation requires almost 400kB of the RAM disc. The largest file is the compiler TCC.EXE weighing a hefty 171 KB. One could possible compress the compiler with some tool like "diet" - I have not tried this.
Update: 24-MAR-2015: The attached ZIP archive now contains the executables compressed with LZ (from the 1991 The Portable Paper disc) which shrunk them considerably. They would now even fit into a 128 KB ROM

Martin
Code:

A:\TC
    tcc.exe        (the compiler)
    tlink.exe    (the linker)
    make.exe    (the make utility, not needed if batch files are used to compile/link)
    touch.com    (not needed but handy to set timestamp of files)

A:\TC\INCLUDE
    alloc.h
    assert.h
    bios.h
    conio.h
    ctype.h
    dir.h
    dos.h
    errno.h
    fcntl.h
    float.h
    io.h
    limits.h
    math.h
    mem.h
    process.h
    setjmp.h
    share.h
    signal.h
    stdarg.h
    stddef.h
    stdio.h
    stdlib.h
    string.h
    time.h
    values.h    

A:\TC\INCLUDE\SYS
    stat.h
    
A:\TC\LIB
    cs.lib        (C library for [s]mall memory model)
    maths.lib    (math library for [s]mall memory model)
    c0s.obj        (startup code for [s]mall memory model)
    emu.lib        (math emulator, no x87 coprocessor anyway)

A:\TC\WORK
    your source files, Makefiles etc.


Attached File(s)
.zip  TC.zip (Size: 191.89 KB / Downloads: 11)
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03-23-2015, 06:27 PM
Post: #18
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
Hello Martin,
thank you for your comprehensive remarks and your TCC setup file!
Also I like the idea to use a compression tool; if the size of TCC could be reduced to less than 128kByte, it would be possible to install it onto a pair of 512kBit Eproms, thus freeing valuable memory on the RAM disk.
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03-23-2015, 07:07 PM (This post was last modified: 03-23-2015 07:13 PM by Dave Frederickson.)
Post: #19
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-23-2015 06:27 PM)Michael Fehlhammer Wrote:  Also I like the idea to use a compression tool

I can burn you a set of Squish Plus EPROMs (see back cover).

Dave

Edit: Or, since you have an EPROM burner, I can post the files later today.
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03-23-2015, 08:57 PM
Post: #20
RE: Portable Plus - Additional RAM
(03-23-2015 06:27 PM)Michael Fehlhammer Wrote:  Also I like the idea to use a compression tool; if the size of TCC could be reduced to less than 128kByte, it would be possible to install it onto a pair of 512kBit Eproms, thus freeing valuable memory on the RAM disk.
Given that the 171 KB TCC.EXE binary consumes about 79 KB in the compressed ZIP archive, it should be possible to use PKLITE or a similar online compressor to get an executable file size of much less than 128 KB. However, using an executable compressor will require slightly more RAM when loading the file - this might be tough with only 15 KB left... You may need to try several different compressors, some give better compression ratios than PKLITE or are faster, but are less compatible or require newer CPUs, but some may have less overhead...

Greetings,

Matthias


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