An Eprom Programmer (Off Topic)

GQ-3X Eprom Programmer

GQ-3X Eprom Programmer

Back in January whilst scouring through RGP (The newsgroup) I came across a post referring to an Eprom Programmer which was meant to be good value for money.

So I surfed to MCUMail (in Canada) and found this Eprom Programmer which looked very interesting. Basically it can connect to a Windows PC via a USB cable and doesn’t need an additional power supply and could programme Eprom devices from the 2716 (16 kBit = 2 kbyte) upwards.

Just what I needed.

You see it turns out that many, many years ago I designed my own LED based Moving Message Panel (MMP). Basically a dot-matrix display. However, the stored messages didn’t move per se, each message was a collection of 4 “frames” which could be displayed one after the other.

To store the messages, I used a 32k battery backed static ram. To get the messages into the static ram, I used a memory expansion board on my then Commodore VIC20 (yes, it was a long, long time ago), having taken out one of the static rams from the expansion board and replaced it with an IC socket, into which I could plug my battery backed static ram. It was then simply a case of “poking” the correct values into the correct memory locations for each of the messages.

When the messages were completed, I then only had to take the static ram out of the expansion board and plug it into the MMP – because of the piggy-backed battery, the SRAM didn’t lose the data on the removal of external power.

It was a simple solution and worked – the only caveat being, that the battery had a life expectancy of 10 years…

Having recently “found” my MMP again, I turned it on, not expecting to find it working (as not only was it far more than 10 years ago that I programmed the SRAM, but the MMP had been through 5 house-moves in that time). However, to my surprise, it worked. I was delighted.

So my first thought was to save the messages from the battery backed SRAM to Eprom,  as I wasn’t too hopeful on the battery on the SRAM lasting much longer.

Hence my interest in an Eprom programmer, and one which could programme at least an old TMS2532 32k Eprom, which this one does.

So I bought one.

As far as the (old) 2532 Eproms are concerned, I was delighted to be able to buy some on eBay, meaning that I was now in posession of everything required to commit my MMP messages to a safer medium.

Well today I managed to set everything up and actually read the battery backed static ram into my PC and then to burn the messages to Eprom using my new Eprom programmer. Wonderful. Now that’s one less problem to worry about.

So now I’ve got an Eprom programmer and a pinball machine which uses Eprom for its programme storage. And there are different software versions for my TAF (I’ve already bought the H-4 Eprom and a set of TAF Gold Eproms to complement the L-2 Eprom which came in the machine when it was delivered – in fact it’s the H-4 version which is currently in my TAF). So in theory, I’ve now got everything I need (apart from the software and Eproms) to have an Eprom for each version of TAF software ever written.

I’ll definitely come back to this later.

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