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erco
03-10-2011, 17:29
Long-obsolete SP0256-AL2 voice synthesizer chips are hard to find here in the US, but I found a UK source that sells them for the bargain price of GBP 9.50: http://sciencestore.co.uk/acatalog/Electronics.html . I ordered some and thought others might be interested in the source. Here's a Basic Stamp link from 1998 (!) that shows how easy it is to start experimenting with this vintage IC: http://www.parallax.com/dl/docs/cols/nv/vol1/col/nv40.pdf

Truly a blast from the past.

srnet
03-10-2011, 17:40
Long-obsolete SP0256-AL voice synthesizer chips are hard to find here in the US, but I found a UK source that sells them for the bargain price of GBP 9.50: http://sciencestore.co.uk/acatalog/Electronics.html . I ordered some and thought others might be interested in the source. Here's a Basic Stamp link from 1998 (!) that shows how easy it is to start experimenting with this vintage IC: http://www.parallax.com/dl/docs/cols/nv/vol1/col/nv40.pdf

Truly a blast from the past.

If my memory is intact, you mean the SP0256AL2 ?

I remember it well, used to use them in the early 80s, together nwith the AY-3-8912 and AY-3-8910 sound chips, never liked the Texas one myself.

Thanks for the link .......

erco
03-10-2011, 17:42
Yes, the one shown at the link. Thanks for catching, I will edit my original post.

hippy
03-10-2011, 18:48
Note it's actually S-P-oh-256 rather than S-P-zero-256 and you usually have to search on each to find all the useful stuff.

I've got a MIB chip and original datasheets bought back in the early 80's which I keep thinking about using sometime. The clocking frequency / crystal is quite odd at 3.12MHz but something close can probably be generated by PWMOUT and one electronics magazine used an RC oscillator. Vary the frequency to vary the pitch.

Unfortunately, brilliant as it is, I don't think the quality really delivers. There was a BBC Micro software allophone speech synthesiser which I thought was better, and it would be nice to grab a copy and reverse engineer that ( copyright issues aside ! ) ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8wyUsaDAyI

There are a few other projects which recreate the SPO256 with a micro and I2C Eeprom but, IMO, you can't beat Merlin and friends of Microsoft Agent which is what I've used and would recommend for speech interfacing. MS Agent never really caught on in the mainstream which is a real shame as pick the right speech engine and character it's pretty understandable output and usable on a day-to-day basis. It's reasonably easy to use VB or similar to create a PICAXE serial output, text to speech engine though it does mean using a PC ( a humble 486 and Win 95 will do the job ) ...

http://www.microsoft.com/products/msagent/main.aspx

Merlin and friends singing ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3dKLXib_zE

srnet
03-10-2011, 22:19
Was there a SPO256 as well as a SP0256 then, I can find a datasheet for the 0 (zero) varient;

http://spatula-city.org/~im14u2c/chips/SP0250_Applications_Manual.pdf

erco
04-10-2011, 04:17
@srnet: your link is to the spo250 "orator" chip, quite different from the spo256 "narrator" chip.

srnet
04-10-2011, 06:33
@srnet: your link is to the spo250 "orator" chip, quite different from the spo256 "narrator" chip.

Really ?

There was a differance ?

erco
04-10-2011, 07:18
Really ?

There was a differance ?

Big difference. HUGE difference. :)

srnet
04-10-2011, 07:41
Links to the datasheets of the two varients would help, users might buy the wrong one.

erco
04-10-2011, 16:24
If you delete your link to the wrong one, the confusion is eliminated.

srnet
04-10-2011, 20:54
GI did produce the SP(zero)250, which is the data sheet I posted the link for. One of the varients produced by GI was the well known allophone synthesiser the SP(zero)256AL2. Microchip produced a SP(zero)256AL2 also.

The confusion arises not because I posted the wrong datasheet, but because of an error on the part of RadioShack, as the Wiki page for the SP0256 points out;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Instrument_SP0256

"SP0256-AL2
The SP0256-AL2 is perhaps the most commonly encountered variant. It contains 59 allophones ............
The chip was also sold under the Archer brand by RadioShack stores as the "Narrator Speech Processor" (part number 276-1784), where earlier documentation incorrectly identified it as the SPO256 (with the letter "O" instead of the numeral "0").[1]"

erco
04-10-2011, 20:59
@srnet: your link is to the spo250 "orator" chip, quite different from the spo256 "narrator" chip.

Repeating:@srnet: your link is to the spo250 "orator" chip, quite different from the spo256 "narrator" chip.

srnet
04-10-2011, 21:07
Indeed you are correct, I changed the post.

nick12ab
04-10-2011, 22:31
Indeed you are correct, I changed the post.it still links to SP0250

erco
05-10-2011, 00:04
Here's one datasheet: http://courses.cit.cornell.edu/ee476/Speech/SPO256-AL2.pdf

Buzby
08-10-2011, 15:06
Back in the mid 80's I built a 'Serial-to-Speech' box which took normal ASCII encoded text over RS232 and played it as speech through a small loudspeaker.
It was very impressive, the words were usually easy to recognise, and if you had control of the text you could spell the words differently to get even better results.

The speech synthesiser was the SP0256A-AL2 mentioned earlier, but the clever part was another 40pin chip which took the serial and calculated the right codes to send to the synthesiser. The circuit, basically just a few ICs, was based on the application note in the datasheet. Without this chip and circuit I don't think I could have got the synthesiser saying anything sensible at all !.

The clever chip was called CTS256A-AL2, and was a pre-programmed PIC7041, from General Instrument Microelectronics, before they became Microchip. At that time the only datasheets I had for the chips were from Archer/Tandy/RadioShack, but nowadays there are much better datasheets on the web. With all the information available now I would think it would probably be relatively easy to code the 'text-to-speech' in a PICaxe. ( It was based on work done by the Naval Research Laboratories, so it must be on the web somewhere !. )

hippy
08-10-2011, 21:12
Somewhere I've got algorithms for text to phoneme and a whole dictionary list of word to phoneme mappings. After 30 years I don't know where it would be but will search the dark crevices ( ooer missus ). The only thing I fear is it's on faded line printer paper and/or 5 1/4" floppy :-(

In those days speech seemed the next big thing. I guess less than stellar performance, robotic rather than natural English and the emergence of cheap storage and sampling shunted it to the side.

In the Cheap MP3 Player thread I think there's an example of using samples to create sentences. With a few hundred words and phrases you can do quite a lot of things, and need far less for many applications.

srnet
08-10-2011, 22:02
I have dark crevices (an attic) too.

Recent events led me to explain to my son some of the history of computing, so I resolved to retrieve my AppleII+ from the attic to see if it still works. It has I suspect within its internals the wirewrapped IO card with the SP0256AL2 on board that was used to genertate speech ......

srnet
08-10-2011, 22:10
There was a BBC Micro software allophone speech synthesiser which I thought was better, and it would be nice to grab a copy and reverse engineer that ( copyright issues aside ! ) ...


The allusion to speech synthesis I did not recognise, but *SAY was vaguely familiar.

Somewhere in my collection of BBC ROMS, which I assume must be in the attic, I may have one.

One of the benefits of making beebs for Acorn was that we did tend to aquire just about every beeb ROM that ever existed.

Buzby
09-10-2011, 00:24
Somewhere in my dark crevices is an ICL OPD, which has a voice synthesiser, but used in a very odd way. The voice was used as an answerphone message for when you could not answer the phone. You had to type in the message, but it only understood a fixed set of words. This meant you had to read the manual to know which words you could use. The OPD was strangely thought out in other ways. It had a word processor, but you couldn't send a document via the modem, you had to type it in again !. It had ( reasonably ) hi-res colour capabilities, but no graphics commands in the BASIC. I got the OPD when I was working at Letchworth, and at the same time I was working at IBM in Greenock. The difference between the two companies was like chalk and cheese. IBM had robots and automation, ICL had rows and rows of benches with girls assembling the parts. Whatever happened to ICL ?.

srnet
09-10-2011, 07:29
and at the same time I was working at IBM in Greenock. The difference between the two companies was like chalk and cheese. IBM had robots and automation, ICL had rows and rows of benches with girls assembling the parts. Whatever happened to ICL ?.

We (AB Electronics - Rogerstone) used to do a lot of SMT & PIH auto assembly for IBM, terminals and PC motherboards etc. We had some of the largest SMT auto assembly lines around at the time, although rows and rows of benches with girls too.

As for ICL, I was in the old Cardiff Office last week, although ICL were bought by Fujitsu, who I now work for ......