Monthly Archives: November 2020

Cursor /// for Apple ///:

cursor_apple_iii_keyboard_company_s

So you have all the power of /// but you can’t play the games like Choplifter or any, Apple II games with it using the regular Apple II joystick that you already might have. The /// just doesn’t support your Apple II joysticks or paddles. I wonder why they did this?

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I was lucky enough to obtain the Cursor /// earlier this year. It was the first revision with the switch on it.

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There is joystick for the Apple /// – the Cursor /// by The Keyboard Company but it’s limited working on in /// native mode and it’s basicly useless when used the Apple II emulation mode. The Cursor /// is precision input device which allows you to send continuous information to the Apple /// in the form of x-y coordinates.

There seems to be two different revisions of the Cursor ///:

1) One button with switch, orginal.
-The three-position switch has momentary ON position which automaticly switches back OFF, much like the push button; a permanent OFF position; and a permanent ON position.

2) Two orange, regular buttons.

Both have the same product code, K680-0002

Usually you plug the Cursor /// in Port B as if you have the Silentype printer, you’d install that in Port A but you can use two Cursor ///’s installed in both, A and B ports.

I installed it in Port B and tried some games in both, /// and II emulation modes.

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Apple III mode:
-Tested with Missile Command, Sandman and they naturally worked fine as expected.
– EZ-Draw but i could not get the button pressed in the start… even the switch is supposed to work as the button does.

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Apple II emulation mode:

I was able to play the recent games by Michael Packard like “Alien Downpour” and  “Oid Zone” with the Cursor /// – nice!
But all the old, vintage games, none worked that i tried – as i expected.

 

Game cards for ///

There IS cards to be used with the /// so you can use the Apple II joysticks in Apple II emulation mode, these are just very very rare. Luckily if you happen to have emulation card like “Titan /// plus //” you can install joystick in the card directly using 16pin connector – but that’s different game alltogether i guess.

 

Game Card /// 
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There is card called “Game Card ///” by Apple (Game Card III, KPT-0018A-03, owned by Robert Justice) that is super rare. Very little information is available anywhere of this card but it clearly is ment for using joysticks in Apple ///. It have switch for ][ and /// mode.

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The card connets to L7 with 16 pin flat cable and Cursor /// works in the emulation mode with the card set to ‘][‘. The owner is working on this – i hope this would be cloned someday specially if it does support regular Apple II joysticks as well. 

 

The Gameport ///

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MicroSci Gamport /// 

This one adds a proper Apple II joystick port hardware when it is enabled. This one would work with all Apple II games, paddles and Joysticks as well I/O devices like remote control systems and software protection keys. It needs modified Apple II emulation disk. Manual will tell how to create one. Might freeze if RESET is pressed. Cards presence will not intefere with most native mode operations. But it can not be used in native Apple /// mode.

Review at: Byte Magazine, February 1984
Modified disk at: https://yesterbits.com/2017/01/17/a-few-apple-iii-images-from-ian/

 

Modifications:

The Cursor /// could have been modified so it would work in emulation mode. There is instructions in WAP disk APPLE-3-WAP-emm-02a.dsk for it (available from apple3.org). Parts numbers etc might not be accurate after all these years but the info is there.

“HOW TO MODIFY YOUR CURSOR /// JOYSTICK TO PLAY APPLE II GAMES”

If you don’t want to lay out the $59.00 for a Micro-Sci Gameport /// (even though its worth every penny of it), here’s a relatively inexpensive mod you can make to your Cursor /// joystick to make it work with a lot of Apple II games.  There will still be a lot of them that will not respond, however. Basically, what you have to do is to make a “Y” splitter to connect yourCursor /// to both ports A and B on the back of the ///. The vertical controls are assigned to port A and the horizontal to port B.

PARTS YOU WILL NEED:

Once again, truck down to your local Radio Shack and get:

(2) 9 pin plugs (part# 276-1537)
(1) 9 pin socket (part# 276-1538)
(3) hoods for above (part# 276-1539)
(1) length of at least 7 conductor wire.  It should be at least 12″ long or longer depending on how far you want to extend your joystick. You may use more than 7 conductor wire if you can’t find anything else.

A 25 watt soldering pencil and some rosin core solder.

INSTRUCTIONS: 

You will be connecting pins 2,4,3,5,6 of the plug for port “A” to pins 2,3,8,5,6, respectively of the socket and pins 3,4,5 of the plug for port “B” to pins 3,4,9 respectively of the socket.  See the crude schematic in the following message for a graphic representation and refer to your Owner’s manual (pages 128-130) for a description of the port assignments. Make your solder connections, assemble the hoods over the plugs and socket, plug it in and enjoy some good ole Apple ][ games for a change of pace after a hard day with Visicalc.

 modify

Note:
You may notice that the cursor may drift in the neutral position. If you don’t have one of the newer Cursor ///’s with X/Y axis adjustors, you will have to open the bottom of the joystick box, loosen the set screws that connect the stick to the potentiometers, and slightly adjust them so that the ports do not have power applied in the neutral position.

 

Apple /// forever!
FinApple 2020 (C)

 

 

 

 

Saturn 128k Reboot!

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Saturn 128k Reboot was designed and manufactured by David Mutimer from Australia. He have designed and built lots of cards for the Apple II over the few last years like the following:

-Saturn 128k reboot
-ROM-card
-MultiROM
-RTC 2019 (Real Time Clock) 
-quikLoad
-Wildcard 
-Lego-card
-Booti-card

Some of these are available from David directly in PCB form only.

The reboot card is based on old Staturn 128k – card but implemented with modern components and simpler and considerably smaller design. It works in all Apple II models with slots (except GS) adding 128k of RAM. The card contains eight 16k RAM banks accessed one at the time. The first bank is controlled the the software that makes it compatible with “language card” – additional 16k operation. Software that can use 64k+ will automaticly recoqnize the additional RAM i.e. Locksmith and Disk Muncher allowing one-pass writes to disks for example. Cool thing is that if you dont have traditional 16k language card installed you can install this card in any slot.

I bought just the PCB and the pre-programmed GAL-chip from David and ordered the parts and soldered it myself. It’s quite easy to solder so it was good practise for me as i haven’t soldered much since the 80’s school days.. I also later bought one assembled along with the BOOTI when it became available.

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Original Saturn 32k RAM-expanion card vs. Saturn 128k Reboot.

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Testing with copy programs.

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Available from : https://ct6502.org

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

Corvus hardisk file transfer:

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I got this super interesting 20MB hardrive made by CORVUS earlier this year among other Apple II and /// hardware. These things were really expensive and reasonably rare specially over here in the Nordic region.

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What was nice that it was 50/60HZ 120V/240V so no need for power converters.

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The fuse holder had interesting options from 100 up to 240V.

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Inside view.

 

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Backside view. These can be attached to VCR or an another Corvus unit etc.

There’s lots of switches so first thing first, i looked for manual how to check all the dip switches and switches under the front panel…. at this time i was only intereted what data was on it, if any, and if it actually would work.

The actual data rescue:

This is how i did it. There might be better ways but this is how i got the files out of there. I could have imaged the disk maybe, with ADTpro, but i did want to play around with Pascal, the Corvus software and the Booti-card this time.

-Corvus HDD 20MB with Corvus-interface card in Slot #4
-Booti-card in Slot #2 with USB memory, ProDOS 16MB hdd-image with pre-made folders.

-Boot floppy: “Corvus Utilities for Apple ///”  (had .CORVUS drivers, added .PROFILE .PB3 by Robert Justice) and then Apple /// Pascal disk 1 as it’s Pascal based software.

corvus-hdd-volumes

Just basicly executed the  : VMGR.CODE (Corvus Volume Manager).
-The drive had Pascal volumes on disk that needs to be mounted first. Size can be anything no limits.
-Listed the volumes
-Mounted volume to #x (x = number) i.e. /LASSE

-Filer > Transfer
– /LASSE/=, /USB/= (choose all files from folder and copy).

 

Data and documents:

What were there? Lots of documents about “Sagobyn” (i had to look it up what it was) as well private letters to Lindgren family members. At first i thought these were written by world famous author, Astrid Lindgren herself, but after taking closer look they were actually written by Lena Törnqvist during 1988-1990. Lena Törnqvist is a Swedish literary scholar and librarian, who until 2006 was curator at the Astrid Lindgren Museum.

Sagobyn:
“The idea of creating a ‘story village’ with settings from Astrid Lindgren’s books originally came from the Isaksson,  Jalminger and Soowik families in Vimmerby. In 1981, they built the first house together, Katthult, on a 1:3 scale. Over the years, more settings were added to Sagobyn (the story village), as it was then called, all built on a 1:3 scale. In time, the facility became too big for the three families to manage and they sold Sagobyn in 1989. The change in owner led to the creation of a new company – Astrid Lindgrens Värld AB. Since January 2010, Astrid Lindgren’s World has been owned jointly by Astrid Lindgren Förvaltning AB (91%) and the Municipality of Vimmerby (9%).

We can confirm that when we closed the gates for the 2018 season, Astrid Lindgren’s World had had 10,542,842 visitors from the start of 1981 to today.”

Astrid Lindgren:
“Astrid Anna Emilia Lindgren, 14 November 1907 – 28 January 2002) was a Swedish writer of fiction and screenplays. She is best known for several children’s book series, featuring Pippi Longstocking, Emil i Lönneberga, Karlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children (Children of Noisy Village in the US), and for the children’s fantasy novels Mio, My Son, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, and The Brothers Lionheart. Lindgren worked on the Children’s Literature Editorial Board at the Rabén & Sjögren publishing house in Stockholm and wrote more than 30 books for children.[4] In January 2017, she was calculated to be the world’s 18th most translated author,[5] and the fourth most translated children’s writer after Enid Blyton, Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. Lindgren has so far sold roughly 165 million books worldwide. In 1994, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for “her unique authorship dedicated to the rights of children and respect for their individuality.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrid_Lindgren

These files were delivered to Lena Törnqvist/Astrid Lindgren museum.

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple /// Forever.

 

Apple ProFile repairs:

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Just some thoghts about few Apple Profile hardisks i had repaired recently. Basicly all of them needed new safety capasitors (aka “Rifa’s”) on their power supplies, some cleaning and even trying to repair and gluing the broken case back together.

Drive #1 (from Spain)

This one i’ve had for some years. I originally got it with early 12v model Apple /// (that i no longer have). The drive had it’s case broken during transporation but it did work. So i opened this to do some repairs to the case, clean inside and do some mainantance for the power supply by replacing the safety capasitors.

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Oh boy.. was this thing FILTHY! Lots of dust absolutely EVERYWHERE inside. Just insane. Lots of cleaning to be done…the logic board was so dusty i could not even read the text from chips or board itself.

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Power supply had almost blown Rifa’s on it. Good timing to swap those. Should never power up anything with these on before replacing them….

 spa_profile_hdd_s

The case itself was also dusty and had lots of black dust from the motor. Cleaning time…

 spa_corner

I did what i could and glued the pieces i had left to the case – it’s not pefect but that will have to do. 

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Atleast the case holds up now a bit better.

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Every possible corner of the drive was broken….

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The drive itself worked after the cleanup and power supply repairs. It was SOS formatted but erased and empty.

 

Drive #2 (Sweden)

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When i received this Profile earlier this year, i booted it with the /// and found Catalyst menu. When accessing the installed software the safety capasitors (aka “Rifa’s”) exploded… lots of smoke and nasty popcorn smell. It took some days to get rid of that smell..  That wasn’t even all, the ///’s power supply did the same a bit later – so it was time to get the soldering iron and get to work!

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Opened up the drive & took some photos for documentation (good practise). The drive was quite clean inside, just some dust but nothing compared to the “Spanish” Profile…

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The power supply pcb was really difficult to remove. Those screws were really stuck due some locking glue/paint on them and took lots of time removing them. 

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One safety capasitor had blown but i changed them all as i had the parts:

0,01uF (2pcs)
0,1uF  (1pcs)
0,47uF (1pcs)

 

swe_lots_of_solder_s

Lots of caps in this board were soldered really annoyingly as the legs been bent towards the pcb itself, like in “L” shape. Took lots of time to remove some of these. Also they used A LOT of solder at factory. Good practice if nothing else.

After that did just overall cleaning for the case and put it back. 

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Hope the drive itself is still readable, it does make horrible noise when it’s spinning. Sounds like the hardisk bearings (?) are about the give in. There’s some bad blocks on that drive as well. Should backup that….

Drive #3 (Finland)

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This Profile i found locally and the unit itself is pretty clean.

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Did the same mainantance to it as the others, new safety capasitors and cleaning. The drive was really clean, only the analog board was bit dusty. Quick job and we’re done.

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The drive inside after just a bit of cleaning.

Any data on it?

It was nice to notice that the Profile drives can be reasonably “quiet” as well.. Felt like a new drive compared to the other ones. Found that that the disk was ProDOS-formatted, but SOS is able to read it. There were some Apple II data on it, the typical Appleworks data, some basic programs and games. Too bad i do not have Apple II profile interface card – but the data can be preserved with theh Apple /// as well.

..and ADTpro fails.

I installed the Uthernet II and used ADTpro 2.0.3 (for SOS) with Uthernet II activated. However, it would read about 60-80 blocks then start to give errors (XXXXXX). Transfered one DOS 3.3 floppy without any problems. hmm… what gives? Transfering whole 9728 block hdd would really take long time so another solution was needed…

fin_data_s

So, let’s just filecopy then.

I thought to use Robert Justice’s disk “SOS System Utils” with Problock3 driver. I had Booti-card in slot #2 with empty ProDOS 16MB HDD-image on it. Added regular .PROFILE driver to floppy. Checked and changed the name and slot settings for the profile drivers so they don’t conflict with each other.

File copy:
.PROFILE2 /PROFILE – interface card, driver and profile drive (prodos)
.PROFILE1 /HDD16MB – booti + usb + 16MB prodos hdd image 
->File copy

Copy the files:
.PROFILE2/=
To the files:
.PROFILE1/=

Took only few minutes and we’re done.

Cables and interface cards:

profile_interface_card_1984_s

I honesty didn’t know this – well i haven’t used the Profile very often so it hadn’t been something i’ve worked closely with. But. There are two different types, revisions if you will, Profile interface cards for the Apple ///.

Early card:
-DM1 and DM1 are 330 Ohm resistor arrays.
-Made before Oct. 1983.

Later card:
-DM1 and DM1 resistor arrays changed from 330 Ohm to 100 Ohm.
-Made after October 1983.

Cables: 
590-0046 Flat for either card type 100 or 330 Ohmm resistors.
590-0202 RFI shilded for only the new 100 Ohm resistor interface card.

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“Tower of /// Power”

I’m looking for Profile Interface card for the Apple II (820-5006).

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple /// Forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vTech Laser 128 expansion slot card:

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There were some interesting periphals for the vTech Laser 128 series including the external expansion box. It was externally powered, external box that held two slots inside for Apple II compatible expansion cards. 

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Original expanion box (picture by Javier Rivera (c)).

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Original expansion box inside (picture by Javier Rivera (c))

The box is now obiously quite rare and hard to find but luckily A2heaven.com had a new version made. It doesn’t come in a box but in a plain expansion card you can plug in the side expansion connector of the Laser 128 providing now two more slots (5 and 7) to be used.

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A2heaven.com Laser 128 expansion slot card features:

-Adds two external slots to Laser 128 (Slot 5 & 7, congifurable)
-It can use internal or external power supply (USB).
-Build in LED to control all voltages
-Build in jumper to select ON/OFF of all power lines (+5,+12,-5,-12V)
-Provides -5V power on slot.
-Legs attached to card so it touches the table surface and not cause bending.

This is fantastic solution for Laser 128 users, otherwise you’d be limited to ONLY one expansion slot. The slot assignments can be altered from the switches from bottom of the unit, either enabling the slot 5 and 7 internal OR external use. WIth the adapter, you can have both slots 5 and 7 as external as pluggable slots.

The “Chinese Education Computer”-models (CEC-I and CEC-E) had also one expansion slot, either on top (CEC-I) or on left side (CEC-E) like Laser 128 does. No idea if this would work the CEC-I or CEC-E as well. They also actually have setting dips on their motherboards but naturally just for one slot.

 

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So i went ahead and tested some cards that i was intereted to run with the Laser 128, either alone or together:

And these cards worked fine, i have no reason to believe other’s would not work but these gave the most benefit when added on.

-Booti-card #7 (hdd, by David Mutimer)
-Fastchip //e #5 (Acceration up to 16.6MHz by a2heaven.com)
-ReActiveMicro Drive/Turbo IDE Controller #7 (hdd with CF – Reactivemicro.com)
-MegaAudio #5 (Mockingboard etc emulation by a2heaven.com)
-Atari/SNES joystick adapter (byteboosters/console5)

After testing i used the unit for few weeks for playing and found no issues or problems with it. There might be some exotic cards that have issues but that goes for everything. But having cards like booti that adds hardisk functionality or accelerator like Fastchip or Megaudio speaks for itself really. That’s something not otherwise could be added to Laser 128 by any means. I am not sure how popular the original expansion box was – maybe mostly used by the powerusers of the day. That’s really something that we missed with Apple //c.

I found the expansion card being very usefull if not essential for using Laser 128 users.

a2heaven_logo
Laser 128 Expansion Slot Card is available from a2heaven.com 

The card used used here wasn’t sponsored by a2heaven.com

 

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.