Category Archives: Apple II

Atari 130XE vs CEC-E:

cec-e_and_atari_130xe_s

THAT .. IS .. ATARI?!

I recently bought an nice boxed, Atari 130XE from Sweden that was quite complete. The model is quite nice as it’s with the new XE-case design as well it have 128k RAM already built in. Sadly the built quality of  the XE-line was somehow questionable.. specially the keyboard is absolutely horrible compared to 600/800XL-models.. 

My goal was to be able to play the recently ported version of “Stunt Car Racer” (128k) with the 130XE and compare it, first hand, to the “Chinese Education Computer Expanded” (“CEC-E”) as they kind of look alike. Too bad i had no early Atari ST in hand for this.

“UNBOXING”

 boxed_stuff_lq_s
Kind of have to do it. So here it is..

-The original box and styrox
-Atari 130XE
-Power supply 230v
-Manuals (German)

 

PICTURES:

atari_130xe_vs_cec-e_r_side_2_s
Atari 130XE vs CEC-E from Right side.

 

atari_130xe_vs_cec-e_backside_both_s
Atari 130XE vs CEC-E, backside. Clearly very different connectors used.

atari520st_interfaces_s
Clearly early Atari ST is closer by design. I just do not have one in my collection (it’s 16-bit!).

 

atari_130xe_bottom_s
Atari 130XE bottom:

cec_e_from_bottom_s
CEC-E bottom:

 

 

Testing / playing:

I connected the Atari 130XE with it’s video output and used a composite-to-scart adapter and LCD/TV that had scart connector. HDMI or VGA sure would be nice to have with Atari’s as well.

The power supply is a new one from lotharek proven to work great with 600XL and 800XL and is compatible with 130XE as well so that was safe choise to be used. My original Atari power supply burned all the RAM chips from my 800XL a while ago.. luckily they all were socketed and it was easy job replacing them.

For loading the software, i used the neat sd-card reader solution “SIO2SD” from lotharek as well. Playing the games i used my favorite joystick the legendary TAC-2 from Suncom.

atari_130xe_stunt_car_racing_s

Testing with playing the “Stunt Car Racer” that was never released to Atari 8-bits but it got ported early 2018. It requires 128k RAM so either stock 130XE is needed or modded model with 128k RAM on it. The display have some issues with RGB signal/composite at times..

I found out that there’s several homebrew/conversions that require more RAM up to 320K so that’s something i might need to look into later. Unless i finish the memory upgrades for my 600XL (16k ->64k + 512k) someday.. still not done!

The Stunt Car Racer run pretty nicely! I’d need to test the game on C64 and BBC Master 128k as well now as it got ported to BBC as well. This game is fun!

 

Links:
About the Stunt Car Racer Atari port:
http://atariage.com/forums/topic/276082-stunt-car-racer/

Lotharek products:
https://lotharek.pl

Youtube video of Stunt Car Racer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kRUkl7G7Oc

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

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

boss_logo

I got few months ago keyboard for the Microprofessor III (MPF-III) among other Apple II pieces and the original owner, or actually he’s son. We thought obiously he’s father also had the MPF-III somewhere. But, now he actually found clone of it, “BOSS-1”. It’s basicly somekind of clone of the MPF-III so far i can tell. So i picked these Apple II-releated parts:

set_of_things_s
-BOSS-1 (“TYPE C”)
-Z80 processor – as the seller had bunch of processors available i added the Z80 to the empty slot.
-Apple ROM-card with 6 x EPROM’s 
-MPF-III RS-232-C adapter-card 
-ALF MC16 bare, clone, PCB-board
-Apple II prototyping board (empty PCB)
-Apple II RGB-card 
-“Bridge Challenger” (Personal Software, Casette) Apple II plus 16k. Incomplete. Box cover missing.
-Joystick enclousure and parts. Looks like the “Joystick”.
-Marconi RB2/PC-3 trackball controller (For what platform, no idea yet)

“BOSS-1 – Multi-System Personal Computer”

setup_s
Not much information could be found from this model..
This is one of those more complex and interesting Apple II clones from Taiwan. 
This clone had several different configurations or types, with 6502 prosessor or with 6502 and Z80 prosessors together in same board. So it does seem to be clone/licenced of Microprofessor (MPF-III) as their product was pretty identical by hardware and seem to use the same keyboard with some alternations to keyboard by funtionalities.

case_side_1
The enclousure is made out of fiberglass:

Different types/models:
TYPE A = 6502 – 9 slots including system slot at “J” , 48k RAM (?) 
TYPE C = 6502+Z80A – 7 slots includes system slot at “0”, 64k (RAM (?) 

board_s
Type C board layout: interesting cutout for the speaker in the right corner.

Multi OS system, either by System card (ROM) or loading from floppy. OS ROM = U24 (Type A) or U6 (Type C) if inserted no need for System card (ROM).

Video output:
Either NTSC or PAL (need PAL Expansion card)

What system cards were available:
-System Card (Apple DOS)
-Forth System card (Forth DOS)
-FP System card (Frankin DOS, CP/M, MS-DOS)

back_s
Backside:

What periphals/cards were available:
-Fan
-Joystick
-Graphics tablet
-12″ Green monitor
-12″ Amber monitor 
-Light pen
-192k RAM-card
-Z80-card 
-80-Column-card 
-Parallel printer-card 
-Serial RS232-card 
-PAL Color-card 
-Casette drive 
-Floppy disk drive 
-Floppy disk controller-card 
-Ram Expansion board-card
-Eprom writer-card
-ALF AD8088 CPU-card
-6809 CPU-card 
-Communications-card 
-Robot Controller-card 
-Chinese Character Interface-card 
-Replica interface-card 

The manual metions how you *could* write your own OS for this “Multi-System Personal Computer” if you
wanted and use it and System Card.

Testing & smoke?

psu_pins_s
I managed to get the system to startup (boot) few times and got “APPLE ][” on top of the screen with the usual beeb! The ROM-card was working obiously. Then i wanted to test booting from floppy so i attached the DISK II interface card (cloned one naturally) but that caused the system to make clicking noise… and then, nothing. It just died. The powersupply went totally dead. The extra stress to power the card and floppy drive was jus too much for the old powersupply.. I inspected the other clones i have, and the //e clone have just the same type of powersupply and pinouts – hope it works. That’s for later testing.


ROM:

eprom_s
The eprom on the board (U6 location) is preserved now.

Some pictures, information and the manual PDF at:
http://quartdepomme.fr/quartdepomme/Hardware_Apple_II_Clones/Pages/BOSS-1.html#9

Few pictures of the BOSS-1:
http://apple2.org.za/gswv/a2zine/GS.WorldView/Resources/A2.ALL.NEW/BOSS-1.An.A2.Clone/

It’s very possible that local hobbyist/electronics store “Bebek” imported and sold these. They are still around after all these years.

And yes, i’m still interested in finding that MicroProfessor III (MPF-III).

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

 

“Bridge Challenger” (Personal Software, Casette):

casette_sBRIDGE CHALLENGER 
By George Dulsman. A bridge playing program for the Apple II. 16K RAM. $14.95

whole_set_s
Local, Finnish Apple II history at it’s best! Got this with the recent Apple II-clone “BOSS-1”.

cover_s
-Apple II 16k RAM.
-Clear plastic box cover missing. Will try to find replacement for this somehow.
-Box have marking of original price of “100,-” in backside.
-Original receipt for “100mk” (Topdata Oy, Helsinki, 2/10/82)
-Original manual, loading instructions and warranty card.

original_receipt_s
Original receipt

loading_s
Loading instructions

The digitized file of the tape is available from Brutaldeluxe already:
https://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/projects/cassettes/personalsoftware/

The game manual and and paper stuff from the box scanned here:
https://archive.org/details/BridgeChallengerPersonalSoftware1978InstructionsLeaflet

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Floppyemu goes .woz!

floppy-emu-woz-r2
What an great suprise! The Floppyemu got support for the .woz format disk-images just recently making it an another device that supports it after KhbooHK’s “wDrive”-device (currently unavailable).

The firmware is considered “beta” at the moment but it’s available here:
https://www.bigmessowires.com/2019/01/24/floppy-emu-adds-woz-support/

for Floppy Emu Model A – apple-II-0.2G-F22 (=model with regular size SD-card)
for Floppy Emu Model B – apple-II-0.2G-F23 (=model with smaller size SD-card)

UPGRADING:

Upgrading is easy task to do yourself. Just download the correct firmware .zip file (different for Model A and Model B), uncompress it, place the two binaries (firmware.xvf and femu.bin) to your SD-card and perform the upgrade process (info from bigmessofwires):

“CPLD firmware”:
1 Hold down the NEXT and PREV buttons.
2. Press and release the RESET button.
3. Continue holding NEXT and PREV until the firmware update process begins (about 3 seconds).
4. Wait 10-15 seconds for the process to complete. Status LED will be flashing.
5. When finished, the LCD will display “RESULT: SUCCESS”

“AVR microcontroller firmware”:
1. Hold down the SELECT and PREV buttons. Note these are not the same buttons as for part 1.
2. Press and release the RESET button.
3. Continue holding SELECT and PREV until the firmware update process begins (about 1 second).
4. Wait 5 seconds for the process to complete. Status LED will be flashing.
5. When finished, the LCD will display self-test information, and the main menu.

USING .WOZ FILES:

display_s
Usage is naturally the same as with other supported file types. If you managed to flash the new firmware the .woz files will appear on the menu. It seems to support both woz revisions, 1 and 2 and it’s listed on screen which one the file is.

gaming_s_s
Using the .woz files doesn’t differ from any other disk image formats. They load up as fast as the non protected images, but they are full reprenentations of the original floppy, 100%. All load screens, start up screens are intact and the the game should work as perfect fashion as it did from original floppy. This is something we havent’t experienced (atleast with the Apple II’s) before. This is how it should be.


OTHER THOUGHTS?

Now only if CFFA3000 would support .woz-format.. or somebody would make similar card. I am mostly //e user so i kind of wish to have slot-based card product that would do all this and more.. I’m sure there would be lots of business to be done with such product..

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Apple ][+ clone board:

clone_board_s_1
I was recently donated an unassembled Apple ][+ clone logic board. I’m not sure of the maker or brand to but it sure is nice piece. They sold these back in 80’s as parts and you could assemble the unit yourself. Legendary Apple II user, Aapi Juntura, did this and i believe he bought he’s parts from Germany. 

More about that, later.

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Apple II finds:

picked_up_some_apple_ii_materials_s
Just for the sake of history:
I got these parts locally from a guy i once bought Apple II europlus several years ago. These belonged to his father who passed a way few years ago. He was real electronics professinal and hobbyist. He’s house was covered with all kinds of electronics stuff from tubes, amps, guitars, computers, you name it – he had it or could build or repair it. I’ve never seen so much electronics in one place. Not even in shops.

mpf_iii_keyboard_swefin_s
I was lucky to get the MicroProfessor III (MPF-III) keyboard (localized, Swe/Fin) and hope he’s able to find the whole unit as well someday. MicroProfessor was made by Multitech (later known as ACER) and it was close to, but not, 100% clone of Apple II+ or //e (48k(64k). I really hope to get complate working set of this model to my collection!

 

paddles_bebek_closeup_s
Common Atari-styled paddles. What makes it interesting for me, is that they have stickers from “Bebek” on them. Bebek was and still is, electronics shop operating since 1970’s. They sold some Apple II clone products back in the 1980’s. The owner of the Bebek-stores was family friend of the owner of these Apple II materials.

all_tapes_s
Nice set of original Apple and ITT, tapes.

floppy_drive_and_controller_s
Slim, half-height floppy drive, controller card and some (CP/M i believe) floppies. I have few of these drives and they are nice and quiet when operated. Specially nice for the clone modes if you have such.

multitech_mpf_310_cpu_schematics_s
There were LOTS of photocopied manuals, books and schematics. This is for MPF-III-310 model.

tape_2_insert_s
Chinese pirated games on tape! How cool is that? They might have sold these back in the 80’s quite openly in electronics stores..

card_1_s
Appears to be ALF MC16 -music card clone.

corvus_card_s
Corvus interface card (for hdd?).

all_things_s
All that there were:

Apple II+ clone case with lid
Several binders full of Apple II-documentation
Radio Shack Catalog – 1990
Slim floppy 5.25″-drive
Disk II interface-card (clone)
Paddles (Bebek-labeled)
Joysticks (2 pcs) of different condition
Some 5.25″ floppy disks (CP/M software)
The Apple II Circuit Description-book
ALF MC16 -sound card (clone)
Corvus interface card (HDD?)
Few Apple stickers
Macintosh 512k keyboards (3 pcs)
Multitech MPF-III keyboard Swe/Fin 
Synthetizier cable for Apple II 
Software tapes:
Apple:
-Renumber/Append | Alignment Test Tone (600-2024-00)
-Color Demosoft | Little Brick Out (600-2023-00)
ITT:
-Basic Test Program 16K | Ram Test
Chinese pirated tapes:
-Catch | Star Avenger
-Choplifter | Sea Fox

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

DIPA – Apple II+ clone:

dipa_apple_ii_clone_s
This is one Apple II clone i got several years ago from Germany. It looks like it’s a II+ clone from the looks of it. It’s not per say pretty by it’s design but so often the clones had… well, “interesting design choices”.

dipa_view_from_back_s
From the back.

dipa_motherboard_text_s
There’s no name badge or serial number on the case anywhere but it reads “DIPA” in motherboard.

ram_chips_s
Most chips seems to be mostly from 1983 on the motherboard expect some RAM that have 1978 (!) dates.

dipa_missing_ic_s
One IC is missing from the motherboard, 74LS259.

dipa_green_slots_s
The green slots look always cool!

dipa_psu_s
The powersupply’s cable wont fit to the connector on motherboard. So is the powersupply or the motherboard been swapped? So i haven’t been able to test this if it works or not and i have not put any extra effort on it trying to figure that out either..

I’ve found out that there are these models made but nothing more specific like specs. I assume here that they are Apple II+ (48k) and possibly //e (64k) clones.
DIPA 109
DIPA 209

German computer magazine “Computer Persönlich” had (in early 1983) some information about these models but i have not find any of these magazines scanned nor pictures etc.

Computer Persönlich:
http://www.kultboy.com/Computer-Persoenlich-Zeitschrift/43/

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

 

 

ITT 2020: Offical Apple II+ clone from England:

apple_system_logo_s
Last year I was able to find one of the holy-grails for me, the “ITT 2020”. It was British made Apple II/II+ offical clone made by british company called ITT in England. These do not come across very often and very rarely, they do can be found with any accessories like Disk drives (ITT branded the typical Disk ][ drive with their own logos) or anything else.

itt_disk_and_tape_drives
Not mine. The ITT 2020 branded Disk II drive and tape player.

web_itt_2020_drive_back_s
Back of the ITT 2020 branded Disk II-drive.

web_paddles
ITT 2020 branded paddles.

itt_2020_unit_full_s
Here i can only show few pictures i took before i actually sold it.. I’m now kind of in a market of finding an another again. I released this post just in sake of saving these pictures somewhere.

serial_s
Serial number at bottom.

itt2020_user

The ITT 2020 was an Apple II clone manufactured by ITT under license from Apple Computer (the first licensed clone),  specifically for the European market. In the Benelux, it was distributed by Bell Telephone mfg. company. In the United Kingdom, it was distributed by Microsense Computer Limited. 

The major difference, and the reason ITT believed this personal computer would be a success, was that the color video signal conformed to the European PAL standard, rather than the American NTSC standard. This meant color graphics could be viewed using a standard European monitor or TV set, rather than having to import an NTSC monitor from America or Japan as was the case with the Apple II. ITT sold this computer starting 1979 for only a few years. When Apple Computer started shipping the Apple II Europlus, ITT withdrew from the market, despite the fact that the Europlus did not support color.

ITT also supplied a floppy disk drive that was identical to the Apple II disk drive with 13 sectors and DOS 3.2. They never supplied the upgrade to 16 sectors and DOS 3.3. The drive itself was also painted silver and had ITT logo’s on it (Model SP 2/4). 

The model had an 175-250V  powersupply built by ITT for the european continent usage. It was much bulker and larger than the power supply Apple ][ had.

The case was painted silver matte and the keyboard was black. There were two different styles of the case, one that was shaped as Apple ][ but only painted silver with different logos, and an another that was bulkier and more square one with larger name plate and tag “Apple System (tm”) in the right bottom corner.

The reset switch only worked in combination with the Control key. This was done to avoid the many accidental resets Apple II users complained  about.

itt_2020_board_open_s
The ITT 2020 i got had few cards on it installed;
-Epson Printer card
-RGB-card (modded) and wired to the board.
-80col-card (?)

switches_s
The case have four switched modded into the front panel, under the keyboard, i have no idea what they are supposed to do but they are wired somehow to the RGB-card. Maybe for color or graphics models?

ROM:

The ROM-files are not preserved so far i know of. Atleast i have not been able to find binaries of them anywhere.
ROM-codes are:

D8:341-0022-00
E0:341-0023-00
E8:341-0024-00
F0:341-0025-00
F8:341-0020-00
D0:341-0021-00

Next, even more rare clone i’d like to have, would be the Bell & Howell Apple II+. Be it the next dream of mine as well, the nice German tank, BASIS 108.

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II forever.

 

BASIC Programmierhandbuch Applesoft BASIC

book_cover_s
I recently found one nice early BASIC programming book in German language, “Apple II Plus – BASIC Programmierhandbuch Applesoft BASIC” from 1978.

printed_in_switzerland_s
It was printed in Switzerland that was kind of strange but maybe they printed these for the German language area there. Interesting however in European Apple II collector/preservation’s view point. Not sure if this has been scanned, but if not, i’ll get it done when i receive the new book scanner in 2019.

two_editions_s
German vs. English versions.

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Mountain Computer Expansion Chassis:

mountain-computer-expansion-chassis-advertisement_s
I was able to find this very rare piece of hardware for the Apple II recently. I was told it did work but i had to take a gamble on this as you never know if they do when they arrive. I know it’s for Apple II/II+ only so it won’t get much usage as //e is my main rig, but.. it is super rare collectable. You really don’t see these floating around anywhere, not even eBay.

box_frot_s
I was suprised of it’s size, from the pictures i had seen i’ve always thought it was bigger. The design of the case clearly reasembles of Apple ][ with the wents in the corners.

box_back_s
Backside. The later revision had the backside panel not painted but baremetal.

revision_s
There are few revisions known to exist. This one i got is first and early Revision A (14-000174-00) (C) 1980.

serial_s
Serial 00306 that is quite low. The serial badge at back however looks different than the ones i’ve seen. Is it due it’s pretty eary one, or just exported model? Who knows.
 

board_from_top_s
I’m not sure how many of these were made, but there’s discussion for example at applefritter and estimates are somewhere in up to 1000+ pcs. I’ve seen later revision with serial 1025 (model : 01-00166-02, 220v 60HZ, 1,0A). Difference seems to be also with the enclousure, the back of the unit in later models seems not painted. The board inside is quite different as well.

Later revision product codes (from Mountain Computer Catalog 1981):
01-00166-01 (120V)
01-00166-02 (220V)

psu_bottom_specs_s
The powersupply interestingly looks like it’s US-model but the plug itself is clearly for the European markets as it’s two prong but rounded.

What there were?

chassis_top_s
-Expansion Chassis enclousure 
-Powersupply (clearly marked as 120VAC, 60Hz, 1.25A, 24VAC, but the wallplug is German, so i assume it’s 220V model.. but i’m not sure if i dare to test that..)
-Interface card (+50-pin connector cable, 16-pin header cable)
-The user’s manual was missing.

There are two different manuals for the product released (scanned pdf’s are available at archive.org/asimov):

1981-catalog
Mountain Computer Expansion Chassis (1981) : first revision

1982-catalog
Mountain Computer Expansion Chassis (1982) : new revision 

What it is used for?

The Expansion Chassis is ment to be used with Apple II and II+ as external enclousure to house 8 more cards you wanted to use, not in the same time of course. It was even possible to have even up to four Expansion Chassises installed. You can switch either by hardware (switches/jumpers) the setup or by sofware. More likely this kind of setup would be used by developers or industrial needs and not in general household.

 
The setup:

There is few led’s in front of the chassis indicating what mode the Chassis is at:
GREEN = power on/off
RED = selected on/off

Jumpers & Switches:

Jumpers on interface card:

PP1
Settings of multiple expansion chassises (1 to 4)

PP2
Settings how the Slot 0 is been used.


The interface card:

interface_card_s
The interface card is inserted to any of the Apple II/II+ slots, also in slot 0 if you’re not using the 16k language card. The 50-pin cable needs to be installed between the chassis and the interface card and also the 16-pin cable is attached to location “J2” and the chip removed first.


Installing cards:

There is lots of potential usages for the Expansion Chassis and the cards inserted to either the Chassis or in Apple II. Scenarios with DOS, CP/M, Pascal etc. Possiblities are almost unlimited.

Usage:

The expansion chassis, even power chord attached, will not receive power unless the Apple II is powered up. There is select mode and deselect mode that can be altered with either the button on the chassis or by software at any time:

-Integer basic : POKE -16352,254 (select), POKE 16352,255 (deselect)
-Applesoft basic : POKE 49184,254 (select), POKE 49184,255 (deselect)
-Monitor (CALL -151) : C020:FE (select), C020:FF (deselect)

It’s not suggested to use the casette port as the switching uses the same memory space locations. The selection can be done from Pascal language as well.

More detailed usage scenarios are explained in the user’s manual.

Thoughts?

If only similar product would have been made (would that be possible?) that would work with Apple //e as well. I don’t see myself using this so much as i don’t keep II/II+ in my desk as daily reqular setup but it’s historical as well and it’s collector’s value is essential.

There’s project to reverse engineer it at applefritter and at:
http://www.appleii-box.de/H054_1_MCEB01.htm

 

 

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II Forever.

p.s. I might trade this to nice Bell & Howell Apple II+ with backpack and black floppy drive. Contact me.