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USB Peripherals for the 84+
Posted by Michael on 16 August 2005, 17:07 GMT

A few weeks ago, the ever-famous Dan Englender released a revolutionary new flash application called usb8x. Usb8x is a driver that interfaces with the On-the-Go USB port in the TI-84 Plus and TI-84 Plus Silver Edition. It is designed to be used by other programmers to create drivers for a variety of USB peripherals. Dan has included demos for a USB mouse, keyboard, and a loopback test for the USB Silverlink. Theoretically this means that drivers can be written to support nearly any USB device (so long as it consumes 100 mA or less of bus power). Usb8x will open up an entirely new world of possibilities for graphing calculators. Congratulations to Dan on an extremely impressive achievement!

You may be thinking that ticalc.org is awfully slow in reporting this news, but due to the recent news drought, I thought I would hold off on this article until it could be as amazing as possible: I have been working on a driver that runs on top of Dan's to allow USB flash drives to connect to the calculator. Yesterday I finished FAT16 reading support and so I now present a demo video (4.4 MB), exclusively available on ticalc.org, of a movie playing off my 1 GB Lexar JumpDrive. You may recognize the clip as part of The Matrix's infamous lobby scene. There is no dithering or grayscale, although both are probably possible. There is still much more work to be done before we have utilities and file explorer-type programs at a level where general users can use their USB drives.

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The comments below are written by ticalc.org visitors. Their views are not necessarily those of ticalc.org, and ticalc.org takes no responsibility for their content.


Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
Nikky Southerland  Account Info
(Web Page)

We didn't think ticalc was slower than usual in news, not in the least bit. He was teasing us about the video yesterday, but wouldn't let anyone see it. It's actually rather impressive, but I'm partial to the "Gatekeepers" scene in the matrix, personally.

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 18:12 GMT

Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
DWedit  Account Info
(Web Page)

ZOMG! R-Rated content on ticalc.org! Someone call the censors! Remove this filth from the site!

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 18:16 GMT


Re: Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
Michael Vincent  Account Info
(Web Page)

It's no longer R-rated thanks to the 96x64 resolution and monochrome :)

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 18:18 GMT


Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
Richard Brosius  Account Info

WOW!
Not to push it but is there anything in the works for a 68K.

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 18:37 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
Nikky Southerland  Account Info
(Web Page)

None that I'm aware of.

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 18:39 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
slimey_limey  Account Info
(Web Page)

OMFG that's amazing!

I wondered how long it would take for somebody to figure this out. What, 3 years? Not bad.

I just might buy an 89T so that I can figure out how to do USB with it.

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 20:49 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
Andy Janata  Account Info
(Web Page)

Uhh, more like 16 months, if that long... The 84+ was released around April last year.

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 22:40 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
slimey_limey  Account Info
(Web Page)

My mistake. I don't follow z80 very closely.

Reply to this comment    17 August 2005, 21:57 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
Dan Englender Account Info
(Web Page)

I collaborated with ExtendeD (me working on the 84P and him working on the 89T) to figure out some of the details of the hardware interface to the USB port. I'm not sure if he's working on a similar driver for the 68k, but if not, I think there's enough information out there for someone to make one.

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 18:54 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherials for the 84+
ExtendeD Account Info

<< I'm not sure if he's working on a similar driver for the 68k >>
Yes, I am, but I need to find time for this.

By the way thanks again Dan for you adapter cable, my USB mouse worked on the Titanium a few days after I had received it.

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 19:30 GMT

Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
Dan Englender Account Info
(Web Page)

Hi, thanks for the news article, Michael. Just some other notes:
-usb8x is open source. The source is available on sourceforge.
-There is a demo video on the website linked in the news article showing the calculator linked to a mouse, a keyboard, and a silverlink.
-There is an assembly language and a BASIC language interface to the USB driver. The assembly language interface is in a beta state, the BASIC language one is in an alpha state.
-You need an adapter cable to connect USB devices to the mini-usb port on the calculator. There's a 5-in-1 connector kit that's available at many stores, or serialio.com sells a mini-A to female-A cable that will work.

Reply to this comment    16 August 2005, 18:39 GMT


Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
elfprince13 Account Info
(Web Page)

I've got the USB computer cable. if I get one of the little USB plugs that's female on both sides could I plug in my USB Mouse?

Reply to this comment    18 August 2005, 19:05 GMT


Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
Benjamin Moody  Account Info

There are no such things. Cables which have two female or two male connectors violate the standard, so they're not USB cables.

The question we must ask ourselves, then, is why are such cables expressly prohibited by the USB standard? The answer is that you never need or want to connect a host to another host (which will probably damage one or both devices), or a peripheral to another peripheral (which obviously won't work at all), so you never need to connect an A-device to another A-device, or a B-device to another B-device.

The trick is that the calculator can be either a host or a peripheral, and the initial state is based on whether a mini-A cable (such as the round end of the calc-to-calc cable) or a mini-B cable (such as the PC cable) is connected. So when you connect the PC cable, the calculator always acts as a peripheral. While it might be possible to force the USB controller into host mode anyway, this is a really bad idea.

Reply to this comment    18 August 2005, 20:19 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
ExtendeD Account Info

You need a male mini-A/female A adapter, not a female A/female A cable. Using such a cable (wheter legal or not it is) would make you insert a mini-B plug into the calculator, not a mini-A. This determines wether the calculator is acting as host or device (although on TI84P and Titanium, the USB controller doesn't really care about this, but software does, and perhaps usb8x, I haven't checked).
By the way mini-A/female A adapters are described in the On-The-Go specification and are "legal".

Reply to this comment    18 August 2005, 21:31 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
elfprince13 Account Info
(Web Page)

Its an extension type thing. USB female-USB female.....its not actually a cord, just a little box....anyway I have the mini-B-USB or whatever it is that comes with the calc. What I want to no is with the above box, wil it work to plug my cable that came with the calc into my male USB mouse

Reply to this comment    20 August 2005, 01:21 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
Benjamin Moody  Account Info

No.

Reply to this comment    20 August 2005, 04:35 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
JfG  Account Info
(Web Page)

Yes.
"Its an extension type thing. USB female-USB female."
I have the same thing.

Reply to this comment    20 August 2005, 15:44 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
ExtendeD Account Info

Yes, you will be able to plug your mouse, but it may not work. Have you tested?

Reply to this comment    20 August 2005, 19:07 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
Michael McElroy Account Info
(Web Page)

Are you serious? You think that just because something violates the standard, it doesn't exist? USB host-to-host cables DO exist. In fact, there are special USB cables that can be used to network computers together. They're even supported in Windows XP.

Reply to this comment    22 August 2005, 23:45 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
Vasantha Crabb  Account Info
(Web Page)

Yes, but they aren't a simple host-to-host adaptor. They actually have some chips in them to handle the communication, and they look like a function to both hosts. Connecting two hosts with nothing more than a cable is a bad idea.

Reply to this comment    23 August 2005, 07:53 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
Michael McElroy Account Info
(Web Page)

How is it a bad idea? Nothing in the design of the USB host protocol would make it a "bad idea." Most USB networking cables are just that - cables. The communication is all handled on the software end. Every USB hosts can be a USB client; it's all a matter of drivers.

Reply to this comment    27 August 2005, 08:08 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
ExtendeD Account Info

<< Every USB hosts can be a USB client >>
Not really. A USB host controller is not a USB device controller. USB is made of several protocols stack up. Some protocols or parts of protocols can be entirely managed by the hardware (the USB controller). And the protocols are asymetric: acting as host is completely different from acting as device.

Reply to this comment    27 August 2005, 12:42 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: USB Peripherals for the 84+
bruno faria  Account Info

you are wrong there are some host to host connections and you use them on net for example but for connecting to hosts you could use a male to male cable with format A, but there is a twist with this
because you have to create the drivers for your comunication between two hosts and this drivers have to have the structure of message pipes because you are dealing with two hosts and they dont support stream pipes

Reply to this comment    1 September 2005, 10:57 GMT

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