[Coco] CoCoUSB

Gene Heskett gheskett at shentel.net
Mon Apr 23 10:28:01 EDT 2018

On Monday 23 April 2018 06:46:24 Francis Swygert wrote:

> Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2018 09:58:02 -0500
> From: Allen Huffman <alsplace at pobox.com>
> Is there any interest in a CoCoUSB interface?
> Modern Windows users are used plugging in almost anything and having
> it work, but if you ever use anything not mainstream (Chinese Arduino
> clones, BASIC Stamp programmers, etc.), you have to go search for
> drivers disks. I have had to go get all kinds of weird drivers to use
> various Made in China things, for instance.
> If you use Linux or Mac, you already know there are tons of USB
> devices you just cannot use — no drivers exist. Only common basic
> things work (serial ports, etc.).
> Once you step into micros (even the Raspberry Pi), you know there are
> tons of USB things you simply cannot use. Or, if you can use them, you
> have to install special software to use them.

The only usb stuff I can't use on my pi is the ultra cheap stuff with no 
shielding. That lathe its running is quite noisy electrically and 
demands well built, shielded cabling. You don't always get that for a 
$20 bill.

> On the CoCo, there are now incredibly low-cost chips that handle all
> the USB stuff and spit it out in a format that the CoCo could handle,
> or plug in to the upcoming Ed Snider MPI UART connections.

That I've been watching, might want it but Ed's holding it like a poker 
hand. :)

> Instead of loading drivers, firmware can be loaded on the part to make
> it handle keyboards, or mice, or joysticks, or USB thumb drives, etc.
> While it “could” be possible to plug in and have it detect and
> dynamically load firmware for the device, this would be much more
> expensive, and it might take 10 minutes to do this. Instead, the
> drivers would be pre-loaded (remember CONFIG.SYS in MS-DOS?) to define
> what the port handles.
> It would be easy to add support to iItrOS-9, but RS-DOS would require
> patching (and as we know, any time you patch BASIC, you break things,
> since many programs go out and read hardware directly rather than
> using ROM calls). Think of it like the hard drive BASICs — you can
> make simple basic disk I/O work, but much assembly stuff wouldn’t work
> with it.
What is this iItrOS-9 you write about?

As for usb v the coco, I have a 7 port usb hub on the top shelf of 
the "computer" desk its on. Plugged into a 10 meter boosted usb 
extension cable that is plugged into a hub off this machine, and the 
drivewire cable, 1/2 of an old printer cable that is plugged into the 
bitbanger, the other end ofd that 3' cable is connected to an fdti 
seriel to usb adapter and its plugged into that 7 port hub on the shelf. 
Drivewire has been using that as the interconnetion cable, flawlessly, 
for years. The reason for the 7 port hub? Theres also a bluetooth 
tranceiver plugged in, and at times theres a cheap b&w laser printer on 
that same shelf. Sending a listing to the drivewire version of /p, that 
data comes up to drivewire on this machine, which writes it to a 25 job 
spool directory. Here, inotifywait see's the closing of that file, which 
triggers a script that sends it thru cups, which rasterizes it and sends 
it back down over that same 10 meter cable to that laser printer, which 
in turn spits the listing out at 19 pages a minute starting about 2 or 3 
secs after the prompt returns from the list command on the coco3.  Whats 
not to like about that?

Way better, more readable default font for ones assembly listings. 
Drivewire can also convert it to look like a 9 pin dot matrix if you 
absolutely must have the retro look, but it's fuggly in comparison.
And you are back to wondering if that character is an el, or a 1.

> However, dedicated “USB joystick to CoC joystick port” and “USB
> keyboard to CoCo keyboard connector” boards could be done to embed
> inside the CoCo, which would be 100% compatible.
> =======================================
> Great idea! The first one I suggest doing, however, is a printer
> adapter. If it plugged into the bit-banger and had something like
> standard Epson emulation built-in it would work with just about any
> CoCo program. With real serial printers hard to find now, except for
> some industrial dot matrix printers, that would be a big plus.

The above works and only cost me around $80 total, 30 for the 7 port hub, 
and 30 for the 10 meter extension cable and 20 for the fdti 232 to usb 
adapter. And if you want to count it, $110 for the brother laser, but it 
gets used for all text outputs here unless I need duplex. For color and 
duplex, I have another brother ink squirter that only does a page every 
other minute, but can do auto duplex, or tabloid by manual feed.  Thats 
come in handy for "rockhopper" outputs, which is a utility that can map 
a running session of linuxcnc, and give me a printout of how the system 
would look like if the logic was flow charted. The printout file is 
in .svg format, and extremely high resolution and when cut and taped, 
can cover a 4x8 sheet of plywood. And is usually obsolete by the end of 
the day since it helped me find and fix an error that might, in the .hal 
file, be separated by 800 L.O.C.

>  Frank Swygert
>  Fix-It-Frank Handyman Service
>  803-604-6548

Cheers, Gene Heskett
"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
 soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
-Ed Howdershelt (Author)
Genes Web page <http://geneslinuxbox.net:6309/gene>

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