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wordprocessor for Epson Hx-20?

cb2000

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I have acquired a Epson Hx-20 in my travels, it works great and is fantastic condition, but, what it lacks is a word processor. I'm teaching my young child to type and he loves typing on the HX-20 in particular, because it has the build in printer.

What is not so great though is typing in BASIC, a word processor would be far more ideal, so I'm wondering if anyone here has a ROM that they would like to sell, or if maybe someone is able to flash a ROM for me. I have seen some machines that come with a Skiwriter ROM, but not any for sale individually. Doesn't have to be Skiwriter btw.
 

VERAULT

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thats a nice unit, I always wondered what the video out signal to a CRT monitor would look like. Post pictures if you have any.
 

cb2000

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I would love to show you that, but, it can't be done without a special adapter that connects to the 5-pin DIN socket. They used to sell these separately and are seemingly impossible to find these days. I would love to see it though, even worked in color.
 

VERAULT

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I would try and make it if you can, just for your own convenience. Making cables and adapters is just a necessary part of this hobby.
 

GeoffB17

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I still have my HX-20, and it's still mostly working.

I had a different WP program, which worked fine. I'd have to dig it out if you want to know more. This was written in BASIC, so it needed to be loaded, but it was safe in RAM once loaded. I saw at least one other WP prog as well. Yes, using the built in printer is possible, but the systems I saw were really aimed at external SIO printers.

In case you're interested, there was a machine code utility to create a new device SPO: - this is a sideways printer, so it prints a block of text sideways down the paper roll. I've got the code/details for this somewhere. Also, it's still listed on a web site for the HX-20 - ref Julian Wald. Oh, once the 'extension' for SP0: is loaded, then the device is accessible within BASIC in just the same way as COM would be.

Geoff
 

GeoffB17

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Oh, an afterthought. Somewhere, there's a prog called BANNER. This allows the entry of a line of text, which is then printed sideways on down the length of the printer paper. using enlarged characters. I think it allowed the selection of the char to be used to form the matrix of the large chars. Again, I'll have this somewhere, but I'm sure there were different versions, with slightly different facilities. The SP0: prog mentioned above uses normal sized chars, although the dot matrix is rotated 90 degrees.

Geoff
 

cb2000

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I would try and make it if you can, just for your own convenience. Making cables and adapters is just a necessary part of this hobby.

I would give it a try but, I imagine a little more would be required then a simple adapter cable. The original adapter itself was fairly large not like a simple vga to dvi or anything like that. I'm guessing I would need to find some schematics for this to know what is actually required.

I still have my HX-20, and it's still mostly working.

I had a different WP program, which worked fine. I'd have to dig it out if you want to know more. This was written in BASIC, so it needed to be loaded, but it was safe in RAM once loaded. I saw at least one other WP prog as well. Yes, using the built in printer is possible, but the systems I saw were really aimed at external SIO printers.

Geoff

Hmm, if they are aimed at using an external printer that won’t be much help then. It would kind of take the fun out of it for him I think. I wouldn’t want you to waste much effort, and only when you have nothing better to do, but if you could have a look that would be nice.

I still have my HX-20, and it's still mostly working.

In case you're interested, there was a machine code utility to create a new device SPO: - this is a sideways printer, so it prints a block of text sideways down the paper roll. I've got the code/details for this somewhere. Also, it's still listed on a web site for the HX-20 - ref Julian Wald. Oh, once the 'extension' for SP0: is loaded, then the device is accessible within BASIC in just the same way as COM would be.

Geoff

That is awesome. I found the website but it was down, however, the wayback machine had it saved. The sideways printer is very cool and the banner one would be fantastic, my son would love that I think. Even though his site appears to be down I'll contact Julian Wald in the hope that he can still help. If not though, and as I said before, only if it is not too much trouble, I would really appreciate the code for these if you can find them.
 

GeoffB17

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Ooops, sorry to raise your hopes.

After I sent the message, I remembered that most of the code I have is on floppy disk, for the TF-20 drive. I still have this, but it's not communicating any more, and I've not been able to track down why and fix it. May be something simple? The TF-20 still makes the right noises if it's powered up. I suspect a dud solder joint at the linking cable socket at the HX end?

I have the disks OK, and I can read them on one of my old PCs (using 22disk), however, if I've saved any BASIC as BAS then I have another problem, better if it was saved as ASC.

I have everything for the SPT0:, the prog, and I think the data as a separate file (there's a machine code section to be loaded into RAM). The data file for the machine code would be a help anyway? As well as that, I have the pages from the magazine the article was published in. Somewhere! Just need to see if the BASIC part of the prog is 'encoded' or ASC.

How would you hope to get any progs into your HX? Are you keen to type everything in?

I have the built-in m/c, but this failed a while back. Prob just a rubber drive band gone. Not got it repaired. Yet! I had a number of progs stored on a normal cassette, a little while ago I was experimenting with using the laptop instead of a cassette recorder, and this was working quite well - save the prog into a .WAV, and then load it back. Prob more reliable than the tape?

Looking through my disks, I cannot see BANNER. I'm sure it was somewhere, maybe it was in a book and I never actually entered it? I'll keep looking. In any event, if you have the manual (BASIC Reference) look at page 4-18 for the function POINT. The significant part of BANNER is essentially a variant of the example prog for POINT. Specifically, modified to allow more text, to rotate the data 90 degrees, and to print to LPRINT as opposed to PRINT. Fairly simple mods. Oh, change the char printed from the block to * or @ may look better?

Geoff

I always thought (assumed) that when I retired, I'd have so much more free time. Now I'm there, I wonder how on earth I ever found time to go to work!!
 

GeoffB17

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If you're interested in the SPT0: article/code, check this link:

https://archive.org/stream/PersonalComputerNews/PersonalComputerNews048-11Feb1984#mode/2up

This gives you the complete magazine with the article by Elizabeth Wald. Pages 25 to 30, but this range includes some adverts so actual is 3 pages. The above link should let you access/print the pages needed.

I may have a file with the data, but not sure how you'd get it onto your HX?

Geoff
 

GeoffB17

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Well, a bit of useful news.

Checked through all my TF-20 disks, and I've found the full prog for SIDEPRNT, as per the last page of the article. And, it's saved as ASC, so the file is a help. If you can get it into your HX. As a last resort, I think it's possible to load it via COM:, I'll have to check up on that. I've certainly had data gone between HX-20 and my Amstrad PCW, prob between HX and PC as well. There is a list of HX-20 progs on the web, on a Geocities page, which are saved as ASC, and there's a reference to getting them onto the HX via a serial cable. Yes, just checked manual, there's the LOAD COM0 command, so you CAN load a prog directly, although I've never tried that way. I think the Geocities page detailed just how to do it.

Geoff
 

cb2000

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Geoff, everything you have done is amazing I greatly appreciate it.

Seems to me that the easiest way to load it would be via the rs232. I have seen some examples of this online before including the geocities site you mention. It shouldn’t be too much trouble for me to set this up, luckily for me the holidays are almost here. Of course, I'm also willing to type it all out and looks like I may have to do that for the machine code side of things if I'm reading you right and you only have the BASIC program. Easier to type up machine code then basic at least.

Thanks for the link, I guess I should be going through some of the old magazines and see what else can be found.

I see what you mean with the point function, looks pretty good, I should be able to whip something up using that example and a little time. Having Banner would of course be easier, but I doubt that I'll get a reply to my email so I should probably just get onto it these holidays.

Again thank you for looking into this all for me, what is the best way for you to get the ASC file to me? Email?
 

GeoffB17

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Hello,

I'll hopefully attach the SIDEPRNT prog. This is complete, the BASIC bit is really just a loader for the machine code, which is all there as DATA, so if you can get this onto the HX, then you're running.

Regarding the specific magazine, there was another article for a disassembler, also by Elizabeth Wald. I'll fish out the date of that issue if you need it, but I was getting that specific mag for a while and I don't remember anything else so useful. There was not a lot of useful stuff published for the HX, it was fairly specialist even back then.

I'll keep looking for BANNER, I'm sure I've got something somewhere. But where? I don't think that BANNER was anything to do with Julian Wald (or Elizabeth for that matter), and it was only a small prog, just a little larger than the example in the manual.

If you want to try the RS232 load, then yes, that article (with games) on the Geocities site. The HX is unusual in having the LOAD option using the RS232 directly, this will be a big help.

Geoff
 

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cb2000

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Well that's good news, just a matter of hooking this thing up to a PC to load it. As I said before that will be my holiday job. Don’t go to the trouble for the disassembler, it probably won’t be that necessary for me, at least not yet. If I need it I'm sure I can locate if it's in the same publication.

On Julian's website he did have BANNER listed as a utility, doesn’t mean it was his though I guess, here it is on his site https://web.archive.org/web/20170301203055/http://classway.com/hx20/items.html

Thank you for the program, it will be good to get it going.
 

bifo86

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Oddly, I just came across this today. It may be helpful, though I don't have an HX-20 and I don't know how to build the necessary cable.

http://members.aon.at/nkehrer/

Flashx20, the Epson HX-20 Floppy and Screen Emulator. He just released screen support today, it uses a PC to simulate the drives and screen, similar to the older solutions for C64 and other computer systems back before the SD card era.
 

GeoffB17

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Thanks for this - just found it.

I've downloaded the package, I'll have to try it.

When I sort out why my HX will not connect to my TF-20. I suspect the connector on the HX, which I will need for FLASHx20 as well. As far as I can tell, the TF starts up OK, it makes the right clicking noises, but the HX does not communicate.

Geoff
 

Martin Hepperle

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You can easily load programs in ASCII Format via COM0.
Just issue
LOAD "COM0:(68N1E)"

On a Windows PC (a simple 3-wire null modem cable is needed) you can use RealTerm to send the text file.
Set it to the proper USB-Serial converter COM port, 2800 baud, 7 data, 1 stop bits and no parity.
As this setup uses no handshake lines, you have to use an inter-character delay of 10ms for reliable transfers.

if the text file ends with a CTRL-Z character (0x1A), the HX-20 automatically returns to the command prompt after completing the LOAD command.
Otherwise you have to press the BREAK key after RealTerm has sent the file.

Unfortunately you cannot load binary files with MLOAD via "COM0:". Machine code programs can only be embedded in BASIC DATA statements or a special SEND-RECEIVE program pair must be used to receive and PEEK binary data into memory.
 

GeoffB17

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Well, I've been trying to get somewhere with the HXtape utility for a little while now.

Incl being in touch with the original author in Italy

This process is intended for Linux, and uses php which I'm not too familiar with (although I like to think that I could programme in anything).

I needed to vary the designed process to:
a) work under WinDoze
b) work on .WAV files already saved so that they could be viewed/changed/re-loaded.

With quite a few emails going back and forth, and massive help from Lorenzo in Italy, things are just about working. The specific prog I've been using for test, about 70 lines of BASIC, is now working in both directions, so I can SAVE it to my W7 laptop as a .WAV, access the file via HXtape and convert to an accessible file, this could then be changed/added to (or a new file created on the PC) and this can then be converted back into a .WAV using hxsave which can then be loaded back into the HX.

The process is rather fiddly, involving use of Audacity and other things along the way, but if I do things in the right order, with the right parameters, it's working.

This will be a massive help, esp as my TF drive is not working. So far?

Massive thanks to Lorenzo J. Lucchini for his original HXtape, and his efforts sorting me out.

Geoff
 

GeoffB17

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Hello,

I'd not been looking for SkiWriter, but since you asked.

The problem with finding something is that I think this software was sold as a ROM, only?? Maybe you understand that, as you refer to a bin file, which is what anything would probably be.

I've seen a reference to someone discussing the system, on the 'stardot' forum relating to BBC/Acorn, and I'll check this out further. The reference includes a download of the ROMs in the poster's HX, I've got these now, but I see some clearly installed software, some other 'vertical' systems, seemingly ref comms and accts?, but no immediate sign of SkiWriter. One problem may be that the software as supplied on the ROM needs to be mapped to 2000-3FFF to work, which means that it may need to mess up the normal BASIC setup which you might not want.

Seems to me from the discussion that the HX the poster on stardot has may be a machine supplied into a vertical market, with non standard ROMs installed, for a specific business useage. Don't know what other peculiarities there may be. It appears though that the poster did get SkiWriter working, or at least to appear on the menu, so it might be functional?

Geoff
 

Towmater

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May 14, 2017
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It remains to be seen whether Skiwriter's code is relocatable, I assumed that since it is a rom, and there is an empty rom socket in the HX, that it would be easy enough to burn/plug/exec. I find references to a version of Mame with an HX-20 emulator and the Skiwriter rom in a bundle, but can't find a download link. I'll check for generic Mame torrents and see if it happens to include the rom in one of them.
 
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