Monthly Archives: September 2020

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.

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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.

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

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Mitac analog board.

 

analog_board_underneath_s

Underneath.

 

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Disk mechanism.

 

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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.