vTech Laser 128EX:

laser_128ex_logo_s

Latest acquisition to my collection is finally here: the vTech Laser 128EX !

laser_128ex_unit_s

Compared to the 128E that i already have, the EX is slightly different, internally. It have added 64k of Video RAM on board as well the the board design itself is slightly diffrent. It have the faster 65C02 processor with possiblity to adjust the speed from standard 1MHz to 2.3 or even to 3.6MHz. So in a way it makes it something between Apple //c and Apple //c+ in a odd clone way.

The 128E had also the memory expansion slot (just no card preinstalled) as the EX model does. The EX however was delivered from the factory with the card, i’m not certain how much, if any, RAM they included. I’ve heard 128k and 256k but i’m not sure of it.

256k_ram_originally_s

Mine came with 256K RAM on the expansion card and i thought adding it to full 1MB – as of – why not?

RAM card : 256k X 1 chips (41256) 120ns

8  chips = 256K *installed*
16 chips = 512k
24 chips = 768k
32 chips = 1MB

ram_borrowed_from_s

I had an extra original Apple IIGS RAM card that had the same memory type installed so i just “borrowed” the chips from to this card so it have now full 1MB (256k x 1 DRAM).

I saw in facebook that you can test the installed ram with internal ram test with C50AG from monitor. It showed no errors.

The unit came with the correct ROM version, 6.0. That was the last revision for EX. The version 6.1 was then later released for the EX/2 that was the last of the Apple II compatible models they produced. There were more-or-less secret plans of clone model of Apple IIGS but it never materialized. I believe it was shown/demoed at some Applefest in early 90’s in the States but very little information is available about it. Now think of that…

Changing the speed of CPU is fairly easy, either from the boot by pressing “1” = 1 Mhz, “2” = 2.3MHz, “3” = 3.6MHz or simply  CTRL+RESET+1, 2 or 3. The cursor shoud flicker faster in faster modes, or just CTRL+G giving the different pitched beeb.

 

port_configuration_menu_s

There’s also port setup menu that you can access by CTRL+RESET+P.

switches_bottom_s

Undermeath of the unit there’s the same options for altering the setup of the slot assignments as in Laser 128E. You can enable the external or internal slots 5 and 7. I’ve wondered if i should change the crystal and add the switch for LCD panel for one and see if it would work as PAL unit… but both my Laser’s are so good condition i don’t really want to mess with them. I need project unit for that….

The slot assignments are:

SLOT 0 = Built-in 40-col display
SLOT 1 = Parallel/Serial printer interface 
SLOT 2 = Serial communication interface
SLOT 3 = Built-in 80-col display 
SLOT 4 = Mouse interface 
SLOT 5 = 1 Megabyte expansion RAM interface // External slot 
SLOT 6 = Built-in 5.25″ disk drive interface 
SLOT 7 = Built-in 3.5″ disk drive interface // External slot 

laser128ex_advertisement_s

I actually like this model – yes the plastic is bit cheap(ish) and the keyboard is not really that great compared to let’s say 4100-serie Apple //c or //c+ but it’s good in it’s own way. The model is almost like tuned up //c with Zipchip 4000, ROM4x, Unidisk 3.5″ and 1MB RAM added to it. Wish to have the VGA-adapter for it however.

 

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Mitac MATE-1 (AD-1) floppy drive:

front_s

This is a clone of the Apple DISK II drive made in Taiwan based on the same early Shugart 390 mechanism with their own analog board design.

back_s

MITAC MATE-1 (Model: AD-1)
Shugart 390 mechanism
Made in Taiwan 
Stamped date: JUL 20 1982

analog_board_s

Mitac analog board.

 

analog_board_underneath_s

Underneath.

 

mechanism_s

Disk mechanism.

 

inside_shugart_s

Shugart 390.

 

Thanks to Marko Laaaksonen for saving this for all those years.

 

Links:
https://apple2history.org/history/ah05/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_II
https://archive.org/details/mitac-mate-i-disk-drive

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

 

 

My Nordic Apple /// : Part ///

two_trees_s

These two ///’s are latest additions to my ///-herd. What made this super interesting was that
the other /// had different keyboard with not just symbols on it, but TEXT. I’ve never seen such.
Might be replacement for some program specifially or something?

If you have information about this, let me know. Thank you. Tack så mycket!

keyboard_closeup_2_s
Text in front of the keycap.

keyboard_closeup_1_s
As well in top. Some kind of special localization here.

Naturally i had to check them thru and repair when needed (repair the /// is that really needed?).

a3s1-58712_label_s

Unit #1, Serial A3S1-58712, Made in Ireland. 256k

This unit came with the different swedish keyboard with text on it. I’ve never seen this
anywhere before. it would be interesting to know more about this. This is not an any
early 12v model either. Just regular 5v, 256k model otherwise. This unit had the
Corvus HDD-interface card installed! Thank god, so i can access the Corvus HDD and
look into that as well.

blown_rifa_s

Naturally (heh) the powersupply blew up when i was testing it. Loud noise, smoke
and bad smell. This was expteced to happen. I know… i know, one should always
replace those safely capasitors beforehand….  but. Yeah. Lazyness.
Maybe i learn someday?

Repair log:
-Normal cleaning everywhere.
-Installed new feet.
-Powersupply, new safety capasitors replaced (0,22uF, 0,1uF).
-New keyboard light installed.
-Floppyemu works with adapter (.woz, .dsk)

-The internall disk III wont work: no spin. No even trying.
*Tested with disk II mechanism, no difference.
*Worked with floppyemu
*470uf 10V capasitor replaced to disk III analog board
*220uf 16V capasitor replaced
*10uf 25V capasotor replaced
*ALL IC’s swapped to analog board
= STILL DIDN’T WORK!

small_pcb_s

*Replaced the capasitors to the small pcb behind the disk /// (10uf, 35V) and the
pcb felt like it had something leaked on.. very sticky like Coca-Cola poured on it.
Cleaned, swapped the caps.

*Made new interface cable as well…

ready_and_working_s

…and it WORKS!

.. i think it was all-along the cable! Should have started with that LOL It looked
about perfect but after closer look there were some dent/hole on it. Well it doesn’t
matter, atleast the drive got good cleanup, speed adjustment and other mainantance
done 🙂

While i was at it – i installed the clock/calendar chip and battery holder to it as well
the great custom ROM by Robert Justice that works nicely with the Booti-card allowing
direct USB/HDD boot from diskimage. Amazing. If something good happened in 2020 this is it!

 

 a3s1-56600_serial_label_s

Unit #2 – Serial: A3S1-56600, Made in Ireland, 256k

This one was much easier – no much issues…

Normal cleaning, disk drive working fine (adjusted), swapped an universal power
supply to this unit from an another unit for testing and swapped the safety capasitors
to the original one.

341-0060a-g9_s

Both of these had :

-341-0060A (2kb*8) that is Video scan decode ROM at 50HZ

euro_a3_crystal_s

-1970002 NDK 14.25045 Crystal 50HZ (PAL)

I only get black/white even with the RGB cable…

Problock3 driver and custom ROM by Robert Justice:
https://github.com/robjustice/Problock3

Booti-card by David Mutimer:
https://ct6502.org

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple /// Forever.

My Nordic Apple ///: Part II

apple_iii_fin_s

The previous repairs ended when the power supply started to no longer provide enough current to boot the unit so i ordered the Univeral Power Supply from Reactivemicro.com as i’ve done earlier as well. That’s the best you can get for your money. It’s designed for all Apple II and /// models. The Apple /// can be so problematic so it’s more than good idea to go the roots of the possible problems and replace that power supply in the first place. That’s where it all starts anyway.

Also needed a replacement light bulb for the power light as it was burned off. The unit CAN  be booted after pressing reset but that’s very annoying at least. Some references say the Apple /// won’t boot if the keyboard “power” lamp is burned, that’s simply NOT true. It does need just reseting the unit.

WHAT WAS LEFT TO BE REPAIRED OR TESTED?

-Ordering and installing the Universal power supply.   
-Rubber feet replacement.
-Keyboard power light bulb replacement.       
-Keyboard top cover repairs. 
-Reparing video chips.   
-Testing the keyboard layout with configuration file. 

INSTALLING THE UNIVERSAL POWER SUPPLY: 
 

rm_upsu_s

I ordered the Universal Power Supply with the new DC-output cable from reactivemicro.com and it arrived in few weeks (with some +24% tax added). It’s very straight forward to install for the ///.

1) Open and remove the basepan (main logic board) and remove the power cable from the main logic board.
2) Open and remove the power supply from the enclousure. 
3) Remove the original power supply and disconnect few cables as per instructions.
4) Install the new power supply PCB, the new power supply unit and attach the new cables as per instructions.
5) Screw the power supply back to the main chassis and attach the new DC-cable to the main logic board.
6) We’re done!

In this case i had to double check few things as the wiring was different than any of the previous /// power supplies i’ve had so i ended up swapping few cables around. But in the end, it worked perfectly.

Only thing that is annoying by design is the DC-output cable that goes from power supply to the main logic board. The opening between the power supply and the “wall” where the logic board is located, is quite small. The memory card connector hits the cable and it’s very tight fit almost damaging the cable itself. I would say that is design flaw by Apple originally.

RUBBER FEET REPLACEMENT:

new_rubber_feet_s

The two front rubber legs were missing so i replaced them with replacement ones. The ones i got from ebay were slightly smaller (but good for the Apple II) so i placed small piece of another kind of rubber sticker under it (cutting it to correct size) and the height was the same. 

 

INSTALLING THE NEW LIGHT BULB:

new_lamps_s

These lamps are available these days only online, atleast i couldn’t find any locally anywhere. Those lamps are  around $1.00 each depending where you buy them. The shipping in the otherhand… that was pricy. But what can you do? One could, if know how, replace them with modern led-lights. I just wanted to have the original style replacement at this time so i bought 10 pack of original Sylvania 7328 6v 0.2A bi-pin lamps.

keyboard_opened_s

It’s very easy and straight forward job – first need to remove the keyboard cover by just removing 5 screws underneath the keyboard and lifting the top of the keyboard part away.

lamp_removed_s

Removing the old lamp is easy, just pull it. It comes off easily.

new_lamp_installed_s

Replacing the new one is slightly more difficult as you really can’t see anything. Just push gently the new bulb in as straight as possible. The legs might get bent easily so get them straightened if needed. Replace the keyboard cover after you’re done.

I notised the keyboard cover was bit in “suffered” state, meaning the holes where the screws go (plastic pilars with hole on them in middle) had broken off from the right. Those would need fixing somehow or replacement cover. 

 

…EASY. BUT

power_and_j20_pins_s

As i had opened the /// several times over the weeks, last time i had put it together i had ACCIDENTALLY installed the DC-cable to J20 connector for some odd reason… so it would not power up. Now that’s not good! So i installed the DC-cable to correct connector (it DOES read “POWER” on PCB..) and powered it up, it DID power on but it did not display any video on LCD and very distorted image on very right side of the CRT monitor as well. BUT it did boot software so far i could see. So it’s not totally busted! We have (new) hope..

 

REPAIRING. AGAIN. (get used to it, it’s Apple ///):

page_506_small

Thanks to technical assisstance at Facebook’s Apple /// group, i was suggested to replace the first chip on line,  74LS153 (0.58€/ea locally). So i got few and replaced one. Sadly that didn’t help but i was very kindly assisted further looking into other chips in that line:

U90: LS153 @ L8 dip16 74LS153
U119: S175 @ B12 dip16 74LS175
U141: LS00 @ H2 dip14 74LS00
U146: S86 @ B13 dip14 74LS86
U147: LS11 @ K8 dip14 74LS11

Swapping these however did not help.  I had bought few more chips but didn’t test them at the time. 

Something odd happened! Later, after a long period of time, i tested the machine again, with different monitor and … it worked. WTH? What just happened? I am not sure if actually swapping the chips helped or something else happened. The “new” Samsung LCD/TV does better NTSC even not  perfectly correct colors however. But – i’m not complaining.

On thing i noticed (finally) however:

The European /// have (naturally) different crystal (50HZ) 14.25045/1970002. Making it NTSC/50HZ so that explains why no colors on most displays. It uses Video chip : 341-0060-A (instead of 341-0030-A in North America)

341-0060 – III – ROM 2kb*8 – Video scan decode ROM 50 Hz
341-0030 – III – ROM 2kb*8 – Video elements/attributes generator

https://kb.pocnet.net/wiki/Apple_Chip-Bezeichnungen

 

TESTING THE SWEDISH/FINNISH-KEYBOARD LAYOUT (configuration file)

testing_keyboard_layout_s

As this is Swedish keyboard model (same as in Finland) i thought to see how the localization works with SOS. I booted the SOS Utiltiies and with SCP i loaded up the language/keyboard configuration and saved it. It’s fun to see those ÅÄÖ on screen even i prefer US-layout in a long run. Happy to see Apple did put effort on localization this much. This leads me to thinking, there problably never were any Apple /// original manuals translated to Finnish?

Works in any SOS disk with SOS.DRIVER file on it and the driver added naturally.

Fully functional /// – is that even possible?

So after all the trouble, goofin’ around and repairs, the /// seems to be working fine. My herd of ///’s have grown since i started this article – so more repairs were ahead with two more of these. Luckily slightly easier.  /// is great machine with lots of potential. It’s great shame no more homebrew hardware/software have been released to it over the years. 

What still i haven’t figured out is that strange “humming” noise that most if not all, Apple ///’s make. It feels like it comes from the speaker… but why? Or is the the grounding in PSU causing this? 

 

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple /// Forever.

Apple II clones: “BOSS-1″ – Multi-System Personal Computer” – Part II:

 

board_with_z80_installed

The original power supply let the magic smoke out of itself and is been repaired by a fellow hobbyist. Meanwhile i took a power supply from the Apple //e clone that came built inside a IBM 5150 XT styled case as the pinouts were the same.

rom-card_for_boss-1_topside

I also got the original BOSS-1 ROM-card from Juha Seppänen of https://kakkostyypinomenat.blogspot.com a while ago. I dumped the ROM contents and they are now in Asimov archives if somebody needs them.

bad_ic_s

I inspteced visually the chips on board, pressed them down, cleaned some and swapped some as they had rusty legs on them. Luckily i have few clone boards that are great for donating parts now..

 

fixed_trace_s

There was some broken trace close to Slot 7, but it was reapaired earlier on. So i didn’t touch it.

 

boss1-rom-card_s

The BOSS-1 manual says to my understanding, that you can boot the BOSS-1 two ways:

-ROM-card installed to system slot that is the slot 0
OR:
-ROM-chip installed to location U6 that contains the “OS” (Applesoft) that should start an boot menu when unit is booted.

M.S.P.C. VAR 4.1
1) FP BASIC
2) Z-80 CP/M

So it’s basicly a boot-menu, after choosing what you want to use, you insert the floppy and press 1 or 2.

-First i tried with just the ROM at U6, but nothing, buzzing sound and garbage on screen.
-Then WITH the ROM-card, with the same results.
-Last just the ROM-card installed and the unit booted fine to text on screen “BOSS ][“.

When i got this unit in the first place, it came with the ROM-chip at U6, no Z80 CPU but a cloned Apple ROM-card with 6 x Applesoft ROM chips and it naturally booted “APPLE ][” on screen before the power supply releated the magic smoke (it wasn’t just the typical RIFA’s). But really it doesn’t matter, i’ll keep the original ROM-card in Slot 0 as it’s not a big deal.

boss_1_cpm

As i had some loose clone boards i removed one Z80 processor and installed it in BOSS-1 and CP/M 56k booted without a problem.

 

 

HARDWARE TESTING:

boss-1_setup_s

All ROM and RAM were OK. Colors are very vibrant when using JVC PVM 9″ CRT and not so much with a modern LCD. The colors when using modern LCD are hossibly ghostly, black & white.

50-60-hz_pads_s

The board is 60Hz NTSC. It’s pretty clear that your luck with Plus era Apple II’s and LCD’s is really depend of the model and maker of the display. I’ve not been able to get my Apple II PLUS units output colors with just swap of the crystal. 

Tested few cards to see how this clone would work as the ROM-card might cause issues etc.

 

RAM-cards:

saturn_multirom_cards_s

As the ROM-card needs to be used, there’s no ROM in main logic board, RAM cards do not work well. I tried with the original ROM card and Saturn Reboot 128k card as well original 32k RAM card but it didn’t work at all.

locksmith6ramcardok_s

Only with David Mutimer’s MultiROM card and Saturn Reboot 128k i was able to get 16k RAM card functionality, by installing the 128k card in Slot 0, and the MultiROM card in Slot 1 (Applesoft).

80-column card:
I had boxed clone 80-column card so i installed that. The monitor i used (9″ CRT) is quite small so it was difficult to read the text, but it did work. 

total_replay

Booti (ProDOS HDD-emulator)
Slot #6, booted Total Replay hdd-image succesfully and played some games. 

accelerator_s

Accelerator II (clone) 65c02@4MHz
3.58MHz, Slot 0 = MultiROM (Applesoft), Slot 1 = Accelerator II (clone), Slot 6 = Disk II interface + wDrive.


Game Controller DIP16:
There’s regular, standard DIP16 game controller connector on board where you can install the paddles or joystick.

 

 

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

 

Bebek Electronic catalog 1-3/1984

catalogs_1_3_1984_s

I found these Bebek Electronics catalogs from online auction site for few euro’s so i naturally just had to get them. I saw there were few ad’s about BOSS-1 clone that i have, so i was super excited to obtain any additional information about the model and it’s history. There’s so little information of anykind of this model.

 

Brief Bebek Electronics history:

“Bebek Electronic began operations in Lahti in the mid-1970s, when Resit Bebek, who first moved from Turkey to study in Germany and came to Finland after graduating as an electronics engineer with his Finnish wife, did not find a job elsewhere”.

– Then I had to try it myself.

“From Lahti, operations gradually expanded to Helsinki, Tampere and Kuopio. In addition to the four locations, supplies are  currently sold in the company’s own Bebek.fi online store”.

Some interesting ad’s from those catalogs:

boss-1

BOSS-1

boss-1c

BOSS-1c

 

hitachi_compact_3inch_drive

Hitachi 3″ compact floppy disk drive. These were sold in here in Finland in few places. I have one as well. The 3″ format itself wasn’t really popular, it was used in Amstrad computers in UK. It works as any floppy drive with Apple II, regular Disk II interface card will do. It’s dual sized.

cards_for_boss_mack64 cards_for_boss_mack_apple

Some cards they sold for Apple II and clones (MACK-48, BOSS-1). I assume those cards were also clones from Taiwan/HK.
I’d like to find that 6809-card long with the FLEX-OS they bundled it with. There were 6809 card made in Germany by IBS as well.

cards_for_apple_ii

These cards look clones as well to me.

boss_1_ad_3 boss_1_ad_4

boss-1_ad

boss-1_offer_for_businesses

Different pricing for companies. They also sold AMDEK monitors.

minifloppydrive

They carried also Teac half-height floppy drives.

 

 

BOSS-1 information + link to my blog:
https://finapple.hho.fi/finapple/index.php/2019/02/24/apple-ii-clones-boss-1-multi-system-personal-computer/

Link to full resolution scans at archive.org
https://archive.org/details/bebekelectroniccatalog1984

About Resit Bebek (In Finnish)
https://www.sahkoala.fi/ammattilaiset/artikkelit/yritys/fi_FI/elektroniikka_ei_enaa_kiinnosta_nuoria/

 

I am very interested finding more about the BOSS-1/BOSS-1C computer so please contact me if you have anything about BOSS-1/1c.

Also interested if somebody have more of these Bebek Electronic catalogs from 1980’s.

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Apple II Plus Clone: ABC

white_slots_s

This Apple II Plus clone i got in 2018 :  https://finapple.hho.fi/finapple/index.php/2018/11/20/once-there-were-apple-ii-clones but actually never started working, cleaning and testing on it untill now.

board_wired

“Made in Japan” Is printed on the motherboard but this style board can be seen used in lots of different “branded” clones and cases. I had the original NTSC/60Hz 14.31818 crystal i.e. not been modified to european 50Hz usage.

I was also modified with 3 wires to slot 7. I hoewever removed those, but documented it carefully if for some reason that needs to be recovered.

 booted_with_wires_attached

With the wires still attached i could not get correct colors out of it. The display i used does NTSC so it wasn’t the display issue.

wires_removed

After the wires removed i got the correct colors.

karateka_gfx_oddity_2_s

With the wiring removed i could see odd patterns (boxes) instead of “lines” as it should be. What is going on here?

color_test_4

The colors look ok with Samsung LCD/TV with composite/scart adapter. Slight waving color inference on screen specially on BLUE color  as well with white balance etc. Looks like inteference of somesort.

no_color_with_pbvm

No colors with my JVC 9″ PVM monitor either. 

 skyfox_white_very_lowq

The white is dispayed oddly.

broken_plastic_s

The keyboard was cleaned and the spacebar fixed. One out of two small plastic holders for the spacebar metal bar wes brolen and replaced from another clone keyboard. Luckily i had kept that. The keyboard is quite good guality and easy to write. Much better than some of the clone keyboards used with Europlus’s.

keyboard_repairing_s

Borrowing parts from an another clone keyboard.

 

chip_in_wrong_socket_s

Swapped some chips… but it’s always good to use correct chips 🙂

apple_ii_plus_clone_abc_s

Added a own label to the lid “Chipper”. It was computer shop back in 80’s in Finland. I though it would be proper and period perfect. Even in reality most likely some cheaper general electronics store would have sold such clone over here like Bebek.

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

Apple II PLUS accelerated

case_s

Got an another Apple II+… but a-c-c-e-l-e-r-a-t-e-d. I got this for spare parts but it’s quite ok condition for it self. Nothing fancy otherwise, just basic II Plus, luckily with the “good” keyboard.

serial_s
Serial: A2S2-247248

board_serial_s
Board : 820-0001-07 and serial : 8014. Feels like this board have been swapped later on? Most of the IC’s on board are from 1982.

case_date_s
8-2-1982 case date.

lock_s
In previous life this Plus was in some public place… no wonder it didn’t get stolen heh-heh.

psu_switch_s
Power supply by ASTEC AA11040 that luckily had the 115/230v switch.

psu_labels_s
Added some stickers so i know it’s been switched. Just for safety.

clear_legs_s
Added some legs that happened to suit it quite well, just the color being wrong. I have correct, black coming that i’ll swap when they arrive.

 

keyboard_cleaning_s

The keyboard. All other keys worked expect the spacebar. I took it off the unit and.. nasty 80’s Cola-Cola or Sugary-Coffee was spilled all over it… that took some time to get it off there. Nasty nasty stuff.
Looked like some traces were bad but after good cleaning and measuring i was amazed they all worked, expect the Spacebar. Measured the switch and it was dead. Thought already to swap the switch that i happened to have one extra of (thanks to Eduardo!). Cleaning with lots of IPA and lots of pressing the switch made it work however. 

keyboard_testing_s
…and finally it did work again.

 accelerator_s

Got also a accelerator card with a UM6502C (4MHz) prosessor installed. Seems to be clone of Saturn Systems Accelerator II-card. This works in Apple II and II+ only. The next revision by Titan Technologies (formerly Saturn Systems) Accelerator IIe worked with as the name indicates, with the IIe as well.

 

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

 

APPLE II PLUS 1979

case

I bought these Apple II plus parts (complete case, power supply and revision 4 board – no keyboard) from a fellow kasettilamerit member in order to get my original Apple II ready and assembled as it was missing few parts. I thought just to sacrifice some parts from regular common Apple II plus to it. My ][ was missing just power supply and the main logic board.

case_serial

It turned out that the Plus i got was actually nice reasonably early unit with serial A2S2-12313 making it from later part of 1979.

 

board_serial

The board was Revision 4 from 44 week of 1979. It had also full 48k RAM and Swe/Fin keyboard character ROM “R0 3-2513-703/CGR-703/7932U”-instaled. 

Apple II+ was released in June 1979 (around weeks 22-26 in June) and the production ended in December of 1982.

 

rev_4_boad_under

The board was wired with two wires to Slot 7 in order to be able to use the PAL Encoder-card for color. This was typical practise before Europlus was released.

 

power_supply_a11040_end

Power supply was silver model of Astec AA11040 with 115/230v switch and date code APR 11 1979. Period perfect as well.

 

oyks_asset_tag

What was nice touch was that it had asset tag from “OYKS” (Oulu University Hospital) and it was entered in an inventory 31.12.1980.

asset_tag_side

I however removed the one placed in the lid, but kept the one on left side of the unit.

 

case_date

11 5 79 2 stamped inside the case. Manufacturing date of the case.

 

keyboard_cleaning

Cleaning the keyboard i had obtained earilier.

 

cleaned_open

It turned out pretty nice. The keyboard have such great touch to when typing. Really like it.

 

testing_no_colors

But as it’s Revision 4 board it wont output colors nicely, not to my LCD or my 9″ PVM.

 

So i kind of went backwards with the ][ restoration but it doesn’t matter really. That unit can use any parts as it’s never going to be 100% accurate. Revision 0 boards cost fortunes as well do the early type of keyboards. I’ll most likely use Rev.7/RFI board with it and some working keyboard when ever i find those.

Finnish Apple II history again preserved. 

This is why Finapple exists.

 

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

 

 

vTech Laser 128E

logo_s

Finally got an another Apple II clone i had wanted for ages, the vTech Laser 128. Thanks to Mr. Retr0bright, Javier Rivera for this! This is not the EX-model that i prefered, but it’s a start with the Laser models. It is basicly Apple //c 128k clone but with one external expansion slot, just like the Chinese Apple II+ (64k) clone CEC-E had.

 

boxes_opened_s
vTech Laser 128E with some other things arrived the same day.

 

Video Technology:

Video Technology (vTech) is company based in Hongkong and produced different kinds of 8-bit computers back in 1980’s. They produced their computers in Hongkong & Mainland China at Dongguan, Guangdong Province.

Laser 100
Laser 128
Laser 128EX
Laser 128EX/2
Laser 200
Laser 305
Laser 310 
Laser 500

I have no idea if the vTech Laser 128 were actually ever sold in Nordics area even there is 220V/50HZ, PAL version made according to the User’s Manual. I just haven’t seen one. I’ve heard they had these in Stockholm, Sweden, but were they imported or not thru offical channels, sadly i have no further information. 

At “KT-86 messut” here in Finland, Teledata Oy had a booth and exhibited Laser PC/XT model and also advertisements about 128 but no actual units were shown so far i know of. Listed price was 3250 FIM for the Laser 128, external floppy drive 900FIM, Z80 Processor 200, 512k expansion memory 1400FIM etc. Wonder if they actually ever sold any of those here? I’m trying to investigate about this..

 

vTech Laser 128 hardware specs:

Video Technology Laser 128
1984

Manufactured by : Video Technology (Hongkong), 1984
Basic : Video Techonology version of AppleSoft BASIC
Keyboard : Full-stroke 91 keys with numeric keypad and arrow keys
CPU : 6502 @ 1MHz
Chipset : 3 x V.T. custom chips
RAM : 128 KB (up to 1MB)
VRAM : 64 KB
ROM : 192 KB
Text modes :40 / 80 x 24 (monochrome)
Graphics modes : All the Apple IIc modes, with an extra set for RGB: 40 x 48 / 80 x 48 / 280 x 192 / 560 x 192. 4 lines of text mode can be mixed with a truncated the 40 x 48 and 280 x 192 modes.
Colors : 16 (40 – 80 x 48) / 6 (280 x 192) / 16 (560 x 192)
Sound : Built-in speaker
Size/ Weight : 38 (W) x 32.5 (D) x 7.7 (H) cm.
I/O PORTS : RS232 (2), MIDI, Centronics, Tape, Composite, LCD output (for flat panel display), RGB, External Drive
Drive : Built-in 5.25 floppy disc drive
OS : DOS 3.3, ProDOS
Power : External power supply (115V dc, 12A, 18w) (Apple //c powersupply works, same pinout, in europe modified laptop replacement works as well).

 

 floppydrive_s

The 128E is equiped with 5.25″ floppy drive as one would expect. It’s quite quiet compared to Apple //c’s drive mechanism..

expansion_port_closeup_s

In the other side there’s an expansion slot in the left side of the enclosure that allows installation of Apple II compatible cards, either setup as slot 5 or 7. This is very similar construction with other Chinese clones, like CEC-I and CEC-E. The CEC-E have similar expansion slot in left side as well.

 

 bottom_s

In the bottom of the case there’s door and underneath there’s the system ROM. Also switches for different functions like :
-(For PAL version only) Not using LCD/Using LCD (50/60Hz)
-External  Slot 5 enable / Internal Slot 5 Enable 
-External Slot 7 Enable / Internal Slot 7 Enable 

 

Cleaning:

opened_s

The keyboard needed some cleaning as it started to act up, the pressed key’s resulted nothing on screen. So i took the whole unit a part.. 

lots_of_screws_s

What a huge ammount of screws was used to hold the metal (RF) gages! The unit was really clean inside. I got some tips how to diassemble and clean the keyboard from Javier Rivera. The keyboard is quite cheaply made, just stem that presses the plastic membrane. Genius in a way but… well. Not my favorite construction.

keyboard_cleanup_s

Took everything apart, cleaned with 99.9% IPA and put together. It works way better now.

 

board_s

The board was later revision, totally different to the original 128 model. It’s not the same as 128EX but it’s close. My 128 was marked  as “L128E” i assume the “E” meaning the memory expansion – that is nice to have. Just haven’t found the expansion card yet and there’s no modern replacement for it as of now (yet).

 

New monitor:

with_rgb_cable_s

I had been looking for better LCD monitor (TV model) that would display NTSC better. The one i had (LG) did not – the screen would jump and it would output only black/white. I got lucky and found Samsung SyncMaster 941MP locally with the remote and it worked pretty well, being 4:3 is bonus as well. This picture is taken with the RGB-scart cable (no rgb support on display).

with_composite_cable_s

With composite the colors are closer what they are supposed to be.

 

Testing and playing:

As the Laser 128E have the Apple II compatible expansion port, i installed the Laser 128 expansion slot-card by a2heaven.com that add’s two more slots and tested few cool cards to add some features to the Laser. And these worked fine, i have no reason to believe other’s would not work but these gave the most benefit when added on.

-Laser 128 expansion slot-card (by a2heaven.com)
-Booti-card (hdd, by David Mutimer)
-Fastchip //e (Acceration up to 16.6MHz by a2heaven.com)
-ReActiveMicro Drive/Turbo IDE Controller (hdd with CF – Reactivemicro.com)
-MegaAudio (Mockingboard etc emulation by a2heaven.com)
-Atari/SNES joystick adapter 

setup_for_playing_s
Really nice setup for gaming! 🙂

 

It surely is not Apple //c or //c+ but it’s nice compact Apple II compatible model. The expansion port is really nice feature on this model that so often i miss with when using the Apple //c (sorry Javier!). And still i would be very interested getting PAL model of this. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_128
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=13

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.