Category Archives: Audio

Let there be S-O-U-N-D! – Mockingboard 4c for Apple //c

setup_1_s

Mockingboard 4c is Apple II mockingboard version specially made for Apple //c. There were Mockingboard D for the Apple //c made back in the day, and it was placed in external enclouse. It however wasn’t 100% compatible with the other Mockinboard-supported software or games. The same goes for the Mockingboard 4c.

mockingboard-d-box-front-b-fixed_s
Mockingboard D (apple.asimov.net)

The Mockingboard 4c works as it would be installed in Slot #4, but does not support the speech-chip. It have also possiblity to adjust the audio levels from Apple //c’s own audio knob, by just soldering one cable. There’s also set of two speakers, you can install inside your Apple //c for stereo output. There’s also a cable provided you can install to have the audio output to external amplifer/speakers.

Mockingboard 4c is developed, manufactured and sold by Ian Kim of apple2.net in South Korea and it comes in complete package with :

-The Mockingboard 4c card with 65C02 installed
-User’s Manual (printed)
-Set of two speakers with wires
-Wiring for adjusting the audio level of the Mockingboard 4c (needs soldering).
-Ext. audio cable 

 
INSTALLATION:

case

-After opening the Apple //c it’s pretty simple and straightforward.

teline_1_s
-If you have model A2S4000 – you need to remove the keyboard bracing due lack of space otherwise and the board wont fit inside. It’s matter of just pushing two connectors and removing the bracing.

installed_1b_sjpg

-Remove the 65C02 CPU and insert the CPU to the Mockingboard’s CPU-slot. Mine however came with 65C02 already installed. 
-Solder the supplied wire to UA14 4th pin (red circle) and attach to the board. I tried using “hook cables” but there’s not enough space installing one properly.
-Install supplied set of two, speakers inside the case, front in each side. I used hot glue to keep the speakers in place.

The Mockingboard 4c is actually installable to Apple //e as well (confirmed by Ian Kim) you just need 40-pin DIP-connector cable to move the board further away from the processor slot itself as there’s no space for the board. Why would you do it is then again an another question.. but it could be done. It could save you a slot in //e..

I tried replacing the 65C02 with ZipChip 4000 but i could not get it to boot. It went totally garbage screen directly either 4MHz or 1MHz modes. There’s no space either for it under the keyboard, even with the braces removed.

My setup: Apple //c (PAL, Nordic):
+ Custom ROM 4x (by https://github.com/mgcaret/rom4x/blob/master/rom4x/README.md)
+ Mockingboard 4c with two speakers (by apple2.net)
+ A2CVGA-adapter (by a2heaven.com)
+ wDrive (by kboohk.com)
+ Internal-External Drive Switcher for Apple IIc (by bigmessofwires) 
+ Laptop replacement powersupply (from ebay)

 

USAGE?

Some software/games needs patching to work correctly, mainly those with hardcoded Mockingboard slot-coding (5 instead of 4). Ian have released many of these at his webpage : http://quick09.tistory.com/search/mockingboard?page=4 in .nib format.

Mockingboard 4c uses the Slot 4 but the //c is already using it permanently. It needs to be configured when Mockingboard 4c is wanted to be used.

From applesoft:
POKE 50179,255:POKE 50100,255

or from monitor:
]CALL-151
*C403:FF FF

Restart:
PR#6 
or *C600G 

for booting the Floppydisk or Diskimage.

I played several games that had Mockingboard support on them and they worked fine and sounded as good as they should. Also tried several of music disks/demos as well and most of them worked as well. 

The small speakers are not very high quality but you can install the cable and use external speakers as well if you want. I didn’t install that as i wanted to kept the setup minimal by size, everything installed inside. 

THOUGHTS ?

It is great that also Apple //c user’s can enjoy better sound quality in form of Mockingboard 4c, eatleast in some extent. Some software however do require patching in order to work or manual configuring before booting. So it’s pretty much matter of trying how to get the title running and working. 

Installation is not that difficult if you follow the instructions. But it does block the possibity to use memory expanions or clock-chips. 

My unit does make some static hum when it’s turned on. Not sure what causes it, the design, installation or vintage parts being just old.

There’s something so cute to have Apple //c with mockingboard installed!

 

LINKS:
Video: https://youtu.be/9QXbLK3mdUQ
Mockingboard manual & disk images at: http://wwww.apple2.net 

logo_ians_dream

Mockingboard 4c is available from http://www.apple2.net or http://www.ebay.com 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple //c Forever.

MEGA Audio with Apple /// in ][ emulation-modes:

Based on preview copy of the MEGA Audio-card!

a3_setup_ma_desk
As there’s different ways to emulate Apple II with the Apple ///, i went ahead and tested the new MEGA Audio-card by a2heaven.com with the Apple /// and it’s native built-in Apple ][ 48k RAM and the Titan //e 128k RAM-emulation modes. The regular Mockingboard card is known to work in built-in emulation mode (so far it physicly fits inside) but i wanted to know if the MEGA Audio would work as well and it’s all emulated built-in, audio-cards: Mockingboard, A.L.F. and S.A.M.

I configured the card to use slot 1 and for testing, also slot 4 as Mockingboard, the Titan cards occupy the Slots 2 and 3 in Apple /// the stock, 256k model had all slots free.

I tried also installing the actual Mockingboard cards i have, but no luck.. because:

Mockingboard (reactivemicro) does not physically fit inside. The Apple /// area where the cards are inserted is actually pretty small (shorter). The cards can be taller, but have to be shorter in order to fit inside.

Mockingbogard Tube (a2heaven.com) does fit, but the RCA-connectors it have in the end of the card, touch the bottom of the slot opening hole, and prevent the card been pressed down in the slot. Some riser card could be used but at the moment i didn’t have one.

The Mockingboard from Ian Kim (apple2.net) does fit but i do not have it anymore but it’s been proven to work.

TESTING INFORMATION:

1) Apple /// with:
-OnThree 512k Memory expansion-card installed.
-Titan ///+ & //e-cards (in slots #2 & #3) installed.

2) Apple ///
-Stock 256k model.
-Battery clock installed.
-No cards (all removed for testing purposes).

(POSSIBLE) SLOT ASSIGNMENTS IN TITAN //e (128K) – EMULATION MODE:

SLOT | NAME USED FOR: 

#1 I/O CARD
=J4 /// plus //e board, BOTH POST = output from Slot 1 will be redirected to builtin RS-232-C serial port.
=J4 /// plus //e board, ONE POST = output from Slot will NOT be redirected to serial port.
#2 I/O CARD
= Titan ///+ – card (must be installed in #2)
#3 80 COL. CARD
= Titan //e – card  (must be installed in #3)
#4 PROFILE
=For modified ProFile card (in //e mode):
-J5 jumper BOTH POSTS = ProFile in //e mode.
-J5 jumper ONE POST = other devices.
#5 PROFILE
= For /// RAM-disk usage only.
#6 DISK DRIVE 1,2
= Only drives 1,2 as in Apple II.
#7 USED
= Clock/calendar chip. Slot is marked “USED” either it’s installed or not.

SLOT ASSIGNMENTS IN BUILT-IN 48k – EMULATION MODE:

#1  
#2 
#3  
#4     
#5 SUPER SERIAL CARD  
#6 DISK DRIVES 1,2
#7 COMMUNICATIONS CARD 

ACCESSING THE CONFIGURATION MENU:

Accessing the MEGA Audio-configuration menu in Apple II:
]CALL -151
*CFFF (not needed)
*CX00 X = number of the slot where the MEGA Audio card is installed.
*C800G

Accessing the monitor in Apple ///:
Hit the “CTRL-OPENAPPLE-RESET” -key sequence to get the monitor command line interface after booting.

Working or not?
– 48k (YES) 
– 128k //e (YES)
– /// (NO)

THE CARDS / SLOTS / TESTS:

a3_setup_ma_4

Mockingboard:
1) TITAN 128k
-Mockingboard in Slot #1, #4
-No audio. Only speaker. Equalizer works.

2) ORIGINAL 48k
-Mockingboard in Slot #4,3,2,1
-No audio. Only speaker. Equalizer works.


ALF:
1) TITAN 128k
– Slot #1
– ALF Disk – Menu audio (setup) OK but when the player is loaded up, it freezes.
– ALF Music Album disks worked.

2) ORIGINAL 48k
– Slot #2
– ALF Disk – Menu audio (setup) OK but when the player is loaded up, it freezes.
– ALF Music Album disks worked.


SAM:
1) TITAN 128k
– (not tested)

2) ORIGINAL 48k
– Slot #5
– Works fine. 

Internal speaker – is it forwarded to the external speakers?
-Apple II 48k (NO), Apple //e 128k (NO)

Accessing the menu?
-Apple II 48k (YES), Apple //e 128k (YES)

Slot settings for the different cards?
-Apple II 48k (YES), Apple //e 128k (YES)

Equalizer working?
-Apple II 48k (YES), Apple //e 128k (YES)

Card led settings?
-Apple II 48k (YES), Apple //e 128k (YES)

Saving the configuration?
-Apple II 48k (YES), Apple //e 128k (YES)

Adjusting the speaker volume?
-Apple II 48k (NO), Apple //e 128k (NO) seems to come from both.

 

So the MEGA Audio-card works quite well with the /// – just the Mockingboard-emulation is not working. It would be nice to have it with Titan //e emulation. Maybe later there will be MEGA Audio Pro?

a2heaven_logo
Available at: https://www.a2heaven.com/webshop/
$85 + $20 for the Equalizer display (free shipping everywhere) 

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II & /// Forever.

MEGA Audio by a2heaven.com: Quick look

3_cards_s

MEGA Audio is a new audio card from a2heaven.com – developed by Plamen Vaysilov, for Apple II that holds inside several audio cards itself. It supports emulation of several different kinds of audio cards that were/are available for Apple II-computers, all-in-one:

2 x Mockingboard-cards (no support for SSI-263 speech chips emulation)
1 x A.L.F.-card
4 x S.A.M.-cards (4 x DAC)

MEGA Audio uses the internal speaker signal and routes it thru the emulated cards for output without connecting the cable from i.e. Mockingboard-card to motherboard connector. So you can hear the “beeb!” from better speakers now as well..

 

What it emulates?

mockingboard_a_s
Mockingboard:

Originally by Sweet Micro Systems with different versions.

The sound was generated through two AY-3-8910 chips for six audio channels and had two open sockets for optional SSI-263 speech chips (depending of the card model).

It worked in Apple II models with 48k RAM or more. Lots of software that had Mockingboard support, often needed 64k or 128k.

Support for Mockingboard-audio card on software/games was somehow limited. About 30 games/software supported the Mockingboard.  Very few games even supported dual mockingboards like “Ultima V” as well some modern Apple II-demos as well.

The known games/software supporting the Mockingboard:

Adventure Construction Set
Apple Cider Spider 
Berzap! (A clone of the classic arcade game, Berzerk!)
Broadsides 
Crimewave (Speech support)
Crypt of Medea (Speech support)
Cybernoid Music Disk
Guitar Master – Guitar tutoring
Lady Tut (Specific Mockingboard version)
Lancaster
Microbe
Mockingboard software (Sweet Micro Systems)
Mockingboard Developers Kit
Mockingboard Speech Developers Kit
Music Construction Set
Music Star (Patched version)
Night Flight
Oid Zone (Michael Packard)
One on One (Opening sequence music only)
Phasor software (Applied Engineering)
Popeye
Rescue Raiders v1.3 – (Speech support)
Silent Service 
Skyfox
Spy Strikes Back
Thunder Bombs
Ultima III
Ultima IV
Ultima V (Dual Mockingboards)
Under Fire
Willy Byte
Zaxxon (Mockingboard version)

 

 alf-mc1-a2heaven_s
A.L.F. -card “Apple Music II / Music Card MC1”

The ALF uses 3x SN76489N chips, thus allowing nine simultaneous voices (similar to three MC16 cards). Rather than starting at the same pitch as the lowest note on a piano (A0, the A below the C three octaves below Middle C) like the MC16, the MC1 started 15 semitones higher,  at C2 (the C two octaves below middle C; and rather than having an 8-octave (96 semitone) range,  it had a 6-octave (72 semitone) range. The Music Card MC16’s software was modified to operate the MC1. 

 sam_card_s
Software Automated Mouth-speech card (S.A.M.)

Is a versatile, 8-bit digital-to-analog converter, high-quality speech synthesizer card, created entirely on software and it does therefore have an built in timer module as Mockingboard-card does. It is easy to use and program with simple statements with BASIC or assembly-language. You can use the S.A.M. features directly from Applesoft or Assembler-language.

The card is now also supported by “Drum8 – 8-bit Apple II Drum Machine software” with 16 sounds, 8 simultanious, real time edit with mouse and 256-step pattern sequencer.

 

MEGA AUDIO HARDWARE:

 megaaudio_retail_s

MEGA Audio is based on Lattice small FPGA. Firmware (written by “Bulgarian Woz” Mr.Plamen Vaysilov) for the FPGA emulates chips of the audio cards supported by MEGA Audio: AY8910, VIA 6522, SN76489N and discrete logic using in these cards. The firmware is trying to be as close as possible to the original design of these cards hardware and emulate it. The card can route the internal speaker audio directly to external speakers without any extra cable.

The S.A.M.-card have one DAC assigned on address C0XH (X is 8+slot number and (Slot 1 = C090), H is a any address from 0..F, C0X0..C0XF). When you write value to address C0XH you set analog voltage on output and if you write fast on this port with some values you can make voltage shape of sound. So MEGA Audio have 4 DAC’s independendly assigned to C0X0..C0X3 therefore you can make 4 audio shapes in same time – 4 channels of S.A.M.

The supplied LED-equalizer unit comes with cable (50cm/19.5inch) – it is attached the connector on top of the MEGA Audio-card.

led_info_s
External LED-equalizer display:

Displays the activity of each channel in colored bar-formation. For example for the dual-Mockingboard setup the visuals would be:

-Mockingboard #1 Green    Left channel
-Mockingboard #1 Yellow    Right channel
-Mockingboard #2 Red       Left channel
-Mockingboard #2 Blue      Right channel

leds_3ledsleds_2

The led equalizer-bar-displays can be swapped to another style if desired. The type is: “10 Segment Bargraph Light”.

 

 card_led_colors_s
MEGA Audio-card leds:

When enabled and in use, the MEGA Audio-card’s led colors cycle thru rainbow colors, speed of cycling is dependent of frequency of the output of each channel.

 

INSTALLATION:

installed_s

MEGA Audio works in any slot (expect AUX in Apple //e). Depending of the emulated audio card you are using – they often need to be installed in certain slot, for example Mockingboard in #4, ALF in #2 and SAM in #4. Some games/software, allow you to setup the slot where the card is located, but not always. Some games that autodetect the Mockingboard and the slot & might have issues doing so if you are also having accelerator like FASTchip //e installed and running faster speeds then just 1MHz. Just slow it down and try again. This is not MEGA Audio problem.

For the audio we need either external active speakers attached or headphones (if those have audio level adjustment, the better).

 
setup_s
My testing setup:

Apple //e platinum

SLOT / CARD 
#7 CFFA 3000 & Smartport #7
#6 For Disk II-virtual slot (CFFA 3000)
#5 MEGA Audio : Mockingboard 1 / SAM (depending which one you are using)
#4 MEGA Audio : Mockingboard 2
#3 -empty-
#2 MEGA Audio : ALF 
#1 FASTchip //e
#AUX RamWorks III+VGA add-on adapter

+ External active speakers
+ Headphones
+ Attached external led-equalizer display module

ENTER THE MEGA AUDIO CONTROL PANEL:

You can access the MEGA Audio-card Control panel settings from monitor by typing:

]CALL -151 [ENTER] – to enter the monitor
*CFFF    [ENTER]
*CX00   [ENTER] X = slot number where MEGA Audio is installed, for example C400 (Slot 4)
*C800G [ENTER]


megaaudio_menu_s
MEGA Audio Control panel:

Here you can change and save the configuration:

Slot # – what emulated audio card is using which slot. In this case the setup is as : #2 ALF (A), #3 Mockingboard 2 (m), #4 Mockingboard 1 (M) and #5 SAM (S).

Output – If you want the output being Stereo or Mono. Mixing all chanels with one (mono mode audio) for example SAM outputs only in right channel with this option.

Light – if you want to turn the led’s of the MEGA Audio-card itself, On/Off.

Speaker – for speaker audio level adjustment – that is output to the MEGA Audio and the speakers.

 

HOW IT SOUNDS?

-Mockingboard & Mockingboard dual:

I played around many different Mockingboard-supported games and they all worked fine and sounded as with any Mockingboard-card. It is so great to have the same quality audio when playing games that the other 8-bit computers had in the 80’s.. sadly the Mockingboard did not get more support than it did. I found new favorite game, Night Flight! 

Tested also music disks like “Chiptunes” and “Not So Cheap Tunes” that did sound absolutely fantastic and i kept coming back to it and listening them as a backgroung music when i was doing other things. There’s also some demos that support Mockingboard, released by the great late French Touch. Also some modern games like Michael Packard’s “Oid Zone” supports the Mockingboard.

There’s only few known games with Dual Mockingboard-support, i.e. Ultima V that also have menu where you can listen the songs used in the game. Those are 12-channel tunes and they do sound fantastic, specially when you turn up the volume! Ultima IV says it would support dual Mockingboard but i could not get it working. I had Mockingboard’s configured to slots #4 and #5 – even you can also configure them at the menu as well to other slots. The reason for it is mostlikely bug in the Ultima IV’s code. There’s also music disk by French Touch that have dual Mockingboard support (12-channels) and wow, that did sound different and fantastic. It’s hard to believe it’s the same old Apple II with the “beeb” you’be used to listening! 

Some videos:
Night Flight : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFnSj0-q0LY
Chiptunes (#2) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b75ZsO63SU8
French Touch 12ch music disk : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ug7TIpg2Vc
Ultima V (12ch) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tZNJyWEhek
Popeye – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBUjGqfAsTs
Ultima IV – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv-TsecFaE
Skyfox – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV3DnszTxJ0

-A.L.F:

Usually used in Slot 2 but is configurable with the software.

Played the ALF Album disk – series and they did sound just like the vintage, or the clone, ALF-card would have. I however did not try to compose any music of my own (due my limited musical limitations). But if you’re into composing your own vintage computer music, this is an another possibility for you. Sadly the ALF-card did not get more support, it was great audio card of it’s time!

ALF music player: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-GU4Lgns24

-S.A.M. / Software Automated Mouth:

Usually used in slot #4.

Played around the old SAM speech disks that demonstrate the synthesization capabilities of the card. It is always fun to hear computer to speak. And the possibility to use it with your own Applesoft programs makes it even more fun and opens more possiblities.

Drum8 (Slot 5) – Absolutely great drum machine software if you are into making your own music. It supports 16 sounds, 8 simultanious, real time edit with mouse or keyboard and 256-step pattern sequencer. The quality was nice, but i am not much of a musician (more or less blues/guitar picker) to get more out of it but i played around and i was able to create some sort of a background beat for a song! The editor is quite easy to use.

I suggest you to take a look of it if you have the beat with you: https://blog.juicylizard.com/drum8-apple-ii-8-bit-drum-machine/

SAM Speech (demo): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73X_zTTocZU
SAM Speech (#2) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCtahfcyvGY
Drum8 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVy0H9bxvjE
Drum8 “RockIt” : https://soundcloud.com/user-352744039/drum8-megaaudio-rockitwav

 

CONCLUSIONS AND THOUGHTS:

The card very handy and convinient by size, about the size of the FASTchip //e and supports many audio cards for Apple II -serie of computers. It’s reasonably priced card if you need to have several different types of audio cards in your Apple II. Having Mockingboard in optional dual-setup is already very interesting and possible deal-maker for some. We can hope more support in form of new games or demos, will appear after this kind of setup being so easily had (Michael are you paying attention..).

Accessing the Control panel menu thru monitor & commands is not difficult, but it would be more convinient if it could be done while booting the Apple II by pressing some key, like with FASTchip //e for example. The need to configure the slots within the MEGA Audio might not be something you need to do often however, depending your needs of course.

Audio quality, with my setups, was excellent. I had some humming when using old vintage 90’s PC-desktop active speakers but less, if any, with modern, quite new Lenovo desktop speakers. But then again, rarely those cheap active speakers are that high quality. With iPhone headphones the humming noise was clearly heard but not with better quality over-the-ear type. Routing the headphone-cable better away from the computer, might help if you have long enough cable to do so. The (dual) 12-channel Mockingboard sound was really awesome, rich and clear, sadly not much supported by software. The “regular” Mockingboad audio, i found myself listening Chiptunes and Not So Cheap Tunes -music disks as a background music when i was doing something else elsewhere. Those just sound that good!

The idea of having more than one audio card built-in is just plain genius! I wonder if Applied Engineering’s Phasor-card would have been added as well, even it’s basicly the same as two Mockingboads and why not then… bear with me, SID-chip? There is soundcards supporting SID for even BBC Micro called “beebSID”. So maybe we’ll see updaded MEGA Audio Pro someday?

If you don’t have Mockingboard card already, this is one way to get it and more, in one small package for the price of one.

 a2heaven_logo

Available soon at : https://www.a2heaven.com/webshop/
Estimated price for MEGA Audio is $85 + $20 for the Equalizer display (free shipping everywhere)

  

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

NOTE : The FinApple is having issues with WordPress and hyperlinks can not be added correctly. The blog will be moved to another domain some time soon….

 

Quick: DarkSound by ByteBoosters

The Apple IIgshave GREAT audio capabilities with it’s Ensoniq 5503 DOC – chip but there’s no connectors in the logic board for stereo output for speakers. So the DarkSound-card resolves that problem with simple, single board with connector to the logic board itself taking the signal and outputs it to external speakers/headphones or amplifier in Stereo.

settings_s
The pin settings in the card you can use are as of:
*HIGH – for non-amplifed speakers (direct 8ohm, 1.5mm plug)
*LOW – for headphones or amplified speakers (1.5mm plug)
*LINE – for external aplifer / home stereo-system (3.5mm plug)

The card itself is not slot dependent, as you can install it to any slot and it will maintain the internal slot/port settings.

It also features as digizer as it have input for the signal to be digized with software.

darksoundbybyteboostersappleiigsstereocard_smallTHE PACKAGE COMES WITH:
-The board itself with adapter cable connected (to logic board)
-Stereo adapter (1.5 mm -> 3.5 mm stereo)
-Extension cable (1.5mm male to female)
-Printed installation and user instructions

darksound_connected_side_small
Connector attached to logic board . It’s a bit tight fight with the Apple IIgs 8MBRAM/ROM-card (a2heaven.com) but it did fit there just barely however.

darksound_connector_small
Bit tight but fits.

oma_kaiuttimetI attached the card to crappy-old-Creative 2.0 speakers but they work just ok for time being.

ByteBoosters also produce other products for Apple IIGS. Available is also 4MB and 8MB RAM-expansion cards. Both are tiny and very reasonably priced.

WHERE TO BUY?:
DarkSound IIGS
https://console5.com/store/darksound-apple-iigs-stereo-sound-card-and-digitizer-w-amplifier-line-out-2gs.html

8MB DarkRam IIGS
https://console5.com/store/byteboosters-8mb-darkram-apple-iigs-memory-expansion-card-2gs.html

4MB RAM-expansion IIGS
https://console5.com/store/byteboosters-4mb-xlp-apple-iigs-memory-expansion-board-2gs.html

(C) FinApple 2017.

 

ECHO-sound synthesizer cards

I got few pairs of ECHO Sound Synthesizer -card speakers awhile ago and started to look for the interface card as well as one did not come with them.

Luckily i was donated pair of cards  (thanks Will!)

echo_speakers
“ECHO”-speakers. Is there reason for different color of the button?

echoplus_echoiib_cards_small
-Echo 2+ (have mono and stereo outputs)
-Echo ][b

echoplus
ECHO+ installed to my “main” Apple //e platinum.

Video of the “Alien Clonepure” & ECHO+ sounds:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW4lYkC3-KY

Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echo_2

Manual:
ftp://ftp.apple.asimov.net/pub/apple_II/documentation/applications/misc/ECHO%20II%20Synthesizer.pdf

apple_appleii_echoii_board
Found this image from the internets, so this is how the retail package have looked like.