Category Archives: Apple //e

Sega SG-1000 & Colecovision on your Apple //e ?

SEGA SG-1000:

 

SONY DSC

Was the very first video-gaming console released by SEGA in 1983.
Running with Zilog’s Z80 3.58MHz with amazing 1kB of RAM and 2kB of VRAM and capable of displaying up to 16 colors.

 

COLECOVISION:

colecvision_1

Was Coleco Industries’s second generation home video-game console released in August 1982.
Running with Zilog’s Z80A at 3.58MHZ

So what is this “CP/M Turbo 7 with VDP-1000 Plus”-combo then?

01_cards_front_s

Ian Kim of Apple2.net from South Korea have made very interesting board-add-on to his previously released, CP/M Turbo 7-card. It’s called “VDP-1000 Plus” wich is an VDP-option board which you can add to your CP/M Turbo 7-card. If you add it later, it requires some soldering or if you buy them together as a kit, they come completely ready product.

Basicly it allows running SEGA SG-1000 and Colecovision games on your Apple //e at 2MHz.
Both of those systems were Z80 based (and this opens interesting thoughts..) so the add-on card CP/M Turbo 7 acts as an processor for those two systems and the VPD-1000 Plus-add-on works as video generator for both. Currently they sell about 160 dollars + shipping at Ian’s Webpage (see link in the end) as a combo.

Explanations from Ian Kim:

vpd_1
CPLD chip have logic circuits to act as the SG1000 and Colecovision same I/O address decoders for Joypad, TMS9918 and SN76489. TMS9918 require 1bit DRAM 8pcs but, 1bit 16Kb DRAM is rare andmore it required negative voltage so, changed non negative DRAM but,
finally I decided to use 8bits one SRAM. it is much easier to find hence, the circuits should be much different than original.  Finally I’ve used one 9bit 32K SRAM. it is still oversize but cheap and one SRAM required. Three latch used and one Not chip. It were used to split data I/O and Address.

Sound generator chip is SN76489 which is used by SG1000 and Colecovision. it have three tones and one noise and it has some strange behavior it made sound after power ON not accessed but it generating noise maybe it is too much small to put reset function.

So, when I apply this sound chip and power ON the APPLE II, it start making annoying noise as beep… so, I must OFF this so used switch. Now, It is ON when the board start to work. Also Video output can be switched from APPLE II and VDP side. It active when  data come to VDP address.

vpd_2

So how it all fits in yer Apple //e then?

04_all_cards_assembled_sInstallation : you install the both cards together and then put the combined cards in SLOT #1. There’s the joystick connector you need to connect, and video signal you take to the internal video connector on the Apple //e motherboard as well the audio+video cables (red and white rca-type) you need to connect to your monitor for video and audio output.

video_connection
Internal video cable connection to motherboard:

05_installed_sInstalled.

speed
Set up of speed Z80-card to 2mhz “normal” otherwise the SEGA or Colecovision-modes are not working.

 

sega-or-col
Set up of system VPD-mode, choose which mode you wish to use (from the VPD-card). “SEGA” or “COLV”.

So, how you use it?

The card came with links to few disk images (.nib and .hdv) that contain the basic bootup (ProDOS) software you need to boot first from. I used the .hdv file (hdd image) with Apple //e Enhanced NTSC with CFFA3000. At boot you need to choose wich system you are using:

10_booted_menu_s
1. SEGA SG-1000
2. COLECOVISION

11_files_s
And after choosing it lists you the rom files that are included – or you have transfered to the disk image yourself. It asks what ROM-file you want to load up, and after you type the filename, it loads it up. The software itself is very simple basic program so you can modify it at will.

Then you’re, with luck, good to go!

 

It works! It works!

13_sega_sg1000_hero_s
H.E.R:O. (Activision) running with SEGA SG-1000-mode:
https://youtu.be/ecZ9xUZzejg

14_sega_sg1000_loderunner_sjpg
Lode Runner (Broderbund) running with SEGA SG-1000-mode:
https://youtu.be/__5Yh0QvcKA

And one more gameplay video:
https://youtu.be/bODOZRQZq8w

Some games do not work, some games freeze or are too slow due the 2MHz mode the emulation works. There’s however coming an upgraded CP/M Z80-card wich should fix these issues with speed. Audio works great on those rom-images i was tested playing with.

By no any means it’s perfect of 100% compatible with all titles, but it’s close and i see lots of fun with these kinds of projects! Maybe the upgrade of the CP/M Turbo 7 card to faster speeds will make difference?

 

Afterwords .. and more:

15_msx_s
There’s a “APMSX” (AppleMSX) -card in development wich is an standalone card which emulates the MSX (Z80) and allows playing (some) MSX-games on your Apple //e. There’s also possibility of MSX2 (!) card coming after the MSX-card is released. This picture is static rom file loaded up with the card, it does not support the keyboard so it’s not usefull as of yet.

msxcard
EARLY APMSX development/prototype-card from Ian’s webpage.

This is SUPER interesting implementation for the Apple //e for sure, i personally can not wait for the MSX/2 card to be released!

This is absolutely one of the most interesting cards and ideas for long time in Apple ][-community!

We truly live the golden-age of the Apple ][.

LINKS:
Ian Kim : http://apple2.net
CP/M Turbo 7 and VPD : http://quick09.tistory.com/1376
User manual : http://quick09.tistory.com/attachment/cfile9.uf@245A6F405957414B121465.pdf
SEGA SG-1000 : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SG-1000
Colecovision : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ColecoVision

(C) FinApple 2017 & Apple ][ forever!

Apple ][ & internet surfing?

Yes, it’s possible, even it really doesn’t much make sense. All you need is, Apple //e + Uthernet II-network card + Contiki (version 2.7 with support for Uthernet II). It’s surely primitive, you can basicly browse pages in text but what you can expect from a computer with 6502@1MHZ,  still, it’s great feeling when it does work. You can use an accelerator if you wish, it does make an difference here, greatly.

My setup was:
cards_s– FASTchip //e – Slot #1
– Uthernet II – Slot #3
– Mouse card – Slot #4
– Disk II interface – Slot #5 & Disk ][-drive
– Disk interface card – Slot #6 & Floppyemu

Setup is very easy. Just boot the first diskimage containing the Contiki v2.7 and use the setup provided.

menu_1Choose -> ETHCONFI.SYSTEM

menu_2
To choose what type of card you have, choose “2” Uthernet II in this case and then
choose the slot (1-7) where your card is installed, in this case, i choose “3”

Choose -> IPCONFIG.SYSTEM
From main menu to setup your network settings as they are in your network enviroment.

Choose -> WEBBROWS.SYSTEM
To load up the browser itself.

apple-iie-uthernet-ii-internet-browser_s
To use the actual browser. It’s text based, and you only have options : BACK, DOWN, STOP, GO
But it does work. Obiously you can’t log in twitter, facebook or such which would need secure connections, certificates or use of Java, flash or anything too modern. Basicly you have web-browser like LYNX.

If you have the mousecard installed, you can use it to point options on screen. Obiously there’s no pictures loaded up.

With FASTchip //e @16.6mhz the loading and browsing is f-a-s-t compared to stock 1mhz obiously. It’s quite useable. Only wish there would be more webpages designed for text-only in mind 🙂

With Contiki there’s lots of other options as well but there i wont get into here. I did run website with //e just for the fun of it (basic html page) thanks to great video podcast episode of Chris Torrence -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfbVDof-nLw

Download latest Contiki:
https://github.com/oliverschmidt/contiki/releases
-The zip contains 3x140KB .dsk images and 1x800KB disk image.

Have FUN and see you online!

FinApple 2017

FASTchip //e by a2heaven.coma2heaven_logo

 

Apple //e Platinum European edition?

So it DOES excists! It’s not just an rumour..

I’ve had wondered about this for long time and not been able to find any details that Platinum version (last version of released in 1987) Apple //e was ever sold in Europe. I assumed it was, but in small quantities but looks like the history was even more interesting….

They actually made kind-of “hybrid” of Apple //e Enhanced and Platinum for the International markets using the old case that was platinum colored, but with new platinum board on it. It does then of cos lack the numeric keyboard. The logo was interesting, it was the old logo but it  also was changed to platinum colored. It does kind of look it was bleached.
apple_iie_platinum_europe_logo

Details of the differences:

board_ntsc_internationalBoard : is the same more simple, cost reduced, Platinum-model board, it says “International NTSC” in top.

board_largeThe Whole board looks like this, regular Platunum-board expect the AUX-slot in the middle as in PAL-boards it is located to.

euroCase : Older //e type case but in lighter color, lighter color badge, is marked as “65C02” next to the keyboard light (as in regular enhanced //e was marked “Enhanced” in English-speaking countries and “65C02” in non-english speaking countries).

Keyboard : Older style keyboard as in regular Apple //e, no numeric keypad as in Platinum //e

back_panelBackplate is lighter color as well to fit the platinum coloring scheme.

usa
to regular American Apple //e platinum the difference is quite big.

I am quite skeptical if these were ever sold in Finland. I think not. However, i’ve seen one regular //e upgraded with platinum board  but the case was regular //e enhanced case. That unit however was used in graphics design productionline so it might just been fixed with new motherboard when the old one (regular //e 65C02) was broken and no replacement boards could be obtained in later part of the 1980’s (that’s my guess).

Wikipedia article states that these were sold in very small quantities in US/CAN-area with local keyboard layout and motherboard.

IF you have one, i am very interested adding one to my collection!

FinApple 2017

” I’m going FAST with FASTchip //e..“

004_fastchip_e_logo_s

What is it and what it is for?

It’s here! We have now newly produced accelerator made for 8-bit Apple’s from the Bulgarian electronics genius of Plamen Vaysilov of http://a2heaven.com

It’s called “FASTchip //e” and it works as the name indicates, with Apple //e (6502 & 65C02) at the moment & more support is coming i.e. for ][+. All you need is free slot on your Apple II and you can experience the accelerated speed up to 16.6 Mhz (!) of pure  s-p-e-e-d. The 16.6 Mhz makes it fastest 8-bit Apple II accelerator available today.

The FASTchip //e is based on 65C816 processor with 512KB of fast SRAM memory (expandable) where it stores the software run in accelerated speed.

Acceleration for 8-bit Apple II’s have been around from very early 80’s. There’s been: Number Nine Apple booster, Saturn/Titan cards, SpeedDemon, AE Transwarp I and II as well ZipChip’s – and these have been very sought after products. Computers are never too fast and if there’s an way to make it operate faster, be it overlocking or accelerator chip, there’s market for that. That however can be problematic with 8-bit Apple II’s. You pretty much mess up the timings of the original games that are designed to run with 1 Mhz 6502/65C02-processor. Surely 1 Mhz 6502 processor wasn’t much to work with so lots of games/software indeed would run better accelerated, more or less.

But there are other software than games too. If you do use AppleWorks, work with databases or you want to take advantage of the higher processor speeds with your programming projects, now you can. The final FastChip //e user’s guide will contain FASTchip //e “Programmer’s references” how to use the chip with your programs, so the modern “home-brew” – software developers can use the FASTchip //e with their code and take advance of the accelerated speed on their products.

001_package_contents_s
The package contains:
– FASTchip //e – card
– External control panel (these are beta-testing models, actual production model might be different)
– Cable to connect the FASTchip //e and the external control panel.

Installation:

003_apple_iie_setup_of_cards_s
It’s easy to install, all you need free slot (1-7) on your Apple //e or enhanced model. It does not override the 80-column function of the slot 3 when used in Apple //e-models.

The FASTchip //e – card comes with external control panel :

panel_1_s
(picture 1 : beta model of the external control panel)

panel_2_s
(picture 2 : beta model of the external control panel)

The layout of the external control panel is as follows (based on picture 2)

“STOP” (left) you can change between current and standard 1Mhz CPU speed.
“PAUSE” (center) you can pause the CPU.
“FUNCTION” (right) button you can choose which function will be displayed on the LED-screen in the middle of the unit.

Display messages:

cp  – FASTChip //e is in setup mode ( [ESC] is pressed after Power Up )
freq – FASTChip //e show working frequency (3.00 Mhz)
normal – FASTChip //e in normal 1Mhz non-accelerated mode.
stop – FASTChip //e in PAUSE/STOP mode.
slinky – Show current RamFactor page if RF is enabled.
sl_off – RamFactor is disabled.
rw – Show current RamWorks page if RW is enabled.
rw_off – RamWorks is disabled.
softsw – Show state of some soft switches (see table below)

table

It also have 4 digits LED-display as well rotary knob to set the working frequency of the 65C816-processor itself from 0.20 up to 16.6 Mhz. The card also have built in 192KB fast RamWorks compatible RAM and 256KB fast RamFactor (slinky) compatible RAM. It’s modern design and it is low power design for cool operation. The Acceleration works for programs running in both main and auxiliary memory. It is compatible with most interface and expansion cards for the Apple II.

It have an easily accessed from power-up, built-in control panel, which let’s you control the processor speed, joystick, speaker speeds and other options available.

The Control panel:

005_menu_control_panel_sThe FASTchip //e have settings you can alter built-in by accessing the control panel by pressing ESC -key during the boot-up animation of FASTchip //e.

With arrow keys up and down you can choose the setting you want to choose and with left and right arrow keys (or space) you can choose to alter the value.

Speed:
008_menu_speed_s
With speed settings you can choose:

– Using the Space to switch between OFF and 16.6 Mhz
– Off and 1 Mhz are normal Apple II speeds.
– Off = FASTchip //e is disabled and uses original CPU
– Off = if you use another DMA device
– When set to 1 Mhz or anything else up to 16.6 Mhz the FASTchip //e is been used.

Using the external control panel is handy. You can STOP the CPU, adjust the CPU speed as close to perfection you desire for each software you are using.

Slot Configuration:
007_menu_slots_s
Here it allows you to define the FASTchip //e speed setting for each of the slots. If you have card that can’t run at accelerated speed, select “Normal” by pressing the spacebar. This is more like “trial-and-error” but that’s something you have to get used to.

Sample configuration:
SLOT 1 – Fast – Parallel Printer Interface Card
SLOT 2 – Normal – Serial Interface Card
SLOT 3 – Fast – FASTchip //e
SLOT 4 – Normal – Apple Mouse Card
SLOT 5 – Normal – Virtual slot for CFFA3000
SLOT 6 – Normal – Floppy Disk Controller Disk II
SLOT 7 – Normal – CFFA3000

I basicly setup all other slots Normal expect FASTchip //e and RAM-cards and everything worked fine.

Miscellaneous Options:
006_menu_options_s
With miscellaneous-menu you can choose more basic settings, i..e wether you wish to see the startup graphics animation (boot time is slightly faster without).

With sound-mode you can choose from: distorted, fast, normal, music or HIFI.

With the DISTORED – setting the sound will be depended of the speed of the FastChip //e, in FAST – mode there will be 1ms delay, NORMAL – is the standard setting. With some music programs they might require the sound being slowed down a bit so if it doesn’t sound right, you can choose MUSIC – or HIFI. HIFI – is required by few music programs – you can try this if the sound is still too fast at NORMAL or MUSIC setting – but this however will slow down the acceleration.

Joystick delay : You can choose NONE, SHORT or LONG. Mostly the LONG – setting works for most of the games where the timing is sensitive. Some games might work with SHORT – and might work faster with NONE.

And, RamFactor and RamWorks! FASTchip //e contains build-it emulation of 256KB Fast RamFactor (slinky) and RamWorks 192KB. RamFactor you can enable them here and setup the slot.

Backlight led of the card : set or disable the backlight illumination modes from Disabled, Fade, Speed, Red, Green, Blue.

System test:
009_menu_system_test_s
With system test you can do basic hardware testing to see if the FASTchip //e works with your Apple II or if there’s any issues to be solved.

Save configuration
You can save your configurations here. The settings are saved up in FASTchip //e.

About FASTchip //e
Information screen about the manufacturer, A2heaven.com and contact information.

Quit Fastchip //e
When you have made all the settings & saved them up to your configuration, this makes the Apple //e cold boot.

Testing the FASTchip //e:

I used as a testing unit my Apple //e enhanced (ntsc) with ZipChip 4000 installed on it and few common cards :

  • CFFA3000
  • EDD4+ card
  • Uthernet II
  • Mockingboard-T and Mockinboard v1a
  • RamFactor 8M
  • RamWorks 8M
  • Apple Mouse Card
  • ZipChip 4000
  • RamWorks III + VGA addon card

Of cos having ZipChip on this computer how is pretty useless but it did not interfere the FASTchip //e in any point.

Beta testers tested several hundred of original Apple II 5.25″ floppy software & games and we could easily say the success rate is very close to 100% at this point. The FASTchip //e firmware wasn’t final version yet and is soon finished with more support i.e. ][+ and full support for Platinum //e – model. However more testing is been still done as well more programming-releated tests and code compiling tests by Plamen Vaysilov and Antoine Vignau.

Playing games was great FUN! The rotary knob is insanely great idea (seriously it is!) when you have an game which runs somehow slowly. You can find the perfect speed for it from anywhere from 1.1 to 16.6mhz range. I found games like “Xevious” very much more playable when i accerated it up to 3-4mhz.

Youtube video playing “Xevious”:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6x7UmMbTs8

And of cos, i just had to, test the “Alien Downpour” by Michael Packard and slow it down! That game feels quite difficult to me so i slowed it down a notch, and all the sudden it left me more time to response in all those aliens 🙂

Youtube video playing “Alien Downpour” (sorry lower quality):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4wdP_dIpZE

For the huge performance gain is available with simulators. I tested “The Jet” and you’ll be the judge is it fast enough?

Youtube video “The Jet” (demo mode):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DImR-TI3aCU

Apple II Desktop / Mousedesk was really an nice experience when run from .dsk image using CFFA3000 and accelerated. Now you can actually do something productive with it, if you choose to do so. I run out of time at this stage to test with GEOS but that’s something i’m intended to test soon.

Final thoughts?

FASTchip //e must be one of the most versatile accelerators made for Apple II 8-bit computers. The built-in menu is very user friendly, quick to access and you can adjust lots of things.

Some people might think accelerating 8-bit Apple II’s is pretty much waste of time. That really depends. But with FASTchip //e it’s made so easy, as you can find the “sweet spot” for the gaming speed which is perfect, not too slow, not too fast. The rotary knob is absolutely perfect for this. I believe this is first accelerator, atleast for Apple II, that does have such feature – and it makes great difference what comes to usage. Honestly, to me this is the selling point.

It does also make it possible to run the “difficult” shoot’em ups like “Alien Downpour” (or i just suck on it) slower than standard 1 Mhz, if you wish. That’s one cool feature if never even thought of before! You never know when you might need this kind of feature as well.

I personally think the FASTchip //e is brilliant modern product and gives lots of advanges to any Apple II -user today. You don’t need to run everything… 16.6mhz!

setup_of_cards_sThe final FastChip //e user’s guide will contain FASTchip //e “Programmer’s references” – how to use the chip with your programs.

Price for the FASTchip //e is 150 USD shipped everywhere.

This quick preview was based on preview beta-unit.

a2heaven_logo
FASTchip //e is ™ by Plamen Vaysilov of a2heaven.com 2017.

Jorma Honkanen, 16.06.2017.

Wildcard Plus

I was donated some hardware and software in Summer 2016 by an older gentlemen and this very nice boxed WILDCARD PLUS (as it works with //e as well) came with the donation.  I am not sure if these cards were sold here in Finland, or if they were ordered from the States.

The card was of cos ment for copying (mainly single loading) software by capturing the memory after the software had loaded up and saving it to disk, even compressed into a single file. Very handy tool for non-cracker people who wanted to make their personal “backups”. This is later version which works with the Apple //e as well (64k). Later there were also an WILDCARD 2 (Alaskacard) which was able to capture full 128k memory. This is something i am missing from my collection.

img_20160607_1835082

img_20160607_1834202

wildcard-plus-ad

wildcard-floppy

Manuals:
https://mirrors.apple2.org.za/ftp.apple.asimov.net/documentation/hardware/copiers/Wildcard%20Plus%20-%20User%27s%20Manual.pdf

https://mirrors.apple2.org.za/ftp.apple.asimov.net/documentation/hardware/copiers/Wildcard.pdf

Software:
https://mirrors.apple2.org.za/ftp.apple.asimov.net/images/hardware/wildcard/