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Ti-990

Terry Kennedy

Experienced Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2017
Messages
241
Location
New York
If you run across any more docs on that system, please let us know.
I never had any, other than what CAE provided to Royal Air Maroc. It was just a weird coincidence that I ended up maintaining the simulator - I went there the first time to support an Alpha Micro system that was intended to just track their inventory of spare parts for the simulator. As I was getting ready to head back to the US, one of my site contacts asked me if I knew anything about other computers, and I said yes.

It turns out that they didn't purchase a maintenance contract for the simulator, and as parts broke they'd used up all of their good on-site spares. They then resorted to finding I/O boards where one channel wasn't used on that particular simulator and swap the bad board into that position where the defect didn't matter because that particular channel wasn't used in that position. So any further board swapping would either introduce 2 new defects and keep the original defect (if neither swapped board was actually causing the original problem) or would swap the original problem for 2 new unrelated ones.

This could cause some pretty jarring side effects (remember, these I/O boards are doing things like controlling the hydraulic actuators that make the simulator pitch and yaw). The software control that provided limits to those movements had no effect if the interface card was bad - you'd go from level flight to "anything not nailed down flying around the cockpit" in an instant. After I fixed the original problem they asked me to look at, I said that they needed to get all of the other in-service cards back to a state of 100% functionality as well as the spares. I ended up staying for an extra 2 weeks or so that time, repairing a bunch of the cards. They had all of the test equipment, etc. needed - they had just never been trained on component-level repair.

At the time, they had one 747, which was the only plane in their fleet capable of flying CMN-JFK non-stop. It had a convertible interior and could be configured for passenger service, freight, or their equivalent of Air Force One for the King. When I was finished and ready to head home, that plane wasn't available as the King was on extended international travel. After around a week and a half, the airline decided to charter a flight back to JFK from Air Canada for me and a half dozen travel agents that had also become stuck in Morocco (they didn't want to antagonize the agents who were responsible for bringing in tourists with American dollars). So it was a 747 with only 7 passengers.

Reading about the governments of Hassan II and his successor, Mohammed VI, makes it sound like a horrible place to be. To myself as a naive 20-year-old it seemed like a nice place - people in Casablanca were friendly and could go about their lives seemingly without oppression. The army was visible but also friendly. The only hint that not all was as it should be was that the currency exchange rate was a lot better at the illegal exchanges, and the rate depended on the size of the bills you brought, with $100 bills getting the most favorable rate. I did observe an incident with bandits out in the desert (freaky / very scary).

A much nicer and open place than Venezuela, where I also went on a consulting job. Any time the customer says "Thank goodness you're here!" with a sense of excited relief when you're just installing a protocol converter makes you want to ask why they're so relieved. The answer I got was "The bank sent down a VP and the rebels kidnapped him, burned the white Bentley and killed the driver we sent to pick him up. Just last week the VP staggered down from the hills half-starved in his underwear when he escaped." NOT the kind of thing you want to hear. And when trying to leave, stereotypical dark-eyeglass-wearing Latin American army types were roaming the airport, picking people at random and saying "Pay airport tax!" while having one hand on their weapons. Apparently this "tax" wend directly into the pocket of the each of the army guys.
 

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
I never had any, other than what CAE provided to Royal Air Maroc. It was just a weird coincidence that I ended up maintaining the simulator

[cut backstory, but that's some wild stuff!]

Interesting. We had a couple of guys in our old user group who maintained a Link helicopter trainer at a nearby Army airfield. That simulator was controlled by an H316, iirc.

I see CAE is buying the Military Training division of L3Harris, which includes Link Simulation and Training.

jbdigriz
 

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
I always wanted a 990 but didn't get a chance at one until recently when I lucked into a Business System 300, which seems to be basically a 990/10A with an integrated disk controller built into a terminal enclosure. It came with no peripherals, of course, so now I'm hunting for a keyboard and a WD500 or WD800 mass storage system as well as any documentation/software I can find. The system looks to be maxed out to 512K memory and with all optional I/O, and even more interestingly has a "PBIC" card in place of the usual 2/4-port terminal card they were offered with, it seems like it might be some sort of CRU buffer card to allow the machine to interface to an external expansion chassis, but I've never found any mention of it anywhere as an option.

Other than the hardware, if anyone has any information or even just commentary on these machines I'd love to hear about it! They seem like a killer system for a space-constrained mini enthusiast, but there isn't much out there on them aside from a couple documents on Bitsavers and some product announcements in InfoWorld/Computerworld and the like.

Have you been able to take this system apart for board photos and ROM dumps? What looks like a board set for an S300 or some variant has turned up, but there are some differences from the grainy Business System 300 Paper on bitsavers, and one of the ROMS on the terminal board has had the cap knocked off, among other possible issues. Photos and dumps would be VERY helpful, if you can post them here or send to bitsavers.

[okay, I see of course you don't have the terminal board in yours, but pics and dumps of any roms on the PBIC card as well as the system board. power supplies, etc. would be helpful.]

jbdigriz
 
Last edited:

Al Kossow

Documentation Wizard
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
2,907
Location
Silicon Valley
I bought the boards that showed up today, and put copies of the ebay pictures on bitsavers. The big difference I see between the picture in the paper and what I bought is if it has ECC memory
 

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
Concur. I will be checking with some sources to see if it can be pinned down further.
 

zippysticks

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2017
Messages
513
Location
UK, South East
Its good to see some interest in the TI-990, I just happen to have one being shipped to me right now. It's not a complete system though and comprises just the 13 slot chassis, 990/10 and the programmer panel. I figure I need some additional I/O and would love to get a serial terminal and floppy/hard drive interface up and running.
If anyone has suggestion for the minimum specification (additional) hardware to achieve this then it would be much appreciated.
 

bear

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2006
Messages
619
Location
Seattle, WA
I have quite a few spare assorted CRU boards, if it comes to that. More than I'll ever need.
 

zippysticks

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2017
Messages
513
Location
UK, South East
I have quite a few spare assorted CRU boards, if it comes to that. More than I'll ever need.

Thanks - do you happen to have one of the TTY/EIA CRU 946240-9701 and associated adapter cards available please ? I believe its part number 975200-0001
 
Last edited:

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
Its good to see some interest in the TI-990, I just happen to have one being shipped to me right now. It's not a complete system though and comprises just the 13 slot chassis, 990/10 and the programmer panel. I figure I need some additional I/O and would love to get a serial terminal and floppy/hard drive interface up and running.
If anyone has suggestion for the minimum specification (additional) hardware to achieve this then it would be much appreciated.

You will need memory also. I have some excess /10 memory boards. Dusty and untested, but have them. Like bear said, if all else fails... Shipping from here to UK would not be cheap. If you're going to be using a serial terminal or an emulator, you may want to use a CI402 or better serial interface. Another option that has been mentioned here is a /5 cpu board, which has an onboard serial port. The /10A does also.

There is some 990 stuff on ebay.co.uk right now, btw. Seller is reasonable, and should have other items that aren't listed.
 

bear

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2006
Messages
619
Location
Seattle, WA
Thanks - do you happen to have one of the TTY/EIA CRU 946240-9701 and associated adapter cards available please ? I believe its part number 975200-0001

The boards I have spare are 945075-0001 EIA RS232, 946076-0005 Dual 911 VDT, and 2263480-0001 EXACU.
 

zippysticks

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2017
Messages
513
Location
UK, South East
Thanks all.
Its the 990/10A model I have with 512K on board. The card and 13 slot chassis arrived today and so I plugged in the programmers panel I have had for some time.

It works - I have basic control over the machine from the programmer panel.
Yes, the /10A has the serial port on board so if I can get some software to use it (and an adaptor cable made up) then I may be ok.

I have my eye on a spectralogic card for disk I/o and need to find some archaic compatible drives to use with it.
I'm reliably informed that I need at least 5MB of space for DX10 and more for DNOS - so floppy drive working is not an option for anything useful.
 

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
I always wanted a 990 but didn't get a chance at one until recently when I lucked into a Business System 300, which seems to be basically a 990/10A with an integrated disk controller built into a terminal enclosure. It came with no peripherals, of course, so now I'm hunting for a keyboard and a WD500 or WD800 mass storage system as well as any documentation/software I can find. The system looks to be maxed out to 512K memory and with all optional I/O, and even more interestingly has a "PBIC" card in place of the usual 2/4-port terminal card they were offered with, it seems like it might be some sort of CRU buffer card to allow the machine to interface to an external expansion chassis, but I've never found any mention of it anywhere as an option.

Other than the hardware, if anyone has any information or even just commentary on these machines I'd love to hear about it! They seem like a killer system for a space-constrained mini enthusiast, but there isn't much out there on them aside from a couple documents on Bitsavers and some product announcements in InfoWorld/Computerworld and the like.
A WD500 just came up on Ebay today. Procrustes pulled the winchester, however, and I don't see the PBI cable or a TPBI board (for 990 use) Should be able to make a cable easily enough, though. Broke right now. Figures.
 
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