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Promenade EPROM programmer review [message #113861] Tue, 17 September 2013 14:53
joels is currently offline  joels
Messages: 20
Registered: May 2013
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Message-ID: <143@tektools.UUCP>
Date: Tue, 26-Feb-85 10:44:08 EST
Article-I.D.: tektools.143
Posted: Tue Feb 26 10:44:08 1985
Date-Received: Sun, 3-Mar-85 03:42:17 EST
Distribution: net
Organization: Tektronix, Beaverton OR
Lines: 96

Review of Promenade EPROM programmer made by:
	Jason-Ranheim
	580 Parrott St.
	San Jose, CA 95112
	Price: $100.

General Information:

   Promenade is an aluminum box of dimensions 4-5/8 x 4-3/8 x 5/8
inches that plugs into the C64 user port. On the top it has 3 LEDs and
a 28 pin ZIF socket. When used with the included software(called
Promos) it will program a wide variety of EPROMS and EEPROMS. Promenade
has two different methods of reading and writing data on EPROMS.  One
is the normal method of transferring memory images to and from the
EPROM.  Commands are available to program an EPROM from a specified
area of memory and to load data from an EPROM to a specified area of
memory.  Transfer can take place between any part of the EPROM and any
part of memory.  Conspicuously absent are verify and erasure test
commands. All commands are in BASIC format. That is, parameters are
separated by commas, and all numbers are decimal.  Because of the way
that Promos works, commands are available from BASIC as well as most
monitors. The other method of storing data is to use the EPROM as a
file area. Normal BASIC commands such as LOAD, SAVE, OPEN, GET#,
PRINT#, etc., are used to write and read files on the EPROM. There is a
command to display the directory of the EPROM. This is a new Idea (to
me at least). I am not sure how useful this might be. The time for
writing files this way varies greatly depending on the type of EPROM.
The time to read back such files is very short. This might be useful
for applications that need quick access to static data. I cannot see
Promenade being useful as a mass storage device.

Hardware:

   Promenade consists of a high quality PC board in a rigid aluminum
case.  The design is clean and efficient. There are no switches or
jumpers. All functions can be selected in the software. Compare this to
Prom Queen which requires setting patterns of DIP switches to select
the EPROM type. The only problem I found is that Promenade powers up in
a random state. Sometimes it comes on with the programming voltage on.
This has potential to damage an EPROM if one is inadvertently left in
during power up.

Software:
   Promos loads from disk or tape and relocates itself to the top of
BASIC memory. A choice of 4 different programming algorithms is
provided: the standard method recommended by the Intel, two intelligent
methods recommended by Intel, and an intelligent method developed by
Jason-Ranheim.  The latter is the fastest by far, and I have found it
to be completely reliable. Promos commands consist of a single
character command name followed by a list of decimal numbers separated
by commas. These numbers specify memory addresses, EPROM address, EPROM
type, and programming method.  Promos has no error messages. Whenever
anything goes wrong, the yellow LED blinks. This can be very
frustrating. Promos is also missing two commands that I consider
essential: verify and erasure test.  Promos alters the kernal CHRIN
vector to get control to execute commands. This means that Promos
commands can be executed from BASIC as well as most machine language
monitors. It also means that they cannot be executed from a running
BASIC program. In fact the routines in Promos are not user callable by
any method. I had intended to write a higher level interface to allow
easy mass programming and testing of EPROMS. It can't be done. Instead,
I disassembled Promos and hacked in the two essential commands.  In
doing this I found the software to be a real mess. To facilitate
relocation, it was written almost entirely without subroutines. Doing
this means using lots of flags, switches and branch chains. The few
subroutines used, are addressed in a table that is relocated by the
initialization code. (There are much easier ways to achieve
relocatability.) Promos has other problems when used from a monitor.
First, whenever invalid syntax is entered on a Promos command, Promos
kicks back into BASIC with the SYNTAX error message, and the monitor
must be restarted. Another problem occurs with monitors that have a
prompt character. Normally you can move the cursor back up the screen
and alter and re-execute a command. The monitor knows enough to ignore
the prompt character. Promos sees the prompt character and causes an
error. To re-execute Promos commands from a monitor you must delete the
prompt character first. 

Manual:
     The small manual is poor quality and disorganized. It has no index
or table of contents. The essential section, 'getting started' is
buried in the back. It is typewritten with special characters and
corrections scribbled in. It does contain all essential information,
plus some extras, such as an explanation of the different programming
algorithms.

Conclusion:
     Even with all its problems Promenade is filling my need. I 
think it is a cost effective package. With the addition of some well
designed software, it would be excellent.

Joel Swank
Software Center Tools Support
50-487
Tektronix
Beaverton OR 97077
(503) 627-4403
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