Ramworks III: VGA add-on extender (PAL/NTSC):

This is an VGA add-on extender adapter for the Ramworks III (by Applied Engineering, or clones like Ramworks IIII by Reactivemicro) and with Apple //e, it generates VGA-compatible, 720×480 pixels, video signal. This new version supports both NTSC and PAL Apple //e-versions. 

The location for the AUX-slot in NTSC and PAL Apple //e models is different:
-NTSC model the AUX-slot is in left bottom side of the board (from keyboard) 
-PAL models it’s closer to middle of the board alligned with Slot 3.

Using this adapter you can save one slot in NTSC-models compared to using product like “Apple II VGA Scaler” also by a2heaven.com or upcoming VidHDMI but with PAL-models the AUX-slot is however alligned with Slot 3 that can’t be then used sametime as Ramworks III-card is long enough to block the slot.

PACKAGE INCLUDES:

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-Apple //e-VGA add-on extender board
-Push button with cables to switch video modes 
-Extension able with DB15HD-connector
-Manual can be downloaded from a2heaven.com site.

 

TECHNOLOGY:
from manual at a2heaven.com

RW3VGA-uses 2 LSI devices, a CPLD and 256k x 16 static RAM. The CPLD is configured as a scan line doubler, in that it stores the video information from the Apple //e (15Khz) frame by frame and the outputs the video as VGA 720x 480 (shows as 640×480 in some VGA-monitors) at 31Khz. The 256k x 16 static RAM is used as video frame buffer.

Setting the default mode:
You can set the default video mode using rotary selector on RW3VGA-board. The selected number is set default mode on power-up. It’s preset to “1” that is Color VGA (no scan lines).

SUPPORTED APPLE //e VIDEO MODES:

-40 and 80 columns text, with 24 lines 
-Low-Resolution: 40 × 48 (15 colours) 
-High-Resolution: 280 × 192 (6 colours)  
-Double-Low-Resolution: 80 × 48 (15 colours) 
-Double-High-Resolution: 560 × 192 (2 colours) 

COLOUR MODES:
1 – Colour
2 – Colour Alternative
3 – Shades of Green
4 – Shades of White
5 – Mono – Green
6 – Mono – White
7 – Mono – Amber
8 – Mono – Green (Bold)
9 – Mono – White (Bold)
10 – Mono – Amber (Bold)

Different color models in a running demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0t5Vbto9Wf0

INSTALLATION:

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It is very easy to install, just be carefull when instaling the add-on board to your RamWorks III or IIII-card, there’s lots of pins and they should not be bent. Also attach the push-button with the cable to the card’s connector. You can route the wire thru the ventilation holes in the Apple //e’s sides outside.

There’s two different ways to get the video signal out of the adapter:

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1) The adapter’s built-in VGA connector where you can attach the VGA-cable directly (but usually the regular VGA-cable wont fit inside the openings in the back of the //e). Or you can use adapter of somesort, VGA-cable-VGA to get the signal outside of the case – or like i once did, used VGA>ethernet adapter and cable (it worked amazingly well).

connected_vga_addon_cable_s

2) Use the small connector and provided cable-adapter to get the signal out of the case. 

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And getting the connector out of the enclousure (would need some work to make it prettier).

So how does all those modes look like?

color_s  white_s  

green2_s  amber_s
Galaxian:

donkey_kong_s
Donkey Kong:

a2desktop_white_s
Apple II DeskTop:

a2desktop_green_s
Apple II DeskTop:

a2desktop_color_s
Apple II DeskTop:

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Closer look at 80col mode/AppleWorks:

Thoughts?

I’ve been using the earlier revision of this adapter (NTSC) for few years now without any problems. It gives really nice and sharp picture to your VGA-monitor. I’ve used small 4:3 Sony (15″) and 4:3 Lenovo (19″) and both have worked flawlessly. The difference between composite output and VGA naturally is remarkable and with this adapter, you can choose the color-modes as you please with the push button. 

The 80columns mode is best used with any of the bold modes, the text is more readable that way.

The only annoyance with PAL Apple //e is however the fact that the Ramworks III card is so long it does block the slot 3 from being used. This is not the case with the NTSC model where the AUX-slot is located in the left bottom corner of the board.

What else could be asked for? VGA-monitors are still easily available in various sizes and shapes, but it’s a fact that many new, modern displays are lacking VGA or even DVI-connectors these days.

There is, when writing this in November 2018, a HDMI-card from John Brooks coming very soon. So there’s more options out there.

 

 

 

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Ramworks III VGA add-on extender is available from https://www.a2heaven.com/webshop 
for $85.00 with free shipping everywhere.

 

 

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II Forever.