1980s Vintage Computers


Celectronic Promicron EPROM programmer

These tips were written for the Promicron 2000. Note this has 'DEC/NO' and 'INC/YES' keys, in place of the Digelec 804 'NEXT/DECR' and 'ENTR/INCR' keys.

Connecting via serial lead to PC

To transfer files to/from the programmer a serial (RS232) lead is needed. This has to be a cross-over cable. I use a straight cable together with a null modem adapter. I have a Windows PC with a built in 9 pin serial port, otherwise a USB to serial adapter can be used.

Power on self test

When first powered on the Promicron displays 'Power failure', this is normal. Press CLR and the unit performs a self check, this should pass with 'Test OK' followed by the memory size (eg 3FFFF which means the unit has 256KB of RAM).

Press CLR to go to the function menu, eg display says 'Select Function'.

Programmer set up - EPROM type

At the 'Select Function' prompt press 0. The current EPROM type is displayed. If this is not the desired type press NO and the display shows the two character code of the current EPROM. Please see your Promicron or Digelec device manual for the code of the EPROM type required. For example the Intel 2732 EPROM is device code 10, so if the the 'EPROM Code' message is displayed press 1 then 0 to change it then press YES. nb device codes are mainly 2 digits, there are some 3 and 4 digit codes too. The display should then show 'EPROM 2732'. If the device shown is not as expected, then press NO to cycle through the available choices for your programmer. Pressing CLR returns to the 'Select Function' screen, so if copying from one EPROM to another insert the device with the code required and press 2 to copy the EPROM contents to RAM.

Programmer set up - manual file transfer

If transferring files using DOS COPY then the serial port and file transfer method needs to be set up. Select function 0, the current EPROM type is displayed. If correct press YES and the first of a series of options is displayed together with the current setting. Keep pressing YES to cycle through to the next option, press NO to change the setting.

My preferences for manual file transfer are as follows (note this list varies depending on firmware versions):

ADR-OFFSET 0 - this sets the address offset
FMT HEX-INTEL - this sets the format for the data set in over RS232.
BAUDRATE 9600 - data rate in bits / second
ONE STOPPBIT - typo for Stop Bit
7 DATA BITS
EVEN PARITY
AUTO ECHO OFF - no need to send the received data back to the PC.
EOF ENDING ON
ADDRESS FROM I/O
DISPLAY ADDR-ERR

PC Setup - serial port

I tend to use the Windows command window (eg Start -> Run -> CMD), other methods include using a terminal emulator such as Putty. Set the serial port to have the same setting as the programmer (eg baud rate, number of stop bits, data bits and parity).

To use the Intel hex file format, binary files have to be converted into text such as:

:1000A000CE396F5293B09982F73412B41A77F72988

There are a number of file converters available, eg search for bin2hex for your computer OS, run the converter on a binary format file to create an Intel hex format file. Also to convert Intel hex files into binary, use a utility such as hex2bin.

Transferring file from PC to programmer

On the PC set up the serial port and file to transfer (in Intel hex format) as above. Then prepare to send, eg if using the Command window and port COM1 type:

COPY file.hex com1:

but don't press Enter yet.

On the programmer, at the 'Select Function' message press 3 (the RS232 to RAM function). Programmer will display:

RAM BEGIN 0 - this loads the data into the start of RAM. If OK press YES.

RAM END 1FFF - this the expected end of RAM. Check the value displayed, and if it doesn't match the size of the file to be loaded then enter in the correct value. eg if loading a 2KB file then enter 7FF. Then press YES and the programmer will wait for data, so start the process on the PC. During the transfer the programmer will display:

1**
2**

etc. as the data is received. At the end of the transfer the programmer will return to the 'Select Function' display. If the transfer fails press CLR to return control.

Programming EPROM from RAM

First check the RAM contents using function 8 (copy RAM contents to display). Select the start address then press YES, press INC to increment the address and DEC to decrement it. Press CLR to return to the menu.

Insert a blank EPROM and use function A to check the EPROM can receive the data. Use function C to program the EPROM. Note that for some EPROM types the programmer makes several passes of the same data, so the display will show LOOP then a number which counts down to 1 (on the final pass). Verify the EPROM against the RAM using function B.

Transferring file from programmer to PC

On the PC set up the serial port as above. Then prepare to receive a file, eg if using the Command window and port COM1 type:

COPY com1: file.hex

but don't press Enter yet.

On the programmer, at the 'Select Function' message press 9 (the RAM to RS232 function). Programmer will display:

RAM BEGIN 0 - this is the starting address of the data to send from RAM. If OK press YES.

RAM END 1FFF - this the last address to be sent. Check the value displayed, and if it doesn't match the size of the file to be sent then enter in the correct value. eg if sending a 2KB file then enter 7FF. Start the copy on the PC then press YES and the programmer will start sending data. During the transfer the programmer will display:

0 1**
0 2**

etc. as the data is sent. At the end of the transfer the programmer will return to the 'Select Function' display. If the transfer fails press CLR to return control.

As an alternative to using the Windows command box copy command, try using a terminal emulator and save the received text into a file.

Once a file has been received in Intel hex format, check it with a text file editor (eg remove any spurious lines from the start and end). As mentioned earlier to convert an Intel hex file to binary use a utility such as hex2bin.

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This page was last revised on: 14/7/19
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